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Friday, April 29, 2016

Singapore!

Day01...29-April-2016

We arrived in Singapore at around 6:00 AM this morning. A feel for the countries amazing hospitality was experienced while flying Singapore airlines. Additionally, may it be navigating inside the airport, immigration process or money exchange and buying a local SIM card, everything was extremely easy. As usual, I use my Debit card to withdraw some local currency in the country I visit. That works better. Almost all Tourist SIM cards are comparable. I bought a plan with Singtel. Starhub also has similar offers. 


We took a taxi to the Ibis hotel in Bencoolen, which is in the downtown. I picked this location over Little India and Chinatown for better connectivity and to avoid a concentrated community.  Ibis offers a midrange price if booked well in advance and for those who prefer quiet and central locations, this is an amazing place to stay. The taxi charges are relatively cheaper than any other developed countries. Tips are not expected in taxies or in restaurants. 

At the hotel, since we were 6 hours before our check in time, we were provided a hospitality room to relax and freshen up. We left our luggage at the hotel reception and stepped out to explore a nearby Hawker centre. Hawker centres are open-air complex that houses several stalls that serves variety of inexpensive food. 




There are a lot of options for non vegetarians but for me, like always, its an interesting adventure to explore the vegetarian side of any particular cuisine. Our first Singaporean dish was - Rice balls with Ginger soup.The rice balls had sesame paste filings. it was delicious. 


The old lady serving it was very kind and explained to us that everything she served was vegetarian friendly. I could not help comparing Singapore(SP) with Hong Kong(HK). People in SP are friendlier and almost everyone can speak English. I understand that this is more tourist centric country than HK. Also, the locals of SP are more interactive. 

At another pure vegetarian food stall, we tried rice and some vegetarian dishes. One of the dishes had an ingredient, that seemed suspicious. We asked the lady serving, if it was meat. She said that it was mutton. When we told her we could not eat it, she clarified that her foods were Vegetarian and halal friendly and they did not serve pork or chicken or any meat. Finally it was clear that she was referring to it as mushroom and not mutton. Noting that we did not like it she just picked that particular ingredient and threw it away. Anyways, the food was very tasty. The gravy had Indian or thai influence. Some soya milk and tea completed our brunch.


On our way back, we stopped at  this buddhist temple right behind our hotel called Kuan IM Thong Hood Cho Temple. This temple was very crowded and filled with the aroma of gradually burning incense sticks. There were a lot of fortune tellers outside the premises and many locals seemed curious to know their future. A few studied the devotees palms and others worked on a horoscope like sketches to predict. The site was a scaled down version of the temples we had seen in HK. 




We walked by the local markets and also the expensive malls around the area. Almost every shop in Bugis street seemed to serve the same items. Lots of identical souvenirs, women's clothing, fruits and vegetables. Occasionally we came across  some nice bakeries that served delicious looking baked items. The high-end malls had great collection of expensive brands but unlike the previous street markets we had visited  these malls had scarcity of customers.



The weather was humid and hot. However, a late afternoon shower made it cooler. We returned to our hotel, checked-in and took a nap to catchup with our lost sleep. We decided to explore Little India in the evening. 

Continued Here 

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