A Meaty Affair @ Butcher’s Block, Raffles Singapore

Offering some of the world’s finest cuts of meats with a wood-fire-focused dining experience. Butcher’s Block – a buzzing specialty meat restaurant – opened its doors last month to round off the stellar F&B outlets at the revamped Raffles Arcade in Singapore.

Butcher's Block - Restaurant Interior

 

Expect a convivial evening as soon as you step into the restaurant’s stylish adorned interior, which features cobalt blue hues, complementary dark wood panelling and bold brass furnishing and accents.

There’s a glass cooler aptly named The Vault, displaying fine cuts of meats right next to the Open Kitchen, where guests can watch the chefs in action. Adding to the visual appeal is The Library, an exposed wine cellar that houses more than 200 different wine labels, including a good selection of natural wines. For guests who prefer privacy, two private dining rooms, each seating eight persons, are available.

Remy Lefebvre, Chef de Cuisine at Butcher's Block, Raffles Singapore

Presented by Chef de Cuisine Remy Lefebvre, the Butcher’s Block menu is a culmination of his professional culinary experiences across his 16 years of cooking in Qatar, Spain, Grand Cayman among other locales. He favours the time-honoured methods of curing, ageing, fermenting and cooking with wood fire.

Porterhouse

 

The age-old craft of wood fire cooking requires technical skill and employs a variety of techniques, such as smoking, grilling and slow cooking in embers, to impart distinct flavours and aromas that appeal to one’s primal cravings. Meat is not the only thing on the curated a la carte menu – there’s also delectable seafood and vegetables prepared to perfection.

For a unique dining experience, the OAK (One of A Kind) Table offers a fun, theatrical way to experience the cuisine. Only available on Fridays and Saturdays, the OAK Table features off-the-menu delights that are only revealed on the evening itself.

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The menu allows Chef Remy to deliver table side interaction, showcasing special cuts often in limited quantities – whether a small batch of prized beef or even a whole fish dry-aged to achieve remarkable umami notes.

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Completing the experience is a line-up of one bubbly and three wines, selected by the Raffles sommelier team and offered all at once for guests to be able to taste with every dish to discover their own preferences. Priced at SGD398++ per guest, the OAK Table accommodates just eight guests who will be seated at the three-metre long communal table in the middle of Butcher’s Block with an unadulterated view of the action in the kitchen.

BUTCHER’S BLOCK

#02-02 to #02-07, Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 188719

Opening Hours: 6:00pm–10:00pm
Restaurant capacity: 44(2 Private Rooms of 8 persons each)
butchersblock.com.sg

*Photos courtesy of Directions Group Inc Pte Ltd

 

Travelogue: One Night In Singapore

Where would you go if you only had a couple of hours in Singapore? 

Some might make a beeline for Clark Quay and its vibrant bar and club scene, or maybe Orchard Road & Bugis for a spot of late night shopping – but being the nerd that I am, I wanted to go see the Super Trees @ Gardens by the Bay. LOL.

9.00PM

C and I set out from our hotel at Shangri-La, where we took a Grab to the nearest MRT (Somerset – red) and traveled to Dhoby Ghaut. There, we changed to the yellow line heading to Promenade. Gardens by the Bay is literally at the station’s doorstep.

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Spanning over 100 hectares, Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore’s most visited attractions, with beautifully landscaped gardens, conservatories and groves – a literal green oasis in the middle of the city. Walking through the nicely manicured lawns and neat pavements, one can’t help but marvel at the ingenuity behind its design and architecture, as well as the massive effort it must take to upkeep the place.

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The highlight of the Gardens is the Supertree Grove – towering structures of light and steel made to resemble – you guessed it – trees. I think they’ve become even more iconic since the Crazy Rich Asian film: think Singapore, think Supertree Grove.

Theyre’ not only there to look pretty: the trees are essentially ‘vertical’ gardens, with complex technologies such as photovoltaic cells that help it to harness solar energy for the plants, a rainwater collection system for irrigation, as well as air intake and exhaust functions for the conversatories’ cooling systems.

There are light and sound shows twice daily at 7.45 and 8.45PM. Too bad we missed it by the time we arrived. There’s also a restaurant up in one of the trees, and a pedestrian bridge ( you need to pay for that though) if you want to get upclose to the structures.

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A great spot for photos is this illuminated bridge that connects different parts of the vast park, as you’ll be able to see some of the super trees as well as the Singapore Flyer in the distance.

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Also close to the Promenade side of the Gardens is the iconic Marina Bay Sands building,  designed to resemble a ship at the top. There is a convenient pedestrian bridge linking the two, so we made a quick detour to see the sights before returning to the MRT station.

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Tree-lined pedestrian avenue.

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The grand interior of one of the buildings.

10.30 PM

From Promenade, we rode the MRT one stop to Nicoll Highway – C’s usual haunt for food back when she was still working in Singapore. We hadn’t had dinner and our stomachs were rumbling by the time we got to the Golden Mile Complex, which C described as ‘shady but they have good food’ lol. Anything for good food!

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Built in 1973, Golden Mile is an old but clean (is there anywhere dirty in Singapore even?) shopping complex that reminded me strongly of KL’s Ampang Park. Like how Lucky Plaza is a hub for the Filipino community in Singapore, Golden Mile plays host to many Thai businesses, including numerous mookata (grill and steamboat) buffet joints, karaoke spots, mobile phone shops, bars, clubs and the like.

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We popped into a random one that was packed despite the late hour and got a set for two, which was chicken and seafood. Did not realise that it came with liver or would have skipped this, but the rest of the items were good, especially the chicken meat which had been marinated in a flavourful garlicky concoction. Shrimps were large and meaty, but I do wish they had given us a bit more squid.

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For those of you who have never tried mookata, all I can say is that you’re really missing out! It’s extremely popular in Thailand, where it is known as mu kratha, and features a uniquely designed pot with deep edges for boiling, and an elevated centre for grilling. They give you a few slabs of lard to ‘oil’ the grill with, so the meat comes out tasting extra fragrant.

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Of course, no meal would be complete without the quintessential Thai milk tea. The version served here was humongous; almost as tall as my head.

Our meal came up to SGD  25 per pax (screaming at self not to convert it into ringgit) which was reasonable given the portions.

1.30 AM
The last train back to Somerset ran until 12.30AM, and it took us another hour to book a Grab because there were problems with C’s SIM – but all in all, a good couple of hours spent taking in a slice of Singapore. Hope this helps if you’re ever in town for a super short stay. 🙂

 

Last Month To Experience Singapore’s Largest Carnival – The Prudential Marina Bay Carnival

Remember the good ol’ days when a trip to the amusement park meant cotton candy, the smell of popcorn and peanuts, trying to win a plushie at the carnival games and screaming our heads off to thrilling rides?

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

You can relive the nostalgia at the Prudential Marina Bay Carnival – dubbed Singapore’s largest carnival – but better hurry, coz March is the final month to experience the fun before it ends on April 1st.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Open since December 2017 at the iconic Marina Bay Singapore, the carnival covers an impressive 25,000 sq meters of space. That’s equivalent to 3.5 football fields!

There’s plenty to see and do in this giant wonderland, whether it’s exciting rides, carnival games or delicious cuisine. There are over 40 rides and games, some brought in exclusively from European countries for the very first time.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Hop aboard the Star Flyer, a towering ride that offers visitors  an uninhibited 360˚ view of the Singapore skyline from a height of 35-metres while experience the sensation of flying. Then there’s the Booster Maxx, an adrenaline-pumping ride which stands at a whopping 55 metres above ground rotating at a speed that can reach 96km/hour under eight seconds.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Families can also enjoy timeless classics such as the Log Flume, which has gentle turns beforing heading down to a big splash at the end, the Das Fun Schiff pirate ship that takes riders on a voyage as the vessel soars high above while swinging back and forth, and the Apple Coaster where the little ones can buckle up and get their first taste of a rollercoaster ride.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

No carnival would be complete without skill games and plush toys as prizes, and there are over 30 carnival game stalls to choose from, featuring classics such as the Ring Toss, Bottle Stand, Basketball hoops, and more. Personally for this writer, there’s nothing more romantic than to go on a date with your s/o and have him win a plushie for you. 😛

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Visitors can also look forward to a rich and varied line-up of programmes, from an eclectic collective of youth bands and DJ performances to ventriloquism acts and carolling groups. Go indie and immerse in the adrenaline and energy from homegrown musicians such as pop punk artiste Falling Feathers, petite powerhouse Kexin Tay, hip-hop rapper TheLionCityBoy, and rising star Jasmine Sokko as they reel in the crowd with their blistering sets and repertoire.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Last but not least, an awesome carnival demands awesome food, the likes of fairground favourites such as curly fries, sizzling sausages, warm melted raclette, churros and freshly-popped buttery popcorn.

Intrepid gourmands will be spoilt for choice, as there will be everything from Michelin-starred offerings and gourmet burgers and hotdogs, to a delicious array of Japanese treats. For local foodies, expect items like Cendol Soft Serve and Lemongrass Chicken Rice Bowls.

The Prudential Marina Bay Carnival opens daily from 4pm to 11pm. Admission is free, while credits for rides and games can be purchased on-site or online at marinabaycarnival.sg.

**Photos courtesy of Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 

Hotel Jen Orchard Gateway, Singapore

In the busy commercial district of Orchard Road in Singapore, hotels are a dime a dozen. But I bet none of them can offer the comfy, home-away-from-home feeling like how Hotel Jen does. Tucked within the Orchard Gateway shopping center, the lobby is accessible via lift to the 8th floor – but fret not, as there are ample signs guiding visitors to the place. It’s also hard to miss the bicycles; a trademark of the brand.

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Delivering five-star quality at a four-star price, visitors can expect all sorts of conveniences, from charging stations in the lobby to trolleys (for all that retail therapy!). True to their #LeaveBoringBehind theme catered to urban travellers, there’s even a large screen in the lounge where you can take a picture of yourself and send a digital postcard to family and friends back home. 🙂

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Although the room wasn’t very large, it was cosy enough with a double bed, work counter, shower and tea/coffee making facilities. I liked that they included a local snack of icing biscuits in the mini fridge – gave it a more personalized touch. 🙂

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The IPTV has everything you need, from a summary of messages, entertainment guide, TV channels, promotions and more. No more boring old TV! 🙂

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The bar/resto area where guests can wine and dine with an epic view of Orchard Road below. But there’s more to come…

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I’m talking about the rooftop view, of course! I think the hotel sports one of the best views of Orchard Road and the Singapore Skyline – unimpeded by other high-rise buildings, one can see all the way to Marina Bay Sands (which lights up with lasers at night!) The infinity pool gives one a sense of swimming and floating up in the clouds..

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Cosy chairs to sit on while sipping on a martini

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We joined a Sunset Yoga session, which is part of the hotel’s activities to promote a holistic lifestyle and urban wellness among travellers. Our dedicated instructor taught us some basic poses, but those were enough to get me huffing and puffing. I’m more inflexible than I realized 😀

Our hour long session saw the sky slowly turning from light to dark. My favourite part was seeing the city slowly coming to life with brilliant lights, and lying down on our mats with our faces to the sky, closing our eyes and feeling the worries melt away.

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When we opened our eyes, it was already dark, and were welcomed by this beautiful view of the night skyline.

Between Hotel Jen Tanglin and Hotel Jen Orchard Gateway, I prefer the former for its quirky charm, but the latter is equally cosy and conveniently located. The MRT station is within the building and it’s just a few minutes walk away from Ngee Ann City, where my favourite place in the world (a huge Kinokuniya bookstore!) is at.

More info at reservations at hoteljen.com/Singapore/OrchardGateway. 

 

J65 Restaurant, Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore

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My recent stay at Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore included a scrumptious buffet dinner at it’s J65 Restaurant.

It. Was. Awesome. Especially if you love seafood, like me 😀 That’s coz the resto has a rotating menu featuring a different main ingredient as its star every day. Mondays are for crabs, Tuesdays are for beef, Thursdays feature King Prawns, Fridays/Saturdays – seafood, and Sundays are for hawker delights. Since my stay was on a Wednesday, the main star (which happens to be my favourite!) was lobster. 

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The dining space feels wide and spacious, thanks to its high ceilings and cozy wooden tables, which are spaced comfortably apart. True to their young, urban and chic theme, there is a big colourful wall done by a graffiti artist on one side of the resto.

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Made a beeline for the lobsters and crayfish on ice. Everything was fresh, sweet and oh-so-juicy. I ate with my hands – nevermind if others think I’m a barbarian – coz I think that’s the only proper way to eat shellfish.

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Instead of Chilli Crab, they had Chilli Lobster. The sauce was good, especially when eaten with bread or rice, although it still can’t be compared to the chilli crab when it comes to oomph.

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More lobster galore – baked lobsters with mushrooms and cheese; lobster thermidor and lobster sandwiches. 

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Assorted sushi and maki. Look at how thick the salmon fillets are!

Aside from lobster, they also served Asian/Western continental dishes like roast chicken, salads, rojak, and more.

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My plate, all loaded up with lobster-related items.

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The next morning, breakfast was at the hotel’s Club Lounge on the top floor. Nothing much to complain about here – they have a good selection of both Asian goodies and typical Western fare. What I liked ? They had pork bacon! This is difficult to find in Malaysia since all hotel breakfast buffets have to be halal to cater to the Muslim crowd.

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Omelette, hashbrown, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, dumplings..

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One can never go wrong with bacon on toast. 

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#satisfied

For reservations and bookings, visit http://www.hotel.jen.com 🙂

Review: Hotel Jen Tanglin, Singapore

Hey, guys!

So late last October, I got to do a review of Hotel Jen TanglinSingapore –  but since it was for work, I couldn’t put this up on my blog until our December issue was published. It was hard waiting, since I LOVED the stay and couldn’t wait to share the experience. 🙂

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Owned by Shangri-La, the Tanglin branch underwent a multi-million dollar face lift last year.

Everything from the decor and the rooms to the personalized service is targeted at the young and chic urban traveler. What I liked best is that they package everything as an experience, rather than just a stay. The hotel supports the local indie scene through events,and promotes the rich art and culture that Singapore has to offer. It’s like staying over at a friends place, where they recommend all the cool places to hangout at 😀

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The lobby’s design is inspired by the world traveler: the concierge counter, for example, features stacked suitcases, the cushions are shaped like bicycle wheels, while the chairs bear resemblance to airplane seats! At the end of the hallway near the lifts are bicycles mounted on the walls, creating a trick-art effect. 🙂

Hotel Jen Tanglin SingaporeHotel Jen Tanglin Singapore

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Near the lifts is a map of Singapore, where visitors can ‘stick’ their own recommendations on places to visit and restaurants to explore 🙂

 

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My room for the night  was The Club Room. Loved it at first sight – it was so cozy! Although the space wasn’t big, there was an ultra comfy king-sized bed with fluffy pillows and duvet, a bay window sofa with awesome city and pool views, and an adjacent bathroom with high-pressure shower. Warm tones and lots of wood makes one feel immediately at home.

Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore

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Comfy couch by the window came with lots of hipster pillows; great for selfies 🙂
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Instead of having a mini-bar stocked with the usual snacks and drinks, the Club Room has freshly cut fruits as a healthy alternative. 🙂
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We adjourned to the Club Lounge, a comfy lounge space where guests can enjoy light snacks and coffee all day long, mid afternoon treats, daily breakfast, cocktail hour and more. Lunch was served for our #LeaveBoringBehind media session, where we got try local delicacies with a twist from five different Jen hotels as part of their Ho Jiak! promotion.
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Pulled lamb sandwich , inspired by the Nyonya pongteh. Nothing beats tender streaks of marinated lamb + fresh salads in warm toasty bread. 20161019_114445-tile
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The Laksa Johor Slider was one that everyone came back for seconds. If anyone has been to the Malaysian state of Johor, you’ll know that the laksa there uses spaghetti as its noodles.  The version here did a fun take by turning the dish into a burger, with spaghetti buns and a fish patty.
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Laksa Lemak Singapura incorporated laksa chilli paste into fried rice for a fragrant, aromatic taste, served in cones of banana leaves with a side of juicy, giant river prawn.
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Singapore’s Chilli Crab needs no introduction, and the version here has been made into a fondue with a bread bowl, served with various veggies and sides for dipping.
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Last but not least, all the way from Hotel Jen Manila, the Ginataang Turon combined glutinous rice ball filling with the classic fried banana fritters for a crunchy, warm dessert – a fitting end to an awesome meal! 🙂
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Hotel Jen Tanglin; it’s perfect for young, urban travellers who crave comforts away from home with a personalized touch.
More info on hoteljen.com/singapore/tanglin
🙂 Stay tuned!
*Photos not watermarked are courtesy of Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore. 

Nightlife @ Clark Quay, Singapore

Friends know that I’m somewhat of a Cinderella when it comes to hanging out past bedtime, coz I’m usually home by 12am. Never been much of a drinker (due to my ridiculously low tolerance to alcohol). Plus it’s not much fun to stay out late when all your friends get woozy on the dance floor and cheer up a toast, while you sit in a corner with a mocktail. 😀

But on my last night in Singapore, I decided to hell with playing the prim and proper nerd. I had a date with my high school bestie, G, and she wanted to get drinks.  Since she got off work late, we only arrived at Singapore’s party central, Clarke Quay, close to midnight.

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Located at the mouth of the Singapore River, Clark Quay is a historical site that was once a key port for ships passing through from the Malay states of Perak, Sungai Ujong and Selangor. Today, five blocks of its restored warehouses have been converted into a sprawling expanse of bars, hotels and clubs. The place is lively even in the wee hours, with both locals and foreigners doing their nightly pub crawls.

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G and I wandered around for a bit in search of food and a nice quiet place to talk. Most of the bars were filled with rowdy patrons, so it was awhile before we found a spot.

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We finally settled for Ramen Keisuke, a Japanese chain specialising in lobster ramen. The interior, which seats about 60, is cosy with lots of wooden accents and a large bell in the middle of the dining area ala Japanese shrine (great for aesthetics, but not so much for space).

I had a drink called a Green Tea Cola, which was fizzy, sweet and super refreshing. Basically green tea, but cola-fied, like sparkling water. It was so addictive I had two bottles! 🙂

G had some Suntory Whiskey. Wasn’t too bad, but I was scared to take a shot so I watered it down so much it tasted like water xD

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G opted for their Lobster Broth Ramen, which uses rock lobsters from France. The shells are pan-fried, crushed and simmered for six hours. I tried a sip. Personally, it didn’t taste very different from regular ramen soup to me (oy vey, all this hard effort is lost!)…although it was quite yummy, with a clear and sweet taste.

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Being the Queen of Fried, I had to get something crunchy – in the form of Ebi Gyoza (shrimp dumplings). These were fried whole with the tails still on, served with a ginger and vinegar dip. Good, but nothing fancy.

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The best item of the night, imo, was the Chicken with Homemade Tartar Sauce: juicy, fleshy pieces of meat that are battered and deep fried to crispy golden perfection. The meat was tender and well marinated, but what I liked was the creamy topping of hard boiled egg, mayo and onions, which the servers mix fresh at your table.

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Walked around for a bit, but G hadn’t had her fill of alcohol so we hung out at one of the smaller street-style pubs.

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I had some sort of mocktail which was syrupy sweet. But what blew me away was G’s Bailey’s with Milk. Never having had a Bailey’s in my life, I was surprised to find that when mixed with milk, the concoction tasted like coffee. A little dangerous imo, coz it’s easy to drink more than you should.

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G actually wanted to get wasted, but it was 3AM and I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so we took a cab back to Orchard Road where my hotel was. Street was empty, but it didn’t feel dangerous or anything. Unlike KL lol.

 

Chinatown,Singapore – Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Sri Mariamman Temple

Singapore’s Chinatown may be small, but there’s so much to see and do that one day barely covers everything. For those looking to stroll at a more leisurely place, I suggest two days to fully explore the heritage buildings and landmarks within the area. Best, get an experienced local tour guide to bring you around, lest you miss the secret nooks and crannies – all of which are waiting for their stories to be told.

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Colonial buildings in Chinatown are well preserved. Some have been turned into hipster cafes/eateries, tourist centers and whatnot, but there are also many small businesses that have been running for generations.

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We stopped at the URA City Gallery to use the washroom facilities and enjoy the air conditioning after the sweltering heat outside. xD While waiting for the rest, checked out this replica of Singapore – complete with miniature buildings done to scale. Some of the easily recognisable structures are the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands building. After looking at it, I realised that dayum. Singapore is really small. But it’s also super compact and organized.

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Just nearby is Amoy Street Food Center, a food court that serves hawker-stall dishes at affordable prices. We had another place in mind for lunch, but visitors can check out the famous Michelin-bib Singapore ramen noodles inside.

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Chinatown used to be a centre for clan guilds and trade associations, which acted as important social and cultural hubs. They helped out poor clansmen, stood up for rights of different groups, and acted as ‘protectors’ – providing money for infrastructure, schools, etc. Some were also fronts for the kongsi, or the Chinese triads.

Today, only a few of these guilds remain, as modern society no longer has a need for them anymore. The ones remaining are also struggling to survive as rent is high, since the area is a popular tourist place. :c

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We stopped by at one of these guilds, which are open to the public to visit for free. Inside, pictures of prominent members line the walls, along with black and white group photos, important announcements and art pieces. A long table sits in the middle, with rows of old Chinese-style wooden chairs at each side. Decorative lanterns hang from the walls. Also on display were old radios, electronics and musical instruments. The whole place exuded an old-world charm.

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Passing by a Chinese medicine shop, I gasped at the sight of my worst nightmare. Lizards. I hate lizards of any kind, and these were flayed and dried with their heads and limbs still intact. ._.

Purportedly good for strengthening lungs and kidneys. Not going to find out, ever. XD

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Sea dragons/pipefish. There’s a saying in Chinese – if it has its back to the sky, we eat it.

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Within Chinatown is a Hindu temple called the Sri Mariamman, dedicated to the goddess of the same name. Built in 1827, it is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple and is done in the Dravidian style. Its location proves that even long ago, the different communities on the island co-existed with each other peacefully and practiced racial and religious tolerance. The original structure was built of wood and attap. Currently, the temple arch entrance sports an elaborately carved gopuram (entrance tower) depicting deities and scenes from the Hindu religion.

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Visitors who wish to take photos of the interior must pay a 3SGD fee. Inside, the main shrine houses Mariamman, the main Tamil mother-goddess (very much like Mother Mary for Catholics). She is flanked by the deities Rama and Murugan (the Hindu god of war). Surrounding the main prayer hall are smaller shrines which house other deities like Durga, Shiva and Ganesha. On special days, there is a firewalking ceremony held at the temple, where devotees walk over hot coals.

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Just a few minutes away is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which was completed in 2007. The design is Tang-style Chinese, with curving roofs and a predominantly red colour scheme.Inside, visitors can get a glimpse of the Buddha Tooth relic, said to be from the Buddha himself, encased within a golden shrine of over 300kgs of gold. No photos of the relic hall are allowed though.

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The main hall on the ground floor is surrounded by elaborate gold dragons lining the top of the chamber, forming a swirling ring around the Maitreya Hall. In Chinese culture, dragons are one of the most noble creatures (similar to how lions are viewed in Western mythology) and are considered powerful protectors; brave and sacred. Since they are associated with the watery realm, they are often depicted with clouds or waves, as are these dragons.

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The hall houses the Maitreya Trinity – that of Maitreya Buddha flanked by two bodhisattvas, the Bodhisattva Dharma Garden Grove, and Bodhisattva Great Wondrous Appearance.

When we refer to the ‘Buddha’, we are often talking about Shakyamuni Buddha, or Gautama Buddha, who was the first to achieve enlightenment and ascend to Buddha-hood. Maitreya, on the other hand, is a Bodhisattva whom devotees believe will be coming in the near future as a successor to Gautama and teach the pure dharma. Therefore, like a king returning to his rightful throne, the Maitreya is depicted as majestic and royal. Notice how he sits on a throne with each foot on a lotus flower, compared to the usual Buddha that sits on a single lotus flower?

The making of the statue was no easy feat. Carved from a single log, it was painstakingly hand painted using grounded natural stones and dyes.

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Behind the trinity is an elaborate tapestry featuring more dragons and waves.

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Lining the entire hall are 100 small statues of Buddha, each with different mudras (hand signs) and holding different implements or accessories that symbolize their virtues and powers. Lotuses, scepters, bells and wheels are just some of the items.

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Behind the main hall is the Universal Wisdom Hall, with a beautifully hand carved Tang period Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara sitting atop a lotus throne. There are eight smaller zodiac protectors surrounding the hall, and still more tiny bodhisattva figures.

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As mentioned, the Buddha tooth relic is upstairs and the chamber holding it is high security so no photos are allowed. It was very impressive though: the brilliance of the gold shrine, surrounded by four Asoka pillars. The space also has elevated wooden platforms on each side for quiet meditation, for both monks and devotees.

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Exiting the temple is the Chinatown Complex area, where many old timers hang out to play chess and chat under the shade.

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Roaming around the commercial area of Chinatown. Be sure to look out for the beautiful architecture here!

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One of the buildings, Lai Chun Yuen, used to be one of the most popular Chinese opera theatres in Singapore. Built in 1887, it now houses a hotel –  but much of its architecture remains intact. The reception area, for example, rises up into the rafters for good acoustics, and is surrounded on the sides by balconies where people could look down on to the stage below.

 

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Loads of restos where people can eat and chill with a beer.

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An iPad for 3.50?

Those are actually paper offerings that the Chinese burn for their dead. Back then it used to be things like servants, paper money and even cars, but I guess one has to keep up with technology, even beyond the grave. One wonders if they have good Internet reception down there though.

Singapore is known as a first-world country with all the modern comforts you can imagine, but if you’re looking for some culture, history and heritage in this metropolis, then don’t forget to visit Chinatown.