Finally made it to Singapore

Trip Start Dec 27, 2012
Trip End Jan 07, 2013

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rufio picked me up from immigration at Changi airport sometime after 2 am. I lamented the awful food in the economy cabin, of which I am not accustomed, as we made our way to the hotel. Sometime after 3 am I fell into a much needed deep slumber before waking bright eyed at 8 am to finally meet the Lion City.

We ate chili crab omelets at the JW Marriott Crossroads Cafe before taking off down the infamous Orchard Road. I marveled at the ornate Christmas decorations as we darted in and out of shops along the way. When we reached Fort Canning Park, Rufio led the way through the marvelous gates. We spent the next hour marveling at the beautiful grounds and historic fortress, while narrowly escaping a brief afternoon shower as we reached Raffles House. We took in the spice and herb garden before exiting toward the Chijmes shopping complex. Although it was the Saturday afternoon before a holiday, much of the shops and eateries were closed, so Rufio expertly led me toward the Bugis district. Bugis, on the other hand, was bustling with shoppers in both the enclosed shopping mall and the street market. We quickly browsed selections at both venues before crossing the street toward the hawker center. I was to have my first experience in quintessential Singaporean dining.

At this point in the day I was already feeling the effects of jet lag coupled with overall sleep deprivation and heat exhaustion, not to mention the day had grown late and we were much past lunchtime. The sleep and hunger were overwhelming in the frenzy of the hawker center. I followed Rufio down row after row of laksa, pig organ soup, fish ball soup, congee, etc. I felt Rufio was growing impatient of my indecision to settle on a stand. I did know that I wanted, rather needed, an iced coffee, so we stopped long enough for a jovial Thai woman to pour me a rather lukewarm brew. I realized I needed to settle on something quickly, so I doubled back toward an Indonesian BBQ stand. Rufio chose the adjacent stand and we ordered and scooped up an empty seat as soon as possible. We enjoyed our meals, although I was quickly introduced to a uniquely Singaporean institution - sancrosanctity of paper napkins. So sacred, in fact, that patrons of hawker stands must bring their own packs of tissues or suffer with curry sauce all over their hands and mouth until finished. I later learned of an act called "choping", wherein the aforementioned packs of napkins are placed on crowded hawker center tables to reserve a spot while searching the stands. Luckily a sink with soap (but alas no paper towels) was nearby, so I scurried to it when I finished to wash away the remnants of my ayam meal.

After our late lunch we ventured back to Orchard Road for showers and the nightly executive lounge cocktail hour at the JW Marriott. Rufio made plans with some work colleagues to meet for dinner at the East Coast Lagoon Food Village, so after our free drinks we hailed a cab. After rendezvousing with the group, Rufio grabbed a bucket of large Tiger beers to share and we spent a few hours chatting with a colleague and his wife who had spent 10 years living in this lovely island country. East Coast Lagoon is a favorite spot for water sports in the area, so some of the group left to watch the free show the local wakeboarders perform nightly. Rufio and I, finally hungry again after our late lunch, ordered up some cockels and stingray for dinner. Shortly after we ate our merry crew had to scurry under the covered walk way as a late rain shower passed overhead. After attempting to dry a new table only to be rained on again, we all decided to finish our Tigers and return for the evening. We were dropped off by the couple at their hotel down the road, so Rufio and I took a nighttime stroll down Orchard, briefly popping in at a live music venue before returning to our hotel. The Christmas decor I admired earlier in the day was now all aglow. Although I would have much preferred to have him home with me in sunny South Florida, I was slightly jealous Rufio was able to participate in Singapore's Christmas spectacular. We snapped a few pictures then ended the day. 

Fort Canning Park
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