Of The Merlion and the Bao and the Tom Yum Fish Soup

A photo journal of my trip to Singapore

The entire of last week found us traveling to Singapore (a Southeast Asian island country), walking, visiting places, taking a lot of photos and being happy tourists. While the kid was immensely happy to see the warm and bright Changi Airport, he also made it a point to let me know that taking a flight to a different country was totally unnecessary and we could have walked instead especially since his school doesn’t reopen until June.

I told him we’ll try that next time.

While the island-country of Singapore is not rich in natural resources, we could not help but remain awed at the man-made life made easy and attractive by the seamless transport system, the safety-first attitude, and the sense of harmony among the different cultures living there.

Let’s go around the place through my photos, shall we?

Though snazzy high-rises define the skyline, the city has its own share of contrasts. In some places, you really have to stretch to see a slice of the sky from among buildings trying to outgrow one another as in the photo below:

In some other places, you get a good view of the endless blue, as in the next photo:

Buses and trains were our primary modes of transport with an equal measure of happy walking thrown in. Cabs were good too.

I must tell you that you can never get to look at any commuter directly in the eye. Not in a bus, not in a train, not in Singapore. They are always glued to their phones. I can’t explain the ways in which they have trained their bodies to walk into a train without looking up, stand in a corner thumbs scrolling endlessly, and walk out at their stop with the same mechanical ease with which they entered the subway. Impressive.

A few tourist attractions now:

The Merlion is the mascot of the island-country. It has the body of a fish and the head of a lion along with water pumps in its tummy to spout out water constantly. No, the water pumps are not visible. Thanks for not asking.

This photo shows the traumatic thrill of rollercoaster riders at Universal Studios. With their legs pointing at the sky, I am sure they were waiting for the moment to end.

This is a night shot of the entire city from the Skypark Observatory Deck which is on the 56th floor of the Marina Bay Hotel.

The beautiful Singapore Flyer. We hopped on in it one night and got a beautiful view of the city.

A trip to Singapore is never complete without a visit to the Zoo. The animal shows at the zoo are not to be missed especially that of Philip, the loving flapping sea lion:

Photo:Author

However, the species that made me curious was the Hamadryas Baboon of Ethiopia. These baboons have a specially patriachal social setup which demands human attention but I have no way to intervene.

It is a practical fact that every beautiful city has its own Chinatown, and Singapore is no exception. The bustling streets of Chinatown are a riot of colors, food, tourists, and quirky things.

Here is a look at the Chinatown food street.

If you notice, you will see closed windows above most of the shops in Chinatown; closed windows in these brightly colored buildings. It was surprising to know that while the lower floors sold a mean ‘Nasi Lemak’ or a ‘Bee Hoon’ (thin noodles), the upper floor housed a hostel, or even a Poets’ society as in the two photos below!

Walking around Chinatown, these are what I saw:

A famous and old coffee house.

And a set of beautifully cute Chinese teapot with tea bowls and tea cups. I mistook them for toys but I went through a revelation when I saw that the storekeeper was serious about selling them.

In fact, she was nice to brew me some Oolong tea and offered me to drink in one of her tiny tea bowls:

Freshly brewed Oolong in a tiny Chinese tea bowl. Photo:Author.

I noticed quirky food items being sold:

More varieties of tiny Chinese teabowls:

Colorful Chinese lamps lending their own charm to the place:

Now, time for some food. I tried new foods and found the Hawker’s Markets the hotspots to try what the locals eat. There are snazzy places too which we tried, but nothing beats eating what a different culture eats as a staple.
Some of what I ate deserve mention here:

What you see on this yellow plate is the ubiquitous Nasi Goreng (spiced stir fried rice) served with a dollop of ketchup on a cucumber. I had no idea why they spoiled the look of the Goreng with the ketchup. Nevermind. Lets move on. I ate it anyway.

And Char Koay Teow noodles:

And the Lotus Paste Baos:

And some more angelic-looking baos:

And the famous Singaporean chilli crab:

And the Hainanese Chicken Rice meal:

And the Teh (tea):

And I also ate some flowers at the Flower Dome gardens:

Ahem, no. I actually let the flowers alone.

Finally, meet the non-smiling but warm Cheng Wen at the tea counter who explained the difference between the Teh, and the Teh-o, and the Teh-c. She finally laughed when I asked her name and gladly wrote it down on a piece of paper. I told her I’d be putting up her photo online, and she waved and said ‘Yeah yeah, put me up there.’

That’s it. I have a ton more photos that I’d love to put up, but I need my readers to be able to reach till the end of this post at least in 7 minutes. Hope you enjoyed the pics as much as I enjoyed my trip!

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Author of ‘Yes, The Eggplant is A Chicken’ https://amzn.to/2Iym2ok Humorist, Satirist, Mom, Ex-Googler. Write to me at s.sravani@gmail.com

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