Friday, 17 December 2010

Singapore Part 1 - Asia for Beginners...


And a good morning to you from…THE OLD NORTH STATE! Yeah, baby!!! That’s right – Team Taylor is back on the ground and ready for 2 weeks of casseroles, football, family, and Fat Tire. Bring on the calories!!!! But honestly, as I type that – how is that request different from ANY OTHER DAY.

Okay, so Hitman (now officially a follower) and Hairless have already ragged me (DNM/DNM) for my delay in giving you guys the Singapore update. However, I am here to make amends. (C-Web – not a word out of you on my metrics - but glad you're now a follower as well).

And so, without further ado, I present to you the recap of Typhoon Taylor’s first full week in the Lion City.

Thursday: But we’re in BUSINESS CLASS!!!!!

So Thursday started out less than extra awesome. For starters, there was certainly the expected twinge of sadness when we said goodbye to our home of the last 18 months. It was akin to cleaning out 1828 Granville West after my Freshman year of college (but Warf, fret not – I will concede the point that this flat was a LOT cleaner thanks to a weekly maid), but this certainly felt more final, as there’s the obvious realization that we’ll never set food inside that apartment ever again. That being said, the buzz of the next great adventure was ringing in our ears, and so we hopped our cab to Paddington.

So we rock up to Terminal 3 and arrive at the Sing Air counter. Now a little back story – all I have heard about Sing Air is that a) flight attendants are HOT, b) the service is AMAZING, c) the food is great, and d) the seats will change your LIFE. Well, while (notice – not whilst) some of that is true, I can confirm (unfortunately) that the check-in staff is LESS than friendly. Here was the conversation:

Rude Counter Lady (RCL): “Do you live in Singapore?”

Sleepy Sammy (SS): “No – we are continuing on to the states.”

RCL: “Do you have proof of this?”

SS: “Yep.” (hands flight confirmation to RCL)

RCL: “You are confirmed on this flight?”


RCL: “Your carry on bags are too heavy.”

SS: “We’re in Business class.”

RCL: “I know. Your bags are STILL too heavy.”

SS: “But we have an entire storage bin to ourselves.”

RCL: “Still too heavy.” (her tone indicated that she was less than impressed with my argument).

So APPARENTLY you can only have 15kg of luggage on board a 380 (I blame Rolls Royce for this), and no single bag can be more than 7 (which means, when you think about it, that you actually can only have 14 kg, but I digress…). Consequently, Muffin and I spent the next FORTY MINUTES repacking EVERYTHING. As a result, we had a) a scramble to the lounge and then the flight, followed by b) a less than favorable first impression of Sing Air.

That being said, the flight was GREAT. The seats were SUPER nice, the staff wonderful, and the food OUT OF CONTROL. Jenny and I were TOTAL TOURISTS, snapping photos EVERY TIME food came out (Hitman – let m just say thanks again). It was JT’s first biz class flight, and the readership can rest easy in the knowledge that we ate and drank our way through that plane.

We then passed through the Bermuda triangle or some space-time continuum, because without sleeping we magically landed in Asia, where we found the local time was 7:35 AM. And so began the first of what is certain to be ENDLESS misadventures on a new continent.

Friday: You mean $7 for that bottle of beer IS the special?

Singapore – the Lion City. A thriving metropolis of 4.4 million people at the tail end of the Malaysian peninsula. A booming city in an even more booming corner of the world. And, for the next year, home. And while it’s early, I gotta tell ya – I LOVE THIS PLACE.

The airport was, like EVERY OTHER SPOT ON THE ISLAND – clean (MattPa – you’re welcome – and p.s. – I told the monkeys hello for you and even gave them some Gatorade) and super efficient. We cleared customs quickly and then rolled straight to the cabs, where JT and I rolled Wild Card-Hitman style in the black “limo” (translation – a Chrysler town car – details…).

We rolled into Chinatown, at which point Paula “P-Dawg” McHugh welcomed us to Chez Packer Fan. She was working, so we got cleaned up, showered, and then rolled out to begin the day and our first adventure in Singapore! First up – the national symbol of the Republic of Singapore – the Merlion (yes, I know – go ahead and say it: “What the hell is a Merlion?”

