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…otherwise known as the National Dish of Singapore.  I have a little debate going on with my foodie friend as to whether or not this dish is as delicious as its reputation suggests.  She argues nay, but I’m firmly on the side of the yeas.

What else can you eat in this town that is so cheap ($2 USD), so simple, so easy to find, so light, and doesn’t leave you feeling like there’s a frat party going on in your stomach?  Sometimes I just don’t want a meal with all the spice or the oil or the fried foods.  And compared to some of the other fare, chicken rice is relatively healthy (well, assuming you don’t eat the fatty skin).

To see if I was missing something, I went to the hawker stall at Maxwell Centre where Anthony Bourdain famously declared that the chicken rice was “so fragrant and delicious that it can be eaten on its own.” You can see part 1 of the Singapore episode of No Reservations below.  He also does a great job of showing how they make the dish (around the 3:00 mark).

On that note, I think I’ll go have some chicken rice!

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It was a particularly exhausting day and all I really wanted to do was unwind with a glass of vino rosso.

But Oh! did I get so much more. 

Cue booming voiceBEHOLD!

I give you Lamb Sucking Teet!

T promised to take me to the Swiss restaurant, Marche, for a big, healthy dinner of fresh veggies and that coveted glass of Merlot, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I turned a corner and encountered the pastoral scenery.

Who thought that it would be a good idea to have a life-size display of a lamb sucking its mother’s nipples?  Better yet – who decided to animate the display?  Did they have an incredible sense of humor or simply watch one too many episodes of Lamb Chop?  Who orders meat after walking past that?  Does it subconsciously make people hungry?  Did a Swiss person design it?  A Singaporean?  Why???

I need another glass of wine.

Check out that raw, doughy, 6-braided goodness!

Not only did I learn a couple of tricks at Simcha’s challah-baking class, but I also came away with a week’s worth of decent breakfasts.  Now if only I could find an alternative to Nescafe…

Inspired by Nicole’s stylish friend to do a little window shopping on Ann Siang Hill, I set off to Chinatown armed with my camera and my girlfriends.

I had originally hoped to capture the trendiness of the Ann Siang boutique shops and cafés, but I was too busy looking for Theroux’s latest travel essays (thanks for the tip, Olga!) at Books Actually and sampling free patisserie goodies from K-ki sweets to get some quality shots.

Instead I’m giving you pictures from the street hawkers in Chinatown, which in my opinion are just as interesting and perhaps a little more timeless than trendy.

Bold LanternsChopsticks
Chinese New Year Cakes

Left to right from the top: (1) Hanging lanterns in a store off Pagoda Street, (2) friends in the orchid garden, (3) rows and rows of lovely chopsticks for sale, (4) very, very dry persimmons, (5) the worlds largest spinning prayer wheel (supposedly), (6) nian gao factory cakes, or chinese new year cakes, (7) more photogenic lanterns, (8) roasting chesnuts, and (9) ripped statue guarding the Red Temple.

In the ongoing series, Conversations with Singaporeans, I relay some of my more entertaining exchanges with the locals.  For some more useful Singlish phrases, please visit:  http://web.singnet.com.sg/~huatman/spore.html

Sunny afternoon, in a taxi, passing beneath colorful street decorations in Little India:

Uncle Cab Driver: Oh you see these decorations?  For Indian holiday Diwali.

Me: Are you sure?  I think Diwali was in October.  Maybe they’re for Chinese New Year?

Uncle:  Ohhh nooooo lah.  This where India live.  No Chinese!  Chinese live back there. Gestures wildly to the west. Pauses. You say Diwali October? Maybe not taking decorations down.

Me: No, I don’t think these were here last week.

Uncle: Ohhh really? Pause. Ohhh you right.  This is actually, new Indian holiday!

Me: Becoming skeptical. Oh yeah?  Which one?

Uncle: Cannot remember name.  Is the holiday where you walk on the hot fire charcoal.

Me: Getting excited. Ooh walking on hot coals!  That sounds really neat!

