[Taiwan Series] Day 1 in Kaohsiung: Gang Yuan Beef Noodles 港園牛肉麵, Pier-2 Art District 駁二藝術特區, 85 Sky Tower 高雄85大樓, and Ruifeng Night Market 瑞丰夜市

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Our flight from Singapore was to Taipei, so after getting off the plane, we immediately had to go catch the Taiwan High Speed Rail. We had actually purchased our tickets to Kaohsiung online beforehand because we wanted to take advantage of the early bird discounts for our longest ride. However, you can purchase at the vending machine or desk on the day of as well. Since we purchased it online, we downloaded the app and just scanned the QR code at the gate. From the Taoyuan airport, you need to first take the shuttle bus to THSR Taoyuan Station which only takes around 25 minutes. We then took the train from Taoyuan station to Zuoying station which is the closest station to Kaohsiung. It took just under 2 hours on the train and the seats were quite comfy and clean. Tickets were $1,330 NTD which is just under $60 CAD for this one way ticket, so not exactly cheap. However, it was the most convenient way to travel instead of getting on another plane. From Zuoying station, we switched to the MRT red line to Kaohsiung station where our hotel was just a minute away.

 

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We decided to stay at Airline Inn at Kaohsiung Station because of the convenience of the station. The price is also quite affordable with many rooms around $60 CAD a night. We booked through Booking.com and you can use my referral link if you wish to enjoy $25 CAD off on your booking!

 

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The design of the room is simple but smart because the size is extremely small! If you’re carrying just a small luggage for a short trip, then it’s no problem and probably pretty spacious. But we each had a large luggage, so opening our luggage on the floor was a nightmare. There really isn’t much room to walk after you open your luggage. We also chose a windowless room to save some money but it really wasn’t an issue since we didn’t really chill in the room during the day anyways.

 

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The design is cute with lots of airplane details. In terms of cleanliness and amenities, I don’t think we really had any complaints.

 

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When I say they save space, I really mean it because even the sink is outside. But it’s great because while S showers, I can still brush my teeth etc. Showers were on the opposite side and luckily they have a pretty frosty layer of glass so you can’t really see from the outside. We found this to be an issue with many other hotels in Taiwan where the shower room was quite transparent.

 

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We had arrived at the hotel past midnight so the first night was a write off and we went straight to bed. The next morning, we finally got to check out the surroundings. Our hotel is literally just across the street from the Kaohsiung Station which is their main station so this made it very convenient to catch the MRT. In term of things to do though, we didn’t find ourselves hanging around too much.

 

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First things first in Taiwan is to enjoy a delicious bowl of Taiwanese beef noodles! I had done some research and the restaurant I wanted to visit was in the Yancheng District. This area is pretty cool with old buildings mixed with modern ones. The contrast is pretty interesting to look at.

 

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The restaurant is tucked away in one of the older looking streets.

 

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The famous spot is Gang Yuan Beef Noodles 港園牛肉麵 and I’m told it’s a local favourite. Seems like many tourists come as well since they have English on their menu. The menu is simple with either dry or soup noodles and with beef, pork, or pork knuckles as toppings. Seems like there are some appetizers available for purchase too but they didn’t show it on the English menu so we skipped it for language barriers sake. I wouldn’t say a bowl is cheap as it’s still roughly $5. Seems like cost of living in Taiwan has increased overall though!

 

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The interior is pretty clean and the best part is it’s air conditioned! It was boiling hot outside and eating a hot bowl of soup didn’t really help. There is some communal seating but we just opted to sit against the wall.

 

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Beef Noodles

Since we weren’t big fans of pork knuckles, we both opted for the beef dish. I decided to try the dry Beef Noodles which has a light sauce beneath and you mix it so the noodles don’t clump together. The beef were definitely the star of the show. They were thick chunks but so tender! The noodles were also delicious with a nice bite.

 

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Beef Soup Noodles

S got the Beef Soup Noodles and he enjoyed the bowl as well. However, I found the dry noodle to be more flavourful as the soup was rather light.

 

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On our way to the beef noodles, we actually stopped by Formosa Boulevard Station 捷運美麗島站. We were just transferring stations, so we didn’t even need to exit to get this picture. This station is ranked the second-most beautiful metro station in the world and is known for its “Dome of Light”. It is the largest glass work in the world designed by an Italian artist.

 

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After lunch, I suggested we check out the nearby Pier-2 Art District 駁二藝術特區. Both S and I are not very artsy people, but I heard this is a pretty cool spot. The arts center used to be an abandoned warehouse site but now many workshops and stores are situated here. I love the vintage brick walls on the warehouses. If you enjoy modern art, this is the spot for you.

 

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You will find paintings on the walls of various buildings. I like how you can just walk around aimlessly and you’ll find art everywhere in this area.

 

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In the middle of the field, there are various sculptures just placed on the greenery. Pretty neat!

 

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There’s even a train! I think this may because there is a Railway Museum around the area.

 

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Look at this gigantic art piece!

 

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And even something that looks like a Transformers?

 

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We walked around for a while and to be honest, we were sweating from the heat. It was extremely hot that day and we were dying to go indoors. Luckily, we wandered to a warehouse with the Taiwan Beer sign.

 

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Apparently there was a Taiwan Beer pop up shop that day! We paid a small price for admission which includes this wristband where you can redeem 3 beer samples and 1 beer dessert!

 

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There were also many interactive games where you could win small prizes.

 

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I believe they were launching one of their new beers, but this Taiwan Beer brand is actually one of my favourites! It’s so pricey back in Vancouver and difficult to find, but so affordable in Taiwan! My favourite is still the mango or pineapple but the peach is also pretty good!

 

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They were also making some beer infused ice cream! But the line up was too long so we ended up skipping out on it. What a lucky day for us to coincidentally be at the Pier 2 Art Centre to enjoy this pop up!

 

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As we wandered away from the Art District, we found ourselves at the Kaohsiung Fisherman’s Wharf 高雄港漁人碼頭. You’ll get a bit of breeze here and you can enjoy this boardwalk with a view of the city.

