We had reserved third day in Singapore exclusively for shopping. Singapore is a great destination for shopping. Like all other days we had breakfast at our hostel 5footway.inn.
The terrace which holds the breakfast is also a photo gallery. Gallery 76 is an unconventional photography gallery space dedicated to the art of visual storytelling. On permanent display are 30 prints, showing the iconic black-and-white images of international photojournalist Edwin Koo. Hosted in a common hangout area for travelers, the gallery transforms limited wall spaces into giant story boards, sharing tales from afar, with travelers from afar.
After sumptuous breakfast we took MRT to reach our first shopping spot in Mustafa Centre, which is one of Singapore’s 24-hour shopping malls on Syed Alwi Road in Little India. Within a walking distance from Farrer Park station on the North East Line, Mustafa Centre is a retail hub attracting many shoppers with its wide variety of products and services. Mustafa Centre was founded by an Indian businessman Mustaq Ahmad in 1971 where he mainly sold ready-made clothing and later expanded to sale of electronic items. In 1985, Mustaq moved his business to the ground floor of Serangoon Plaza.
Mustafa Centre houses the Mustafa department store, which caters mainly to the budget market. The department store consists of two shopping centres: one retailing jewelry and household appliances and functioning as a supermarket, and the other selling a variety of other products such as books, DVDs, watches, electronic goods, footwear and clothing.
Our next stop is to buy electronic and photography goods at Simlim Square. The walk towards Simlim Square was very nice. The old building at Veeraswamy Road intermingled with great tall multi storied towers. The construction activity is going everywhere surrounding this heritage center. Being Singapore, I think the structure will be preserved and modern structures will be built around them without disturbing the architectural ambiance. We also went around in Little India and soon got bored seeing familar India there. Saravana Bhavan was temping to have brunch and wanted to taste Masala Dosa as well as Bisibele Bath. Food was good and tasted exactly like India.
Since I wanted to buy new version of Sirui Tripod, I went to one of my trusted shop for photography goods – Orient Photo in Simlim Square. Thanks to my good friend Shannon and I found they are reliable and prompt camera shop. After collecting my tripod from them We went around ogling for every new gizmo and electronic gadgets we could see. Sim Lim Square is a large retail complex that offers a wide variety of electronic goods and services ranging from DVDs, cameras, phones, video cameras, and computer parts and servicing. Since we knew the place was famous for several scams and frauds, we refrained from buying any. But that did not stop us behaving like bull in china shop trying out all the new gadgets. Our family had tough time dragging us out so that they can shop elsewhere. Since we knew that we will be stuck without our gadgets we refused to go with them. Finally stern warning from our better halves made us leave the place with heavy heart. Only cheer we had was that our purses were still intact, despite heavy temptation to buy.
All this shopping made us hungry. So we went down to the Broadway Food Court in the basement of the Sim Lim Square and tucked into several variety of dishes from Japanese to Vietnamese and few native Singaporean like Fried carrot cake. Chai tow kway which is the real name of this carrot cake is a common dish consisting of stir-fried cubes of radish cake. There is no connection between this dish and the sweet Western carrot cake eaten as a dessert. This misnomer gave the title to a popular guidebook on Singapore’s street food, There’s No Carrot in Carrot Cake, which was written by Dr. Olivia Law. Food xourts great, lots of variety, be careful to avoid lunchtime rush hour. We finished our lunch with Ice Kachang.
Next stop was Bugis street. Bugis is just across the road. From Simlim square if you take Albert Road you will reach Bugis. Bugis, in Singapore, was renowned internationally from the 1950s to the 1980s for its nightly gathering of trans women, a phenomenon which made it one of Singapore’s top tourist destinations during that period.In the mid-1980s, Bugis Street underwent major urban redevelopment into a retail complex of modern shopping malls, restaurants and nightspots mixed with regulated back-alley roadside vendors. Underground digging to construct the Bugis MRT station prior to that also caused the upheaval and termination of nightly transgender sex bazaar culture, marking the end of a colourful and unique era in Singapore’s history.
The lane presently touted as “Bugis Street” by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board is actually developed from New Bugis Street, formerly Albert Street, and is billed as “the largest street-shopping location in Singapore”.
The new ‘Bugis Street’ is a maze of lanes lined with stalls selling pasar malam (street market) goods. It stretches from its entrance along Victoria Street facing the original Bugis Street and Bugis Junction to its other entrance along Queen Street facing the entrance to Albert Street which was what we too to traverse this extremely crowded market.
We also found a person dressed as Batman distributing pamphlets for an event at the exit of this busy lane. There is so much to see and buy in that lane and you will get lost in the crowd.
We returned to the room to freshen up and keep all our purchased stuff back in the room. Then we started again and this time to explore cable car experience over Singapore. We chose evening so we could see both the late evening view as well as the view when it gets dark and lit by lights from the cable car.
The Singapore Cable Car provides an aerial link from Mount Faber (Faber Peak Singapore) on the main island of Singapore to the resort island of Sentosa across the Keppel Harbour. Opened on 15 February 1974, it was the first aerial ropeway system in the world to span a harbour. Although referred to by its operators as a cable car, the listed system is in fact a bi-cable gondola lift and not an aerial tramway. A round-trip ticket currently costs SGD 29 for adult, SGD 18 for child.
