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Published: September 2nd 2009
I was supposed to meet Keith yesterday after office hours but I got myself into the Night Safari tour which ended up late so we had to postpone it for today. It was unexpectedly still quiet in the hostel at 7:00 in the morning so I was able to enjoy a 30-minute shower. I went to stroll around to see the neighborhood and to try to look for a place where I can eat rice because I haven't had any since I arrived (it's a sort of an addiction)
. Unfortunately I wasn't able to because I forgot to bring money! So I just went back to the hostel to eat my free breakfast.
Last night, I got to talk to a pair of Muslim sisters from England who told me that today would be the start of the holiest period for the Islamic faith, Ramadan, and that there will be food stalls by the Mosque later on the day. I should try Middle Eastern food. They've been calling me by my first name but I never got theirs. Ironically, whenever I attempt to ask for their names, we would get interrupted so I never got 'em. We do all agree
that Singapore reminds us of England.
Today, we’re gonna go around Singapore on Keith’s motorbike. If it was in Manila, I would probably freak out and call it suicide but I’m in Singapore and my instincts told me to trust Keith’s driving skills, so I did. He arrived at around 10:00 right after I finished my breakfast, then told me that we are having ... guess what?! ... breakfast!
It was “Special authentic Halal Indian Cuisines” at a restaurant called Singapore ZamZam and it sounded good so I ate two sets of breakfast today. We had Teh Tarik (tea & creamer)
, Egg Roti Prata (like a sloppy made pancake)
, Murtabak (like Roti Prata but w/ ground lamb meat)
, and Nasi Bryani Rice (at last!)
. I've never been that full in the morning but it was good to try new food.
After finishing my second set of breakfast, we were off to the nearby Bugis Village, then to the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Chinese Temple nearby where I joined Keith on a ritual of interpreting luck. It is a popular Buddhist temple built in honor of the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin. The temple was crowded today, I couldn’t
remember the exact details of what they were commemorating but it was something like the month in the Chinese calendar when their departed loved one’s souls are said to be visiting their families. The thought is a bit eerie but I’m glad I didn’t see any wandering ghost today.
Anyway, to get my luck, I had to think of a question (or something like that)
then concentrate on praying to Buddha for guidance. I then have to concentrate on the question while shaking an open cylinder full of sticks with Chinese inscriptions until one stick drops (there should only be one, else you have to do it again)
. Once you get your stick, you still have to ask the Buddha if that certain stick is your luck by throwing a pair of moon shaped pieces on the floor while holding your stick on either of your hands. Both pieces facing down means “no” (put the stick back to the cylinder and shake it again)
; both pieces facing up means “maybe” (shake the cylinder again)
, and one piece facing up, another facing down means “yes” . After several attempts,
I got my YES, brought my stick to the counter and claimed the interpretation which said: The sun sets in the west. The moon rises in turn. Monks and Tradesmen understood this cycle that is so from the beginning of time. People of various trades are content with their lot.
Do not worry. Be firm and receive success. Like a well-aimed arrow, it meets the target.
Basically, it was a good one and I was happy with the result. I’m supposed to burn the paper after 4 days but I’m going to keep it as a souvenir. I do hope I’m not making offense to my religion or to Buddhism by joining in the ritual.
The next stop was to Little India, and to their cheaper but more crowded malls, Serangoon Plaza, and Mustafa Center to buy bribe ... er ... I mean presents for my family who (unexpectedly)
did not throw a fit on my desire to come here on my own. Little India looked similar to Kampong Glam but one thing that looked a bit unusual were Indian men holding hands. I think I’ve read about it somewhere, that it’s normal for them
to do so (???).
There were two more temples that we went to, the very colorful Hindu Temple and the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple (a.k.a. Temple of 1,000 Lights)
which had a huge 15 meters, 300 tons Buddha statue with real gold fingers - probably the reason why no one is allowed to touch it.
After wandering around Little India, we went to the Botanical Garden to look for the tree at the back of the S$5 Dollar note. We were expecting that since the tree is imprinted on their national currency that the Botanical Garden Maps would indicate where it was but nope, nada! After lots of walking and asking, we finally found it and took photos from a distance then realized later on that we didn’t even went near it! Poor Keith was already tired of walking but we had a little break at McDonalds, cooled down with the help of a Sundae then off we go again.
The next stop was the East Coast Park with people grilling foods, picnicking, biking, roller blades, jogging, or just walking around. I would have loved to go biking but we didn’t have much time anymore so
we just hung out for I bit then went to a nearby hawkers center to try one of the most recommended dishes, chicken rice. Keith was disappointed but it tasted good enough for me because I don’t really have anything else to compare it to.
We met up with Keith’s Japanese girlfriend, Chihiro and her friend Satsuki at Hai Bin U Enterprise for my first Prawn’s fishing stint. It was S$15/hour and everything we catch will be ours to cook. I was skeptic about my fishing skills and true to it, I only caught 2 prawns in one hour! Actually we all just got 2 prawns each. As we went to the counter to return the fishing equipments, Uncle (forgot to get his name)
who was tending our fishing area poured like 23 more prawns into our basket after showing him that we only caught four. Happy to start cooking now! For the first time, I had to kill prawns with my own hands (poor shrimps)
, but they did taste good after getting cooked. We were engrossed with eating when suddenly the song played “I want nobody, nobody but you …”, everybody stopped and did the famed dance step.
Chihiro even sang along (I think even the prawns danced)
. Totally amusing - people did it in unison! The song is currently very popular in the Philippines, apparently in Singapore too; and if you don’t know the song, check this out --> "Nobody" by Wonder Girls
Satsuki brought lots of food, veggies, drinks, and sushi (YAY!). It was kinda amusing listening to the two girls talk in Japanese and to Keith talking Chinese with the locals. They also made me try a drink called Ginger Beer which is not actually a beer (sorry I don’t know how to explain why)
which tasted more like soda. I actually liked it and will try to look for it in PI. We left the prawns fishing place at around 11:00ish and before dropping me off at my hostel, Keith drove through the Red-light District just to show me how it was. As we enter Geylang, we were greeted with a pungent smell of Durian and several groups of men in food stalls watching soccer on TV. "K" was explaining stuff about the area and I kept on chuckling ‘cause I didn’t know exactly how to react. In any way (though rampant)
, prostitution is illegal in
the Philippines and I didn’t had any idea that it was legal in here. It was totally weird but I believe it should be a part of today’s tour - good to know!
It felt great to be feeling great for the first time in a long time. The wind on my face, the scourging heat, cruising at the national highway with 6 wheeler trucks appearing by our side from time to time, and a relaxed mind I’ve never had in a while. I’m not sure if this will happen again or if it will ever happen again … I better enjoy every bit of it while it last.
I managed to see a lot of places, ate so much food, had an amazing tour guide, hung out with really nice/very sweet people, and enjoyed a motorbike ride around SG which made it more convenient and quicker to go around and I also learned how to put on a helmet the right way 😊
I had sooo much fun today! Part III: Lost ...
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