Singapore 5/5

Traveling abroad with a baby brought a ton of uncertainties.  Therefore, when we planned this trip, we left the last full day in Singapore open to catch up on activities and/or to rest.  The few items on our to-do for the day were deemed optional.

Turned out that was the right thing to do.  We slept in, and decided that we missed Maxwell Food Centre enough to warrant another breakfast visit.  Taking the MRT to Tanjong Pagar (we love that name – so fun to say), we once again picked up Mr. Bean for pre-breakfast.

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Watermelon soy milk.  Sounds disgusting but tastes great!

Setting foot in Maxwell for the second time, we decided to get food from a different list of hawkers.  One Hainanese chicken vendor displaying a giant Anthony Bourdain poster and quote about Hainanese chicken (though it did not appear that Tony ate there) intrigued us.  Out of laziness, we didn’t buy from them but chose the nearby stall that sold a boneless variety instead.  This guy had no Yelp review or Trip Advisor recommendation, and I’m sure he didn’t make the best Hainanese chicken in Singapore, but holy cow both the chicken and rice were amazing!  Even the chili soy sauce was perfectly flavored!  We started to really envy the locals who could stop by this place on their way to work every day.

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Eat rice.  Read about hotel investment.

Let me go back to what I claimed earlier about Singaporeans’ courtesy.  For such a busy and crowded international city, nearly everybody was super nice, even to clueless tourists like us.  Commuters in the MRT system held elevator doors for us, cab drivers chatted with us, and hawkers took the time to explain how things worked (such as what “self service” meant).  Unlike New York and how we used to pride ourselves as New Yorkers, Singapore was extremely welcoming.  Well, there was always some exceptions to be found, right?  We ordered a “black carrot cake” and a char kway teow from this other hawker in Maxwell and got yelled at several times: “I’m not open yet!”  And 40 minutes later “Don’t talk to me while I’m pouring stuff!”  “What exactly do you want?”  And criticisms about not being specific about options that I didn’t know about.  This guy’s dishes also turned out to be the least tasteful of all foods we had on this trip.  We did not finish either of them.

To end our second Maxwell visit on a happy note, though, I spotted fresh coconuts.  We were just told by the hotel staff this morning that they were very hard to find in Singapore.  While I wasn’t gonna go home totally disappointed, a Southeast Asia trip would seem a bit incomplete without at least one of those.  Heck, I wasn’t even a big fan of any particular coconut stuff (such as pina colada), but there was certain irresistible attraction to fresh coconuts.  Maybe it had to do with the big container that came with the drink?  Anyhow, I bought myself two of those, and filled my tummy with a lot of happiness.

IMG_3315Bigger than my head!

Then we went to Singapore Flyer, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel.  It’s got 28 pods that could hold 28 people each, but because there wasn’t an overwhelming number of visitors at noon on a Thursday, we got an entire pod to ourselves.  The rotation took 30 minutes, giving us fantastic panoramic views of downtown, the Marina Bay, and a whole lot more.  Initially we planned to do this at night based on Trip Advisor recommendations, but now realized how much there was to see (i.e. fleet of ships out in the ocean) that we probably couldn’t at night.  I also regarded this as an optional part of the trip because it was “just a Ferris wheel”, but after riding it I wanted to immediately buy another ticket to do it again.  Xuan Xuan was super excited, too!  And I worried that she may be afraid of heights!

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Beats your first class seating on any airplane 🙂

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Reaching the top of the world at the age of 14 months.

For lunch, we went back to Bugis Plus (mall-next-door) and shared a laksa.  I was pretty sure that the food court did not do justice for a traditional dish that belonged with the hawkers, but it was delicious anyway.  So spicy though!

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Half-eaten bowl of laksa.  Spicy coconut soup & noodles.

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The restaurant level in Bugis Plus.

Our last planned destination in Singapore was Clarke Quay, the bend on Singapore River famous for its night life.  It was obvious that all expats / Westerners hung out here because, for the first time this week we saw prominent drink menus and alcohol displays at restaurants (open-air bars, happy hours, etc).  There was also a Chili’s, a Hooters, some pubs and breweries, and the Russian Club blasting loud dance music before it was even dark.

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It was a destination that we couldn’t really enjoy as tourists, dressed in un-trendy baby-proof outfits and pushing an un-sexy stroller.  And because there were plenty of places near home where we could get this “Westerners” stuff (i.e. both Chili’s and Hooters just one town north of our address), seeing it on the other side of the world didn’t particularly excite us.  Funny I said that, because our next stop was a McDonald’s…

I stand corrected: a McDonald’s with a McCafe.  Back at the airport, we saw a McCafe advertising their Himalayan Tea Latte and Himalayan Tea Frappe.  Hong really wanted to get it, but we figured it was better to check into the hotel first.  “I’m sure these are everywhere,” I said.  For the next four days, however, we had been peeking into every McDonald’s from Bugis to Chinatown to Sentosa, but the Himalayan tea was nowhere to be found!  I wasn’t even that interested in the beginning, but the search had made me thirsty for such tea.  So, as we finally came across a McCafe in Liang Court at Clarke Quay, we went ahead and got a large one of each.

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Yup, in Asia this was the large size.

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Took you guys long enough to find this.  Now it’s miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine!

They were okay.  And pretty expensive.  Could’ve gotten three teh tariks and a coconut instead.

IMG_3381Clarke Quay at night.

As we got tired and Xuan Xuan got hungry, we found a random food court and bought some Thai fried rice.  After taking just one bite, we looked at each other and agreed that this couldn’t be our last meal in Singapore – it rivaled the worst Thai food that we had ever had.  So, for the third time in two days, we hopped into a cab and asked for Bugis Plus.

Upon knowing our intention, though, the cab driver suggested that we go to a hawker center instead.  Well, that made more sense, didn’t it?  So we ended up at Makansutra Gluttons Bay.  It was a small hawker center next to Esplanade, by the Marina Bay.  It had a mostly touristy crowd and felt less “local” than Newton and Maxwell, but the selection sure beat food courts in malls.  We ordered a murtabak, a roti prata, and some drinks.  And now, our Singapore trip was complete.

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IMG_3389The drink vendor apologized for having just sold out of fresh coconuts.  Bummer!