Kusu Island and Chinatown
Trip Start Dec 27, 2012
9Trip End Jan 07, 2013
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At the small restaurant upstairs I ordered nasi lemak and took a seat near the window
As I walked onto the pier, I couldn't help but laugh. I was worried about only having an hour, when it became clear the island would take approximately 15 minutes to walk from end to end. The legend of the island says a giant tortoise turned himself to stone here to save two sailors. The main attraction for my trip is a tortoise sanctuary maintained by the Sentosa Parks department, although two temples are also housed on the tiny island. Immediately to the left of the pier was the Chinese temple Da Bo Gong. I quickly walked through to make my way toward the tortoise sanctuary. As I looked at my camera screen to take a picture, I noticed something move in the background. Amazed, I looked up to see a wild monkey foraging for food beneath the palms
As it turned out, one of the aforementioned deck hands was actually employed to maintain the Malay temple. As I reached the temple breathless from running the 152 step vertical staircase, he greeted me. While we made our way out of the temple he gave me a private history lesson regarding the yearly pilgrimage to the temple, and even showed me a tortoise pond in the Chinese temple I had previously missed. I then headed for the docks in time to make the ferry back to Singapore.
I met Rufio in the executive lounge for wine and a light snack before venturing down to the famed Singapore Chinatown. I was lucky to have eaten the snack, because unfortunately weeknights in Chinatown are not nearly as active as the weekends, and as such many of the shopping and food stalls were closed this evening. This was no worry to us, because Rufio planned to introduce me to drunken prawns at a restaurant, which was open, where he first tasted the quirky dish
Drunken prawns are a dish made popular by Chinese immigrants to Singapore. The dish is traditionally prepared as sort of a dining experience for restaurant patrons, as chefs will bring live prawns to the table to roam freely as the dish is prepared. In the next steps the prawns are essentially drowned in a high proof alcohol before being tossed to cook in a broth on the table, providing some entertainment to the patrons as they become "drunk" on the table.
Not surprisingly, Western tourists began to complain about the preparation of the dish. Did a PETA consortium visit Singapore? Sometime between Rufio's visit two years prior and the night we arrived in Chinatown the dish had been essentially banned from all restaurants and food stalls in the area. Rufio even left me alone at the restaurant with my beer to scout the neighborhood, but upon return echoed the story the staff shared with us from other vendors. Then the ranting began. He was so enraged we paid for the beer and stomped out of the restaurant, all the while he basically decried Western civilization and our degeneration of cultural traditions across the globe. Something to that extent anyway, I was on a crusade to find a suitable dinner while he grumbled in the background. We walked around searching out food options, but nothing could appease Rufio's appetite for tortured prawns. Instead, we bought foot reflexology massages and retired to the hotel angry and hungry.