Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Snapshots from Singapore

Hello from Georgetown!  

This capital city of Penang is best known for its colonial architecture and diverse blend of cultures.  Indian and Chinese immigrants have blended with local Malays to create a mix of communities, which has created a variety of delicious and inexpensive street food available on nearly every corner.  Needless to say, Ryan and I have been loving the chance to sample all the culinary delights we can get our hands on!  I have been so busy deciding whether to eat Chinese noodles or curry with naan that I've been a little behind in our updates...


We had planned on three nights on the city-state-island of Singapore, and enjoyed it so much that we tacked on another night and full day to the trip.  We would have stayed even longer than that if time allowed, but there is still lots to see in Malaysia and Thailand!

Singapore’s clean and orderly streets were a stark contrast to where we came from on Lombok and Bali.  I’ve heard people describe the city as “sterile,” but we didn’t find the cleanliness to be a drawback.  It was nice not to worry about getting sick from food or water, things were organized and efficient, and everyone spoke English!  That coupled with Singapore's delicious food confirmed it: we were in love.

One of my college friends was sweet enough to put us in touch with her aunt who lives on the island.  She put us up in her home and spoiled us with delicious dinners and her wonderful company every evening.  It was so hard to leave when the time came.  Thanks again Aunt Teresa!

On our first day we chose to wander the neighborhood of Little India.  Deepavali decorations still lined the streets and scents of fresh fruit, flowers and incense mingled with Little India’s nearby hawker center.  We saw a quick downpour as our opportunity to try the local food.  
Curry, dahl and naan served alongside hot chai tea with milk was quite a treat. 

The Arab quarter was home to the first immigrants in Singapore.  Others settled in nearby Chinatown.

We ended the evening at a popular local hawker center with stalls of vendors pushing their delicacies on locals and tourists.  We tried Singapore’s famous chili crab along with an oyster omelette and ice cold Tiger beer.  The crab made for a messy (but delicious) meal!  
Another favorite food we discovered in Singapore was "carrot cake."  When my friend recommended it I envsioned, a slice of dessert.  
A Chinese concoction of radish, egg, breadcrumbs, green onions and sauce (spicy and light or dark soy).  
SO good!  
You'll have to trust me on this one.

{I could go on about the food in Singapore (and Malaysia) and I will later.}


On the weekend we strolled through a beautiful (and massive) botanical garden

There were too many gardens to count and large open spaces for parties, picnics and events.  There was even a group playing ultimate frisbee!

Later we headed to the Long Bar at the famous Raffles Hotel.   The Singapore Sling was invented there, so naturally we paid a ridiculous $30 each to have one too.  
One original and one "winter" sling.

Even later we wandered Boat Quay and its posh bars and restaurants and took in the nightlife scene at Clarke Quay

The Christmas decor on the famed Orchard Road put us right in the Christmas spirit.
 To cap off the weekend we spent a full afternoon and evening at the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.  The zoo had white tigers, proboscis monkeys, a pigmy hippo and a section for Australian animals.  We couldn’t take our eyes off a large orangutan that was eerily human and oh so sweet.

After the zoo closed we made our way to the night safari, where we hopped on a tram to ride past the habitats of tigers, deer and rhinos.  Later we took a walk through areas containing huge bats, adorable mouse deer and flying squirrels (below).  
The slow loris was my favorite.

On our last afternoon in Singapore we wandered the Colonial district, with its history and classic architecture. 
Huge hotels, fancy museums and business offices are clustered around the river.

Of course we couldn't miss a photo opp with Singapore's odd mascot the Merlion.  
The creature is half mermaid, half lion, all strange. 

What a breath of fresh air it was to be in a big city with a subway, shopping malls and so many American amenities.  While I love deserted islands with nothing to do but watch the ocean, I am definitely a city girl at heart.  

Hope to see you again, Singapore! 

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