Well we survived day 2 in Singapore, and have a little bit of sun on our skin to prove it! We got up nice and early after sleeping for 10 hours. Even Derren got up at 7am (and for those of you who know Derren, this is unheard of.) But keep in mind that our schedules are still all wacky - I think I'm already starting to get used to the new schedule. After we got up we went to the hotel's gym and had a short workout. Then, when we came back to the hotel I got to talk to mom & Amber (and Molly!) on skype - it was 5pm for them. Then I had a slight disaster, which was not a good start to the morning. I have a brand new $90 hair straightener that my mom got me as a gift, and I brought it to help my new haircut. I even went to Fry's before I left Roseville to buy a voltage converter since in Southeast Asia they have 220 volt outlets, and our appliances in the US are designed for 110 volts (which I confirmed in the user manual of my new straightener). So this morning I plugged in my plug converter (they also have different plugs than we do in the US, so you have to use a converter to plug all of our stuff in). Then I plugged the voltage converter into the plug converter. Then I plugged my new straightener in (which I have only used once since its so new!) I walked into the bathroom, and then Derren started yelling at me that my straightener was smoking and if that was normal. I ran in and immediately unplugged it, and realized that clearly something had gone wrong. For those of you who don't know, this is NOT what its supposed to look like:
So that was kind of crappy, and my hair did not get straightened (which ended up being fine because I put it up quickly after going out because it's SO hot and muggy!) With a frown on my face, we headed to the Easter brunch buffet breakfast at the hotel (yes, it was free. THANK you platinum status!) My frown quickly turned into a smile with the spread of all the delicious food! I strayed away from the waffles and pancakes and ended up with this mix of tasty food - fruit, muffin, roll, eggs, and museli (plus a small bowl of frosted flakes - I couldn't resist the cereal!!!)
Derren on the other hand, didn't eat anything that would resemble normal breakfast food. He had Indian curry, vegetable fried rice, otak otak (the green thing;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otak-otak), fish ball noodle soup, some Indian donut thing, a piece of dim sum (siu mai), and a grilled tomato.
Then, as I went back for cereal, he went back for this (nasi lemak and another piece of otak otak):
After breakfast, we went back to our room to plan exactly where we wanted to go for the day. We knew we wanted to go to Chinatown, but Derren had to do some serious research to find where the best places to eat were. After he made his list, and we got directions and a map together, we headed out. It was a little bit cooler in the morning, but still VERY warm and muggy. We decided to walk to the 2.5km (about 1.5 miles) since it wasn't as hot (don't worry, we were still sweaty). Here's a pic of Derren walking with some cool trees in the background.
With the close assistance of a map (I am so used to having my GPS on my phone...I haven't relied on a real map in a while!), we found Chinatown! One of the first things we encountered was one of MANY food centers where they have aisle after aisle of hawkers (here's how wikipedia describes hawker centers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_centre). Check out this video I took of the first one we walked through:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCN7LesA8Sg
And where you have food centers, you have pets hanging out (or at least, what I would call a "pet"):
We continued to walk and realized that we hadn't even begun to see the real Chinatown. Here's a video of walking through one of the sidestreets. Just like any other Chinatown, there is just stores and junk and people and food everywhere!!! There are TONS more streets that look just like this in Singapore's Chinatown.
Then we found the place that Derren had determined was our real food destination - The Chinatown Complex.
And let me tell you, this was the epitome of Chinatown in one building. The first floor was all markets:
And my dad would appreciate how different the American food standards are compared to the ones I saw in these markets. In addition to these old men who are scantily clad (note that in the second pic, that man does not have a shirt on), I also saw a couple guys smoking while handling raw fish. Awesome.
The second floor was full of shops (lots of clothes, shoes, junk, electronics, etc.) And the third floor was where the money was - THE FOOD! Aisles and aisles and aisles of hawkers. Derren was just drooling over all the food, and he was having trouble deciding when he saw a long line wrapped around a corner. Without even seeing what people were waiting for, he decided that THAT was where he was going to eat. It must be good, right? The line was for a place that specializes in Hong Kong Chicken rice.
We waited for about 30 minutes, and this is what he got - it was delicious (according to him) and only $1.60.
I found another hawker nearby that specializes in a local favorite - yam cakes ($1.10). This was a quite yummy dish - squishy consistency with a sweet hoisin like sauce on top.
We also both enjoyed some cold beverages - you can imagine that with the sweltering weather and all of this hot food cooking in a small area (a covered area!), that it was very warm in this hawker center. Derren had some fresh squeezed sugar cane juice ($1.20), and I had a "mango milkshake" which was mango blended with ice plus condensed milk ($1.60). YUMMY!
We then continued to walk through the streets of Chinatown, and found a temple to wander through. I had to have a shawl wrapped around me before going in because they don't allow bare shoulders or miniskits/short shorts. Here is me in front of the temple, and a picture from inside the temple:
Then we found another hawker center called Maxwell Food Center, but most of the places in here were actually closed (it was Easter Sunday after all).
We were disappointed with this food center, but certainly not ready to leave Chinatown without trying a few more things. Derren had another local favorite called popiah ($1.30;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popiah).
And I had something else that is famous to eat in Singapore, fried carrot cakes, which I only learned much later that there's no actual carrot in them! ($2.40;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chai_tow_kway). They have white or black (apparently the black is sweeter, so of course I picked that one). This was VERY delicious. And I followed it up with another cold drink - a papaya milkshake ($0.80; ice + papaya + condensed milk).
We then headed to the MRT to take the subway back to our hotel (there was no way we were walking all the way back in the heat!) Again, we got back in time for high noon tea, so we headed to the executive lounge and had some diet coke and a TINY snack. (P.s. They don't have diet coke. It's called Coke Light). Then we just sat around our hotel room planning Singapore Day #3 (and working on the blog!) until it was time to meet Derren's cousin Benjamin at 6pm. However, at 6pm, it was not only Benjamin who showed up to pick us up, but Derren's aunt as well. They picked us up from the hotel in her BMW and told us that we were going to Derren's other cousin's wife's father's wake. Confusing, I know. So instead of heading right to dinner, we went to the other side of Singapore to where the public housing is, and gave our respects to a man that Derren and I have never met. We sat and chatted with the family for a while, and then found a VERY popular hawker area nearby. Since this is in the vicinity of public housing, it was definitely packed full of local people (aka. no white people)...except me.
But as expected, the food was delicious. This is a curry dish with an entire fish in it:
And a sweet and sour pork dish:
And my food - a bean curd and vegetable dish. All served with rice. And Derren and I drink soy bean milk (out of a can) to go with the meal.
Here is a picture of Derren and I and his two cousins - Benjamin and Raymond, both of whom live in Singapore.
His aunt then dropped us back off near the hotel, and we wandered around for a little while searching for some kind of dessert. There was nothing really nearby so we headed back to the hotel for some more perks. We went into the executive lounge for some small cookies, and then headed down to the lobby where we had a coupon for a "welcome drink." So we had a cocktail with some "chips" (they were basically like crunchy french fries...delicious!) for free. After this, it was time to head back to the room and get ready for another fun day in Singapore tomorrow! Until then!
Oh, and this one is for you Amber - I knew you'd love it. This was one of the stalls next to the place we ate dinner. :)
Ashley & Derren