Unlike the days prior, I did not start off my day with an egg prata. In a vague attempt at being financially responsible, my roommate — Madeleine — and I ate oatmeal before setting off to meet the group. During my time in Singapore so far, I’ve found that the food and fresh juices — plural because one should always indulge in second juice — are often some of the highlights of my day. So, I tend to track my days by what we ate or drank rather than what we’ve done. With that in mind, we met with the group & used Singapore’s public transit to reach Tekka Market in Little India. We had not but taken a few steps into the market, before Tom turned to the group & yelled “go explore!” And we never saw him again…
Just kidding, we saw him later that night, but we did lose him in the crowd pretty quickly. The place was bustling with Singaporeans using their early Saturday morning to buy fresh produce, meat and fish from the wet market. We walked through the maze of stalls for a while, with no real destination in mind, until we arrived at the fruit section of the market. A few of us undergrads have been on a quest to eat all the fresh tropical fruit we could find, so it was no surprise to me that we stopped at the first stall we saw to try two new additions: rose apple and jackfruit. I’d heard that ripe jackfruit tastes like juicy fruit gum, which was my favorite as a child, so I was excited to try it. After purchasing our treats from a sweet vendor, we hunted down a table, triumphantly carrying our goods. I immediately pulled apart the jackfruit into strips and took a tentative bite. The fruit definitively tasted like juicy fruit gum, but the texture was somewhere between rubber and fruit. It was not bad, but it wasn’t my favorite. Slightly disappointed in the jackfruit, I tried a hunk of rose apple. It was crisp and fresh, but not super flavorful. I would definitely eat it again for the crunch, but probably not for the flavor.
Having tried our fruits – and not being super in love with them – we passed the rest off to a few other students before wandering to the second level of Tekka market. Unfortunately, most of the stalls were closed, but the ones that were open had beautiful, intricate dresses and tunics on display… all of which were way out of our price range. Wanting to explore somewhere else, we left the hustle and bustle of Tekka market to explore the rest of Little India. I was told by my roommate – a native Singaporean – not to go to Mustafa Center as there tends to be a lot of theft… but she wasn’t there to stop me, so we went. Thankfully, nothing was stolen from us, but we also didn’t find anything super interesting in the multilevel store.
Bereft and ready to find a snack, we walked the streets in search of food. It wasn’t long before we found a small stall selling kufi – an ice cream-like dessert that is popular in Pakistan – where we stopped to snack before heading on to the Indian Heritage Center. There were lots of artwork and religious decorations created by Indians in Singapore (I included a few pictures of my favorite finds).
The heritage center was pristine and pretty comprehensive, so by the time we made it to the end, we were hungry. Following the call of our stomachs led us back to Tekka market where I got some delicious butter chicken and garlic naan.
While we were munching on our lunch, a woman from a few seats down struck up a conversation and gave us some recommendations for how to travel in Singapore while saving money. One of the best tips she gave us was that you can get free refills of your soup at any food courts you visit. At one point during our meal, the woman abruptly got up and when she returned, she had a tray of drinks. To our surprise, she announced that she had bought all of us cendol – a popular dessert in Singapore that has droplets of green rice flour jelly, coconut milk, and palm sugar syrup. Personally, I thought the drink form of the dessert (there is also a shaved ice version) was a little too sweet, but I drank every drop because there was no way I was disrespecting that woman after she went out of her way to buy us a treat. We finished our meal and as we walked to the mrt station (believing that we had said goodbye and profusely thanked the woman), she snagged two of us to the side and bought us another snack. She didn’t tell us what it was, but it tasted good!
Feeling content and full, we headed to the West Coast Park in search of otters and crocodiles. We spent a few hours walking around, but all we found were kites, a few Malayan Water Monitors, and some Junglefowl.
Sad that the otters and crocs had eluded us, we returned to the hotel to change, then met with the group to head to dinner at the Alexander hawker center. I got some delicious Michelin Bib Gourmand fried kway teow noodles (highly recommend!) as well as a juice … and a second juice for the road.
After eating our meal we had a 20 minute walk to the place where we have durian night. I was excited and scared to try durian, but it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good, either (2/10 would not recommend – see the tiktok link below for everyone’s reactions). Thankfully, we had some yummy mangosteins to cleanse our palettes before we started the hour long journey on public transport back to the hotel. Overall, a good day. 🙂
… I bet you’re wondering why the title mentions heat. It’s because Singapore is hot. Get it?
Durian reaction tiktok link: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTRnxPHXM/ (Source: Madeleine Jones)