Swimming, Satay and Seafood

Singapore isn’t short of attractions, but sometimes you just want to take it easy. It’s not like we haven’t been here before.

B had some family matters to attend to so it was just Alex and I at the hotel. After spending some time in the hotel room we crossed over to the Parkway Parade shopping centre and purchased a block of kuih lapis spekkoek cake from Bengawan Solo. Then more food from the hawker stalls and a wander behind the hotel.

What Alex really wanted was a swim. The hotel pool was cooler than at home, but quite refreshing in the oppressive Singaporean humidity. We could hear Singaporean Airforce jets racing across the skies, which were dominated by huge grey cumulonimbus clouds. A spattering of rain drove us indoors, for the protection of our non-pool clothes!

We were exhausted from the day before, but Alex refused to sleep, just wanted to catch a MRT somewhere. There aren’t any train stations (yet) near the hotel, so I came up with an alternative plan. Catch a double decker bus somewhere, hope that there’s an MRT station somewhere along the way, then catch a train somewhere. Make it up as we go.

A double decker pulled up at the stop outside the hotel and we scored seats on the top deck right at the very front. Rain splattered against the front window but we were enjoying winding around the residential and industrial areas as school students piled in.

B called and asked us to meet her at Tanjong Pagar. Not knowing where we were going I asked her to wait.

Fortunately we soon arrived at Bedok Interchange, which lies on the direct line to Tanjong Pagar. I’d never been there before so we first had to try some food from the local food centre. What better than the first meal I’d even eaten in Singapore: satay! The pork and chicken satay from the Jit Sing store were delicious.

The chicken and egg buns from a different stall were yeasty and didn’t take Alex’s favour.

We stood all the way to Tanjong Pagar on the MRT. Nice views of the local area until the line went underground.

When we emerged at Tanjong Pagar I was shocked by how much the area had changed in a year. A new underground shopping centre and hotel adjacent to the station confused me, but we found our way out.

After meeting B and her mum and friend at their hotel we had to reverse our path and head back along the same line to Eunos.

The rain was bucketing down and thunder crashed as we stepped out of the station. There was no way we were walking to the planned restaurant in that, so we hid at a food court until the cloud passed. Ice kacang and roti prata a pre-dinner snack.

With clear skies we walked the kilometre to the Eng Seng restaurant, only to find it closed on Wednesday. So we continued up Joo Chiat Terrace along the old shophouses, many converted to residences, lovely in the evening light.

We had been to Kim’s Place, a seafood restaurant, in 2010. Then it was across the road in an open sided building, giving it a real tropical atmosphere. But now it was just another indoor Chinese restaurant. The crab was too expensive, so I ate hokkien noodles, while the others also ate razor clams and shark fin soup.

Then we farewelled the others and the three of us started the long walk back to our hotel.

Joo Chiat street was familiar to us, one of my favourite haunts in Singapore since I first stayed at the Tristar Hotel in 2009. I love the colourful old shophouses that line the road, covered walkways sheltering pedestrains from the sun.

Too many of the shops are now bars or trendy foreign eateries, but there are still a couple of kopitiams, open food courts serving meals and drinks (kopi = coffee, though not the trendy stuff).

Alex just wanted to return to the hotel, B wanted to shop and I didn’t know what I wanted. We crossed over to Marine Parade, colourfully lit up with Chinese New Year lanterns and lights. We walked up to the Popular bookstore, but Alex faked toilet urgency to drive us back. Still, it was worth it just for the lights.

We attempted to play Monopoly, but weariness drove us to an early sleep. Late for Australia. The joy of time zones!

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