Gateway to Asia - Singapore - July 2014


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August 23rd 2014
Published: November 22nd 2016
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Char Kway Teow - good stuff
Going to Asia has always been one of my life ambitions/ goals. Honestly mostly for the food, but also just because it is kinda the great unknown. We have put this off for many years just because one it really was like the great unknown to us and two it is just a really, really long flight. Technically we have been to Asia since we did Turkey but we don't really count that.So here we were in 2014 and looking for places to vacation. At this point it is was still pretty hard for us to find places to travel because I almost always needed a visa and we really plan last minute. I literally found the e-mail the other day where I wrote Nikkie 5 days before our vacation saying "Hey crazy idea but I don't need a visa for Singapore or Malaysia."

And there 5 days later we were on the plane to SINGAPORE. Crazy. The great unknown here we come. After a very long flight to Beijing (from JFK), a quick layover and another 4 - 5 hours and we were in Singapore. We landed very, very early in the morning so we checked into the Hotel
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30 hours of travel can get to you
Rendezvous (just dropped-off our bags) and off we went. We started walking and the first things that hit us was 1) wow this is clean and 2) wow this is hot and humid. As we kept walking and walking all we could keep saying was how this was extremely westernized and really was just a cleaner version of New York City. One of the first things we saw was the SINGAPORE CRICKET CLUB smack in the middle of the city. A green expanse within a park surrounded by high-rises.

We walked down to the water to try and find coffee - hello Starbucks. Yeah we love the SBUX. With coffee in hand we made our way to the merlion and beautiful views of the casinos across the water. After admiring the views and taking the obligatory posing pictures with the merlion in the background it was time to EAT STREET FOOD. This is SINGAPORE'S STREET FOOD. A system that ensures only the best food is served. Each neighborhood or area has a hawker center where people have a space where they cook and sell their food. These stalls are pretty heavily inspected/ regulated so you know that the food
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#whenisthisgonnaend
will be prepared in pretty sanitary conditions even though it is considered street food. This is what I came for. This is what I dreamed of. This is why we were here.

So EATING AT A HAWKER CENTER was the top and almost only priority. We found SINGAPORE CHINATOWN and subsequently the CHINATOWN COMPLEX FOR FOOD. After wandering through all the stalls 2 or 3 times it was time to make a decision. Oh the decisions. What do I want - there was so much. We settled on CHAR KWAY TEOW (NOODLES WITH SEAFOOD AND SAUSAGE). Yes it was good and all we had hoped it would be. Every stall sells something so you get your food and drinks from different stalls. You plomp yourself down at a table and dig in. Generally there is someone selling napkins so that is the only way to keep your hands clean. Well after that satisfying meal we kept walking and found Nanyang Old Coffee for Kopi (coffee with condensed milk). Oh how delicious. As a kid we always put condensed milk in our coffee, but this was a different level. During this time it was also the SINGAPORE FOOD FESTIVAL. We
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Polar caps
saw lots of signs and tried to look online where the events were, but did not find much. Kind of a shame because I am sure this would have been awesome.

Next stop - KRETA AYER WET MARKET. Read so much about this place. We walked and walked and walked (we probably walked around it 3 times) and then we finally found it. Hidden on the lower level of a foodcourt we walked in. First was some produce. Then fruit. Then live chickens and meat. Then fish. And then the good stuff. The weird stuff. TURTLES. EELS. FROGS. Yeah - this is the Asia I was looking for. At times you stand in a couple inches of water. Water that was just used to clean some fish guts or chicken or meat. Loved it (yes we are weird). There is buckets and buckets of eels just swimming around. Looking at these animals you kind of feel sorry for them. I grew up with turtles so I am not sure I can see them being killed or eat the infamous turtle soup. But then again when I get there I may change my mind. The frogs are all stacked in
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First views - downtown Singapore
cages. Upon a sale they are grabbed, put on a cutting board and before you know it the head is on the floor. Just like that. This is done right in front of the other frogs. How brutal. What an experience.

