Tag Archive | Bugis Junction

Want to pay also don’t want to accept!

This was what I encountered on Friday, Nov 28, when I went to pay my M1 and Starhub bills at Bugis Junction. And it wasn’t the first time either.

What got me wholly cheesed off was that I had gone to BJ specifically to pay those bills so other errands that I wanted to run at the same mall were secondary considerations.

I went to M1 first and like recent visits, was told to use the self service machine to make payment.

Oh all praise to M1’s attempt at efficiency but I prefer the smiley faced sister who used to attend to me. Because in reality, the self service machine wasn’t that efficient.

Here’s why.

I have two mobile lines. One for my phone; the other for a mobile broadband.

I have no trouble remembering my mobile phone number. Since I have had it for more than a decade. Also because I have to give the number to new contacts every so often.

So I succeeded in paying that bill at the self service machine albeit after a bit of trial and error.

But when it came to the mobile broadband bill, I was stymied.

I couldn’t remember the mobile broadband’s number. I didn’t bring my bill — to be truthful I never bring any of my bills as they somehow manage to vanish between their arrival and when I want to pay them, due to the usual grace period given between a bill’s arrival and its due date.

When the smiley human cashier at M1 was in operation, she just called up both bills on her computer screen after I gave my hand phone or IC number. No sweat. And I paid the two bills. Again no sweat.

Not so on Nov 28.

I tried to pay the broadband bill by using the same self-service machine. No dice. Just my identity card number won’t do. I MUST key in the line number.

Whoever did the programming for M1 must be real dumb.

Why can’t a customer’s IC number access all accounts under that particular customer?

I can understand the need to double confirm for a refund– to make life difficult for refund seekers, if nothing else! And perhaps delay the refund that way.

But why make life difficult for a customer wanting to pay up and add to M1’s cashflow?

Anyway, a human “customer” guide appeared at my side. Said sorry, no couldn’t help me find out what my mobile broadband number is. Sorry, no, no.

Miraculously he punched a few keys on another machine and gave me a slip of paper where I had to wait one (yes, ONE) hour to see someone to locate that elusive mobile broadband number.

Never mind that at least two customer officers sitting in front of their computers were just staring at their screens. No customer in front of them.

My human customer guide helpfully pointed out that as his colleagues were already serving 8030 and my Q number was 8035, I had to wait just four customers.

I didn’t rebut — tho I was tempted to– that there were four sets of other numbers in the Q that didn’t start with “80” and under M1 Q-system who knows whether we were in the same Q for all numbers or there were other Qs for different sets of numbers.

And to expect me to wait at least ONE hour to settle a $27 bill, they must be kidding. ūüôĄ

I left and headed to Starhub next door to pay my cable TV bill.

The experience wasn’t much better in so far as the run around I got but I managed to pay my bill within 6 or 7 minutes.

This was despite having gone to the cashier to pay, I was then directed to the info counter to have my bill printed out, as I didn’t have the copy mailed to me.

At Starhub’s Plaza Singapura outlet, one could pay even without a bill. Just give the cashier your IC number.

Donch know why Starhub can’t standardise its bill payment procedures. That would save a lot of its customers’ time! And possibly cut down on its staff numbers!

Of cos, some visitors to this site wonder why I don’t pay the M1 and Starhub bills by Giro, via AXA machines or 7-11 shops. Answer is simple. I want to pay by credit card and earn points. Nothing wrong with that!

Anyway, I find the service of these two telcos sucks big time. Especially when I’ve paid M1 at least $20K in bills — and probably more — over the years. For Starhub, it’s probably a few thousand $ since we only converted to cable about 12 years ago when the management committee of my condo unilaterally removed the antennae at the roof top that allowed access to Mediacorp stations.

Now if Singapore’s productivity tzars are interested to find out more about why the nation’s productivity efforts have yielded virtually nought despite taglines and big bucks spent, they need no more than put the way M1 and Singtel run their bill collection systems under a microscope.

