Where The Wind Takes Me – Day 41

Where The Wind Takes Me Series - Table of Contents

EntryNotable Places/EventsStart of DayEnd of Day
Day 0 - Apr 21-22 2024Plane (Edmonton > Calgary > Tokyo)Edmonton, CanadaTokyo, Japan
Day 1 - Tue Apr 23 2024Akihabara, Sensoji, Tokyo Sky Arena, Taiwan Food FestivalTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 2 - Wed Apr 24 2024Nezu Shrine, Tokyo National MuseumTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 3 - Thu Apr 25 2024Akihabara, Ginza, Yurakucho, Bocchi the Rock! Exhibition (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 4 - Fri Apr 26 2024Craft Gyoza Fes, Niku Fes, Odaiba, Kameido Tenjin ShrineTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 5 - Sat Apr 27 2024Niconico Chokaigi 2024Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 6 - Sun Apr 28 2024M3-53Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 7 - Mon Apr 29 2024Train (Tokyo > Osaka)Tokyo, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 8 - Tue Apr 30 2024Tsurumibashi, Expo Commemorative Park, Osaka Station (with Miyu)Osaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 9 - Wed May 01 2024Kyoto, Takenobu Inari Shrine, SaiinOsaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 10 - Thu, May 02 2024Train (Osaka > Tokyo)Osaka, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 11 - Fri May 03 2024Reitaisai 21Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 12 - Sat May 04 2024Japan Jam 2024 (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 13 - Sun May 05 2024National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 14 - Mon May 06 2024Plane (Tokyo > Taipei), Liaoning Night MarketTokyo, JapanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 15 - Tue May 07 2024Taipei Main Station Underground Mall, Ximending Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 16 - Wed May 08 2024Shilin Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 17 - Thu May 09 2024Raohe Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 18 - Fri May 10 2024Songjiang Market, Guang Hua Digital Plaza, Shida Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 19 - Sat May 11 2024Dihua Street, Huaxi Street Night Market, Guangzhou Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 20 - Sun May 12 2024Gongguan Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 21 - Mon May 13 2024Plane (Taipei > HK), Train (HK > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelTaipei, TaiwanGuangzhou, China
Day 22 - Tue May 14 2024Zhongfu Square, Alpaca Sighting (with Kel), Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 23 - Wed May 15 2024Panyu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 24 - Thu May 16 2024Nancun Wanbo (with Kel), Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 25 - Fri May 17 2024Train (Guangzhou > Xiamen), Zhongshan RoadGuangzhou, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 26 - Sat May 18 2024Xiamen Railway StationXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 27 - Sun May 19 2024Mingfa Shopping MallXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 28 - Mon May 20 2024Train (Xiamen > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelXiamen, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 29 - Tue May 21 2024Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 30 - Wed May 22 2024Tianhe Computer Town, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 31 - Thu May 23 2024Comic City, Shangxiajiu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 32 - Fri May 24 2024Train (Guangzhou > Hong Kong)Guangzhou, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 33 - Sat May 25 2024Wan Chai, Temple StreetHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 34 - Sun May 26 2024Chungking Mansions, Nathan Road, Ladies' MarketHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 35 - Mon May 27 2024Central Market, Sino CentreHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 36 - Tue May 28 2024Tea at Minimal (with WingBenny), Dragon CentreHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 37 - Wed May 29 2024Plane (HK > Singapore), Tampines N2 Shopping StreetHong Kong, ChinaSimei, Singapore
Day 38 - Thu May 30 2024Tampines Regional CentreSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 39 - Fri May 31 2024Lunch (with Debbie and Zixiang), Bras Basah Complex, I Light SingaporeSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 40 - Sat Jun 01 2024People's Park Complex, People's Park CentreSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 41 - Sun Jun 02 2024BishanSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 42 - Mon Jun 03 2024Dunman High School, Katong Shopping Centre, Parkway ParadeSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 43 - Tue Jun 04 2024Hell's MuseumSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 44 - Wed Jun 05 2024Flight (Singapore > San Francisco > Vancouver > Edmonton)Simei, SingaporeEdmonton, Canada
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts!Edmonton, CanadaWe'll see

Sunday, Jun 02 2024 (Day 41)

There was a large fly in my room that I had to swat off the bed a couple times last night, then another one in the toilet that I had to stare down until it went into a corner by the toilet bowl and disappeared. I want out of this place and back home where there aren’t many flies. This is probably the part I am dreading the most about owning my own home. Bug management.

