15-17th June 2010
I landed in Singapore, fresh from Australia, after a really good flight with Qantas- I was sold after we were given a menu to order our food from; you don’t often get that in economy. There was also slightly more room, with seats in twos rather than threes. My travel buddy and I were staying with her aunt and uncle, who were nice enough to collect us from the airport and take us straight to Little India for dinner. After sampling some of the tasty cuisine that Singapore had to offer, we were finally able to crash.
We awoke to find heavy rain- it was monsoon season. It clearly wasn’t stopping any time soon, so we had no choice but to venture out into it. We drove down to a local market for a breakfast of curry. Curry 24/7- I was loving Singapore so far.
Fed and watered, our first stop was Changi Museum. Changi Prison was where Japanese soldiers held prisoners of war during World War II, including my great uncle, so I wanted to know more about what happened there. Our audio guides were informative and included interviews with survivors from the prison. After leaving a note on the remembrance board, it was time to leave.
We headed to Chinatown to meet two girls who we had met in New Zealand, and then again in Australia. Despite some inevitable direction-related confusion, we managed to find them and went off for some Dim Sum. After a snack of a steamed pork bun and steamed sponge (both good choices), we wandered through a nearby market, before settling down to try a Singapore Sling cocktail. Whilst this may have been the right place to get one, I wasn’t going to be ordering another. Instead, we went to see the Merlion landmark- a fountain with a lion’s head and mermaid’s tail, which spouted water from its mouth.
The fountain overlooked an impressive building on the other side of the water. This turned out to be the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and looked like a boat, balanced on three stilts. We’d heard there was a rooftop garden so we went to see if we could get up there. Sadly, it was new and hadn’t been opened yet, however the hotel lef to a casino (which we weren’t old enough to get into) and then to a shopping centre, which had an actual canal running through and where they were building a floating Louis Vuitton shop. It was possibly the snazziest place I had ever been.
After marching around Singapore with a map, we said goodbye to the girl’s and met up with my travel buddy’s aunt for dinner at a restaurant called Fraser’s Place (I think). My porcini pasta and chocolate brownie may not have been a cultural dinner option but it tasted good.
The morning brought both our last day in Singapore and the sun. After a slow start, we went back to Little India, which in the light looked exactly as I would expect India to look like, with its decorated and colourful buildings, which had Singapore’s skyscrapers towering behind. We had our fortunes told by a bird which would flip over a card after being let out of its cage. Apparently good things would happen for me- my fate was like that of Buddha’s, I would win my lawsuit and my son would be forward in the family. Guess I can’t complain.
We stopped for a drink of coconut milk, which came straight from the coconut with a straw, before heading to the Banana Leaf Apollo for lunch. The restaurant was famous for serving its food on banana leaves instead of plates and for its fish head curry. The food was delicious but I have to admit the site of a big fish head floating in the middle of my soupy curry was slightly off-putting. Thankfully it just tasted like the rest of the fish. My travel buddy’s uncle told us that it was customary for the man of the house to eat the eye, which we weren’t going to argue with. After scooping it out, he popped it in his mouth. We were impressed until he couldn’t manage to swallow it!
After lunch, we went off to Bugis Street Market, which had been recommended by a friend. It wasn’t the best market I found in southeast Asia but I had a successful trip, buying a bag, purse, necklace, souvenirs for friends and a shot glass for our travel collection. If Singapore had been our last stop, I would have bought a lot more.
Unsurprisingly, we stumbled across a Starbucks- they’re everywhere- so we stopped off for a drink before heading to the Asian Civilisations Museum to learn about different cultures on the continent. There were also several interactive areas which were meant for children but which we took full advantage of. We spent a while there before we had to head off for a dinner of satay sticks and ais kacang, a weird combination of crushed ice, syrup, agar jelly and sweetcorn. After a couple of jugs of beer, it was time to go home and get ready for our departure to Malaysia in the morning. We hadn’t had long in the city and I’m sure there was a lot we missed, but we seemed to have seen a good slice of what Singapore has to offer- food, markets, museums, architecture and temples.