Last weekend I had a wedding to attend in Johor Bahru(JB) , a city in the southernmost of Peninsular Malaysia just minutes away from Singapore. After spending a night in JB which is not short of its own attractive things to explore, I left for Singapore – a trip I curated just to go for salsa.
There are a few ways to get to Singapore from JB – Shuttle Tebrau train by KTM, driving on your own, the bus or the plane. I was going to get the Shuttle Tebrau which is a 5 mins train trip from JB Sentral but it didn’t happen as planned. I tried getting the tickets online on Friday evening but there were problems with the website. On Sunday morning, the ticket was sold out for the next few days. Me, having no idea on how to use the bus, hopped on the bus anyway. From JB Sentral, you just walk towards the other building and just follow the signboard towards Woodlands. There, you get through the Malaysian Immigration and afterwards take the staircase to the lower ground and wait for the bus. I got on the bus, paid RM1.50 to the bus driver, picked a seat and waited. To my surprise, less than 5 minutes later, I was already in Woodlands, Singapore. Granted the traffic was good that day because it’s a Sunday. Otherwise there would be a massive traffic jam as there are many who lives in JB and working in Singapore commuting. At Woodlands, I got my passport stamped, and voila, everything’s done, I was free to go.
I took a taxi to where I was going to stay, The Pod located at Beach Road, close to Arab Street. It was a mere half an hour ride, which cost 21SGD. The MRT(train) is extremely easy to take but I didn’t feel like it at the time. If you’re curious about The Pod, well it looks like the picture, but it still has a very hostel-ish vibe to it. I would do it again if I were on a budget trip, but I much prefer a hotel room to myself. Since check in was at 3pm, I went to have lunch at a Swedish Cafe nearby. The area is abundant of restaurants, cafes and galleries. Do spend some time exploring the area, take your camera and wear your cute hipster outfits. At night you will hear music blasting from the few bars around, but not club stuff, just chilling and live music. The nearest MRT station is Bugis station, which is just minutes away from Raffles Hospital. Remember Downtown(blue) line. There is also a flea market nearby Bugis Junction.
Later in the afternoon I went for stroll near the river in Clarke Quay. Got on Uber and walked to the other side of the river, more green, less alcohol, more joggers, less drunkies. Had coffee at a place called Toby’s Estate. Nice ambience, good iced coffee! But so are the other cafes in Singapore I guess.
From there I took myself a 5$ taxi ride to Orchard. I wasn’t planning on shopping so I asked the taxi driver to drop me anywhere and he dropped me at 313 ‘cos “if you don’t like it you can walk to the other malls”.
So, by 10.30pm, I found myself at Clarke Quay once again in a salsa club, Cuba Libre. One which Mai and I found on a boring night a year ago before we knew how to dance. They were having salsa night and the sight of the people dancing on the floor wrecked me! My salsa CV comprises 1 salsa social in KL where I danced, 1 salsa club visit, and 1 salsa social in HCMC and I didn’t dance, 4 classes of salsa shine. I should be able to dance but I never practiced, and when I got there, I had no idea what they were doing. Everybody was so good and to be honest I felt rather bullied when the people who danced with me was ignoring the part where I said “I’m new and can only do basics”. I spent the rest of the night watching people dance and talking to the only guy in the club who doesn’t salsa. Talk about the irony. My advice is, if you’re not confident and you’re inexperienced, go with a friend who is better than you or refresh your skills before you hit the floor. But hey, if you can’t dance, then make new friends! Since I made a new friend, Fer, we decided we would try for the free salsa lesson they were going to have the next night.
The next day, I spent on the second reason I visited Singapore, to devour the PalAppam, an Indian dessert. I went to a food court in Little India and just ordered the first PalAppam I saw at the stall. It was 2.50$ for two and I spent the next 30 minutes enjoying it. The old man sitting in front of me asked me “it’s very delicious isn’t it” to which I replied “oh yes I can’t find this in the Borneo!”.
Then I found myself at the Gardens By The Bay where I(and thousands of other people) took pictures with plants. If you’re taking the MRT, you stop at the Bayfront, take Exit B and walked towards the Gardens By The Bay based on the signboards. The entry fee is 28$, and I paid and extra 3$ for shuttle cos it was going to train. Although I only end up using it one way, because walking is just so much better, if the weather permits. There are two main observatory which are the only thing you’re paying for – Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. As the name suggests, Cloud Forest consists more greens and is seriously to me, a sanctuary. The first thing you see is a tall waterfall splashing tiny droplets on your face. Coming from the Borneo, nothing is new to me in Cloud Forest, if anything, they did it just right. The fascinating thing is how they did it just right and the reasons and the mechanism the put into the Garden. Flower Dome is filled up with pretty flowers from all over the world. People who wants to do their cosplay, or take wedding pictures…they all do it here. There are other areas, but since the one that fascinated me the most, OCBC Skyway(SuperTree Grove) was closed so I just walked pass it. For some magical reason, I didn’t realize I spent a good 3 hours just on those. If you have more time, bring a book, your bike, utilize the whole park! If you get tired of it, there’s a high end mall just a walk away waiting for you, or of course, the Marina Bay Sands which I didn’t visit this time around.
Later that night I met Fer at Clarke Quay once again. We arrived at 8pm, and decided to get Mexican food at Señor Taco. So happened, they were having a salsa class there. We both just watched while having our food thinking we would do the same in Cuba Libre later. Sadly, by the time we were done at 830pm, Cuba Libre was empty! There went my Salsa Themed trip as Fer puts it, and teased about. We ended up hopping around the area, first to Tomo Izakaya, had good drinks and then to another place by the river called Little Saigon, nice live music by the way! Lesson learned. Arrive early for salsa class!!!
And that was my Single Singapore trip. Singapore is just an hour flight from me so rest assured, whenever I feel like going urban exploring and a good salsa dancing, Singapore is a good quick fix. It’s so easy to travel to, travel by, it’s clean, safe and affordable if you know the right spots. Get the prepaid travel card(5$+7$ balance inside) as it just makes your life much easier. I get to keep my card till 2024, and the balance can be reimbursed. However if 5$ is a big deal to you and you’re not coming back, using pay as you go is not that difficult either.
There are many other places to enjoy in Singapore. I definitely couldn’t explore them in 3 days 2 nights. I suggest you look into Sentosa Island, The Zoo, Universal Studios Singapore, Dining at 1 Altitude, enjoying yourself at the Marina Bay Sands. If you’re not into all those, just explore the different neighborhoods and enjoy how old buildings are fitted beautifully among the fancy new giant ones, which is what I love about Singapore.
Hey Singapore, till we meet again! Maybe next weekend, who knows. 😀