Saturday, 6 December 2008

Friendly, Clean, Orderly and still a little kiasi

So, guess I am and where I have been. Sitting here at Gate 54, Terminal 2, Changi Airport watching the long queue going into the holding area for SQ530 to Ahmedabad, using the Free WiFi. Been in Singland since noon, took the 2-hour city tour, supposedly to the Heritage and River enclave. Started out very exciting, appreciating the rain trees along the highway from the airport, the crowns meeting in the middle of the highway. Long stretch of seaside park with extensive bicycles tracks and lots of seafood restaurants. The highlight was to have been a 20-minute walk along the river but we were warned that "if it rains", we stay on the bus. As with all tours, after 10 minutes you start to switch off, you just can't absorb all that information. My wife and I love the food channel on satellite TV, especially the two programmes which feature hawker food. If you believe what the hosts tell you, hawker food in Singapore is not only heavenly, but damn cheap. And the tour guide talked about everyone in Singapore eats out because it is too much a hassle to cook for one or two people (yes, family structure has changed alot) and also too expensive. So, most just go and eat out and be done with it. Some more got endless choices - Malay got, Chinese got, Indian got, spaghetti also got.
Rain trees reaching out to touch each other.

Well, we got to the city, got off the bus and it started to rain! The tour guide shooed us back into the bus. So what's a bit of rain? We live in the tropics. Must be old wives tale - you know you mum yelling at you not to play in the rain or you will get sick. Well, it seems the people in Singapore still stick to their traditions. I think the organisers should go the extra mile for this. Provide umbrellas or risk people like me giving them a thumbs down, despite all the friendly and good intentions. Lighten up guys. Along the way back, we were too early for our drop off so the bus driver was really slow going about 55 kph and we made a slight detour to see one of the "towns". I jokingly said they should drop us off for lunch at one of their famous markets (the tour guide talked about how convenient the shopping and facilities are). She was apologetic but firm - she has 38 other tourists to take care off. I think they should be send for some training on how to enjoy some light moments.

Well, I actually wanted to ask them to just drop me off in the city and I will make my own way back. What do you think would have been their reaction?

Anyway, we got back to the airport, and I still had about 3 hours to kill. So it was either the airport with my notebook and free Internet or back to the city. Guess which one I chose?

I went to the Tourist Information Centre again (a different one, they are everywhere, really everyway; I think KL and Penang can learn from these guys). And the guys (mostly ladies) are very very helpful - but again, quite "follow the book" type. They suggested I take the free shuttle to Bugis Street but looked at my departure time and their bus schedule and said "no, no". So I asked about going my MRT. One young lady gave me detailed instructions, together with a map, and on marked with a big X at the junction of South Bridge Rd and Maxwell Rd and said that the Tian Tian Chicken Rice is super nice. I had told them I wanted to go to Chinatown for some noodles or something. How long would it take? About one hour she said. Some one esle said the same thing to me earlier. I said, wah, Chinatown must be very far away, MRT should be fast, right? Many stops mah.

So, I timed the journey. It actually took only 40 - 45 minutes. So one hour is not far off.

On the train I hesitated about getting off at one stop. A young couple coming in saw my hesitation and asked "where are you going?". I didn't even asked. "Chinatown", I said. "Next stop", they replied. Nice, aren't they. The young people have lost their culture.
Chinatown is all about the tourist dollar.

Chinatown. Man, they have done a superb job if you look at it purely from the tourist attraction point of view. Will post pictures later.

So I went hunting for my heavenly chicken rice. Found it at the Maxwell Road Foodcourt. Saw a queue, not too long so I joined in and ordered a small chicken rice. Which turns out to be a generous portion of rice. And only 2.80 Sing Dollar. And the verdict. Very good lah. The kicker is the chilly. Walking out I counted another 2 chicken rice stall at the foodcourt. No queue. And then I looked back at the Tian Tian stall - 15 people in line.
Tian Tian (Everyday) Chicken Rice.

Time for me to go catch my plane. 6.29 pm.
If you are looking for the free city tours at Changi, go the Fern Garden.

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