So I’m going to participate in a medical placement program with Gap Medics in Chiang Mai with a couple of friends from biomedicine. However as I have mentioned in the past, the direct flight to Bangkok we initially booked got upgraded and we were given an option to fly a day earlier and transit in Singapore for 16 hours, which we took.
Arriving in Singapore during the evening, it was the first time I have set foot in a foreign country without my parents, and my first time setting foot overseas since grade 5. It was warm, humid, and the city was full of life. After we sorted out our baggage, we took a cab into Clarke Quay, where we decided to have Chilli Crab and Black Pepper Crab for dinner from Jumbo Seafood Riverside. We heard the restaurant served the best crabs in Singapore and that Singapore was famous for these two dishes – we had no choice but to try them out.
Unfortunately, we had to wait until 9pm before commencing dinner, so we walked around Clarke Quay, sat in a Japanese restaurant for a little while and bumped into an street vendor, ‘uncle’, which was outside of Jumbo Seafood Riverside. He sold different flavours of $1.50 (SGD) ice cream sandwich blocks, which were cut from a block of ice cream and sandwiched by two layers of wafer. Because the ice cream sandwich was amongst the list of foods to try in Singapore, recommended by my Singaporean friend (who will now be referred to as my Singaporean foodie friend), there was no hesitation in buying one. Out of all the flavours, I chose Durian because it is the national fruit of Singapore. I got a few sneers and recoils from my friends getting a waft of the pervasive durian scent, but it really isn’t that bad once you eat it.
And then we were finally seated for crab. It was probably one of my most enjoyed dishes in my entire life, no kidding – it was worth every cent and I’m getting cravings again for a second round in the near future. The flavours had a tanginess that edged you on, the meat was so succulent, juicy and tender. We ordered deep fried bread and white rice as ‘carbs’ because they didn’t really serve it with anything else but a plethora of sauce for the chilli crab. The sauce from the chilli crab went really well with the deep fried bread, and by the time we finished eating, I had no care in the world about etiquette – my hands were all smothered in chilli crab and black pepper crab sauce. There was even sauce on my face from trying too hard to crack open the shells.
After the legendary crab dish, I grabbed another ice cream sandwich. It was almost midnight when we strolled past China Town and into a hawker centre, Lau Pa Sat Festival Market. When I got there, I soon realised why they were called hawker centres. Even though it was relatively late at night, shop owners would still swoop at us from the left, the right and even from the front so that they could try and sell us their food. As with turning anyone down you feel bad. The good news is that I managed to stumble across yet another member of my Singaporean foodie friend’s list – satays (with a variety of meats) with ketupat (rice cakes) and tried it out. When I ordered, I forgot to mention the rice cakes and was pretty shattered. Nevertheless, they serve it with cucumber, onions and peanut sauce – quite an interesting, yet nice combination. There was also stores selling Ice Kachang, which is a dessert on my Singaporean foodie friend’s list, but they were all closing down for the night and couldn’t serve us.
Soon after the satays, we visited the iconic Merlion and took photos of random things along the way. Because it was late at night, there was no water flowing out of its mouth, so we had to make do with what we had and the dark lighting. We then walked along the bay for quite a while, crossed the double helix bridge and briefly walked along Gardens By The Bay. We walked through the even more iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel and took more photos. The Marina Bay Sands hotel is an architectural wonder. It is literally a boat on top of three buildings. Now I know why my Singaporean foodie friend likes taking so many photos – it used to get on my nerves! The Marina Bay Sands, Merlion and me:
We took a taxi back to the airport and arrived there at about 2-3am. Our flight was scheduled to depart terminal 1 (T1) at 9.05am so we bummed around in the food court in T3. Cool thing is that there are free skytrains that connect the three terminals. In T3 I managed to find the ice kachang and had the impulse of ordering the Durian Ice Kachang, which was ice kachang with a layer of durian puree. The ice kachang consists of a mountain of coloured slushy, based on a foundation of red beans, corn and some sort of syrup. It was quite an interesting dessert. We waited until 4-5am when the Ya Kun Toast café started to sell Kaya Toast, which is known for it’s sweet-tasting ‘Kaya Jam’. As a part of breakfast, I ordered Kaya Toast with half boiled (‘wet and runny’) eggs and hot coffee. The Toast was really interesting and quite nice. It was crisp, tasted a little sweet (from the Kaya Jam) and had mild slice of cold butter melting in your mouth.
We checked into our connecting flight to Bangkok early at 6am so we could make use of our time and explore the transit terminal facilities. I branched off from my friends and the first thing I checked out was the Butterfly Garden in T3, also recommended by Singaporean foodie friend. When I got there it was still dark, so I was spending a lot of time trying to actually spot the butterflies and take photos of them. Because it gradually grew more and more light as morning dawned, I kept seeing more and more new things that I hadn’t seen before in the dark. The garden had a waterfall and a spiralling staircase to the top of the garden. It also had flowers, foam and pineapple slices cut into the shape of the butterfly. I left to check out the some gold fish, the prayer and meditation rooms before I headed back into the butterfly gardens where it was better lit than ever before. You could actually see the butterflies bustle with life now.
Thereafter, I left for T1 where my flight was departing and checked out the Social Tree, the cactus garden and the lilypad garden. The latter two were a waste of time – there was nothing interesting that caught my eye. The former however was pretty fun because it was essentially a photobooth! Social tree with photo booths:
Next time I visit Singapore, I really want to complete my Singaporean foodie friend’s list. I still have Rojak (which is a fruit/vegetable and penut salad), Carrot Cake (may be in black or white), Chendol (an alternative to ice kachang), Roti Prata (with curry), Indian Rojak (different to the former rojak), Oyster omelette with chilli, Mua Chee (whatever that is), Herbal Tea Eggs and last but not least, Sugar Cane Juice to try. She could probably add to the list if I gave her more time! I will definitely go for more crabs, try the satay with the rice cakes next time and have Kaya Toast with runny eggs and tea rather than hot coffee.
Although durian was in season in Singapore, we didn’t go to the right places at the right time, We’re in Bangkok, Thailand now. Found myself some jackfruit and dehydrated durian because durian isn’t in season here at the moment. I am still on a quest to find and try out a legit durian. Likewise on Singaporean MRTs, durians are banned in the hotel where we are staying! We’re just exploring the city at the moment before we’re taking a train to Chiang Mai for our placement. Until next time.