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Blog // Travel
May 11, 2011

Singapore Impressions

Just spent a wonderful few days in Singapore. My last stay in Singapore was close to a decade ago and that was a forced 24 hour layover after our plane broke down en route from Sydney to London. It was time to explore Hong Kong’s sibling rival. There are a lot of cliches about Singapore; […]

Satay Stalls At Lau Pa Sa

Just spent a wonderful few days in Singapore. My last stay in Singapore was close to a decade ago and that was a forced 24 hour layover after our plane broke down en route from Sydney to London. It was time to explore Hong Kong’s sibling rival.

There are a lot of cliches about Singapore; clean, sterile, conservative, boring. As far as cliches go, that may have been true, or half true once. But, what I’ve been hearing about Singapore for the last few years has made me wonder if the cliche is out of date.

And, based on what I saw on my short visit, anyone who still sprouts that cliche today simply doesn’t know what they are talking about.

What I experienced was a vibrant, modern, diverse, cosmopolitan and friendly city. Sure, there are plenty of malls, too much air-conditioning and that notorious cleanliness (actually, I don’t get how clean is a negative attribute!). But, there’s also Little India, the Hawker Food Centres and Clarke Quay.

Those of you familiar with Singapore might find that list a little odd – there’s plenty more the city has to offer. But, for me, coming from Hong Kong, these were a slam dunk trifecta of what Singapore has to offer me.

Little India is, as the name suggests, a little slice of the subcontinent in downtown Singapore. Parcelled off at colonial settlement, the area is not some tourist side-show, but a living community of shops and a restaurants. We ate at two simple street-side al fresco restaurants and had some of the best, most flavoursome Indian food I’ve had outside India (including some wonderful Dosai and fantastic Gulab Jamun).

In fact awesome casual dining was a constant feature of the four days. Singapore is renowned for its open air Hawker Centres, which provide fresh, safe street food at affordable prices. I expected the food to be good, but was pleasantly surprised at how culturally diverse it was. The Satay at Lau Pa Sat market was magnificently succulent and full flavoured.

On the last night I finally made it to Clarke Quay. I was a little skeptical, expecting something awful and sterile, like Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong. Yes, Clarke Quay is a bit fake and generic. But, it is also kind of amazing. The first thing that hits you is the number of bars and restaurants that are set up for live music. I’m not talking about the odd tiny stage for karaoke, or a dodgy covers band. These venues have proper stages, good sound and bill bands playing real music. I’m really looking forward to revisiting the district in a few weeks when MusicMatters host their band showcase there.

Cliches be dammed, Singapore is a fun, vibrant city. I’ve been jealously watching the live acts that skip past Hong Kong on their way to Singapore for some time now and I can see why my more well travelled (and cosmopolitan) friends have been suggesting that I visit the city.

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