 

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The view is pretty nice as you walk along the boardwalk. You can also spot the Love River 愛河 close by.

 

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We ended up taking this tram to go to the other city side. You can still use the same electronic card as the MRT. Kaohsiung issues an iPass but since we had an EasyCard when we were in Taipei a few years ago, that card also worked in Kaohsiung. It was a good idea to try the light rail because you get a pretty nice view of the city including the Love River.

 

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The reason we headed back towards the city was to see the 85 Sky Tower 高雄85大樓. This is Kaohsiung’s tallest skyscraper at 347.5 meters high. It used to be the tallest in Taiwan until Taipei 101 was built. The building is used as office and residential space, hotel, and a department store. On the 74th floor is the observation deck which we visited.

 

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I believe it costs around $180 NTD for admission which is decently priced at around $8 CAD. The view was decent, but because there aren’t many skyscrapers in Kaohsiung, the view was a bit flat.

 

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We also visited during night time so it’s usually a bit more difficult to see the buildings. Worth coming if you have some time but I wouldn’t say it’s on the top of my list.

 

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Getting hungry, we decided to look for some dinner. Dinner in Taiwan for us always means heading to the night market! We love roaming around with Taiwanese snacks in hand! One of the most famous night markets in Kaohsiung is called Ruifeng Night Market 瑞丰夜市.

 

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Ruifeng Night Market is one of the largest night markets in Taiwan and definitely one of the busiest! I have never been to such a busy night market! You will be shoulder to shoulder.

 

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Of course S would suggest getting the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken. Can’t remember which stall this was from, but the chicken was juicy and crispy on the outside.

 

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Another favourite of S’s is the gigantic chicken steaks in Taiwan. We decided to try Devil’s Chicken Steak 惡魔雞排. They make it fresh to order so be warned you’ll need to wait a while. They give you a number so you can wander around in the meantime though.

 

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The chicken is as big as my face! It was piping out so it was difficult to pull it out for a picture. They also do not cut the chicken steak here but it’s quite enjoyable to just bite this large chunk of meat. We found the chicken steak to be thicker cut than the ones in Taipei and the batter was very crispy!

 

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To quench our thirst, we headed to 鴛鴦奶茶 as I heard raving reviews about this spot. Not sure what the English name is but look for the orange and white booth! There was a long line up but it moved quick.

 

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I believe we just got a classic Milk Tea but they use fresh milk here. It was so creamy and smooth with a strong tea flavour!

 

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One of the most interesting items we tried was at Sweet Cool Round Powder Packe 甜心涼圓. I saw a few stalls selling these and was very curious what they were. I aimlessly pointed at some flavours and hoped they were good. They turned out to be jelly like substance on the outside with fruit in the middle. My favourite was the melon! These were very refreshing to enjoy after some greasy food.

 

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The market not only has food, but also many clothing stalls. They also had a massive entertainment section with tons of games! Overall, we really enjoyed this night market as there is lots to see and a large variety of food! But be prepared for the crowds as it’s very busy here!

 

 

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Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Flyer

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Whenever we visit Singapore, we have the luxury to live at S’s aunt’s home so we never have to worry about the high cost of hotels in Singapore. This time around, we did the same, but I also wanted to check off something on my bucket list. Since the last time we visited Singapore, one of my regrets was not staying at the Marina Bay Sands. This time around, I made it a goal that we stay just one night! I think everyone should try to stay here one night during their trip in Singapore despite the high prices because it’s quite worth it!

 

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The hotel is architecturally amazing to look at from both the outside and inside. It is connected to a casino and the shopping mall, and also has a variety of restaurants inside. It’s also famous for the infinity pool which is now only open to hotel guests. In the past, you could pay a price to use the pool even if you didn’t stay at the hotel. Another reason why it’s worth the price!

 

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We decided to go with the Premier Room which I believe the only difference from the Deluxe Room is that it comes with an additional deep-soaking bathtub. After some price comparisons on different booking sites, I believe we booked it directly through Marina Bay Sand’s reservation system for $540 CAD for one night. Upon entering the room, there is a small hallway with lots of closet space. I was surprised at how spacious the room was!

 

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To the right was the bathroom. I loved the bathroom as it was so spacious with great lighting. Plus, the double sink is perfect for couples! The deep-soaking bathtub turned out to be great and I got to enjoy a bubble bath!

 

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As you can see, the room had plenty of space. There was no problem opening our two large suitcases and still having plenty of room to walk around.

 

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We opted for the King bed but you can also choose two single beds.

 

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Bedding and pillows were comfy and clean. No complaints!

 

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They also left a cute animal towel on our table.

 

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The room also came with a small desk with two sofa chairs. We enjoyed sitting here enjoying the view.

 

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We had requested for a higher level and they ended up giving us a city view which are available from the 19th to 39th floor. I was not disappointed in this view at all!

 

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We were also able to see the Esplanade and Art Science Museum from our room. The other side of the hotel would face the gardens.

 

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Look at the view during sunset! Just amazing!

 

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On our way to check out the Sands Skypark Infinity Pool, there is an area where you can see the view of Gardens by the Bay.

 

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You’ll need your hotel pass to get to this area because otherwise, you’ll need to pay to go to the Skypark Observation Deck. This costs $23 SGD and we did this the last time we visited. However, on the day we visited, it had a haze from a nearby fire so we could barely see anything. This time around, we could enjoy the views even without heading to the paid area since we had our hotel pass.

 

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Finally, we checked out the infinity pool to our left! Remember to bring your hotel pass to get in as each guest needs to bring their own. Honestly, the pool was breathtaking! It definitely tops one of the nicest pools I have ever been to. And I think the most impressive part is how long the pool is. It just stretched on for so long! I also liked how they had sections where it was adults only so we didn’t have to worry about kids.

 

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Up on the 57th floor, the view of the city is stunning. You can get the famous infinity pool picture here with the backdrop of the city. Towels are complimentary so it’s super hassle free to dry off or lounge around on the chairs. We’ve been to Sparkling Hill in Kelowna which also features an infinity pool, but the way this one is designed gives a much better infinity feel. It really looks like there is no ledge to the pool! I suggest using the pool both day and night to enjoy both views. It’s really a different experience although it can get a bit more busy during the evening. You can also order food and drinks here, but be warned that the prices are not cheap.

