Friday, March 4, 2011

Exploring Singapore

If you have been keeping up with my blog, you've probably noticed that I've been in and out of the country a few times and haven't spent many weekends in Singapore.  This isn't because there isn't a lot to do on this 271.8 square mile island, there's actually a lot to do.  I have yet to see the Night Safari, Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, hit the hiking trails, experience "Asia's Favorite Playground" (Sentosa Amusement Park), shop at the famous Bugis Street markets, check out the museums, and get acquainted with the many hidden treasures of the city.

When I first got here, when most locals spoke to me, it sounded like a foreign language.  I can definitely say that during the 6 weeks (I can't believe it's been that long!) I've been here, I have been able to pick up on the local accent.  It's a huge relief because I feel so rude when people speak to me in English and I respond with "what?", "sorry?", "come again", "pardon", and then eventually just smile, give a forced giggle, and say "yeah...".

This week, I was able to explore a couple new places in Singapore!  On Monday, a group of us went to Wine Connection for Tim's birthday.  This is one of my favorite places!  The wine and cheese is so good for a good price too.  It makes me feel classy.  It's the first place I've had cheese that isn't processed.  Coming from Wisconsin, the largest cheese producer in the United States, where I consistently have at least 4 different types of cheese in my fridge, it was refreshing.  With the wine and cheese, we got platters to share filled with cold cuts, olives, bruschetta, bread with spreads, and much more.  Wine Connection is located in Robertson Quay, one of my many Quay's in Singapore where there is always so much to do.

My classy friends waiting for the bus.  L to R: Parisa, Maggie, Morgan, Kira, Tim, Emma, Cass, Alex.


Cheese :)
Me, Alex, Cass

On Wednesday, I FINALLY made it to Little India and Mustafa with Emma.  Being in Little India really felt like being in another country!  It definitely doesn't feel like the rest of Singapore.  It was disorderly, much dirtier, and not diverse in a cultural sense like the rest of Singapore... which I guess makes sense because it's Little "India".  The streets were filled with stalls selling produce, spices, flowers, and anything else you can think of.  Every time I took a picture people gave me funny looks - resulting in me not getting many pictures.  I'm sure I'll be back there though and I promise to get more pictures!

We went to an Indian restaurant called Kashmir (named after a territory in Northern India) that was recommended by Lonely Planet.  There were locals in the restaurant, which is always a good sign.  They played traditional Indian music that gave it a good vibe.  Before I came here, I had no idea that there was a difference between Northern Indian food and Southern Indian food.  Southern Indian food is very focused on vegetarianism.  The service and the food were both excellent.  Afterwards, we went to a different place to try some Indian sweets!  The desserts in Asia are not what I'm typically used to.  The sweets of SE Asia are usually between-meal snacks made from sticky rice, shaved ice with syrup, beans cooked in sugar, and many others.  Indian sweets are usually dry or syrupy and are almost always consist of reduced milk, ground almonds, and sugar.  The tastes are very different any may have to be acquired, but I really enjoyed them.  The Indian dessert I had reminded me a lot of the Filipino sweets that I loved growing up.

Kashmir, the restaurant we went to.
Our food.  I got some kind of chicken cooked with yogurt gravy sauce and seasoning.  Emma got fried eggplant.  We also got naan with some yogurt dip!  yummm
They gave this to us at the end of the meal and we had NO idea what it was or what to do with it and were a little embarrassed to ask.  Do you eat it?  Do you smell it?  Does anyone know?!  Help me out here.
After dinner we headed to Mustafa, which is a 24 hour shopping center located in Little India.  It's like a huge department store.  They have literally everything!  I didn't get any pictures, so you'll have to take my word for it.  It's known to be pretty cheap.  The quality of some of the stuff is questionable, but they do have some nice things too.  They had a HUGE section dedicated to men's underwear alone.  The only thing I bought was a money belt because I'm kind of a paranoid traveller.  Hopefully I'll be put at ease when my passport and money are plastered to my body.

That pretty much concludes my visit to Little India and I'll get some pictures of it soon!  I'm also staying in Singapore this weekend for what seems like the first time in a verryyy long time.  I'm excited to explore more of the island and catch up on my studies before I leave for the Philippines for Spring Break!!!

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