I finally made it to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a short stay over in Singapore to conduct some business. Here are a few items of interests in Singapore. While in Singapore I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel one block off of Orchard Rd. Singapore reminds me of Times Square but new and shiny. Here you will find multi-story department stores advertising high end products like Prada and Gucci speckled with small cramped cheap tourist store fronts peaking out of every ally way with an occasional blaring of the top pop music emanating from the store doorways. Today you can insert Justin Bieber singing Baby, Baby.
Singapore department store.
On the other end of the hotel spectrum and for the budget traveler I have been told that the YMCA is very nice. Seriously it comes highly recommended and nightly rates are about $70 US. I will investigate that option when I’m on my own dime.
I had a couple of days to explore Singapore before moving on to Kuala Lumpur and what I find, at least on the surface, is that Singapore is a wonderful city and one of the cleanest and safest I have been in. I have no concerns about walking around at 2am and due to the Jet lag I find myself doing just that. With little or no unemployment the cost of living seems to be just a little more than in the US. A Coke will cost you $1, tall Starbucks coffee $2.90, and a decent meal at a nice restaurant seems to be around $20 to $30 US. Of course there are the food courts where you can get any number of ethnic foods for just a few dollars for a whole meal.
Every department store has a food court in their basement floor with vendor after vendor catering to the many ethnic patrons or to any one who loves food. On one night I ventured to the bowels of the ION (pictured above) and tried the Chinese dish called Char Kway Teow served with a side of hot chilies. It is sautéed noodles in a sweet basil soy sauce with squid, shrimp, and some other seafood I could not identify. It is the same dish known in the US as Drunken noodle or the Thai dish, Pad Kew Mau. It was sweet, spicy, and very good at S$6 ($4.72 US).
Fullerton Hotel, Singapore
Built in 1928 the Fullerton Hotel sits at the mouth of the Singapore River. The building was once the post office but today the Fullerton is ranked as one of the world’s top hotels.
Of course I had to try their Sunday brunch. It was ok but the atmosphere and architecture of the hotel lobby are well worth a visit. At S$52 ($41 US) for my meal I was expecting a little more. The buffet had a wide array of ethnic dishes along with an omelet bar. The smoked salmon was fresh and very good. I have to say this because you might think that you can’t mess up smoked salmon however it can go rancid and turn leathery if the restaurant does not take care. The curry dishes were spicy hot and delicious, as were the fresh pastry.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino, Singapore
Across the bay from the Fullerton hotel you can see the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino. To date it is one of the largest casinos in the world. The three pier building is the largest cantilevered platform containing an outdoor park and recreation area, a must have for every city. In the words of our friend Frank Serafini “Those are 40 foot palms on top of that building”. I’ll try the casino next time I’m here and maybe stay at the YMCA.
Day two I decided to eat in. I went to the local grocery across the street where you could get just about anything prepare and ready to go. I decided on a simple meal starting from upper right, Leek Flower Kim chi, Umeba Inari which is tofu wrappers filled with rice and crab and pickled something and rice, then your standard sushi, individually wrapped, and a snickers bar for around $13.