Three days eating in Singapore: 25-27 Jan '14
Sat 25 Jan 14 - Mon 27 Jan 14 32 °C
Singapore is a country like no other. An intoxicating mix of old and super-new, a melting pot of cultures and communities, with towering skyscrapers and urban rainforest, and all in what is essentially one not super-enormous city. And it's so clean! (Except in Little India where we stayed.) Most of our time was spent walking around the streets, marvelling at the Merlion, staring up at the skyscrapers, pushing through Chinatown all covered in decorations ready for New Year, looking at the old colonial buildings and wandering round thwarting rejuvenated quaysides at night. But there were three things that drew me to Singapore, and I achieved them all.
1) Night Safari
Singapore is the only place with a night zoo. Its not cheap, but its very cool - you basically get to see all those animals that are normally asleep in the day, or at least are more active at night. It was also a chance to see lots of Asian animals that you wouldn't normally see much of in a European zoo. I loved seeing the big cats (always my favourite), especially the rare Malaysian tiger, and the fishing cats, but was particularly taken with the Slow Loris' - small, furry and funny (and not so slow) - but also one of the only venomous mammals (one of the others is the duck-billed platypus). My favourite was, however, pretty much the Asian other - they were lovely and so so playful. I wanted to steal one.
Singapore, like Melaka and Penang, id known for its food. Again its a mixture of influences - Malay, Chinese, Indian - and a lot of the food is very similar to what you'd find in those food lovers havens. But Singapore really thrives on its hawker centres - basically a covered area full if tables surrounded by stalls selling an intoxicating array of food. Before we even got to our hostel we'd dived into one of these - Tekka Market in Little India. I was soon full of tarka dhal, naan and mango lassi, and this was the set up of what was to come. We dined at that hawker centre twice more - it was the closest to our hostel and Indian food feels like home to me - I consumed an enormous plate of mutton biriyani, and a 'veg plate' - essentially a selection of vegetable sides including a potato curry and a dhal, with rice and a naan. Our other food choices were largely based on my Singaporean friends suggestions (thank you Gerald) - heading to the Maxwell Street centre in Chinatown, I dined on tofu fritters and banana fritters and sampled sugarcane juice - very sweet even though I had it with lemon. My friend sampled the Tien tien chicken - highly recommended - but because we knew the best stall, it was a long wait, with a big queue of locals eager to get some too. The food in hawker stalls is so good we genuinely couldn't see why you would bother going to a restaurant - and it definitely makes it easier if you all want different food!
3) Raffles Hotel
Its iconic. Its beautiful. They invented the Singapore Sling. You can throw peanut shells on the floor in the Long Bar. Ernest Hemingway and Somerset Maugham sat there. We had to go. So in our nicest clothes, a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar it was. Very nice too.
Singapore was what I expected KL to be. I loved it. Definitely a city to get stuck in (provided you have money and can cope with getting fat).