Friday, November 7, 2008

Singapore Anniversary Trip!

This past weekend, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Singapore! We stayed at the Marriott on Orchard Road, a perfect location for catching the metro and shopping. We arrived late on the first night, so we settled in with some champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.

Day 1

We started the morning with a buffet breakfast at the hotel. This was a great chance to try all kinds of interesting local Singaporean dishes made with Indian, Malay,and Chinese influences. Ever heard of fried carrot cake? It turned out to be a stirfry with shredded carrots and shrimp in a spicy sauce. Some of our favorites included chicken curry (yes, for breakfast!), fresh strawberry juice, an array of chinese dumplings, and my new favorite-- caramel gelato on waffles.

Our first stop in sightseeing was the Raffles Hotel, a beautiful colonial plantation famous for being a hangout of 1940s celebrity expats such as Charlie Chaplin, W. Somersaught Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Ava Gardner, and Jean Harlow. The hotel is also sadly known for being the location where the last living tiger in Singapore was shot and made extinct. Even grimmer, the hotel is where 300 Japanese soldiers committed suicide during the liberation at the end of WWII.

Perhaps the hotel is most famous for being the birth place of the drink, the Singapore Sling. Despite the insane price for this drink at $22, ofcourse we had to try it and experience the ambience in the famous Long Bar. I couldn't get over those cool fans moving back and forth in the ceiling!

After our bar tab set us back about $100 (geez, we only had two drinks and an appetizer tower), we walked around the downtown and had fun taking pictures of the Merlion statue and local art sculptures. The Merlion, the symbol for Singapore, represents a lion's head with a fish body.

That night, we headed to the Boat Quay for dinner. It was a beautiful night and we ate at an open air Sri Lankan restaurant with a view of the lights and water. The restaurant was a little bit eccentric- only two servers, all kinds of uncertainty about where to seat us, extremely slow service, and some of the dishes required a 48 hours advance notice if you wanted to order them! We got a little worried when it took forever for our drinks to come, but seriously, people kept swarming in, so we decided to stick it out. We weren't disappointed! The food really was so fresh and yummy. Each dish arrived on its own little burner so it wouldn't get cold.

Day 2

This morning we spent some time at Sentosa Island, a former fishing village and then a British military fortress in the 1960s. Today it's a tourist island. We took the cable car across, which gave us a nice view of the skyline. We spent our time learning about the history at a cultural museum, riding a luge down the side of the mountain, and taking the sky lift.

Our next stop was Chinatown where we looked at the shops and visited a Hindu Temple. Check out all the cows on the roof tops!

After Chinatown, we headed back to the hotel and decided to have High Tea. Unlike British high tea (with cucumber sandwiches and crumpets), this high tea had an array of savory snacks like Laksa, a spicy noodle soup, more curry, and even sushi! 

Later in the evening we jumped back onto the Metro and headed to Little India to see the festival of lights. After walking out of the metro, we encountered a section of town unlike any of the others we had visited. Everything about Singapore up to that point had been so familiar (Borders bookstores, shopping malls, even a Carl's Junior), but Little India made us feel like we were really in a different country. Walking around, we saw a sea of men just standing around talking to each other everywhere and few women. We thought they had to be assembled there for the festival of lights- surely, the lights were about to be turned on with great fanfare or something? But as time passed and no lights ever came on, we realized that's just what they do on Sunday nights. We had a great time making our way through the masses and exploring this new section of town. We were even lucky to buy a bag of indian basmati rice to take home with us. You can't find anything but Japanese rice in Okinawa!

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