If I were to write down what we did in Singapore, where we went and what should be done – would you all be really interested? You can get all information regarding flight tickets, hotel deals, things to do and see in Singapore over the internet. Plus you can just pick up the printed fliers on Singapore while peeping into a travel agency. Then what is the USP (Unique Selling Point) of this blog? Well, there’s no USP simply because I’m not selling anything. I’m just writing about travelling and food which inspires. And putting across visuals which stimulate our senses. Because when one travels with kids, one probably enjoys the moments in retrospect. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. Travelling in retrospect!
We were living with one of our closest pals who have twins (one son and one daughter). Thus, adding to our headcount of 2 more kids. So most of the times all of us – that is 4 adults and 4 kids were travelling all squeezed and packed in their car which was probably meant to seat 5 people. Couldn’t we have taken a cab? No, absolutely not. Wouldn’t that have spoilt the entire fun? Specially since we had enough expertise to squeeze into a single car – after all, going out with friends in my growing up years in Kolkata was symbolised by atleast 8 friends in 1 Ambassador car.*
Our days were essentially spent doing everything that Singapore offers to kids – Universal Studios, Jurong Bird Park and Singapore Zoo – not all of them in one day though mentally the kids were up-to it! 2 more days were spent visiting Chinatown (which will require another post by itself!) And whatever could be seen in between EATING. Eating at the Hawkers’ stall, eating in restaurants, eating at my exceptionally good cook of a friend’s kitchen, eating at every little food kiosk that displayed GOOD FOOD! And GOOD FOOD you will definitely find in every nook and cranny, every major street, every alley, every little room available on the ground floor of a house – just about everywhere. Singapore is a big huge kitchen really – where multi-cuisine, multi-national chefs are cooking and people eating – non-stop! If you still haven’t got a hang of what FOOD means in Singapore then I insist that you stop reading this post and read my previous post first – Where Eating Out Is A National Pastime – Singapore.
If Singapore@Day-time was meant for kids then you would automatically assume that Singapore@Night-time was meant for adults. Well, not really. Because by the time we had laboured and serviced our kids during the day in places like Universal Studios or the Singapore Zoo or the Jurong Bird Park [The Universal Studios average 20 hectares (49 acres); The Jurong Park averages 24 hectares (59 acres); The Singapore Zoo averages 28-hectares (74 acres) of land] – we felt like we had just finished trekking up the Mt Everest!
So, we (which now meant ALL OF US MINUS THE KIDS) just slow-walked (or was it moon-walked?) when the lamps lit up the streets. We walked mainly along the Orchard Road. Orchard Road is a 2.2 kilometre-long street and is officially designated as the retail and entertainment hub of Singapore. With the best shopping malls located here, I wondered why was it so peculiarly named. Later, internet-studying revealed that Orchard Road had derived its name from the nutmeg, pepper and fruit orchards and the plantations that the road led to in the mid-1800s. Commercial development only began in the twentieth century and the place took off in the 1970s. So now the ‘fruits’ of such commercialisation were the popular shopping malls like the ION Orchard, Tanglin Mall, Paragon and others. If such are it’s fruits, may the road be continued to be called the Orchard Road!
I had also read that just off the Orchard Road, the Scotts Shopping Centre on Scotts Road housed Singapore’s first food court. It sat below the Ascott Singapore. It was torn down in June 2007 to make way for a new building. Well, I just hope that Singapore’s first food court must have seen a lot of teething problems. I mean I’m just trying to reassure myself that I haven’t missed any BETTER FOOD!
Orchard Road is flanked by pedestrian malls, upmarket restaurants, coffee chains, cafés, nightclubs and hotels. But what caught our attention was this -
Snoopy, Charlie, Lucy and Snoopy of the comic strip Peanuts lurking in a cute looking cozy café – the Charlie Brown Café! Walking through the Discovery Walk at 313 Somerset, just off the Orchard Road we suddenly found this café. This is the first Peanuts Comic Strip themed café in South East Asia and the walls and the glass facade are adorned with comic strips and sells Peanuts characters sculptures and other collector’s items. Many of us must have grown up reading Charlie Brown – the born loser but absolutely determined to succeed.
