I am realizing that this trip is mostly shopping (that too selective because Singapore is expensive for us Indians) and eating. Though this is our third visit here, there still are some things left to see – Universal studios, Singapore Zoo, Chinese Garden, the Museums, mainly. I only had a moment of regret over this. The reality is I am just enjoying the loitering around, being amongst locals, seeing them, shopping with them – experiencing the culture. I am in food heaven and cannot decide which bun to have, which coffee to have and which chicken to have. There are so many joints and so many cuisines. It is unfortunate that I do not have like minded travel partners – Mum and Sis are conservative eaters and will stick to more comfortable and familiar foods / joints. They are also vegetarian and light eaters. I, on the other hand, have a huge appetite and love eating.
So today on our own we set off for Tampinies, which is on one end of Singapore. It is quite near the airport. Tampinies has 3 big malls side by side. I remembered this area from my last visit here and remembered that there are affordable shops here. I was right. We got some good deals here. And had it not been for my already overflowing cupboard, I could have bought lots of good stuff here. Watsons, Coldstorage, Espirit, Mango, Hersheys, BYSI, New Look, G2000 and some lower local brands – it is heaven for a shopaholic.
I still do not get how the mall can be crowded on a Monday afternoon. Most of the people looked like teenagers or people in college (thought it is difficult to guess the age of Singaporeans. Most of them look like teenagers). All the eateries – McCafe, McD, Coffee Bean, Starbucks, Pizza Hut – every place was full either with kids or college goers who had papers and files and notebooks messily strewn all over their able along with a single large mug of coffee.
We have understood our way around. Singapore public train system is known as MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). These fully automated trains run on 4 different lines. The trains are absolutely clean (eating and drinking in the train is fined) and peaceful. The markings, announcements and maps are so clear and convenient. You will be guided about which station is next, where you need to get off to change lines, which side the door will open and how to get out of the station to reach where. People get in and get off without rush and panic. Of course, I haven’t seen the peak office hours. They face the fast escalators (which I quite dislike) very calmly.
As compared to the past 2 days, we’ve eaten less today. Lunch at Nando’s and a McCafe coffee. Nando’s is an African food chain. They serve only chicken and some vegetarian dishes. Their specialty is their peri-peri chilli powder they compliment all their dishes with. It is quite hot and has a peculiar flavor. I fell in love with It when I had it for the first time in Australia. Nando’s interiors have got a very earthy jungle feel. Wooden furniture with African sounds playing in the background. All the attendants (girls in ‘Chicks Rule’ t-shirts and guys in ‘Too hot to handle’ t-shirts) greet you jointly when you come in and leave. All of them have an aura of being tough and dynamic. Their best dish is perhaps the traditional and most basic Grilled Chicken Tenderloins with peri-peri. Peri-peri sauce is also available in 4 flavours – garlic, tomato, hot & extra hot – for sale. You bet I picked up a couple.
There are stills cakes and meat buns to be tried. There is still the charcoal burnt chicken burger joint to be explored. Sometime else, surely.
Arab Street happens to be very close to our hotel and we decide to go there for dinner. We reach quite late and all the shops have closed. Arab Street actually comprises of some 3 streets full of middle-eastern food – Turkish, Indian, Persian and Lebanese and some shops selling ittar, pashmina shawls, traditional cloth and costumes. The streets are quite deserted and silent at 9 pm but restaurants are full. Hoards of Singaporeans and Americans occupy the open air restaurants smoking.
We chose to sit inside a restaurant called Alturka. We order for Mint Iced Tea (which is quite mild), Turkish coffee with milk (which doesn’t taste like coffee at all. I remember Turkish coffee from Turkish Airlines and hoped this one would be as great. I am gravely disappointed), Hummus and Lavas Bread (Hummus is a dip made of chickpea & sesame. Lavas is a maida bread with sesame topping) and Kiratzme (stir fried vegetables, Zuchini and Eggplant being most prominent with yogurt and garlic tip). You can also order a platter of their dips (Hummus included) and have them with different types of bread. This is what I’ve had before in another joint before and totally loved. The Kiratzme is oily and has a taste that one wouldn’t usually be accustomed to but I devour it.
It is quite an experience strolling back to our hotel. Despite the glittering high rises, 5-star hotels and shiny cars that zip fast before you even realize, this part of Singapore feels so peaceful and serene. Maybe because it has been making us feel totally at ease all this while. We are not running around. We are not tired. We feel peace within us and around.
After living for 10 days without responsibility and with only leisure and freedom, I wonder how I will be able to get back to my usual monotonous schedule. I gave fallen in love with this beautiful country and want to get lost here.