Anyone who has been to Mustafa Centre knows how nifty it can be for late-night, last-minute shopping — but also how painful it can be to navigate.
Enter Jennifer Jasensky, an American who moved to Singapore with her husband in January 2014 after falling in love with it on a visit together here prior — who only created this comprehensive map of the mega-confusing mall all by herself:
(By the way, it comes with a list of toilet location tips, travel directions, pro-tips like where to drop off heavy items and even a quick guide to a mini-version of Mustafa along Serangoon Road [whut].)
Now, anyone who has been to Mustafa Centre before will know what a nightmare it is to navigate — what could possibly possess a person, much less a foreigner, to do this?
We asked Jasensky, who discovered Mustafa courtesy of none other than Anthony Bourdain (watch this video from the 35 minute mark), and she said the reason was simple — the fact that it was so daunting to shop there:
"I have many friends who work all week and have no choice but to shop on the weekends — I wanted to give them the ability to get in and out via the best entrance possible so they would not waste too much time there. I also wanted to save people the utter pain and frustration I have felt there on many a visit. You know, you think you are done and remember you need ghost chili and it is on the complete other side of the building and you must fight your way through so many wanderers to get it — you just give up! "
And the golden question: how long did it take to do?! (and also perhaps, why you so free??)
Her answer: "A ridiculous amount of time". Jasensky says she has paced up and down the floors of Mustafa Centre over some 10 visits to the mall, at two- to four-hour stretches each time — it got to the point where she suspected they were watching her on the shopping centre's closed-circuit cameras, walking with her clipboard.
"After each trip I tried to put it all together, but it was so confusing as in (some) places they have two aisles, in other places three aisles, stairs that don't go to B2, elevators that go to car parks, elevators that go to the restaurant... Aligning the place vertically was the greatest challenge, up and down I went trying to be accurate, and still it is only a general guide!"
After all that, she feels her end-product is still not perfect. And if you read her blog post, she mentions a "mini Mustafa" on Serangoon Road.
Now, we don't know about you, but we sure did not know about the existence of a "mini Mustafa".
Anyway, it quickly became clear to us that Jasensky is no ordinary ang moh expat — given that she now knows Mustafa Centre better than most Singaporeans. She's also not a taitai — a mathematics teacher by training, she now gives math tuition to (mostly) international students.
Unlike most of us, she's a huge fan of our education system, which she earnestly hopes to be able to plug her children into — yes, she actually wants to send her kids to our primary schools, which are at the moment closing in batches due to low enrollment.
After all, these days, she tells us she is battling her penchant for kopi and Ya Kun kaya toast, black carrot cake and bubble tea, lives in an HDB flat, and sends her children to a void deck kindergarten.
Well, we're certainly grateful to you for your noble contribution to the betterment of the lives of the nation's late-night shoppers, spice and bargain-hunters, Jennifer. Meanwhile, we'll look forward to the next complicated spot here she decides to map into a guide.
Top photo courtesy of Jennifer Jasensky