Nov 21, 2006

SINGAPORE, PROMAX

It's the 3rd time I've been to this city / country / island, and again, I'm here for free. I don't have to pay for accomodation and transportation, and I even get allowance (except for the 2nd trip).

1st, in 2004, was when I worked for a TV station as a creative staff for the show called "Popstars". The first reality/singing-contest in Indonesia. We took the 5 winners for a trip to Singapore, courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.
Most memorable moment : Max Bungee at Clarke Quay.




(that's me up there..!)

Stayed at : Hotel 1929, Chinatown. A unique boutique hotel with extremely small rooms arranged very effectively. I.e: flat TV hangin on the wall to save space.




2nd, in 2005, was when I worked for a multinational production house which co-produced the big program "Indonesian Idol". We took the 12 finalists on a trip to Singapore and watched the 3rd American Idol's finalists perform at Singapore Indoor Stadium, including Fantasia the winner.
Memorable moments : bar-hopping with Tina & Deazy at Mohammad Sultan Rd, not because we loved the bars so much, but because it was difficult to find a bar with good music. We ended up hanging out in a cafe near our hotel.





Our round trip by Valuair.

At the check in counter at Changi.

Stayed at : Gallery Hotel. No photo.

Before my 2nd and 3rd stay in Singapore, actually I went to visit this city of obedience on my way to Bangkok . But it was not more than 3 hours, and it was only a visit, not a stay.

AND HERE IS THE 3RD VISIT STORY..

7 Nov: Arrival
8-9 Nov: Promax Conference
10-12 Nov: Extend

This trip was in courtesy of the pay-TV that I'm working for at the moment, to attend a conference for TV-promo people called Promax BDA Asia, Hitting The Right Spot.

FIRST DAY, TUESDAY NOV 7.

Agenda:
- Hotel Peninsula Excelsior
- night stroll at Orchard Rd.




Arrived at Changi at about 4 PM Singapore time. Note: Singapore time is 1 hour ahead of WIB. I guess we were so happy to be out of office for a couple of days and to attend a good conference, that we took lots and lots of pictures in the airport itself.



It was also our first trip together as a promo team. Too bad Fenia couldn't come because she got the mean dengue and Alvan failed to replace her because he couldn't get a passport in just a few days' notice :(

(in the shuttle)
Got on the shuttle minibus to the hotel. There were 8 of us to fit in the car of 7 passengers. I didn't think Singaporean drivers would allow us, but I guess Singapore has loosened up a bit these days. (That also shows in the increasing number of people jaywalking and littering.)

Peninsula Excelsior Hotel is a 3-star hotel located on Coleman St. near the City Hall.


Nearest MRT : City Hall, 5-10 minutes walk from hotel.
Across the street : Peninsula Plaza --> small shops, 7-11, foodcourt, and we bought our SingTel numbers there in a SingTel shop near the escalator on the 1st floor.
They were selling packages of :
S$8 number including S$10 worth of credit, expired in 6 months (so my number will be expiren in May 2007, and the rate is 5cents each SMS to local number, and 15 cents each SMS to overseas. I didn't care about the rate for calling to overseas cos I didn't wanna spend too much on it),
and the other is S$28 including S$100 worth of credit (this one has more exprensive rate per SMS and call).

Across 7-11 : a bus stop with a vending machine.
You can get bottled Coca Cola for S$1.70, etc.


After we checken in and dropped our luggages in our respective rooms, we had dinner in the foodcourt of Peninsula Plaza. Weren't many good choices and didn't look so clean, but we were starving..!
I had roast-duck rice S$3.50 + bottled water S$1.80.


Went by MRT to the famous Orchard Rd.


MRT City Hall -> MRT Doby Ghaut -> MRT Somerset -> MRT Orchard.
3 stops from City Hall to Orchard on the North South Line (NS).

MRT tips:

If you buy ticke for one trip only, it'll cost you S$1.90 (depends on how many stops). Then you can return the ticket at the last stop, and the machine will give you back your $1. So the fare actually only costs 90 cents.
If you buy an EZ-link card, it will save time for your trip, and the fare for each trip is cheaper. Say, for the 90cents by one-trip ticket, you only pay 60cents by EZ-link.
So we bought the card for $15 = $5 for the card + $3 deposit + $7 credit.
If it then runs out of credit, you can refill. If you return the card, you'll get your $3 back.
By the way, the card doesn't have expiration date, and it can be used for buses also.
(Thanks to my friend Budi for giving info on this card).

Because we spent a lot of time for waiting (guys, when you're out with your friends, pleeeaassse...coordinate where you're going, and don't let them wait for you and waste their time), we arrived at Orchard around 9 PM. And when we got to Far East Plaza on Scotts Rd, most of the shops were closed already.






