Nywoman goes to Singapore

Oct 10th, 2009, 10:49 PM
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Nywoman goes to Singapore

Leaving New York arriving Singapore Friday Oct 12

The trip starts with a scare. On check- in with Singapore Airlines they want the last 4 digits of my credit card, or no boarding pass. You know the ad for Amex that says never leave home without it, well I did..... Don’t ever unless you have all the numbers easily retrievable. Mine are on line in a web account, in order to get them you need to be able to connect to the web,

My wireless does not work in the bar at JFK, no problem, call Amex on the cell phone, I do and they refuse to divulge any information, now I am getting nervous. My son is on one phone being very rational with Amex I am on another not quite so rationa linsisting on speaking to a supervisor, who never answers.

My son offers to drive back to the city when as a last resort I call my neighbor, who usually works evenings, and miracle of miracles she is home has my keys and all is well again.

The flight to Frankfurt is rather uneventful. Sleep a few hours and am fortunate that my seat companion has a gold membership to the Star Alliance lounge. Then onto Singapore again manage to sleep a few hours. A few words, about Singapore airlines, economy Class. The legroom is excellent, seats seem to be average width, they do recline nicely though. This is fine as long as you don’t move out of your seat, in my case window. Service was fair, not as good as Korean Airlines, it was a pleasant enough 21 hour flight, am not sure what is considered so great about this airline.

Took the shuttle bus into the city and my hotel $.6.50 US. I am staying at the Strand Hotel on Bencoolen Street. It is one block from Orchard Road, near to the MRT stations and within walking distance of the major sights. The hotel is fine, my room located in the back spacious and bright. The price is right $72US per night and it has wireless The staff is lovely and I am allowed to check in at 9 am.

Raffles and City Hall are a 5 minute walk, too early for that Singapore Sling I promised to have. Buy a 3 day transit pass $30Us with $10 refundable. First order of business lunch, I have Knopf Guide to Singapore and take the train to Raffles Place. The amount of construction is staggering, it seems as if they are completely redoing the center. It takes me awhile to get oriented and find my way to 181 Telok Ayer Street, and Ocean Curry Fish Head where I order Fish Head Soup, of course. It is delicious with curry, hot peppers and coconut milk, that and a lemonade cost about $5 US. Time to go back for a nap.
Nywoman is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 11:19 PM
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Have a great trip and see you at the GTG.

PS. Nice to see a Fodorites who like fish head!
Hanuman is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 11:32 PM
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Will be spending 1 1/2 days there in a few weeks so taking notes
laartista is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 02:41 AM
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Have fun .Try to get to Eng Seng for the Crab. It's on JuChiat Place. Get ther around 5:30 p.m. Trust me, this is the best crab ever.
Gpanda is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 04:25 AM
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I stayed at the Strand a couple years ago. It is a nice enough, if not fancy, hotel. Rooms are quite large. Still have the leopard print duvets?
MichaelBKK is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 05:57 AM
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Stay calm and check a calendar "arriving Singapore Friday Oct 12." Have a great trip.
Marija is online now  
Oct 11th, 2009, 11:22 AM
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I'm glad you've landed at your first destination. Enjoy Singapore!

(Marija, Singapore is ahead of us in time, so even though her post which is timed to NYC says Oct 11, it was already Oct 12 in SIngapore)
Kathie is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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Glad you arrived safe and sound. They have some great soup dumplings on offer in SIN too. We also had a fish head curry when there and it was great, at Apollo Banana Leaf. Excellent lunch. Pls keep us up to date.

Why did you not take the AMEX card anyway?
tengohambre is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 02:18 PM
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The center of Singapore is very pleasant to walk around, lots of street sculptures and open spaces, if only it wasn’t so hot. The average temperature that I have experienced so far is 90-95F except after yesterday’s thunderstorm.

Singapore has always been a place I wanted to visit, it reads so excitingly and exotic, I am not disappointed. Except have not been able to do more than a very few things of what I wanted because of the heat.

After lunch I return to the hotel for a rest and manage to sleep for a few hours.My plan is to go and do the Night Safari at the Zoo, which has been highly advertised as the thing to do. I take the MRT, which is the name of the subway, from Dhoby Ghaut to Ang Mo Kio where I am supposed to walk underground to the bus depot, to catch the #138 bus to the Zoo . Since I don’t know this, wander around for a bit in the neighborhood, until somebody explains where I need to go. The whole trip takes about an hour.

Next to me on the bus, is a little slip of a girl, who turns out to be here on business from Hong Kong and across from us a young couple from Malaysia. The combined entrance to the 2 Zoos and the tram ride is about $35US. I may have been too tired, but I was very under impressed by the whole experience. Admittedly I did not do any of the walks, just the animal show and the ride around the Zoo.

