Sunday, April 19, 2009

Asia Trip Week 3: Singapore

The final leg of our trip was in Singapore where we stayed with my aunt, uncle, and cousins in the heart of the city near River Valley Road. Considering that Beijing had been hardcore culture and Hong Kong hardcore shopping with a touch of culture, Singapore was a week of relaxation and enjoying the sun (which we don't have too much of in the winter in Germany).

The last time I was in Singapore was in 2000 as a 15-year-old that didn't eat much besides typical American cuisine. This time around, I was psyched to try (almost) everything. I still don't eat seafood at all, but we went out with my aunt and uncle to get some Sri Lankan crab and other seafood for Christian. I got some tofu and lamb instead which was also delicious. One day we went out for lunch at a hawker market, which is very typical Singaporean. It's pretty much like a an outdoor food court with a bunch of little food stalls serving various dishes between $3 Sing and $10 Sing (about 1.50€ and 5€). I got some laksa, which is best described as a curry noodle bowl with a coconut milk based soup, but Christian, my aunt, uncle, and their friend Robert got a whole slew of other dishes: oyster omelet, crispy pork, some noodle dish, some sort of sandwich, and Singaporean shaved ice which is a hell of a lot brighter than American shaved ice.

Singaporean shaved ice

Some stalls at the hawker market

One day we also went out for high tea at the Shangri-La Hotel. I think I had been there 9 years ago on my second trip to Singapore, but again, I was more keen this time around to try different foods. My aunt said that you could definitely see signs of the recession because the buffet there was scaled back a bit. Additionally, there weren't very many people there in general, whereas a year or two ago, it would've been packed.

We did some typical tourist things for Singapore: the Night Safari, the Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, a day at the beach on Sentosa Island. The Night Safari was probably a highlight because we saw tons of animals prowling around. The last time I had been to the Night Safari was back in 1994 when it had just opened. I remember Lannie and I were more fascinated by the geckos at the tram stations than any of the animals because a lot of the animals weren't actually visible (kind of like the dinosaurs on the dinosaur tour in Jurassic Park). Fifteen years later, the Night Safari really has expanded a lot and there were animals everywhere. I also really liked how they urge visitors to be mindful of wildlife and how they are trying to get people aware of threatened and endangered animals. I think Jurong Bird Park also expanded in comparison to the first time we were there 15 years ago, and again, the park is done really well and for the most part, the animals have enough free range or run around free (er, fly around).

It was a nice week being able to relax and enjoy the sun and recharge our batteries. We also did a little shopping (more like Christian did), went to the movies and saw Fanboys, and basically, enjoyed our last week of vacation. Though it was my third time visiting, I still think I couldn't live in Singapore because of the climate. It's still hot and humid and probably will always be and it's just not my favorite climate at all. If you want to see more pictures from Singapore, you can see them as a Flickr set here. (And there are a lot of food pictures!)

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