No matter which educational institution you hail from, I am quite sure that at one point in time you would have visited Changi Airport to mug or to chiong your projects — sometimes overnight. The airport remains a popular place to burn the midnight oil perhaps because it is far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, or simply because there are all sorts of 24-hours eateries. I have done it myself, but I wondered — what about Changi Airport’s latest addition, Jewel? Would I be able to do the same? And if I can do it, will I be able to do it for cheap?
Surely with so many of its shops operating round the clock, it could be a nice place where you can stay over the entire night. The only question is if they were wallet-friendly.
Armed with only S$20, my laptop, my camera, and a whole lot of confidence, I began my 24-hour adventure in Jewel. I have stayed up at the airport all night to do my work before, so this was nothing new to me. I was also confident in my ability to fully utilise my S$20 as I have been known to not be picky about food. It wasn’t some random mall either, it was a world-class attraction: Jewel. It couldn’t be that bad, I thought. Right?
As I began my self-imposed confinement at noon, I figured my first move should be to pick up a venue brochure. The brochure came in very handy as it lists down all the stores in Jewel, and which of the stores have extended operating hours or are open 24/7. I then began my reconnaissance by walking around the mall and seeing what I could spend my money on.
Naturally, when you enter Jewel via the second-floor entrance, the neon green sign of Shake Shack greets you and invites you to come in, sit awhile, and have a burger or two. What made it even more enticing was the fact that the queue looked manageable for once—it was a weekday afternoon. I was tempted to blow my entire fund on a meal here, but I resisted.
After my initial reconnaissance, the next logical thing to do was to head to Fairprice Finest in the mall to pick up any supplies I may need. It was going to be a long day after all.
I was pleasantly surprised that the prices on the items in the supermarket were similar to those in your neighbourhood. In case of emergency, I could have gotten myself some bread (S$1) or instant noodles (S$1.80) to stave off hunger. But I decided to reserve my money and resort to buying these rations only when the need arises. Where’s the fun in beating the challenge with supermarket food, anyway? That would be too easy.
If I wasn’t limited to my budget, I would have definitely bought one of these Korean snacks (S$8.10) or this Pikachu instant noodles (S$3.50).
I made the executive decision to buy the most important thing of all, a 1.5-litre bottle of Ice Mountain for 70 cents. In my recce earlier, I realise that there aren’t any drinking fountains in Jewel, unlike in the airport terminals where they are found at almost every restroom. I decided that the bottle of water was a necessary purchase and that it would be my first purchase this afternoon.
I had two options in my time here. I couldn’t just be walking around the mall aimlessly for entertainment. I definitely needed something to keep me occupied. The first was to explore one of the Canopy Park attractions. The second was to catch a movie at Shaw Theatres. I decided against the Canopy Park entrance of S$4.50 (Singapore Residents) as I have visited the park before while the next most economical option, the Canopy Bridge (S$7.20), only allowed for one half-an-hour session.
I opted to watch The Lion King at Shaw Theatres. As it was during off-peak time (Monday to Thursday before 5 pm), the movie ticket was S$8.50. I then flexed my expired student pass, which entitled me to a S$2 discount bringing the grand total of today’s screening to S$6.50. When compared to the S$7.20 entrance fee for half an hour on the Canopy Bridge, this was a lot more worth it.
Emerging from the theatres after the movie, I knew that this was going to be the start of my boredom. Nothing could while away the time faster than a movie. However, my stomach began to grumble and I realise there was a more important matter at hand—I couldn’t avoid it, I had to find something for dinner.
I knew that many of the restaurants Jewel had to offer were definitely out of my price range, so I headed to Basement 2 where the food court, as well as the Jewel Food Gallery, were located. Here, you’ll find the most wallet-friendly meals in Jewel, although they were slightly upscale in price as compared to their coffeeshop variations.
I eventually settled for economical bee hoon set from Fei Siong, which costs only S$4—probably one of the cheapest meals you can find here in Jewel. The portion was also generous, making it an extremely worthy meal in Jewel.
Prior to this challenge, I had never actually taken the time to catch the HSBC Light and Sound Show as I felt that it was no big deal—just some lights fading on and off. However, since I was going to be here for another 17 hours, I decided to stop and have a look. At about five minutes long, it was actually quite entrancing and momentarily made me forget about the challenge. This light show takes place once every hour, from 7.30 pm to 12.30 am.
Recently launched, Pokemon Explorer is an in-app game in the Jewel Changi application which allows you to play some minigames during your visit in Jewel between 10 am to 12 am.
Upon creating your account, simply locate the Pokemon signboards scattered around in the mall and scan the QR code.
Scanning the QR code will allow you to play the minigames. I chose a game with the Pokemon Slaking where I had to catch berries with my mouth. Completing the game will then unlock a photo frame, which you can take a selfie in.
