Day 5: sleeping on 2019

Well, last night was certainly eventful. To say the least, we were almost stranded on the other side of the country, which admittedly isn’t as extreme as it sounds for such a small country. But still, it was very late, and the trains we took to get here were dwindling in numbers. After frantically catching the last trains, we all made it back to our rooms safe and sound. Eventually, I woke up that morning and went out for a little breakfast and shopping. I never really paid attention to a lot of the grocery items, but this section caught my eye.

Delicious chips and snacks of many varieties

Although I generally nowadays try to avoid the delicious, fried goodness of potato chips, I do appreciate all the different flavors and regional varieties. I used to be a man of original flavor chips, but now I am a little more bold with my tastes.

Seaweed and Kimchi, who would’ve known

I didn’t end up purchasing any of these delicious looking chips, but I certainly will try my best to procure some from the comfort of my home in the states.

After a day of recovery and relaxation, we went out to dinner at this nice Indonesian restaurant near the National Museum of Singapore and downtown. It was truly a hidden gem, being at the top floor of a seemingly shadier looking shopping mall. The food was delicious and of such a great variety. Standouts for me were the beef rendang and their homemade tahu helor. 8.6/10 Howdies, wish I could get refills on those delicious Singaporean drinks.

Singapore seems to be a fan of Disney

One thing that really stood out me to during these first days were that Singapore, from the perspective of a Vietnamese American U.S. Citizen, is that there was a feeling of interconnectedness in Singapore. To me, it felt like a nicer, cleaner extension of the United States, while at the same time, housing rich diversity of Asian cultures in such a dense area. Much of the technology and architecture felt very Western, and a lot of the upscale city life felt similar to that of New York or Dallas. The people were overall very friendly and sociable, and spoke English with enough proficiency to not feel that all foreign. For me, I am used to Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, so I found the food to be not too much of a far stretch and frankly quite delicious for the price compared to the United States. The presence of many American and Western brands also helped reinforce that familiar feeling. On nearly every major mall or city area you’d be bound to find a McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Nike, Adidas, H&M, and much more.

Another thing I noticed while exploring the hawker food stands and the local shops was the how family played a role in connecting everything around. At a lot of hawker stands and family restaurants, the entire family is helping out and working some part of the restaurant. Whether it’s cooking the food or bussing tables, nearly everyone is involved in some capacity. The familial unit is seen as paramount and central to the success and connectedness of a family in a lot of Asian cultures. This somewhat contrasts a lot of U.S. ideology of how after a certain point, a lot of children become very independent and families aren’t as closely knit. By getting children involved in restaurant and food work early on, they do get a lot of first hand experience with what their parents are in charge of. Something we also learned about in the cooking class we would attend was how the popularity of cooking was on a decline in Singapore due to the availability of cheap food. By passing on their knowledge of cooking and food to their children, Singaporean parents can keep their legacy around for years to come. I found the interconnectedness between food and family to be quite interesting.

Day 4: NYE

Today was the day of the big beach party tonight. During the daytime we went to the mall for shopping. I ended up buying some nice maroon chino shorts and a t shirt for the party. At around 5 we went to look for a place to eat and get some drinks, since we anticipated that the beach party would have exorbitantly overpriced drinks. Despite intense debate, we ended up settling on a Mexican restaurant.

Excited to find a Mexican restaurant far from Texas

We were a bit skeptical at first about this so called “Mexican Restaurant”. With most of us being native Texans and spending many years in Bryan/College Station, we’d seen eaten our share of Mexican food. Initial impressions were promising, as the menu was very authentic and captured that vibrant, latin vibe.

Looks Legit

So authentic, in fact, when we read the back of the menu, we were a bit surprised to find out about the poor mixologist’s fate.

…Well then…

Each person at our table of about 11 opted for the “2 margs for 15” deal. It turned out to be pretty good, and actually had a nice amount of alcohol in it without it being too overbearing.

