Asia

Day 2: Singapore by Mo

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After a long and tortuous investigation, we were able to find out that the sidewalk from where our bus left from the Novena metro was the opposite of the hotel. We finally got on it and, when we were going to pay, the driver told us that, unless we had a prepaid card, we had to give him the exact rate, since the drivers have no change. The two simple tickets cost 2.40, and the smallest thing we carried was a 10 dollar bill. We still had no time to react when a half bus got up to help us pay. It was enough that they gave us change, but some even wanted to pay us for the trip! The truth is that if something is appreciated when you are away from home it is the kindness of strangers, and I can assure you that the people of Singapore would take note in this subject. Leaving aside that some are oriented as badly as I am, and that when you ask for directions you can end up on the other side of the city, the intention is good and you have to take your hat off for the kindness with which you are served wherever you go.

Our first destination of the day was CHINATOWN. We had the bad luck that the Chinese New Year celebrations (the year of the tiger) had ended just the night of our arrival. The Chinese New Year is unique in color and spectacularity, and I was hoping to match some of the events. Finally we did not have the opportunity to see any ritual in its entirety but, since the festive spirit was still giving its last blows, we found this dancing lion zampando mandarinas (symbol of prosperity) in a street near CHINATOWN. The Lion Dance is a dance of Chinese origin, and its goal is to scare away evil spirits. The lion is very cute and moves with great grace, but of course the musicians who accompany him do not know how to endure decibels. More than five minutes can be fatal to the health of your ears.

Lion dance in Chinatown

CHINATOWN is like so many other chinatowns in the rest of the world, but with the difference that, as most of the population is of Chinese origin, in Singapore it is even more real, and acquires spectacular dimensions. Some of its streets are thematically divided: “street of the night market”, “street of the restaurants”, or “street of the temple”. We found all kinds of shops and stalls and, although the Mariamman Hindu Temple it was under construction and we couldn't get in, if we could visit the CHINESE OPERA TEA HOUSE. We had been told about a restaurant specialized in gyozas, the QUN ZHONG EATING HOUSE in 21 Neil St., which is apparently to suck your fingers (although they also fine you for that ;-p) but it seems that the year of the tiger took us mania and we found it closed for New Year's holidays. Although many of us know the gyoza in its Japanese version, it is actually a very typical dish of Chinese food especially common in the north of this country. As in traditional Japanese cuisine, the main food is white rice, which is taken at each of the three meals, in the north of China gyozas are offered (in Chinese something like jiaozu would be pronounced) as the main dish, also the three times a day. The jiaozu is in northern China what white rice is in the southern regions. That is why when northern Chinese come to Japan, they are surprised to see that rice is eaten here accompanied by gyozas, all in one meal. To put it a little easy to understand, it is as if we went to Italy and found ourselves eating paella along with spaghetti. I don't know if the simile is very successful, but it becomes something like that.

After the first disgust to find the famous restaurant closed, we continue our walk. With so much snack to snack it was not difficult to kill the bug until we found another restaurant that also seemed interesting. He YUM CHA RESTAURANT, at 20 Trengganu Street. His specialty is the DIM SUM Singapore style (the latter I still don't know what he meant). Instead of choosing to look at the menu / menu, the waiters go by with carts full of small plates of Dim sum. So you can see them with your own eyes and do not screw up in the election. Of course, at each table there is a price list so you do not take a scare on departure. We left very happy with the value for money, and the truth is that I wouldn't mind repeating the restaurant if one day I return to Singapore.

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