We then hung around by the sidewalks of Orchard, met some friends from other Indonesian promo people, then went back to hotel by MRT again.
When midnight crave stroke, I just had to buy some cup noodles at 7-11.
Cup noodles : Good Choice $1.40 each.






SECOND DAY, WEDNESDAY NOV 8.

Agenda:
- conference @ Old Parliament
- Mustafa Center

A bit of chaos in the morning, preparing for our first day of Promax Conference. A walk to the Old Parliament building, where the conference is held, should be done in only about 20 minutes, but we had to walk around and around because one of our colleagues showed us the wrong way which was much more far. But she finally got us there, and we were all starting to be sweaty and the girls with high heels starting to feel pain on their feet. But hey, we hadn't had much exercise lately, so just look at the bright side ;)

Some of the nice buildings that we passed by on the way that morning:









After a 'networking breakfast' where we met people from other stations & got a lot of info & freebies from the exhibitors, the conference started at 9.45 AM sharp.





A free lunch courtesy of a creative director at a restaurant by the Boat Quay, about 20 minutes walk from the Old Parliament building.









Conference that day ended at around 6 PM. Of course, another picture on our walk back to the hotel :D



After taking a rest at the hotel, we went to shop at Mustafa Center and went there by MRT. The route made us change lines at the interchange station of Dhoby Ghaut.

City Hall to Mustafa Center:
MRT City Hall -> MRT Dhoby Ghaut (interchange)
MRT Dhoby Ghaut -> MRT Little India -> Farrer Park



MRT TIPS:

MRT stations usually have several exits, so make sure you get out of the right exit, so that you won't have to walk too far to get to your destination.
Hint: read the map, spot exactly where you wanna go, and then at the MRT station look for the exit signage that has the nearest location name to your destination.
But remember, it is always best not to show people that you're a clueless tourist, just to avoid some bad guys tring to get advantage of you.

We ourselves took the exit far from the Mustafa Center because we didn't realize there were other exits and we didn't even know exactly where Mustafa Center was located. So we had to walk in the dark and the environment didn't feel so friendly that we were afraid to get our map out. A few times of asking direction to a Chinese hawker finally got us there. Phewhh!!

Mustafa Center is a shopping center, a really big supermarket that sells just about EVERYTHING. I was eager to go there because a friend of mine said I might get an iPod for a lower price, but too bad he's wrong.
The place does look cheap, but actually the stuff aren't that cheap. They do sell cheap stuff, but not really at cheaper prices.
What do you wanna buy? Chocolates? Soap? Wax strips? Card-reader? USB flash? Discman? iPod? Clothes? Food? Watches? Or exchange money? You name it, it's there.
We didn't take any picture there because it just didn't feel so safe. Maybe it's just a 'myth', I dunno.

Took MRT back to our hotel at 11.30 PM. MRT is closing at 12 AM.

Third day, THURSDAY NOV 9.

Agenda:
- Conference
- Boat Quay
- swimming

Again, we walked to the Old Parliament, but this time by the right path :D
We saved our feet from further suffering, that way. And here are some (new) friends from other countries that we met at the conference.






Another excellent conference from 10 AM til 7 PM. A post party awaited at Q Bar near the Old Parliament,



but we went straight to the outdoor cafes by the Boat Quay to have dinner.





An excellent meal of rice, sea food, and vegetables spent us about S$200 for 8 people.







After the meal, Rifa & I decided not to join the party at Q Bar because we weren't crazy about drinks, so we went for a more healthy living instead. We went swimming at the hotel :D
A very nice see-through swimming pool behind the lobby. Feels like a fish in an aquarium when swimming in it.. hahaha.




FOURTH DAY, FRIDAY NOV 10.

Agenda:
- Hotel 81 Bencoolen
- Bugis Village / Junction
- Far East Plaza
- Clarke Quay

It's a free day today, so there's no rush in the morning whatsoever... :D

A friend of ours, Sasha, is scheduled to join us this day. Here's her detailed expenses from Jakarta to Singapore via Batam:

Air asia Jkt-Batam : Rp. 300.000
Airport tax : Rp. 30.000
Taxi airport-harbour : Rp. 50.000 [official is 70.000, negotiable]
Ticket Ferry Batam-Sin : Rp. 70.000
Harbour tax : Rp. 20.000
Fiscal Batam-Sin : Rp. 500.000
Value Air Sin-Jkt : Rp. 680.000

TOTAL : Rp. 1.650.000

She took the 7 AM flight, arrived at Singapore city at around 12 PM.
From the Ferry Terminal, Sasha took MRT at the Tanah Merah station directly to City Hall station. 10 stops, no changing lines.







Lunch at Funan Mall foodcourt, 3 minutes walking from our hotel.

