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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Slinging Along in Singapore

Forgot to mention how the bathroom in Kuching had a window between it and the bedroom...with a see-through shutter that didn't close more than what you can see in this picture.  Talk about togetherness....together for 24 hours a day and no privacy even in the toilet!

   We landed in Singapore for our last two nights. I was a bit anxious because some reviews of this hotel that came out after I booked it were less than favorable. We took the MRT—rapid transit from the airport into Chinatown and then walked to our hotel. It actually was a fun adventure to do that, even though the bags loaded one on the other were heavy to pull. We had to change trains twice, but Matthew had it all figured out, so that wasn't difficult. At times it was crowded, but still we made it without incident and only got a little lost finding the hotel by missing the street and walking an extra 2 blocks. In the meantime, we were forced to walk through the shopping stalls that lined the streets—oh, too bad, right?
  Our hotel was in a great location with the desk on the bottom floor, then an elevator that only has 3 floors. The second floor is a restaurant and the third has all the rooms, including the breakfast area. Our room was small as expected, with enough room for a bed, one nightstand, an armoire on the other side, a small desk and a lamp. Oh, and a fancy red velvet chair with gold arms. And red drapes. It was a funny little room, but worked out all right. Since I knew it was going to be tiny, I had packed one cube just for the two nights, so didn't have to get anything else out of my suitcase and kept the rest intact.
   The bathroom was the kicker though. About 6' square with a toilet kitty-corner to the pedestal sink and a shower in the other corner with no walls, just a drain in the floor. It was easiest to shower together since the whole floor flooded and the toilet and sink got wet. We removed the toilet paper from the room so it would stay dry. It was really fine for 2 nights though....
     We spent about 2 minutes in the room, then went out to shop and find food. There's lots of both right outside the door, so we made our way around. After being in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, we've been spoiled by low prices for everything, especially silks, so these prices seemed high to us. That didn't keep me from caftans for sleeping! I tried it the first night and was hooked. They're luscious to sleep in, though I can't imagine using my beautiful batik ones for that.
     We ate at a local place where they had air con, since once again, we were overheated. It definitely wasn't as bad as Malaysia, but still humid for us. It was Chinese (no, that's not redundant in Singapore...they are known for their international foods) and had some spring rolls and fried coconut prawns. It was just enough to get us by till the next, not losing weight on this trip.

  Walked around some more and enjoyed the sites and sounds, got information for the next day, and had a beer in a local place where we met two couples from Colorado enjoying chili crab.
  We rested in the room awhile to regroup and cool off, then went out in the evening and ate our way through the food area just outside our hotel. They had many stalls, so we stared at one place with 2 vegetable dishes, which were just okay. We had pumpkin and sweet potato, but both were fried and we didn't care for them much. But then we went to the pork bun place we'd eaten at during the day—they also had a booth with just dim-sum buns, and those were great. Matthew had siu mei and I had the pork bun, which we shared. This was one of our progressive next we headed to the German guy for sausage sandwiches. I figured I'd honored my sister with dim sum, which she loved, so now it was time for Dad's favorite—bratwurst. He only had mini ones left, which was perfect for the progressive dinner theme. Then we walked around more and looked at things, and later ended up at a Vietnamese place. I had cafe sua da, which is an iced coffee with evaporated milk, which makes it sweet. I had those all through Vietnam and loved them. We also ordered two different salads—beef with greens and pomelo prawn. We were about done by then....portions weren't huge, so even though it sounds like a lot of food, it was manageable.

    The next day, after Matthew mentioned how Singapore is known for their cuisine, I checked online and found a restaurant owned by Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton called Pizzeria Mozza. We decided to spend the day taking the hop-on hop-off bus and go there for lunch. We hopped off right around noon, so that was perfect. It turned out to be in a very upscale exclusive mall that was seriously beautiful architecturally. They also had a casino that was on the ground floor where you had to pay $100 just to get in the door! No, I did not.
But we did eat. We had the most fabulous meal...and of course, I have pictures. We paid about $140 for lunch, which was something we rarely do, but Mario is Matthew's food idol—everything he cooks from his book is great, so we really had to try this.
Envelope with silverware and napkin inside

crispy peppery crackers brought in a brown bag at the beginning

raspberry mint drink

gorgonzola cheese and date salad

fried squash blossoms stuffed with cheese

I know it's blurry, but I was in food heaven

goat cheese, bacon, and leaks, and chives...

plum butter tart with sweetened mascarpone cream    

sorbetti and gelato....coconut, passion fruit, and espresso

Random photos of the mall and surrounding area:

Have I mentioned how much I love Singapore's architecture?

After lunch, we hopped back on the bus and continued to explore. We had to see the famous Raffles hotel 

where rooms start at $400 a night. Turns out they don't let you in the front door unless you're staying there, but we could walk around and go into the shops and museum. We skipped the latter and didn't do much other than look at the over-priced items. Stayed on the bus and made it back to Chinatown, so it was a pretty full day. Left the hotel around 9:30 and returned after 5.
I love Singapore! We walked around the India area, Chinatown, upscale downtown, almost made it to Arab street, but it rained, and saw much of the city through the bus tour. It has the most magnificent architecture I've seen in one city...huge buildings the likes of which you're never seen.
In the evening, we went to a Chinese restaurant we'd seen earlier because Matthew wanted chili crab. We told them low on the spicy, but it turned out to be too hot for me to get near—even Matthew thought it was very spicy, so I got no crab and settled for rice and beans for dinner.

Today we got ready to head home. We're always happy to return to our foggy town and our kitties. I have many more pictures, so will organize them and start adding them by category later. You know many many many will be FOOD!

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