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.
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.
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.
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.