August 19, 2010

3 days in Singapore

So me and Z-mama (now my "baby-mama") are on our BabyMoon. She had to work for the first week or so at the Inaugural Visa sponsored Youth Olympic Games, so I was let loose upon Singapore. Courtesy of her employer, we stayed at the magnificent (and historic) Fullerton Hotel, a transformed post-office with views over the water and the new Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Five star service, no matter how you're dressed! (I say this because I showed up with a ragged backpack, cargo pants and 4-day stubble and was still addressed with a polite "welcome mister, can we help you?").

Singapore is not a place to visit as a tourist. Ridiculously efficient, incredibly modern, completely under construction, the place is simply sterile. There's very little to do as a tourist beside eating and shopping. Sure, you can go visit Chinatown, but every Chinatown in the world is the same - shops selling LV knockoffs, cheap chopsticks, and those annoying chirping contraptions which I always wonder who buys them. And the Singapore shopping baffled my mind - Orchard road is a mecca to consumeratism with mall after mall after mall touting the same luxury brands, the same western stores, and the same tight, but sexy pants. Since I'm not a shopper, this part of Singapore completely bored me.

Luckily, I love to eat. And eat, I did. Singapore has incredible food - and not just tasty food, but a variety of food to try! On our first night, me and Z-mama (on the recommendation of a local), headed 20 mins out of downtown to the famed Longbeach restaurant. Longbeach does one thing, and one thing really, really well - crab. While I had been dying to try the famous Singapore Chili Crab, i was devasted to discover that the recipe called for copious amounts of fresh eggs. This, of course, would kill me. The waitress at Longbeach advised that the recipe without eggs was like a Mexican wedding without a Mariachi Band. So, as a consolation prize, we ordered the Black Pepper Crab and the Ginger/Scallion Crab. Wow!!! I can only imagine how good the Singapore Chili Crab must be.

The next day, we headed out to Little India, to be with our people. Singapore has a large, vibrant population of Indians who have comandeered a part of town to look, feel, and - sadly - smell, just like India. And that part of town is legendary for some of its food. Shaz' wife's sister works in Little India, so we headed out to find her. Side note - she's a spitting image of Shaz's wife. And, like Shaz' wife, she loves to eat. So she took us to the best indian joint in Singapore. There, we feasted on Fish Head Curry. Ok, I have to admit that I was extremely skeptical about a dish that revolves around fish heads (it conjures up memories of a bad 80s music video), but when Shaz's wife tells me I have to try something, I listen. That woman knows her food! And wow, was I surprised. The Fish Head Curry was INCREDIBLE! One of THE best indian dishes I've ever had. Picture a fish head, eye balls, teeth, grinning cheeks and all, staring you down, floating in a spicy, succulent broth of heaven... and that's fish head curry. We mopped every last bite. Yum.

Other highlights from Singapore:

1. me and Z-mama hit the hawker stands (Lau Pan Sat, I think it's called) - a bunch of small stalls each specializing in one dish, all assembled under one roof. Of course, we tried Singapore Chicken from two different stalls (yum), we also sampled Laksa (very fishy), as well as duck noodles (the duck was great, the noodles were filler).

2. I headed to see the new Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Highly recommend checking it out, if only for entertainment value. Reputed to have cost $4B (yes, billion), this hotel sitting on an island of landfill has 2400 rooms that have phenomenal views over the Singapore Skyline. The casino cost $100 if you're from Singapore. If you're not from there, be sure to bring your passport. Make sure you pay the $20 to go to the roof to check out the city views as well as the infinity pool. Yep, amazing.