I opened the door from inside our over air conditioned hotel room and she hit me like a Mike Tyson right hook. “What the fu..?” I shut the door as fast as I opened it and told myself that I must still be sleeping. I had spent the last 24 hours in bed, recovering after I was gunned down by an invisible bullet, what we would call a ‘superbug’ back home. The rumors are true, it in fact does exist and it put me down like an old dog for 3 full days. I was feeling better now, but not quite 100%. Was I ready to explore Singapore in this?
Let’s start again.
I opened the door from inside our air conditioned hotel room and Mother Nature smacked me right in the kisser like the end of a ruler in the evil hands of a strict old nun. 40C with 100% humidity @ 11:30am. Shit.
We locked the door behind us and the sweat started to bead over my upper lip and above my brow and we hadn’t left the front lobby yet. We got out onto the street, Singapore map in hand and tried to decipher the quickest route to the “hawker stalls” where our first meal of the day awaited. We were staying in Little India and as we found our bearings and started to make our way, the smells and colors that make India one of the greatest places in the world jumped all over us. Little India, Singapore; it couldn’t get much better than this.
“Hawker stalls” are Singapore’s answer to the beloved food court we find in our malls from coast to coast. Main difference is you won’t find the Golden Arches or some shitty pizza stand or horrible gut erupting Chinese (if you’re lucky). You will however find some of the best Indian, Malaysian, Korean and Cantonese fare that the world can produce. The kicker being everything is under $5.
You can find them all over Singapore and some are open 24hrs with over a 100 stalls to choose from. We ate in them at all hours and you could be sure day or night that there would be a table of 60 something’s usually men, littered in beer bottles, talking, laughing and singing. The ambiance was always alive, with every conceivable race of people eating together, different languages spilling out into the open air venue talking about their day, enjoying the food, and most importantly enjoying each other.
Did I mention it was 40C?
We finally decided on Chicken Biryani after a 20 minute swirl through the maze of resto’s and cultures. An overwhelming but quick lesson in the cuisines of Asia and beyond under one roof. I wiped my face with my, by now, infamous sweat rag, long past soaking wet, and we dove in. The first bite was magic, every taste bud awakened into a harmonious choir of flavor. Chicken slowly melting away into the back of my palate, rice dancing energetically with each clasp of my jaw. Looking up at F. our first real meal in 5 days, we giggled like school kids with a crush, Singapore brought our smiles back.