After checking out from Peninsula Excelsior Hotel, some of us went straight to Changi and ended their trip in Singapore. While the rest of us who extended our stay - Rifa, Almer and I, plus Sasha who just joined us, directly checked in at Hotel 81 on Bencoolen St. which Rifa had booked for us via A Tour in Jakarta.

Hotel 81 Bencoolen:
The rate : +/- S$95 /room/night (2 persons).
Does NOT include breakfast, but they provide ONE cup noodle each room.
No smoking floor (lucky to us, bad thing for Almer :P ).
Clean. Quite small rooms. Hairdryer provided.
It was fine to me, I'm quite happy with the facilities.











The rainy season has started in Singapore. It would rain in the afternoons.
That's why we got stuck in Bugis Village, a shopping center consisted of small shops with relatively cheap stuff, but not really cheaper than ITC stuff in Jakarta. They sell mostly clothes, accessories, shoes, and there's a sex toy shop exactly beside the foodcourt.
Too bad we were too bush browsing for goods that we forgot to take pictures.
But these are some stuff that I got there, a camera bag for myself and Chinese-decorated wallets for the housekeepers.





When the rain got lighter, we crossed the street to the MRT station. We canceled our plan to Bugis Junction because we didn't want to get to Far East Plaza too late.



Us, having a li'l fun at the MRT hallways.. :P




81 - MRT notes:
Hotel 81 Bencoolen - Bugis MRT takes about 20 minutes walk.
Hotel 81 Bencoolen - Dhoby Ghaut MRT is only about 10 - 15 minutes walk.

Dhoby Ghaut is the station at the very end of Orchard Rd.

So, our MRT trip from Bugis Village to Far East Plaza on Scott's Rd was:

MRT Bugis (East West Line / EW) -> Dhoby Ghaut (interchange)
Then..
Dhoby Ghaut -> Somerset -> Orchard (North South / NS line)

At the Orchard MRT station, took the exit to Scott's Rd.



Walked about 10 minutes, and voila.. Far East Plaza.

My main to-find list in Far East Plaza is to find used-books stores. Too bad when I got there it was already almost 6PM and the bookstores were closing. I only had the chance to go in one of them, asked for the titles that my friend Badu wanted but too bad they didn't have it, and then browsed for any kind of books for a while, then the shop guys told me they were closing.

The shop actually sold some new books as well. I almost bought the Tintin series collection and the Roald Dahl collection because they said they're selling them at lower price althought they're new books. But I decided not to purchase them because I didn't even know what the real price was and I thought if they were new books, why would they sell'em cheaper?
So instead of buying books, I ended up buying.. umm... shoes :P



So, at Far East Plaza, you could expect to find:
books (new & used), clothes (many many of them), shoes (heaps of them), accessories (like a whole bunch), bags (gosh..too many), beauty salons, and of course food.


Dinner: Long John Silver's fast food at the basement.


A cute wall at the girls' toilet. Just couldn't resist to take a picture there.

About 20 minutes walk : Far East Plaza - Wisma Atria (Orchard Rd), including crossing the street via underpass.

Gosh, I just love Singapore for their well-planned and maintained signages. Unlike here in Indo, where maps aren't easy to find, signages aren't as details, and those general signages are even sometimes unreadable because the paint was gone or it's covered by tree branches. Geez..!

We met my friend Adjie in front of Wisma Atria. He came with his friend Andre. Almer couldn't resist the temptation of ice cream from the hawker old man.




Then as promised, he took us to hang out at Clarke Quay and we went there by bus. The bus stop was quite far, I think it took us more than 20 minutes to get there, but I don't remember.





At the Clark Quay:










FIFTH DAY, SATURDAY NOV 11.

Agenda:
- Sentosa Island
- Vivo City
- IKEA
- Kopitiam

Decide where we wanna go,


then have self-service breakfast at 7-11 across the street.







This is Sentosa Island day..!
Sentosa is a resort island where visitors can find many attractions, such as 4D cinema, The Luge (gokart-like), cable car, sky tower, beaches, underwater world, buttefly park, etc.

How to get to Sentosa Island:
We took MRT from Dhoby Ghaut to Harbour Front station, 4 stops on the North East line (NE).
Exit to Harbour Front at the MRT station.
Go to Tower 2 for a ride on cable car S$13 /each person, to the island and back.










Our main target was The Luge because it sounded so fun the way my friend Budi and the website described it. But too bad oh very bad it was raining cats and dogs all the while we were there... So every outdoor attraction and games were closed!




But somehow we managed to stay happy and enjoying the day inspite the rain. We even had fun with the cheap raincoats we bought for only about S$3 each.


And when we saw the 4D cinema we didn't even bother to take the coats off :D


As for the 4D film itself, it was just okay. The story was about a kid and pirates. The HongKong Disney's one was more entertaining to me.