We were all pretty hungry too, so me and two other friends opted to split a Taco fiesta which consisted of 10 4-inch tacos. I had the chicken and baja fish and it turned out to be pretty delicious. The chicken was tender and well flavored in al pastor sauce with pineapples. The baja fish was crispy and light and had a nice sauce with it as well. 8.7/10 Howdies

Taco Fiesta with Barbacoa, Chicken, and Baja Fish. 8.7/10 Howdies

After having a good time at the Mexican restaurant, we made our way upstairs to the monorail (which was reasonably packed) and after a bit of walking we finally arrived to the beach party. We didn’t really know what to expect from the beach party on how much hype and “litness” it’d be, but it certainly looked great.

Beach party entrance

Essentially, the party consisted of a bunch of drink booths, a foam pit with a separate group of DJs, and the main concert stage, which was where spent most of the night at.

Party as seen from the drinking area

We apparently were given a complimentary free drink, which seemed to be just some weak rum and Coke. After that, we went to the main dance area and started busting the moves.

It was hot, everyone was sweaty, the smells were interesting, but it was a night to remember.

T

We were all smiles before we entered the Foam Zone.

A New Year’s Eve Party to remember

Here we are, inside the foam zone. which despite the name turned out to be a horrific hellhole of survival. The foam cannot mercilessly douses everyone in chemical foam, blinding and choking everyone in its direct path. I genuinely am amazed that I survived that. Even as I kept wiping foam from my face, more foam would take over, slowly enclosing over until my entire body was covered in foam.

A New Year’s Eve Party to remember

Despite our journey into the battlefield known as the Foam Zone, we made it out with our lives and some amazing memories. I certainly haven’t had this much fun before on a New Year’s Eve.

A New Year’s Eve Party to remember

Day 3: Pre-Beach party Beach Party

After being exhausted and tired from walking around sightseeing all day yesterday, we went out for some morning yoga and back to Changi City Point to get some breakfast.

Breakfast in the morn

The stuffed waffle was cheap but delicious and piping hot. Great wake me up in the morning and would definitely recommend. Although, you will probably want to eat it ASAP as one of our friends tried to save some for lunch and it wasn’t as good. 7.9/10 Howdies

After breakfast we commuted via a long MRT ride down to the big VivoCity mall and from there took a monorail down to Siloso Beach to check it out and have some fun before the beach party the next day.

The beach felt like a usual one in the States (sorta like Florida). It was clean and had white sand of sorts, but it was interesting to see how it was both coarse and fine grain sand. The water was nice and we did some watersports like kayaking and paddle boarding. The waters were a little choppy and rough though so we had a fun time struggling just to keep afloat.

After we had thoroughly soaked up the sun (some more than others), we explored around the island a bit. We had already seen the small Merlion at Marina Bay, but we were surprised to find a giant Merlion on the island. We also found a nice little photo spot and ran into our old friend Vin Diesel.

After that, we returned to the VivoCity mall through the Sentosa monorail and had some delicious sushi and sake. The salmon sashimi was amazingly fresh and melt in your mouth. 9/10 Howdies.

Salmon and Sake dinner

Day 2: real explorer hours

Now that the jet lag part of the trip was finished up and we were all pretty acclimated to the local transportation, weather, culture, we could finally venture out to all the beautiful destinations of Singapore! First up, the most important meal of the day.

Kaya Toast with Coffee and some bean paste pastry

After breakfast, we did a little shopping around Changi City Point. Some friends and I figured that for class days we could buy oatmeal since one cool thing about the dorms here is that they have machines that can instantly dispense cold and hot water. We figured this would be more convenient, despite the fact that we are only in Singapore for a very short time, it would be difficult to commute with the metro and back, especially a lot of places only open at around 7am and not earlier. After we finished shopping, our prof took us out to our first hawker food centre. Here, you can get all kinds of delicious and filling food for very cheap.

The place I had for lunch was this stand selling Lor Mee, a Chinese dish popular in Singapore. This hawker stand in particular had apparently been awarded a Michelin star, thus meaning that it was probably pretty good. And that it was, it was absolutely delicious.

Michelin Starred Lor Mee hawker stand

After the hawker stand, we went to one of the big hotspots in all of Singapore, Marina Bay. Since it’s pretty well known that this place is amazing, I don’t have much else to contribute on top of that, so here are a bunch of photos.

Once we wrapped up the night show, we headed back to our dorms and were eager for another day of exploring on Sunday!