Also the laundry came out with little white bits over my clothes as though a tissue paper exploded in the machine in the previous load or something. So irritating. And the clothes weren’t dry even after overnight so I hung some of it out in my room and left the air-con on when I went out today. This is probably my only wash here though, I should be able to ration my clothes and get home fine from here. To the place’s credit, I left the clothes spread out in my room and left the air-con on while I went out today, and they were all perfectly dry when I came back home.

Also, I feel like I have both too many and too few days left in Singapore at the same time, and by this I mean that I have too many days left because I don’t have specific things or places I want to visit, and I’m not sure what to do with my time besides visit random places and see random things (in reality — I have largely been visiting shopping malls which are mostly the same as the previous mall I went to). Yet at the same time, I have too few days left because even if I just want to do that mall hopping thing I mentioned above, Singapore has so many to visit that I feel like I can’t spend my time fairly enough and spread my time out properly among all the places that I could and want to visit. And there’s a good number of things I could do besides that too. So I feel like I’m wasting my time here in Singapore, or at least not spending it productively enough for how much effort and time and money it took me to get here.

This was actually why I wanted to spend a month here in Singapore initially, so that I could take my time and explore every nook and cranny of the country that I was born in. And so that I don’t have to feel the pressure of somehow making every day count because I’m only here for a few days, and instead have some days where I can rest and chill and make a home-cooked meal, some days where I can visit tourist attractions, some days where I can explore old memories, some days where I can just take the train way west (I am much less familiar with the west side of Singapore than the north, south, and east side) and drop at a random stop and start walking, and so on. I could have done all this if I had managed to come here to study, since I did do something like this on a much smaller scale in Kyoto. That 5-week experience was still somewhat rushed, since not all the time was mine alone, but I also felt like I could take breather days and enjoy life and just walk around to see things.

But I didn’t and won’t get to study here, so that’s out of the question, and I can feel the clock for my time left in the country ticking down every day even though I only spent 4-5 hours out exploring a day due to work and blog obligations and a general need for relaxation and shelter from the heat and humidity. It’s also generally said that it takes about a week of being in Singapore before one gets used to the heat and humidity, and I had hoped that being in Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong would give me a bit of a headstart in getting used to the climate here, but it hasn’t really. Instead, it drained my wanderlust battery (and made me sick). And by the time I get used to the climate here and am able to stretch my energy and willpower to stay out longer, it will be time to go home.

Anyway, due to this, I have been sort of trying to avoid visiting the same places that I visited the last time I was here, and spend my limited time on “new” places instead, although it hasn’t been totally possible to avoid this because I’m living in the eastern part of the country, not very far from where I was living the last time I was here in 2022, and not very far from our last house when we were living here as a family back in 1998. It’s somewhat impossible to avoid Tampines (the East 11 station in my mind) since it’s a very convenient and large hub, and is sort of a home for me, and basically next door to Simei (East 10) where I am living, but I’ve avoided visiting my previous homes at Yishun way to the north or Clementi way to the west so far, or malls like Sim Lim Square that I remember fondly from last trip, as well as several of the other stations on the eastern train line like Eunos (East 6) and Kembangan (East 7), since I’ve visited and explored those areas last time already. But I’ve double dipped (across both trips) on Tampines (East 11), Paya Lebar (East 5) briefly, and will probably visit Kallang (East 3) as well since that was such a pivotal part of my childhood, and maybe Pasir Ris (East 12) as well, and I do feel guilty when I do this, like I’m wasting time that I should be spending elsewhere. Same for visiting Marina Bay and the I Light Singapore festival since that’s also technically a repeat from last year.

I’m not sure what the end goal of writing all that down was, but I felt like I needed to record all that so that I can remember this feeling the next time I do plan a trip to Singapore. I think I will need to book a central hotel with a kitchenette (and in-suite laundry) for a longer period of time, at least 3 weeks if not a full month, and take more time to wander the country from that base of operations.

For today, I wanted to pick a new place to explore, although I knew that exploring via train station basically equals just yet another mall again, just slightly different from the others. But still, that was fine, as the malls are excellent for a chance to get out of the heat, and I had a few things I needed to buy for the family anyway.

