Saturday, November 29, 2008
We walked to Fort Canning Park, which is the site of the first Christian Cemetary in Singapore and were really looking forward to seeing it, but they were setting up for some type of concert so most of it was off limits :(. Instead we went to the National Museum and ended up spending almost 3 hours there! I don't know how we do that! We decided to walk to a place called Bugis Junction for lunch and then realized that it's the weekend. We've had it really good during the week with very few people around, but they've all come out for the weekend, so it was really busy! We had lunch, looked around for a while and then had a snack. I had Chocolate Shaved Ice with a touch of chocolate sauce, sprinkles and crushed peanuts. Cost me $1.80 and it was SO GOOD! We walked back through the street shopping district, where I bought a couple of handbags for really cheap and a pair of new havianas flipflops... (oh, the flippers were bought in the mall) and P bought some cool stickers. By the time we got back to our hotel, it was near 6pm! I'm just completely beat tonight, so we're going to go to dinner and then take the camera and tripod out to the Merlion and the Fountain of Wealth and take pics and wander... kinda take it easy... we've been in overdrive since we got here and it's starting to wear me out... since it was only last week that I was bedridden with strepthroat and tonsilitis...seems like ages ago!
Then we went to go visit the Singapore Icon the Merlion... He's so cool! It was SO hot outside tho and yours truly didn't wear a hat or sunscreen.. between the heat and breakfast sitting like lead, I didn't feel so good, but seeing the Merlion in person was amazing... P has it tattooed on his leg and it looked exactly the same! After we took our photos and admired the statue P went to the souvenier shop and I sat in what is my new favorite spot on the planet.... Under one of Singapore's many bridges, they've developed the land into the souvenier shop, a tapas restaurant called Tapas Tree (like at home), seating and a Starbucks.... it's so peaceful and lovely... shady and warm and right by the water... it was awesome... until the guy with the snake came along and we decided to meander on....
Next we went to the Asian Civilization museum. Three floors of everything you could ever want to know and see about the heritage of every part of Asia... They had a very cool exhibit called Neither East nor West, Asians in Monochrome, and it was a portrait photography exhibit... really cool! After we spend 2 ish hours there, we went to Boat and Clarke Quay, which are little areas that have super cool looking bars and restaurants. We grabbed a cab to come back to the hotel and had a nap before we went to East Coast Park for dinner. It's a Hawker Center on the beach. We had satay and then I went foraging and found something I'd been wanting to try called Carrot Cake. No, sadly, it's not carrot cake like you think... which when I first researched Singapore, was very excited that Carrot cake seemed to be such a big deal.... until I learned that it's not what I thought. It was pretty much like this super tasty omlett (no cheese) with some type of soft radishy cake in it... it was the softest, warmest, comfort food I've ever had and now I have to find some way to duplicate it at home. After dinner we walked along the beach, watched the cable ski (it's this big 'pond' where people can water ski and instead of boats, they have this cable that goes around in a circle and they can go for as long as they can stay up. Very cool). We caught another cab and decided to go to Vivo City , South East Asia's largest mall to see a movie, but got there too late and both the early and late show were sold out. So we wandered a bit and then found ourselves sitting outside on this promenade overlooking the river and the island of Sentosa. It was so beautiful outside with a nice breeze blowing that we sat there for some time. After that, we went in to get a snack and I found the best Roti Prata that I've ever had the fortune of eating! We tried a couple other things too, which weren't so great and then had a shaved ice dessert. Mine was Pomello flesh (those giant grapefruits you see in the store) and mango with condensed milk and tapioca all over a bowl of shaved ice. OMG, so good!
