A Travellerspoint blog

Singapore in 48 hours


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We covered the length of the entire metropolis by bus in just 20 minutes. This tiny, efficiently run nation is the embodiment of civilisation, with every square inch occupied by modern apartment blocks, air conditioned shopping malls and manicured roads. There’s plenty to do in Singapore, if you can resist the neon allure of the luxury stores to explore.

We had heard of the open plan Singapore Zoo, and spent the entire first day visiting every enclosure. We were truly impressed; the Zoo is well worth a visit even if only on a short stopover.

This hornbill was looking for the final scraps of his breakfast. At Singapore Zoo we were pleased to see all the animals were well cared for, healthy and stimulated. Enclosures were also spacious and appealing to the eye

This hornbill was looking for the final scraps of his breakfast. At Singapore Zoo we were pleased to see all the animals were well cared for, healthy and stimulated. Enclosures were also spacious and appealing to the eye

Three white tigers captured in embrace

Three white tigers captured in embrace

Getting up close with the orang utans, who roam free on vines overhead in the Zoo!

Getting up close with the orang utans, who roam free on vines overhead in the Zoo!

Afterwards we explored the city by train and headed to Tokyo-like Orchard Road and the dazzling Marina Bay. This city stays abuzz well into the night and alas, we succumbed to the hypnotic pull of the shopping malls. This continued the next day, in between sudden heavy downpour and regular snacking in hawker food courts such as Kampung Glam and Makan Sutra.

It’s remarkable how clean and organised Singapore is, although public service announcements leave one feeling smothered at times. There are signs reminding citizens of civil behaviour, over signage of safety warnings in buildings and on transport, and excessive queues. We found citizens were polite yet lacking warmth, and noticed that fear of the law has been thoroughly instilled. It was comical to observe smokers huddled closely over a rubbish bin, taking utmost care to ensure that cigarette ash did not fall onto the ground.

We felt safe and comfortable in Singapore. In contrast to most of the places we’ve visited so far, getting around was easy and everything just seems to work! Seeing so many ex-pats, it felt more like Sydney than Asia - they even use similar plastic banknotes.

It was an enjoyable short break although we prefer a bit of chaos in the mix. This may be a utopian society to aspire to, but this civility makes it one of the less exciting stops on the backpacker trail.

Experimental combos in Singapore’s food courts – this chocolate, cheese and salt milkshake was delicious! In a weird way

Experimental combos in Singapore’s food courts – this chocolate, cheese and salt milkshake was delicious! In a weird way

East meets West – Chinese New Year blessings and ceremonial rituals are performed by the dragon, to deliver prosperity for the stores in Digital Mall

East meets West – Chinese New Year blessings and ceremonial rituals are performed by the dragon, to deliver prosperity for the stores in Digital Mall

The Chinese New Year dance team on a well deserved break, there are 8 floors of stores in the enormous Digital Mall

The Chinese New Year dance team on a well deserved break, there are 8 floors of stores in the enormous Digital Mall

Rina’s favourite food is banned in public here

Rina’s favourite food is banned in public here

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Posted by adamandrina 21:32 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

Ten tasty days in Malaysia


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You must experience Malaysia with your tastebuds.

Reminiscing of our stay over the Chinese New Year, each day intrinsically involved food. Our previous visit 2 months earlier also focused on food sampling around the city, branching out from our hostel in Chow Kit to Kampung Baru and Chinatown. Welcomed by family at the airport, our first stop was to pick up chicken biryani (from a joint renowned for serving only this dish) to eat together. Unfortunately, most of our meals did not survive long enough to be photographed for this entry!

On our second day we had breakfast twice. First, delicious home cooked noodles and chicken curry prepared by Lela, and then we headed to a local diner. Benefiting from Rina’s father’s knowledge of the best local eateries, this diner was great value. For 30 cents you could have a large, freshly made roti canai with curry. Accompanied by an extra tall mug of teh tarik this was the national habit. But that wasn’t all that was available. Our appetites couldn’t keep up as we wanted to taste everything despite already being full.