Come to think of it, when a company is inefficient and not productive it affects not only themselves but those who use their services. So there’s productivity lost on the receiving end too. And that cost should be deducted against the productivity figures, no? ūüėÜ


Your grandfather table?

her grandfather table ūüėÜ ūüėÜ

Well, with some much hoo-hah over someone painting some roads in Singapore with the words “My grandfather road” et al, I came across one woman and her young daughter/charge who behaved as though a row of tables in a food court was her grandfather’s!

Yesterday afternoon, mum, me, my sister D, her helper E and mum’s Picky went to Bugis Junction’s basement 1 to eat lunch at Punggol Nasi Padang.

B1 “food court” as everyone knows has several cafes,¬†most with its own dedicated seating area and woe betide the hapless customer who wanders into a seating area with food from a rival cafe ūüė•

So, my group was quite surprised by this woman and her young daughter sitting in the innermost row of 3 tables belonging to Punggol (six seats in all) facing the Korean finger food stall. Their backs faced the nasi padang customers; they had no food or drinks; the woman was continuously on her mobile while her child was drawing or colouring sheets of paper.

Between them, they had taken up two of the three tables and altho four seats were unoccupied, it was damn difficult to access them, given the tight space and only one vacant table space.

Actually, three young adults did try, squeezing into the vacant seats with their lunch but because the woman made no move to vacate the tables they were occupying, they beat a hasty retreat once other tables became vacant!

The woman just continued on her mobile and her child her drawing…

I remarked about the “phenomenon” in loud Chinese. My sister told me to mind my own business. My mum said perhaps the lady was waiting for friends.

“Come on, mum,” I said. “She’s here be4 us and we are about to finish.. she’s still¬†here..”

We finished and left.

But I¬†continue to wonder¬†at the tolerance of the people who run Punggol. I wonder at the temerity,selfishness of the woman. I wonder if she’s local or foreign. Perhaps she’s indeed waiting for someone. Perhaps she’s a regular big-spender customer. Or perhaps it’s¬†really her grandfather table ūüėÜ ūüėÜ

She turns 87 & she turns 84

Mum turned 87 on Monday. No fanfare. No celebrations. We just had simple lunch at Lenas in Bugis Junction. She and I shared a set. Her Picky had a set all to herself.

On Sunday, there was the usual family lunch with hongbaos to her from the usual suspects. H and C bought tarts from Baker & Cook at Hillcrest Road as I suggested. They also gave¬†mum hongbaos despite my saying “no need”. Guess it’s the usual Asian reaction to suggestions of “no need” ūüėÜ

What a diiference a year has made. Last year, a week be4 mum’s birthday I was able to give her a pre-birthday treat at ION’s Paradise¬†— just the two of us. She was able to hobble on her own two legs with the help of a folded golf-stool.

This year, no such luck. When we go out, she needs a wheelchair, for her sake as well as for mine, since many a stranger had gone so far as¬†to suggest to me that I shouldn’t make my mother suffer. “Get her a wheelchair,” they said!

I might still be dithering if not for the fact that events took the¬†decision out of my hands. Mum took a bad tumble at home on Oct 2 last year that¬†led to her hospitalisation at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for one night for observation.¬† Apres that, although she suffered no more than bad bruises, I didn’t want to take any more chances.

We got her a wheelchair for outdoor use and another for indoor use, although most times the latter isn’t used at all, as mum still manages to move around at home with the help of a frame-walker.

Now contrast my mum’s latest birthday with what another octogenarian whom I know. Auntie GY celebrated her 84 on March 3 at her lovely home off Swiss Club Road.

I got to know Auntie GY thru a mutual friend and this is the second time I have been included in her birthday bash, the first being two years ago when we went in a group to Sarawak.

The difference lies in the fact that one birthday girl is still full of joy of life whereas my mum while still enjoying her food has lost much of her ability to engage with others. And that ability is what makes living vibrant — unless one has always been a hermit or a recluse ūüôĄ

¬†¬†Although there were about 40 of us, we couldn’t even manage half of what was available, supplied by Glory of East Coast Road… because there was still the dessert of birthday cake, cakes I mean, as there were two!

Two of the best for the 84-year-young birthday girl

Life is still blooming at 84!


More blooms still!


Guests making themselves at home


An old love drops stone dead!

At long last, I know how it feels to look up one’s old love after an absence of many moons only to discover that all the attributes that sent me salivating no longer exist. Instead what’s there quite turned my stomach.

