Showing the Londoners Around Singapore in One Long Day

Two batches of Londoners descended in Singapore over the last month. It was so great to see them, but it made me incredibly homesick for Old Blighty.

Where to bring foreign visitors in Singapore? How to give them a sense of what Singapore is like outside of the constructed tourist attractions?

Singapore as Financial Hub

We started from the Central Business District – the shiny skyscrapers full of hardworking office bees that made Singapore a “financial hub”.

Tour of Singapore: Starbuck matcha lattes at One Fullerton
Tour of Singapore: Starbuck matcha lattes at One Fullerton

Singapore as Tourist Hub

Then a visit to the amazing loos in Fullerton Bay Hotel or Fullerton Hotel to freshen up (a highlight of their trip said two of them), before sipping matcha lattes (“we don’t get this in London”) at Starbucks, One Fullerton, and catching up (and charging phones).

Then on to the necessary cheesy photos with the Merlion and the ArtScience Museum and Marina Bay Sands:

Tour of Singapore: cheesy photo pitstop with ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Merlion

Singapore as Juxtaposition Between Old and New

After, a stroll contrasting the colonial buildings and new modernist ones, munching ice-cream sandwiches from the S$1.20 ice-cream uncle: the Victoria Concert Hall and Victoria Theatre, the Old Parliament House and current Parliament House, the Old Supreme Court and current UFO Supreme Court (a trip to the top allows a good view of the city – but no photography allowed in the building), a peek into the unopened National Gallery.

Singapore as Multi-Racial and Multi-Religious Society (and “Foodie Hub”)

Then a rest stop at St. Andrew’s Cathedral with the sun coming through its lovely stained glass, throwing colours all over the pews:

Tour of Singapore
Tour of Singapore: stained glass colours, St. Andrew's Cathedral
Tour of Singapore: St. Andrew's CathedralThen to Maxwell Market for delicious chicken rice and other “hawker delights” like char kway teow and chai tow koey, and refreshing ABC (apple, beetroot, carrot) and carrot-orange juices, before popping over to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple:

Tour of Singapore: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Tour of Singapore: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Tour of Singapore: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Tour of Singapore: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

We’d wanted to check out Lepark at Pearl Bank Centre as an example of how old buildings were being repurposed by young indie folk. Alas, they were closed that day:
Tour of Singapore: Pearl Bank Centre

Ah, some nasi padang washed down with bandung and teh tarik and milo dinosaur at Kampong Glam, off Arab Street

Tour of Singapore: teh tarik at the sarabat stall in Kampong Glam
Tour of Singapore
Tour of Singapore

before being kitted out with appropriate wear for the Sultan Mosque:
Tour of Singapore
Tour of Singapore
The visitors loved how friendly everyone in the temple and mosque was – how they didn’t have to worry about appropriate wear beforehand, and how willing to answer their endless questions. “Can we take photos here?” they’d nervously asked the docent at the mosque. “Only if you post on facebook!” came the cheeky answer.

A gander down self-consciously hipster Haji Lane, then we stopped off at Raffles Hotel for another freshening up (without a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar this time):
Tour of Singapore
Tour of Singapore

Before heading to Ku De Ta atop Marina Bay Sands to watch the sun set and the lights about town come on:
Tour of Singapore: Marina Bay Sands
Tour of Singapore
Tour of Singapore: Marina Bay Sands
Tour of Singapore

Tour of Singapore: view from Ku De Ta atop Marina Bay Sands

Across the bay for some satay and tourist touting on the street next to Lau Pat Sat:
Tour of Singapore: satay stick trophies next to Lau Pat Sat

Thence to Little India (a little too late for the Hindu temples, sadly), for gawking in amazement at the flower garland makers, some (erm, North) Indian on banana leaves:
Tour of Singapore
Tour of Singapore: Apollo Banana Leaf Curry
Tour of Singapore: Apollo Banana Leaf Curry - box of mints
Tour of Singapore: Apollo Banana Leaf Curry - after-dinner mints

A spin around the amazing Mustafa which had almost everything anyone was looking for, then to Geylang for pek at the red-light district and a dessert of the king of fruits – durian! and its friend the jackfruit:
Tour of Singapore
Tour of Singapore - Geylang jackfruit

Eating Healthy on a Budget in Singapore

Daily meals have been a bit of a challenge since coming to Singapore. Much food in hawker centres and food courts seems either bland, or too strong-tasting and oily. Would someone who is annoyingly picky, yet on a tight budget like me, be able to survive?

