Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Walk in Singapore Part 1

Plus cheat code

Taking a little break off Gunpla-ing and other hobbies on Ex during this Chinese New Year to talk about something special instead. ^^

Then again, this posting has been overdue for 3 months now I believe. ^^;

I went to Singapore late October last year for a prize giving ceremony. The trip was three days in duration, but the ceremony was on the first evening only. So minus the last day (Sunday) when I had to check everything and leave for the airport in the afternoon, I had a full Saturday to walk around Singapore. ^^

There was a tour set up by the organizer, but being someone who enjoys walking around places on my own seeing new things only I would deem special, ^^; I didn't take the trip. Furthermore, the tour didn't cover the places I wanted to visit back then, so I didn't miss any bit of it at all. ^^

Anyway, I made a grand plan to walk around the places my legs could bring me to that Saturday (October 24th), starting with a place I longed to visit since my trip to Singapore 5 years back. But of course, early in the morning, charging up the fusion reactor is top priority ^^

I stayed at Link Hotel in Tiong Bahru Road by the way, so the walk started from there of course.

"Older" type shop houses along Tiong Bahru Road. The design of the shop banners and the setup of the shops are very close to the shop houses in my place.

Stop 1: Tiong Bahru Food Center

Breakfast at Tiong Bahru Food Center. Everything except preparing the food is self-service. ^^

I had Duck noodle and tea, which was less than SGD $5.

Below the food court is the wet and dry market area. The uncle running the apparel store was smiling at me when I was taking the photo. ^^ But staking Manchester United's banner in front of Liverpool's? No large photo for you then ^^;

A few Skyscrapers can be seen.

More walking with twist and turn here and there and I arrived at:

Stop 2: Tiong Bahru Plaza

A huge shopping mall almost like it's out of nowhere in Tiong Bahru Road. You can see the huge contrast between the "old" shop houses shown just now, and a very modern shopping mall that is of Tiong Bahru Plaza ^^

McDonald with Mandarin shop sign can tell you who are the main customers of McDonald in that mall, and perhaps the majority ethnic group of Tiong Bahru ^^

A view of the mall as I moved up on the escalator. The black wall blocking the view is actually the stage area.

Comic Connection in Tiong Bahru Plaza - very few Gunpla spotted. ^^

UFO Catcher! ^^ No Banpresto stuff spotted though. Luckily for that, else Tiong Bahru Plaza would probably be my last stop of the day. XD

Fusion reactor recharged, now to get to the place I wanted to go the most for the day. Time is of the essence, so I didn't bother to check about which MRT or bus service that can bring me to that place. It's was a rushed trip in the first place, so I didn't have time to research on that before I went to Singapore.

So a cheat code is used instead: T-A-X-I.

It was about 11AM in the morning on that Saturday, and traffic was very smooth. I arrived at the place in no time at all. ^^ Taxi charge was about SGD $8 I think.

And there it was, the place I longed to return after so many years:

Stop 3: Brash Basah Complex

Shot from another side of the building

This is one of closest stores near the entrance (one of the many) which I remember very well. Chairman Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution's sculptures on the top shelves ...

... and many really old Chinese books on wandering warriors and adventures. ^^
Looks like that from my grandfather's archive. ^^

Prajna Music is a music store on the ground floor of Brash Basah Complex. If you like Buddhist, New Age and other related music, this is a store you have to stop by. ^^

Bought a few books from 青年书局.
Forgot that I had to carry all the books around throughout the trip. ^^;

Many sculptures from the famous Chinese literature, "Dream of the Red Chamber" (红楼梦) outside the bookstore, which are exactly the same as how I remember them from my previous trip. ^^

Another bookstore 友联书局

Super-duper old-school 开明书局, which was locked on that day. Looking through the gates, all the items look like they are from the '70s. ^^

Lunch at the food court in Brash Basah Complex: yam rice with Tom Yam Soup plus ice tea - SGD $6 or 7 I think.

There are a lot of other bookstores in Brash Basah Complex which are not shown here actually. You can get up to 4 bookstores on the same level in the building. Not sure why, but many of them maintain a special "nostalgic" feel inside - old bookshelves with plenty of used books, magazines, novels, reference books, children books and comics since the '80s are also available for bargain. They are so abundant most stores have them stacked outside the shops. You just go and pick whichever you like. ^^

And pay of course ^^;

There are several other bookstores like 友联书局 and 开明书局 which are more tidy and organized. The earlier have more than 2-meter tall bookshelves filled with all sort of Chinese books, while 开明书局, which occupies more spaces than the other stores, has a more modern-like feel about it.

Also, by saying the two stores are "more tidy and organized" doesn't imply that the others are the opposite, just that the others don't have the books sorted as well as the two. It never bother me actually, because I love all of them just as much. ^^ You could walk in to any bookstore, wander in the sea of books and listen to the sound of pages flipping. That's such an awesome feel for me. Totally touched. ^^

Furthermore, I consider many of the books there old antiques, or treasures. If not for the time constraint, I would have lingered there even longer, and dug up some really cool stuff. ^^

Came out of Bras Basah Complex at around 2.30PM and started some serious walking. ^^

Just opposite Bras Basah Complex is Allison Hotel.

Nice bike on the pedestrian walkway. ^^

A typical road sign in Singapore.

Right next to Allison Hotel is a small food court.
Have my snack of small bun with butter filling and a fried dumpling with soft drink there, about SGD $3 I think.

The walks continues after the food court.
Not sure what building this is, which is situated right in front of a bus stop, but from the design, I'm pretty sure it's has some age already.

St. Joseph Church

Right across St. Joseph Church is the National Library.
A contrast of old and modern buildings face to face. I like very much. ^^

Walk-see along Middle Road - The Bank of China

Walk on and many colorful buildings started to pop up

And then, moving into the really cool Bencoolen Street ^^

Stop 3: Bencoolen Street

Sri Krishnan Temple at Bencoolen Street

A banner showing the history of Sri Krishnan Temple.

Extremely beautiful sculptures outside Sri Krishnan Temple.
The small table and green chair belong to the guard.

Pigeons conferring about action against the no feeding sign on the street XD

Across Sri Krishnan Temple is Stanford Arts Center with very interesting graffiti on its wall.

Right next to Sri Krishnan Temple is Kuan Inn Thong Hood Cho Temple (观音堂佛祖庙)

Visitors hoping to receive good luck by touching the statue of Laughing Buddha outside the Chinese Temple. Foreign visitors do that too. ^^

Apart from being mesmerized by the beauty of the two temples, especially Sri Krishnan Temple. It's amazing to see how the two religions coexist side by side so harmoniously. I saw people praying in both temples. No problem at all.

Back in October, the "one religious word" incident happening in my country haven't erupted yet, but after the news, when I remember my stop outside these two temples in Singapore, I just couldn't help but to feel sad about the mentality of my countrymen today. The two temples are obviously built in our great-great grandparents' age, how could they live with each others so well back then, they could allow their sacred buildings to be erected right beside each others. Do the people involved in the incident think that their ancestors were less concerned about religions and that they couldn't agree to that, or has the younger generation degraded into religious zealots overtime and forgotten the generosity of our ancestors?

Either way, it just goes to show how narrow minded certain people are today. I hope that such group of people either wake up soon, or everyone else maintain their big heart and live with each others as harmoniously as our ancestors.

My friend told me of a place in Melaka (that would be Malacca for oversea friends) where a Muslim mosque, an Indian temple and a Chinese temple were built next to each others, by the earlier settlers similar to the two in Bencoolen Street. I would love to visit that place as well and be inspired by the people from the older days.

Next round: going to Bugis Street. ^^


Chris said...

I went to Bugis near Middle Road too.
Was surprised that no Gunpla was mentioned in this post at all.

I just went straight to Hobby Arts Gallery from my December trip last year.

Anonymous said...

lol welcome to singapore ^^ there should be the Sunshine plaza somewhere at that area, then that plaza have 1 or 2 figurine shops and one of them is gunpla specialized!!

Ngee Khiong said...

I was not looking for Gunplas in that trip.

Cass said...

That looks like a nice journey so far. I'm surprised you could remember what you did so well after 3 months (if I ever do a post this long after, I would forget a lot of the details already). XP

It is nice to flip through books until you might find something that might be a good read. ^^

I do have to agree as well on the last note of this post. I was pretty surprised such a thing would occur in our country...

Daymien said...

I hope you have a enjoyable trip here!!

Anonymous said...

Hey i went to the Kuan Inn Thong Hood Cho Temple on the 13/2/2010 to pray hehe

Anonymous said...

That remains me, there's a guy named actar who live Singapore. He mostly do reviews on Code Geass and figma figures. You should really check out his youtube channel. You do remind of him, except the fact that he is not gundam fan.

Winston said...

Happy Chinese New Year pal, hope u have enjoy your trip in Singapore. I saw your photos at the 2 temples, actually you miss quite a lot of interesting places. If you have been with me, I will bring you to Bugis Village (Day/Night Street market), Sim Lim Square (Electronics & Computer Mall), The Bencoolen (Mostly for watches), Bugis Junction (Shopping Mall), Iluma (Shopping Mall), Sunshine Plaza (model kit shops)and a nearby famous soya bean store.

Yu Xiang said...

Hi Mr Ngee Khiong,

I am a big fan of your blog and visit your blog everyday to check for new updates (like many others most probably). I live in Singapore, and I too agree that there is a very little range of Gunplas sold here. The trend is when a gundam show comes out, for example Gundam 00, most of the stores will only sell gundam 00 models. Thats maybe because of the fact that shops think that they will earn money only by selling the latest kits. Thats why the picture you took of comics connection's gunpla collection mostly consists of gundam 00 models. Most of the time, if you want to buy a gundam model from the One Year War series or from 0080, 0083, 0089, 0093 series will be hard to find, so you might need to go to a store specialising in selling gundam kits, such as Sunshine Plaza at Bencoolen street mentioned above. I was also quite surprised when I visited City Square in Malaysia to find that they are still selling Super Gundam MK-2, Zeta Gundam 2.0, Master Gundam etc. You can always contact me at for any queries. Happy Chinese New Year and take care!

Tan Zhong Yang said...

Heh. I think the large outlets like toy'rus sell the MG clear part campaign stuff too. I haven't really heard of any other hobby shops except Sunshine Plaza. Gotta go there and look around one day.

Q said...

"But staking Manchester United's banner in front of Liverpool's? No large photo for you then ^^;"
Reading that makes me laughed out loud even though I'm not into football XD

Sounds like you've known Singapore to some fairly good extent to search out for the seemingly local like places for the old-style buildings and malls. Since I know hardly anything about Singapore I do not know what to expect there.

As for the religion part mentioned at the end of the post, even though I am not familiar or involved in any of them, it's a pity how there are a lot more tensions than harmony nowadays. Perhaps it's how the society and the high stress environment have caused the newer generations to become more narrow minded than their ancestors, who were in a relatively different environment to what we are living now.

Will people give others with different thoughts and opinions more space and time to cope with each other? I can't answer this question myself, but we all have a part to do it I think.