Greetings from Singapore! I had an early flight out of Taipei this morning and took a cab from my hotel which was a solid 30-minute drive. Fairly priced at around $45, it was also my single biggest expenditure in Taipei, so I'm not complaining. The arrivals terminal was pretty packed at 6:45 AM; I guess it's like this because most any flight in Taiwan is an international one. The kiosk didn't work for me, so I had to wait in line at ticketing; I was definitely the only person there not checking in anything. Afterwards was another pretty long line to get through security, though considering the hundreds of people there, it went quickly.
The flight with China Airlines was fine, though the seats were narrow! My girlish hips kept clicking on and off the overhead light, as well pausing or restarting the movie I was trying to watch! I know there's some sort of discrimination here somewhere.
Singapore Changi Airport is very nice. My gate happened to be close to the main exit, and once I cleared customs, boom! I hopped onto the MRT for the ride to Downtown which took about 45 minutes. The time I saved not having to wait for my luggage enabled me to get to my hotel just in time before the rains started. Well, that's something, I guess.
January 2, 2018
"I'm not fat. I just have a large seat."
I had a pretty eventful first full day here in Singapore. I started out the day by visiting the nearby National Gallery which is housed inside the old City Hall...a beautiful building. To be honest, I went because there's an exhibit of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. I know many major museums are only able to display a small fraction of their holdings; if there were 50 paintings on display here, I can't begin to imagine how much more the Musee d'Orsay has in storage...and that converted railroad station is able to display quite a lot. Anyway, the permanent collection of the National Gallery here is comprised of a wide range of Southeast Asian art from the last two centuries. It's totally worth a visit.
After heading to the Geylang Serai Market for a chicken bryani lunch, I backtracked to the marina area near Downtown and took a ride up to the SkyBar at the amazing hotel and casino, Marina Bay Sands. It started raining soon after I got up there, but I'm still glad I went. Unfortunately, most of the photos I took look drab and in black and white.
This mall keeps getting in my way with all their food selections! I ducked into the Din Tai Fung location downstairs to give their soup dumplings and other dishes a try, then headed back to the hotel.
I took a quick cab ride to Chinatown for dinner at the Maxwell Food Centre. Though most of the stands were closed at 9:00 PM when I got there, I lucked out and had my first Hainanese chicken rice platter. It's a national dish of Singapore, and I'm hard-pressed to think of a better-tasting, simply-prepared dish. It was a nice walk back to the hotel.
January 3, 2018
"Hainanese chicken rice, I think I'm in love with you!"
Yesterday was a decent amount of walking, so I made sure to get a good night's sleep. I thought I'd head back to Chinatown for lunch because there was a food center I walked through after having dinner at the nearby Maxwell market that looked interesting; it was called something completely nondescript, like Chinatown Food Market. I passed on it thinking I'd have lunch at the food court in the mall near me, then head to Marsiling Mall, a newly-renovated hawker center in the north of the island. It was a pretty long ride on the MRT to get there, just over 45 minutes.
Besides this shopping mall across the intersection from my hotel that I keep mentioning with it's restaurants in the basement and food court on the third floor, on another corner of said intersection is yet another row of sit-down restaurants in a converted convent. I'm starting to think there's one eatery per capita in this amazing city-state! Anyhow, I think I'll go there for dinner.
January 4, 2018
"So much food and so little time..."
What a great way to start my last full day in Singapore! After taking many hours last night into the early morning to update this lame website, I slept in some and headed to my noon lunch reservation at JAAN, nearby at the Swissotel. It's located on the 70th FL, and has spectacular views of the harbor and Downtown. The joint is probably 10 stories higher than the top level of the Marina Bay Sands, so we were actually looking down on those plebeians at the infinity pool. Just kidding.
I got to talking to one of the servers after my meal was done asking him where to go for a good glass of wine. In my opinion, the best wine-by-the-glass options in big US cities are not found at wine bars, but instead at the bars of nice restaurants. However, what to do when a nice joint hasn't got a bar? And this is the case in most restaurants I've tried outside the US. This very nice fellow suggested trying Atlas, a bar only a few blocks north. They specialize in spirtis and don't seem to have many options by the glass, but heck, their selections by the bottle seem decent....
January 5, 2018
"Are we dining alone today, sir?" "Yes, we (?) are."
It's clear my body's not prepared for very much drinking these days. A martini and a bottle of passable Pinot Noir last night and I wake up this morning with my insides feeling like someone spiked my jasmine tea with 200 mUnits of Pitocin.
Anyway, the laundromat about 1.5 miles from my hotel was pretty cool; the machine supplied the soap and fabric softener! It doesn't take much, ya know.... And I just remembered that my first hotel in Tokyo has coin-op laundry on one of the floors! Oh, damn, I find that kinda hot.
After checking out, it was time for lunch, my last meal at the wonderful Raffles City Mall. I went upstairs to the food court for a claypot of rice, pork belly, chicken and aged mushrooms. Yummy to my tummy! I picked up my bag from the hotel and headed to Changi International Airport. I was super early, so what better way to pass the time than by eating two more meals in rapid succession to finish up my remaining Singapore dollars? First up was a bowl of minced pork noodles in a clear soup and chocked full of prawns, fish balls, liver and pork dumplings. Next was my last dish of Hainanese chicken rice. And for dessert, I rocked a bowl of shaved ice doused with mango juice, canned peaches, dragon fruit, taro beads, and I think papaya sections.
Goodbye, Singapore! Thanks for the memories.
My flight had a layover for a couple hours in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital. I would say it was unfortunate that we arrived there late in the evening because most of the food options in the terminal were closed, but they looked to be mostly Westernized cafes and restaurants. Tokyo awaits.
January 6, 2018
Leaving on a Jet Plane
JAAN Chef, Kirk Westaway, talking to an affluent customer who read the newspaper while being served....
A couple of cruise ships at the marina viewed from the 70th FL of the Swissotel.
One of the two bars at Atlas.