Singapore, Pt. II
May 4, 2012 § 3 Comments
The morning after I landed in Singapore, I went out to have breakfast with CK, his parents and his twin brother. It was Good Friday, so the streets were super crowded with parked cars because the churches didn’t have parking lots, despite being mega-church status (apparently). The breakfast location was an open-air food court-type place, which is quite different from the usual IHOP experience but not unlike what you’d find at Chicagoland’s Diho. CK helped me order a plate of noodles, which came with fried fish and egg.
The whole thing was quite tasty but also very oily, which I don’t tolerate very well in the morning. It’s interesting because when I talked to CK about it later, he told me that he has a hard time eating dry food in the morning. I wondered if it’s because I come from northern China, which is known more for its bland fare (dumplings, buns, etc.). I mean, seriously, I could eat a whole loaf of bread in one sitting without any water, but I detest chow mein, deep-fried chicken and bacon.
Anyway. The good thing about the oilier Singaporean food I tried was that I could eat it without stuffing my face — I usually can’t help but gain weight while on vacation. (The constant heat and humidity helped diminish my appetite too. I love Singapore!) CK also bought me a curry puff to snack on. It was really spicy and really tasty, even four hours later.
After breakfast, CK’s brother dropped us off at the nearby MRT station, where we took the subway to Orchard Road, basically Singapore’s supreme shopping destination. It’s like Las Vegas strip if you replaced all the casinos and restaurants and brothels with malls and malls and malls. You can walk half a block out of one mall right into another one. The other amazing thing was that it seemed like half the malls were undergoing renovations or construction of some kind, meaning there will be even more stores. It was pretty overwhelming.
Singapore also seemed rather sex-positive, if the prolific sex stores were any indication of accepted culture.
At one of the malls, I spotted a Sticky candy store, which I had read about on Xiaxue, so of course I had to buy some. I only bought a small pack because I didn’t want to carry a whole jar back to Hong Kong, but fortunately, a friend here told me that there’s a Sticky store in HK too! Because I went to Singapore with only a carry-on bag, I tried to limit my purchases and only bought a pair of flats + this candy that day. Here’s a peek at the candy-making process:
I also noticed a lot of American restaurants and shops, like TGIF, Long John Silver’s, and even Payless, familiar sights that I haven’t seen to such a degree in other Asian countries. When we passed an American-style diner called Billy Bomber, CK asked me if it was also from America, but I had never seen it before, and a Google search indicates that it seems to be specific to Singapore. After a lifetime of enduring (bad) Americanized Chinese food, I was interested to see its counterpart, an ostentatious imitation of American food culture.
We visited the impressive three-story Abercrombie & Fitch, which you could smell from 100 feet away (obviously) and where clothing was neatly kept — some even in glass shelves wtf — instead of strewn about on tables for employees to tirelessly organize. Speaking of the employees: Most people are familiar with the fact that Abercrombie hires people based on looks and puts its most attractive “models” by the door, sometimes shirtless, to woo customers. Singapore was no exception, except that its male models were (obviously) Asian, and the entrance had, like, five instead of one. They were all fully clothed because of the rain, sadly, but I was entranced nonetheless. It took forever for one of these muscular dudes to help me jam my umbrella into a little plastic bag (unintentional sexual imagery…), but let’s be real, I didn’t mind watching him try. I took a short video of the store interior for fun. I don’t remember exactly what Abercrombie stores are like back in the States, but this one was blasting music loud enough to double as a nightclub.
In one of the other malls we visited, we happened upon an XBox Kinect promotion, the main part of which was a Dance Central competition (why can’t malls in Chicagoland have interesting events like this? Is it because nobody would care? Probably). The first guy we watched was an absolute pleasure — his enthusiasm could not be beat by the ones who followed after. It got annoying after a while because we had to hear the same song over and over while shopping because the competitors all had to play that track.
CK and I also passed the president’s house, which is kind of like the White House property except we couldn’t actually see the building. Apparently the president is more like a figurehead in this country, much like the British royal family. I can understand the tradition behind keeping the royals around, but what’s the point of electing a president if he doesn’t get to do all that much? The prime minister, on the other hand, apparently is the best-paid politician in the world “to ensure the continued efficacy and corruption-free status of Singapore’s ‘world-class’ government,” according to the government. I guess if you’re already rolling in the dough, you won’t feel the need to take bribes?
From this picture, you can get a hint of how many trees there are all over Singapore. One thing I liked about it is that all of the vegetation makes it kind of reminiscent of the suburbs that I come from. Some people complain that Singapore is a boring place to live, but considering its safety and cleanliness, I think it wouldn’t be a bad place to grow up. (Singapore: it’s just like the nice parts of America!)
The few hours of walking around were pretty exhausting, so we took a bus back to CK’s house for some afternoon rest. His mom greeted us with some Singapore treats, and the little layered coconut jelly thing I ate was delicious. Oh my gosh. My one regret is that I didn’t make time to visit a Bengawan Solo store to buy heaps of these to bring back to HK :(
For dinner, we met CK’s friends near Bugis (kind of pronounced like boo-geese) for some fish-head curry, which was delightfully spicy. There was also some fish soup, which was served in a pot with a small fire burning continuously underneath, and the waitress would occasionally swing by to replenish the broth in the soup.
After dinner, we made our way to the actual Bugis Street, which is a street that’s also half 3-story indoor mall. It was clearly a popular place for young people to hang out and shop. A few large plasma TV screens were displayed throughout the building, and they looped a recording of K-pop groups Secret and BAP from when they visited Singapore (presumably). Everything was pretty cheap (and cheap quality), and I ended up buying a skinny belt for S$10, which the salesperson kindly punched a few extra holes in so I could wear it around my waist or my hips.
The four guys in our group didn’t seem too interested in the mostly girl-oriented shop wares, so after wandering around for a bit, we drove over to the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel. Well, we eventually got there after CK drove in a big circle after missing the exit to the parking lot, ha ha. He was correct in telling me that Singapore is more beautiful at night, and our group spent quite a bit of time taking photos of the city skyline as well as the massive hotel. It’s truly an impressive structure. I recently learned that the top of the MBS is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall! WTF
To the left of the hotel is the lovely Helix Bridge, which actually has little LED lights embedded in the sidewalk that have something to do with DNA (sorry, the last and only bio class I took was freshman year of high school), and the lights that wrap around the bridge change colors!
After our photo-heavy meandering, we made it to the hotel’s vicinity in time to catch the nightly light + water + fire + bubbles show, which, though a bit cheesy, did offer a nice view of the relatively humble Singapore skyline.
Non-guests aren’t really allowed onto the deck of the hotel, so we didn’t bother going up to the top. CK and I did walk around a bit inside the shopping arcade and hotel lobby. There are (probably) a hundred high-end shops beneath the hotel, including one that sells puffy winter coats, much to our amusement. There’s even a small Vienna-style river with gondolas! We passed the casino, which you’re not allowed to enter without a foreign passport (Singaporean citizens have to pay a hefty fee to gamble). I thought about going in there myself just to check it out, but CK said they wouldn’t have allowed me in wearing flip-flops anyway. A fancy place indeed! Someday I’ll come back and stay in this hotel…someday…
Afterward, we strolled over to a food plaza for a snack before heading home to rest up for the next day’s activities. To be continued!