 

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After enjoying the pool in the afternoon, we decided to head to the Singapore Flyer. You can easily access it from a short walk from the hotel on this bridge. You can enjoy some scenic views of the Helix Bridge and Art Science Museum here!

 

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The Singapore Flyer is an observation wheel near the Marina Bay Sands which provides a 360 degree view of the city. The wheel will take you 165 metres above ground and takes around 30 minutes for a full cycle.

 

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The capsules are fully air conditioned which is a must in this heat! We were lucky because the Flyer was not very busy that day so we actually got to enjoy the capsule alone! Loved how we had the privacy to take as many pictures as we wanted. There are also benches in the middle for you to sit down and enjoy the view.

 

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Adult admission tickets are $33 SGD and despite the high price, I think it’s quite worth it on a sunny day. The views are quite spectacular from the city view to the gardens and the ocean. If you haven’t been to Gardens by the Bay, then I suggest purchasing the dual ticket on KLOOK as the two tickets only come to $52.50 SGD which is more than $10 SGD in discount.

 

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The view of the gardens from up top is truly magical! I can imagine the night time view to be just as good!

 

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Looking for a quick dinner, we decided to head over to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands which is connected to the hotel. Here, you will find all the top designer and luxury brands. Even if you don’t plan on spending here, it’s a nice mall to chcek out as the architecture and design is quite nice. You’ll even find a section that looks like Venice and you can take a gondola on the fake river.

 

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Unfortunately, most of the restaurants at the mall are also high end. You’ll find international brands here, but they also have a food court which sells a variety of cuisines. The food court is called Rasapura Masters and is in the basement floor. S got some Hainanese chicken, but since I hadn’t had any Indian food this time in Singapore, I decided to go for some Indian food at Indian Express. What a mistake… The food was honestly a bit underwhelming with the curries just sitting in the heat warmer and served lukewarm. Honestly, the taste didn’t even annoy me that much that night, but I ended up getting mild food poisoning that night. And that’s not what I anticipated for my stay at Marina Bay Sands. Also, food at this food court is definitely not as cheap as the hawker centres. It’s still cheap, but given the price for the quality of food, I’d much rather go to a hawker centre if it wasn’t for the convenience of being close to the hotel.

 

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After dinner, we rushed out of the mall towards the water as we wanted to watch the light and water show. As we walked out, we turned around to catch a glimpse of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It was all lit up and looked gorgeous!

 

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Towards the water, we saw the cool looking Louis Vuitton store and Art Science Museum. Also all lit up!

 

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And the city view all lit up night is truly breathtaking.

 

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Finally, Spectra – a Marina Bay Sands Light and Water Show began. The show features choreographed fountains, lava and mist effects and an orchestral soundtrack. It also features a 12 metre-high glass prism centerpiece that forms really interesting laser illusions! The show is free for the public so a must see!

 

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The show is at the Event Plaza on the first floor of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and lasts 15 minutes. It happens twice every night at 8pm and 9pm with an additional 10pm show on Fridays and Saturdays.

 

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We then quickly hurried over to the Gardens by the Bay to catch the Garden Rhapsody which happens every night at 7:45pm and 8:45pm for free. The supertrees are all lit up and it changes based on some live music. However, we had a hard time finding the right exit from the hotel to the gardens, so we ended up watching it from this observation deck that leads to the gardens. We found the music to be too quiet from this area and the view to be a bit underwhelming. After further research after the event, I learned that the best view to enjoy this show is actually right under the trees at the garden. Just find a spot to sit down and lean back a bit. Will have to try that next time!

 

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After all the shows, we headed back to the infinity pool for our last dip. Then we headed back to our room to enjoy the night view.

 

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Really can’t complain about the price with all the views and amenities this hotel offers. This was probably one of the highlights of the trip and I can’t wait to find an excuse to stay here again! A must try when you visit Singapore, even if it’s just a night! The perfect way to end our trip in Singapore as well.

 

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The next morning, we headed to the Changi Airport as we were flying out to our next destination, Taipei, Taiwan! The Changi Airport is a world class airport with many amenities and attractions. There are now 4 terminals in total, so if you arrive early or have a layover at the airport, it is definitely worth checking out all the different attractions!

 

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We decided to have some chicken rice at the airport as our last meal. I can’t quite remember the name of the stall but it is in the basement floor.

 

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Chicken was smooth and tender. Not bad for an airport stall but portions were a bit small. And that ended our trip in Singapore! Until next time! But now we move on to Taiwan!

 

 

Black Pepper Crab at Long Beach Seafood, Madam Tussauds at Sentosa, and Kok Sen Restaurant

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If you enjoy eating crab, then a trip to Singapore means you have to try either their chili crab or black pepper crab! We tried both in Malaysia last time, but this time S and I decided to just go on our own for lunch. It is said that the Black Pepper Crab dish was first created by the chef of Long Beach Seafood and therefore, the restaurant is known for this signature dish. We decided to take the bus to the King location and it wasn’t hard to find.

 

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We enjoyed a sleeve of Tiger Beer which is Singapore’s official beer. Cold and refreshing!

 

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We also shared a plate of Pea Shoots to get some veggies intake. The veggies were fresh and flavoured with a nice garlic broth.

 

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The crabs are ordered by the kg and they serve mud crabs here. I believe ours was under 2 kg which honestly isn’t too much shared between two if you’re only eating this. In fact, the mud crabs aer quite small compared to the BC Dungeness crabs we have in Vancouver. Only the claws are big. We decided to go with the Black Pepper Crab and it was full of pepper flavour. S actually found it a bit too spicy but for me it was just right. It would be delicious paired with a bowl of rice! I can’t quite remember how much the crab was per kg, but our whole meal came to over $100 SGD. So definitely not cheap, but the ambiance in the restaurant is also pretty nice. Be warned that they will place peanuts on the table which cost $2 SGD and towelettes are $1 SGD. You better check your receipt to ensure you don’t pay more. A great spot to try chili or black pepper crab regardless!

