Welcome back to my Friday edition of Love, Like and Loathe! Sorry I missed out on last Friday’s post as you know, I was away in Singapore. Which brings me to this week’s Love, Like & Loathe – The Singapore Edition. Boy have I got some things I love and like to share with you and some gripes on my loathe list.
Lau Pa Sat
There are many things I love in Singapore and being a native of the country, the one thing I usually look forward to (besides the shopping) is the food. As they say, food glorious food and Singapore lives up to its name of having an amazing array of cuisines. My weakness is definitely the Malay (NOT Malaysian – there’s a difference!!) and the Indian food. Mutton, chicken and prawn satays, followed by barbequed stingray and the Indian mee goreng and fried rice with ikan bilis (anchovies). Those were the first things we had once we touched down in Singapore on our first night. We headed down to Lau Pa Sat with my family and my paternal cousins for a catch up and some great hawker food.
With the family at Lau Pa Sat on our first night
Located at 18 Raffles Quay. Lau Pa Sat houses a large variety of stalls, selling a number of different cuisines. There’s Chinese, Malay, Indian food to name a few and desserts galore. I normally go for the lime juice when it comes to drinks, to help quench my thirst and keep me cool. Well, as cool as I can anyway. The place is open 24 hours but once the time hits about 6:30pm, one side of the street is closed to traffic to allow you to dine on the temporary tables and chairs that would be set up for the night. Here, satay (meat or chicken skewers) peddlers and other food hawkers will
hound ask you to taste their wares. As there are quite a few different satay stalls to choose from, be sure to check out the prices on their menu. When it comes to satay, go for the sets if you’ve got a bigger group.
Maxwell Road Food Centre
Another place we frequented for our meals is the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre located on the corner of Bridge Road and Kadanayallur Street. The food is cheap, authentic and delicious. We had chicken rice for our first meal there and the kids had fresh coconut juice straight from the coconut fruit. Miss 12 had some grass jelly drink, while I had the lime juice – again. Told you it’s my favourite!
Dosai with egg served with some curries on the side at Maxwell Food Centre
The second time we went there was for breakfast and I had the Indian Dosai with egg, which is sort of like a really thin, crispy pancake with potato curry inside and some other curry dishes on the side. That for only SGD$2.50!
If you’re keen to try some Indonesian cuisine, then I’d suggest Tambuah Mas. Well, that’s the one we normally frequent each time we’re in Singapore anyway. Mr. C just LOVES their “cumi cumi” (pronounced choomi choomi), which is deep fried baby squid served with sweet soy sauce. For me, it’s got to be their “tahu telur” – deep fried tofu dipped in egg. Crispy and deliciously decadent! I also had some deep fried beef lungs (sorry vegetarians!), which I’m such a huge fan of! What can I say? I’m a true blue Javanese at heart! Tambuah Mas is a restaurant located at the basement of Paragon shopping centre, in Orchard road. Mr. C and I went out for our date night – hey, I’ve got my parents to babysit so why not right? – and we had the cumi cumi, tahu telur, beef rendang, and fried beef lungs with rice. All that for ony SGD$50. I mean, considering it’s a full meal in a restaurant, that is terribly cheap when you compare it to the prices in Australia. Not that you can get any of these here anyway!
For some delicious “murtabak” (pronounced moortabuck), head down to the Arab Street area, just opposite the Sultan Mosque (or my kids call it, Aladdin’s castle). There are actually about three different hole-in-the-wall eateries selling similar types of food but our favourite is Victory. What’s murtabak? Basically like the ‘”roti” you normally eat but with more layers and in between those layers are either mince mutton or chicken, egg and onions. They also serve my favourite dish – the “beriyani” rice – sort of like a pilaf with either mutton or chicken.
Another favourite of mine when it comes to Indian food is Islamic restaurant, located a few doors down from Victory. Serving mostly North Indian food with some other dishes thrown into the mix, this is THE place to have your naan – warm and fluffy – eaten with their butter chicken and rogan josh. Be aware though that they (and some other restaurants in Singapore) do charge SGD$0.50 for ice water – so really, you might as well order a drink to make it worth your while.