Getting off the plane, I find myself standing in an immigration line... clammy and wishing I brought a hairtie in my carry on. Immigration only took about 10 min and my new Sing friend that I met in Vancouver waited for me on the other side, which was nice. By the time we got through 10 min of immigration, walked less than two minutes to our baggage carrosel, my bag was already going round and round... HOLY FAST! And then it was off to the Budget Terminal, where the budget airlines land and I was supposed to meet Pat. I got my first real taste of how HUGE everything is here when I had to go from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 to catch the TRAM to the budget terminal. In order to get to T2, I had to walk all the way across T1 to catch a SKYTRAIN to T2 and then into and elevator, down a hallway, around a corner, down another hallway and into the pick up area... It took me nearly 25 minutes to get from baggage to the bus stop. And when I got there, I wished even harder that I had a hair elastic and that it wasn't inappropriate to take all my clothes off! In fact while I was waiting for my tram to take me to the next building, I had to bust into my luggage and get one out... It was probably close to 35 degrees in this 'tunnel', with buses and huge trucks whizzing by... something like wearing a wet wool blanket... All the effort I made to try and look nice for P was put on hold in favor of taking off everything I possibly could and tying up my hair... it was so hot I thought it was going to melt and slide off my head! When the bus finally came, the bus driver had to lift my suitcase onto the bus, since it weighs over 40LBS!!! I have no idea how that happened! So off we went, and I got my first sights of Singapore... and it's green EVERYWHERE! There are palm trees and lush vegitation and flowers and trees everywhere! Less than 5 minutes later and I was at the new Budget Terminal just in time for Pat to gather his bags and we were together again! In Singapore, instead of hailing a cab, or arguing with a driver about how much the ride would be, you go and stand in this civilized lineup, where an attendant hails you a cab from the 20-30 that are waiting and the driver nicely walks over to you, puts your luggage in the trunk and you're off. Our cab was about a $20 ride and we were at our lovely hotel. We were greeted right away by the bellhop who wrote up our luggage, gave us a ticket and ushered us into the hotel... where we were greeted by a woman in a gorgeous asian dress who took us to the elevator for the 4th floor check in. Coming off the elevator, we saw crystal chandeliers and the most beautiful atrium I've ever seen. And then a lovely surprise... when we checked in, they upgraded our suite to an Executive room, which is gorgeous! I don't remember what we booked, but it wasn't this. There is beautiful wood panelling, a marble covered bathroom, silk draperies and a flat screen TV... I think I just kept saying 'SO PRETTY' over and over again. After we got settled, we went out. Our hotel is attached to a huge mall, so we went through the mall, the 2nd largest in SE Asia, looked around, had lunch and wandered. When our feet were sore, we came back to change shoes, and took the MRT to my very first Hawker Center, Newton Circus. The MRT is HUGE! It's likely over 100M long and continuous, so if you wanted to walk inside, from one end to the other, you could. But you don't really need to, because there are doors everywhere... and in the station, there are doors that stop people from jumping or being pushed into the tracks when the train isn't there. When the train stops, the inside doors (train doors) open a few seconds before the station doors... I think to give the people on the train a head start to getting off before the people in the station rush the train. And a very polite recording with a lovely accent reminds you to please 'mind the gap' between the two sets of doors... Good idea an all, since the 'gap' is between 6 and 8” wide.
The train moves SO fast! The commute in Vancouver would be a breeze if the skytrain went that fast! It comes flying into the station so fast, you think that maybe it's not going to stop, but it's because the train is so long, that from the time it gets into the station, till it has to stop, it's still miles to go! And when you go through tunnels, they have hundreds of tv screens all mounted side by side by side and they stream advertisements or commmercials on them.... it looks like a digital flip book as your train goes racing by... So cool! I think my reaction to seeing that may have been 'shut UP!'. We got off 5 stops away at Newton to go to the food center... where I had my first ever cup of SUGARCANE JUICE! Oh yes! So tasty! At first I thought it would be too sicknengly sweet, but P insisted that it wasn't. They take the sugarcane and put it into this roller machine and grind the CRAP out of it... over and over and over until they've gotten all the liquid out and the sugarcane is a heap of ground up bark. The juice is strained and then poured over ice. It's a strange greenish color and it's heavenly! Tastes sweet with a hint of 'rind'... like when you cut mango a bit too close to the pit... I've never tasted anything like it... it's amazing! With our Sugarcane juice we had skewers of the famed 'meat on a stick'... chicken and beef with a peanut dipping sauce... best meat I've ever eaten! And the P got us an Ice Kachang which is like a sno cone on steriods. It's a huge tower of shaved ice, which apparently they shave right in front of you (I didn't go with to buy it), and then they put these bright colored flavors on it... we had flourescent pink (I didn't like that one, but it was Pat's fave), bright green (my fave), brownish (coffee/hazelnut flavor), and chopped mango in syrup. It was the perfect amount of sweetness and so cold and refreshing. Until we got to the bottom, and the bottom of the cup was filled with corn, red beans and squares of red bean jelly... I was pretty much full by the time we got to that... Asians love their corn and beans in dessert. After we took the train back, walked back through the mall to our hotel, we called it a day.