The Merlion is a statue down near the marina. It’s a half fish-half Lion, which is obviously something you don’t see every day. The Lion bit comes from the city’s name (“Singa” means Lion in the ancient tongue), and the fish rising from the water represents the city’s past as a fishing village and its ascent into on of the world’s foremost cities. I realize it sounds rather random, but it was really cool.

We then walked around a bit, tooling around Boat Quay and looking at the 10 million new dishes we are already looking forward to trying at various restaurants. And Pistol – so you know – there is actually a bar called “Manchester United Café” – wonder if they show any Liverpool games in there?

However, before we could make the 10 minute sojourn to Clarke Quay, Muffin Puffin hit a WALL. Team Taylor needed food – ASAP – and there is only ONE PLACE to have lunch in the Sing – THE HAWKER CNTR, BABY!!!

So here’s the deal – whilst a lot of things are REDONKULOUSLY expensive in the Sing, there are a few things which are still REALLY good deals. One of these would be lunch at the Hawker Centers spread throughout the city, as you can get AMAZING Thai, Chinese, and Indian food for ~$2 USD! Seriously – it is AWSOME, and JT and I started with duck, noodles, dim sum, dumplings, and a Starfruit shake. SOOOOOO GUUUUUUUUUUUD (peppy MSG cheekies).

After that we rolled over to another first for Team Taylor – our first ever Buddhist temple. DUDE – it was something out of a movie – picture 200 cats in robes chanting whilst some dude bangs on a gong and another dude chants “oooooooommmmmm” with incense burning all the while. I mean, check out this video!

After that it was back to Paula’s, where we sat by the pool and PASSED OUT for a bit. Seriously – Paula even cam home early to check on us and found us SPRAWLED OUT AND UNCONSCIOUS BY THE POOL. Perfect pumpkin had a pretty funny line on her cheek from the wooden seats.

Dinner that night was something that I’d been CRAVING – WINGS AND BEER, BABY!!! Oh yeah! We rolled over to this area called Emerald Hill, which was SO COOL – it had such an old world colonial feel to it. The name of the bar/restaurant was (appropriately enough) – Ice Cold Beer – wonder what they sell there?

So we rock up, order our beers, and the first bill comes. Yes – apparently you pay for things at time of services rendered. No problem, I thought, until I saw the bill – 3 beers? 40 BUCKS!!!!!! HOLY MOLY!!!!! And we ain’t talking Delerium Tremens here, people – we are talking ASAHI AND HOEGARDEN. WOW…I eventually got “the special,” which was 3 beers for $22. But since it’s about 49,000 degrees in Singapore (this place even has OUTDOOR AIR CONDITIONING), you have to pound those puppies pretty quick.

We ended up hitting 2 more bars that night, but in Chinatown and both VERY cool. Most notable was “The Screening Room,” which offered us a) our first Singapore Sling and b) a rooftop bar with an AMAZING view of the city.

We hit the hay around 2 AM, thereby completing the LONGEST DAY OF MY LIFE. Good times, and a GREAT start to Singapore.

Saturday: “Your sex is on Fiiiiiiiiire!!!!!!!”

In true Team Taylor fashion, we didn’t wake up until Paula pounded on our door at 1:30 PM to tell us lunch was ready. Yeah – we were BUSHED. Consequently, we hung out by the pool until around 4ish, at which point we headed to the Macrichie Reservoir Park, a seriously neat stretch of rainforest in the middle of the island that offers some good trekking, kayaking, and a chance to generally lose 45 pounds sweating. We arrived just in time for me to witness our inaugural monsoon, as it PELTED it down for about 20 minutes before the steam then started to rise from the jungle. Not to be deterred, however, we made at 10 KM hike, getting lost only once beside the fenced off Singapore Armed Forces training center. I mean seriously – check out this sign. This makes the “no chewing gum” thing seem less of a big deal…

We cleaned up that night before rolling into Chinatown where Sammy fulfilled Tom Price’s lifelong dream of consuming ALL KINDS OF CRITTERS YOU CAN’T NAME. Seriously – this was hilarious. We rock up to this place, and P tells us that we need to try Chili Crab, which is the national dish of Singapore. When Jenny selects it, they actually wave her over and let her PICK OUT HER OWN CRAB. I mean – LOOK at that monster. Brother – if it was any consolation, you were REALLY tasty, and Jenny didn’t leave a SPECK of meat behind.

