The nice lady and I parted in a small muddy field near her apartement. She doesnt look like an Indonesian anymore for me. She’s tall, bulky, and wear bright blue sari and braid her hair. I crossed the road and walk straight forward, as she told me, and in about 10 minutes, I found myself in front of Raffles Hospital and in Victoria Street. The same street when you will take your bus to and from Singapore, as I recall.
My surroundings were cars, motor cycle, and bikes. I saw a lot of colourful buildings, and one of them is particularly interesting. It was tall and had a lot of men statue with no clothes on, painted gold, and hold a ball in their clasped hands. I think that’s a metafore for conquering the world?
I kept walking forward, and suddenly a girl in orange shirt came up to me, shaking her cans and said that she’s working with a charity and they are gathering funds for their organization. I felt generous today, so I pour all my changes into her ready and waiting hands, and got a sticker in return, one which I stuck in my bag so I did not have to face another volunteer.
Suddenly I realized that now I’ve reached the bugis area. Like everywhere in Singapore, there are malls here and there. One of them that’s piqued my interest is Bugis Market (?) I forgot the name, but it’s like a night market in Taiwan, a lot of stalls selling food, clothes, and accessories, range from S$2 to S$40. I spotted a very nice rainbow top priced S$15, but I did not want to go shopping just yet, so I just went window shopping. I loved the place. It was quite hot and full with people, and buzzing with life. It’s like a traditional market but cleaner, no mud or smelly goods. I realized I haven’t eat all day, so I bought a massive bubble tea for 2 dollars, and it soon filled me up. It was delicious, very traditional.
I walked again, and reach a mall located near Malay street. I visited both places, the first one is so-so, the second one is quite interesting. It’s like a narrow hall with roof glasses, and stores in its left and right. It’s a mall pretending to be street. It must be a mall because the AC was blazing and although it looks like open-air street, it has glasses doors sealed the cold air inside.
From malay street, I continued to Bugis Junction and take a sneak to TopShop. They have some very extremely cool jeans but priced around S$100, and since I did not have the attention for eating my budgets for a pair of jeans, I walked out again, asked for direction, and set my mind to find National Library.
again, I’m a HUGE BOOK JUNKIE.
Ooh, and if someone wonder why I do this all alone, it’s because there’s a huge miscommunication with my travel companion. I could not contact them, because they did not have Singapore number and ran out of credit in their Indonesia number, and since calls from Singapore number requires some certain amount of credit, all my calls were useless. I must have dialed the number a thousand time.
Mental note : Next time, make sure all of your friends have enough credit for overseas calls.
But thankfully, I’m a natural loner. Actually traveling alone is really fun, you got to make your own schedule. You can be selfish, you don’t have to consider other people’s feelings and opinions. The only down part was you don’t have anyone to talk to. Seriously, that is. Thank God, I have my HP and earphone to humour me.
A lot of people is afraid to travel alone, especially women. They are afraid to go alone to shopping malls, let alone outside the country. But trust me, when you got there, everything’s gonna be okay. And if you go to developed country like Singapore, it’s also safe. Some cliche but used advices : Don’t wear provocative clothes or make-up, guard your face expression, don’t let people know you are lost, even if you are. Use your common sense. Don’t be too friendly with stranger, ASK for direction, blend with local people. Read things up online, not only from guide books but real stories from real traveler who have traveled there, it will prevent you from not knowing the absolute know-how about the place.
This traveling alone has open my eyes to the beauty and uniqueness of Singapore. I discovered things I would never know had I travel with lot of people, since people do get intimidated by number. People are easier to talk to, more friendly, especially if you give them a smile as a thank-you gesture. Be bold. You only live once, yes? 😀
The National Library building was huge, all glasses, posters, and stone pavement. They have an outdoor hall in-between buildings, and people were sitting down like they are having picnic. Funny.
Oh, and have I told you how I LOVE a good system? I love Singapore because the transportation system is flawless and basically every system is working properly. The outdoor hall has a big square in the middle of it, and it was a box where you can put your used books. But there’s also machine like ATM machine, so I guess your donation will be recorded properly, maybe also earning you some points. It’s all automatic.
