As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I was starting to feel some of the less glamorous effects of long-term travel after four months of backpacking throughout Southeast Asia. Luckily, Mitch’s wonderful father, Rick, cleverly planned a business trip in Singapore while we would be there.
After a rough day and long journey on a night bus from George Town, we finally arrived in beautiful Singapore. Seeing family for the first time in four months was very emotional, and I may or may not have cried a bit… What a relief to see a familiar face! And you know what else? Since hotels in Singapore are so expensive, Rick kindly upgraded his room to have two beds, and we were able to stay with him at… The Intercontinental! The timing was perfect for an amazingly wonderful break from the backpacking grind. I felt unbelievably relieved and so lucky!
Our time in Singapore was packed — while Rick was in town, he showed us around his usual haunts, including an evening at the Singapore marina where we saw our first mer-lion and enjoyed an enormous feast of Singapore’s famous chili crab with a fantastic view of the Singapore skyline. (A mer-lion is Singapore’s mascot. A cross between a mermaid and lion. The mer-lion represents the island characteristic of Singapore combined with some Singaporean history — a lion was purportedly spotted on Singapore in the early colonization days).
While in this lush country, we were lucky enough to have some friends to show us around. Rick’s coworker who lives in Singapore, Kenny, was so gracious to show us the Gardens by the Bay as well as some delicious local foods.
We also were so happy to spend two evenings with our friends Alan and Jin who we met while enjoying some Hainanese chicken in Bangkok. These two were amazing hosts and just so generous, and they really know how to give a tour! Our first night, they drove us around the island, showing us some interesting spots like Sentosa (a small resort island off Singapore), Mount Faber where we had some drinks and enjoyed a wonderful view of the city, and the durian district! I tried durian for the first time and didn’t love it but didn’t hate it either. We had such a fun night with these two — it’s something I’ll remember forever!
Because we had so many locals showing us around, Mitch and I learned some interesting bits about everyday life in Singapore. For example, in order to limit the use of cars, the Singapore government requires a special pass to drive a car. These passes are limited and can cost as much as the car itself or more! We also learned that most Singaporeans live in government built flats/apartments, which usually have covered walkways all the way to the nearest metro stop, so citizens have shelter from some of the more extreme tropical weather in Singapore. I also found Singapore’s compulsory savings (the Central Provident Fund) very interesting. We learned so much more about culture and every day life, and we were lucky to get such a generous peek into life in Singapore from all of our friends there.
On our last night, Jin and Alan took us to the most amazing restaurant called True Blue Cuisine featuring authentic Peranakan cuisine. We had no idea what we were getting into, but we soon learned that Peranakan culture developed from intermarriage between Chinese and Malays in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. The cuisine was unlike anything we had ever tasted, especially a tasty chicken dish seasoned with keluak nut. The restaurant was so beautiful, the company wonderful, and the food delicious — I only wish I had taken one photo to remember that night! No matter, we will be back for Singapore round two in the future!
While in Singapore, I don’t think Mitch and I planned a single thing the entire time, and for that, we were truly grateful. The unexpected generosity and kindness of our friends in Singapore truly revitalized my travel spirit and readied me for the next leg of our adventure. Until next time, Singapore! We will meet again!