Monday, April 29, 2013

Singapore Sights and Such

Like I said earlier, Tim and I like to do some walking when we're in Singapore since it's generally more pleasant than walking in Jakarta (not in temperature or humidity, but in sidewalk coverage, for sure).

We did some Chinatown walking:

We wandered around near our hotel, across from the beautiful Raffles Hotel, which has been kicking it in Singapore since 1887:

Also across from our hotel: the Capitol Building, another cool historic building currently under renovation:

We strolled over to Boat Quay, formerly the busiest trading area on the Singapore River... we stopped off to visit Sir Raffles, founder of Singapore, at his 1819 landing site, where, according to the plaque(s) (in 4 languages: English, Malay, Tamil and Mandarin Chinese), ""On this historic site, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles first landed in Singapore on 28th January 1819, and with genius and perception changed the destiny of Singapore from an obscure fishing village to a great seaport and modern metropolis.":

The shophouses at Boat Quay, backed by some of the financial towers:

We then hoofed it to the Cavenagh Bridge, one of Singapore's oldest bridges:

I liked this sculpture (located just next to the bridge) of a bunch of kids jumping into the river:

After checking out those historic sites, Tim and I treated ourselves to a mini pub crawl along the pubs that are run out of Boat Quay's historic shophouses.  We tried the beer at the RedDot Brewhouse, including this funky green brew, the Monster Green Lager, brewed with spirulina.  Also not pictured, but quite fun to eat: the fagra chicken wings, coated with a metric ton of Szechaun pepper, making your lips and tongue tingle like crazy.

Then we headed down to another brewhouse in Clarke Quay, Brewerkz, for more beers and dinner (I had a Singapore style BLT made with bak kwa in lieu of bacon... mmmm.)

I liked this art in one of the tunnels running between Clarke Quay and Boat Quay:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hawker Heaven

After hiking the Southern Ridges Trail for over 3 hours, Tim and I were dehydrated and starving... we had had plans to try out some new (to us) hawker food, but were so spent that we ended up going to a tried-and-true favorite, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Road Hawker Centre... mmmm.  Long line (see Tim waiting in it below, while hydrating with a fresh lime juice), but totally worth it:

We heard about some Singapore-style scandal with regard to this particular chicken rice vendor... apparently a long-time chef at Tian Tian was let go and decided to open his own competing chicken rice stall a few booths down... queue a chicken rice war!  We didn't try the opposition, but next time I am in town, perhaps a taste test is in order.

Doesn't look like much, but this chicken, rice and broth pack a lot of flavor... listen to Anthony Bourdain's description here.  Super comforting and delicious:

Later that day we joined Zhenyi and her father, who were generous enough to take us on a nighttime driving tour of the city and a trip to their favorite hawker centre, Chomp Chomp.  While Maxwell Road center attracts more tourists because of its location near the historic Chinatown and an MRT station, Chomp Chomp is a little more out in the 'burbs (well, what constitutes the 'burbs in a city state) and is a local hotspot.  On a Saturday night, it was bumping, let me tell you... wall to wall people ordering or delivering food, hovering like vultures for the next empty table, with heat emanating from the stalls, fluorescent lights glaring...hard to see in the photos:

Tim will kill me for posting this photo, but I needed to show how big these steins of fresh-pressed, electric green sugarcane juice were... everyone in the place was drinking them.  Get this, though... these were the medium size!:

Zhenyi ordered us a smorgasbord of her favorites... rich, fried Hokkien mee (noodles) with shrimp (from Ah Hock, a super popular and quite old-school stall, with waits of up to an hour for food), fried carrot cake (which has no carrots, but does have daikon radish, which is kinda carrot-shaped, I guess), chicken satay, spicy and fragrant sambal covered grilled stingray, spicy and sweet fruit rojak, an oyster omelet... plus cold Tiger beers.  Heaven!  I must go back!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Singapore's Southern Ridges Trail

While in Singapore, Tim and I like to take the opportunity to walk around a lot because of the wide, non-open-sewer-adjacent sidewalks and lovely public parks...  we heard about a cool hiking (well, walking... this is still Singapore) trail that spans several of those parks, traverses some of the remaining patches of jungle and has some great views: the Southern Ridges Trail.  We decided to give it a go... over 9 km of jungle trail spanning several parks, accessible by public transportation... what more can you ask of an urban park?

We started out by taking the train to the Harbourfront MRT station, then climbing the steep steps up through the secondary forest to the top of Mount Faber.  At the top there was a pretty sweet view of the surrounding apartments, distant business towers, and the cable car to Sentosa, Singapore's resort area:

You could see a bit of Singapore's famous port through the trees, as well as a giant statue depicting the city's famous mascot, the Merlion:

 From there, we fended off busloads of tourists wielding umbrellas to make it through to the Henderson Waves pedestrian bridge, which is this cool, wavy structure that connects Mount Faber to the next hill, Telok Blangah Hill Park, 36 meters above the road below:

By this time, we were overheating and dripping with sweat, so we stopped to buy a drink.  I caught sight of these signs, which reminded me of one of EPA's mascots, Slim Bin, a favorite of all of my friends who spent time at the office formerly known as the Office of Solid Waste:

From there we kept on the Southern Ridges Trail on the Hilltop Walk, where we saw some pretty massive and cool looking trees as well as a massive and cool looking spider who had his web strung from tree to tree across a road:

Next we went through the Forest Walk, a raised walkway that winds through some pretty secondary forest: 

Next, Floral Walk and Hort Park, a lovely botanical garden:

Aaaand, we ended with the Canopy Walk to Kent Ridge Park, a hill that was used for defense of Singapore during WWII.   More views of Singapore's vast shipping industry as well as a couple big monitor lizard sightings:

And, in conclusion, some of my favorite signs from around the park:

I love the angry monkey face:

They said poo...  heh heh:

How one might grab a bird in this manner is a mystery to me: