it was hard to believe, but our SE Asia adventure was coming to a close. We were flying back home via the direct flight from Singapore to Newark, so we were able to spend a little more time exploring Singapore before we headed back to the States.
We had an early morning flight from Bangkok to Singapore on Singapore Air. It really is such a nice airline.
The view coming in to Singapore was quite stunning.
We landed, picked up our bags, and headed to the Shangri- La (http://www.shangri-la.com/singapore/shangrila/) . Our first choice had been Raffles, but they have yet to re-open due to an extensive renovation. The Shangri-La is has been around for a long time, and bills itself as a real resort within the City. There were many families staying there availing themselves of the pool and outdoor amenities.
We were literally staying just 36 hours, as our flight home was midnight the following day. For some reason it looked to me like a Hotel where the Brady Bunch would have stayed had they traveled to Singapore as a family.
Our first order of business after checking in was to locate our guide. We had hired a guide for the day to take do a Hawker Stall Highlight Tour. Our first night in Singapore we winged it, but on our last day we decided to go with a pro.
I am not sure if our guide realized it right away, but we were all starving, some verging on HANGRY. She was intent on a bit of a history lesson, but all my boys wanted to do was eat. We compromised and stopped at a local bakery to get some snacks, and then a Tea Shop to have some tea and nibbles while she gave us an overview of the influences on Singaporean cuisine.
This was a very traditional cake shop whose treats were not too sweet, but tasty nonetheless. There was a very good savory snack with pepper and dried shrimp that proved to be a favorite.
Teh Tarik is literally “pulled tea” which is poured between two vessels to create a frothy head. It is generally a milk tea, which we all enjoyed cold.
After a little history lesson we continued on to a Hawker Center which was crowded with late afternoon diners.
The Fried Beef Hor Fun from Poh Kee Kitchen was delicious. You can see our guide on the right hand side. She would order the signature dish from each stand and then go back and collect them for us.
We had to try the Hainanese Chicken from Tong Fong Fatt. There are several stalls around the city and their reputation is that they are one of the best.
The steamed chicken is very soft and mild, but the rice was outstanding. it was the highlight of the dish.
We had a tofu dish with a delicious sauce from Mom’s kitchen The black plate and cutlery signal when an establishment is Halal. You are expected not to mix Halal and non -Halal dishes and cutlery.
We tried some seafood soup, which isn’t the easiest thing to share. It was good, not outstanding.
Finally we got an order of pork dumplings.
They were very good!
Our guide explained that this had been the warm up round. Now it was time to head to Lau Pa Sat, a large well established Hawker Center in the middle of the city.
Lau Pa Sat was originally built in the 19th Century, and is currently the most upscale Hawker Center in the City. The interior is quite striking. The prices here were higher, and there were more tourists than the other two we visited.
We had to try some lacquered BBQ pork (good)
We wished the skin was crunchier.
This may have been the best thing we ate (in my opinion) Thunder Tea Rice- green vegetable soup served atop a mound of rice, vegetables, peanuts, and lots of crunchy dried anchovies.
The final product, waiting to be mixed. I could eat this every day.
There was a seafood noodle dish from Seng Kee that our guide said we just had to try.
It was pretty bland, but I also think at that point we were overloaded!
We decided to end with something sweet. Sticky rice, shaved ice, coconut milk and confections. Again, this had my name all over it. The rest of the guys were done!
We said thank you and farewell to our guide, and headed back to the Shangri-La. Here is where our story takes a bit of a sad turn. While all five of us had been plagued with stomach issues throughout the entire trip (which we attribute to the anti-malaria medication Malarone) two of my boys became really sick after our Hawker adventure.
We cancelled our dinner plans (yes- believe it or not we were going to attempt to go out to dinner after all that eating) and I sat with my two younger guys while they were sick through the night. I’m not quite sure what to attribute it to, but it was not the way we wanted to end our trip.
In the morning they were a little better, but they were exhausted. I decided to stay with them, and sent my husband and our oldest son to explore the Marina Bay Sands (www.marinabaysands.com ) Complex. They were very impressed, particularly with the gardens both inside and out. They went up to the top to have a drink and see the view, and then checked out the tremendous luxury mall. The Marina Bay Sands recently had a supporting role in Crazy Rich Asians, and is someplace you should definitely visit. I was happy with the photos they were sending me.
With the two younger ones on the mend, but in no mood to venture out, I decided to meet the other guys for lunch. They were craving Western Food- specifically Bacon Cheeseburgers. They googled the best Burger in Singapore and came up with Huber’s Butchery (www.hubers.com.sg ). Huber’s is indeed an actual Butcher Shop, but they have a restaurant just next door.
Here’s to a successful trip!
Following our burgers, we walked around a bit more and then returned to the Shangri-La to prepare for our trip home. Thankfully the two younger guys seemed to be in much better states- not sure an 18 hour flight would be at the top of their list, but they were anxious to get back home.
We had a midnight flight, so we headed to the airport at about 9 pm. Luckily it was a smooth trip home
Looking back on the trip there are a few things that stand out- the “World’s Longest Flight” was not a hardship. Singapore Air is an excellent carrier, and the direct flight takes away the unpredictability of a flight change.
Cambodia is a spectacular country- the people, the sights, the history are all stunning. The Shinta Mani hotels are excellent, as is AboutAsia in Siem Reap if you need guides/touring. I am thrilled we went, but I don’t think I need to return. The necessity of the anti-malaria medication put a damper on the trip. We are all pretty well convinced it was the root of most of our stomach trouble. We took our last doses in Singapore, and once we arrived home our tummy ills were done.
Thailand is amazing. The culture, the hospitality, the food, the elephants – all incredible. I could definitely see myself returning one day.
Singapore was a good gateway- and I would use it that way again, but not sure I need to go back to experience just the city.
As always, we were grateful to be back in the good old US of A!