 

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After lunch, we headed to Sentosa. You can choose to take the monorail, cable car, or walk. At VivoCity, you can purchase tickets for the monorail which gives you a round trip journey and unlimited use of the Sentosa Express around the island for the day if you purchase the Sentosa Pass. However, as the weather wasn’t too hot that day, we decided to try walking to Sentosa from VivoCity on the Sentosa Boardwalk. It actually only takes around 15 minutes if you walk leisurely, and there are gardens along the way and also covered up top in case of rain. If you walk quickly, it’s probably only 5 minutes. I actually quite enjoyed this option as we got to enjoy some scenic views along the way.

 

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Finally, we arrived at the resort. As we had been here last time we visited Singapore and had purchased a fun pass, we had already done many of the activities on the island. You can check out my post from my visit two years ago if you’re interested in the activities on the island. This time around, we targeted some new activities.

 

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We decided to check out Madame Tussauds this time around. The wax museum featured famous legends from both North America and Asia. Before we even started the wax museum, we were able to take the Spirit of Singapore boat ride which takes you around Singapore in a boat. Sort of like a kiddie ride at the amusement park, but it was actually quite well made with all the famous sights being showcased. Tickets are normally around $40 SGD if you purchase at the venue, with around a $10 SGD discount if you purchase online. However, if you purchase through KLOOK, it only costs $20 SGD. Savings are quite good and the ticket also includes Images of Singapore LIVE, a 30 minute live actor-led show. If you pay another $3.50 SGD on KLOOK, you can also visit the new Marvel 4D Cinema which wasn’t open yet when we visited.

 

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You’ll find famous politicians like Obama!

 

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Sports players like Yao Ming!

 

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And of course the famous Bruce Lee!

 

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When we were exiting the wax museum section, we also noticed there is a Virtual Reality Racing experience. Here, you can pay an additional fee to race in one of two full sized virtual reality car simulators. You can choose to be on Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel’s team. S could not miss the opportunity to sit in one of these cars, so of course he paid for the experience. I believe it was roughly $20 SGD or so, and he said it was well worth the price.

 

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As our ticket included Images of Singapore LIVE, we decided to check it out as well. The show is only 30 minutes and we were actually able to learn a bit about the history of how Singapore came about. There are live actors who will take you back in the day while you walk around their staged sets. Unfortunately no pictures allowed though. If you have some time to spare, then it’s worth checking out after the wax museum.

 

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After an afternoon at Madam Tussauds, we headed towards the beach area. Looking for a quick snack, I suggested we see what special menu items were available at McDonalds. We found Sweet Corn Soft Serve, so had to give it a try. The flavours were interesting but I personally wouldn’t get it again. The soft serve itself was creamy and smooth like their typical vanilla cone but with a subtle corn flavour.

 

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We decided to end our trip at Sentosa by checking out the beach. There are a few beaches on the island, but we wandered to Tanjong Beach which has the least activities. It’s nice and quiet and the perfect place to unwind after a long day. We were able to catch the sunset here as well.

 

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After Sentosa, I had made plans to meet my exchange friends for dinner. They decided to take me to Kok Sen Restaurant 國成球記菜社 which has been listed on the Michelin Bib Gourmand. The restaurant therefore has become very busy and you’ll be expected to wait for a seat. The restaurant is not fancy inside as you’ll be sitting on stools without air conditioning. However, the food is delicious! We started with the Romaine Lettuce Stir Fried with Fermented Beancurd. It was slightly spicy but not overbearing.

 

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Cereal Butter Squid

Next up was the Cereal Butter Squid which was probably my favourite dish of the night. There are plenty of squid buried underneath the mountain of crunchy crushed cereal. This was the perfect dish to pair with rice!

 

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Sliced Fish Soup

The Sliced Fish Soup came in a clear broth with deboned sliced fish, choy sum, and mushrooms. The broth was flavourful despite being very clear.

 

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Hot Plate Tofu

I believe the Claypot Yong Tau Foo is famous at Kok Sen, but I don’t remember if it was sold out or why we didn’t order it. Anyways, we ended up with the Hot Plate Tofu which had plenty of tofu, shrimp and vegetables in a thick savoury sauce.

 

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Yang Zhou Fried Rice

Lastly, we had the Yang Zhou Fried Rice which had shrimp, barbecue pork and egg. Flavourful dish but nothing too special. Overall, the food at Kok Sen was pretty good and all dishes we tried didn’t disappoint. Just be prepared to wait if you don’t have reservations! I believe the restaurant has been around for 3 generations now, so the locals must love it!

 

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Kok Sen is located on Keong Saik Rd, and there are actually many bars around this area. We decided to go for drinks with my friends after dinner. Remember, drinks are not cheap in Singapore though so be warned that you’ll be ready to dish out around $20 for a cocktail. We ended up going to Potato Head which has a rooftop bar. Luckily in the evenings, the heat dies down a bit, but it’s definitely still quite warm for us! We ended up enjoying some delicious cocktails and called it a night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changi Village Hawker Centre and Jurong Bird Park

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Since it was my second time visiting Singapore, I wanted to visit some new places this time. S suggested we check out Changi Village so we headed to Changi Village Hawker Centre to have lunch. Apparently public transportation can be a bit difficult, but since S’s aunt drove us, it was no problem. She suggested we try the popular Nasi Lemak at International Muslim Nasi Lemak. The nearby stall Mizzy’s Corner is also famous for nasi lemak, but many often say it’s not as good. I got my nasi lemak with fried fish and otak which also came with a sunny side up egg, cucumbers, some fried anchovies and sambal chili sauce. The dish looked simple and messy, but this was delicious! The jasmine rice was fragrant and fluffy and delicious paired with the sweet and savoury chili. I did find the sambal to be quite spicy though but I normally don’t eat too spicy. I wasn’t a fan of the fried fish too much as I don’t normally like to eat a whole fish like that. Wasn’t really sure where to start to be honest. The otak which is a fish cake wrapped in a banana leaf was delicious and fragrant though. It also has quite the kick!

