I have a lot more I need to write about Korea (will definitely write more) but I wanted to catch up to where I am now- Singapore. I feared that it would rain the whole time I’m here but the weather has been a lot better than I had expected; a bit hot and sticky, but we’ve had two sunny days in a row. After all the high tech modern amenities of the Park Hyatt Seoul, we’re enjoying the traditional luxuries of the Mandarin Oriental in Singapore this week. I woke up to this view today-
This morning we took the metro over to Harbour Front to hike the southern ridge trail in Mount Faber. It was an easy trek with most of the paths paved and shaded by trees and plants. The views from the trail were fantastic and we got a chance to walk over something called “Henderson Waves,” which is a 274 meter long pedestrian bridge 70+ meter above sea level (36 meters from the road below). It had a unique wave-like structure that curved up and down, and it included comfortable nooks and alcoves where one can sit down and relax. The use of small wooden planks and steel juxtaposed with surrounding greens reminded me of the High Line in New York City. We saw some tour buses drive up but once we started the trail we hardly saw anyone else. It was a great to be in such an open and lush space, and take in panoramic views of the city. From our vantage point we could really tell that Singapore is booming. There are new highrises going up everywhere; the last time I was here was almost 10 years ago and there is very little I recognize, especially near the marina. I thought all the modern buildings in Korea were impressive but the architecture in Singapore is interesting in a very different way. I almost find it too whimsical for it to be real… There are two buildings that resemble armadillos (or Durian), the Marina Bay Sands has a large skinny boat on top of three glass buildings, etc. Yesterday when we walked around the area near our hotel I felt as if I was in a science fiction movie set. Compare to Seoul and Singapore, New York is an ancient city full of old buildings!
After a nice 4-5 mile walk we returned to our hotel to shower, have a quick lunch of delicious noodles and fish soup, and we went to see a movie. Unlike the cinemas in the US, all of the movie theaters in Singapore have assigned seats. A local person told us that assigned seats are the norm here and recently having a full service meal and drinks with your movie has gotten very popular. I love the idea of knowing exactly where I’m going to sit- for me it eliminates any anxiety or stress about going to the movies. The ticket price was reasonable: $8 SGD ~ $6.60 USD (versus $12 in NYC!) and because everyone had their seat assignments there was no mad rush to get to the theater.
We did have a comical moment with our seats however… When my brother and I were buying our tickets the woman behind the counter asked whether we wanted the center back row seats. Not knowing any better, my brother answered yes. What we found out once we got inside the movie theater is that the last row is for couples; all the seats in the back row were grouped together two by two without the armrest in the middle. We also found out that the Singaporeans prefer to sit near the back. Even though there were only about a dozen people in the theater, most opted to sit towards the back and all the couples sat in the back row next to us. When the trailers started my brother and I bolted, and moved up several rows. And for the next two hours we lost ourselves in the comic book fantasy world of “Thor.”
To wrap up this relaxing day in Singapore we went to a well-known seafood restaurant with one of my brother’s friends. I was very much looking forward to this meal of chilli crab and other local seafood specialties, and I was not disappointed. We ordered “Drunken Prawns” for which the staff brought out a clear vessel full of live prawns to pour the Chinese wine over before cooking. The prawns were fresh and served to us immediately. We wanted to try both the black pepper crab and the chilli crab, but our waiter told us that the crabs they had today were very large and recommended that we order just one. Reluctantly we ordered one chilli crab and a side of bok choy with enoki mushrooms. When the crab dish appeared at our table, we knew that our waiter was not exaggerating. The body of the crab was larger than my two hands put together! It was submerged in hot chilli goodness; the sauce was sweet, delicate, with just the right amount of fire. There was so much meat in the crab that we could barely finish it. This crab was so very different from the crabs I had in Maryland last year that they almost seemed like two different species. We had both steamed and fried buns with which to mop up the sauce, and I was hopelessly full and oh so happy. But to really round out our meal we had some lemon jelly with longan, a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia. I’ve been eating well here so far and I have no doubt it will continue.
We returned to our hotel under what must be a full moon and looked out the window to watch a light show across the harbor. Tomorrow we’re exploring the Malay and Arab section of Singapore, and it’s my brother’s birthday. I hoping for a great day!
Long Beach Seafood Restaurant: we went to the main restaurant on East Coast Parkway but there are 5 branches in Singapore