Working at Raffles Place is quite an experience. No matter what you actually do for a living, 'choping' seats with tissue packets during lunchtime and trying not to swept off your feat crowdsurfing-style by the tsunami of office workers at the Raffles Place MRT are experiences that will linger on in your mind long after you've been retrenched.
Whether you're an eager young fresh grad with a brand new G2000 suit or a jaded PMET who's counting down the days to retirement, your days in the CBD can present a challenge, whether to your wallet or to your sanity. Here are some tips for handling the stress of being a corporate warrior.
For cheaper food, walk towards Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar
If you work on the Raffles Place end of the CBD, your cheapest food options are at Golden Shoe, which is so hideously crowded, eating there is like taking the MRT to work all over again. And to top it all off, it's not even that cheap-you're looking at around $4 to $6 per meal, not including a drink.
Those who don't mind walking (and let's face it, most of us need the exercise anyway) 10 to 15 minutes, head towards the Chinatown or Tanjong Pagar area.
The massive Chinatown Complex contains some hidden gems, and lunchtime queues aren't as crazy as Golden Shoe. It's still possible to get a bowl of fishball noodles or scissor-cut curry rice for $2.50 to $3.
Maxwell Food Centre is home to many famous stalls, prices are lower than the usual CBD food courts, and you also get to enjoy decent airflow in the area next to the road. The Teochew porridge stall is a hot favourite.
If you work on the Tanjong Pagar end, the HDB estate is full of stalls that it will cost you only $3 to $4 to eat at, like the ever-popular cai png stalls beside FairPrice.
Avoid queuing for food between 1pm to 1:30pm when it's most crowded
The lunchtime crowd can be brutal, especially when everyone else seems to be eating in groups of 10 and reserving huge tracts of food court real estate with their tissue packets.
The biggest crush, by far, starts at 1pm and persists till about 1:30pm. Leaving the office just a bit earlier at 12:45pm makes a big difference, especially if it can save you 10 to 15 minutes of queuing. If you can't leave early, starting to queue after 1:30pm can also reduce waiting time.
Know where to go to de-stress
It's not just your job or your Satan-like boss that are stressing you out. It's also the crowds of frazzled office workers who threaten to run you over during lunchtime, the long queues at eateries and ovehearing 'sian' conversations at the next table between colleagues who are lunching together out of obligation.
Well guess what, there are actually a number of places in the CBD where you can get some much needed time-out and enjoy almost complete silence. Yes, we didn't think such places like that existed in Singapore either, but what do you know? Here are some oases of calm.
- Buddha Tooth Relic Temple has a meditation area upstairs, while the Tian Hock Keng Temple is quite empty outside of the Chinese New Year period.
- If you're close enough, take a walk to the Ann Siang Hill area, which is swathed in greenery and has a few good picnic spots.
- There are a few museums within walking distance of Shenton Way like the Red Dot Museum, the Fuk Tak Chi Museum and the URA Centre.
- The Library@Chinatown at Chinatown Point is quite crowded with snoozing uncles during lunchtime, but at least it's quiet and there's air con.
Attend free exercise classes
Those who haven't exercised since their last NAPFTA test won't believe this, but getting some exercise can boost your mood considerably, and even make your boss seem more humane. But you don't need to fork out the money to join a gym to squeeze in a workout during the work day.
Sign up for the Health Promotion Board's Sunrise in the City programme, and you'll have access to fitness classes like yoga, pilates and more at gyms and studios in the CBD, as well as the use of their shower facilities. These free programmes are usually held in the morning before work, and you have to book your slots way in advance.
Enjoy 1-for-1 meals at CBD restaurants with The Entertainer app
Once in a while, it's nice to leave the overcrowded hawker centres behind and eat at a fancier place where you're not forced to use the tissue packet trick to get a seat.
When you do decide to eat at a restaurant, you absolutely need the Entertainer app. A subscription gives you 1-for-1 mains at a range of restaurants, and a great many of them happen to be in the CBD area. Here are some establishments within walking distance of offices in the Raffles Place or Tanjong Pagar areas where you can enjoy 1-for-1 main courses with the app:
-Bergs (Far East Square)
- Kinki (Customs House)
- The Bank Bar + Bistro (Shenton Way)
- Munch Saladsmith / Rotisserie (One Raffles Place, China Square)
- My Little Spanish Place (Boat Quay)
- O Comptoir (Circular Road)
- Spizza (Club Street)
- Sarnies (Telok Ayer Street)
With the app, you get to treat your interns at half the price. Get the subscription here at a $10 discount.
This article appeared first in MoneySmart.
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