The one thing that got me excited while shopping was when I stepped into Popular Bookstore over in Bras Basah Complex on 231 Bain Street. They’ve got a few other branches but I usually head to the one in Bras Basah Complex when I’m looking for some affordable stationery. I was in search of a plastic envelope A4 size folder to organise all my placement paperwork and I knew they had a huge variety to choose from at such low prices. The design I bought was simple and came in a few different colours for only SGD$0.80 each. They were also having a special, where you only pay SGD$5.80 for 12 folders. Hello, silly not to stock up right? Plus, it doesn’t take that much space in my luggage either. I also bought a set of coloured friction pens – basically pens that come with erasers on the other side of the pen. Yes, you can ERASE your mistakes with the pen! And you can also buy refills if you choose to. I got my set of 8 pens for only SGD$13.70. So if you’re looking for stationery, Singapore has some pretty good quality ones that are also very affordable.
I’m sad to report that this time round, I loathed the shopping. Yes, you read it right. And I’m talking about clothes shopping. My last trip two years ago seemed so much more lucrative when it came to shopping. I managed to snag quite a number of pieces from Forever 21 – decent looking ones – and a jacket from Zara that I’ve worn so many times. In fact, I had to carefully pack my luggage so that I won’t go over my limit. This time round, the shoping was rather pathetic. Forever 21’s range was now geared more towards the younger teenagers, with an abundance of cheap looking floral printed items. It looked like someone vomited floral prints all over the store! I did however buy one top from there, a peplum top with lining and a lace insert at the centre of the bodice, which cost me SGD$45. Not a bargain in my books (yes I’m cheap). There were no sales around that time either and even books were expensive, considering I could simply purchase the ebook version at a fraction of the cost. Most of the stores had their winter collection and I was already over winter and really wanted to get something for summer.
I’ve got another loathe on my list and it’s the growing and more noticeable divide between the rich and the poor. I’m not sure if it’s obvious to me now because I’m more aware due to being a lot older (and wiser) but, never in my life of having grown up in Singapore have I encountered a) homelessness b) ads discouraging people from borrowing from loan sharks c) the lack of common courtesy.
I’ve heard over the last few years how people have lost their homes and stayed underneath apartment void decks, but I have never actually SEEN that with my own eyes in Singapore. This time I did. And it’s saddens me to see people in such a state in a land where it shouldn’t really happen. And then to be confronted with television ads touting some decadent way of living in some condominiums that could cost from $4 million for a place that is possibly as big as my main bedroom? That’s just sad really. Land is scarce, people are losing jobs, and now they are even being turned down by banks to take up a loan just so they could survive.
B) Borrowing from Loan Sharks
The rejection from banks for loans often subject people to borrow from loan sharks, who charge exorbitant interests and make you suffer dire consequences should you fail to pay your loan. I’ve always known they existed and people borrowed from them, but to have the government or in this case the police department step in and splash their ads to discourage the loans meant that things have become pretty bad.
C) Lack of Common Courtesy
This is a thing I encountered personally and it really pissed me off. I was in Forever 21, queueing to pay for my top when this lady, who just jumped in front of me to pay for her purchase. The cashier knew I was there first and that lady saw me standing there waiting, yet she pretended as if I was invisible. The good thing was that the cashier did point out to the lady that I had been waiting, but me being the nice person I was just let the lady go before me. The next incident happened a few minutes later at Starbucks. I was standing behind a lady who was putting her order through when a man came along with the intention to order. Seeing the confused look on his face, the cashier directed us to a line (which was nonexistent), that was to the side. CLEARLY he had seen me there and the right thing to do should be to say I should go first. Instead he PRETENDED to seem surprised that I was there. The cashier didn’t even bother to tell him that I was there first. So I got fed up and left. Lost a sale there Starbucks, even if you serve sh*tty coffee.
Another lack of common courtesy is the fact that many Singaporeans seem to think that their handbags and shopping bags deserve a seat of their own when dining in food courts or cafes. I admit I place my handbag on a seat, but it’s on the seat that I am sitting on, NOT on another vacant seat. This has actually been going on for quite a long time already, and it has never failed to irk me. Here’s a thought, either place your handbag on your own seat or on your lap! Stop hogging the seats! That’s just plain selfish!
That’s the end of this week’s Love, Like & Loathe – The Singapore Edition. I did enjoy my trip, albeit a really short one – 5 days to be exact. This time it was all about the food and less about the shopping. I did do some shopping but not much – three tops, one chambray dress, one dress and a pair of shoes. Oh, and some more stuff from Daiso. Stay tuned for my post where I share my Singapore haul.