Thursday, April 5, 2012

24 Hours in Singapore

27 - 28 March 2012

Finally, I went back for a month's annual leave after another year in PNG. On the homeward journey, I decided to stay overnight in Singapore to shop for a Garmin eTrex 20 or eTrex 30. In the past, I had been unable to get an eTrex from Low Yat.

On arrival at Changi Airport at about 7:00 p.m. from from Port Moresby, I had to drag my bag around from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 to look for the Tourist Pass office to buy the MRT ticket.  The office would be closing at 7:30 p.m. How stupid of me to look for it at the Arrival Hall. It was at the lower floor where the Changi MRT Station is. This would be the first time I ventured out into the city. I had booked a room at Fragrance Hotel in Little India for SGD72.90. There are several Fragrance hotels in Singapore and this one is called Elegance.

(Click to see the full-size map)
The ticket lady who sold me the Tourist Pass advised me to disembark at Little India Station but being stubborn me, I decided to disembark at Bugis Station because disembarking at Little India Station requires transferring to the North-South Line and finally to the North-East Line. I was not familiar with the MRT system and thought it a hassle, considering that the distant of Fragrance Hotel to either stations seemed the same from Google map.
On arrival at Bugis Station, I walked out of the station through one of the gates, having no idea that it actually made a difference with the gate you exited. I got myself promptly lost and the map I carried was of no help. There were not enough road signs to guide me, unlike Cairns. I inquired from the pedestrians around. None knew where Dunlop Street is. When I asked in which direction should I walk to get to Sim Lim Square, a helpful pedestrian asked me whether I knew where OG is. Sim Lim Square is opposite OG. Very helpful information indeed! If I knew, I would also know where Sim Lim Square is.
Finally, I gave up and hailed a taxi. The young taxi driver did not know the location and punched Dunlop Street into his gps unit/ smartphone to see the route to the hotel. The taxi meter showed SGD4.90 but he said the fare was SGD9.80. Another dishonest taxi driver when I thought Singapore taxi drivers are honest.
I checked into Fragrance Hotel before 9:00 p.m. It was a small but clean room without windows in the basement. After putting down my luggage, I went out to look for dinner. There was a cafe at the opposite corner and I had roti prata there for SGD1.60 and teh tarik for SGD1.00.

Then, I went to take a stroll along Dunlop Street. The area was very lively with mostly Indians doing business along this street at night. I did not take any photos as I thought there was nothing interesting enough. I was back in my room before 10 p.m.
On the next morning, I woke up early and could not get back to sleep. So I decided to go to Mustafa Centre, which is opened 24-hour everyday. I asked the receptionist for direction and she said just go straight towards Serangoon Road, then turn right and you would see Mustafa Centre. I left at about 5:15 a.m. and reached there after about 10 minutes on foot.

Mustafa has another two levels in the basement besides the four above-ground. I actually got lost in Mustafa and could not find the exit. When you see Masjid Angullia while walking along Serangoon Road, you know you have reached Mustafa as it lies on the opposite site of Serangoon Road.

Mustafa Centre has a varied range of items in its store, from electronic gadgets, watches, jewellery, groceries, DVD, textiles, bags, health products, hardware, computers, gifts, etc. I spent almost two hours there before returning.

There are several backpackers' hostels along Dunlop Street, including Prince of Wales Hostel, Inncrowd Hostel, etc.

Towards the other end of Dunlop Street is Sim Lim Tower.

Turning right from Dunlop Street and along Jalan Besar - Bencoolen Street are Rochor Centre and OG less than 100 metres away. Sim Lim Square lies on the opposite side of Bencoolen Street.

On returning from Mustafa Centre, I went to look for breakfast.

In my plan, I had wanted to shop for the Garmin eTrex 20 at Sim Lim Square but it is notorious for fleecing off tourists. In the end, I decided to get one from Navicom Technology Ptd. Ltd., instead of getting one from a dealer at Sim Lim Square. Navicom has a showroom at Orchard Central. Hence, after breakfast, I took the MRT to Orchard Central and in the process experienced the efficient MRT system of Singapore.
Based on the instruction from the receptionist, I headed straight towards Serangoon Road which I took earlier that morning, crossed the road, turn right to find Kerbau Road (parallel to it is Buffalo Road) and walked along it towards Little India Station. It looks small but below ground, it is a big place.

I was soon on my way to Orchard Central. By following the signs, route and maps at the different stations and interchange and by asking people, I was able to find my way to my last stop at Somerset Station. Somerset Station is located right inside the shopping mall and by following others who seemed to exit at 313@Somerset I found Orchard Central on the same block of building.

After exiting, I turned right and there, I found the walkway to Orchard Central.

I was early. It was only 10 a.m. and Navicom Technology would only open at 11 a.m. The main door of Orchard Central has opened but almost all the retail shops had yet to open for business. Most of the retailers are food outlets. I could not locate Navicom Technology at the floor directory but there was an outlet selling gps equipment on the 5th floor. I could not find it left or right.
After an hour searching for Navicom Technology, I finally entered a door to what looked like a vacant lot and saw a ramp going upwards. I walked up and there it was, the small showroom of Navicom Technology Pte Ltd but which was not named the same. The store manager was not able to answer my question of whether maps in jpg format could be uploaded into the gps unit. Anyway, I took the risk and pay for it.
The original price quoted was SGD329. I asked for a discount and the final price was SGD313, including GST. Before leaving Singapore, I claimed back the GST to the amount of SGD17.20, meaning Garmin eTrex 20 cost me SGD295.80 (about MYR710).

After making the purchase, I was on my way back. I skipped lunch as I was still full from the two rounds of breakfast. At Little India Station, I took the first exit I saw. Big mistake! I had actually exited at a different building from the one I entered. I knew I would get lost again if I did not get back to the little building where I entered the station. I crossed the road to another building but it was the wrong building. I re-crossed the road and looked around. I saw Buffalo Road and knew that I was on the right track. I took the road to return to Fragrance Hotel.

After checking out from Fragrance Hotel, I was on my way to Little India Station again, this time taking Buffalo Road. I was on my way to Changi Airport to fly into KL International Airport.


  1. hi ! Im kemang from Kuala Lumpur..crossed you blog when I googled Yangshou.. I have some questions about Yangshou, Guilin, may I have your email address so that I can bombard you with the questions? :)

    I will be travelling there this December..Since u've been there, I hope you dont mind if I ask some questions Guilin.. Cheers ! :)

    1. Hi Kemang,

      Putting my email on the blog will exposed my email to spammers. You can ask as many questions as you like on Yangshuo and I will try to answer them. Try posting your questions on the relevant post so that others facing a similar situation may also benefit from the answers.

  2. Hi,

    I also wanted to buy an eTrex 20 (or 30), can u tell me how is your eTrex working. Also did u receive any maps with the device or the just device
    was 329 S$ (as it seems to be cheaper on the bay !)


    1. It is working perfectly for me. There is a free map with the device but not a detailed one. You can visit OpenStreetMap to obtain good free maps of all regions covered on the globe. Some are more detailed than others. If you are a Malaysian/ Singaporean, you can obtain very detailed maps of Malaysia and Singapore from Malsings website and FreeMalaysiaMap website, both in img format. They work perfectly on the device. They both have the same file names but you can rename them and they both work without problem on my eTrex 20 (I understand on older devices, the map must be named as gmapsupp.img). You can also use Google Earth to create kmz file, though there is a limit to the size of the kmz file which the device can support. GPX files work fine too.

      Since the manual that comes with the device is basically useless, you will need to play around with it to familiarise yourself with its operation.