Giving up on the rain, we decided to get out of Sentosa and go on with our adventure. An adventure in a brand new humongous mall called Vivo City :D

Vivo City is located at the Harbour Front. What kinda branded stuff you wanna find there, you name it. It's so huge that it has its own map, just like a real city.










At around 6 PM we had to end our shopping spree and left for IKEA.
Ikea warehouse is located nowhere near any MRT station.
So, we took MRT from Harbour Front station up to the Red Hill station, and then cross the street in front of a small 7-11 counter to a bus stop, and got on bus 33.
The warehouse is only 4 stops from there :)

Done shopping, we claimed our receipts put together to get return tax at the airport later when we're going out of Singapore. It's easy, just claim to costumer service, they'll stamp and write the note for you to claim it at the airport later.
Our receipts put together total costs more than S$200, but the tax that will be returned to us is only S$8.. hahahaha.. "Oh well, consider it as learning to fight for our rights!" said Rifa.

We were too tired and too happy to go back to the hotel by MRT, so we took the cab instead. After dropping off our shopping bags, it's a night out by the Kopitiam foodcourt, in the corner of Bencoolen St. - Bras Basah Rd.
Gosh.. how I wish I could do this a lot.. Just sitting eating and drinking by the sidewalk without worrying about the poluted air..







LAST DAY, SUNDAY NOV 12.

Agenda:
- Orchard Rd
- Bras Basah Complex
- Changi
- Jakarta

Damn! It's my last day in Singapore! I didn't feel like going back home...!!!! :P
But..oh well.. I guess you don't always get what you want :D

Because our flight is at 6:15 PM and check out time at the latest is at 2 PM and we still have some things to do before leaving, so we pack our bags and check out early at around 10 AM.
We deposit our bags at the lobby to pick up later right before leaving for airport, and now we have our last chance to shop for the stuff that we haven't got at Orchard. Rifa goes to Far East Plaza, Almer to some other mall, Sasha and I to Takashimaya and had lunch with our friend Adjie at the foodcourt there.

Some Thai curry at Takashimaya's foodcourt

My own agenda was to find some magazines at Kinokuniya (in Takashimaya) for my friend Budi, a bag that would fit my stuff and could be put in the plane's baggage, and see what Bras Basah Complex is about.

I finally got my bag at Lucky Plaza, S$50 plus the lock S$10.
Damn, I shoulda brought my own empty bag. I guess I just couldn't go anywhere without shopping more than I intended to :P
But hey, I've wanted quite a long time to have this kinda bag anyway :D


Then Sasha split to find some pairs of shoes at the Jierren (or was it Hierren) shopping mall. It's by the Paragon (a more exclusive mall) and it's whre the famous HMV is located. Also on Orchard Rd.
Adjie accompanied me to Bras Basah Complex. We took the wrong bus (well it's actually not wrong, it's just that this bus, I think number 64, doesn't go by the Complex exactly. After going along with the route as far as The Singapore Stadium, Adjie decided we just take the cab from there.




Bras Basah complex has lots of shops including Basheer and an art shop Art Friend. Wow.. it's been a long time I don't go to an art shop.. So maybe the stuff in the shop weren't so unique and new, but it was still a nice experience to me that day :)
The clock is ticking so we didn't have time to go in Basheer. There's a Basheer store at Blok M Plaza Jakarta as well, only the one in Bras Basah is bigger so they might have more variety of design books.
Oh well, I'll just go there in my next visit to Singapore (I hope there's any :P )

On our walk to the hotel we passed by the Singapore Art Museum.










It's 4 PM where we shoulda met an hour before :P
A cab to Changi, leaving Sasha who's still staying until Tuesday at her cousin's place.

The driver was very nice Chinese old man who also speaks Malay. He bought Almer & Rifa a plastic of soya bean milk when he stopped to buy one for himself since he, Rifa, and Almer hadn't had their lunch yet. And he told us about having jobs in Singapore, how much the salary for a fresh grad, etc.

About half an hour we got to Changi.


Check in, claim our S$8 tax return, bought more chocolate, and then waited a while at the gate D36.


One of Rifa's hand-carry got checked at the thing where they check your bags at the gate because there was some metal-y thing in the bag.




As much as we wanted to stay in Singapore longer and preferably get a job there ( :P ), the reality pinched us and we just had to go back to Jakarta.
So long.. farewell.. It was a great 6 days stay :)



2 comments:

  1. sapii! (mengumpat)
    ngelayap wae ieu budak...
    panjang lagi ceritanya..panjang juga harinya di singapur
    tar gue baca.. hepi2

    ReplyDelete
  2. i've been to that hotel (peninsula)
    1997
    quite a long time :D

    ReplyDelete