Tuesday, September 25, 2012

living in a bubble

Whenever I visit places, I think in terms of "could I see myself living here?"
As much as I love the food in Singapore and that you can get a meal for around $4, I most definitely could not settle here... well I don't think I could settle anywhere in Asia.  You can kind of tell I grew up in the States, what with my choppy Chinese and the way I stare blankly at people when they speak to me, or maybe by the fact that I don't fit into their child sized jean shorts... seriously, how does a population of people have legs that tiny?  Or you could pick out the girl so covered in sweat it looks like she just got out of the shower because she's just walked two or three blocks (apparently, they can't fathom a five minute walk here).  Not my most attractive days whilst here...

Singapore is quite the bubble once you leave the shopping malls (those seriously felt endless, I didn't have the stamina…or the income… to finish one), quite the hot and humid bubble.

But still fun, and leaving with only two regrets: that damn touristy stingray and not thinking today through//not going to Changi Village (but chilling in the AC'd airport with free wifi is okay too).

Felt simultaneously like a child and old lady at Sentosa – near empty theme park under the weight of scorching sun and suffocating humidity.  We went straight to Siloso beach and waded into the water with the fact that we didn’t have towels as an afterthought.  So I tried to nap in the sand without one – didn’t work.  I think I spent the most time in the public shower (because they had a fan, too).
Enjoyed the view from Ku De Te, where Andrew’s friends described it as “50-year-old men hitting on the prostitutiest 18-year-old Singaporean girls.” – got two Singapore Slings off one of those 50-year-old men, so not all bad, I guess.

To which someone we ran into along the way to the next club responded with, “But what you’re saying is that there are little Asian girls there.”

But the view was crazy amazing despite the subtle haze – too amazing for my camera, and I wish I dove into the infinity pool just a wall and a walkway over.

Was a bit underwhelmed by the supertrees (note to self: Google how they exchange CO2 with O2 because that’s pretty damn cool – that might be my bio major showing though)… but that’s probably because the gardens around them were nothing special.  Guess that’s why you’re supposed to shell out S$20 to see the conservatories, which I totally would’ve done if I wasn’t on a budget.
Might I recommend the ice cream at Seventh Heaven though – but only if you’re a fan of floral flavours.  I’d call that the highlight.

Sucked down about 10 sour plum vodka shots with Kenny and co. at Zouk.  S’pore’s clubs are so damn nice – if only I had appropriate shoes (nude peeptoe heels, why are you so hard to find?) and the right activity level (not a good idea to stuff yourself with Indian food and milk-based drinks if you’re trying to rage – but cafĂ© patron = so fucking good).
Snapped a quick shot of this sign in passing from dance floor to dance floor because it made me smile.  Men apologize profusely when they accidentally run into me, such power… just kidding.
Between the F1 races (and associated events – wish I saw Katy Perry and Maroon 5 wandering these small streets though) and the Mid Autumn Festival, kind of the perfect weekend to visit.

Which leads us into the hard-to-avoid topic of…

Free mooncake samples, free mooncake samples everywhere!  Just stalls and stalls of mooncake samples in the expensive malls, and I discovered the snow skin mooncake (kind of like mochi).  Includes cookie and fenglisu samples, as well.  It was to the point where even my freeloading butt had to turn some down.

Food here is just fabulous.  I even appreciate the smaller portions (which probably only appear small because I’m from the land of extra-large and super-size) so I am still hungry and willing enough to jump to another stall and order another dish.  Try everything, right?
We depended on the detailed comparisons of ieatishootipost and a couple suggestions from Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations in Singapore to decide where to eat next, and I’m pretty sure the only thing I didn’t appreciate was the durian mooncake.  Perhaps I should be daring and try fresh Durian next time.

For weeks in Melbourne, I had been craving noodles and shaved ice and bubble tea and dim sum, and I guess you could say I was damn proud to have avoided all of that, holding out for Singapore.  Disregarding that I only got shaved ice and bubble tea once (which I don’t understand because I wanted it every day for every meal – absolutely need to make a trip back to Asia)… it totally worth it.  In the end, the love of my life is really Asian cuisine.

Half melted almond jelly and longan shaved ice after the overpriced stingray.

BBQ squid – I just liked the way it looked on the stick.

