I am really, really thankful for whatever little time I was blessed with earlier this year because I was able to squeeze in a visit to Singapore. It was unexpected, slightly not planned but it was certainly a much-needed trip. I want to give myself props and a pat on the back for not flaking out last minute. Otherwise, I wouldn't be writing this post about Bugis. Lol.
Some time in 2012, a friend asked me if I was in Singapore because of a Foursquare check-in at Bugis Singaporean Street Food . It's a very casual food place with not-so hawker-esque price that my colleagues and I used to frequent because of their Laksa, Shrimp Snow Balls, and Singaporean Street Food. At that time, we've been told that most of the stuff on their menu were imported from Singapore — and this is when I started to become curious about the real Bugis.
A glimpse of Bugis' history
"In the 1950s, Bugis Street was renowned internationally for its notorious night activities, where flamboyantly dressed transvestites would gather and parade themselves, attracting sailors and military personnel from overseas. In the evening, the entire street would come alive as push carts gather to offer a wide selection of cheap goods and hawker food, hence earning its night market or 'Pasar Malam' namesake.
Today, Bugis Street has become a unique retail shopping destination. After undergoing a major facelift, Bugis Street now houses almost 800 shops, making it the largest street shopping location in Singapore. With a unique blend of retail concepts ranging from chic and fashionable clothing and accessories, to beauty services like manicure parlors and hair salons, you will be constantly enticed by the ever changing shopping landscape and its buzzing activities."
What to expect.
I like going to street markets whenever I travel. Aside from snagging good buys for pasalubongs ( presents given to friends & family members when one arrives from a trip, it's a very Filipino thing ), a street market is always a great place to experience local culture and I'm happy to share that all those that I've been to didn't disappoint.
My friend, Eggie, was nice enough to take me to Bugis the afternoon that I arrived in SG. Although she said that we can walk from Orchard to Bugis, we opted to take the MRT because I was on a pretty tight schedule that day, which was a comfortable less than 10-minute ride from my hotel.
I read in a CNN Travel article that Bugis used to be Singapore's former red light district, but it has been re-created and today, it has a nice mix of shopping and dining options. There's a mall ( Bugis Junction, it's air-conditioned ) and a more organized flea market that made me think about Manila's Divisoria. Ours isn't as organized as theirs, but there are portions that had a bit of a semblance.
It's a very busy place, crowded but tolerable. It's bustling with activities and seems to be a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists alike.
What to do. What to see. What to eat.
Bugis is a popular shopping place in SG. Locals come here for value-for-money retail therapy because there are just sooooo many fabulous finds from clothes, bags, shoes, accessories ( SGD1.50-UP ), watches, and everything in between. With clothing items that range from SGD3 to SGD20, it's certainly a fashionista's heaven.
While tourists can get their souvenirs in other Singapore tourists spot, turistas like me come here to get souvenirs and well, pasalubongs too — magnets, pens, caps, bags, shirts and other clothing apparel, key chains, mugs, chocolates, fruits, etc. It's just strange that I didn't find the only souvenir that I like to get whenever I'm on a trip: a post card. Absurd, right?
Eggie and I practically walked the entire afternoon, but it was worth all the calories we burned. Both somewhat tired, but still willing to go for it, we stopped by this stall that sold fresh fruit shakes and fresh fruit juices. Admittedly, I am not a juice person, but I felt adventurous that afternoon and tried different juices. I mostly gulped those that I don't see here in PH. The Rose Bundong ( or Bandung, priced at SGD1 or approx. P33 ) is a new favorite.
Image Credit: eatdrinkkl.blogspot.com
And, if you like Kaya Balls ( yummy mini dome-shaped buns with coconut egg jam & butter that come at SGD4 for 8-pieces ). You have to head over to Bugis for the best Kaya Balls in Singapore. P agrees with me. He didn't go with Eggie and I, but I brought some for him and he kept comparing the Kaya Balls that I bought from Bugis to the other Kaya Balls that we had during this trip.
Another Singapore goodie that I really liked is the Fresh Popiah. Egs introduced me to it, said she used to have it almost everyday when she was trying to manage her weight. Popiah has a Chinese origin, but has variations in Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia. It's actually a lot like our Fresh Lumpiang Ubod here in the Philippines. I had an entire roll all to myself and it was filling! Thank goodness for the long walks, otherwise, I wouldn't have room for dinner that night.
If I wasn't so much in a russ-h that afternoon, I would have walked some more to see the temples and other sights that are near Bugis. I would have gone on more local gastro-adventures. So, it looks like I will be back but this time, P has to be with me. He felt bad that he didn't to join Egs and I at Bugis. It's a very interesting place and I would love to come back to see more of it because half-a-day here is certainly not enough. ☮..Peace + ❥_Love + Spreading Some Travel Vibes. RUSS.