Singapore, travel

Welcome to Singapore

Singapore was fun to walk around but most of it is like a big US city with LOTS of malls. Although I don’t understand why someone would travel halfway across the world to shop in a mall, they were an excellent reprieve from the heat. We arrived Friday afternoon and left early on Monday morning and that felt like the perfect amount of time for us. Friday we checked into the hotel and left right away to walk around Chinatown.
Our first stop was a hawker market. Singapore has tons of food courts, but they are not attached to malls like we are used to. They are along a city block or an entire city block of food stands with tables and chairs in the middle. At some of them, you just order your food, pay for it, wait and bring your food to your table (like we are used to). At some, you give them the table number you are sitting at (they are all labeled with numbers) and your order and then go to another stand to order drinks (only one or two stalls have drinks) and then sit down. Your food is brought to you and you pay when they bring it. They are so common in Singapore so it was the first thing that I wanted to do but we were a little anxious about street food so we started out simple… fried rice and lemon chicken. Lemon chicken is actually quite common and quite delicious. It is chicken fried in panko bread crumbs and then placed in a pool of lemon sauce. The drinks are the best part of going out to eat though. Pearl (bubble, boba, tapioca, however you like to call it) tea is in most places and the fruit juices/fruit ice blends/coffee drinks/lassis (fruit juice and milk mixed together) are all excellent. Nearly all of the juices are fresh and come in all sorts of flavors (apple-nothing like our apple juice, orange, lime, mango, lychee, dragon fruit, passion fruit, papaya, ginger, rose apple, durian, etc).
After that, we walked through Chinatown. The main street is car less and has brick and mortar stores and little stands. At the corner was a stunning Hindu temple. I don’t think I had ever been in a Hindu temple before. We had to take our shoes off and I just had to pay to take pictures. The temple wasn’t large but it was stunning. It had statues of Hindu deities and animals everywhere and bright paintings on the ceilings. After our week in SE Asia (I am quite slow in writing about things), it is clear that this temple design is the norm (at least in this area), but still always impressive. There are herbal shops, clothing stores and souvenir shops everywhere. There are also temples (Hindu, Buddhist), mosques and a churches everywhere. This is true for Singapore and Malaysia. You can go in nearly all of the places of worship, but you need to take off your shoes and have your knees and shoulder covered for most of them. They are also typically free unless they are the most stunning in the area. The Hindu temples and mosques tend to also close periodically throughout the day so that the members of the religion can worship in peace.
Walking through the rest of Chinatown, we found another small hawker market, high rise apartment buildings with sticks perching out of the windows about 6 feet and with clothes drying on them, many stores that the local Chinese Singaporeans frequented and an open air area full of concrete tables and benches and elderly men smoking and playing a game that looked like checkers.
We then caught the subway from Chinatown for our dinner cruise (thanks Erin!). We were pretty impressed with our getting-around-town skills, although living near SF definitely honed our public transport skills. We caught the subway, transferred, took the bus and eventually arrived at the port (honestly, the whole trip took maybe 20-30 minutes). We boarded our boat, the Imperial Cheng Ho a bit later. It is modeled after a 15th century Chinese junk boat. The boat took us past the Singapore skyline along the Singapore River. Two people told us that the morning tea cruise was the best, but we really enjoyed watching the sunset over the river and seeing the skyline light up and reflect upon the water. The food was pretty good and a nice selection- chicken, pork, shrimp, soups, noodles and David thinks, frog. It was a lovely, relaxing first evening.

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