Rose-Tinted Goggles (Singapore Day 3)

Saturday, May 28 2022 (Day 3)

Saturday thematically started off the same way as Friday — I met another resident of the house just before leaving the house on my great excursion of the day. This time it was a lady named Ranti. Her husband works in Singapore and lived here long-term in the house, but they’re Malaysians and she comes down for a visit every now and again to see him. She was currently in the throes of one of those visits, and was staying for a week with her husband. She was chatting with Kim, the maid, when I ran into them, and I noted that they seemed to know each other well, so she certainly had been here before (and our subsequent conversation confirmed this).

Kim also showed me where the washing machine was and how to do laundry when I inquired about that — the washing machine was out back through the kitchen and behind the house, and both the kitchen and that laundry area out back were ‘semi-outdoors”, which I thought was interesting. The two areas were walled up and had a roof over top to prevent rain or sun from encroaching, but the walls did not reach the ceiling, at least in the back area, and it left a gap for wind (and heat) to waft through. All that meant that, like in most Singapore households, they didn’t actually use a dryer, but instead there were bamboo poles (tek-ko’s) there in the back area where I could hang my clothes after they came out of the washer, and they’d be dry in an hour or two. She asked if I needed to do laundry right away. I said nope, later on in the week! (Spoiler: Day 5 was when I did my first load).

My main event on Saturday didn’t come with a ton of pictures, as it was to meet Huihan and Debbie for lunch at Hong Lim Food Centre, and we were busy catching up. I passed a wet market and a couple buildings overflowing with greenery on my way to meeting them though, and those pictures are squirreled away here.

Lunch

Huihan and Debbie were the first of my former classmates that I met on this trip, and we met up after some hilarity  to do with initially being unable to locate each other. Debbie even brought her little kid, Beano, along. She was nearly three years old! And was really well-behaved.

We decided to sample a couple of the most popular dishes from this hawker centre, and we did so by splitting the queue times between us — I went for a long queue that was gatekeeping a famous store called Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee and came away with a bowl of their titular Fried Char Kway Teow for $4.50. Huihan went for a store named Ji Ji Noodle House and came away with Char Siew Wonton Noodles and Ipoh Hor Fun, while Debbie guarded the table with her kid before later going to grab some drinks from a drink stall for everyone, She got me ABC Juice, whose letters apparently stood for Apple, Beetroot, and Carrot Juice.

That queue was something else. I noted wryly that one of the stall helpers went down the queue to take orders (and payment) from people in the queue, probably partially so that they could batch process the food faster, but also to lock people in so they wouldn’t give up halfway through queueing up and go elsewhere instead! The food was delicious though, especially that char kway teow, though it is conceivable that waiting through the queue had a psychological effect on its taste. It seemed well worth the wait though

We rotated bowls as we chatted and ate, spending a good 45 minutes or so catching up and talking about our life situations, our jobs, future plans, and general gossip about people that weren’t there. I was always a bit nervous that I wouldn’t fit in well with them or something, but they were friendly and open and dispelled any such notions really quickly. The presence of Beano also helped significantly, as we could all coo at her whenever there was a lull in the conversation (and often even when there wasn’t!)

After our meal was done, Huihan and Debbie started talking about a nearby Chinese snack place that they wanted to bring me to. They looked the place up and demanded I follow, I had no choice but to comply.

They ordered Dried Beancurd with Gingko and Barley (warm), Cheng Tng (cool), and Black Glutinous Rice (cool) for us to share, together with some Mango Pudding for Beano. It turns out I had eaten all these snacks before, a long time ago, but had long forgotten about their existence, never mind picking them out of a menu. I’d have never come into a shop like this myself, even on an exploratory food trip, so I appreciated this side trek, as the Chinese desserts we picked (and that they paid my share for) were all great!

After that, Debbie had to go (I found out later that she had a workshop thing she was leading that evening for an art exhibition that she was part of), but not before everyone including Beano got to pat Tigey, and we took a commemorative picture, with Huihan on the left and Debbie on the right:

Huihan still had some time to kill before she left, so we walked around the Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar area, heading for the nearest MRT station as we chatted for a little bit longer and gawked at odd landscape features along the way.

We parted ways at the Tanjong Pagar MRT Station, and I went south alone from there.

I cut through a series of odd, nearly deserted underground walkways that linked up buildings that couldn’t decide if they were trying to be residences, hotels, or malls. It was very weird but very peaceful walking through that area, though the passages were very.. sterilized. I eventually ascended to the surface via some escalator or other, and accidentally ended up at the Marina Bay Waterfront area, just a little west of The Promontory. I was headed in the general direction of the Merlion, so I would have ended up in the Waterfront area anyway, but the underground passages didn’t quite go that far, I think. Anyway, this was the first time I was seeing the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel, and I sat my weary bones down on a bench there and played tourist for a bit, snapping a few pictures of Tigey trying to assert his dominance over the hotel.

He wanted to balance the boat on his head and maybe threaten the hotel’s very existence like a kaiju. Very cute, Tigey, very cute. I’m sure you’re the first plushie to want to do this. At least you can’t possibly want to do the same at the Merlion, -everyone- does those poses and I knew you have more dignity than that… oh.

People were giving me strange looks. I had never actually been to visit and see the Merlion in person (that I could recall, anyway) despite living here for 14 years, so it was nice to check that off the list. I circled the waterfront to the north, recognizing the area quite well even though I had never been here before — there was a 3D virtual lantern festival tour in 2021 that showcased the area, and I had spent quite a bit of time exploring the area. This location below was roughly the start of that tour.

And here are some miscellanous pictures from the Waterfront and beyond as I winded my way toward dinner.

Dinner

Suntec City was made up of five tall office buildings or so connected to each other haphazardly, and there was a mall area that stretched across four wings at its base too. It was so huge (and the terminology and signage and pathing so poorly done) that I kept on getting turned around and ending back up at the same place again when I was trying to get from one tower to another. While wandering, though, I came across an interesting-looking store and decided to have dinner there:

Yong Xing Teochew Porridge’s pricing was a bit confusing at first, at least since I’d never been there, but it was $1 for plain rice or porridge, $1.10 per vegetable side dish, and $2.20 per meat side dish, with a minimum purchase of $4.30. I wasn’t sure quite how to order so I watched a man order a bunch of things for his family (who were all seated expectantly at a table) before I was confident enough to place my order.

I don’t know the names of the things I picked out in the end, especially the middle one, but they were all good and complemented the tasteless porridge well with their own blend of flavours, particularly the curry vegetables on the left and the green beans on the right. I quite enjoyed this meal,¬† and the only thing I would have changed is maybe to order a double helping of porridge (or rice) and another one or two side dishes, since they were so cheap. This meal cost me $4.30, plus another $1.50 for the glass of calamansi juice, which apparently is some sort of citrus from the Philippines. The calamansi juice tasted a bit too strong and i didn’t really like it.

While wandering through Suntec City Mall after dinner, I found a shop selling anime, manga, and game figurines and badges, so I spent some time in there as well. Nothing really caught my eye though, with the exception of a little umbrella that I bought and brought home for Tigey and co.

I’m not actually sure what the original intended purpose of the miniature umbrella was, but it’s been repurposed now. Anyway, after the purchase, I finally found an exit from the labyrinth and wandered through several other malls on my way to the train station and then back home. Days like this are why I decided not to get the tourist pass in the end — I walk so much that despite being out for over 9 hours I spent less than $4 on MRT train fees.

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