We love the unusual and things we have never seen or tried before. We saw several fruits we have never seen before including mangosteens (taste like litchi) and rambutan (similar taste but more orangy). The locals was very eager to have us try first before we buy so we bought a couple fruits for later on. We also saw several vendors sell dry pork meats (meat in a bag). We found an old lady and decided to buy some meat from her. For a dollar you get a very, very healthy helping of meat in a bag. I tried to give her more money, but she would have none of it. It was delicious.

We headed back to the hotel, hung around the hotel pool for a couple hours and did not resurface again until the next day. Flying half way across the world will do this to you. I really wanted to explore the nightlife, but
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How does anything not grow in this humidity?
also realized a good night's sleep will go a long way the next day. We were out by 4 o' clock. An advantage of this travel is that we were up again at 4 in the morning the next day. Starbucks was empty so we just sat around and enjoyed our morning coffee and caught up on the local news. We started wandering the SHOPPING MALLS. Wow. These malls are crazy. Miles upon miles of shopping malls (many stories up above ground and several stories below ground). It just goes and goes and goes with no end in sight. Even Nikkie got tired of it. On top of this it is really, really expensive, New York prices and then some more.

One of our destinations was to EAT AT NEWTON CIRCUS HAWKER CENTER. It was Sunday and definitely a little dead with not as many restaurants open. The NEWTON CIRCUS HAWKER CENTER FOR OYSTER OMELETES was on the list. The oysters definitely was a little fishy and was not our favorite. We also tried the carrot cake (a white carrot/radish bound with eggs and scallions). Not bad and should be tried, but again not something that we were blown
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Wow - this is how they build casinos these days?
away by. But I will say we are not necessary expected to be blown away. It really is more about the experience and trying completely different things. Where else can I get this? We also tried the bandung drink - it is a rose cordial syrup mixed with evaporated milk. Not good, but we saw everyone else walk around with it so we had to give it a go. While walking through the malls we saw many juice bars and one way of cooling down (it is so hot and humid) and staying hydrated is to drink as much fluids as you can. We tried the avocado with milk and it was actually really good. We also saw Krispy Creme and just had to have one ($3 later - yeah did I say it is expensive here). The rest of the day was spent VISITING THE SHOPHOUSES before we got poured on by an afternoon thunderstorm that cooled things down. That evening we walked to the Indian/ Turkish area to try some food. We did some shopping and eyed all the restaurants. Very touristy so we finally settled on Derwish. We did lemonade (ok) and had the musakka chicken (typical
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The Merlion
turkish stew that was fairly decent), balik shish kebob (fish on a stick with white sauce and rice - very dry and not good). We got to sit outside and enjoy people watching so that was a bonus, but the food was not that good.

That really was Singapore for us. We woke up really early the next morning and headed for the Malaysian border. At the end of the trip we crossed back into Singapore because that is where our flight left from. We had 3 - 4 hours to kill before heading to the airport. Unfortunately with the bags and everything it was hard to maneuver around so we just settled for dinner at Coco Ichibanya curry house (seems like a chain restaurant). We had the beef curry with rice, TIGER BEER, and chicken curry noodle soup). Just not a great meal, but hey it was what it was.

Likes
- the food was all we were hoping it to be

- we read about the strict regulations on littering, but it was crazy seeing absolutely no trash on the streets
Dislikes
- this is definitely one of the most expensive places we have been
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The new and improved Merlion!
to

Advice
- Singapore just seemed like a very central and cheap location to fly into so it seems like a great place to explore the rest of the region from

And that is our first taste of Asia. A good start. Crossed 3 thing off of the list including Singapore's street food, Kreta Ayer Wet Market, and Singapore China Town. So 275 down and 5,506 to go.

Til' next time from foodie paradise


Additional photos below
Photos: 37, Displayed: 28


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One of the door knobs we passed by
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One of the many temples
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Love this stuff
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Fish market - tough world
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They are totally alive and moving around
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Pretty colors
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It's hard to think where these guys are going knowing I grew up with them as pets
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As fresh as it gets
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Eels!!
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They hide as far away from the opening as possible to get picked last. But I'm pretty sure the fattest one's go first.


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