After a comfortable sleep, I spent some time on my federal/state taxes. It was a luxury to have access to Ian’s computer with fast broadband connection after so many slow sessions in Indonesia. Ian has a PhD, and seems like a regular Renaissance man. He works at night based on American time, teaches classes at the nearby National University of Singapore, runs ItchyTraveler.com, and is managing a local club soccer team.
Despite the fact that I arrived a night earlier than he expected, he welcomed me in all the same. We began our sightseeing with breakfast in the collection of food stalls outside his apartment block on Clementi Avenue. My local dish consisted of rice and tofu in a gravy with a hard boiled egg and coconut shavings. I immediately realized my mission in Singapore would be to eat, eat, eat.
We took the clean and fast Mass Rapid Train to the business district, and after ambling past some of the numerous skyscrapers, arrived at the Merlion, Singapore’s national icon. Ian told me the story behind it, though I’ve since forgotten it’s origin. Across the water, a gigantic construction project was under way to build Singapore’s first casinos. As I would come to find out, Singapore loves to build stuff. I’ve never seen so many cranes in such a small area.
As we approached the spot where Mr. Raffle, Singapore’s founder, first laid foot, I caught a glimpse of an albino boa constrictor. Before I knew it, the owner had it around my neck, and a silly hat on my head for a few photos. Having just conquered a long held fear of snakes, I gladly tipped him a few bucks.
We ate at a hospital cafeteria where I had a tasty, filling, cheap Lemon Chicken Rice dish. Then it was off to The Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling at The Long Bar, the place the drink was invented. Anthony Bourdain fans take note, he made the same pilgrimage for the tasty libation. I’m guessing he didn’t have to cover the $18 cocktail as I did though!
After my drink, we made our way to Little India, and Ian’s favorite restaurant Lagnaa. While he referred to her as his friend, we were actually meeting up with his girlfriend Waffa (not sure on spelling) and her friend who were doing a restaurant review for his travel site.
The owner/head chef of the restaurant was being interviewed when we arrived. We joined them, and eventually enjoyed a fantastic and spicy array of Indian dishes. The spice scale went from 1-6, with 6 as the hottest. When I initially asked for 4 on my chicken curry dish, the waitress laughed, and talked me down to 2. It turned out 2 was perfect for me, very spicy, though enjoyable. I couldn’t imagine eating 4, let alone 6.
After stuffing myself further, Waffa guided me back to Ian’s place where we watched a bit of American Idol before going back to the local food stalls for a little more food. I ordered my first of two Tiger beers, which come in giant bottles. And then it was off to sleep, with dreams of another day filled with terrific ethnic food.