It had rained in the morning but the rain had stopped by the time I started out on my walk today, and it was hot but not swelteringly hot as the sun was nowhere in sight. Could feel the humidity in the air though. I started with a walk to the Simei MRT Station, taking a slightly different route that took me past a laundromat embedded in the bottom level of a HDB block next to a couple of mom and pop shops selling daily necessities and random goods. I’ve never actually seen a laundromat in Singapore that was just embedded in the bottom level of a HDB block. I wonder why there aren’t more of them. I guess every home probably has its own washing machine anyway.

I also saw a couple playgrounds both on the way to Simei Station, and on the way back home later in the evening. Three of them in total I believe, though I only took pictures of two. These were notable to me because of the way they phrased the playground introduction on the signboard next to it — “Another playground by East Coast – Fengshan Town Council”. It gave me a rather passive-aggressive sort of mood. Like “Yeah, here’s yet another playground from us. Enjoy.”

I had lunch in one of two, possibly three, coffee shops/kopitiams located around the outside of the Simei MRT Station. Eastpoint, the mall attached to the train station, doesn’t have an actual food court located within it, which is rare for a REIT mall, though it has a good number of slightly overpriced restaurants inside of it. I’m not quite sure why, but maybe it’s due to the number of food places surrounding it. Or maybe it’s owned by a different group that just doesn’t prioritize it or something. I feel like Eastpoint has more of a feel of a “tier 2” sort of REIT mall rather than a big, central “tier 1” one like the ones in the Tampines Regional Centre, or downtown in Orchard Road, Raffles Place, or Marina Bay.

Anyway, the semi-outdoor place I had lunch at was called Hola cafe, and I joined a queue for a chicken rice store that I noticed had a queue of locals, which must mean that it was good, right?

The queue moved rather fast for how long it was, and I ended up with a bowl of Hainanese chicken rice for $4.50 in under 10 minutes. Yum. This was indeed a good meal.

I then took the East-West train way west, then swapped trains at City Hall MRT Station to the North-South line, heading north until I reached Bishan MRT Station. This station is three and four stops south of Khatib and Yishun Stations respectively, where most of my formative childhood years in Singapore were spent, and where I visited my last trip here  I know Bishan MRT Station as North 8, though it’s now known as NS17 since they started counting from the other end of the line when they renamed and renumbered everything. Most importantly though, I picked this station out of every other station on the line because my paternal grandparents, Ah Ma and Ah Kong, used to live in a house in Bishan, though I do not remember exactly where it was and no one in the family seems to remember what the address would have been even if the HDB block was still around, which it probably was not, and even if the extended family still owned the apartment, which we probably did not. (And even if they did, I had no intention of going there to visit them.) I do remember the stairs leading up to the apartment, and a little bit of the immediate vicinity around the building itself, but that was about it, and it was not nearly enough detailt to be searchable.

Yet, Bishan did hold a “tier 2” sort of special place in my heart, if that made sense, so I wanted to visit the place. I remember the train station being red brick themed, but that did not seem to be the case any longer, it was just a normal station now like any other. There was also, of course, a mall just outside the station now, which I do not think used to be there before. This mall was called Junction 8.

Perhaps the number 8 was chosen since Bishan used to be the North 8 station? Probably not, since a cursory search on Google Maps brings up a Junction 9 in Yishun, a Junction 10 in Bukit Panjang. Oddly, those are the only Junction [number] malls that I can find on a search. They’re all in the north side of Singapore. Weird. Anyway, this mall was sort of weirdly laid out, with a semi-outdoor walkway going through the middle of the ground floor of the mall that led to a bus interchange on the other side, and then entrances to the left and right that led to the air-conditioned mall proper, and a mall level above and I believe even below the ground floor that stretched above (and below) that tunnel walkway. In effect, the second floor of the mall felt more like the “ground floor” of the mall, in that the second floor was where the pit that the upper level circular walkways ended. And where there was a random sale going on. This was the second level down in the below picture.

And this, the view of the second level from an escalator between the third and fourth floors.

I took several other pictures from the mall and fluffed up the following gallery with them, because I have nothing better to say about them, except that for some reason one of the cafes in there had an outdoor roof garden attached to it.