Surprisingly, this entertained me for a good two hours as I tried to locate the signboards and play the different games available—a cheap thrill as it literally costs you absolutely nothing to play these games—except for time. Which at present, I had plenty to give.
I headed to the massive two-storey Starbucks cafe located on Level Two of Jewel. Of course, I understand that there are many of us here who do not actually want to purchase a drink that costs an upwards of S$4 just so that we can use the space to do our work. Don’t worry, I am not a fan of buying an Americano for that purpose too. I simply plonked myself at one of the seats on the second floor and began furiously typing away.
A short while later, I was interrupted by a staff member who informed me that the outlet was closing soon. Turns out, the cafe wasn’t open round the clock as I assumed. I made my exit and searched for somewhere else to do my work.
I then made my way down to the other Starbucks outlet at Basement One. Unlike its main outlet above, this one was relatively smaller. However, it does operate 24/7. This was where my nightmare began, and from this point, my confidence dwindled and the urge to call a Grab home intensified with each passing second.
Power points were a little scarce in the basement outlet, and the seats with these points weren’t the most conducive place to do work. The tables were lower so I had to either bend over in order to do my work or place my laptop on my lap—both of which were not entirely comfortable.
My other option was to go to Koi Signature next door, which had taller tables and even cushions. However, that would mean that I had to buy a drink and potentially lose money for one of my meals. I decided to bite the bullet and persevere. I kept reminding myself, that this suffering was only temporary and all I needed to do was survive.
When you think of having supper in Jewel, the famous A&W comes to mind straight away. However, not only do I not like having a heavy meal for supper, but I was also down to my last red Yusof Ishak.
I decided to have some youtiao (S$1.30) with a cup of soya bean (S$2.20) for supper, which was more than sufficient for sustenance.
There wasn’t an option for late-night entertainment in Jewel other than catching another movie, which I could not afford to do again. I decided to revisit the rainforest, only this time without the hustle and bustle of human traffic, and the ubiquitous sound of water crashing. Everything was magically silent.
The backlights lend the trees and bushes a magical allure, making it as beautiful as when viewing them in the day. I took my time to soak in the sights and take some pictures. After all, there was no crowd jostling behind me, and I had absolutely nowhere else to go.
I fought off the Z-monster as much as I could, but eventually, I realise there was no running away from the fact that I needed to sleep. And at four in the morning, there was literally nothing that would make time pass faster other than a good, long nap.
I chose a sofa near the entrance of the mall for a brief respite, but half an hour in, I was woken up by a cheery “Hello sir, good morning!”—the Jewel staff were still around. They informed me that I could not sleep there and I was evicted from my perfect sleeping spot at five in the morning.
I was overcome with tiredness, and my confidence took a blow from that ordeal. I was so sure that that was the perfect sleeping spot during my recce earlier. I couldn’t sleep at Terminal One either, as this would mean stepping out of Jewel. The Changi Lounge was definitely out of my budget as well. I was tired, bleary, spent, and completely out of options.
If you thought the nightmare of Starbucks ended, you were wrong. I returned to Starbucks and took a cue from the jet-lagged travellers there. Their sofa had a weird curvature which required me to contort my body in order to lie down fully. Could this be the end of my sleeping problems? It wasn’t. Since it was the early hours of dusk, the staff would mop the area and they woke me up to make me shift to another section. This happened twice during my four-hour nap there. I should also add that due to my sleeping posture, I was jolted awake by back pains and numb legs.
Due to the extreme discomfort, I gave up on the idea of sleeping. I decided to have breakfast and spent the last of my money on a kaya butter toast set (S$5.20) from Fun Toast. As bread is my favourite food, I figured that I should reward myself for my last meal here in Jewel considering what I just went through. The coffee also completely eradicated any lethargy I had from the terrible sleep. With this last purchase, I was left with a grand, sizeable amount of S$0.10.
When the clock struck twelve, I dashed out of Jewel and welcomed the afternoon sun once again as I made my exit. Never again would I attempt to spend another 24 hours here. It was one of the rare moments in my life where 24 hours felt like an eternity. Another hour and I would have gone insane.
The great scenery and many first-of-its-kind shops were deceptive. It may look exciting to do what I did, but I definitely would not wish this on my worst enemies. Take my word for it. As compared to the other terminals where you can freely sleep on the sofas, there were no good places for you to sleep in Jewel for free. The environment is also not as conducive when it comes to burning the midnight oil and I am very confident that you can find better places in the other airport terminals.
I must, however, add that the S$20 I had with me went a long way and it is definitely possible for anyone to do so too. You just need to resist temptations. Scout out for affordable meal options and you’ll realise you can actually eat for cheap here in Jewel.
The shower and sleep at home afterwards felt so, so good. Almost as good as the first shower and sleep I took during my first book out in the army. I totally deserved it.
Oh, and I’ll leave this here before you guys think that I didn’t upkeep basic oral hygiene.
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