It should be noted that thy brought Paula’s fish out ALIVE to her as well. As for Sammy, I stuck with…wait for it…wait for it…BARBEQUED STING RAY, BABY!!! OH YEAH!!!! In a word – RELIGIOUS.

Oh, and side note before we continue. We're all getting ready, and I'm sitting on the couch checking email, when I hear this CRACK in the bathroom. Now Muffin is in there, and at first I just assume that something has fallen to the floor. But then I hear "Shit." Followed 5 seconds later by "Shit" said MUCH more emphatically.

Well, as fate would have it, Jenny had a craving to move her towel from it's current location to a shelf above the toilet. And how, pray tell, did she plan to get it there? SHE PUT HER ENTIRE BODY WEIGHT ON THE HALF INCH PLASTIC TOILET AND USED IT AS A STEP LADDER. Needless to say, she was lucky that her foot didn't end up in the bowl. I mean, my wife is skinny, but come on...

It was then into Clarke Quay, where we rolled into a pub called the Highlander. The good thing about this place? MICROBREWED BEER! The bad thing? IT’S $18 A GLASS!!!!! 6 beers = $108 SNG – I mean, I have no words…other than the fact that I will be a sober man for much of my time here.

I will say that the place is AWESOME, and the live band ROCKED the party. And as you can expect, we were probably the most vocal cats in the crowd, supplying FANTASTIC backup vocal to hits like “Sweet Home, Alabama” and “Your Sex is on Fire!” Sam Stone (Private Eye) – you will HAVE to check out the video.

Oh, and did I mention some of the “fine dining” one can find in CQ? That’s right, folks – “delightfully tacky…yet unrefined.”

It was then another night of sleep for Team Taylor, as Sunday had all the trimmings of an EPIC day.

Sunday: “He needs a cold shower after that one…”

So Sunday was honestly one of the neater things we’ve done in a long time. As fate would have it, Paula somehow met the guy who CALLS THE HORSE RACES at the Singapore Turf Club (Dad – this is an AWESOME facility – we are SO rocking this when you are here), and he offered us a tour of the facility beforehand. Not ONLY did he hook us up with a tour of the facility, he even LET US GO INTO THE BOOTH AND WATCH AS HE CALLED THE FIRST RACE! As a kid who grew up on horse racing, it was a real treat.

The races were FANTASTIC. Matt (the commentator) got us free tickets into the indoor viewing platform, which meant that a) we were in the AC, b) I felt like Saul in Ocean’s 11, and c) we had an INCREDIBLE view of the entire track. And so, Tiger beers in hand, odds reviewed, we all went to the windows to begin placing our bets (minimum is $5 SNG here).

The first 4 races were a blood bath, as we didn’t win ANYTHING. But then, in the footsteps of Chester ladies and gentlemen, Jenny Taylor got hot. Muffin Puffin took down THREE WINNERS in a row! Basically she was BLOWING IT UP whilst I dragged the overall family winners back down to even (Mom, Dad – CLIFF DWELLER – that’s all I’m sayin’…).

However, Race 8 arrived, and Sammy went out on a limb to pick “Trigger Legacy.” We actually went back up to the booth for this one, and Matt listened to our picks and said “Paula, Jen, you guys have GREAT picks. Sam- you don’t have a chance in this one, mate.” Two minutes later, Trigger Legacy shocked the Singapore racing community with a GREAT Victory, paying out $150!!! Matt was in shock, and as they came across the finish he noted that the owner “is gonna need a cold shower after that one…” Good times.

After the races, we rolled to a place called Dempsey Hill, site of the former British Military Barracks. This was a REALLY neat spot, filled with tons of restaurants, each occupying a former “block” of the old Presidio. Our spot for the evening was the Tawandong Microbrewery, where we had 2 liter lube tubes of micro-brewed lager with some AMAZING Thai food (I mean seriously – where else do you have a Thai-German microbrewery?). We ate outside, something that you can do pretty much every night in Singapore (which we LOVE).

It was then back to the palace, where we prepared for the next adventure – house hunting. However, that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

1 comment:

  1. That is a lot of action in 1 week. I'm looking forward to you being my tour guide in May. Sure I've been there tons, but the itinerary has lacked variety.