The young girl from Hong Kong and I make a date for the following day to meet for lunch at Palm Beach, One Fullerton to have Chili Crab. There was an express bus leaving the Zoo back to the hotel for an extra $3 which I took.

Next morning I repeat the journey to go to the Zoo, I want to see and hear the Gibbon apes. The Gibbons have a very distinctive sound almost like singing when they communicate. Since I have no intention of doing the Gibbon Experience in Laos the Zoo will do.

The sky is very dark when I leave the hotel, and I pack my raincoat, which was very fortunate, the sky opens up as I arrive at the Zoo. There is thunder and lighting and a true tropical storm. The Zoo is very nice but it is raining. I don’t spend much time there, I get to see one white handed Gibbon and listen to a Howler Monkey that is so loud as it swings around the tree top. I also recognize that I am very spoilt by the Bronx Zoo and having done a Safari in South Africa where we went on a night drive and saw a lot of activity. It still is a very nice Zoo and worth a visit.
Time to return to the center, make a stop on the way to see an orchid garden, not impressed.

It has stopped raining by the time I reach City Hall, walk down along the water past the Esplanade Theater that looks like a Durian. Finally I reach Fullerton Hotel where I am to meet my friend Nicole from the previous night, we walk underground to the water front and Palm Beach. It seems that as much of Singapore that is above ground as much is below. Nicole tells me that it is the same in Hong Kong, it helps people escape the heat. We arrive at The Palm which is very lovely, one wall is covered in greenery, it is obviously a place for large groups all but 3 tables can accommodate 6-10 people.

Nicole to my great pleasure is very much into food. We order apart from the Chili Crab, baby squid that are fried and resemble in flavor caramelized almonds, we also have spicy Morning Glory as well as 2 complimentary dishes of a cucumber, pineapple and peanut salad and deep fried tiny silver fish filets. The crab weighs 1 kilo and is from Sri Lanka, it sits in a pool of thickened tomato chili sauce, and is utterly delicious. The meat is sweet, the sauce is not too spicy and I am hooked. The cost of the lunch for 2 was $50US.
Unfortunately I never did get to try it again in Singapore.

After lunch we part ways and I walk over to China Town, was going to buy some Jerky but it doesn’t appeal instead get a cold Jasmine Ice Tea and dive into the mall to avoid the heat. It is pre Davahali and two young women are performing on a stage, they are working hard at coordinating with each other and finally they get it. The dancing is lovely but I need to get back to get ready for my evenings activities.

A Swedish friend of mine lives in Singapore with her family and has kindly invited me for dinner. They live in a large condominium complex of great looking buildings. Their apartment has 3 bedrooms, each with its own terrace, as well as one in the living room. This is where we are sitting partaking of Champagne Cocktails and the fantastic view over Singapore as well as a spectacular sunset. We have a very nice dinner with her sister, brother-in-law and niece who are visiting from Sweden as well as her really charming children and husband. The wine and conversation flows freely it is a most comfortable evening. So ends my second day in Singapore.
Nywoman is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 02:23 PM
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I wanted to go there for the crab but it didn't work out time wise.

I never bring my Amex since most of the rest of the world don't seem to accept it. I now have the numbers in many places. Looked for soup dumplings but didn't see any.
Nywoman is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 02:24 PM
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Loving the live report NY! Keep it coming. We may add Singapore to next years vacation schedule so following intently when I can get online

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 02:25 PM
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There are a number of Orchid Gardens in SIngapore. The Orchid Garden in the Singapore Botanical Gardens is the largest in the world and has an amazing array of orchids.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 02:48 PM
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That is the next report, which is why I never got to eat anymore Chili Crab. Will try to coordinate the baloom trip.
Nywoman is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 08:34 PM
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i started to read but too tired to continue....sounds like fun and looking forward to more....have a fantastic trip and see you on 11/25 in bkk...

rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 04:10 AM
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Singapore Day 3

Set the alarm for 8 am to make sure that I get up. It is a sunny, sunny day which means it is going to be hot. Breakfast at the hotel is most pedestrian, so decide to eat in little India. I arrive at the Little India Station and am totally transported into another world,far from the high rise, shopping mall techno city center, which is one stop away.

Preparations are already underway for Davahali which is next Saturday, necklaces of Marygolds real and artificial are for sale as well as loose flowers and flower petals. The scents coming from all the restaurants are mouthwatering, but I am on a mission. Tekka the refurbished hawker center is calling and I head straight there. I enter what is called a wet market, where fresh fruits, meats, vegetables and fish are sold. The vendors are very pleasant and patiently answer my questions. The meat looks very good but I don’t really get a sense of prices. The only ones listed are the lamb prices and they sound most reasonable.

