Monday, February 23, 2015

Walking the Streets of Singapore

Since I find myself with lots and lots of extra time on my hands in this city, I've decided to slow down my pace and take a more meandering approach to seeing the sights. I strolled over to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple just down the street, but while the decor was lovely and it was interesting to observe the many ways and spots along the temple that worshipers could pay respects and pray, I didn't see the tooth itself. 

Pagoda style temple based on Tang Dynasty architecture style

There must have been dozens of big and little Buddhas all along the walls of the temple, and upon entry a person could get a bowl of coins for $20 from one of the attendants and drop them as offerings, with a prayer of course, into golden cups lined up in front. The repetitive motion of step, coin, prayer, step, coin, prayer reminded me a bit of Vegas. The incessant sounds of clinking coins and the patient persistence looked the same, but I would hope that here in this temple the prayers aren't all for money. 

I ventured to a nearby mall in search of a bakery recommended by the "Where Chefs Eat" book, but when I arrived it looked like the bakery was gone so I went grocery shopping instead. Or more like window shopping at a grocery store. It might be that the store was for tourists or maybe this is where the locals shop too, but they had everything under the sun from all over the world available on the shelves for about twice what I'd be willing to pay, and with crazy high prices for fruit...especially mandarins. I picked up some plums and bananas, which were semi-reasonably priced and got out before I was tempted to buy anything else.

 If I liked beer more I'd have gotten this, but keep an eye out guys, this should be interesting.

 Egg tart and chocolate egg tart I got as a snack to compensate for 
the missing bakery I came here to find.

Polina, if that Catbus toy wasn't S$98, I'd so have gotten it for you...
instead you get a picture

There is a long row of restaurants all along the riverwalk with a nice view of the skyline, and of course this is a good place for some spicy crab, a specialty here in Singapore. 

Walking back towards the hostel I passed this deserted alley full of AC units that keep every indoor place cool and it reminded me of a scene out of Boxtrolls. 

The next day I walked in a different direction and started with the Museum of Asian Arts, which talked a bit about the history of Singapore itself and the extensive/expensive effort they they undertook to clean the city and the waterways. It was incredible how the river was emptied of all the businesses that depended on it almost overnight in an effort to remove the pollution and debris that had accumulated in it over the years. The museum also featured small rooms full of carefully curated artifacts from every Asian culture around the world. And coming back to local history, they even had the winning rubber ducky from a charity race back in 2002 when 120,000 of them were floated down the river.

After the museum I set out on my walk once more. Not many things were necessarily noteworthy, but I liked this statue randomly standing in a gated parking lot. Here in this country where the average temperature stays in the upper 80s pretty much year round and is recognized for the greatest number of lightning strikes in the world, that tiny umbrella seems ill advised.

I even found a single block of what must have been a suburb where all the hipster shops were! They had several adorable book shops, one with a thrift store in the back and a cat next to the register, as well as a lovely brunch spot that would not have been out of place in Andersonville. Forty Hands, the name of the restaurant, was where I finally found a good latte, and I'm pretty sure it was named after the drinking game in How I Met Your Mother, where you tape two 40oz cans of beer to your hands and run around the city until they're empty. It's just a guess, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.

Check out the green little army dudes in the display case

Heading back to Chinatown, I watched as they made fishy shaped mochi in the window of one cafe and roasted whole ducks in another, before heading over to the food stalls for a cheap dinner.


  1. They do the rubber ducky race every year in the CHicago River in the summer - around your birthday, remember?? I wonder if we in chicago keep our winning duckies :)