Thursday, June 30, 2005
On Sunday we had lunch with an old friend who I got to know on my first visit to Singapore in 1983. She works selling tea at a large Duty Free Shop in Singapore. I learned that many different vendors are set up in these duty free shops, each with their own, separate sales staff. She took us to a restaurant that is famous for the food of the Samsui women. Samsui women (from Samsui county in southern China) used to be famous as construction industry workers here in Singapore, where they labored away in their traditional village blue hats. There are no Samsui women workers today, but they are still part of the heritage of Singapore.
On Sunday evening we had dinner with the family of one of my son’s kindergarten friends. They picked us up in their new Toyota minivan and took us to pick their sun up from his sailing race on Singapore’s East Coast. They then took us to the Pan Pacific Hotel where we had an excellent Chinese dinner from a top floor overlooking most of Singapore and the islands of Indonesia to the south!
For lunch on Monday we ate a the food court at IMM, which is some kind of wholesale outlet mall near the Jurong East MRT station. Our friend took us to Daiso, a Japanese store where everything is S$2.00 (US$1.20). It was a huge store with an great variety of stuff. I found a pair of glasses in which the lens is made of black plastic with hundreds of tiny pin holes. The holes act like a pin hole camera, bringing everything into focus without a glass lens – quite amazing! I had Penang-style Fried Kway Teow for lunch, Mable had Bak Kut Ti (a really healthy-tasting Chinese soup).
On Monday evening we went to Little India where I bought a cell phone and some batik shirts at Mustafa Center – the Indian “Walmart” of Singapore. My old batik shirts from 1997-98 are getting very worn and torn, so a goal was to get some new ones. I used to buy them at Holland Village (an expat-oriented shopping mall in the upper-class residential district), but I think that Mustafa Center had a much better price, even if the selection was a bit smaller.
I also got a tiny Panasonic A100 tri-band cell phone for about US$20 less than what I would have paid online in the US. The SIM card I got for it gave me a Singapore telephone number, and included a special deal in which I can call the US, China, Malaysia, HK, Thailand and Taiwan at local Singapore calling rates (S$0.25 first minute, S$0.15 subsequent minutes). My contacts in China are buying me a SIM card in Guangzhou so I will have a Guangzhou phone number there.
We had dinner with my old friend and her sister at the Banana Leaf Apollo restaurant, where we had fish head curry, among other items, and ate on banana leaf ‘plates’. You are supposed to eat with your fingers, but we used fork and spoons.
On Tuesday night, two colleagues from New Zealand came over to our place and, after wandering through a couple of shopping centers, we ended up eating at the air conditioned food court just outside the side entrance to our apartment complex. I ordered Satay (36 sticks of pork, chicken and mutton for Mable and me, plus some to share), while the kids had chicken rice (which is all that Skylan wants to eat these days). We ad freshly made fruit juces afterward – watermelon, kiwi and honeydew.
I will write more on our adventures in food-land during our remaining days in Singapore in my next blog, which I will probably write on our flight to Bangkok today.
Here is a photo of our Fish Head Curry served with banana leaf plates.