As an after-thought I stuck my head out the bathroom window this morning to check on the weather before leaving home for the days’ activities. I stuck it straight back in and looked for my brolly. The sky was very grey and a storm was approaching.
While picking on the left over sweet potato bites, pisang goreng and my slowly diminishing collection of fruit in the fridge I did a little research online for my trip today. I’m off to Jurong East on the train for a poke about Singapore’s second city or as I call it – Singapore’s equivalent to Melbourne’s Geelong. Tell that to a Queenslander as I did over dinner a couple of nights ago and they have no idea what you’re talking about! But most of you will.
There was a spot or two of rain as I started the 5-minute walk to Outram Park Station. By the time I’d gone a 100m it was hammering down and the lights at the crossing were taking forever to change. My little collapsible umbrella stood no chance of keeping me dry. I could see it might be a day of shopping malls and covered walkways today.
Jurong East is around 25 minutes from Outram Park and the train line rises above ground to the overhead tracks about 3 stations out so you get a good view of the passing suburbs. An announcement over the PA the “The train is travelling slower due to cautious driving in wet weather” allayed our fears of a breakdown as the stop-start motion on the ascent from underground tunnel to overhead tracks was a little worrying. Anyway, I wasn’t in any rush.
There were several reasons I chose Jurong East to visit today – one being that it’s a major transport hub. And you know what that means to me – good food options. At least I was hoping to continue my exploration of station platform eating. I wasn’t disappointed – my hunch was correct. Jurong East puts on a magnificent spread! (I will write the Ultimate Station Food Dining of Singapore Guidebook one of these days).
One of the first thing you notice as the train pulls in are the many colourful buses in the parking bays below. Beyond that is a mix of open green spaces, shopping malls and office blocks plus an array of high-rise residential towers. I did a quick skirt around the station complex checking out the facilities then tentatively poked my head into the platform food court. Wow – it opened out into a lovely layout of hawker stalls and tables. Was 9.30 too early for 2nd breakfast? Not at all!
Many stall owners were still cooking and filling their display cabinets with dishes for the day’s trade but there was still plenty to choose from. Tossing up between the Muslim Nasi Padang and the Buddhist Vegetarian stalls side by side I was torn. Nasi Padang won out and plateful of fried rice with loads of garlic and bean curd topped with chilli eggplant, tempeh and green beans, and a fabulous fish dish swimming in a rich chilli tomato sauce with cumquat halves didn’t last long. Ah so many more meals to be had in this little place. Mum – if you’re still up for travelling I’ll shout you a trip to Singapore for your 85th birthday and we’ll do a tour of my favourite station cafes. Forget Raffles Tiffin room! Although we probably can’t take champagne with us to celebrate as we did for your 75th.
Meal no. 2 for the day taken care of, I wandered out to look at the bus interchange. A whole row of take-away food stalls were open for business for travellers. I’ll pop back here for a top up a bit later I reckon. After studying the town map conveniently located on the platform, I headed across the road towards the Science Centre. I’ve been told by several people to visit the Chinese and Japanese Gardens down along the lake in this area but it wasn’t quite the weather for it today so I stuck to my circuits around the centre of town
A walkway through to the Science Centre proved to be a welcome distraction, with a section of the Singapore Heritage Trail located here. The information was brief but interesting and the layout quite unique. I wasted a good half hour reading through all the boards and taking photos. Once the newly planted trees grow up this place will be lovely.
The Science Centre was a mistake on a Monday! There were hundreds of rowdy school students inside and it looks like the exhibits are aimed more at kids than adults. The golden arches of Maccas at the entrance seemed to be enticing a roaring trade as well! So, I hastily retreated and walk down past the line-up of waiting school buses along a shady avenue that took me back around to the station for an excursion on the other side.
A wonder through the Westgate shopping mall, a visit to the Big Box warehouse and a stroll through the International Business Park filled in an interesting hour or so, as I snapped away at tall buildings that caught my eye en-route. I was photographing one building in particular from various angles until I realised it was the hospital. If I ever get proper sick, that’s the one I want to spend time in. Truly inspiring design – at least from the outside anyway.
I was ready for a sit down and a cool drink so went back to the station to get a soy milk/grass jelly drink and have a little sit down to watch the buses come and go and do a spot of people watching amongst the myriad of passengers coming and going. A little box of Malaysian Keuh found its way into my bag for tomorrow’s breakfast as well. I must restrain myself from tucking into them for afternoon tea today!
So far today I hadn’t been through any housing estates so took off for another wander in the direction of some tall colourful towers for a very pleasant half hour walk. I’m starting to love Jurong East. It’s very green, peaceful, well-resourced for residents and travellers and has some fabulous food stalls. I expect some of the open spaces are earmarked for future development but for now it’s a very pleasant place to visit. Maybe I’ll check out the tariffs on the fancy hotels I’ve passed to see if they’re in my price range for a future visit. I could stay upmarket and still eat at the bus interchange!
My legs had given up after 4 or 5 hours of pavement pounding so I reckoned it was time to head home and do some research into what I’d seen today and develop some ideas for next time. And maybe keep a lookout for the next meal!