It has three stations, namely Mount Faber Station at Faber Peak Singapore, the HarbourFront Station at HarbourFront and the Sentosa Station at Sentosa, Imbiah. Two supporting towers are located between each pair of stations. This distance between Mount Faber Station and the first tower is about 300 metres (1,000 ft), from the first tower to the Harbour Front Station is 400 metres (1,300 ft), from the Harbour Front Station to the second tower at 500 metres (1,640 ft), and from the second tower to the Sentosa Station is 450 metres long.
The system currently consists of 81 cabins, suspended at least 60 metres (197 ft) above the sea, and about 61 m (200 ft) between each cabin (or one cabin per 15 to 21 seconds). Each cabin can carry a maximum of 6 adult passengers, while the whole system can support 1400 passengers per hour either way. Travelling at a speed of 4 metres per second, it takes about 4 minutes to get from Mount Faber to Jardine Steps, and another 5.5 minutes to continue on to Sentosa. Including the short interval at Jardine Steps, however, it will take 12 minutes on a continuous ride from Mount Faber to Sentosa.
We got into the cable car from HarbourFront Station. The ride and the views are well worthwhile. It sounds a little complicated but you get on at Harbourfront, buy the ticket for both Mount Faber and Sentosa (round trip), and then can get on and off each of the six stops. Stunning views over the city are guaranteed if you make sure that you are during the right time of the day to enjoy it.
Since we were not planning to go to Universal studios or any other attractions at Sentosa island, we enjoyed the island aerially. There was a private wedding session going on the island and it was fun to watch it from above.
As we reached Sentosa, it was getting dark and the skyline is now lit with glowing building lights and neon signages. The whole harbor area & island glowing in the dark was wonderful to watch. Finally we returned to Harbourfront station and alighted the cable car.
Just beside the cable car is Vivocity mall. Our shopping spree continued here too. VivoCity is the largest shopping mall in Singapore designed by the Japanese architect Toyo Ito. The mall has Singapore’s largest cinema multiplex with 15 screens and 2,172 seats by the cinematic company Golden Village, along with one of the largest cinema screens in Asia. Companies such as Toys “R” Us and Dairy Farm have their flagship outlets in VivoCity. Dairy Farm, which owns Cold Storage, Shop N Save, Giant Hypermarket, 7-Eleven and Guardian Health & Beauty takes up 3,700 square metres (1 acre) of space on Basement 2 and about 7,400 square metres on Level 1. The new hypermart, called VivoMart, is connected by its own travelator and sells gourmet food from all over the world.
After all that shopping we were hungry and wanted to taste street food at Lau Pa Sat. From Harbourfront MRT station we reached Telok Ayer Market which is known colloquially as Lau Pa Sat(old market). In the early nineteenth century, Telok Ayer Market was a simple wooden building, located on piles just over the waters of Telok Ayer Bay and hence the market’s name.
Sharp at 7 p.m. on weekdays, a traffic warden jumps into the middle of Boon Tat Street along the Lau Pa Sat hawker center closes the road to traffic. A few hand-carts move in and charcoal fires start at the shops that line the road, each offering the “best” satay in Singapore. In less than 10 minutes, the first satay have been served to guests, some of whom pre-order the tasty meat skewers before the market opens for business. Satay is a Malaysian dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with peanut sauce and chunks of cucumber. The meats include diced or sliced chicken, goat, mutton, beef and seafood barbecued over a charcoal fire. Joints serving good satay can be found across Singapore. But the experience at Lau Pa Sat makes it special. We tried all the variety of satay there.
Architect George Drumgoole Coleman conceptualised an octagonal building with ornamental columns at the entrance. This market opened in 1838 and stood until 1879, when land reclamation called for its demolition. Telok Ayer Market was revived yet again in 1894. Designed by Municipal Engineer James MacRitchie and built on newly reclaimed land, the new building is more or less as it appears today. Adopting Coleman’s octagonal shape, MacRitchie added cast-iron supports to strengthen the structure. In the centre of the market, he incorporated a fountain which remained at Telok Ayer Market until 1920. By the early 1970s, the area around Telok Ayer Market — Shenton Way, Robinson Road, Cecil Street and Raffles Place — had swelled into a busy commercial district with sparkling new skyscrapers. In 1973, the market was converted into a hawker centre and by 1986, it was closed to make way for a new Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line. The building’s historical and architectural value was recognised and was reconstructed for the last time in the late 1980s, when tunnelling work for the MRT was completed. The latest building remains true to MacRitchie’s and Coleman’s designs and the cast-iron supports have been reinstated.
After that it was time to return back to home. On the way back at Clarke Quay we saw Reverse Bungy. Offering an adrenalin rush at the highest levels, up to three people can be seated in an open-air capsule that will be catapulted to 60 meters in the air at a speed of 200km/hr. After full stomach we were in no mood to eject our satay at 200km/hour.
Singapore on Saturday transforms itself into romantic city with couple and teens everywhere enjoying the weekend. So as we returned to our rooms for a cosy night, I would leave you one such image of romantic Singapore 🙂
4th day at Singapore we will be visiting Jurong Bird park and that will be in my next blog. You can check all the other parts Singapore travel blog here
- Glimpses of Singapore Part 1
- Glimpses of Singapore Part 2
- Glimpses of Singapore Part 4
- Glimpses of Singapore Part 5
- Glimpses of Singapore Part 6