 

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S got the Nasi Lemak Chicken Set which comes coconut rice, fried anchovies, a sunny side up egg, cucumbers, sambal chili and a crispy chicken wing. The chicken wing is a favourite with a slight ginger flavour and light batter. A popular choice!

After lunch, we headed towards Changi Beach Park to take a stroll. This is a nice getaway from the busy city as the beach is quite quiet. However, I don’t think there’s much to do and doesn’t compare to the beaches in Vancouver. Still, it’s worth taking a quick stroll if you’re in the area already. You’ll also find Changi Point Ferry Terminal here where there are a bunch of junk boats parked ready to take you to Pulau Ubin, a nearby island, for just $3 SGD.

 

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After lunch, we decided to check out the Jurong Bird Park, but note that it is a bit far from the city and is all the way east. There are some buses that will take you to the entrance though. We were lucky enough to be driven there so it wasn’t too bad. Tickets aren’t exactly cheap. They’re $30 SGD for adults and if you want to take the tram to get around as well, it cost another $5 SGD. We bought it on KLOOK so only paid $30 SGD for the admission including the tram. The tram isn’t really necessary if you’re ready to walk and the weather is good. However, as we went on a rainy day, we thought the tram would be beneficial.

 

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I believe the bird park is one of the largest bird parks in Asia. It is well designed and very clean. With over 5,000+ bird with over 400 species, you’ll be surprised at how many types of birds there are! Many of the birds are actually roaming around free but of course the dangerous ones are caged. There are also many activities including bird feedings and we also got to watch the Birds of Prey where we saw some eagles flying around. It was a bit scary but the show was very impressive!

 

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You’ll find parrots, flamingos, toucans, pelicans, hawks and even penguins!

 

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I mean look at these cute penguins just roaming around!

 

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We also found a peacock just walking around when we visited the waterfall inside the park. This also unfortunately ended our picture taking because a monsoon arrived and the downpour of rain was unreal. We ended up having to sit around in a sheltered area for an hour before we could continue walking around. The tram therefore made it very convenient for us to catch up missed time and hit the spots we wanted to see. Even though the rain was unpleasant, the park itself had lots to see. Even as someone who isn’t big for birds, I found the park quite interesting. On a sunny day, this would be a great spot to bring the family.

 

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After visiting the bird park, we took the bus back out to the city center to meet up with S’s relatives. They took us to a hawker centre, but unfortunately I can’t remember which one. We enjoyed some soya sauce chicken.

 

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And also some delicious BBQ chicken wings!

 

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We also headed to the supermarket so I could purchase a bunch of food souvenirs. The aunt also suggested we try this durian cempedak which is a Malaysian fruit. It looks sort of like a durian but without all the spikes. Inside, there are many tiny bulbs of fruit which all have stone like seeds inside. The taste was closer to jackfruit and I quite enjoyed it! Worth giving some of these exotic fruits a try while you’re in Singapore!

 

 

Old Airport Road Food Centre, Bugis Street, Clementi Market and Hawker Centre, and Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Market & Food Centre

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The next morning, we had lunch with S’s relatives and they took us to the Old Airport Road Food Centre. This is one of the largest hawker centres with over 100 stalls! Luckily, we had locals to recommend us spots so we didn’t need to be so overwhelmed. We got the famous Prawn and Pork Rib Noodles from Albert Street Prawn Noodles. Although there were prawn shells still in the bowl, I liked how they had cut the prawn open already so deshelling the prawn was easy. The soup is rich in prawn flavour and therefore has a reddish hue. Noodles were nice and chewy. I recommend trying this at this hawker centre!

 

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We also share some Rojak from Toa Payoh Rojak. Rojak is a fruit and vegetable salad with a sticky sweet and sour sauce. There were pineapples, cucumbers, crushed peanuts and freshly toasted chinese donuts and tofu puffs in this one. The locals seemed to be a fan of this, but I personally still don’t crave for it. Worth giving a try if you’ve never had it though!

 

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For dessert we had tofu pudding from Lao Ban Soya Beancurd. This was the perfect dessert on such a hot humid day! The refreshing tofu pudding was silky smooth!

 

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After lunch, we hung out with the cousins for a bit and eventually made our way to the last day of Formula 1! Unfortunately, the evening was full of rain and we ended up having to hide in the Esplanade most of the afternoon as monsoon rain is no joke in Singapore! When it rains, it pours! Eventually, we had to buy a poncho at the race grounds, so I suggest packing your own to save a bit. Because of the rain, we kept our cameras and phones away most of the day and didn’t capture too many pictures. However, before the final race, you should check out the parade where the racers come around the race track in vintage cars to say hello. Finally, the race happened, but due to the slippery track from the rain, the beginning of the race was quite a show with many racers colliding early on! The rain definitely made the race a lot more exciting for the crowd despite sitting on the benches with our raincoats. Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton ended up winning the 2017 Singapore race! And of course, the rain cleared for the festivities later that night including celebration fireworks and shows by Chainsmokers and Calvin Harris. A great way to end the race!

 

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The next day, we had a pretty chill day since we were done the races and didn’t have much on our agenda. Given we had already visited Singapore before, we were really just looking to revisit some favourite spots and possibly finding some new ones along the way. But first thing first, we had to get some lunch! S’s aunt took us to Clementi Market and Hawker Centre which seemed like a popular local spot. The aunt bought us some chwee kueh from Bedok Chwee Kueh. It is a steamed rice cake with preserved turnip. Unfortunately, I’m still not a big fan of chwee kueh as I find the cake itself quite bland and flavours of the preserved turnip aren’t personally my favourite.

 

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S got his usual Kickapoo Joy Juice which has such an odd name. It’s essentially like Mountain Dew. Not sure why I’ve never seen it in Canada, but it’s quite popular here.

 

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For myself, I got an iced teh tarik. Can’t go to Singapore without enjoying one of these milk teas!