I’m referring to Uncle’s Kitchen, of course. Regulars to this blog would have read about how Uncle’s (originally known as Tea Shake Hut) went missing and how I was thrilled to bits to redisover its new location. And many a lip-smacking meal¬†followed.

My initial love of its dry mee siam waned slightly when I discovered how to prepare similar at home by using tong yam paste. But my passion flared once again and burned even brighter when I discovered how lip-smacking its nasi lemak was.

I’ve often thought about going to eat at Uncle’s but somehow time flies and I went elsewhere again and again, till today when a confluence of necessities led me to Bugis Junction and Uncle’s for a quick bite.

Mum and her maid got there be4 me as I had to park the car. The eatery wasn’t as packed as it was be4, although it was still quite full.

But full or empty, that never bothered me. It was the food I was after. And that’s where I was let down badly on the latest visit. No dry mee siam. Not sold on week ends.

Huh? And nasi lemak sold only on Thursdays and Fridays.

That left me little choice. Would have walked out had I been alone or with easy going friends. But not when i was with my mum, who walks with difficulty and hates sudden changes.

So I settled for what looked most innocuous: Thai chicken with rice and fried tofu for mum and me to share. Picky Siti opted for fried kuay teow. Hers turned out to be the better choice, even tho she complained it was way too greasy.

The picks I made were baaaaaad mistakes. The chicken¬†turned out¬†fried to a crisp and smothered¬†with chilli sauce. (I should have looked more closely at the picture of the dish be4 ordering!) The shredded lettuce was doused with mayo.¬† OK, it tasted OK. Just that it’s not the sort of food I would¬†deliberately choose to eat.

 The tofu though a decent portion was also not what I wanted to eat either.

Still, mum enjoyed her almond tea, an old favourite. I took a sip and could have sworn it was sweetened by almond essence.

And to add to my disenchantmentt, I ordered water for Picky and me, quite forgetting that Uncle’s charged 50 cents¬†per glass of¬†water, a fact I had shared with Sparklette for¬†her compilation of the 100+ restaurants in Singapore which charge for water.

The bill today came to $22+ which is expensive compared to¬†the $23+ we paid for our lunch for three¬†at Bumbu Desa (basement of Square 2 @ Novena) on Monday. Bumbu doesn’t charge for water and served far more tasty food.

Of cos, my problem today at Uncle’s¬†is the result of my not finding the dry mee siam I was looking for. I compounded that by ordering dishes I would normally not eat.

Result: time to move¬†away from this¬†old love, as i don’t have the stomach to be disappointed repeatedly. An eatery must either serve my favourite food at my convenience or I must just say adios, amigo!

Strong power of prayers

“Hail Mary, full of grace;¬† help me find a parking space..”

This was the short prayer an ex-colleague told me that helped her find a parking lot when she attended the same official opening of an enterprise by the Minister for Manpower Gan Kim Yong that I went to yesterday.

JH was giving me a lift back to Bugis Junction to retrieve my car and between leaving the function and the carpark where her car was, she regaled me with how when she arrived, the carpark was so full that she was about to park illegally in order not to be late for the opening, when a man appeared.

Me the ever-pessimist said: “Security guard?”

“No!¬†The man¬†was going to¬†get his car and signalled to me to take his lot.”

“Oh! Oh, you are so blessed,” I gushed.

Then JH confided: “You know how I get a car park lot? I say a prayer.”

“I do too.”

¬†“Mine’s a special one,” she replied and being always generous with me, whenever we run into one another — not that often, so guess she could afford to be generous ūüėČ — she uttered her special prayer for me to hear.

We talked about other things and soon it was time for me to hop off at Iluma and walk across the sky-bridge to Bugis Junction and my car.

However, JH’s prayer stuck in my head.

Today, arriving at Tiong Baru Plaza, with mum and Siti for lunch, we again ran into the massive lunch and shopping crowd and a carpark that seemed to have all its lots taken up.

It’s one of those yesterday carparks which don’t show how many lots are available and where. So getting into it is always like a game of chance. Oh sure, one can’t enter when it’s full but when one enters, one could be going round and round — almost forever — looking for a lot and someone else who gets in later might beat you to a more conveniently located one.

It’s all a matter of whether you choose to turn right, or left, or go straight ahead.

It seemed like that was what was going to happen, because first, the car in front of me found a lot right next to the car polish reserve lots. Passing that car, I saw that the car in front of it had found another lot further on and right in front of the lifts.

I was resigned to not finding a lot¬†in Basement 2, let alone a convenient one. Basement 3 for me then, after dropping mum and Siti at the lifts and with the¬†injunction that if I didn’t turn up after XX minutes to order and eat.

As¬†I revved up the car for Basement 3, I remembered JH’s prayer and said it mentally. And¬†I almost freaked out when like a miracle, a carpark lot appeared, just as I moved beyond two parked lorries that had blocked my view.

A car park lot just five lots from the lift lobby. Straight after I said the prayer!

Sure, sceptics will say that since I was able to enter the carpark, there were obviously empty lots. So no miracle in finding a lot.

My reply is perhaps not. Perhaps it’s just a co-incidence. But what are the odds of a convenient lot appearing just after I uttered JH’s prayer?

As a firm believer in the power of prayer, I am usually careful not to ask for too many things, for fear that what I want today I may detest tomorrow, because the flip side of prayers being able to move mountains is the fact that tears are often caused by answered prayers.

So, I shall use JH’s prayer — sparingly and judiciously.

Postscript: JH says it might take up to 5 minutes for the prayer to work. Also, she was taught that prayer by an ex-colleague who is a Hindu.

What makes a post popular?

Is there a sure-fire formula for creating content that will draw visitors like the proverbial bees to flowers?

I know that many Singapore bloggers think they have found the key: they run down any and everything to do with the government and in that way assure themselves of a following.

Even if no one sensible is interested in their trash, they can always count on those tasked to track reactions to government policy or thru such means gather public feedback.

But for those like me who want to build a following without deliberately and cynically stirring up controversy, how can we do it?

I have no template and I’m often surprised by my most popular post which found readers without any “marketing” effort on my part. I had written that there might have been “over-reaction to melamine in China milk“. Despite the many months since it first appeared, it continues to find readers. To date it¬†had been¬†read, or at¬†least seen,¬†1,432¬†times or ¬†almost 13% of the number of times this site has been viewed.

most popular post

most popular post

The next most popular post¬†is “Bali in the heart of Bishan Park”¬†with ¬†373 views. It’s another “sleeper” — and unlike the melamine post wasn’t controversial or even topical. It was simply about a little oasis in Bishan serving nouveau vegetarian food. And it hit the spot!

Other¬†“sleeper” posts¬†include¬†“12 X 12”¬†(about a cafe at Suntec City selling organic food as an adjunct to¬†a salon for brow-trimming) with 223 views and “QQ-rice is nice‚Ķbut‚Ķ” (about a Taiwanese rice concoction that’s lip smacking good) which garnered¬†155 views.

By contrast, posts that I tried¬†“selling” to friends and acquaintances via mass emails, while having better viewership than the lower ranked “sleepers”, are only marginally ahead.

The reply from Cold Storage¬†concerning the complaints I had posted in this blog about a number of price discrepancies I found while shopping at its supermarket in Great World City¬†drew¬†228 views or just 16% of what the melamine post attracted — and just a few views ahead of my third best sleeper!

The next two posts in which I had invested similar “marketing” effort were “NUSS membership has its privileges..” (170 views)¬† and “Why cook this man‚Äôs goose?”¬†(160 views) about the ill-fated account of a permanent secretary’s Cordon Bleu misadventure.

Conisdering that Mr Tan Yong Soon attracted a rebuke in Parliament from Teo Chee Hean the Minister in charge of the civil service and a separate dressing down from Peter Ho, the head of civil service, I would have thought that my take that the man is more sinned against than sinning would have got a larger audience.

Yet the post did not get overwhelming number of readers! And this was despite my asking people to read it. And despite MSM TODAY putting a para about my post and a link to my blog on its front page!

Guess I’ll never be another mrbrown! And there’s no accounting for taste, both the reading and the eating kind.

Yet visitor numbers alone may not be the ultimate arbiter. Interaction is another useful gauge. If I go by this, then my several posts about a little eatery called Tea Shake Hut selling dry mee siam in Bugi Junction wins hands down.

Ever since its closure and my discovering its new location in this post¬†I’ve received intermittent estatic response from like-minded fans of T-Shake.

The ability to experience and then share the joy of the experience with total strangers and thus increase one another’s happiness makes blogging on the Internet something that purely MSM journalists will seldom, perhaps never, enjoy. Because my archives are free to browse forever. Not so those of the Straits Times or TODAY.

Down n out in Toa Payoh?

Was going to go for the nyonya buiffet lunch at Chilli Padi in North Bridge Rd with mum n maid, to give both a treat since I’ve been away for a few days in Penang and they didn’t give me any unnecessary excitement eg fone calls abt not functioning aircon and/or washing machine…

Alas, as with all good intentions. Ran into neighbour PP from Hongkong who has been spoiling us with her slow boiled soups and she wanted to go to Toa Payoh to pay her tontine money. Gave her a lecture abt the danger of such investments and also gave her a lift to TPY. Having hit TPY and it was almost 1pm made it silly to try to go into town so settled for HDB hub.

And voila! Discovered that slumming in the B1 foodcourt could be quite tasty and easy on the purse. For the three of us the total bill came to $12!! A sum that could be spent easily on one person alone, even in a food court and most definitely at places like Ajisen.

Mum and I had wonton noodles with char siew; $5 for two persons. Siti had Ipoh kway teow with steamed chicken: $3.

$2.50 n good to last strand

$2.50 n good to last strand

 We shared a dessert of peanut soup with sweet dumplings (tang yuan): $2. Then I got adventurous and decided to take home some rojak, not because I was still hungry but because it was the only stall (number 25) in the whole food court with a queue number system.

It said “68” and I was curious. Since its prices seemed reasonable enough, starting from $2, I decided to have a go and asked Siti to go take a queue number plus the instruction to tell the uncle not to put crushed peanuts on top of the rojak.

Mum and I waited for a good 5 minutes + another 5 minutes wandering around the foodcourt checking out the food and drink offerings be4 I panicked that the maid might have got lost, as surely the queue couldn’t be that long!

We headed back to Stall 25 only to discover the board showing 90 and Siti with a disk that showed 7. What the heck did that mean? I marched up to the stall for clarification to be told that once the system reached 100, it would start from 1 again.

I must give the rojak uncle and his assistant top marks for politeness. Bceause despite being so busy, they entertained my repeated reminders: “hey, I don’t want crushed peanuts”; “hey I want bungkus (takeaway)”, after having already explained their numbering system.

I watched the uncle shave the cucumber freshly into each portion he tossed, and gave him another plus.

Sure enough, when my turn came, my rojak was neatly packed, with two bamboo skewers thrown in to be used in lieu of forks.

When we got home, the rojak’s ingredients were as fresh as any I’ve eaten, including the self-made kind at buffets. Although I’m not fond of “you tiao” (Chinese crullers/fried dough sticks), the really crispy yet unoily version in the Soon Heng rojak well marinaded in the black prawn paste was so lip-smacking tasty that I ate several pieces.¬†The rojak’s¬†even got a few slivers of “jiu hu” or rubbery cuttle fish.

take the cue!

take the cue!

I’ve never heard of Soon¬†Heng¬†so after the tasty rojak decided to google¬†to see if it’s been written about be4.¬†Seems like¬†Camemberu¬†is there be4 me with better pix to boot. And seems like Soon Heng is a place many people know about, except moi!

While the basement 1¬†food court at HDB Hub isn’t the most salubrious dining place in S’pore, it’s great value for money, the food actually edible, and no more crowded than at Great World City or Bugis Junction.¬†Parking costs just $1.22! Better still, the loos at the hub are remarkably clean (despite the presumably huge traffic) and large.

There are soap and self-service toilet rolls outside the stalls a la the loos lining both sides of the North-South Highway. The quality of the loos at the hub puts some of those at our so called premier shopping centres to shame.

Well, if being down n out in S’pore means making the hub your personal dining room, then I can’t think of a better place to be down n out in than S’pore!