One of the most attractive features of Singapore is the amount of greenery throughout the city. The Oasia Hotel has taken this to another level. Literally.
The red external trellis of this skyscraper hotel is woven through with vines and ferns, making it one of the most distinctive buildings in the downtown area. We watched it being built on previous stays in the area, but this is the first time we’ve seen inside.
It’s an interesting experience, though ultimately, it’s just another hotel.
We began the day still in Johor Bahru in Malaysia. Without an included buffet we left the hotel in search of breakfast. One of the first places we came across is an Indian store selling roti canai.
I’d done a quick search in the morning for roti canai vendors and inevitably found lists of the best. They read like they’d been written by Singaporeans. I disagree with their preferences for crispy roti. This place we found served in chewy and salty and just the way I like it, accompanied by great Milo ais as well. Stuff your lists, this was great!
Further on B found another street side stall selling bak kut teh, a Chinese herbal soup with pork and tofu and served in a claypot. I don’t even like the smell, but it’s one of her favourite things so we sit while she fills herself further.
Another vendor sells us a bunch of rambutan and we proceed to devour the red spiky sweet tropical fruits.
As we head back the grey skies burst and a tropical downpour commences. Fortunately we make it inside the shopping complex before getting too wet. The rain doesn’t last long, but it is surprisingly late when we return to the hotel to collect our belongings and check out.
The concierge tells us that the special taxis that use to drive you all the way to your Singapore hotel are gone now. After looking at the various options he recommends catching the train to Singapore and taking a taxi from there.
That’s what I did last year when going from Penang to Singapore, except that I caught a bus and the last MRT trains for the day to get to the hotel.
The train isn’t particularly frequent, so we are lucky enough to arrive about twenty minutes before the departure. That’s enough time to buy the tickets (5 RM each), pass through Malaysian immigration and luggage checks and still have time to queue.
We clamber on board the diesel hauled shuttle train, which would be much better replaced by one of the commuter sets, for the five minute ride across the causeway link between Malaysia and Singapore.
The Singaporean border centre looks like a futuristic evil castle.
Singaporean immigration is slow despite the short queues. We decide to do the easy thing and catch a taxi direct to the hotel rather than transferring our luggage between buses and trains, there being no direct MRT connection to the border centre.
It rains as we drive off, but later clears, showing the capricious nature of the weather here.
The Oasia is closer to the Maxwell Food Centre than the Amara, which we previously used. B and Alex had the famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice for a late lunch, prawn hokkien noodles for me. Our standard dishes for the centre, which was full of tourists and school children.
It’s then off to Chinatown to look for cheap clothes for Alex. But the stall is gone. I don’t really like the Chinatown area, where the shop houses have been converted for tourists, selling mass produced poor quality tourist trinkets or dishes for mainland Chinese.
Two of our EzyLink stored value cards have expired after five years of use. We get replacements, then catch the train to Farrer Park. We’ve never been to that stop before, on the border of Little India and elsewhere.
I follow Google Maps to Old Lai Huat Seafood Restaurant at the end of Rangoon Road.
It’s an unassuming Chinese restaurant hidden away at the end of the road, but on its wall are newspaper clippings celebrating its traditional fare.
We order chilli crab and buns, prawn sauce fried chicken wings and their speciality, sambal pomfret fish.
I love sweeping up the chilli crab sauce with the hot sweet buns, but the sambal pomfret really is the star. We all feel bloated as we leave and return to the station.
A quick trip to the ION Shopping Mall on Orchard Road for B to find some items. Not much fun for us boys. Then it’s back to Tanjong Pagar.
Our hotel looks rather impressive at night.