Sunday, May 29 2022 (Day 4)
Today was the first day that saw me take a bus in Singapore. Up until this point i had religiously stuck to trains and avoided all the bus routes on Google Maps because trains were easy to take — they accepted Google Pay, so I just tapped in and out of the turnstiles with my phone. Buses, I thought, would be trickier, and I didn’t have the energy to learn an entirely new system. As it turned out, though, buses also use the same Google Pay system and I ended up just tapping in and out with my phone as per normal. I remember old orange bus tickets and red bus/train MRT cards and such the last time I was in Singapore. How times have changed, etcetera.
Anyway, with my newfound bus-taking powers, I took the bus down to Little India, starting off with a food court in its vicinity called Berseh Food Centre, for lunch. It was a nice, shiny double decker bus, and I sat in the front seats of the top level to take pictures.
Lunch at Berseh Food Centre came in two parts. The first part was Kelantan Kway Chap, from a store named the same thing as the dish name. Well I guess technically the dish name on the store front was just Kway Chap. It came in two separate bowls for mixing together at one’s own pace, cost $5, and was delicious!
I also went for some oyster cake, from a stall named Fu Zhou Poh Hwa Oyster Cake, on the recommendation of a couple food blogs. This one was.. interesting. I had never eaten anything like this before and wasn’t quite sure what to make of the taste. It wasn’t bad for sure, but it wasn’t something that I found tasty or memorable either.
I probably wouldn’t buy it again, but it did only cost $2.50.
After lunch, i walked over to the nearby Mustafa Centre, a huge department store in Little India that was apparently open 24/7. Pictures don’t do it justice as to how cavernously big it was.
It was something like 5-6 stories tall with a (closed) eatery on the 7th level, but it was so large that you couldn’t even really see one end of the store from the other end, lengthwise. It was also PACKED with people, mostly Indians due to its location. Huihan and Debbie had recommended the store yesterday if I were around Little India, as it sold basically everything under the sun, they claimed. They had forgotten to mention NOT to go on Sundays though, as Mustafa on a Sunday was madness incarnate. But I sort of liked the experience of going during peak queues, though I never plan to do that again. There were foot traffic jams everywhere, especially on the medicine and food levels, and even though there were multiple cashiers per level, every single cashier had a queue of over 20-30 people long.
I bought a USB cable cord, an umbrella, and a straw fan from this store, and joined what I thought was a short queue being served by two cashiers. It was a luggage bag queue though, and several of the purchases took inordinately long, there were several stretches of 5+ minutes where the queue didn’t move at all. I found out when I finally got to the front of the line — the Indian guy who served me moved at such a deliberately slow pace that I wondered if he was play-acting or something. Not only while keying in my items or credit card, but also even just when turning from me to the cash register or vice versa, it was like he was moving at 75% speed of a normal cashier so he didn’t have to process as many people in his shift or something odd like that.
After I finally extricated myself from that mess, I was kind of tired, but I continued strolling around Little India, running into some sort of market and gathering place where lots of Indians were gathered for no real reason except to pass the time, it seemed.
I felt really out of place there. No one paid me any heed, though, so I gawked around at the stalls and did some people-watching. It was really hot out, so after that little adventure, I sought out the refreshing coolness of random nearby malls as I traversed the city streets toward the nearest MRT station.
I took the train to the eastern end of the East/West line this time, ending up at Pasir Ris MRT Station. I had originally intended to go to a mangrove boardwalk thing there, but got distracted by other shinies and ended up at Pasir Ris Town Park instead, where there was a large fishing pond and several pretty restaurants and bars and walking trails. There were two ponds in the park, which were set up for fishing, and they had a line of fishing spots along the edge of the pond, as well as areas set up where you could rent a rod or sign up for beginner classes or look at fish tanks that displayed what fishes were in the pond.
There was also a hawker centre adjacent to the park, and I headed over there for some shade and dinner.
That hawker centre, the Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre, was kind of interesting. It was split into two levels, with the bottom level containing “normal” hawker centre fare, while the top level contained what was allegedly more expensive and exotic food, although I did a walk through of that level and didn’t find anything that appealed to me.
Instead, I went back downstairs and found a stall named Jun Yuan House of Fish, from whom i ordered their Chinese Spinach Seafood Soup with Wolfberries, and a side of rice. This cost $8.50, because I opted for a larger helping, though I passed on a fish upgrade that would have made it even more pricey. However, this was the best meal I had had up till that point in Singapore — the broth was exquisite and tasty and all the parts of the meal just came together so well. I just wish I had a bit more rice in the end since I downed it so quickly with the soup!
I don’t like repeating meals while on vacation but this one tempts me and I might just have another round of it at some point. I’ve seen other Jun Yuan House of Fish stalls in other hawker centres, at least, so I might at least try out the same dish at a different store at some point. Or one of their other dishes. It will definitely be a go-to if I do end up coming to Singapore to study in a couple months.
After dinner, I wandered back through the Pasir Ris Town Park, since nightfall had arrived while I was in the hawker centre. There were people still happily fishing away by the pond even though it was now night. I enjoyed the twinkling lights of the HDB flats that surrounded the pond, and the lights of the nearby bars and restaurants, in contrast with the darkness of the park and trails (punctuated by the occasional street lamp).
I then took my leave of the place, heading one MRT station west back to Tampines, as I had heard that there was supposed to be a night market scheduled to start tonight and run for a month or so. It was nowhere to be found though, and the organizers seem to have quietly cancelled it without telling anyone. I strolled around the three or four Tampines malls a little bit as well, since I was already there, before doing some shopping at NTUC Fairprice for several items that my family wanted me to buy and bring home. Canned tuna and dried porridge mostly. I lugged all that back to my homestay and called it a night.