Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Singapore, Day 2

This morning was back to the convention center area downtown. Our tour passes were for two days, so we wanted to get to as many things as possible that were included in the price. We started out on the heritage tour again, but got off at the DHL balloon. This is a gigantic helium balloon that is tethered to the ground with a large metal basket. It's like a hot air balloon that goes up some 150 meters in the air. You can get a great panoramic view of the city this way. That being said... it was slightly overcast and windy today. The view was beautiful, if a bit muted, and Liza spent the whole time sitting on the floor of the basket. I thought it was really cool; she's glad it's over! Here's a picture of me with the skyline and the balloon.

Next we hopped the bus and headed to Chinatown. We browsed some shop, then stopped at a restaurant for dim sum for lunch. For those who don't know, dim sum is a type of Chinese cuisine that is technically served "along side Chinese tea." It's ordered ala carte, singly or on a plate of 2-3, much like ordering sushi or tapas. Most dim sum is steamed or fried. This was hands-down the best dim sum I have ever had. It was so fresh with interesting flavors and served with a side of sweet chili sauce. My favorite was called prawn and banana dragon's beard. It was a filling of small prawns and banana wrapped in super fine rice noodles and fried. It was about the size of a small dinner roll when served. AND SO GOOD! Other favorites were prawn and mushroom steamed dumpling, rice bun with lotus paste filling, rice wrapper with scallops and fried spring roll. The tea was a jasmine green tea and smelled and tasted wonderful.

We next started off to the Chinese Heritage Centre. We didn't get there right away, because we got sidetracked at a tailor's shop. I spotted a beautiful silk brocade robe that was calling my name. Once you get sucked into a tailor's shop... it's nearly impossible to leave. So about an hour and a half, and a chunk of cash later, we were out to there... whew! I'm having the robe fitted and the sleeves shortened. I also ordered an outfit that is going to be gorgeous. I fell in love with this beautiful silk and cashmere fabric. It looks like it's marbled in pinks, teals, and tans. Did I mention it's gorgeous? So I decided to have a blouse made. Well you can't have a beautiful silk and cashmere top without some matching silk pants in cream! So anyway, I will go back on Saturday to pick it up or have modifications made if necessary. I hope it turns out as gorgeous as it is in my mind. Here's a picture of me getting measured and of the fabric and style I picked out. The outfit will be like the teal one in the picture with 3/4 sleeves instead of sleeveless.

Browsing in Chinatown was really fun. We shopped from some souvenirs and little things, then stopped at a Hindu temple. The Hindu religion has hundreds of gods. The temple had brightly colored statues of all of them. They line the roof and are situated in nooks all over the temple grounds. Its really fascinating, and nothing like I have ever seen before. There was no charge to go in, but you had to pay $3 if you wanted to take pictures.... we didn't take any pictures. You also cannot wear shoes in the temple, so you leave them by the entrance door. (Picture of Liza outside the temple; note the piles of shoes.)

So we finally made it to the Chinese Heritage Centre at about 5:30pm. It tells the story of the first Chinese settlers to the island. The main builders of Singapore were a group of women called Samsui, whose families sent them there to make their fortune. They were the builders and cultural leaders of the island for many years and generations. We also learned about the clans of Singapore. Imagine the clans of Ireland or Italy, and you will get an idea. The distinction of the clans were recognized and celebrated with parades and parties well into the 1950's and 1960's, though not as important in today's society. We also saw replicas of early housing and shops. It's easy to understand why the government was so adamant about taking over housing in Singapore. Liza and Dimiter's housing community is luxurious and gorgeous compared to earlier options.

After the museum, we dropped off our packages and picked up Dimiter and Georga at the apartment. We were heading to Sentosa Island for the "Songs of the Sea" show and to look at some of the other attractions there. Sentosa is the resort island of Singapore. It is also the southern most tip of the Asian continent. But we had a bit of a mishap on the way to Sentosa. About 2 blocks from the tram station, Little Miss Georga wasn't feeling well and threw up in the taxi. Now... I'm not a mom, and it was all I could do to control my own gag reflex or hurl myself out the taxi door. Dimiter paid the taxi driver a large sum to get his cab cleaned, and we got Georga cleaned up in the bathroom. Georga insisted she was better, and we continued. Well... long story short... she wasn't better, and we continued to have a sick kid for the next couple hours. She's staying home from school on Wednesday. I sure hope she's better tomorrow. (Pictures are from "The Songs of the Sea" and a water feature on Sentosa Island.)
That's all for today. Bye for now.

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