Singapore – Bring on the Food – Days 183-188

With the exception of Melbourne, we’ve been on a good streak of cities we LOVED.  Fortunately, Singapore kept that trend alive.  We were booked into a nice hotel for six days and would welcome the New Year in style. We would use our time here to get acclimated to travelling in Asia. And finally, Paige and I were going to undo all the health gains from the previous weeks by eating non-stop for six days. As Nan and Cathy (a family friend) were joining us, this would also be our last stretch with family.  After Singapore, we are on our own until the end of March.

  There were parts of the trip we deliberately didn’t research as we wanted to be shocked upon arrival.  Singapore was one of those places (because reading and watching Crazy Rich Asians does NOT count as research).  Expecting Singapore to be a dense metropolis like New York, we were awestruck by the open areas and greenery. The buildings are spectacular, and I spent hours staring at the Marina Sands (Julie called it the flying boat).  It was not just skyscrapers, as the accompanying infrastructure is equally impressive.  Sidewalks! I missed them so much!  

  We were fortunate that Nan and Cathy joined us as that meant babysitters! While the kids toured the aquarium, Paigey and I were free to have a date night in Singapore. We agreed to a night focused on street eats. First was some Puti Piring from a hawker stall on Haig Road.  About a year ago, we watched a Netflix show on Singapore street eats, and the owner was featured.  We had to see the actual stand where this female entrepreneur started.  The food (dessert?) was delicious and justified the 45-minute bus ride across town.

Man in front of Katong Laksa Restaurant

Up next was more food as we stumbled upon a hawker centre packed with people.  In Bali, we stopped considering google ratings (everything gets 4+ stars) and went back to the old way of choosing a restaurant. Walk around and just look for places that are overflowing with customers.   Since we didn’t understand the menu or how to order, we just ate whatever the shopkeeper recommended. It was a lot of shrimp and fishcakes.  Next on the list was a popular laksa place just down the road.  The food there was HOT, both from a temperature and spiciness perspective. Thank goodness we got the small as I struggled with the fishcakes, cockles and spice.  I was hurting and called a “time-out” as I needed some time to walk off that meal.

  After 15 minutes, I got my second wind, so we headed to the hawker centre in Chinatown.  We experienced some culture shock since the stalls were in a multi-story parking garage.  We had some fresh spring rolls and ate delicious satays while the stall bellowed charcoal smoke into the hallway.  We ended the night with a coconut milkshake and picked up the kids 5 lbs heavier.  No drinking, no clubbing but we didn’t complain at all about our date night.

  Thanks to our Nan, we could tag along on a fantastic local tour she had organized.  The most interesting place was the offices of the Housing and Development Board.  We learned about how public housing developments are built and made available to the public. According to our guide, if we were Singaporeans, we would definitely qualify for housing! While there we also visited room prototypes to understand the size of the units. Of note, bomb shelters are mandatory in all new units. It looks like most residents just use the shelters as reinforced closets.  

  Our next, different-but-awesome experience in Singapore was the airport.  Having quickly transited the airport on arrival, we had no idea what we had missed (it wasn’t featured in the movie!).  Feeling like we had missed out on something, we made a deal with the kids on our last day. We would go to the airport and quickly check out the waterfall attraction. Then Paige and Isabella would bike back into town while Julie and Dad had a play date.  In the end, there would be no bike rides or play dates as we spent the entire afternoon at the JEWEL.

Let me start by saying that the climate control is impressive at keeping the Singaporean heat at bay. As for the structure itself, the pictures and commentary on the waterfall don’t do it justice.  The plant walls growing up the sides are nuts! In addition to the visual awesomeness, the plethora of shopping, food and leisure activities will keep any family entertained.  We let the kids pick their activity and they selected the cargo net.  We started strong with Isabella scampering like a monkey with Dad taking pictures of our adventure. Mom had to help poor Julie who kept getting stuck in the holes with her tiny feet.  After about five minutes of taking photos, we were upset that the actual course was probably little more than 100m.  For the price, it felt like a ripoff.  But just as I was pointing out the terminus, I noticed that the net was actually over a break in the concourse and we were bloody high up.  I panicked and scared both Paigey and Julie. The following fifteen minutes of us trying to traverse the nets were tense.  It was not my finest moment but my fear of heights went into overdrive.  To find your handholds (if you decide to crawl instead of walk) you have to look down through the net to the floor below.  Once we got off the net and onto stable ground, Julie gave me one helluva lecture about her not liking it at all.

Family posing in front of monkey statues

  Finally, we did have a centrally located hotel that allowed us to walk outside and watch the fireworks.  The kids did their absolute best to stay awake but fell asleep at 11pm.  At 11:30, we woke and carried them outside to the park across the street.  We saw the drones begin the countdown and then the fireworks went off.  They were about eight minutes long and Isabella slept through the first four minutes.  In the last 10 years with Paige, we’ve only made it to midnight twice (we’re not NYE people), so it was nice to ring in the New Year with the family.

  Unfortunately, our time in Singapore had to end.  We know it was short and we left some things undone. We could see the Long Bar from our hotel lobby but never crossed the street to have the famous Singapore Sling. To correct that regret, Paige will seek employment where an international transfer to Singapore is possible :).

Where we stayed:

  • Fairmont Singapore:  Excellent location for firework viewing! – Disclaimer, Singapore was expensive and this was our trip splurge – we bought gift cards two years ago on promotion and cashed them all in

By the numbers:

  • Times the children ate at the German Beerhaus near the hotel:  3 – if we took them there for lunch, they would let us go somewhere crazy for dinner
  • Cost to ride the bus:  $1 most times – take that TTC!
  • Cost for a 5GB sim card:  $15 – and it was valid for two countries! Why do we put up with our Canadian carriers?
  • Cost for water:  Free – I drank it from the tap again!
  • Cost to visit the Supertree Grove: Free – provided you don’t go on the elevated walkways
  • Score out of 10 the children gave their aquarium visit with Nan and Cathy: 10 – not sure what Cathy and Nan gave it!

Ciao for now,

Mike

2 thoughts on “Singapore – Bring on the Food – Days 183-188

  1. Monch Weller January 29, 2023 / 7:09 am

    Great post, and lucky you for having tried out those two Singapore eats! If memory serves me correctly, Gordon Ramsay featured 328 Katong Laksa in one of his shows — though he failed to recreate the joint’s signature laksa noodle dish.

    Also, thank you for writing about that part of Jewel Changi; my younger brother and I visited in 2019, but didn’t quite reach that place as it required a ticket. So that’s what the place looks like!

    Like

    • paige m January 29, 2023 / 7:10 pm

      Didn’t even know about the Gordon Ramsay piece but just checked it out and your memory is correct. Thanks on mentioning it.

      Liked by 1 person

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