Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Third month, growing roots

This month, we have mostly been feeling like we are starting to grow roots in Sin City. As this really is 'Asia-Lite', a coin termed by mainly given this fair isle's cleanliness and welcoming nature, we are now bedding down in our 'home from home':

- Caught up with some aunties, uncles and my granddad over a superb selection of Malay and Indonesian dishes at the locally famed Zion Road Nasi Padang. Thanked my blessings for my poor attempts thus far to learn Mandarin. I only had to endure indirect chastisement (via translation) for confirming that I do not give my parents any money. This being an age-old tradition here, my granddad was very curious to know whether I am partaking. Having only reached the post of a launderette worker, his state pension is woefully small but he is lucky enough to rely upon (and will be until he checks out of this life) the generous donations of his children. He accused me of 'not being filial enough'; however, being told off in a foreign language never quite has the impact of the real deal, so I comforted myself in my ignorant English shroud and tucked into another spoonful of curried eggplant.

- Being of the type who've spent their twenties in and out of various nightclubs and outdoor festivals around the world, it was with a degree of sadness that we attended the last party at the now defunct KM8 beach bar. The fact that the website is still functioning is a sign that the spirit of this place may never die. They are, in fact, replacing the chillaxathon-day-space-morphing-into-raucous-night-time-ravathon with a more upmarket venue, which the 'authorities' believe will calm down the racing heartbeats and washed out drunken faces of the locals and expats who frequented KM8. Little do they know that rich people can be just as (if not more) ludicrously behaved than those without Liberia's deficit in their sky-rocket. Oh well. If it gives the 'authorities' more feeling of 'control' then it must be good. Right? I look forward to visiting the new space armed with a bottle of Bollinger and a picnic hamper. I might tuck a couple of glowsticks in the side pocket, though, just in case.

- Had a curious dining experience at Red Star, Dim Sum Restaurant, which is famed for being one of the only and one of the best Hong Kong style dim sum experiences, where they push overflowing carts of dumpling-filled bamboo steamers from table to table. After queuing for 20 minutes on the monumental hangover from the night before, we were finally directed towards a table piled high with dirty dishes and half-chewed pork ribs on a chilli-stained table cloth. After another 5 minutes, someone came to clear the dim sum detritus and I had learned the order of the day: Due to the enormity of the restaurant and the age of many of the waiting staff, the push carts just didn't quite seem to be making the full rounds. Many of the carts were surrounded by locals of all ages like bees round a honey pot. These bees, however, were armed with hungrily waved yellow scorecards. I whipped our yellow card out of its holder and spent our entire lunchtime hastily munching on a few dumplings and then leaping up to grab a front row spot at the next new cart. In all of this kerfuffle, I was unable to locate even one 'aunty' who was serving my favourite, har kau. Red Star was apparently started in the 1970s by four top chefs in Singapore. Clearly, their philosophy of "economical, value-for-money, and tasty food" died when they did.

- Wandered around the eerily deserted Haw Par Villa, a Chinese mythological theme park. The Ten Courts of Hell is by far the best bit. Where else in the world, let alone Singapore, can you marvel at dimly lit sculptures of drug dealers being pulverised by a millstone, prostitutes having their arms and legs cut off and liars having their tongues cut out. We left feeling smug that we were 'good citizens' and unlikely to face a mean looking long-bearded Chinese dude before being sent to our deaths.

Kids, this is what happens to you if you're bad. Just say no.

Spot the monkey.

- Attended a great birthday dinner at the ridiculously named "Brunch". Thankfully, the choice of name was the only error on the part of the owners. The outdoor BBQ buffet was excellent with king prawns, cod, steaks, lamb chops, and sausages brought to our table and a help-yourself salad and dessert bar. Of course when washed down by a 'free-flow' of beers and wines, most meal experiences would be "like, really great and I love this and that and blah" but I do recall moments prior to being hit by intense inebriation when my taste buds were telling me good things.

- Hung out at Helipad after over-indulging in chargrilled items and freeflow. Now, I'm all for al fresco tippling under a hot Italian sun, but when it comes to outdoor binge drinking on a Singapore rooftop with not a breath of wind, I am less amenable. After tucking in to a couple of the drinks made by drunkards (at many Singapore bars, you can order whole bottles of spirits and disproportionately small carafes of mixers to ensure you set sail into oblivion), I consoled myself by resting with my feet in an ice bucket, much to the disdain of my fellow companions. I decided it should be time to go home after I started to threaten them with poorly-expressed ideas of where I might be soon placing cubes of my 'foot ice'. Despite Helipad's unimaginably challenging route of access, we managed to find our way downstairs via a brief respite of air-conditioning and out into the sweltering humidity. Beginning to run out of fingers for the number of times I have fallen asleep in the back of the taxi on the way home.

- Endured and enjoyed our second Asian Adventure!

Next up is local touring to show our home city to our first guests from London. Expect tales of meanderings in the searingly hot sun and taste-bud tantalisation interspersed with some more weekends involving liquid inebriation and getting high (on life).

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