And wouldn’t you want to hear the names of their signature crepes? Ahh - Charlie’s Peanuts, Snoopy’s Chocolate, Woodstock’s Cherry, Sally’s Apple, Lucy’s Strawberry! These Peanut characters also sneak into a few more of their signature dishes – Charlie’s Brown Chicken Rice, Snoopy’s Lava Cake!
And then there is the Orchard Central. The front exterior of this mall features local artist, Mathew Ngui’s eye-catching digital art membrane. The mall also houses the world’s tallest indoor Via Ferrata climbing wall, the largest collection of public art installations by international artists commissioned by any commercial development worth over $9 million! Not everyone may be able to earn $9 million in a minute but definitely everyone can view this Art Trail worth $9 million in a minute – Just click here!
The Urban Soul
What’s makes Singapore so different from Dubai, another modern city and my current home?
The 2 cities have similar Urban Soul in the following points -
- Similar retail options with global fashion labels – Zara, New Look, Esprit, Forever 21 etc and high-end brands – Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Hermès, Loewe, Bvlgari, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier and Patek Philip and more
- Both are gaining notorierity as the world’s best shopping centres, having the best shopping malls
- If Orchard Central has the world’s largest Via ferrata climbing wall, the Dubai has the world’s largest shopping mall – Dubai Mall, the tallest building – the Burj Khalifa with the tallest dancing water fountains!
- If you thought that it’s only in Dubai that construction takes place at night, then you will be surprised that the same holds in Singapore – at 12:00am we saw construction workers queuing up waiting for their bus to take them to their labour camps – but all stones are hurled only at Dubai!
However, the difference lies in the following -
Singapore seemed like a ‘real’ city even though it has it’s share of tall modern buildings and artificial structures. However, the natural foliage and greenery seems to engulf these buildings. People seem to be everywhere – walking on the streets, walking their pets, lining up at the underground subway, queuing up at Bus-stops. And there seemed to be FOODIES all around. I think this was the major difference!
The following pictures pictorially represents the path that we walked -
The day we walked along Clarke Quay…
This is a historical riverside quay in Singapore, located within the Singapore River Planning Area. Five blocks of restored warehouses house various restaurants, concept bars* and nightclubs. This time the kids were there. Hence no nightclubs, no club-hopping – simple family outing, eating in a good restaurant and running after the 4 kids so that they don’t tumble over the railings onto the water!We also took a breath-taking river-cruise as we perched ourselves on a boat which is actually called a BUMBOAT! Bumboats were in use from the 1600s in Europe, when these were scavengers’ boats, primarily dirt and waste carriers, but these vessels also ferried fresh and provisioned foodstuffs to and from ships off-shore. These lighters were vital to the movements of commercial activity on the Singapore River for more than a hundred and fifty years. Today, they are being used taking tourists for river-cruises amidst narration of the history of the city. And yes, the views of the Singapore Central Business District as this Bumboat reaches the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is absolutely breathtaking!Images: IshitaPhotoIdeas
* Concept Bars – As a creative person though I should be welcoming these ‘concept’s but well, maybe I’m not creative enough to appreciate such morose and repulsive concepts (Pardon me if your views don’t match mine). For example, a bar called Clinic. Clinic’s unique alfresco is easily identified by its hospital whites, colourful pills, syringes, drips, test-tubes! So you sit on sofas designed as hospital beds and sip your drink through hospital drips. May be a funky point of looking at life, but an absolute No-No for me!
The day we trekked all across the Universal Studios, we re-visited our college nostalgia and we met up with two of our college pals with their respective spouses. We ended up chatting as if not a single day has passed between the Graduation Day and that day. Well, not for a second did we feel that we were meeting after so many years. Only probable difference was that now all of us were checking up our mobile phones every now and then to ensure that there were no ‘emergency calls’ from home lest the kids had woken up! It all happened at Newton Food Centre where once again FOOD became the prime protagonist of the evening.
We ate together some awesome food – the description of which I have already written in my previous post - Where Eating Out Is A National Pastime – Singapore.
If such a good-time spent with college pals didn’t push our adrenaline high and make us feel young, then what else will? Hopefully senility hasn’t yet set in!
Unblogging it all… Ishita