Singapore: The New and Constant

January 12-15, 2012

A quick look at my passport showed that I get the chance to see Singapore every 3 years.  This is not planned, just a coincidence :)  The last time I was there, the Singapore Flyer was still being constructed, Marina Bay Sands and Universal Studios Singapore weren't even around yet.  It is good to see the many physical developments in this little yet rich nation.  Singapore is a testimony to what good governance can do to create order and progress in a country.  This is part of the reason why it's always good to be a tourist in Singapore.  Everything is put in place for you: reliable transport, numerous attractions to try, a plethora of shopping options, and a great food experience.  

Assorted Satay
While Singapore's facade keep changing, I am glad that some things still remain the same: good food just about anywhere.  I should mention their satay.  Go to Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, and sample one of the many hawker centers there that offer traditional Singaporean dishes and international cuisine.  As it was our first time to eat here, we got a table inside the market, not knowing that there was an open dining area.  (Tip:  Get a table outside as it is much cooler and you'll get to see satay being grilled.)  We tried a selection of satay: mutton, beef, and chicken.  These were pretty good especially when dipped into the peanut-butter sauce.  We also ordered some cereal prawn and lemon prawns.  To get here, alight at the Raffles Place MTR and follow the signs to Lau Pau Sat.  It's just a 5-min walk.

Lau Pa Sat Festival Market

No Signboard's White Pepper Crab
Of course, one cannot leave Singapore without indulging in crabs!  Probably the best crabs I've ever, ever had is the White Pepper Crab from No Signboard in VivoCity.   You must have heard of the  more famous version, Chili Crab, but I like the white pepper crab better.  The sauce is light, slightly sweet and quite obviously, peppery :)  The spiciness in the traditional chili crab can be overwhelming for some who are not used to spicy food.  The white pepper crab is a good alternative.  We ordered Alaskan King Crabs, the legs of which are thick, long and filled with meat.  The restaurant staff offered to cut open the shell so all we had to do was just to pick the meat away.  No mess at all :)

A must-try also is their Cereal Prawns.  How they cooked it was excellent-- the prawns were very soft, and the cereal crumb coat was to die for.  Compared to the ones we had in Lau Pa Sat, No Signboard's version was a thousand times better.  This is a keeper!

Cereal Prawns

There are so many more dishes to rave about from No Signboard (deep-fried spicy baby squid, deep-fried butter chicken, mushroom with vegetable, etc), but I should stop myself before this turns out into a foodie blog.  Also while in Singapore, go get yourself a bowl of good laksa and a serving of  of Hainanese Chicken Rice. Oooh, Chicago's famous Garrett's Popcorn has also arrived in Singapore.  I was so happy to see it here!  You must try the Chicago Mix: a very addicting blend of CaramelCrisp and CheeseCorn.

There, I shared my two-cents' worth.  Enough about food and on to the new attractions! :)

Sci Fi City's roller coasters
Universal Studios Singapore.  Just like the one in the US, this theme park offers entertainment, shows and rides for the young and the old.  Perfect for kids who have already tried any of the Disneylands.  Try to visit on a weekday so that the queue for the rides is short.  You wouldn't need to purchase the Express Pass.  Allot the whole day for a park visit.

I especially liked the the Transformers the Ride in 3D.  It's an awesome "ride" with imaginary plunges, twists and turns.  I was not brave enough to try the real rides (The Mummy and Battlestar Galactica), but I'm sure they are equally fun :)

Far Far Away and Madagascar are great for kids.  "Donkey Live" is hilarious!  As in almost all theme parks, the characters come out at certain times of the day for photo opportunities with park guests :)

We are a Ogre-loving family!

Other highlights include the Waterworld Stunt Show and the "Lights, Camera, Action" show, where Steven Spielberg presents how a hurricane is 'created' in a sound stage.

Towering over the Singapore skyline is Marina Bay Sands.  You can't miss this as this is the largest (with over 2,500 rooms, all pretty much booked every single day) and most popular resort/casino in the land.  It boasts of the Sands SkyPark on the 57th floor.  I could attempt to describe it bu Marina Bay Sands website does it best:

The SkyPark's pool overlooking Singapore's skyline
"Stretching longer than the Eiffel Tower laid down or four and a half A380 Jumbo Jets, with an impressive 12,400 square meters of space, the Sands SkyPark can host up to 3,900 people.  The gravity-defying cantilever is one of the largest of its kind in the world.  From this privileged observation deck, hundreds of visitors at a time can feast their eyes on the unforgettable panorama view of Singapore."

Down below is the casino, which I learned charges an entrance fee of SGD100 for Singaporeans.  Apparently, the government has taken this step given the concern of many Singaporeans about legalizing a casino in the country.  The proceeds are given to charity.  Kudos to the government for taking the necessary measures to ensure that gambling does not become a national problem.

From one SkyPark to another, VivoCity's SkyPark is also worth seeing for its unique design and architecture.  Though this has been open since 2006, it was a first for us to visit the place.  The wading pools and wood walkways lend much interest to the traditional mall.  One can see Sentosa's cable car from here as well.

VivoCity's SkyPark

Night view from VivoCity Harbourfront

Orchard Road still draws a lot of tourists and shoppers.  We came a few days before the Chinese New Year so all the big malls and hotels flanking this street were all dressed to the nines.  The PHP-SGD exchange rate though is a pain, making me think twice about shopping here.  It's a lot cheaper to shop in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

Another constant is the SG$1 ice cream sandwich  along Orchard Road!  This is a block of ice cream in between thin wafers.  I can't believe how many years have passed and this sweet treats still costs a dollar.   Must try if you still haven't :)

So this is Singapore--- I love the new and constant things it offers. I'm sure that in another 3 years, I'll see a new park here or a new mall there.  It's always comfortable and easy to return here. Any trip of mine to Singapore is essentially a food trip and I always return to Manila satisfied.  The attractions are, let's say, side dishes.  A value meal, don't you think?  :)

*All the photos used here are Skycab's own.