Friday, February 27, 2015

An Escape to Singapore

About four months ago, my cousin, Sisi, asked me if I wanted to join her on a short trip to Singapore for her uni break. She has only been there once -- went there for only two days and spent the first day at USS and the other at the airport because she needed to go to Bangkok -- so that's why she wants to go back to this modern city and she needs someone who can accompany and be her guide to explore this lion island. Of course I said yes. I quite miss that place. The last time I went there was in the end of 2013, I think it was when Sigur Ros performed there, or when I stopped for a few days after a holiday in Hong Kong, I don't really remember.

We decided to buy the ticket to go in February. We flew last Saturday and went back to Jakarta yesterday, on Wednesday. It's a great five-days holiday with Sisi, her boyfriend, and one of my bestfriends, Ocha. We spent the first day strolling around Holland Village, Haji Lane, and Tiong Bahru. I've never been here before, but nowadays Tiong Bahru is called one of the hippest 'hood in Singapore. I now understand why it's the hippest area in the city, because along Yong Siak Street, there are a lot of coffee shops and indie book stores -- which I really love!
 
(1) An obligatory #ootd picture I took at Tiong Bahru (2) Aya took a picture of me standing in the middle of an alley at Baghdad Street

We went to all the bookstores there, and my favourite is going to be Books Actually. There are a lot of rare books that you can not find elsewhere. You can also find affordable quirky collectibles here. The book shop was packed with guests and I found a pretty cat walking here and there inside the shop, so cute! There is also a design shop a few stores away from Books Actually, called Strangelets. They sell a lot of cute furnishing and accessories that makes you want to buy everything!

We then continue to walk to other shops while trying to find a place to have lunch. Our trip happened to occur during Chinese New Year, so unfortuantely some coffee shops at Tiong Bahru were not opened. However, we found this restaurant called Open Door Policy -- a bistro with a very chic vibe and atmosphere. I ordered smoked salmon and scrambled egg sandwiches from the brunch menu and it tasted really good. It's quite big though, so you can share it with your friend.

We found lots of good spots to take pictures at Tiong Bahru, Haji Lane, and Arab Street. Sisi and her boyfriend have never been to Haji Lane, so we went there to find those beautiful murals on the wall and take pictures in front of it. The alleys at Tiong Bahru and Arab Street are also very clean and colorful. I took the first picture on this blogpost at Tiong Bahru and the second one at Baghdad Street. Both Arab and Baghdad street have a huge Arabic influence in the area. And as you all know, Haji Lane is also a very cool shopping destination in Singapore, because it has lots of independent boutiques that sell quirky outfits and accessories. I bought some colorful stickers there, my Wreck This Journal will be very happy when I stick the stickers inside it :--)

That night, I suggested them to head down and have drinks at Clarke Quay. It was Sunday so Clarke Quay was filled with crowds of people. We stopped at Hooters because they had empty seats, had a drink while enjoying the beautiful windy night looking at the tourist sitting inside the Singapore River Cruise and people screaming because of the Extreme Swing. Ocha really wanted to try that, but I ain't getting on that thing! No!

(3) COS at ION, we want to buy everything! Especially those bright yellow necklaces (4) A picture I took at Yong Siak St., Tiong Bahru. A very clean 'hood
 
On the third day, as usual, I recommended them to go to Orchard for shopping. I also wanted to go to Sephora and buy some new lipsticks. Ocha wanted to visit COS at ION so we went there too. I wanted to give Sisi and her boyfriend a quality time together in Singapore, so Ocha and I decided to watch 50 Shades of Grey at Cathay Cineplex and let Sisi and Aya stroll around Orchard alone. 

50 Shades of Grey was great! I can't believe I finally watched it after a year waiting for the movie to be released. In my opinion, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are the perfect actor and actrees to portray Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. The soundtrack to the movie is also very good. Really though, the movie is not only about sex! If you read all three books, you will understand how amazing the transformation Ana and Grey experienced, how great it is to see the characters change and develop. So I recommend you to watch it!

After we watched the movie, we met up at a coffee shop and waited for the rain to stop. It was around 5:30pm that we finally got the chance to walk to the nearest MRT station at Orchard, and went straight to IKEA at Tampines. It was another firsts for Ocha, Sisi, and Aya -- to go to IKEA -- so they were really happy. They sure bought a lot of things there, tried the delicious Swedish meatballs and $0.50 vanilla ice cream.

(5) Beautiful window I found at Arab Street (6) #doorfetish 60 & 62 rules, because those are the years when my dad and mom were born to this world
 
Everytime you go abroad, surely you should bring some stuff for your loved ones! So that's why on the fourth day, we went to Mustafa Centre. Yep, that 24hr shopping mall that has aisles and aisles of chocolate and a huge collection of snacks and biscuits! This place is always a winner for me, in despite of the tight spaces and crowded alley-ways, because they always have chocolate flavors you never knew existed!


(7) Mural found at the end of Haji Lane (8) LOL, sorry!

Anyways, we stayed at 5footwayinn for our short trip last weekend. It's located at Chinatown. Once you arrived at the MRT station, you can go straight to exit A and you can see the hostel's sign on your right, so the location is super convenient. Loving the staff there too, they're really helpful. Free high-speed WiFi is available throughout the whole building and if you choose the bunkbed like we did, you can have your own individual reading lights and charging socket.

The first thing that I need to make sure before I stay at 5footwayinn is of course, the cleanliness of the shared rooms and bathrooms, which then proved to be really clean. They offer us breakfast too, from 6.30 to 10am, and a 24hr of free coffee, teh tarik, and milo! So if I can rate my stay there from 1 out of 10, I will definitely give them 8.

We shared rooms with two other guests. One is a Singaporean named Richard, who has been staying for almost a month because his house is under renovation, and the other is a Tunisian called Frans, who is currently having a 6 month internship in Singapore. It was fun to meet them and we shared a lot of informations about our own countries.

(9-10) Aya asked Sisi and I to model for his clothing label, Ilusi.

That's all! It's my first time to go abroad with Ocha and Sisi. Some people say that holidays together with your friends are never a good idea, but that did not happen to me. I literally really had a fun 5 days holiday with them. It turned out we are very compatible with each other. Have you heard the saying, "choose your traveling companion wisely"? I guess I've found them already :--) I can't wait to have another trip with them again.