By now I am so hungry and enter the food court on the ground floor. It all sounds so appetizing, Biriyani, Mutton Curry, and other dishes, what to choose. One stall has a long line, it is the only one with a line so I join it. They are making and serving something called Prata and Murtabak. There is Prata and tissue Prata. In the rear of the stall is a man making the dough, some is made thinner and others left to the its own devices. I finally place my order by pointing to something someone else had ordered. It was egg, onions and ground cooked lamb put inside an incredibly thinly pulled piece of dough, which the cook accomplishes in a nano second and then cooked on a griddle. The finished item is then served with a mild curry sauce. It is very good but more than I can eat. To drink I order Chendol which is some kind of a coconut milk drink with a palm sugar syrup and green starch noodle like a tendril. Have to investigate what it was. The entire meal comes to $4.50 US.

I continue walking along the main street towards the Hindu temple that was built in the 1800’s Just as I have removed my sandals to enter. the door is shut in my face. Continue on to Mustafa Market which is a multistoried building housing thousands of merchants. It is all very civilized, nobody is harassling you to buy anything, all the merchandise is separated into sections. It is cool inside but I am not here to shop I just wander a little trying to cool down. Finally I feel that I can face the outside again, go to find a taxi to take me back to the hotel. The driver tells me that it is 40 degrees Centigrade, 104 F outside. I believe him, this heat is brutal.

After a couple of hours rest it is time for the Botanical Gardens and the Orchid Garden, which is how I didn’t get to try Chili Crab again. The Botanical garden was founded in 1849 by an Englishman, it is obviously a place for people, there are picnics on the lawns, a dance rehearsal takes place in a secluded area. It is a very appealing park intelligently laid out with some fascinating exhibits. The orchid garden ,in particular is spectacular, there are so many varieties, heirloom, hybrids, wild ones, orchids named after political rulers, rock stars and more. I keep on wandering around taking photos as I had promised my son, the orchid grower, to take pictures.

It is getting late and I have more promises to fulfill. Singapore Sling at Raffles, the hotel is beautiful and I sit at the bar in a garden. Order my drink and cannot believe that this is what all the ado is about. I ask the bartender what the alcohol base is and he tells me Gin so I ask for some of that to be added to this sweet concoction. He happily obliges and it is a fraction more tolerable. The cost of this promise was $22 US, tax and tips included. This is not going to become a house drink, not even as a memento.

One thing I knew I had to try before I left was Hainanese Chicken and Rice. Take the train to a station nearby, and promptly get lost, grab a cab and I am at one of the most famous Hawker Centers Maxwell’s Market. The book says it’s open24hours, but in reality only a handful stay open all the time. The famous stall was closed but another was open, It is a very delicious dish of what appeared to be gently poached sliced chicken breast, with a sauce and rice. I can certainly understand the fame of it.

Time to get back and into bed as I am leaving the hotel at 8am for Bangkok, call for shuttle bus $9S to the airport. The driver is very knowledgeable about Singapore and these are a few of the nuggets I could understand. There are 26,000 taxis. Cameras are everywhere on the island in treetops and on lamp posts I think he said it cost $50 million to install. Big brother watches everything, which makes Singapore safe.

It is a most enjoyable place to visit. I wish I had,had more than 3 days. Never got to go to any of the museums, nor a chance to try some of the food. Many of the places on my list were far away and there was not enough time. Rode the bus on Orchard Road, but never got off to explore. The city a has a gzillion shopping malls, people seem to be windows hopping more than buying, very few shopping bags in site. It is very green with many wonderful street sculptures, the city seems to be having a building boom including an extension on the subway. I for one will very happily return

Nywoman is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 04:25 AM
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NY - Glad you liked SP i really like it too. I was my first ever SE Asian city. I have been a few times and would happily live there. Loving your report.
Smeagol is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 04:42 AM
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I'm impressed with your appreciation of Asian food! It will be a pleasure dining with you at the GTG.
Hanuman is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 07:06 AM
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>>>check- in with Singapore Airlines<<<

(Never fails to warm this Asia business traveller's heart - SIA forever!) (And glad your particular SQ check-in procedure eventually 'worked out'.)

Now, many thanks for your wonderful reports; a pleasure to read! (And do hope your future SQ flights and service are a bit better for you - rumour has it, that Singaporean airline can have 'occasional' moments of greatness.)

Keep up the fine posts, do consider also posting this over on the rather refined SQTalk (certain 'natives' will be pleased), and if not already 'in the system', register for SIA's KrisFlyer programme on singaporeair dot com. (Every now and then, not such a bad way to fly.)

Happy flying to you!

macintosh (robert)

... gentle hostess, in your sarong ...
AskOksena is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 07:30 AM
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I'm glad you enjoyed SIngapore so much. You'll have a long list of things to do (and eat) next trip!
Kathie is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 07:42 AM
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Shame you didn't get to Eng Seng for Black pepper crab DELICIOUS and i don't even like crab!!!! one for next time.
Smeagol is offline  

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