Saturday, Jun 04 2022 (Day 10)
Around this time, it really began to set in that I only had a couple days left before I left the country and went back home. There were still a couple things on the to-do list, mostly visiting my childhood homes as well as a couple things to buy, mostly for my parents, so I spent most of the weekend doing these things. I didn’t buy too much for myself though, with the eye that I would probably be back here in a month and a half or so. Touch wood?
As per the norm for the past few days, I dodged raindrops in the morning and stopped by the nearby Eunos Crescent Food Market/hawker centre for breakfast. I picked up some Lontong Kering from a store named Darul Aman Nasi Padang. It cost $5.
It was okay, but while I knew what Lontong was, I had no idea what Kering (dry) was, so my hopes of a spicy curry meal (which is what Lontong, the rice cake, is usually served in here) were dashed. Teehee. My bad.
The store has a lot of 1 star reviews on Google accusing them of racism and price gouging and dirty food and stuff, that I only read afterwards as I don’t really look up reviews prior to eating. I didn’t run into any of that here, but I did think at the time that it was rather overpriced for the helping I got, not to mention that the presentation of the dish looked like some sort of slop.
After breakfast, I beat a hasty retreat back to my room to do more writing and relaxation until about lunch time. I had not been to the west side of the country yet, and was planning to go there today as part of my little project to visit all my old childhood houses in the order that I stayed in them. The first one, Clementi 730, was waaay on the western side of the island, whereas I was living on the eastern side, so I took a long train ride over there, walked through the Clementi Mall, and had lunch at a nearby hawker centre.
Lunch was procured at the Clementi 448 Food Centre from a stall named Fong’s Rojak. I opted for the Rojak Set for $6.50, which was Rojak with Cuttlefish and Century Egg. I also added on two Spicy Otah for 70 cents each, taking the total to $7.90.
This entire meal is eaten with skewer sticks, and consists of Yu Char Kuay (Chinese doughnuts), pineapples, cucumbers, and some kind of sesame seed-infused sauce. The cuttlefish on top did not really go well with the meal. Nor did the century egg on the side, but I like century eggs (and hadn’t eaten then in forever) so they were welcome. The otah were the red fish strips wrapped in the green leaves on the right, and were also something I hadn’t eaten in forever. Those tasted good.
I basically walked to my first childhood home from the station, a journey that took me around half an hour and took me past a local stadium and a number of shops and scenic residential areas. Also a cockroach clinging high up on a wall, signs warning of dengue fever mosquitoes in the area, and no less than four stray cats. What an odd neighbourhood.
Finally I reached my first childhood home, Clementi 730. I didn’t expect to remember any of it, I barely have any memories remaining from that era. A few pieces of the building and architecture did look vaguely familiar, but I really had no idea whether they were actual memories or just figments of my imagination filling in the gaps. Probably the latter.
Once I was satisfied, I took the bus back from there to the MRT station. Not to Clementi though, but to Jurong East, its neighbouring station to the west, as Jurong East had two train lines attached to it — the East-West one that I came on, and the North-South one that would eventually loop back to the middle of the East-West line, but that also passed by my second home, Yishun 799. However, Jurong East was a really busy hub with many, many commuters and a couple of malls as well, and I spent some time there walking through the two main malls, JCube and Westpoint, instead.
I bought a couple cute clothes in the mall, as well as some Yuzu Juice from a Don Don Donki drinks stall called Do:Ton:
And then I found what I had been looking for, a store selling sweetcorn ice cream! This store was a Chinese supermarket called Scarlett, and the ice cream was.. weird, it came with an edible outer layering.. thing that was coloured to look like corn on the cob, but the inside was very much sweetcorn. Yum. sweetcorn, or jagung, is an old flavour that reminded me of my childhood days but that I found it very hard to find here, although I had seen it in larger boxes in the NTUC Fairprice supermarkets. I couldn’t use the freezer in my homestay house so those boxes had been out of the question, however this one was small and bite-sized — and on discount for $1 each, so I grabbed one.
After all this though, it was far too late to swing way north to my two Yishun homes and then swing back around home to the south east, so I decided to leave that for the next day. Instead, I knew that Jah had requested pictures of the Gardens by the Bay, specifically at night, and i decided to go back to that Marina Bay area to fulfil this request, as although I had been down to the Marina Bay Promenade area twice already, I had bypassed the Gardens area both times.
