Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hello Singapore...Again!

We arrived in Singapore after an unexciting flight at 8 at night. Dave and I attempted the train with all of our luggage and then hiked to Chris's palace in Orchard Park. Ahh, it was so nice to be back in luxury! And to see a familiar (and friendly) face again was definitely welcomed! We headed out to Chris's new favorite hawker restaurant which was nearby. The weather was beautiful, so we walked over and sat outside. This meal was delicious (like all our others!). Chris did the ordering and we were glad he did. We started out with fried rice and shrimp. What was interesting was that you were meant to eat the entire shrimp! You take off the head and then eat the rest, shell and all. Both Dave and I tried this once, and once was enough. It was worth it to me to get my hands a bit dirty. We also had Grouper - Hong Kong style. Delish! This was basically a steamed grouper in a really nice sauce. The final dish was black pepper crab (of course, this was delicious as well. sweet with a little bite) . Conversation was great. Many talks about Dave and his future post-MBA, discussions with me about finding a job (and the right job for me).

We stopped on our way home in one of the many food courts and of course had to try some Singaporean dessert. Being the health-conscious person I am, I thought I was ordering the healthiest - fruit ice. Little did I know, there were 5 different types of ice, chocolate syrup, and random jelly-type pieces on the bottom. Mine turned out to be even bigger than Dave's Volcano Ice cream. Serves me right, but it was good. We headed home next - we were exhausted.

It's fair to say that the 6 weeks had finally caught up with us. We rolled out of bed around 10 and headed over to Suntec to have lunch with Chris. Suntec is just a different type of place, only way to describe it. It is 5 large buildings surrounding a huge (Guinness-book?) fountain. Two of the floors are shops - they keep going in all different directions, no rhyme or reason. There are also around 3 different enormous food courts. It was crazy! We met up with Chris and went out for a traditional Chicken and Rice dish (very Singaporean). We topped this off with some type of sweet bun. Both were really good and I was a little disappointed we tried them so late in our trip, I would have liked to have it again.

Chris had to head back to work, so Dave and I decided to enjoy the day and walk down to the harbor to see the Merlion, the symbol of Singapore with is half mermaid, half lion (go figure). It was really hot out, so this was a short stay.

We took some pictures and headed down the river to Clarks Quay a cute area with lots of little restaurants and bars. We kept going in an attempt to find the subway. We walked, and walked and walked until we finally came across the beginning of Chinatown where we were able to grab some tasty Asian iced coffee and asked for directions to the subway (around the corner). A train ride founded us back in Orchard Road to roam the many malls, only to come home with nothing (which was good after everything we had already bought). We were able to rest a bit back at the palace and then we were off again!

This time, we headed back to Suntec and got off at Raffles, home of the original Singapore Sling. How can you come to Singapore without this? The hotel is beautiful, old, colonial style. We took a seat in the Long Bar (the main bar) and were very pleased with our $23 drink (you better be for that price). Yes they were pink, Yes they were fruity, but both men drank theirs with grace and confidence

Our final stop for our trip, and the one that has been haunting us since we first ate in Singapore, was back to the home of the fish head curry - Little India. Our waiter at the Long Bar recommended Muthu's - also in Little India. We had such a great dinner - fried okra, butter chicken, chole, and, of course, Fish Head Curry. It actually was delicious and who knew there was so much meat in the fish head. However, it still was slightly spooky to have your food staring you in the eye as it was served. Dinner was wonderful, company was great, and it was the perfect way to end our 6 week life-changing adventure.

We headed back to the Palace in order to have time to repack our 60 pounds of clothes we had shipped from Vietnam (refer back to Hanoi's blogs) and get all of our stuff ready for our big day. Then - bed time.

Our alarm went off at 4:30 the next morning and Chris was waiting for us with the luggage cart (thank goodness because we had a ton of stuff!). Chris was such a gracious host and we really had a great time with him! We said our goodbyes, got into the taxi, and we were off to the airport.

We got onto the plane without incident and had a very nice trip to Shanghai, including some type of lo mien (I love how all the airlines here feed you food - included in the price of the ticket). We landed in China and started going through customs. The lady that checked us in at Singapore did not give us our connecting ticket and we did not have a copy of our itinerary, therefore, the customs agents were slightly suspicious of us. I almost got through, until I decided to help Dave out. Big mistake. We had to hand over our passports to the agents and wait for a united rep. to come get us. Luckily, this was not a long wait, however, being in China, sans-passport was a slightly disturbing feeling. We headed over to the 1.5 hour line to recheck in our bags and get our tickets and then back through security. We wandered past all the many restaurants and with little knowledge of what anything was (very VERY different than American Chinese restaurants), we ended up eating at Burger King (don't judge).

We boarded the plane and I ended up, once again, in the middle seat. Not only that, I was next to a man wearing a jogging suit which kept rubbing against my arm. It was so irritating. Not only that, United only shows one movie, you don't get to pick which movie you want. But, the 17 hours passed (slowly) and we ended up in O'Hare. Now, from all my times travelling back and forth several years ago to Iowa, the one thing I learned is never to take a United connection through O'Hare. NEVER! I don't think Dave believed me, but not I think they have made him a believer. From the moment we landed, our flight was already delayed. No biggie, but as we waited, and the time got closer to boarding, the flight would get pushed back even more until eventually 3 hours later, we were ready to go. Now, one more thing you have to understand at this point is that we have been out of the country for 6 weeks so we have no phone, no US dollars, and no idea how much a pay phone even costs to call our parents, but we were able to exchange some Singaporean dollars and figure out how to use those antiquated machines they call pay phones

One more uneventful flight and then there were my parents faces, shining back at us at the end of security. What a wonderful feeling to be back on the same ground as them, and back on the same land as our home. Our trip was over, but we now take so many things away from this - all to be addressed in our next, and final blog. Stay tuned!