Monday, Jun 06 2022 (Day 12)
Monday started off with a few time constraints — my flight was at 6:30 am the following day, but I wanted to make it there on the last train tonight, which would leave at some point between 11 pm and midnight, depending on which station I was at. So I figured that I had to check out and leave my room by 10:30 pm or so. I also wanted to do laundry before I leave because I was going to use my clothes as padding for the food I was bringing back for my family, and some of the things in the suitcase was fragile. Besides, while I didn’t totally trust the cleanliness of the washing machine, most of my clothes were soiled at this point (as I hadn’t gone back to wash anything since the run-in with the cockroach on Day 5) and I wanted my stuff to be as clean as possible for the return trip. Also, I wanted a bit of time for a potential nap in the afternoon before I left, though in practice I didn’t really get this as I was busy catching up on some blogging.
In the morning, I took some house pictures, and then Kim, the maid, who declined to be photographed herself, offered to take some pictures of me. The owner of the house was still not home, as he had left on Day 3 or so for a trip to Malaysia and would only be back on Jun 07 after I had left. He asked me not to write a review on the site though as it was technically illegal for him to rent a room to me for a short-term stay (but not illegal for me to rent one to stay in, apparently). Something about the Singaporean government thinking that short-term house rentals affect the community due to transients moving in and out of the area or something, which is really short-sighted and idiotic of them and one of the few policies of theirs that I strongly disagree with. But anyway, I’ll post some pictures of the house at the very end of this blog that I took over the course of my stay as well, with GPS coordinates stripped as much as possible.
I then went out to the Tampines MRT Station again to have some food. But first, along the way, right near the Eunos Central Food Centre, I came across a shocking event that pretty much capped the day right there. Nothing that came afterwards could top it.
I walked right by this parrot calmly sitting on a metal railing next to the hawker centre and MRT station, just chilling there and chewing on a nut of some kind. Then I did a double take and stared at it, as did another guy who walked by soon after me. It was huge! What was it even doing here? It’s apparently a macaw parrot, but I never knew that Singapore even had wild parrots. Although I swore I heard an owl hooting outside my room every night but never knew that Singapore had wild owls either, nor did I ever find that bird. I was kind of afraid that it’d attack me or someone else as it was big enough to cause serious damage, or cuss me out in broken Malay or something that I wouldn’t fully understand, but it seemed docile, although I didn’t stick around to find out. It was majestic and awe-inspiring, though.
With that little incident under my belt, I took the train to Tampines MRT Station again and targetted a store I had seen but not eaten from yet. It was a confectionery store we had eaten from semi-regularly when we still lived in Singapore, and I knew it by name, as well as some of their more delicious snacks. Bengawan Solo!
I ordered a lapis sagu, which is a striped, sticky, colourful rice flour sweet snack that you can eat all at once, or peel off the layers one by one and eat it that way. I ate it all at once. It’s delicious! And I say this as someone lacking a sweet tooth (it’s not really sweet in the traditional sense). This is a Nonya/Nyonya cuisine snack, a mix of Malaysia/Indonesia and Chinese culture that they call Peranakan. I also bought a pandan cake slice, which can be eaten directly or “unwrapped” and eaten too. I basically unwrapped this one with my mouth and ate it that way. The cake was tasty and the cream was delicious!
These two together cost $3.20.
I then found an eatery nearby — I had been looking for this, as I had seen it in a previous Tampines walking video that I had watched, but had been unable to locate it and couldn’t remember exactly where it was again (and was unable to pull up the video to watch due to a relatively poor Internet connection — but it was more fun to search for things myself anyway.) The eatery was called Koufu, and it contained a number of stalls in it. I could have probably went for a better store, but I went for a dish called Teochew Mee Pok Dry, from a store called Chai Chee Bak Chor Mee, because I had not had anything like that on this trip yet, but I was somewhat familiar with the dish.
The dish was sufficient! It cost $4.50, and it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either. Probably my high expectations for a dish that I knew could be a lot better.
I then headed down to Lavender MRT Station, as I wanted to go back to the ICA (Immigration & Checkpoints Authority) building, where I had previously been to renounce my citizenship on Jun 02/Day 8, and talk to the Student’s Pass department there to find out if I would be eligible to get that pass while my renunciation was pending, so that I could come to Singapore to study. There was again a HUGE crowd outside the building, but they were mostly there for passport-related matters, so I bypassed the queue entirely and went into the 4th floor of the building to join a much shorter queue.
Eventually, I met up with a representative who told me that I actually probably couldn’t successfully apply for a pass until my renunciation process was completed, even though it would be backdated to the time that I actually submitted the application. And that was a 2-3 month process, minus however “expedited” they could make it. It was slightly disappointing to hear that, but then again I had gotten a lot of nostalgia for Singapore out of my system within the two weeks I was here, and the weather and humidity and insects was starting to wear down on me, so whatever! And the more important part was that I would soon be finally able to enter the country at my own discretion again, which was far more important. Still, she said she couldn’t say for sure, so I decided to talk to my NUS rep and my UAlberta rep once I got home.
For the moment, I left the building, and I noticed on the map that I was near another one of Dad‘s old workplaces, Golden Mile Complex and Tower. Dad said he worked in Golden Mile Tower, although I remember the Complex more than the Tower as a location for some reason, so while I did a walkthrough of both buildings, I largely took pictures of the Tower, and not the Complex. Both buildings were indie malls a couple stories high, with (I think) office floors above that that I didn’t get to, though a lot of the shopfronts in the Golden Mile Tower were shuttered. Golden Mile Complex had a ton of Thai food places, and supporting Thai shops like spices and groceries. It seemed like that was what that shopping centre was specialized in, which was really neat to see.