I walked in, asked the information about the location of the library. You can read for free, but if you want to check out book, you have to be Singapore citizen or overseas student. Too bad I can’t borrow anything.
The Public Library was located underground, just take one escalator down from main lobby. It was huge. Like HUGE. Maybe hundred of thousands of books, all wrapped up nicely in plastic, piled neatly into sections. It’s air-conditioned and very cosy, there are chairs and couchs everywhere, and you can sit for hours, no one will mind. There are rooms for multimedia activities, and you can borrow books, movies, or music collection. The borrowing and returning process were all automatic, and you can pay fines very easy, just come to empty computer and swiped your Visa.
The funny thing was it was packed with people SLEEPING. It is very cosy and quiet, and since you almost can’t find a place where you can sit down and rest your legs for free in Singapore other than pavements, you can hardly blame those exhausted tourists. It’s easy to differentiate tourist to locals. Tourists are sun-burned and dress casually, they are sitting on the chairs, drooling and SNORING. Some local people are snoring too, to put it fairly.But it was so funny. The library was traditionally very quiet, a loud noise could get you kicked out from the library. But here, people are snoring very loudly and no one seems to mind, it seems very normal there. And it might be. I took out a few books and rest my legs, and I stayed for around 3 hours. After reading and resting, I headed to level 3 to see the drama center, and it was amazing, fill with intriguing brocures, too bad it was empty when I went there.
Today’s mission was to find cheap used books since I read that in Brasbasah Complex you can find Lonely Planet as cheap as S$1-3. So I was excited. Brasbasah Complex was located just the next block from the National Library. It looks sad, but packed with second hand used books and it was fun. I wandered around, found some bargain books, but unfortunately, the cheapest Lonely Planet I found was for S$8. Some around S$10 and 15. I did not buy any, sometimes it’s too heavy and I hate the small fonts, it gave me headaches. But it’s fun to have one around, to read when you are really bored. But such diversion like that was not worth S$15.
It was 5.30pm and I had walked since 8 am in the morning. My feet was covered in small cuts and blisters, and it was hurt so bad, but it’s worth it. I walked to Bugis MRT Station and caught the MRT to Orchad. Bugis was in the purple line, so I headed to Dhobby Ghaut Interchange and hop into red line to Orchad. I think it’s for S$ 1,40 before deposit. I promised to meet my cousin in ION Orchad.
I arrived in ION and since he’s not there yet, I walked around. ION was interesting and full with people walk as though the devil himself was close on their tail. It’s easy to differentiate locals to tourists, again. Tourists look terrified, since group of people might trample you like an angry mob.
After meeting my cousin in ION, we walked out and I filled him with my stories of the day. He laughed a lot and seems to find everything I say interesting. We chatted along the way to Toys R’ Us, I asked about how his day has been and stuffs. He wanted to find a particular Toy Story bear for his sister, and he had searched in vain for a week. The R’ Us in the mall we went was out of stock, but I managed to find a gift for my brother. He’s 6 and love Toy Story. So we headed to Takashimaya instead, but before grabbed dinner in Burger King where the waitress mistook my orders and I ended up with two drinks and cost me S$3 more. On the way there, we also make a pitstop in Apple Store for I-Pad to give as a present for his mother, my aunt (another failure, it was out of stock). Thank God we can find the bear in Toys R’ Us in Takashimaya. After finding the bear, him and I walked around, visited Kinonukiya there.
It was the biggest bookstore I’ve ever seen, not to mention the best, full with books and magazines you can read for free, the staffs even will let you to sit on the floor. It was full with books so amazing you won’t be able to resist to buy it.
Almost. I can’t afford the book just yet, it was only my second day, so my cousin offered to buy me one. I refused, but he’s teasing and insisting, and I ended up with Night Watch by Sergei something, very interesting and sort of hard to comprehend, read 3 pages and you will find your vocabulary soared.
After Kinokuniya, my feet were screaming for a proper rest, so we jumped into the bus and headed to Little India and to our warm open apartment. I tried again, in vain, to reach my friends. But then I decided that maybe it was meant to be, so I just cuddle up with my shiny new books and rest, and fell asleep in no time.