 

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I was craving Laksa so the aunt helped me find a stall called Hong Kee Satay Bee Hoon which sold a variety of noodles. This one has fish cake, tofu puffs and cockles. The soup was creamy with a slight coconut flavour and wasn’t too spicy. The thick slippery noodles soaked up the broth. I’ve had laksa a few times in Singapore now and I’ve learned they love to add cockles in it, which I’m still not a huge fan of. They taste sort of like clams, but I find them a lot slimier and very fishy.

 

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Of course S got his favourite Char Kway Teow. I thought this one was mediocre compared to the one from Maxwell Food Centre. It was a bit more dry and not as flavourful.

 

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After lunch, we did some errands with the family and then they dropped us off at Bugis Street. We had been here before and even though it’s a tourist spot with just random knick knacks, I remember it being pretty fun to wander the crowded area.

 

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The place is packed and you can find everything from cheap watches to snacks. My favourite spot is to go upstairs for some young women’s fashion! They have lots of Korean style clothing upstairs for affordable prices.

 

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A trip to Singapore also means trying some Durian! I can’t remember this stall’s name but you can find durian stalls all over the city. Many of them can cut open the durian for you on the spot with quite a few allowing you to eat at the spot as well.

 

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This location sells Mountain Cat, D24 among other varieties.

 

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Mountain Cat is known to be one of the best variety and is also very expensive.

 

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We bought some home to try, but we ended up not enjoying the Mountain Cat as much. It has a bitter aftertaste sort of like alcohol. We prefer the sweet durian from Thailand instead which happens to also be cheaper!

 

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For dinner, the family took us to Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Market & Food Centre. For myself, I got the Dry Fishball Noodles from Song Kee Fishball Noodles and opted for mee pok which is the thicker strand of noodles. The egg noodle was al dente and it was mixed with a chili sauce. Quite delicious!

 

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We shared some Oyster Omelette from Ah Chuan Fried Oyster Omelette. Juicy oysters will crispy eggs around!

 

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If you love chicken wings, then be sure to try the BBQ Chicken Wings from Sheng Pin Xiang. The sweet soy flavour was just right and the chicken itself was moist while the skin was crispy.

 

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We also tried the Deep Fried Chicken Wings from Da Ji Hainanese Chicken Rice. The skin was very crispy, but I still preferred the BBQ Chicken Wings as the flavour was just right!

 

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I love eating at Hawker Centres because you can order a variety of food and share it with everyone. Fortunately, we had enough people for dinner, so we also ordered some satay from Fang Yuan Satay. We had both the Chicken Satay and Beef Satay which are served with a warm peanut satay sauce and some pressed rice cakes. The satay were moist and flavourful and I prefered the chicken over the beef.

 

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To end our feast, we had some Singaporean desserts. I don’t remember the name of this stall, but they had a large variety of cold and hot desserts.

 

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We had some shaved ice with gingko beans and brown sugar syrup. I wasn’t a huge fan of the beans on top though and I still prefer the Korean or Taiwanese style shaved ice.

 

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The aunts also wanted me to try Dao Suan which is a sweet mung bean soup which has a thick syrup and topped with Chinese donuts. It was interesting, but not my type of dessert.

Overall, a great hawker centre with a large variety of desserts!

 

 

Maxwell Food Centre, Toast Box, and Day 2 of Singapore Grand Prix Formula 1

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The next morning we headed to Chinatown for lunch before Day 2 of Formula 1. We had a great time at Maxwell Food Centre the last time we visited, so decided to check out what other stalls there are. The famous Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken stall had way too long of a line up this time so we decided to try Marina South Delicious Food 滨海南美食. They are famous for their Char Kway Teow here.

 

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Another dish they have is the Fried Carrot Cake. This is quite different from the ones we get at Dim Sum. The Singaporean style carrot cake is mixed with eggs and served almost like an omelette. The turnip is cut into diced pieces. Super smooth and full of wok hay and flavour. Quite enjoyed this!

 

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We also got the Char Kway Teow which was fantastic. Glistening in oil, but packed full of flavour and wok hay again. The noodles were evening coated and the Chinese sausage was pungent but tasty. We got large sizes for both of these dishes as we thought they wouldn’t be too big, but they were more than enough for two. I also decided to order a Deep Fried Fuzhou Oyster Cake from the nearby stall called Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake. It’s the one pictured above balancing between the two plates. I’ve never seen an oyster cake like this. Inside, it’s piping hot with a mixture of oyster and minced pork. Apparently this traditional snack is barely seen anymore so be sure to try it next time you’re at Maxwell!

 

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After our bellies were full, we headed off to Day 2 of the Formula 1 race. As the afternoon generally consists of practice or other non-Formula 1 races, we decided to check out some of the other entertainment offered during the day. One of our favourites and probably the coolest experience was changing the tires of an F1 car. Of course this is just a model, but it’s cool to see how the tires are removed and new ones placed on.

 

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We both got to take part in the challenge and raced against other competitors to change the tires as fast as we could. Of course, we needed a lot more practice!

 

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You can also choose to drive a F1 simulator car. I believe the race car size is supposed to be similar to the real car. So quite tight and you are almost lying down when you sit in it.

 

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Some other entertainment included flying the drones through an obstacle, but this seemed to be a bit faulty at times. Singapore Airlines is also a huge sponsor of the event, so be sure to check out many of their booths. Be sure to grab one of those plastic fans! You will thank me later!

 

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We also wandered the whole area including the Civilian War Memorial which is close to our entrance to our grandstands.

 

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This is the concert area. As you can see, you get a beautiful view of the city skyline as well. Really cool how the race is in the middle of the city!

 

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Then we watched another one of their practice rounds which happened in the afternoon. The qualifying race would happen in the evening on Day 2. As you can see, at our Stamford Grandstands, we can see the race cars coming at this turn. As expected, because of the high speed and sharp turn, we witnessed a few crashes on the actual race day. Luckily, everyone got out okay!

 

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The race cars go by so quickly it’s hard to get a picture! Shutter speed needs to be at max! I also highly suggest wearing ear plugs as the cars are extremely noisy and damaging to your ears. Even with the ear plugs, you can hear the noise.