Since lunch wasn’t particularly filling, I decided to have a meal here at one of the stores in the mall. This meal was Fishball Mee Pok Dry, from a store named Fei Siong, and once I ordered the dish and picked my noodle, the cashier who took my order gave the bowl of noodles to the old lady next to him who then proceeded to boil and cook the noodle in front of me, and then frowned at me when I took a couple of pictures of the process. Oh well. Too late.

It was good stuff. I enjoyed it well enough and even though there wasn’t a ton, it just cost $4. I mopped it all up and then wandered off to a washroom to clean my hands and mouth. Then I wandered outside and started exploring the surrounding area, finding a maze of small shops attached to the bus interchange that was on the other side of the mall from the train station.

I also found some cooked rice in the local NTUC Fairprice supermarket store, which surprised me a bit but is cool, as that means that I can eaily make nice rice/soup dishes if I had a kitchenette but not a rice cooker. It was somewhat expensive though, at $2.40 per 210g box, but the buy 2 get 1 free deal actually puts it at a pretty good price point.

I also noticed some familiar stores in the pictures above, like Giant Supermarket and Baker Talent, which also had outlets in the shops surrounding my local Simei MRT Station way out to the southeast of Bishan. I’d even end up buying a piece of bread from the latter later that evening. Otherwise it was a nice stroll through a local shopping area that wasn’t a mall. The weather was drizzling again by this point as well so it wasn’t like walking around in a furnace or sauna for once.

I bought a couple of things from the Watsons drug store in the mall for Kel and Mom, after doing way too much research on which store had the best prices for the items. The items in question were Tiger Balm plasters/pads, and they came in both a small and large packet version.

There were multiple health/drug stores that sold these, mostly in packs of 3 (one store had a pack of 9), and I went window-shopping to make sure I had the best deal. The prices I wrote down were:

Small (3) $4.65 each
Large (3) $5.70 each, 3 for $13.70
Large (9) $14.35 each

Large (3) $5.70 each, 3 for $13.65

Small (3) $4.65 each, 3 for $11.15
Large (3) $5.70 each, 4 for 30% off on $18 purchase

Small (3) $4.65 each
Large (3) $5.70 each, 3 for $13.65

So obviously Watsons had the best deals, and that’s where I went, since $5.70 with 30% off meant $3.99 per large pack, and the family wanted a mix of both types. Three small (for $11.15) and four large (for $15.96) I would do the trick, I figured. Except I didn’t read the overly complicated deal properly:

To get the deal price, I had to actually spend $18 on stuff that did not include the actual deal item itself, so I didn’t actually qualify for the deal, and my receipt came out to $33.95 (3 small for $11.15 and 4 large for $5.70 per). When I studied the receipt and noticed this, I inquired to the cashier and was told about the fine print, and I then asked if I could pick up another 3 small ones and add that to the receipt to trigger the sale price. They actually said yes to this, and helped me adjust the receipt once I brought another 3 of the smaller packets up. So I ended up with 6 small (2 * $11.15 = $22.30) and 4 large (4 * $3.99 = $15.96) for a total of $38.26 for 6 small and 4 large packs, much better than $33.95 for 3 small and 4 large packs.

That was nice of the Indian ladies at the counter to help me adjust my receipt, though they had to pull out a calculator and the one cashier girl had to enlist the help of the other cashier girl to figure it all out. I appreciated that.

After all that fun, I hopped back on the train and headed back home, using an alternate line (the Circle line) that bypassed the North-South line and the busy Raffles Place/City Hall interchange stations. This line was driverless and was new to me as well, in that it didn’t exist when we left the country in 1999, so it was nice to have an excuse to ride it. It put me at Paya Lebar Station, where I hopped on the next eastward train and got off at Tampines instead of Simei, as there were a pair of sandals that I had seen the other day, had thought about it in the intermittent days, and then had decided that I wanted to buy (if I could find the shop again) since I needed a couple of slippers/sandals for home use and they looked cute, if a little bulky. I did find the shop, called The Green Party in the Century Square mall, and made my purchase.

