I love landing in places where you can drink the tap water. It means that we don’t have to buy bottles of water to brush our teeth. We made it to Singapore. It’s a funny kind of place. A big, first world, modern city that happens to be a country as well (aka city-state), dropped right in the middle of countries that are a bit farther behind. Walking around Singapore is similar to walking around a modern US or European city. The demographics are mixed here. The hot pot of Singapore is home to groups of people coming from all around the world, all trying to find a better quality of life. Things to do in Singapore? Shop and eat. As you can imagine, we’re here for the food.
Our first stop after dropping our bags at the hotel was the Maxwell Road Food Center. In Singapore, there are large groupings of food stalls, much like a food court in a shopping mall. But, unlike food courts in the US, which are packed with fast food joints with buddies like the Colonel, Ronald, and The King, these food centers are THE places to eat. And here, they’re not called food courts, they’re called Hawker Centers.
Maxwell Road Food Center is home to tons of delicious cuisine, but we were there for something in particular. Though often disputed, many will say that Tian Tian Haianese Chicken Wa has the best Boiled Chicken Rice. Boiled chicken rice sounds pretty boring and bland, but in reality, it’s amazing. They boil the chicken to perfection in seasoned water, then they dunk it into a bucket of ice cold water to leave the chicken and the skin with the perfect texture. Then they boil the rice in the water they boiled the chicken in. The chicken and rice is served with a soy reduction and a spicy garlic sauce. It was delicious and perfectly cooked. We washed it down with an equally delicious and novel drink, barley juice. It was earthy, sweet, and had little bits of barley that you could suck up your straw to munch as you sip. For dessert we found a woman frying up tasty little balls of sweet potato, coconut, and other delicious insides. Though fiery hot, I can’t wait to try them again.
That evening we went to the movies. I think we’re making up for lost time. We haven’t seen movies our entire trip, and now that we’ve started, it’s like we can’t stop! We saw Life of Pi in 3D. It was a really good movie with spectacular special effects, Seth’s co-workers are sure to get an Oscar this year.
Today we slept in, which was easy, because our rooms had no windows. So, at 9am when we finally rolled out of bed, it was still pitch black in our room.
We decided to check out the Golden Mile Food Center. There were a few places on our list to try. The first was Kheng Fat Haianese Beef noodles. They were delicious. Thick vermicelli rice noodles in a thick brown beef stock gravy, topped with small slices of beef and beef meatballs, and served with a spicy garlic sauce. Another hawker stall we sampled was Jin Hua Fish Head Bee Hoon, where they served a fish soup with a milky broth and vermicelli noodles. Topped with fried garlic and spicy pepper flakes it was delicious.
After our feast we wandered around Little India and the Arab Quarter, passing shops that looked all too familiar, reminiscent of the beginning of our trip. We eventually made our way to the Thieves Market, which happens to be Singapore’s first swap meet. It’s a makeshift area with people selling all sorts of nick knacks laid out on blankets on the cement. There were things like used shoes, phone chargers, carved wooden statues, and bigger ticket items such as laptops and cell phones. Whether or not these items were hot was unknown, but the vast variety, and hard usage alone, would make it easy to imagine that they were not acquired legally.
Just after the Thieves Market, we noticed that the far away rain cloud from earlier had finally made it’s way over to us. And the skies opened up. The torrential downpour waited just long enough for us to duck into a Sweedish coffee shop to have a drink and watch the storm. We would have stayed there until the storm passed, but we had a plane to catch. So we braved the storm, and were drenched by the time we made it to the metro stop (Singapore has a great, easy to use, metro system), Just as we were beginning to dry off, we left the station to become drenched once again on our way to our hotel. Now, we’re on a plane, headed to our penultimate destination, Bali, Indonesia. But, don’t worry, we’ll be back in Singapore to try more food, and hopefully see some sights!