Singapore - Hit the Ground Eating

Trip Start Aug 24, 2009
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Trip End Dec 15, 2010


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Where I stayed
Inn Crowd Hostel, Little India

Flag of Singapore  ,
Friday, October 15, 2010

I love Singapore.  It's clean, safe, runs like a Swiss watch...  and yet it's still very very Asian.  The result of a little neo-totalitarianism and social engineering that took Singapore from a malaria-ridden flop of an English colony to an incredibly diverse, cosmopolitan Asian melting pot in a matter of decades.  The best part?  The one thing that seems to bind the Chinese, Malays, Indians, Indonesians, etc. that call the place home is a love for great food.  It might be hard to agree with the politics, but it's pretty damn hard to argue with the results.  

We've spent 4 days here, always looking forward to our next meal.  Even during meals.  Fantastic Indian food and drink, curries from all over the continent, proper Chinese and Halal food, and the Singaporean staple, Chicken Rice.  We didn't come close to trying all of the things we wanted, partly because Little India was on our doorstep and it was tough to get out of the neighbourhood with an empty stomach.  We did our best.  I wish we'd taken more pictures. 

If we at home can learn anything from Singapore, it's Hawker Centers.  They're like food courts but not depressing and they don't cause type-2 diabetes.  Hundreds of food stalls, all competing against one another, each one of them serving up a delicious specialty from somewhere in Asia.  At peak hours, many of the stalls are lined up 40 deep with patrons who want only THAT version of a certain dish.  Sure, they could get Chicken Rice from somewhere else, probably within 100 meters of where they're standing in line.  But, for whatever reason, this stall is the one for them.  As an ignorant foreigner, the best thing to do is get yourself to the back of that line and have whatever the guy in front of you is having.  If you're lucky, he might even give you a few tips on how to properly eat whatever it is you've ordered.  The food is fresh and cheap.  And the Hawker Centers are diverse, with stalls selling specialties from each one of the island's many nationalities.  

Some one needs to make this happen back home.  Imagine, a food court that doesn't sell sweet and sour Chinese food, terrible coffee, greasy burgers and soggy pizza.   In their place, customers could have REAL Chinese food, dozens of different versions of poutine, a variety of things covered in maple syrup, pork goodies, local meats on sticks and bannock burgers.  I have serious doubts about whether this will ever come together.  Maybe in Quebec.  

We're leaving for Sumatra on Sunday, and taking off for southern India less than a month after that.  We have, somewhat impulsively, already booked a flight from Mumbai to Vancouver on December 10.  That means you only have to endure about a handful of these updates before I get home.  
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