Quick Trip to Singapore

Puteri Harbour Marina

Johor, Malaysia

Monday morning Randal and I went off to Singapore for a few days to buy some boat electronics and reading books. We were driven in the Puteri Marina van from the marina to the bus station in the nearby town of Gelang Patah. Arriving just in time, we caught the 9:45 am Causeway bus for the short trip across the Straits of Johor to Singapore. We got on the bus at Gelang Patah, off the bus at Malaysia Immigration to exit Malaysia; back onto a bus for the very short trip to Singapore Immigration where we got off the bus and went through Singapore Immigration to enter Singapore and then back onto a bus to Jurong East where there is an MRT station. If you’re quick you can get off a bus, deal with immigration and then get right back on a bus. If you hit a slow line in immigration, you miss the bus and have to wait for the next one. This trip we seemed to be waiting for buses all of the time. But then, we’re retired with all the time in the world. However, we were lucky enough to have seats on each bus. At times the buses are really crowded and you just have to stand up through the trip.

We got off the MRT at Bugis and followed the fast food signs to a McDonalds so Randal could get his “meat” fix. Then he walked off towards Little India to look for electronics and I went off to look for used books at the Bras Basah Complex. I bought Her Living Image by Jane Rogers and What Rosie Did Next by Nina Dufort though I’ve not read anything by either author (for ” 2$ Singapore” per book one can experiment.) This is how I choose a book. First I look to see if the main character is a woman which I prefer. Next in importance is the locale where the story is set. I have to be interested in the place, have been there or want to go there. Then I read the first page. If I like the writing, I buy the book. Sometimes I even pick books where the main character is male, but not so often. Meanwhile, Randal was browsing and buying his way through the electronic shops. He bought tiny LED bulbs that needed to be soldered individually into the circuit board for the overhead light in our pilot house. He bought other stuff too, but the list is too long though the items themselves were quite small. We did buy a rain cover for our motorbike and discovered there are hundreds of motorcycle and motorbike shops in Singapore. We had actually been worried about finding one. We both walked miles and miles carrying our backpacks and everything we bought. Our reward for all of that walking was to share a banana split for dessert after dinner at Swenson’s where we each ate a fairly healthy Caesar salad for dinner.

Next day we went off to Arab Street. My friend Ellen’s sister does beadwork and I wanted to bring her some beads from a shop on Arab Street. I like that area and when Randal’s nephew Tammy came to visit it’s where we did our walking tour. Most shops hadn’t yet opened and wouldn’t until 10 am or even 11 am. But luckily the bead shop was. Then we stopped for tea tarik and coffee susu.


Just near the Mosque were school children of Chinese descent on a visit to the area learning about one of the other cultures that makes up multicultural Singapore. The local man standing under the word Textiles on the left side of the photos seemed just as fascinated by the students.


I actually was more interested in taking photos of him than of the kids! Even here in Malaysia most men wear western dress so this fellow’s clothing caught my eye.


Actually, so did this woman who was so focused on working with her camera. I’m guessing that she is reviewing photos stored on her camera. She seems to be smoking though it’s odd that it is allowed where she is sitting. Singapore is quite strict about NO SMOKING rules. In Singapore her short skirt and top were acceptable. Across the Johor Straits in Malaysia she would have looked very much out of place even though a visitor.

We had made plans to meet our cruising friend Marie Louise who is still happily living on her boat Dessert First at One Fifteen Marina on Sentosa Island in Singapore. She has made many friends during the past year and early in August she was wined and dined and surprise partied for her 82nd birthday! We were to meet in the Borders Bookstore Café at Wheelock Place on Orchard Road at noon. Randal and I took the MRT getting off at Orchard and walked through the maze of underground shops and such to get where we needed to be at Wheelock Place. When we asked for directions to Borders, the young man at an Information Desk told us but also suggested that we might like to visit Prologue Bookshop. We had time so off we went to a section of the ION Mall where we’d never been in all of our visits to Singapore.

A shop called VOM FASS caught Randal’s eye.


A barrel of Scotch!

Randal wants one of the wooden barrels filled with Scotch for the boat though we fear that it might end up taken away by a very zealous customs official. The man and woman in the shop are the owners. He is from Germany and she from Singapore.


www.vomfass.com is the website.


I loved the bottles filled with colored liquid.


Alcohol, oils, vinegars.

There’s a recipes section on the Vom Fass website which, of course, calls for their products but you can adapt. http://www.vomfassusa.com/recipe.jsp?id=2523 is a tempting recipe for salmon.

