Thursday, January 20, 2011

Exploring Bugis

Being alone in a buzzing country also have its benefits like exploring places on your own, and that in itself is already an adventure.

I rented a room in Tampines.  A modest flat with three rooms in it.  A Malaysian family owns the unit and lets the two rooms.  I rented the other one with a close window.  This is because it is directly facing the buildings walkway.  It's a privacy thing.  Anyway, Tampines is a hour train ride to the central business district.  This station is a residential area so most of the buildings here are apartments and condominiums.  Bugis is almost 30-45 minutes train ride from Tampines.  Both stations are along the same green line so no need to change trains to go there.

Once you reach Bugis station, you get off and take the exit.  One exit I know leads right into Bugis Junction.  I always go to this area because it has everything from cheap and eccentric stuff to the glamorous and expensive fashion.  Once you are inside the mall an escalator will take you into the lower ground level where the grocery, bakery and food stalls are located.  I never miss a visit to this area without taking a bite or two of those appetizing goodies.

First stall I recommend you try is the Old Chang Kee.  This food stall stores everything fried.  From the shrimps, squid balls, chicken, chicken nuggets, taro cake, carrot cake and crab rolls.  And also spring rolls.  Most of their items are skewered after being fried.  A stick costs around S$3 and up.

Next is the Junior Chewy stall.  If you want to indulge and pamper your sweet tooth this is your booth.  It sells delectable flavors of cream puffs.  Blueberry and raspberry puffs are my favorite.  Each cream puff cost S$2 a piece.  If you want to taste their chewy puffs you need a bit of patience because often times, the queue here is quite long.

If you walk a little bit further, food stalls in the middle are also available.  One in particular is the Tako Pachi.  It is like the takoyaki thing ham and cheese or squid is covered with a batter and cooked in the shape of a ball.  When you bite into it the cheese just oozes out.  One order consists of 3 balls and it only costs S$3.

And last on my list of the food I often visit when I'm in Bugis is the J.Co Donuts.  These baked goodies has that distinct taste of the name it is being labeled.  Unlike some donuts, this does not overwhelm you with icings and too much topping, the donut itself is already a feast inside your mouth.  This booth has some tables and chairs where you can have your donut and coffee while enjoying the view of people passing by.

So when you are done tasting everything at the lower ground, you'd find lots of shops on the upper level, but since shopping is not really my thing I try exploring more food offers.  By the end of my first month in Singapore I have finally found some friends to hang out with.  And when one of them had their birthday, we celebrated it at Seoul Garden.  This restaurant is still located on the 2nd level of Bugis Junction.  This restaurant is quite expensive but for a special occasion this is the place to be.  The restaurant serves buffet lunch and dinner plus you get to cook some really good stuff on your own hot plate placed in the middle of the table.  And make your own noodle soup at the same time.  It was fun cooking and bonding with friends.  The buffet costs S$35 each person.  The rate varies for dinner and lunch.  Additional charge is required for your own noodle soup.

Let us veer away from the food stuff, dangerous stuff.  They could make you buy a new pair of jeans which is the next size larger than you usually buy.  Across the Bugis Junction is a year round bargain bazaar.  This area houses shops that usually sells souvenir items like key holders, t-shirts and magnets.  This one is slightly cheaper than those being sold at chinatown.

Aside from this stores selling all kinds of bric-a-brac, Bugis also has one church that is just walking distance from Bugis Junction.  The St. Joseph church is a massive white cathedral that has a Victorian design.  This is where I go to church on Sundays.  After the mass I cross the street and into a glass and steel structure that looks like a very expensive office.  However, it is far from being an office building, this structure is the National Library of Singapore.  I often while the time there because it stores very interesting collection of books.  They even have the latest fiction books on romance and all.

And if you are into shopping some gadgets, a long walk from Bugis Junction would lead you into Sim Lim Square.  This building houses all shops that sells gadgets like laptops, cameras, mp3's and computer accessories.  Be sure to haggle, vendors like to compete with each others prices.  Also, ask for GST receipts you can refund the tax you paid for those item once you leave the country.

A day at Bugis is not enough to explore every nook and cranny of this area.  But then, the accessibility of it must makes you want to scheduled it for another visit.


  1. I will recommend this place to anyone I hear who is visiting Singapore and if I do not get back to Singapore one day maybe I will set up a hostel in Western Australia for you to visit me.Cheers!SUSANNE PERTH WESTERN AUSTRALIAIt may be relatively new but Bugis is fab for those travelling on their own with clean airy spacious dorms brekkie nice tv area and fantastic staff! I would recomend this place to any bacpacker and will return if in singapore agen.

  2. Hey! I'd like to do that one day... I mean visit your Australia. I heard a lot of fabulous travel stories and I hope I'd get the chance to experience that. :)