Singapore Series: Shock Therapy! Part I of III

I knew for a fact from recall that Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures – predominantly Chinese, Malay and Indian. Part of what excites me during an international trip is that I get to immerse myself in the local culture of a place. In Singapore’s case, I told myself to take in what I can and embrace the info overload. Sooner or later, how the Indian, Chinese, Malay and other influences coexist will eventually come out. What I didn’t expect was the rush to experience it all in my last two and a half days. I say, “What better way to get over the shock than to expose yourself to more than you should?”

Things to Do in Singapore: Embrace Mixed Indian Influences
We went looking for Little India. There were colorful pastel 2-floored shops selling Indian wear,


and all sorts of stuff.

They looked like the Peranakan houses in Orchard Road.

Things to Eat in Singapore: Vegetarian Indian Food
I asked a new Singaporean friend for a recommendation and she told me to go to Komala Vilas.

I love Indian food, I just haven’t been to a Vegetarian Indian restaurant before.

We had my favorite Palak Paneer (Spinach and Cottage Cheese), some Samosa (Not a fan of Potato Stuffed Pastry), Aloo Gobi Masala (Potato Cauliflower Curry), Paneer Mutter (Peas and Cottage Cheese), Naan, Mango Lassi and Tea for lunch.

I would probably had ordered some Gulab Jamun for dessert if I knew you can order and it was just not in the menu.

Things to Do in Singapore: Find Arab Street
Here we have the Sultan Mosque,

a nice row of souvenir shops

and a perfume shop.

This is a very quiet neighborhood.

Things to Do in Singapore: Visit Haji Lane near Arab Street!

I saw color everywhere, from bright to pastel, and the lane was still sleeping in the afternoon.

I figured not a lot of people know about this place.

Or it was just too hot at this time of day to go exploring in Singapore.

Novelty and specialty shops began to appear mid-way.

I thought of our Cubao Expo.

Haji Lane was a place for young designers and personal shoppers ready with unique or mix-and-match or hard-to-find fashion finds to let you try out in their little cute and posh stores.

Things to Do in Singapore: Hang Out and Play with the Ice Cream Man
We couldn’t stand the heat that afternoon for some reason. It was actually unbearable. We saw The Ice Cream Man in Haji Lane and we couldn’t resist having any ice cream with the weather.

We found lots of board games, cards and childhood games and we squeezed in one table to play. Remember snakes and ladders, mibao and pick-up sticks?

We played Monopoly Deal, had tons of fun and lost track of time inside The Ice Cream Man! Who wouldn’t fall in love with this place in Singapore?

Things to Eat in Singapore: Unusually Flavored Ice Cream!
The Ice Cream Man had very unusual flavors so it wasn’t difficult to be interested. They had soy sauce flavor, sontery beer sorbet, wasabi flavor, soursop sorbet, martini flavor, Japanese green tea flavor, rum and raisin and a few more.

The server said that all of their flavors change every day and only durian sorbet and chocolate remain constant in their selection.

I went for peppermint and coffee. I like it better than the usual chocolate and mint that we have at home.

Things to Do in Singapore: Marvel at St. Andrew’s Cathedral
I saw St. Andrew’s Cathedral near the City Hall MRT Station when we were heading towards Funan DigitaLife Mall – plenty of electronics there. 

St. Andrew’s took my breath away for a moment there.

Things to Do in Singapore: Read about Singapore at a Bookstore!
We were back in Orchard Road by dinnertime, all tired from all the walking and the heat. My friends were looking for some books and we went to the Takashimaya Bookstore. 

I first fell in love with the air conditioning then decided to sit down on the floor of the Travel section and read more about what Singapore is for those who were inspired to write about it. One of the books that caught my attention was Marion Bravo-Bhasin’s Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette Singapore.

There was an extensive list of must-tries and I was curious as to how many things I’ve experienced that were unknowingly in his list too.

Things to Do in Singapore: Stay Indoors, Talk Green and Have Air Conditioning!
I was present to one more thing at that time. I agree with my Singaporean friend Karen when we talked about the heat and she said that for her, air conditioning is the best invention for the people of Singapore. Staying indoors and entering an almost always air-conditioned room in Singapore will light you up. This must be an explanation for the scarcity of people you see in the streets. I also learned about the haze that comes to Singapore every August to September. She said the air gets smoky from the burning of trees in nearby countries during these times of year. We also talked about why there is a need to put a lot of green all over the country.

Singapore is One Fine City so keep letting it shock you.