Curry puff on the go (not pictured) – basically a baked samosa… but less potato based perhaps?  Still not understanding the difference excepting the way its folded.

Perhaps the best (and fanciest, so thus priciest) dinner of chili and black pepper crab, cereal prawns… and broccoli (Kenny didn’t know what he was agreeing to when they told him they were out of sambal).

Prawn hokkien mien and chicken rice (not pictured).  It took me awhile to understand the specialty of what I keep hearing is their national dish… chicken…and rice…?  Anyways, I got the watered down version in Chinatown but Andrew got the legit set complete with sauce and soup at Tian Tian the next day, so it counts.  The hokkien mien actually took me a lot longer than it should to find at a hawker… probably because wandering through those things is overwhelming at best – my brain kind of shuts down when there are too many choices.

Kaya on pandan waffle and kaya peanut toast and the 400g jar of kaya that airport security took away from me.  I have found my new love.  As if I don’t eat enough sandwiches in Melbourne (I’ll probably revisit this point because lord knows I always cave when it comes to buying bread).

You know what was actually very filling?
The classic kaya toast breakfast: four slices of kaya and peanut butter on toast, two super soft boiled eggs, and cup of kopi (the sweetness of which I later decided was probably evaporated milk or something to that effect).  Raced through about five or six malls after consuming.

Outram Park char kway teow.  Decided I like this better than the hokkien mien.  Probably the longest line I stood in whilst here and dude in front of me got like ten servings to go – Andrew guessed it was probably intern hazing.  Loved the usage of two different noodles (love flat noodles as it is).  Loved the random crunchy bits.  Loved that the cook uses 52 eggs to give it that creaminess.

Banana fritter for dessert.  There was some sort of custardy stuff oozing out of it for sweetness and the fried batter tasted like cornflakes.  Nom.  Would’ve benefited from some chocolate sauce, in my opinion.

Beancurd with soya milk from Mr. Bean.  And almond clusters sampled and purchased from the Thai Food Fair.  The little bean logo was too cute to resist.  I love that they have the sugar level options (0, 30, 50, 80, 100%) because it’s kind of a turnoff when I ask for no sugar and they say no can do because sugar’s already in the powder.

Laksa.  Until now, laksa was in my head under my “don’t really know what it is, see and hear about it everywhere, must find best place and try” list.  (Now it’s just tom yum and nasi lemak).  I remember someone telling me to get laksa in Melbourne, but I get the feeling it’s different than the spicy coconut curry deliciousness from Juggat (?) Laksa.  Definitely filled my noodle craving… which only arose because it was so damn cold in Melbourne.

 Bandung lychee drink.  The bright pink colour both intrigued me and freaked me out.  The man simply described it as a syrup when I asked about it – thought I’d go for it anyways since I’ve never had bandung that I know of.  It’s like creamy rose flavour.  “Interesting” like rice beer but too artificial tasting though I love floral drinks.

Soup tulong.  Another colour that fascinated me.  What makes it so bright red?  Hardly any meat, so you have to gnaw at the bone to get the scrapings and the tendons.  And the most important part is the bone marrow which required both sucking and picking with the other end of the spoon.  Now I must try marrow the way the French eat it – on toast?  Everything in the world is eaten on toast…

Bak kut teh and fish soup.  Barley drink and pu erh tea.  At a hybrid of a restaurant and a hawker.  Looked like a hawker, felt like a hawker, seated you and took your order like a restaurant.  Even brought out the dishes to you.  And the man who was always carrying a giant tea pot of soup waiting to refill your bowl – no wonder that little bowl cost S$7.  The endless pot of fruity pu erh (which Andrew had to empty into his coffee mug to get our S$3 worth) was only upstaged by the barley drink, which was unlike barley tea to my surprise – it was sweeter and thicker and more delicious.

Can’t leave Asia without getting Asian bread.  I can still hear the eerie, synchronized chant of the cashier girls, “5 for $6; 10 for $10.”  So we went for it.  Curry naan, golden triangle (tom yum), raisin, red bean, and the below claypot chicken (what makes it black?!).

Chwee kueh.  Last meal in S'pore and made for quite a filling breakfast as well.

Next stop, Auckland.

Then back to reality (or as close to a reality as it can get for Amelia in Melbourne)…
Because I need to not fail my food chem class if I want a future.

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