Singapore, to be sure, is by far the most prominent pick for the dream destination of all travel buffs. Not only Asia, but its tourist attractions, orbital, multi-lane expressways, scenic stops as well as the scrumptious cuisines have pulled in people from all over the world. As luck would have it, I got a chance to visit the world’s most desired tourist destinations on a family trip a few years back.
The road route from Malaysia to Singapore is an absolute marvel. Fast-moving and naturally-scenic roads and highways aren’t something one can usually see in Far East. Ships and dockyards welcomed our way as we entered Singapore from Malaysia. Though there was good amount of traffic on the road, but the local monitoring and maintenance systems, in either case, turned it into fast-paced.
It had been raining since morning. As the hotel drew closer, the smiles on our faces started fading away as we were apprehensive of sight-seeing in such heavy rains. The locals ascertained us to not to worry as it was normal there. We had our breakfast buffet at the hotel itself. The best thing about breakfast of our hotel was that they served everything but the stuffed Indian food. Fresh fruits, cereals, toasts, rice, tea-coffee-milk-juice as per your own requirements. We finalized only the breakfast in our tour package. Being foodies ourselves, we wanted to feast our eyes with their food cultures and relishing our taste buds. “Being in Singapore, you need to worry about food.” The guide assured us that no matter where we are in Singapore we are likely to come across some great food courts and restaurants in the locality. Singapore being an island country, the best had to be its sea food. I was astonished to see the variety of food available there that included the Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Japanese and Middle East cuisines.
By the time we had our breakfast, our cab arrived. So while we were rubber-necking, it started raining heavily, yet again. We visited the Singapore Flyer and the Oak Meadow Park having our ordinary snacks all along the way. Our next visit was to the renowned Merlion Park and we were genuinely charged up. The Mythical Merlion is a symbolic icon on the banks of Marina Bay and the catch is just stunning. It was raining buckets as we reached. But still we made haste to at least have a selfie with the Merlion. Alas, it was covered and was running some renovation. We were disheartened. But to our luck there was also a miniature version of the same; The Merlion Cub. We took a pic alongside it and then headed to the wonderful food courts around and we ordered some. Sitting alfresco, we had our meal and relished the panorama of the Marina Bay Sands (a 3-towered hotel and also the World’s second most expensive building) capped by the SkyPark (the ship shaped vanishing end pool) across the Marina Bay.
There is something no man has developed resistance to, as yet. Something that makes even the most herculean prostrate in submission. And that’s what our next stop was. Our guide also took us to some heavenly chocolate factories and outlets. What could be better than some cheap but savoring chocolates? We bought our quota of chocolates, filling bag after bag, also taking some for our friends and relatives. My dad had no idea walking back with cheap, but yummy delights could cost him so much.
For dinner, we went to Serangoon Gardens. It is famous for its abundance of restaurants, quirky bars and hole-in-the-wall coffee shops that attract not only its residents, but also foodies and tourists alike. One of the most prominent hawker centers in Singapore, the space is almost always bustling with crowds. Almost all Singaporean street favorites are represented here, many in multiple guises. Also, they have reasonable prices and do not skimp on taste in the expensive Singaporean Cuisines.
The following day, they took us to visit to the far-famed Singapore Zoo. It was raining uninterrupted. For those who are planning a visit to Singapore, it may come up as a surprise to you that there are areas where it rains of a sudden for most part of the day. They have specially put up the sign boards displaying “heavy rain zone xyz meters ahead”. And so I thought our zoo trip too would be ruined. But for our luck it didn’t rain while we visited those unruffled-beasts. Soon after the tram car dropped us after taking an entire round of the massive 69 acre zoo, it started raining heavily. So the animal show was called off. We sat there and had a hand at the local café foods.
The evening itinerary comprised of shopping at the local market. In Singapore’s shopping centers and malls, there are also eateries for the foodies, cinemas for the movie buffs, and lots of shopping bargains for the shopaholics. With 22 shopping malls, and 6 departmental stores all along a single road and still counting, Orchard Road is the ultimate shopping haven. One mall rolls into another; linked underground. We went to the Mustafa Centre for electronic and Orchard Road for other shopping and stuff and then straight headed to the ‘Food Festival @Little India’ to have a hand at the Singaporean made Indian foods. We were first served with pre-meal double-boiled soup. Next came the chapatti, daal, mix veg, cheese-chilli and some ‘Jain Foods’, not forgetting Kheer and Ras-malai (the North Indian sweet dishes).
Choosing one out of several appetizing meals for a foodie is so rude and impolite, especially when you have literally tried around half of the favorites by the StayFarEast. When there is Eggs Benedict and Kong Bak Pau (Asian sliders) by 40Hands café, or the Madeleines and Hazelnut Coffee Muffins by Chye Seng Huat Hardware and when there are abundance of restaurants, quirky bars and hole-in-the-wall coffee shops that attract not only its residents, but also foodies and tourists alike. The one I savored the most was the oyster omelet – briny whole oysters tossed together in an egg batter then pan-fried to perfection. Ang Sa Lee Fried Oyster draws longs queues – little wonder, since its version of the dish is crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside.
We north Indians are really obsessed with parathas. And before our trip we were concerned of how we’d survive without our own food there. A day without parathas and we feel homesick. But to our surprise, this desire too was easily accomplished by the Singaporean cuisine. The Roti Paratha House’s Chicken Floss Paratha with sinking your teeth into fluffy and light shreds of dried chicken and The Paratha Place’s Paratha Benedict we’d see Paratha topped with poached egg, turkey ham and Indian hollandaise sauce. East meets west doesn’t get any better than this. And then went to have another one of those Chye Seng Huat Hardware’s Hazelnut Coffee Muffins. Because once a foodie always a foodie.
Sooner or later, everything good comes to an end. Along with such a rattling trip, I thought the great grubs too would come to an end and I will go home with the remnant memories alone. Sadly, I still wanted to savor some more cookeries. I thought I wouldn’t be able to. But hey! The Singapore airport has some of the best shopping brands and food courts you will ever come across (and that includes chocolates too).