The Singapore Flyer
This posting is long overdue! A few weeks ago, my friend and colleague from Towers Watson, Kate Davis, was in Singapore and we had a chance to meet up. It was great seeing Kate and meeting her boyfriend Mike. We decided to experience Singapore from a different view, and booked a ride on the Singapore Flyer, the country's famous ferris wheel.
The flyer is massive and its cars are entire rooms, big enough for at least 15 people. Tourists can book a variety of themed cars based on their interests. I even saw an advertisement for a wedding car in which you can get married on the Flyer! Kate, Mike, and I selected the Singapore Sling car and got to enjoy the delicious drink on board.
The Flyer spins very slowly - it takes about 30 minutes to make a rotation and you get one round on the ride - but our time on the ride seemed to fly by! We had a great view of the city (despite the gray, cloudy day) and shared our experiences of Southeast Asia (Kate and Mike live in Hong Kong).
Thanks for a great visit, Kate! Can't wait to see you again soon!
The Singapore Sling car
Kate and I strike a pose high above Singapore
View of Singapore
I was sick earlier this week with a bad cold, so the staff at 8 on Claymore surprised me with a sweet treat to help me feel better. Snickers and an adorable card. The staff continues to impress me with their hospitality!
We took 710 photos while Diane, Raul, and Rick were visiting! I think that's a new record for myself. I've posted some of them on the photos section of this blog. Hover over the tab to select which country's photos you'd like to see. Enjoy!
Deconstructed s'mores dessert
Joe was surprised that I didn't blog about the chocolate extravaganza we experienced with Diane, Raul, and Rick. The only reason I didn't write about it was because we had our chocolate feast at Max Brenner, a restaurant you can find in the US. In fact, Joe and I first visited the restaurant in New York City. However, since this was a great experience, I changed my mind.
Following a delicious dinner at Brotzeit, which included sausages, sauerkraut, and potato salad, we managed to find room in our bellies for some dessert. And oh what a dessert feast it was!
We shared some delicious concoctions, including deconstructed s'mores, a chocolate cake and shake, and a "werks" chocolate pizza which included hazelnuts, chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas. Rick also got a delightful chocolate milkshake while the rest of us enjoyed coffee. The thing I love about Max Brenner, besides the desserts of course, is the presentation of the desserts. The restaurant has cute ways of plating their masterpieces.
Raul's mini shake (part of the chocolate cake dessert)
Talk about calories... I don't even want to think about how many we consumed! I will say, though, that the desserts were worth the calories because they were delicious! And, I guess I can't feel too guilty because we only indulge like this every once in a while.
If there is a Max Brenner near you, I highly recommend trying it out. Just make sure you can handle the sugar high!
The "werks" pizza
Chocolate cake and shake
Rick's awesome milkshake mug... drink me!
Enjoying the greenery
Back in Singapore, we spent our final day with DRR (Diane, Raul, and Rick) exploring Singapore's Botanic Gardens. The Gardens consist of 183 acres of beautiful greenery. It is a spectacular green space to get lost in. I told Joe we should visit the gardens more often!
The highlight of our visit was seeing the National Orchid Garden. There are more than 1,000 orchid species in the garden. The flowers are beautiful and I was amazed by all of the different vibrant colors. I didn't realize there were so many types of orchids! Of course, I had to snap a million photos of the flowers. :)
A German dinner at Brotzeit
We ended the day with a delicious dinner at Brotzeit and got to enjoy the Oktoberfest celebration that was taking place at the restaurant.
Thank you DRR for visiting us in Singapore! It was great spending time with you and showing you our lives in Southeast Asia. We miss you!
In the middle of Chinatown
Day two of the Lopez family adventure took us to Chinatown, which was also an adventure for Joe and I as we hadn't explored the area yet. Although Chinatown is only a few subway stops away from Orchard Road, the area is extremely different. It almost felt as if we had left Singapore.