I wasn’t really looking forward to this, as it felt very touristy to me and really, one could get several thousands of these sanitized, picturesque pictures on Google. My legs were also hurting, it was hot and humid always, and I had to find my own way there because I had alighted at the Marina Bay MRT Station instead of the nearer Promenade MRT Station, which Google seemed unaware of. Google seems to be bad at utilizing anything outside of the N-S and E-W line in its route calculations for some reason, often ignoring their stops altogether.
Anyway, it did make for some nice pictures, but there was one section around the base of the Marina Bay Sands hotel where it looked like you could cross over into the Gardens by the Bay area, but you couldn’t, and that caused an annoyed backtrack and a consultation with an attendant as to just where to go to get to the damned Gardens (up an elevator from the ground floor, apparently). I couldn’t deny that the view from the place was pretty though, both toward the Gardens itself, and also away from the Gardens, back toward the Marina Bay Sands hotel and Singapore’s city skyline, especially as twilight fell. I also got many more pictures of people taking pictures.
I could have turned back at any point after reaching the actual Gardens, and nearly did, but I decided to press on in anyway under the philosophy that I might never be back here again. I reached the center of the Gardens by the Bay, at an area called the Supertree Grove, right at 7:45 pm, noting that there were a lot of people sitting around and lying down on the benches there even though the area was quite dark already as the sun had fled the skies. Then suddenly, a woman announcer started speaking, and this happened, catching me completely off guard:
My phone only had 20% battery left and it unfortunately shut itself off after 10 minutes of the 15 minute show, but it was still a sight to behold, since i had not planned this in advance but had coincidentally arrived at the exact center of the performance area at the exact time that it was starting. That serendipity and the sheer spectacle of the event, with flashing lights in all directions around me, made me feel like the show had been put on just for me, and it was awesome! I guess sort of like Singapore was saying a fond welcome back to me, especially since these Gardens did not exist the last time I was in Singapore. That alone made all the pain and sweat and the airport ordeals and everything worth it. I found out afterwards that this light show, entitled Garden Rhapsody, happens twice a day, and its theme changes from month to month. Very cool!
The phone dying wasn’t so cool, but thankfully i carried a spare portable power bank with me so I could charge my phone again, as I relied on it to tap in and out of the MRT train station gates using Google Pay.
Once the show was over, a whole throng of people left the area together, so it was very easy to find my way back to the mall area and the train station. I took the Circle Line from the actual nearest station to the Gardens by the Bay, Promenade MRT Station. I took the train northeast to Paya Lebar, and decided to stop for dinner there, one stop away from the station (Eunos) closest to the house I was staying at. The attached mall, PLQ Mall, was also the place I had won my Napatak plushie from back on May 31, so I swung by those Funclaw machines again to look at how winnable the claw machine setup was that night, but ultimately decided not to try for any more plushies. Also, this theme song was playing on repeat the entire last time I was here and it had been well and truly stuck in my head since then, the real price I had to pay for winning my plushie, and when I stopped by this time it was still playing. It’s so insidious and catchy that it probably played into my decision to flee as quickly as possible.
For dinner, I went to a food court on the top level of PLQ Mall, a branch of the Kopitiam (with a capital K, so the company) food outlet called Kopitime, with many individual stalls within just like a coffee shop/kopitiam (small k) but far more sanitized and sterilized and safe for consumption. More quality control, but pricier, and also air conditioning, so it was hard to argue with that combination! The entire place apparently shuts down at 10pm though, and when I arrived at 9pm, several of the shops were already closed or closing and no longer taking orders, but I ordered Xing Hua Fried White Bee Hoon from a stall called Pu Tian (Xing Hua) Food, and a can of Soya Bean Milk from a store just labelled Beverages. This cost $7 for the noodles and an additional $1.50 for the drink.
I didn’t like the peanuts in the noodles (bee hoon), but the rest of it was actually really nice, even though the filling wasn’t as much as I’d have liked for $7. The combination of the noodles, vegetables, and the sliced chili that I added myself, actually strongly reminded me of the cooking that Yi Yi, my mother’s elder sister who acted as our maternal grandmother (as our maternal grandparents had passed away before we were born). One of the dishes she would sometimes make for us when we visited her home in Queenstown was a large pot of noodles similar to this one, but she and her husband had also passed away at some point after we left the country. This meal evoked memories of her, her husband, their house, and the visits we would pay them when I was little.