Our first day in Singapore
Tuesday 28 December 2010 - Wednesday 29 December 2010 30 °C
We finally started our trip through Southeast Asia here, in Singapore. We booked the cheapest hostel we could find online right in the heart of Little India and checked in a little after midnight. It's hot, it's humid and it smells like curry and car fumes- in a good way somehow. Our luxurius (for a closet) room has a bunk bed- at first I scoffed but really it means Andrew sleeps up top right under the freezing aircon and I have the balmy bunk below to myself. Mmmmm aircon- never been a huge fan but it's so humid it's like breathing water here. This wasn't the only litte in surprise in store for us at our accomodation. Holy toilet/showers! No really, I mean toilet - slash - showers, same cubicle for all your buisness. It's like the opposite of New Zealand where the shower and toilets are in different rooms. I still prefer it American style. At least there was toilet paper- other places I visited today kindly provided a hose instead...yeah right.
A little bit about Singapore. It's a city, island, country off the southern tip of Malaysia. The population is a diverse 4.8 million. English is widely spoken as well as Mandarin, Malay and Tamil (Singaporean Indian from south India). The main religions are Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. The currency is the S$ Singapore dollar which is worth about $.85 US$ and the economy is strong and growing- raking in US$85 billion a year. The airport is a major hub, many flights between Australia, Asia, and Europe stop here. The city is a hectic mixture of old and new, colonial and modern.
Andrew and I kicked off our day in search of 'the best laksa in Singapore' according to our Lonely Planet and walked in circles before we gave up. There is a great looking food court right next to the hostel with places serving all sorts of exciting foods from fresh squeezed sugar cane, yum, to turtle and black chicken- maybe tomorrow. We had some really great Chinese including delish sweet and sour beancurd and black bean pork. I am mostly enthralled with all the exciting beverage choices- my favourite treat today was sour plum and lime ice, which would make a stellar margarita. The sour plums are actually salt cured shrived up plum and they were mouthwatering and a real sensation with the lime ice. We also enjoyed some Slurpies from 7-11, I just can't resist, and lots of iced tea- grass jelly, jasmine green, oolong. I was dying to know what was so special about those little gold redbulls- they're flat, that's right, sans carbonation.
We visited 3 Temples, all along the same stretch of road there was a Temple for Vishnu, a Thai styled Sakya Muni Buddha, and a Temple for Guayn Yin (Chinese Goddess of Mercy) as well as Buddha.
They are all so beautiful and peaceful. Devoutees filtered in and out kneeling and making offerings of incense, oil, flowers, fruit, milk- Starbucks frappacino...! I hope to be able to photograph more temples in our travels but something seemed wrong about disturbing the quiet prayer in the temples today. We will visit some more historic areas tomorrow including the colonial district and some museums later in the week.
After our well-timed nap during the 4-5 pm downpour (ala Florida) we headed out to put a flavour to the neighborhood. Our choice was Banana Leaf Apolo. Look Ma- no plates!
They place a banana leaf on the table in front of you which you eat off of- cute. I had a mutton biryani and Andrew had Kadai chicken. The curry was perfect and the gimmick entertaining- tomorrow we are aiming for cheap street food and pushing the envelope. Walking around as it gets dark is great, the colourful colonial detailed architecture gives way to curvy, narrow streets lined with lit up shop signs. No. 1`Internet Store and Cheapest Shop in Singapore, 3 for $10- quality assured!
Singapore is definately for worshippers of the retail gods. There seem to be malls everywhere- airconditioned oasis. Tomorrow- Orchard Road, it's like 5th Ave for SEA. The American Embassy- seems my passport is full and I need more pages, it would be impressive if the NZ visas weren't a whole page each. Otherwise, who knows? Anything can happen.
Does anyone remember this American recipe?