2 months. 1 country. Studying abroad and interning. Here is to all the food I eat, people I meet, and adventures I experience in the beautiful country of Singapore. Oh and I guess I'll talk about school and internship related things as well :]
follow me on twitter @shannonluzer
I never thought that I would be leaving the US but when a few friends of mine decided to leave Singapore for Malaysia I had to go! Especially since everybody (and I mean everybody) has already went to Thailand and Indonesia or somewhere outside of Singapore but me. Now it was my turn.
At first I never went out of the country with any other Berkeley kids because I had to work on the weekends since the past weekend was the restaurant opening and whatnot. I also thought that I wasn’t going to be able to go because no one had planned the trip very well so I just thought that I was never going to travel out of Singapore while I can (since I am here already).
Anyways so it was Friday night and we just came back from the Tiger Brewery and kind of still feeling the 45 minute free flow of beer (haha). I ran into a couple of USC and Texas people, Jessica and Jenna, whom we had dinner with and they said how they wanted to go to Malaysia. Well my friend, Anh, and I were like, this is perfect because we wanted to go to! Long story short, Jessica bought the tickets that night for a early morning bus ride for the next morning. Talk about spontaneity! We hopped on the bus at 845am and we were off to Melaka, which was about 4 hours bus ride away.
The bus ride took longer than I thought, it took about 5 hours, and we ended up getting to Melaka at around 3pm. We were dropped off at the bus terminal and had no idea where we were or how to get to the destination we wanted to go to. Also, it didn’t help that I have heard some horror stories about people going to Malaysia and getting robbed, or in my ex-boss’ case getting kidnapped (yes she got KIDNAPPED and was robbed of everything on her body). I was kind of nervous to ask for any help and/or trust anyone’s advice/directions. We sucked it up and finally asked around for some info and headed off to Chinatown. We found out that people here were actually nice.
Apparently a lot of people from Hong Kong come to Melaka to vacation and visit so a lot of people, especially in Chinatown, knew how to speak Cantonese. This was a breath of fresh air because in Singapore, people mainly spoke Mandarin and I was riding the struggle bus when it came to conversing in Mandarin. I was really hungry and couldn’t wait to eat a meal (hah, typical) so I decided to get some street snacks. I caught eye of some fried turnip cake (people call it carrot cake in Singapore for some reason) and decided to order it. DEAR LORD it was the BEST turnip cake I have ever had and that is saying A LOT. It had the perfect crispy and crunchy outer fried shell with a very soft and moist interior. I was in heaven. I loved them so much I bought 6 more for the road for when we were heading back to Singapore. Haha I am a true foodie and fattie at heart.
After I had my fixing of delicious turnip cake, we went to a Chicken rice place that was kind of famous around this area. The chicken was all the same except for the rice. They were rice balls. I was very intrigued and had no idea what to expect but I was very willing to try them. We order a whole chicken, half was roasted chicken and the other half was steamed. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the sauce was delicious. The rice balls had a gingery taste to them and absorbed the sauce very well. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.
We walked around Chinatown some more and decided to walk around. I did a lot of souvenir shopping and we saw these AWESOME carts that were completely decorated in flowers that were manually driven by Malay men. We had to ride on this thing! We rode it all the way to the river and it only cost 10 ringgits ($3 US), what a bargain!
We only spent about 3 hrs in Melaka in total but it was a great trip. I only spent $45 SGD on the bus trip and I had a great time. Although I didn’t get to see as much as I wanted to, I didn’t care. I was just happy to finally leave Singapore and explore another country!
Chicken rice with the rice balls yummmm:
They called Chinatown “Jonker Street” and I don’t know why…:
The awesome flowered bike cart thingy:
Jenny and I on the bike/cart. The guy kept saying “heavy, no problem”…. was he calling us HEAVY?!:
Every week since we have been in Singapore, we would do some really touristy things or go out clubbing and what not. But this weekend, we wanted a little change. A large group of us Berkeley students decided to head of to the little island of Pulau Ubin off of the north east coast of Singapore. I didn’t really know what to expect but from what my boss and friends told me, it was a scenic place that was great for riding bikes. We took the 15 minute ferry ride off to Pulau Ubin and I was so surprised when I got there.
This little island seemed like it would have been Singapore in the old days, before it was industrialized or westernized. It was very rustic and had lots of greenery and shacks. This was such a contrast to the tall skyline that you could see when you look back at the main island of Singapore. When we first arrived there, there were so many shops that were set up for people to rent bikes. All of us, being as excited as we were, ran to the first bike rental shop that we saw and started grabbing the bikes that we wanted to ride, I felt as if I was 5 again fighting for the best gadget! It was only $6 SGD to rent the bikes for an hour or so.
I picked a cute little turquoise beach cruiser that had a basket in the front (I HAD to have a basket on m bike, I couldn’t accept anything else!). Anyways, I haven’t had that much fun riding a bike in YEARS. I just felt so free with the fresh and clean air that filled the island. I was so happy just riding a bike and seeing all of the coconut trees and tall plants that was everywhere. I also haven’t seen that many dogs anywhere else in Singapore. They were all stray dogs that seemed very hungry; it kind of made me sad to see dogs like that.
After we rode our bikes, we were obviously hungry from our intense bike stroll around the island, so we stopped by one of the local restaurants. At this place, I had the pleasure to try the famous Singaporean Chili Crab. I liked the Chili Crab but I didn’t think it was AMAZING like other people make it out to be. I actually prefer Cantonese-style Dungeness Crab to be honest but I did thoroughly enjoy the chili crab. I can now say that I have had every Singaporean National dish, which include Chicken rice, laksa, and chili crab!
All of us have been excited to drink because you know the drinking age here is 18 rather than 21. So when we heard that the Tiger Brewery, under the larger umbrella, Asia Pacific Breweries, was located in Singapore, we HAD to go! They had an offer if you paid $16 SGD, you can get a 45 minute tour of the brewery AND a 45 min free flow of beer! I was so down when they said FREE FLOW BEER. At first I was kind of skeptical about the free flow of beer, since Singapore and alcohol is just darn expensive, and the entire tour plus free flow was ONLY $16 (which is a steal for alcohol in Singapore). But when I got there I was proven wrong.
The brewery tour was very boring to be frank. We just saw one portion of the actual brewery and the rest of the “tour” was a video. But the best part of the tour was when a Tiger Brewery staff member was teaching us how to properly pour the beer from the tap. He gave us the lesson and then he asked for two volunteers to try it. All of the Berkeley classmates were looking at me and I actually really wanted to try so I raised my hand and he picked me to be the first volunteer. Now, I have never poured beer from the tap before (since I am not allowed to in the US) but I have seen people do it many, many times. He said to tilt the glass at a 45-degree angle and stop when there is two fingers worth of room at the top, then to push the beer handle away from me to give it two fingers worth of beer head. So I followed his instructions and it turned out great!! After I did that, he told me that “the real challenge is to finish it all” and so I started to chug the beer (like a true American would, haha). He then quickly said that he was kidding, but by that time I was already half way finished. That was pretty fun :]
Then, it was time for the 45-minute free flow of beer. We were all so excited to get our beer because it was a Friday and we all had finished a long week of work and class. We were informed that we could try any of the beers that they had in stock. These beers included Tiger, Heineken, Guiness, Balmer’s, and more. I couldn’t believe the selection of beers that they had there that they were just giving out for the tour guests! All of us had our share of many beers and we walked out of our free flow session full and feeling gooood.