Friday, July 22, 2011

Singapore: Episode II

The following day we made our way down to Clarke Quay and had a little gander. The first day we spent in Singapore I thought to myself “This isn’t as hot as I expected. I think Kaohsiung is hotter than this!”. Well by this point in our trip I was regretting those thoughts! Much of our day actually consisted of getting from A to B and then being so hot and tired that we would pause for an hour in the shade before moving on from B to C. 

Instead of walking around Clarke Quay and Boat Quay in the blistering sun we decided to take a riverboat cruise... more efficient, less walking and OUT OF THE SUN! The buildings, old and new, were all impressive and the cruise also took us past the Singapore Merlion (Singa-Laut in Malay). The Merlion is a mythical creature with the body of a fish and the head of a lion. It is a symbol of Singapore and often used as a mascot of the city. 

On the riverboat cruise
You might not be able to tell but there is a Merlion hiding behind my head.
The Singapore Merlion

Afterwards we walked over to the Marina Bay Sands resort which consists of three towers and a SkyPark shaped like a boat sitting atop the three. The resort is a casino, hotel and very fancy mall. The SkyPark boasts some amazing 360 views of Singapore as well as a large infinity pool (for hotel guests only) and bars and restaurants, some of which the public can access (after paying for admittance to the SkyPark). Amanda & I enjoyed alcoholic beverages at the SkyPark bar, once again seeking some shelter from the sun. 

Amanda with the Singapore Flyer in the background
Amanda in front of the Marina Bay Sands Resort
Inside the Marina Bay Sands shopping mall
View from the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark
View from the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark

Once we had our fill (one each) of extraordinarily expensive beverages, we made our way to UE Square to meet my friend Wai Shun again. He suggested that we go out for some Singapore seafood at a restaurant called Long Beach, located at Dempsey, a popular location with Singaporeans that has a large variety of restaurants, pubs and bars. The meal was great and we shared the company of Wai Shun, his wife, daughter, sister-in-law and niece. Two foods we tried worth noting were chili crab, a Singaporean specialty, and fried whole baby squid in a kind of barbecue sauce. This also proved to be the first time Amanda has eaten crab directly out of the shell. I do believe she enjoyed it. After dinner Wai Shun, Amanda and I walked through Dempsey’s and found a pub where we shared a few beers and had some good conversation to cap off the night. 

Chili Crab. Photo by Flickr user: yoodz

For our last day in Singapore, in the morning we enjoyed a final meal at Whampoa Makan Place, the outdoor food court that Amanda and I had come to love. We agreed it was a good thing that we didn’t live in Singapore because with such a wide variety of readily available and cheap food we certainly wouldn’t lose any weight, if anything we would put on a few pounds! Worth mentioning that despite many things being very expensive in Singapore, the outdoor food courts were still very reasonably priced and affordable. An excellent place to eat and not break the bank at the same time. 

After lunch we decided to return to Sentosa Island. There is so much to do on the island that we felt like we had missed a great deal on our first day there. This time round we spent our time at the Underwater World and at the beach. Underwater World was very well stocked with a wide variety of fish but I think it was even more well stocked with an even wider variety of tourists!!! By the end of our time there I definitely got a feeling for what it is like to be in a massive school of fish with no choice but to follow the herd - or school in this case. The best part of our time at Underwater World was the outdoor performance with two pink dolphins and two sealions. 

Pink dolphins at Sentosa Underwater World
Amanda on a beach on Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island has a number of man-made beaches. Believe it or not, the sand was all imported!!

In the evening we met up with Wai Shun and headed to East Coast Park for dinner. As one might deduce, East Coast Park is a park that runs along Singapore’s east coast, it also is the location of a number of outdoor food courts and restaurants, popular in the evening time, but apparently priced a little higher just based on their location. 

Wai Shun and I walked around briefly investigating some stalls and foods while Amanda guarded an empty table we found near the beach front. For dinner we ordered a veritable feast which included stingray with chili sauce, clams with chili sauce, bamboo clams, grilled calamari with chili sauce, seafood with noodles, steamed bok choy, rojak with dried cuttlefish (rojak is a mix of vegetables and pinapple in a sweet sauce), you tiao (fried dough) and bean curd with lettuce with sweet sauce and a chili sauce for dipping. As you may have noticed, there were quite a few dishes that incorporated chili!!! The food was really great, especially the bamboo clams and the stingray. It was also nice getting to spend our last evening with Wai Shun, a friend I hadn’t seen since the beginning of the year when he left Canada to return to Singapore. 

Wai Shun is a braver man than I, wearing a white shirt in front of a table with so much chili sauce!!!

We really enjoyed our time in Singapore and four days was a good duration to explore some of the main attractions. 

I’m happy to say that our entry back into Taiwan went as planned. We were issued with a new 90-day visa exempt entry and we are now preparing to head up to Taipei on the 25th so we can squeeze in a few days of sightseeing before we start our training & orientation on August 1st. Amanda and I are excited and a little nervous to start teaching on the 15th of August, but most of all we are eager to find out what city we will be assigned to. Our first choice was Kaohsiung, followed by Taichung and then Hsinchu. We won’t find out which city we are assigned to until the first week of August and although we are sure we will have fun no matter where we end up, we will certainly miss the friends and the city we have come to know during our time in KH.

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