Part of the reason I had wanted the slippers were that the shop claimed to be a green living-focused shop, which I hope meant a modicum of focus on sustainability, as well as the slippers themselves being on a buy one get one sale, which made them a lot more palatable even if they broke down after a few months, which I think that “sustainability” and “green living” focused items tend to do due to lower overall quality. One of the two pairs of slippers that I got had no price tag on it, and they were the last pair of that type in stock so the cashier could not find its actual price as well, so she just gave it to me as the “get one free” item attached to the other pair’s sticker price. I also appreciated that.

While in Century Square, I heard a bunch of music playing and a lady talking in Chinese over a microphone occasionally. There was apparently a stage set up on the ground level beneath the shopping mall’s walkway pit, and some sort of featured guest group from some movie or other that was coming by later that evening. I didn’t stay to wait for them, but it was nonetheless neat to see.

The movie they were (or would be, as it had not released yet) from was apparently called I Not Stupid 3, a second sequel to two interesting-sounding local films.

I then went back to Simei MRT Station, and saw this gigantic snail wandering around on a footpath outside the station, pushed out of its usual bushes or wherever it came from by the continued drizzle.

That poor thing. I also alluded to this earlier, but I bought an interesting sounding piece of bread from a store (chain) named Baker Talent, and I will have this “Barley Leaf Cake” tomorrow morning. Hopefully it tastes okay.

I also bought a large bag of belinjo crackers for Dad from another store in the same row of shops, an Indonesian snack that he loves eating but has been unable to get in Canada. They cost $2.30 each and I wanted to get 8 bags for Dad, but the large plastic bag at the front of the store holding the belinjo packets only contained 7 packets, and the lady at the counter said that that was all she had, so I said I’d buy all of them anyway. The proprietress told me that new stock only came in on Fridays, so it would be too late for me to buy any more from her, though I wasn’t worried as I knew that many other small stores around the country sold it too, and at worst 7 packets was probably as good as 8 anyway because I had promised nothing. She also said to feel free to take the large plastic bag that the 7 packets were stored in too, which I did as it would be nice for storage purposes in my suitcase.

But as I was leaving the store, I saw her poking around with a stick at a bunch of bags on top of a shelf in her store, and she came down with another large plastic bag with more belinjo packets in there, so I laughed and went back in to purchase my desired 8th bag before leaving her store again. Hopefully that wasn’t an old batch or anything like that.

This store was directly opposite the tea store that I had bought a (warm) barley drink from three days ago, and that I had returned to to buy a (warm) water chestnut and sugar cane drink from today. I do like that store too, and by extension this entire row of shops that also included the bakery. The belinjo packets, Tiger Balm patches, and my weird discounted slippers were all later captured in this loot photo:

Finally, for dinner, I went inside the Eastpoint mall again and picked a random indoor restaurant to eat from, as I didn’t want to eat from the outdoor food courts while it was drizzling, even if they were sheltered from direct rain. Rain tends to bring out more flies and dirtiness than normal in those sorts of places, I believe. Not that indoor eateries have no flies in Singapore too — they do, and the place I ended up eating at certainly had some houseflies perched on a table that I cautiously avoided, but there are fewer overall.

I ended up eating from a store named 85 Redhill Teochew Fishball Noodles, where 85 Redhill was a location (85 Redhill Lane) on the west side of the island where I am guessing the original store of this chain was located.

I wanted to have their laksa, but they had sold out of that dish for the day, so I had their Signature 85 Fishball Noodle instead. Not too pricey, and the soup was really good, but the helping wasn’t particularly large either. Oh well, three small meals between lunch and dinner time work just as well as two larger meals.

I also learnt while in the mall that the store that I had bought a couple of clothes from three days ago, a store named Refash, was one of the larger second-hand clothing stores in Singapore. So that was nice, because that meant I was contributing less to the world’s fast fashion problem than I thought I was (not that that necessarily stops me from buying cheap clothing, as long as I plan to wear it for quite a while). I only put two and two together after reading about the chain while looking up second-hand stores in Singapore earlier in the week, and then seeing a Refash store with a similar pricing model over at Junction 8 in Bishan earlier today. And then coming back to Simei’s Eastpoint and seeing the same store here. This is another thing I’d love to do if I had just more time to spend here — looking through second-hand stores for loot.

The rain had mostly subsided by the time I was done, so I headed home and confined myself to my room for the rest of the evening to write out this thing.

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