There is no point complaining about the cost of living in Singapore etc. I am excited to attempt eating delicious healthy* meals on S$4-S$5 a day, or about S$150 a month by (i) tweaking my basket of goods; and (ii) shopping around for the best deals, or eating whatever is on discount.

(*in light of all the nutritional theories and dietary trends out there, I’ll simply assume the lowest common denominator – that “healthy” means unprocessed vegetables and fresh meat where possible and a low-percentage of refined sugars)

Don’t know if it will work, but here are some options that I’ll try! Shall update as I go along.

Vegetables

Photograph Zenxin Organic Vegetables by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Zenxin Organics‘ prices seem mostly reasonable (except for, eg, those baby carrots which were an indulgence!) and their products are readily available in Cold Storages around the country.

Zenxin Vegetables on special offer at Cold StorageEven better when you find two packages taped together on special offer – two for the price of one.

Aromatics

In recent years, I’ve found Chinese garlic to have a peculiar ditch-water taste and have had to either go without or stock up when garlic from other countries were on the cheap (a relative term, sadly).

Photograph CondiFrance red garlic from Spain by parentheticalpilgrim on 500pxCold Storage has discounts on older garlic and onions, so scored these CondiFrance garlic bulbs from Spain. Still perfectly servicable.

Meat

Photograph Wagyu beef chuck by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Cold Storage has had pretty good deals on wagyu beef chucks. This MB4-5 was S$2.99/100g and a delight to eat (or to allow to melt in our mouths). The Australian Wagyu Association says:

Wagyu is high in monounsaturated fats and with the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats of 2:1. Wagyu beef also contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – Omega 6 per gram than any other foodstuff – 30 per cent more than other beef breeds. CLA is a fatty acid with potent anti-carcinogenic properties, as well as being an anti-inflammatory agent.

Wagyu meat on special offer from Cold StorageThe Japanese wagyu was on offer for a slightly pricier S$3.99/100g.

Wholesale meat suppliers to check out:

Fish/Seafood

Photograph Norwegian Salmon, Song Fish, Star Vista, Singapore by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Song Fish (19 Fishery Port Road, also at Chinatown Point and Star Vista) has a good stock of frozen fish and seafood. Sea bass, salmon, cod, mussels, several sorts of scallop, prawns, stingray, octopus tentacles, lobster, crayfish, prepared seafood, and even tubs of lobster bisque and clam chowder.

Photograph Salmon bones, Song Fish, Star Vista, Singapore by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px Photograph Pan-fried salmon bones, organic spinach, red rice by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

I made off with a S$3 bag of “salmon bones” – still loads of flesh on and very good pan-fried with just a bit of soya sauce. Enough for 3-4 meals.

Other wholesalers:

Fassler (46 Woodlands Terrace, and also Tiong Bahru Estate) – salmon, tuna, seafood

Cheese

Photograph discounted supermarket cheese, Singapore by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px
Comte cheese discounted at Cold StorageFor cheese not of the processed cheddar variety (eg. gruyere, comte), check out the expiring stuff at Cold Storage and Jasons.

Wholesale cheese suppliers:

QB Food

Herbs and Sauces

QB Food

Baking Supplies

Photograph Valrhona 55% pellets, from Sun Lik Trading, Seah Street by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Sun Lik Trading (33 Seah Street) has a good stock of Valrhona chocolate in various forms. It’s not cheap for chocolate but a reasonable price for quality. One or two of these discs are good as something sweet for finishing off a meal.

Ligueil butter, Phoon Huat, Singapore
Petit Normand, Phoon Huat, SingaporeThe Phoon Huat branch below Buona Vista MRT carries an eclectic range of SPAR Supermarket products (aka. where you got your cheap food when skiing on a student budget in Switzerland) and cheap(er) French butter.

Bob's Red Mill products at Mustafa, Little India
Bob's Red Mill products at Mustafa, Little India
Bob's Red Mill products at Mustafa, Little IndiaMustafa in Little India has a good range of Bob’s Red Mill products. Stone Ground Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (S$3.00), Organic High Fiber Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix (S$3.50).

United Baking Supplies

Others

Other wholesalers, for reference: