Singapore: Writing from the Modern Past

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Nowadays, there is almost nothing the shopping mall doesn’t throw at us, and it’s usually the Asian ones which are most flamboyant of all. Good news for those who like an architectural accoutrement to their retail/culinary experience. So if you’re thinking about venturing to the south-east Asian dynamo you need only know that Singapore has an abundance of all three to choose from. Let’s tackle the former first. Almost a by word for the little red dot itself, shopping makes up a large slice of its economic vision for visitors and locals alike. For starters the recent Marina Bay Sands complex is part casino, part art science and part museum and hotel. ‘ionorchard’ is a fashionista paradise, an art gallery and observatory while still housing the familiar ‘brand’ names and the massive Suntec city complex contains the all important conference centre. All of which make the still gleaming white Cathay centre somewhat cumbersome with its old hat gym and multiplex cinema. But it’s Chinatown that proves Singapore has a grittier dingy side. Its ageing concrete malls are a showcase for less classy culinary offerings while the upper levels cater to those in need of medical attention; be prepared for photographic evidence of people’s more intimate ailments for all to see!


Every mall has its hawker stalls; cheap dishes that not surprisingly centre around rice and mostly feature meat or fish – vegetarians can have a harder time of finding somewhere or something to munch (again some of the imagery won’t please the feint hearted; especially that of fish head curry and dead chickens). Breakfast is a little lighter on the eye and digestive system and usually comprises runny eggs (normally in a bowl) and toast spread with local delicacy Kaya; a sweet jam coloured green by the pandan leaf. For about £1.50 or SG$4 you can couple it with varying coffee formats (Koppi-O, Koppi-C etc.) The key here is different milks and most are very sweet! Sugar is sometimes added even if you don’t ask so be careful of that. The more discerning traveller may want to wander down to Clarke Quay, a clutch of swanky cafés, bars and clubs offering chill (The Clinic and Kandi Bar) and party options in the form of legendary Ministry of Sound. For Cuisine options check out, Bice and The Pump Room. I have been through Singapore several times now and I still haven’t got round to sampling the Singapore sling, maybe next time.

*original article from my visit in 2007


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