The Sockeyed Blog

Ben Johnson's Blog

Singapore

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I was pleasantly surprised by Singapore. Expecting the worst from Jeremy Tan, I imagined a population of pushy arrogant twits making one’s life miserable. The fact is, I didn’t interact with locals a ton, but my impression was that Singapore is a very clean, green city where very few rules are broken, if any. Heritage preservation is very strong, so a great deal of colonial architecture still exists. Buildings are all freshly painted by law every year or few years, and there are electronic panels everywhere telling you when buses will come, how long it takes to drive places, and how much parking is waiting for you. It’s not a cheap place, but not an expensive one either; I’d say things cost a bit less than they do back home, and that street is really quite affordable. It lacks the enjoyable chaos and boisterousness of surrounding Malaysia, but it smells equally of durian.

My goals for my 24 hours in Singapore mostly revolved around food, and I achieved most of them. On the way into town I quizzed the taxi driver about hawker centres for good street food. The taxi dropped us at Kristi’s cousin Laurie’s apartment next to the Gallery Hotel on the Singapore River. Laurie looks great given her recent battle with cancer, and her lovely kid Jack Jack (aged 3.5) is full of beans and was delighted to have company. Laurie was worn out from a round of tests, so Kristi and struck out on our own in search of sights and dinner.

It was hot and sultry and Kristi felt a bit miserable from the heat, but we did have an interesting walk from Laurie’s house across the river and into Chinatown, which has some great old architecture, but to me lacked a bit of vibrancy and seemed more oriented towards tourism and expat drinking. It is very well preserved, and there are good interpretive signs everywhere, which I appreciated. Great colours on the old buildings too. There was a lot of tacky stuff for sale, though, and lots of offers of new suits and cameras.

Our intention was to eat Nonya food at a restaurant called Blue Ginger, but when we arrived there, it wasn’t open yet and we were hungry, so we decided to head to a food court we had passed by on the walk there (and which both the taxi driver and Laurie had recommended). Once we arrived, however, it was hard to make a decision on what to eat. Fortunately there was a vegetarian place cooking up the standards for Kristi (she had mee goreng), and I ordered some bee hoon and a side of roti with dipping sauce. Tasty stuff, and pretty cheap ($3 for my noodles). I washed it down with fresh lime juice. I convinced Kristi that we needed dessert, and the idea of shaved ice enticed her. I found a place that served colourful shaved ice treats and ordered up some ABC which arrived the size of the Matterhorn and more colourful than a pride parade. It was very soothing, even if it didn’t compare to the stuff I had in Kuching.

Back at home we flopped into bed quite early and had a fairly decent sleep although there was a very impressive thunder and rain storm at about 4am. We heard poor Jack Jack crying and asking for his mom.

Laurie produced a great breakfast this morning: home-baked muffins, longan, juice, yogurt and tea. The three of us ventured out to Arab street on the bus. I was very impressed by the electronic information panel at the bus stop telling you exactly when the next bus from each route would arrive. Arab street was interesting: narrow arcades – like in Kuching – lined with textile stores selling material in every possible colour. The buildings themselves were vibrantly painted with very attractive shuttered windows.

We walked over to Little India which felt very much like being in India to me, partly because of the smells and the bollywood music, but also because of the heat and the fact that the Indians in Singapore are not mostly Sikh as in Vancouver, but more South Indian and likely from all over India.

I had my heart set on a south Indian lunch eating off a banana leaf so we hiked until we found the Banana Leaf Apollo on Race Course Road, a substantial and boisterous place with a huge menu of delicious-looking fare. Kristi and I each ordered the vegetarian meal which came with six curries, rice, curd and rassam. It was scrumptious and spicy. I washed mine down with milk tea and lime juice. The price for the meal was pretty good, too – $6 Singapore dollars, or five dollars Canadian.

We took a taxi back to Laurie’s and relaxed the rest of the afternoon away, swimming for a couple of hours in their outdoor pool with the very energetic and water-loving Jack Jack. At around 5:00 we said goodbye and took a taxi out to the airport. Everything went smoothly and our Valuair flight landed in Denpasar at just after 9:30. Customs was buggered up by a computer glitch, so they had to hand-write all of our visas, which took some time. A 20-minute taxi ride (on roads chaotic in comparison with Singapore) delivered us to our guest house in Sanur, the Swastika Bungalows. The two-storey concrete bungalows are spacious and clean; not full of character on the inside, but the courtyard areas are lovely, full of lovely flowering trees and cool shade.

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Written by sockeyed

October 31, 2008 at 01:00

Posted in Travel

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. I can’t believe you’re saying nice things about Singapore. Boo hiss! All the time spent indoctrinating you all gone to waste.

    Jeremy Tan

    November 3, 2008 at 23:35


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