Singapore, Travel

Singapore Sojourn: a first timer’s Lion City experience (part 3 of 3)

Posted by Cat Ramos

We went back to Tanah Merah for a bit of rest. Recharge ourselves before another round of shopping at…

Mustafa Centre
MRT: Little India

If the Philippines has offbeat shopping centres like Greenhills and Divisoria, Singapore has Little India. In the daytime, Little India draws crowds into its shops, stalls and restaurants. The smell of Indian and Malay food mixed with the incessant sound of vehicles and people makes the place feel really alive and vibrant. Frantic, even.

My friends advised that the best time to go shopping in Mustafa is during dawn, when there are very few people and one could shop at a more relaxed pace so we went there at 2am.

Mustafa Centre, Little India

Mustafa Centre is a 24-hour department store (kind of reminds me of SM Carriedo, for some reason) that sells all kinds of goods ranging from fragrances, cosmetics, clothes, food and quirky souvenirs. All at unbelievably low prices! So low that Arol and I even bought D&G Light Blue colognes on a buy-one-get-one deal.

Where I got really crazy with my credit card was at the food section. Rows and rows of chocolates being sold for more than half the price in Manila. They even have chocolate variants that I have never seen in the Philippines.

Alas, I couldn’t get as many as I wanted because I would have trouble bringing them home as I didn’t bring an extra suitcase with me. I know, pretty stupid.

Still, I managed to get some nice stuff for myself, my family and colleagues. At the end of that short shopping trip, I had 2 heavy bags full of goodies, not sure how on earth I am going to get them on the plane. But I decided I’ll worry about that later 😛

On Sunday morning, we woke up a little later than normal. Must be from all that walking and eating we did only a few hours earlier. Anyway, we all felt refreshed and ready for yet another day of sightseeing and shopping.

For brunch, we had KT’s ultra yummy homemade tapa and rice. According to Arol, that is one of KT’s specialty dishes. And there is no doubt why. The tender, garlicky beef tapa is flavored with just the right amounts of sweetness and tanginess that you would expect from a great Pinoy restaurant. Only, this isn’t from an expensive restaurant. 😉 I asked KT for the recipe, and apparently, he just likes winging it as he cooks. Aww, there goes my tapa ambitions.

After that filling brunch, Ray, Joyce and I headed to the…

Singapore Expo
MRT: Expo

Several sale events were happening at the Expo: a furniture sale, an appliance fair and a Nike sale that we just have to go to. No surprise that the place is packed with people.

I was tempted to get a flat screen TV. Converted to Philippine peso, it only came to about P9,000. Still, I know I couldn’t because again, there’s the problem of bringing it home.


Most of the shoppers were at the Nike sale. We lined up behind one of the queues snaking into the doors, and found out that we were nowhere near the actual entrance! That’s how long the lines were, and after a few minutes, we just gave up and left. We figured we could spend our time a lot better somewhere else so we took a cab going to….

MRT: Queenstown

Anchorpoint is a mall that houses several outlet stores like Giordano and Charles & Keith. My favorite store has got to be this shop called Forget Me Not. This store is full of clothes, bags and other accessories with kitschy designs. They have ribbon belts, lunch bags shaped like old radios, and Andy Warhol Campbell soup bags. But what I really loved was the bag made out of old jeans. It even has a “belt” made out of an old necktie. I loved it so much that I just have to tell the shop lady. I will definitely come back to this shop!

Forget Me Not has got loads of cute stuff like Andy Warhol print totes

Right across the street is…

MRT: Queenstown

We badly need an Ikea here in the Philippines

I definitely have to go to IKEA. I have never been to one my entire life but I have seen catalogs of their stuff and everything is so beautifully made.

I had a fun time going around the show room, marveling at the ingenious interior designs they made for very small spaces. They even managed to design an airy and functional space out of a 55 square meter area, complete with living room, kitchen, dining room, 2 bedrooms and a surprisingly large bathroom.