After a lovely chat and with my tiny purchase we left Vom Fass and walked into and immediately out of Dolce and Gabbana. Very “upscale” shops on Orchard Road

At the bookstore, {prologue} I bought a copy of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and an instructional DVD about how to draw. As I was paying I had a lovely conversation with the store manager and left her with the address of our website. She wanted to come with us and I said if she could bring all of the books that would be great!

Randal and I made our way back through the Ion shopping mall over to Wheelock Place mall to Borders where we discovered the “in-store” café was closed. But we did meet Marie-Louise and had lunch somewhere else. The service was iffy at best and though Randal and I both ordered Diet Coke they brought one Diet and one regular Coke. My quiche was good and so was Marie-Louise’s bruschetta but they forgot to bring Randal’s meatball sandwich so we had to re-order and then it wasn’t very good anyway. When Randal pointed out on the bill that we had ordered 2 Diet Cokes the waiter’s response was that they were the same price. He didn’t get the fact that we had received the wrong drink and Randal hadn’t sent it back so it really didn’t matter at that point. That night Randal rewarded himself at dinner with a small steak and another banana split! Luckily we did lots of walking that day too.

After our lunch I stayed a bit longer to visit with Marie Louise. (Randal went off to pick up something he’d ordered the day before from a small shop in Little India.) After saying good-bye to Marie Louise, I started to walk back in the direction of Little India and our hotel. This would take me to the Dhoby Ghaut MRT across from the Singapore School of the Arts which I had walked past lots of times in previous visits to Singapore. The School had been under construction with the entire façade blocked off creating a sidewalk detour. Since my nephew Andrew received his Master’s of Design and now teaches at the Philadelphia School of the Arts I thought I’d visit the Singapore School and take photos for him. Randal and I will be leaving SE Asia soon after our return from the US so I didn’t think I’d have another chance. Well, other than these photos of the pretty impressive façade and entranceway I still haven’t seen it.


The new façade of the building which had been behind barriers while we lived at One 15 Marina for two months in 2009.


I walked back through the entrance and took the escalator up and the guard told me that I couldn’t go any further. Much of the school was still under construction. Classes were held but only students were authorized to go into the building. I suppose that’s fair enough. And the guard, though firm, smiled and was polite.


In a complete contrast to the guard, the few students I spoke to were horribly rude and snotty! I was amazed. I started talking to this young girl and boy and they were completely uninterested but at least, semi-polite. A few more of their friends came and they were just rude. I started to tell them about traveling around the world and learning about art and one of them all but said, “Who cares. Go away.” I said if they were artist, weren’t they supposed to want to communicate? To her credit the young girl in the white sneakers tried to cover for the boy who had spoken telling me that he was a “visual artist.” I don’t remember exactly what he said next but it must have made me mad because I said to him, “You do know that you won’t succeed very far in this world.” I thought later that I should have told him that if he was going to be that rude he had better be a great artist or he was in for big trouble. I was just amazed at that kind of rude behavior to an adult and an obvious visitor to Singapore. But these were teens and not graduate students like the Philadelphia School and there is a difference. And in all of our travels students have always been interested and polite. These kids were just spoiled brats!

I walked to the MRT near the school and got off at Little India. Randal was sitting in the outdoor restaurant next to our hotel and had ordered me a glass of white wine. Later that evening we walked back to Swenson’s and that’s when Randal ordered his steak and banana split and I had fish Caesar salad and a double scoop of ice cream. One scoop was durian which tastes like lemon sherbet mixed with sautéed onions and is actually quite good and one was purple yam and I ate them both!

Next day we packed up and returned to Malaysia and DoraMac. When I turned on my computer it acted dead and our front room AC wouldn’t work because the saltwater circulating system was stopped up. Randal fixed the AC by cleaning out the system and I fixed my computer by taking out the battery and letting the computer rest for a few hours. As Randal says at the end of his Facebook status reports, “Life in the Tropics.”

If the weather cooperates Randal and I will take the motorbike the 120 or so miles north up the coast road to Melaka on Sunday. We’ll go early in the morning to avoid traffic and the usual afternoon showers. Our friends Fien and Hans made the trip and it took them about 4 hours. I don’t like to go fast and we’ll need some breaks for rest and petrol. Yesterday we road to Gelang Patah to refill the bike and it cost less than $2 US for .98 gallons which is all the bike holds. We get about 100 miles per gallon cruising at about 45 MPH holding two western sized people. Our fuel efficiency should improve the more we ride so Randal says. We’ll keep you posted.