Sunday, December 19, 2004

Redemption, Singaporean Style

When writing about Singapore, I realize I'm not encouraging people to come here. Afterall, I've pretty much said they've got wierd laws, no freedom, and not much diversity. But, I had to say there is definitely a few great things about coming here. Well, for me, there's one more - in-laws - but I doubt many people are married to ex-Singaporeans. So I'll try to redeem myself in the eyes of Singaporeans everywhere.

Anyways, the tops on the list for coming here: FOOD.

I cannot get enough of the food here. There are so many cultures here tat you can find amazing mish-mashes of food that end up tasting great. While you may not find people mixing with each other, nobody has a problem eating food from other cultures. Moreover, various elements from different cuisines have been combined in ways to create great flavors that please the palate. Spicy, Sour, Sweet, Salty, Crunchy, Hot, name it, you got it.

Now that Singaporean food is getting more popular in the US, it's easier to find it there, but it's a bit odd eating such food in a nice restaurant. Afterall, in Singapore that same food is served in food courts and hawker centers. Just imagine if Sbarro's and McDonald's were fine dining restaurants and you paid $3.50 for fries, $8.50 for a Big Mac, and you were given cloth napkins upon being seated. If only we could get cheap Singaporean food in the US....I'd swear off all other cuisine including Indian!

BTW, a hawker center is a uniquely Singaporean thing. It's basically a big covered space with many, many stalls with different types of food. Sort of like a food court, but not in the mall and generally a bit grimy. Anyways, they have the best food since it's quite authentic and really cheap.

Another great thing here is the shopping. The prices aren't nearly as good as they used to be. Electronics are no longer cheap here. But there is still some good shopping left here. Mainly for women (as usual), but even guys can do a little shopping for clothes and shoes and come away with good deals. Too bad the dollar is so weak, otherwise the deals would be even better!

And finally, Singapore is the perfect hopping point for travel in the South East Asia. It's kind of like going to London and getting cheap flights to mainland Europe. In Singapore, you can go to any travel agent in any mall and they'll have a catalog of different vacation packages. You can hop over to Bangkok for 6 days with flight, hotel, and breakfast included for less then SG$500 (about US$350). Not bad. Last time we were here we went to a resort town in South Malaysia for a couple of days for something like $90 a person.

Anyways, this should give you an idea of some of the good things about Singapore. I will now ask the government agent to stop pointing a gun at my head :)

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