 

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As it ended up drizzling that evening, we grabbed a quick bite at nearby Toast Box as we simply did not want to look for food. However, the food was quite average. The Kaya Toast is not as good as Ya Kun’s. The toast is not as crispy, and the portion size is way smaller. I decided to get the Laksa, and as expected, it was quite average. Think of it as fast food, so really can’t expect much.

We headed back to watch qualifying that evening, and stopped by to catch Ariana Grande’s concert after. As we had recently watched her concert in Vancouver, we decided to just call it a night and left early to get a good night’s sleep! Day 2 of the Singapore Grand Prix done!

 

 

Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh 亞華肉骨茶, McDonald’s Nasi Lemak Burger, Day 1 of Singapore Grand Prix Formula 1

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The main reason for visiting Singapore this time around was because S wanted to watch the Singapore Grand Prix Formula 1 race. The race itself doesn’t usually start until night time although there are some other non-Formula 1 races going on in the afternoon. Therefore, we made sure to grab some lunch before heading to see the afternoon races. We decided to go to a nearby shopping mall, Raffles City Shopping Centre and found Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh 亞華肉骨茶. They are known for their bak kut teh. I decided to go with the Prime Rib Cuts and you get a bowl of tea with two large prime ribs and a bowl of rice. The tea is refillable and they will come around to ask if you want more.The prime ribs were very tender and the meat fell off the bone. The tea itself was peppery which I quite enjoyed.

 

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S wasn’t really feeling bak kut teh so he chose to get the Mee Hua Soup with Minced Pork Balls and this was served with you tiao or Chinese donuts. The good thing about this restaurant is they serve other dishes other than bak kut teh. Nothing too special about this Mee Hua though, and it was a bit small for the price. Be warned that the prices here are slightly higher as it’s a full service restaurant in the mall. It also charges for the use of the wet wipes, so don’t use them if you have your own and remember to check your receipt.

 

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After lunch, we decided to head over to the F1 race to check out the area and see where our seats were. The Singapore race is typically in September and the 3 day event is from Friday to Sunday. However, the final race is on Sunday and you can choose to only purchase single day tickets. S is a huge fan so we got the 3 day grandstand package. S chose to purchase the Stamford Grandstand which has a view of Turn 7 which comes just after the racers go at their highest speed. If you are able to take advantage of the early bird price, you can get these tickets at $448 SGD (regular price at $498 SGD). Given the amount of entertainment and concerts the Singapore Grand Prix offers, it isn’t too bad of a deal.

 

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The nice thing about the Stamford Grandstand is it’s close to the Raffles City Shopping Centre and Suntec City Shopping Centre. Given it’s still burning hot and humid in September, you’re likely going to want to head into a shopping mall for some air conditioning during the breaks. It was also good for our year when it decided to rain a lot.

 

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The entire vicinity is actually really easy to access as well. There are tons of volunteers around the area to direct you and answer your questions, but the map they give you is also really easy to follow. During our breaks, we would walk around the area to check out other entertainment which is laid out across the track. The best part about the Singapore race is that it’s a night street race. The track is in the middle of the city centre, so you can check out all the tourist attractions during the day. We were able to get some great shots of the Marina Bay Sands as one of the grandstands is nearby.

 

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Throughout the afternoon, there are also roving acts which are entertainers that move around. They are stationed at different areas at different times so be sure to check the schedule to see which acts you want to see and plan accordingly. A great act we had during the 2017 race was the Acro-Chaps. They are acrobats with mustaches and they can do some crazy moves! I love how they also try to incorporate the crowds into their acts!

 

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Dining at the venue is not cheap but because the venue is in the city centre, it’s easy to step out to go to a shopping mall or nearby restaurant to grab some food. For dinner, we decided to head to the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and check out McDonalds! Yes, I love to check out McDonalds when I travel as there are often menu items you won’t find in Canada. During our time in Singapore, they had the the Nasi Lemak Burger which was available for a limited time. We got the whole limited edition meal which also came with Potato Wedges and Bandung McFizz. The Bandung McFizz is a fizzy rose syrup drink and was great to quench the spice, but I personally wouldn’t get it again. It tasted like a syrupy soda.

 

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The star of the show was definitely the Nasi Lemak Burger though. The coconut flavoured chicken is juicy and crispy and coated with a cornflakes for a nice crunch. It’s paired with a sweet, spicy sambal sauce and topped with a fried egg, caramelized onions and crunchy cucumber slices. It really did taste like eating nasi lemak! And the crispy chicken was absolutely delicious. If you like spicy chicken, you’ll enjoy this!

 

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The first night is for practice so this is the time when the racers can test out the track and get ready for the next two days. This was the view we had from the Stamford Grandstand. To our left is turn 7 where you’ll see the curve and cars coming out and then to our right is a short straight. At our stand, you can also see the live TV broadcasting the cars.

 

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The night race is definitely a cool experience but keep in mind that it’s a bit more difficult to take pictures, especially since the cars are already moving at high speed. Be sure to bring your best camera if you’re planning on taking some high quality pictures!

 

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At night time, you can also enjoy the beautiful night views of Singapore. I loved how the lights changed compared to usual. The red and blue lights were really spectacular!

 

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Each night, there is also a huge headliner concert to enjoy. This will usually begin just after the last race. The 2017 year had some top headliners including Calvin Harris, The Chainsmokers, Arriana Grande, and One Republic. The Singapore Grand Prix really knows who to invite for entertainment! Even for myself who is not a huge fan of the race, there was plenty to do and the ticket price was well worth the concerts I got to attend. Of course, if you are not a huge fan, I would suggest getting the walk-about tickets so you can just quickly check out the race and then head to the concerts. However, I wouldn’t suggest spending the whole day there as you’ll likely be tired and sunburned without a seat. The price is roughly $100 less than getting a seat. On the first night, we enjoyed One Republic!

 

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If you are a huge fan, I suggest arriving early as fans are already sitting on the grass an hour in advance to be as close to the singers as possible.

 

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However, remember that the concert is outdoor and Singapore is still hot and humid even in the evenings. We had never had such a sweaty concert before! It was not very enjoyable to be honest because we were standing shoulder to shoulder with people and everyone was sweating!

