This past Easter long weekend, J and I were lucky enough to be able to sneak in a cheeky 3-night trip to Singapore for some serious eating and shopping. A quietly decadent city with a friendly energy that pumps 24/7, Singapore is very welcoming to the casual traveller.
It would honestly have to be one of the easiest cities to get around. While most cities outside of Australia do have a purpose-built train line direct from the airport to the city centre, there’s something quite wonderful about jumping off a plane and finding yourself at a magnificent Chinese-veg restaurant in Chinatown facing down your dinner all within 1 hour of landing and for the low, low price of $1.75…
Beginning our next day ridiculously early (since we were still largely operating on Melbourne daylight-saving time), we started at the Tion Bahru hawker markets where we breakfasted on some smaller items – red bean bun, carrot cake, and dumpling the size of my head, before grabbing some fresh tropical fruits from among the flower market on the ground level, before heading off into the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood in search of coffee and bakery goodies.
Wandering through parks, we then slowly meandered to world-famous Orchard Road for some cheap-as shopping and some more delicious Chinese-veg. The place we chose – hidden away in a dual-purpose residential/commercial tower just off Orchard Road – included this particular highlight: a fried semolina cake stuffed with vegetables and served with a spicy mustard seed-spiked tomato relish.
After dropping our stuff back at the hotel and indulging in a much-needed shower (I have lost all stamina for humidity after 6 years living in Melbourne), we ventured back out into the city in search of a rooftop bar recommended by a friend. A multi-storey restaurant/bar – reminiscent of Melbourne’s Curtin house – with walls covered in twee images of anthropomorphised animals and animorphised children and a classic cocktail menu to make me drool (hello classic Negroni with top-shelf gin), this was a great way to start our Saturday night. While drinks in Singapore are expensive, the plus side is cocktails do suddenly look like good value.
We began dinner at yet another hawker market close by, trying local-favourite dish popiah: a giant fresh cabbage and carrot spring roll filled with spicy peanut sauce. OMG. It was truly amazing. I could have eaten 10 more.
Instead, we rounded the formal eating part of the day out without a spicy Korean tofu stew.
Actually that’s a lie. Our final stop for the evening was a fruit stand where we gorged on half a dragon fruit each, plus a guava for dessert. After a 14-hour day of walking, and that much food, the walk home was heavy but, our bellies and souls full, it was a happy end to our first full day.
The next morning – still jet-lagged and still up before the city – we killed a few hours before breakfast walking along the river to Little India. Along the way we found an inflatable Art Zoo complete with a blow-up unicorn literally shitting rainbows.
After a wonderfully rich and spicy breakfast of idly, vada, samba, and lentils, we spent our final day wandering the backstreets of Little India, discovering ever more hawker markets, ornate temples, and strong coffee.
All too soon, though, we found the day drawing to a close. Feeling a bit holiday-, walking-, and humidity-lethargic, we found a local hawker stall selling beer and took some time to admire the view over ChinaTown, and the fact that we had not yet had a drink at ground level.
Enjoying one final decadent meal consisting of some of the most delicate and delicious dim sum I have ever eaten, we made the final walk along the river, past the delightfully absurd Friends-themed Central Perk coffee shop, all the way back to our hotel where we caught but a few hours sleep before our 7am flight the next day.
I can still taste the chilli on my tongue.