The Chinatown MRT stop spits you out right in the middle of Chinatown's hustle and bustle. We wandered the narrow streets, browsing through the cheap trinkets and knick knacks in the vendor stalls and admiring beautiful lacquered goods in some of the more high-end stores.
Walter entertains the Lopez family
While we were walking around, we were randomly approached by a little, old Singaporean man who ushered us to a little juice store. So, we took a time-out and enjoyed some mango juice and coconut water. I want to say the man's name was Walter (I'm not sure if this is right!), and it turns out that he is a Singaporean tour guide. He happened to be on a break while his tour group had free time in Chinatown, so he sat down and entertained us for a bit. We learned that Chinese settlers lived in Chinatown when Singapore was a British Colony, and that one of the streets in Chinatown was known for death houses where old, sick Chinese people would go to die. Apparently, dying in one's home was bad luck for the rest of the family, so the dying were required to pass elsewhere. Kind of morbid, huh?
Chinatown MRT station
Dr. Lopez and a Chinese medical hall
After our meeting with Walter, we checked out a few famous landmarks in Chinatown, including a Buddhist Pagoda, a Hindu Temple, and an Arab Mosque. Then, the Lopez culinary adventure continued with a stop at Togi, a popular Korean restaurant in Chinatown. We had been told to check out the Korean food in Chinatown as it is some of the best in Singapore (allegedly). DRR (remember, that's Diane, Raul, and Rick) got to try bibimbap for the very first time (it's one of Joe's and my favorite dishes). Bibimbap is basically rice, vegetables, egg, and beef in a hot stone pot. The pot continually cooks the food in the bowl, keeping it deliciously warm. It was a hit with the Lopez family.
After lunch, we headed back to 8 on Claymore for a dip in the pool as well as some rest and relaxation. Then, we added another chapter to the Lopez culinary adventure. Joe and I took DRR to the 313 Somerset Mall Food Republic food court to try one of our favorite foods, murtabak.
In Singapore, murtabak is considered an Indian dish. However, I've read that it's actually more of a middle eastern food. In any case, it is delicious! Murtabak consists of thin prata bread that is filled your choice of filling (we always get shredded chicken). It is fried into a flatbread and is served with a spicy curry dipping sauce (I know I've explained this before, but I thought the reminder would be helpful!).
Day two ended with dreams of Phuket, Thailand... which was the next stop in our adventure. The scenery there was stunning! Stay tuned... our story continues soon!
In front of the Chinatown Heritage Center
Raul, what are you looking at??
Good morning Singapore! - Along Scotts Road
The Lopez family's first major trip outside of the US was an adventurous one! They braved the 20+ hour flight across the world to spend a week with Joe and I in Southeast Asia. It was awesome having Diane (my mother-in-law), Raul (my father-in-law), and Rick (my bro-in-law) in town to share our Singaporean life and to do a little traveling as well.
Day one started with a "day in the life of Ana and Joe" tour. Di, Raul, and Rick (DRR for short) met us at 8 on Claymore for breakfast and experienced the Asian fare as well as the hospitality of the staff. When Joe left for work (unfortunately he had to work that day), I took DRR on a little walking tour of the Orchard Road area. From the huge malls to the efficient MRT, Di and Raul were amazed by the infrastructure of Singapore.
Lunch at Madam Saigon
After we meandered around, we met Joe for lunch near his office at Suntec. The Lopez clan's Asian culinary adventure started at Madam Saigon, a great little Vietnamese restaurant. After lunch, we hit up one of my favorite juice stands along Orchard Road for some dessert in the form of fresh, tropical juice. I, of course, stuck with my favorite... mango!
The jet lag finally hit DRR and they went back to their hotel for a quick nap. When they met back up with us at 8 on Claymore, we had a surprise waiting for them...
Vermicilli with stir-fried beef
The boys after lunch
... a birthday/anniversary cake to celebrate all three of DRR's birthdays as well as Diane and Raul's wedding anniversary. The cake was decorated by yours truly (hence the chaos haha). I found a really cute cake shop at the Somerset MRT station where you can decorate your own cakes.
After dessert, we headed out for dinner :) The next stop on DRR's culinary tour was Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, a famous hawker center in Singapore. The highlight of Lau Pa Sat on the weekend is its satay street. Stalls of satay vendors line up along the road and their "salesmen" rush up to visitors to get you to buy from their truck. Diners sit on plastic chairs at plastic tables in the middle of the street, similar to Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We had dozens of chicken, beef, and lamb skewers, and Raul and Rick tried the shrimp satay.
Our little celebration
Lau Pa Sat
Enjoying our satay feast
Visiting the Merlion
After Lau Pa Sat, we took a stroll along Marina Bay to show DRR the famous landmarks of Singapore: Marina Bay Sands, the ArtScience Museum and the Merlion. It was a great end to a great first day in Singapore for DRR!
My first Singapore Sling
The Singapore Sling is Singapore's famous alcoholic beverage. It was concocted by a bartender at the landmark Long Bar at Raffles Hotel sometime before 1915 (according to Wikipedia). I first heard about the drink from a couple Joe and I met while vacationing in Jamaica this past summer. Sue and Graham from the U.K. had traveled quite extensively and loved Singapore. They said we MUST try the famous cocktail while in the far east.
The drink was good... it tasted sort of like fruit punch with a hint of alcohol (see photo below for list of ingredients). But the highlight of this experience was checking out Long Bar and visiting the Raffles Hotel. Raffles has an interesting history (click here
for more info) and the bar is a tourist landmark.
Long Bar is a very laid back establishment with sort of a "beachy" Key West vibe to it, wicker chairs, and an older crowd. The thing that surprised me the most was that the bar provides peanuts with shells and allows patrons to throw the shells on the floor. This was a stark contrast to the sterile environment of Singapore and I was really shocked to see something like this here!
Joe and I enjoying Long Bar
Singapore Sling ingredients
Ambiance at Long Bar
As I've mentioned before, the staff at our serviced residence is AWESOME! This afternoon, I got a random knock on the door and two staff members presented me with a box. They said, "We heard you like chocolate and we just wanted to thank you for being awesome guests." Inside the box were some of the best cupcakes I've ever had in my life (sorry for the "after" photo - I greedily dug into these before thinking of taking a picture).
Needless to say, this made my night. Our friends at 8 on Claymore are wonderful!
Cupcakes with chocolate sauce in the middle and on the bottom... and DELICIOUS icing!
The nice note that came with the cupcakes
Joe and I explored the Marina Bay area this weekend, and went to see the famous Merlion statue in Merlion Park. According to what I've read on the internet, the Merlion's fish body represents Singapore's origin as a fishing village and its lion head represents Singapore's original name, Singapura, which means lion city.
The Merlion turned 40 years old on September 15, and Singaporeans are still celebrating the occasion. Merlion Park looks like a little shrine with candles and birthday cards from children. Speaking of children, we saw a little boy pretending to drink the water from the fountain in a photo, so of course, Joe and I wanted to try it as well!
Silly photo with the Merlion...
... Joe's turn
Candles for Merlion's birthday
Marina Bay Sands hotel
Marina Bay is a really nice area to walk around and there are many restaurants along the water offering a great view of some of Singapore's most famous landmarks.
As you can see here, I captured a great shot of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. This hotel houses a casino as well as several clubs (a few weeks ago I wrote about visiting Ku De Ta at the top of the hotel). I love how the top of the hotel looks like a boat.
Other landmarks we saw from afar include the Singapore ArtScience Museum (the lotus-shaped building, which is part of Marina Bay Sands) and the Singapore Flyer (the ferris wheel). I plan to visit both of these in person before we leave Singapore!
The ArtScience Museum
Singapore Flyer and a cool shot of the moon