Singapore report

Just got back from my weekend trip to Singapore where I hung out with the Zurich gang. All we did for 2 days was stuff our faces with some interesting and fabulous food. Ah Loi’s parents were super hospitable and drove us to the local and by extension authentic, hawker centres and other places to eat. Singapore food, like the culture, is diverse, you could be having a mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian with a smattering of other Asian and Western influences in the same day.

Mee siam for breakfast at the hawker centre in Changi village. Sour vermicelli noodles served with hard boiled egg and a squeeze of lime juice. Thought I couldn’t handle the spiciness but nah, it was fine.

Bak ku teh, the peppery spicy soup made with pork ribs and served with fried dough cakes and rice. Had that for breakfast at this place on Rangoon Road. Also on the menu that morning: pig intestines, kidney and liver. Hey, I like kidney and liver. Not so keen on intestines, I get too many wiggins when I put it in my mouth.

There are 16 varieties of prata, including plain, paper, with egg, egg and onion, onion, all served with a bowl of curry gravy. The place we went to was in the middle of a residential area but at 11pm on a rainy Saturday night was completely packed. We also ordered a drink called Milo Dinosaur which was a big beaker of iced chocolate with a generous sprinkling of Milo and whipped cream on top. 1,000 calories easy.

What else? Satay, chilli crab, pepper crab, chicken rice, rojak, kaya toast and ice kacang. Face was well and truly stuffed.

The city state itself. It’s organised, safe, clean and I like the presence of greenery even in the city centre. 90% of the population live in high quality government housing. The quality of private housing, at least those I’ve seen, is spectacular. Shops everywhere. Food easily available and fantastic. Nice people, friendly but not overbearing, service orientated.

The downside is it’s hot all year round. And car prices are a killer, a small Japanese car costs about equivalent to two 3-series BMWs in UK or Switzerland. Between that, and electronic road pricing, you’d expect the roads to be empty, right? No way José. Traffic traffic everywhere. One thing I found interesting was how difficult it was to get taxis, queues were long and the drivers pick passengers. Not what you’d expect in these supposedly economically hard times.

Could I live there? Like most good things in life, I can take it in small doses. Ultimately I can see myself frustrated by the over-organisation and uniformity. Even though the culture is diverse, the people all had the same look and feel. Dressed similarly, acted similarly, aspire to similar goals, doesn’t seem like there’s an appetite to be yourself. Different shoeshop, same shoe. Though in that respect it’s no different from any other Asian culture where conformity is one of the most important factors in a family-centric society. Am I that unique that I’d stand out? Probably not. I might merely be considered quirky or idiosyncratic. Will people find it strange? Dunno, may be. Would I care? That’s the crunch question ain’t it. Initially I think not, but it’ll build up in time. Which goes back to my original point, good things in small doses.

So yeah, I’d visit in a hearbeat but living there is another matter lah.