Saturday 14 January 2012

Singapore Swing

Singapore would have to be one of the easiest cites to navigate. I'm here, and I want to go there. So I get on this train. Done. But it is more than that, the trains tell you exactly where you are, how many stops to your destination, even what side of the carriage the next station platform will be on. The stations are straightforward, no searching for platform numbers, there are no express trains, so you will not get on a train that will go past where you want to go. All so simple, and extremely efficient.

So we easily found our way from the airport to meet up with Tia's Aunty Mei Chan at Tiong Bahru. Aunty Mei lead us to the local street vendor where we had a hearty serving of rice porridge with an assortment of home-style cooked dishes - chicken curry, garlic snake beens, tofu with minced pork, lightly cooked crunchy bean sprouts, … all exceptional meals, and a great way to start. Then we settled in with a nice cold shower and some much needed sleep at about midnight.

Our first meal in Asia.

My eyes open, its still dark (well I think it is), not to sure where I am, oh yeah, Singapore. What time is it? Grab the phone, 4am. Bugger, body must still be on Australian time. Quick trip to relieve myself and its back to bed, but I struggle to get back to sleep. Up again, 6am, no chance of getting back to sleep now. Damn body clock. Well, better grab my book. I might try the to see if I can get on the net.

Tia wakes up and its time to get moving. Like everywhere, the day starts with breakfast. But breakie in Singapore is not the usual Wheat Bix (Chris, my old housemate, wouldn't be happy). We walk to the nearby market eatery and lets see, poached chicken and roast chicken with ginger and chilli, accompanied by stir-fried vegetables and fried tofu topped with finely sliced shallots and sweet chilli sauce, rice noodles in a thick black sauce, and a juice of fresh sugar cane with lemon and ice. What a start to the day.

Breakfast, Asian Style

Aunty Mei heads to work and we decide to stroll around the Marina Bay precinct. Its an impressive area with many new buildings shaped like giant sails (The Sail @ Marina Bay), a giant flower (Art Science Museum), a giant ship beached on top of three towers (SkyPark of Marina Bay Sands), a pair of domes that look like two giant fly's eyes (Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay), and a fantastic footbridge shaped like giant DNA (The Helix Bridge). But what impressed me the most was this crazy pipe sculpture. I would love to try to model it in the 3D modelling package that I use (PDMS) and try to ISO it. Apparently it is called "A Stroll in the Mist", but the mist didn't seem to be working when we were there.

A piping designer on Acid...

We skipped lunch, and headed to the suburb of Serangoon to meet Tia's Uncle Justin and family. We found the place with ease. I'm still amazed with how simple and efficient the transport system is. Afternoon tea was kueh (local sweets), and teh o kosong peng (iced tea, no milk, no sugar). At my request, dinner was at Serangoon Gardens, for their famous tender smooth chicken rice. A great night catching up with cousins. Then it was a quick train ride to a good nights sleep.

Still waking up early, but its a nice time to be awake. Today we need to pack up as that afternoon we are heading to Johor Bahru. But first, breakfast, well today its Chinatown, roast duck rice, pohpiah, and a fresh apple and celery juice. A couple of chicken & pork buns for the road. Yum. We had some time to kill before leaving Singapore, and we were both tired so we decided to relax at Singapore Botanical Gardens. We didn't get far within the gate before the shade of a tree was too inviting and pretty soon the packs were off, with Tia was napping on the cool grass.

Duck Rice, China town.

And that was our Singapore Swing. An impressive transport system, an easy city to explore with plenty to temp the senses. Still much to see, but all in all a worthwhile stop. I would like to thank Aunty Mei Chan for her time, knowledge of the city and letting us stay at her place, it was all very easy with her help.

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