Singapore

Andrew Stephens, Thursday the 6th of September, 2018 in Food and Recipes, Travel and Places

I hardly travel anywhere for work. Well, I guess I am still traveling to Boston for work, but that has turned into a long term deal. Recently I was lucky enough to be sent overseas for a couple of weeks, to here:

Marina Bay, from somewhere on the esplanade
Marina Bay, from somewhere on the esplanade

Singapore is a beautiful and modern city. In fact, it is little too futuristic. Walking around looking at all the fantastic architecture, walking the clean streets, and using the efficient and pleasant automatic train system, it is almost impossible to avoid thinking that you have stumbled into the first 20 minutes of a dystopian scifi film where the shocking secret behind the facade has not yet been revealed.

Night Market in Chinatown - the shopping is amazing, especially if you are in the market for fridge magnets and snow globes. But there are cool things to buy as well.
Night Market in Chinatown - the shopping is amazing, especially if you are in the market for fridge magnets and snow globes. But there are cool things to buy as well.

Whatever horrible secret Singapore may be hiding was not apparent during my stay. I was initially worried about the weather but Boston has been hot and muggy for the last two months so I was already perfectly acclimatized.

I love a good food courtSomething that Boston sadly lacks and Singapore is basically one huge food court from the city centre to the suburbs. There were particular hotspots (Chinatown, of course) but I was never more than a block away from several good choices for food, mostly of very high quality.

In New Zealand, a lot of restaurants would make a dish called Singapore Fried NoodlesBasically a little of everything in the kitchen fried up with curry and I was curious to see what it tasted like in its home country.

No DuriansIt turns out that nobody in Singapore had any idea what I was talking about and the origin of the fried noodles remains a mystery. The national dish seems to be crab, either with chili or salted egg-yolk sauce. I tried the latter and it was excellent.

One food-related failure I experienced was that I did not try any of the fresh durian that was offered for sale. Durian is famously an acquired taste, and something I have always wanted to sample. Unfortunately I made the mistake of eating some durian flavored ice-cream first and the pungent taste was so awful that I couldn't bring myself to touch the real deal.

The most striking things about Singapore are the buildings - everywhere you look you can see very well designed structures. Even the train stations look cool.

This is the famous and slightly sinister Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino, during a nighttime light show
This is the famous and slightly sinister Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino, during a nighttime light show
Having impressive plantings was a common theme. I imagine this is what the Hanging Gardens of Babylon looked like, if they had integrated parking.
Having impressive plantings was a common theme. I imagine this is what the Hanging Gardens of Babylon looked like, if they had integrated parking.

For such a built up island, there is an impressive amount of green space and wildlife. I spent a few hours walking through the forests watching the monkeys and lizards forage. None of them seemed as pleased to see me as I was to see them and I didn't get any good pictures, so you will just have to imagine it.

One of the coolest things I didQuite literally, since they are climate controlled was visit two huge domed environments - The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. The later is a many-stories high representation of a mountain, various species growing at different heights with a particular focus on orchids.

Cloud Forest from the base
Cloud Forest from the base

The Flower Dome is a more horizontal smorgasbord of floral displays from around the world.

Aloes in Wonderland. No really, that was the title.
Aloes in Wonderland. No really, that was the title.

Maybe the terrible secret of Singapore is the horrible punning.