Cute bedroom setup for a little boy! Will get one in the future ^_~

I had to keep myself from buying stuff, keeping in mind that I don’t have a lot of luggage space left after all that shopping in Mustafa. I only bought a garlic peeler/press which I saw in Arol’s catalog, then went back to Ray and Joyce, who were eating at the food hall. I wasn’t hungry so I just waited for them to finish. Then we all headed to…

ION Orchard
MRT: Orchard

At this point, I was beginnging to feel that things are becoming cliched. Shopping here and shopping there and I was getting bored by the minute. I never thought I’d say it but yeah, all this shopping was boring the heck out of me. 😀

Don’t get me wrong, ION Orchard is a fantastic mall with lots of things to see and do. Many nice-looking restaurants too. But I guess there’s only so much shopping I can do in one weekend. 😛

When Ray and Joyce were trying out stuff in H&M, I was just idly sitting to one side, silently praying for them to quickly finish so we can all go home.

We were there until H&M closed. I don’t even remember if they bought anything. I just wanted to get on the train and sleep because tomorrow morning, Arol and I are going to the Harry Potter exhibit at the ArtScience Museum. Wipee! That is surely going to be one of the highlights of this trip.

Back at Tanah Merah, we had a little dinner of instant noodles (haha) before packing away our stuff, as we are due to fly back to Manila on Monday afternoon. But of course, not before going to the Harry Potter exhibit 😀

Like a kid on the eve of the school trip, I couldn’t sleep right away. I kept thinking of the exciting things I will see in the exhibit. I read somewhere that there are interactive areas in the exhibit: you try to score points in Quidditch by shooting quaffles and you get to uproot some Mandrakes and hear them scream.

When I woke up the following morning, it was almost lunch time. WTF happened??? How come nobody woke me up? Turns out, Arol was already awake by 8am and was only waiting for me to wake up. Waaaah! I messed up our HP visit! Argh, so stupid. Why am I such a sleepyhead. Grr…

Anyway, she says it’s OK and we can still go some other time. I do have another SG trip scheduled in August so I still have time to catch the exhibit (which runs until Sep 30). Still, it was pretty disappointing and I was so looking forward to it.

We did some last minute packing before heading to…

Changi Airport
MRT: Changi

Our flight was at 2pm and after checking in our baggage, we headed to the GST Refund counters. We spent a lot during our short stay, so it was a little comforting to know that we get a little of that money back when we go home 😀

Lining up for our GST refund

After GST, we still have lots of time to eat and go around the shops. Again? Well, there’s really nothing much you can do in an airport, is there? But there are a lot of nice stores in Terminal 1, and duty free too. I got myself some Bobbi Brown BB Cream, which I haven’t seen anywhere in Manila, and a cute Harrod’s tote bag.

Where we had our coffee while waiting for our flight — the supervisor is a very nice Filipina ^_^

A funny thing happened at the Harrod’s store. I was choosing among different designs (they were all so cute…and expensive, so I can get only one), when all of a sudden, I hear the shop attendants talking excitedly behind me. When I went up to the till to pay for my bag, the cashier asked me where I got my denim jean bag! 😀 They were wondering if I made it myself or bought it. So I told them were I got it. I suspect they will all rush to Anchorpoint after their shift to get the remaining denim bags 😉

Before leaving Singapore, we still had a bit of time for another “blooper”: we spent so much time going around the shops that we lost track of the boarding time. All of a sudden, we heard our names being paged from the loudspeakers and we ran like never before in our lives. What a close call!

My first trip to Singapore was very short and packed with mostly shopping activities. But it was fun visiting this clean and beautiful country. Surely, Singapore is a lot more than glitzy shopping malls and luxurious high-rises. Its history is rich with Chinese, Malay and Indian influences, which I am excited to learn about. I am definitely looking forward to seeing, exploring and experiencing more of Singapore in my next trip, coming soon! 🙂

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