Saturday, August 31, 2013

Singapore - A Bittersweet Visit

Festival in Little India
Returning to Singapore, I was reminded of what I have missed about it:  how the lush former jungle island hits you as you speed along the ECP from Changi with the smell of humidity and the pink flowering shrubs spilling over the median strip.  Chris and I whiz by East Coast Park, the Starbucks at Big Splash, Katong Park, where we spent many lovely times with Lucy, good friends, and doggy friends under the huge acacia-like trees, dripping with parasitic ferns.  We see the Belvedere, home for two years, source of a few really good life-long, I'm sure, friendships, and a great pool which kept me in shape, sort of; kept me sane. 

Waking up near Arab Street, we can see the Sultan Mosque peek over the roofs and hear the call to prayer, anticipating a morning of good food and great shopping.  Next door in Little India is Tekka Market,  where I used to buy our veggies, fish and fruit from the same guys and always felt a part of a vibrant community.

The Banana Leaf Lady at Tekka
  I love the market's smells and sounds of a blend of nationalities, religions, cultures, mingling under the same roof.   Indeed, this is representative of the whole city:  multiple cultures peacefully coexisting in the same neighborhoods.  
 A taxi fare here can buy you a rocky ride, but also a quick
Atop a SuperTree
but meaningful exchange about the state of the world, or at least about the country.  Then there's the skyline.  I'm not a city person, but the view across the river or from up above one of the "Super Trees" or from the bar at Level 33 is stunning - you watch new, bizarre structures go up, wonder what were they thinking, and then marvel at how it all fits.

Muddy Ollie at the Hash

Dog hashes - almost forgot to mention these incredibly awesome events, where, once a month, Chris, Lucy and I would  go crashing through the jungle on these organized runs, followed by dog bowls of beer, sometimes food, a bit of hysterical banter and bawdy British drinking songs.  A long-time UK past time that had been cultivated in "the colonies" and enhanced by this club with the wise inclusion of our doggy buddies.  

Then there is Tanjong Beach, a lovely dog-friendly beach on the island of Sentosa, about a half-hour drive from our condo - yes, this island, which is Singapore's playground, can be reached via a very short causeway off the south side of the island.  Dogs are allowed all the time, but it is Saturday mornings, when the humans are off work and it is relatively
The Girls on the Sentosa Beach
cool, that dogs rule on Tanjong Beach.  It is wonderfully not crowded - dogs running in and out of the waveless surf, exuding unbridled, literally, joy, humans standing by, milling around, catching up on the week's news.  And then there is the part about swimming with with Lucy - up to my neck in the water, looking out at the ships on the distant horizon, Chris a bit further out, about to throw the ball, and Lucy's face moving towards me on the surface of the water.  Magic.

A visit to Chinatown takes us to the tea master, who offers an hour-long private talk on the properties of tea, demonstrates the ritual of serving it, and sells tea pots, cups, tea in beautiful tins or as bricks.  Here, I tasted white tea for the first time, delicate, subtle and loaded with antioxidants. 

Ricky, Christopher and Christopher
A few blocks away is Eight Treasures Vegetarian Restaurant, my favorite here, where a gentile older Chinese man ("call me Christopher", he said) serves us Black Pepper Chicken - tastes like chicken, has the texture of chicken, but is plant- based.  His place is right next to the Buddha Tooth Relic Buddhist Temple, so we often enjoyed lunch or dinner here beside a large table of monks.

And that's just one example, of course, of the incredible food - it's a wonder that Chris and I didn't double our weight here.  On every corner we could find Indian and Thai curries, seafood and veggies cooked with chilies, lemongrass, citrus, spices - and if we went to a hawker stand, we could eat really well for less than 10SGD (about 8USD) a piece.  Well, unless we got Chili Crab.

I'll end my diatribe with the food - gotta go grab some lunch.....

No comments: