Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Parents' Final Days in Singapore

Once my parents, R, B and I got back from Malacca, we had just a few days in Singapore before our flight to Hong Kong.
Building in Little India
May 14th: In the morning R and I toured Little India with my parents. This is the neighborhood where all the Indian/Bangladeshi migrant workers are concentrated, and since there are huge numbers of them in Singapore (about 25% of the population are "non residents", meaning here only to work), it is a densely populated and extremely authentic place: it even smells of curry. It's also quite unlike the rest of Singapore (for instance, there is actual trash on the street).
Little India: note all the Indians!
After our walk and a stop for some Indian sweets/drinks, R and I went home for her nap. My parents continued onward to Kampong Glam (the center of Muslim life in Singapore) and Joo Chiat (famous for its Peranakan shophouses). They had a good time buying hand-ground Indian spices and Peranakan antiques.
Dad shopping for spices (he likes cooking)
In the evening, we all went back to Kampong Glam for dinner at a Moroccan restaurant. It was excellent but service was very slow. Luckily it was in a nice pedestrian area so R killed time by strolling around.
Sultan Mosque at Kampong Glam: it's prayer time so worshippers are on the move
We ate outside like this, though not here
May 15th: I spent several hours hanging out at the coffeehouse and read while my parents played with R.
R and Grammie
In the afternoon we took a stroll down Orchard Road (the major shopping district here).
The fancy McDonalds (!) on Orchard Road, Tang's department store in the background
We ended up eating superb Indonesian food at a slightly out-of-the-way restaurant (it was located on the second floor of a downmarket (the stucco was moldy) mall). Really fantastic tasting.
Very unusual dish: fried tofu, eggs, spicy/sweet "dark sauce",  topped with cucumbers
May 16th: We all traveled to Pulau Ubin via bumboat, where we went hiking.
R and my parents on the bumboat, watching sea hawks
It was a most productive day in terms of wildlife viewing: we saw monkeys, junglefowl, various birds, and wild boar with piglets. Back on land we dined near the pier (Western food, including imported beer), where I spotted a flock of wild parrots.

Mom on Pulau Ubin
After R went to bed, the babysitter came over and the four adults went to Singapore's Night Safari. This is actually a completely separate facility from the zoo, and is only open at night. Most of the animals are nocturnal, so it's a really unique chance to see them active and lively. And because Singapore is so hot, touring an open-air attraction after dark is much more pleasant. It's a definite must-see for any visitor (why we take everyone there).
Giant flying squirrel: it's quite big!
I think it looks like a fake stuffed animal, but actually it's a native to SE Asia
I got my feet groomed at the fish spa. Basically you stick your bare feet in a shallow pool full of a particular fish species, who then swarm your feet, eating all the dead skin. It's supposed to have health benefits, in addition to making your feet beautiful. It was interesting and not painful (it feels like tickling). Everyone else was too grossed out by the idea (wimps!).
I think it's fun! (B was too grossed out to watch)
My feet
May 17th: In the morning the family went to Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve to see the monitor lizards.
Lizard crossing the road
Some kind of migratory stork
We had to walk quite a distance on the way home (as we just missed the bus, and weren't able to catch a taxi), past Singapore's "rural district" (there are several farms here, including a crocodile farm: and yes, this meat is sold in our local supermarket).

In the afternoon, my mom and I went to the Raffles Hotel (so not B or my father's scene) to drink Singapore Slings (invented at the Raffles' Long Bar). They aren't very good (being incredibly sweet), but it's a tourist must-do.
Obligatory photo
It's quite a lovely (and big!) property
The main entrance, with the Sikh doorman (one of Raffles' hallmarks)
The next day we were off to Hong Kong.


  1. I tried a Singapore Sling at the Raffles once too, and I agree they weren't very good. Mine tasted pretty watered down. That fried tofu dish looks fantastic, though!

    1. Haha, so watered down! I think it's because alcohol is so expensive here, so bars/restaurants have a huge incentive to do so. (I just bought beer at the corner store: $14 for a 6 pack of Heineken.)