Yesterday we got up fairly early and I had housekeeping come and bring an outlet transformer for my hair appliances, which I THOUGHT would be one of those gadgets that you put on the end of your plug... lol! It looks like it could land the space shuttle or blow up a building.... it's this huge transformer box with switches and lights.... and it doesn't work... so I can't use my straightner... :(
We headed out at 930 and headed for the famed Orchard Road... stopping first and the world famous Raffles Hotel, where I announced that one day I'm going to live there... in the hotel! I was so hot, even in the overcast day that we had to stop and get a bottle of water... which I kid you not tasted like either pork or a postage stamp, depending on which one of us you asked. Which means that now we're very careful about which brands we buy. We walked and walked... down Orchard road... which was lined with Christmas ornaments and the road was strung back and forth with lights and banners and decorations.... We went all the way to the 'end' which is probably 4km from our starting point, changed some money and commenced 'looking'. We went into what must have been a million malls.... all 5 or 6 stories... all with amazing shops, name brand designers, cinemas, food courts, and the hugest Christmas trees you've ever seen! We took pictures of ones that must have been 50 feet high... and that's not even the tallest... one day we'll go to Vivo City where they have a 102ft tall one! We stopped and got refreshments at McCafe! Yes, you heard right! A coffee shop by McDonalds... where they serve lattes and cappucinos and iced teas! One warning... go easy on the 'syrup'. I had a iced passion black tea, and the guy asked if I wanted the 'syrup'. I said no and then tasted it and realized that the tea is unsweetened... so I poured a TOUCH in my cup and it made the whole thing so sweet! Then we headed in to a little mall and had my new favorite hamburger ever. MOSBurger! If someone could come up with some money and bring MOSBurger to Canada, they'd be a millionaire! I had a Cheeseburger, which had chopped onions, ketchup, swiss cheese and a soft bun... I've never had such an amazing hamburger. And we had 'apple soda' with it, which is exactly like the perfect mix of apple juice and 7-up.
We stopped at an amazing CD shop called That CD shop... two stories of wall to wall CD's... an audiophile's dream! And the employees see you looking interested in something, come up, tear off the plastic packaging and send you to the row of CD players so you can sample anything you like... and while you're listening... they bring you other discs they think you might be interested in, based on your initial selection... so awesome!
We went to the biggest bookstore in Asia, KinoKunyia, where we had teatime... a wonderful freshley brewed 'reguvinating blend' coffee and a chicken pie that was to die for... Gotta love those colonial influences... howcome we don't have teatime at home??
Then we looked around at maybe 1/15th of the store where I found around a dozen books I wanted.... which I then took photo's of so I can buy them online at home... One of the books on Rwanda that I wanted was over S60 (60 sing dollars)! After we wandered more... in and out of malls... back and forth across the street... and then, close to home, we stopped at a Starbucks, where they don't have our Christmas flavors (eggnog, gingerbread), but they DO have the best Christmas Frappacino ever! I had a Dark Cherry Mocha Frappacino and it was to die for! But the tall size was over S6!!!! I have decided I can have one more, close to when we leave... otherwise I may become an addict!
After we got back to the hotel... with Pat nearly having to drag me the last few hundred meters (we must have walked between 10 and 14KM in total), we found it to be 720pm and we lazed around the hotel relaxing until we could stuff our feet into shoes again and go for dinner. We went to a Japanese restaurant near the hotel and I had my new favorite, Udon Noodle soup with tempura bits floated on top. I had Pork Tonkatsu as well, but it was a little rare and unfortunately got a bit of a tummy ache after... but the soup was amazing. Then we wandered over to the World's Largest Fountain (Guinness World Record Book) called the Fountain of Wealth, which we watched them dress up with millions of Christmas lights yesterday. It wasn't running, as we were there a bit late, but the lights were amazing to see.