I then crossed the road to reach the Golden Mile Food Centre, which I had passed by on the way here. It was a two storey hawker centre, with some army-themed shops on the third floor which apparently were popular with enlisted soldiers who needed supplies and would come by on the weekends.
This was my final non-airport meal in Singapore, and it was a good one! I ordered a quintessential Singaporean dish, Hainanese Chicken Rice — to be precise, this was Hainanese Steamed Chicken Rice (there was a Roasted version too), from a store aptly named Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice, and it cost $4.50. The queues were odd, as there was a central queue for people to order as well as two side queues for people waiting for their dish to be made. Everyone was a bit confused and I bonded with another girl and a couple other guys over the uncertainty of where to line up and make one’s order and then the agonizing wait for the yummy-looking food, but there was no question that it was cheap and delicious.
This was a very good final meal (especially since it even came in separate bowls, which added a chic touch to it), and I would come here every day if I lived in the area. Yummm. I cannot describe how soft that chicken was, and it was great that it was boneless. The sauces were great too (though the gingery sauce could have used a bit more kick) and I even finished the soup, which I don’t always do as I’ve been trained by parents to note that hawker centre and kopitiam soup usually is full of ajinomoto, or MSG/monosodium glutamate, which apparently contributes to hair loss (in our Chinese family folklore anyway — or maybe this was another bit of my childhood of deception), and thus to err toward leaving the remainder behind where possible.
I also bought a drink from a store that seemed to be just called Coffee. Nice and succinct name, I guess. It was an Ice Barley drink but the ice didn’t sufficiently cool the barley enough by the time I drank it all, I guess because the barley was stored too warm to begin with so the ice didn’t take effect in time, so it was somewhat bleh. It was another $1.20, and i was glad that I was going to shell out for a more expensive $1.50 drink but avoided doing so in the end because a 20 cent coin “jumped” out of my purse, demanding to be used. So I saved 30 cents on a bad drinks stall.
After downing that drink, I took a walk around the food centre, noting oddities like this sign:
I’d never heard of the term “touting” being used like this, but I guess it works as a synonym for soliciting. I went up to the third floor and took a look at some of the army stalls there too.
Interesting. From there, I took a bus to Kallang MRT Station, which was a bit of serendipity since that was the first station I visited after checking in to my home and starting out on my Singapore journey back on May 26/Day 1. I took a photo that more or less matches the first photo there that I took.
And then headed home to do laundry and cleanup and packing. This majestic tree by the Eunos Food Centre also asked politely for a picture to be taken of it, and I complied.
Lastly, but not least, I took followups at night of this photo from yesterday’s blog post, since the setup was now complete and there were Chinese words on the signs now.
I believe this has to do with (notification/advertising for) a funeral but it’s hard to tell for sure, although the wording that I can barely see seems to indicate that. Interesting that I saw both a Chinese funeral (assumedly) and a wedding (assumedly) while here.
Here’s a collection of pictures from the house. While the house was interesting, and I enjoyed the peek at another culture, there were definitely minor problems here and there as well. Bugs are one of them — although my room was on the second level and thus never saw a whiff of any cockroaches, there were still some small flies that got in and buzzed around now and then, and a huge lizard that wandered the walls of my room on the final day that I was in there. Thank goodness that was my last evening!
I saw at least two cockroaches downstairs in the outside kitchen/laundry area, a dead one that got in to the house on the ground floor near the kitchen door, a housefly, and a tiny lizard, during my time there as well. Now, these denizens are not unique to the house, they’re a consequence of leaving the door and many of the windows open all the time and also of living on the ground level (in a bungalow) of Singapore, and even our higher storey HDB apartments when we lived here harboured all of those occasional pests and more. Kind of a way of life in Singapore, plus the occasional spider and mosquito (neither of which I actually saw while living there), and liberal doses of insecticide will get rid of any cockroaches, which are the only really harmful ones of that lot.
Other negatives include how my “neighbour”, the one I shared the toilet with, did not keep it particularly clean and also forgot to unlock his side of my toilet door after he was done with the toilet three times, to which I had to go knock on his door and request that he open it. He also had a guest over during most of those times so it might have been that guest that used it that way.
They also broke the “free breakfast” arrangement that they had laid out in the homestay ad. They compensated for this by tleling me to drink as much tea as I wanted though — they had several big boxes of tea and I averaged probably between 1.5 and 2 cups a day while there, out of principle for them reneging on the breakfast deal without giving me a discount, even though the house was cheap enough as is.
Despite all that, I liked the house overall — the room was cool, comfortable, fairly clean, and private, every single person I met was friendly (except the kids, who were shy), and any request I had (mostly around laundry) was met without question. It was also a good experience to live in another culture, in a bungalow in Singapore instead of a hotel or a HDB flat, to be trusted to do whatever I wanted to, to have no curfew, to live in a share house with multiple other families, and even to live in a house with doors and gates that were unlocked/opened 24/7 and still feel relatively safe — especially since with a lock on my bedroom door, if any burglars did come in they still wouldn’t be able to target my stuff. All cool experiences, though nothing I’d ever want to go back to do. I made some acquaintances and never felt frightened or worried, and it was fairly cheap to boot. I’d rate it at a 7/10 or so, with points lost for location, cleanliness, poor technology (no TV access and the Internet was VERY spotty and unreliable — too many people using it, I think), and the breakfast thing.
These pictures are pictures taken from various points of my stay there. GPS data has been stripped from them, and they’re all indoor shots except for one on the last day, in order to try to make it as difficult as possible to pinpoint the location of the house (since they leave their doors unlocked).