Uncle: Ohhh nooo lah!  Cannot!  You burn feet cannot walk for months!  You cannot pay me one THOUSAND dollars to do this.  Ohhh nooo tsk tsk tsk…

Me: I don’t know Uncle, one thousand dollars is a lot of money.  I think I might do it for one thousand dollars.  What about two thousand?  Would you do it for two thousand dollars?

Uncle: Aiyah! CanNOT! Tsk..you get one thousand dollar then pay one million dollar in hospital.  In bed five months!  CanNOT lah!

Me: Well, if all the Indians do it, it can’t be so bad.

Uncle: Oh this because I forget – you have to be vegetarian one month before you walk on charcoal.

MeSkepticism resurfacing. You have to do what?

Uncle:  Cannot eat meat one whole month.  Otherwise your sistahs and children not get blessings.

Me: Clearly disappointed. What? Wait, if you eat meat your sister won’t get a blessing when you walk on burning coals a month later?

Uncle: Proudly. Correct!

Further investigation reveals that the decorations were for Pongal, the South Indian harvest festival that includes such customs as: setting yellow pumpkin flowers in cow-dung balls, chasing running cattle, and covering your bulls with shining metal caps.  No burning coals.

Foiled again.  Kiersten 0, Taxi Drivers 2.

Despite a slightly inauspicious start to the day, my 37-hour birthday extravaganza was heaps of fun!  A *Big Thank You* to you, my very thoughtful friends and family, who made the day so extra extraordinary in every time zone.  You make me feel so special and I’m incredibly grateful to have you in my life.  I’m sending you all virtual bear hugs!

Last January 19th I bought myself an iPhone, so this year I thought I would tone it down and treat myself to an extravagant birthday cab ride to the office, but my plans were foiled when not a single taxi would stop to pick me up.  In retrospect it might have been the universe’s way of saying: “Walk your plump derrière to work!  We’ve got cupcakes to eat!” because my sweetheart of a friend, Sheralyn, baked me the most delicious chocolate yogurt cupcakes (feast your eyes on her handiwork below):

The day only got better when (1) we started toying with the idea of a trip to Nepal, (2) my colleagues organized a lunch outing to the most delicious Indian buffet, (3) my inbox was flooded with facebook love, and (4) Gal pimped out my MRT card with Asian kitch.  Check out the before and after:

Is there an MRT rider more happenin’ than me?  I think NOT!  I rounded out the day with a lovely dinner at Mondo Mio pizzeria and a big gathering at Loof with Meir (who also celebrated his bday) & co.

My heart is overflowing with happiness and gratitude.  Thank you everyone for making my day so wonderful!

And to you, Singapore taxi drivers: we’ll tango again tomorrow morning.

Sarah, Mira, Alex and I took a bum-boat to Pulau Ubin this weekend and spent the day cycling and basking in the island sun.

The four of us sat on the beach, munched on homemade TTCC sandwiches (tuna, tomato, cheese and chips..yum!) and mused about what we would be doing on a typical weekend in our home countries: France, England and America.  Where else in the world can you hop on a $2.50 ferry, bike around a lush jungle, lounge on the sand, and then come home to finish your laundry and be back on the subway to work the next morning?

The whole time we were riding around the island and watching the wind blow through the palm trees, I couldn’t help but think to myself: I live here…

One of my favorite things about living in Singapore is that I can go Bhangra dancing pretty much any night of the week!  This picture is from Saturday night before getting sweaty at the Rupee Room:

Definitely not as infamous as Bollyween, but incredibly fun nonetheless!

And I don’t mean maybe.

If you enjoyed the Phua Chu Kang MRT video, then please brace yourself for what might be the most amazing public service announcement in the history of EVER.  You’re welcome.

Stumbled across this bad boy last week.   I live a few blocks down the street from a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple and consequently a big, sleepy Buddha.  Fortunately I don’t live close enough to hear the early morning chanting.

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Only in Asia, man…

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