Briefly stopping in a village near Johor Bahru (or “JB” as referred to by the cosmopolitan Malays) to pick up Xavier, we tucked into a homemade lunch of sambal udang (chilli prawns), asam pedas ikan (sour chilli fish), kari daging (beef curry), fried chicken and stir fried vegetables. However, the highlight was dessert. Delicately made layer cake kueh lapis and fried “johnfruit” (jackfruit’s cousin) was unforgettable with black tea. Full again, we headed back home and relaxed for the day.

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Definitely related; Rina and Xavier enjoying a game of Jenga

Definitely related; Rina and Xavier enjoying a game of Jenga

Our culinary adventure continued as we attended two weddings on the weekend. Polyester frills and lace was the primary décor of the event, embellishing the front and backyards of the two homes in Melaka. The first wedding was themed in baby blue and the second in bright pink. Each bridegroom pair wore matching traditional outfits (in baby blue and bright pink), and guest gift bags were truly Malaysian with pickled eggs, jelly cups, pandan cake and flavoured milk. In addition to gifts and photography at the floral wedding throne, the music was sentimentally Alleycats (where karaoke is always appropriate). All this surrounded the centerpiece activity – the buffet of course. We shamelessly ate from a ten tray smorgasbord, which included Melaka style gulai ayam, korma ayam and kari daging, This was washed down with rose cordial, firm pink jelly and kueh bahulu.

In between plates there were gracious introductions and reacquainting with near and distant relatives. Cousins seemed to have grown both in height and number but all were warm towards us. It was lovely to be a part of the greater family again, even if it was only for a while.

Leaving the kampung, we headed back to Kuala Lumpur city (affectionately condensed to “KL”). Visiting Taman Tun Dr Ismail was literally a trip down memory lane – it was where Rina spent her childhood. Flavours of Singapore style rojak and supersized special nasi lemak at Uncle K’s were intensified with nostalgia. The sensational nyonya meal at Peranakan however, was unbeatable – we still dream of the durian cendol from that day!

Speaking of aromas, for us there is no stronger association with Malaysia than the pungent perfume of the durian. We had the privilege of visiting Uncle Ishak and Aunty Anna’s orchard (with it’s durian trees) just one hour from the city. Picking mangosteens and collecting our spiky gold overnight was a highlight of our Malaysia leg. With orang asli passing by as we bathed in the rushing freshwater creek, sleeping under the stars and indulging in our self harvested bounty, we could not have asked for more in life.

Adam tasked with scaling the tallest and most abundant mangosteen tree

Adam tasked with scaling the tallest and most abundant mangosteen tree

Exhaustive first hand research proved that the number of points on the tip of the fruit matched the number of segments within!

Exhaustive first hand research proved that the number of points on the tip of the fruit matched the number of segments within!

Sampling one of our 45kg bounty

Sampling one of our 45kg bounty

The perfect pungent custard that is durian

The perfect pungent custard that is durian

Despite our gluttony, Uncle Ishak and Aunty Anna still had plenty to take home

Despite our gluttony, Uncle Ishak and Aunty Anna still had plenty to take home

Returning from our agricultural escape we flew to Langkawi island to stay with Uncle Ray. Here seafood is a specialty, and we had our fill of technicolour fish curries and delectable whole sotong sambal. We also managed to fit in some sightseeing – riding the cable car and visiting Beringin beach for sunset.

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It was a whirlwind visit and before we knew it we were on the bus to Singapore. We had such a wonderful time and we will be back. The generosity and hospitality of family over 10 days left us with a taste of the essence of Malaysia.

Rina enjoying a bowl full of her favourite fruit, durian, in front of the domineering Petronas Towers

Rina enjoying a bowl full of her favourite fruit, durian, in front of the domineering Petronas Towers

The Malaysian highways were fraught with danger. We shockingly saw more accidents in a week in Malaysia, including this truck with burning tires, than we did in two months in India

The Malaysian highways were fraught with danger. We shockingly saw more accidents in a week in Malaysia, including this truck with burning tires, than we did in two months in India

Remnants of the day’s slaughter at the local market, in striking contrast to India where cows are considered sacred

Remnants of the day’s slaughter at the local market, in striking contrast to India where cows are considered sacred

Rina’s new friend Shamun who followed us halfway across Asia

Rina’s new friend Shamun who followed us halfway across Asia

Posted by adamandrina 09:45 Archived in Malaysia Comments (3)

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