 

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But arriving early to secure a spot did mean we could get close up shots of the singer! If you’re not a diehard fan, then I suggest just standing in the back as there are two large screens broadcasting live anyways. Plus, the music is booming up front and almost too loud.

 

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I think the coolest part about the live concerts in Singapore is the skyline you get in the background. Super cool to see all the buildings lit up just off to the side! Anyways, we rushed out just before the concert ended in order to avoid line ups exiting and to get on the Metro quickly. Day 1 of Singapore’s Formula 1 done!

 

Ya Kun Kaya Toast, National Museum of Singapore, and Singapore River Cruise

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The next morning, we decided to go to 313@Somerset, which is a shopping mall along Orchard Road. Our goal was to have our favourite kaya toast at Ya Kun Kaya Toast. There are outlets all across Singapore so be sure to try it whenever you see one. However, since we were planing to walk around the Orchard area after, this was a great spot for us. If you are deciding between Toast Box or Ya Kun, I highly suggest Ya Kun as the toast tastes much better! I started with a Hot Tea which comes with my set.

 

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Since it wasn’t our first time here, S decided to try the Kaya Peanut Toast. It is essentially the kaya toast but with peanut butter as well. If you haven’t had kaya before, it is sort of like a coconut spread. It is typically made of sugar, coconut milk and eggs, pandan, and sometimes margarine or butter. It is a common breakfast dish for Singaporeans or Malaysians. S also got a Chocolate Frosty to quench his thirst.

 

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For myself, I got the traditional Kaya Toast with Butter. Kaya toast is not exactly healthy as the kaya often comes with slabs of butter, but it tastes amazing! Guilty pleasures! The value sets also come with soft boiled eggs which you whisk together with some soy sauce and pepper. You can dip your toast into the egg mixture for a different experience!

 

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After brunch, we walked around Orchard Road and checked out some fancy department stores. We decided to check out the Singapore Visitor Centre which I suggest stopping by if you’re in the area. You can get all the maps you need and purchase any tourist tickets you’re looking for. They also have a small souvenir shop with some cute Singaporean items. On the second floor, they have an exhibition which changes and they have free tours  at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, and 4pm based on first come first serve. For example, when we went, it was close to mid-autumn festival, so they were actually teaching visitors how to make mooncakes! Unfortunately we just missed the start time!

 

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Right next to the Singapore Visitor Centre on Orchard Road is Emerald Hill, a neighbourhood which was a former home to many members of the city-state’s wealthy Peranakan community. The architecture here brings you back to the past and I especially loved the colourful buildings. Some of them are now bars so you can grab a quick drink here as well. Otherwise, it’s a nice detour from the modernized Orchard Road which doesn’t take too long.

 

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Our next stop was the National Museum of Singapore. For whatever reason, we decided we could walk 20 minutes from along Orchard Road to the museum. But it got confusing and after being lost for a while, we finally found the beautiful white building! The museum is just off the Fort Canning Park, so you can also quickly check that out. During our stay in Singapore this time, we used KLOOK to buy almost all our admission tickets. You download the app and it’s so quick and easy to use. For example, for the museum tickets, they normally go for $15SGD but we were able to get a $1SGD discount on KLOOK. It doesn’t seem much but it adds up and some of the other attractions are more heavily discounted. Plus, all you do is show them the QR code and oftentimes you can bypass the lineup.

 

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Anyways, we had a really good time at the National Museum of Singapore. Given I did not know much of the history, I found the museum to be extremely informative and well laid out. The exhibits were entertaining and dates back from 1887 to present day. You can definitely spend a couple of hours here and I have to add the exterior and interior is visually appealing! Great for those who want to get some Instagram pictures! They also had a Glass Rotunda which featured a cool interactive forest display.

 

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We also wandered over to Istana Park where we found the Festival Arch. Opposite to this is The Istana which is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to visit the Istana Grounds although it is actually open to the public five days a year on special holidays.

 

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After lots of walking, we headed back towards Orchard Road to ION, a shopping mall. We were getting tired and hungry, so we decided to look around for food. We decided to settle on Hong Kong Wonton Noodle 香港雲吞面. I got the Prawn Wonton Noodle and it was actually pretty good. Noodles were chewy and broth was flavourful.

 

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We then decided to take the bus to the Clarke Quay area. After getting off the bus, we were greeted by the colourful MICA Building, also known as the Old Hill Street Police Station. There are 927 windows with colourful shutters!

 

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As we walked toward the water, you’ll find the famous Clarke Quay signage. This riverside district has some shopping, but it is more famous for the night clubs and night life along the water. Some of these restaurants/pubs are floating on water!

 

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We came to Clarke Quay mainly because I wanted to go on the Singapore River Cruise. Again, we purchased this through KLOOK because it is slightly discounted but mainly because you can cut the line to purchase tickets and it also seemed like we were able to get into a fast track line. We simply showed them our QR code and we were on the boat in no time. I suggest going on this cruise in the evening because the night lights in Singapore are very enjoyable.

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The boat is quite nice with seating outside as well as covered seating.

 

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Seating is really just benches but it is very clean. I suggest sitting outside to take advantage of the 360 view.

 

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The boat ride is roughly 40 minutes and departs every 30 minutes. The last boat departs at 10:30pm. The boat will stop by different spots such as Fullerton, Merlion Park, and the Esplanade. You can choose to disembark at the spots, but you won’t be able to get back on. I suggest just staying on to enjoy the full ride. I also liked how they had English audio playing with some basic commentary of what you were seeing. This made it informative if you weren’t sure what the buildings were.

 

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This is a great activity if you’re only in Singapore for a few days as you can see all the signature spots in just under an hour. I highly recommend this! On KLOOK, an adult ticket costs USD$17.

 

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After we enjoyed the cruise, we headed back to the Clarke Quay area to walk around the pubs. There are many Western style pubs in this area, but keep in mind that alcohol in Singapore is quite pricey!

 

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We decided not to indulge in the pricey alcohol, but instead on some dessert. Ended our night with some hazelnut cake and rested our feet before heading home!