I Ate My Heart Out in Singapore

I believe that food is the best way to learn about the culture of a new place. Because I usually travel locally, trying new food is not that much of a big deal — the Filipino people eat similar kinds of food from all over the archipelago. However, I still always find it interesting that there are differences. For instance, adobo in Mindanao has a thick soup, while in the Visayas region, it’s more of a thin sauce. (There’s a difference, I promise!)

When I first went to Singapore, I came with my parents and was subjected to family rules: mainly, I can’t explore the city on my own unless everyone else wants to go.  Also, my mom is not really into eating street food, which means that Hawker Centres are not high on the list.

Then I came back to Singapore with my friends, which meant that finally, I get to eat as I please, and the foodie in me was happy. For a while anyway, because I realized later on that my friends, despite being voracious eaters, don’t have adventurous taste buds.

Not that it stopped me from getting them to try, although I can never seem to get them to eat the frog. Anyway, since we were only in the Lion City for three days, I couldn’t get around to eating every single Singaporean dish they had to offer. So I went with my top five musts:

Chicken Rice

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Does it look exactly like any other chicken dish? Yes. Does it taste better than other chicken dishes? Also, yes. Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken is a Michelin-starred restaurant, so that’s saying a lot regarding it’s quality. (The chicken is incredibly tender) Their set meals, which came with a canned drink only goes for S$5. It is said to go even cheaper at their original store at the Hawker centre, too.

Frog Porridge

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Sorry for the photo, I ordered the frog porridge for takeaway, and white meat on white rice porridge just look bland in photos.

Anyway. My friends refused to take a bite out of the frog porridge. Interestingly, it tasted exactly like arroz caldo, which Filipinos tend to eat a lot of. Frog tasted like chicken, but more chewy, I suppose. I realized later on that I may have eaten some girl’s prince charming, and for that, I apologize (but she should have kissed the frog incarnate sooner).

Laksa

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Hearty, spicy noodle soup perfect for chilly days. Except that Singapore is a degree above the equator and it’s super hot out when we went there. Nonetheless, I love anything spicy, so I finished the entire bowl anyway. #NoRegrets, amirite?

Sambal Stingray

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When I told my parents I ate stingray in Singapore, they went, “Why did you go to SG to eat stingray? There are stingrays here!”

Well, there are also blowfish in the Philippines but it doesn’t mean we know how to prepare them. We don’t prepare stingray at home, either. When asked how it tasted like, I love fish and it tasted exactly like fish to me. 😀 For non-fish fans, it’s actually pretty safe as a dish: it is soft and it does not have that fishy aftertaste. The sauce that went with it (spicy, but not hot) also added to the flavor.

Singaporean Chili Crab

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Yum. I don’t usually eat a lot of crab because I find them tasking, but I would definitely not say ‘no’ to them if someone offers me the meat sans the shell. The sauce for the crab tasted a whole lot like Zamboanga’s Alavar sauce. However, I Googled recipes for the various sauces and I found that they are actually quite different! The chili crab sauce has ketchup, chili paste (duh), oyster sauce, soy sauce, and tamarind paste. Alavar sauce has a lot more ingredients that included turmeric, paprika, curry powder, and coconut milk.

Anyway, if you’re ever in Zamboanga, look for curachas served with Alavar sauce (not to be mistaken with cucarachas, which are cockroaches). The curachas taste amazing as soon as you get over their nightmarish look. (Check them out: http://bit.ly/2rZhJLv)

Meanwhile, here’s a fun fact about Singapura: According to a Reddit user, Merlions ate durian and hated it. They have been vomiting ever since.

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Thank You, Kid

This is my first non-political post in such a long time, which is nice, since I really should stop with all my politicking.

Anywaaayyy:

The Cebu Literary Festival big event was on Saturday, and me being me, I volunteered as member of the staff, because that’s how you meet people. While I’ve been busy manning the booth, lectures, interviews, and talks were underway on the big stage, focusing mostly on local writers, which means yey, GoLocal!

My favorite thing about these kinds of events? I get to meet a lot of interesting people, like poets and writers, and even famed comic artists. I had been busy but my friend got to get me a signed copy of Manix Abrera’s latest comic so yey! Not that I missed out on a lot, I was manning the merch booth right next to Paulo Herras, and he’s so nice!

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But I found that the bookworms were the most interesting of them all — for instance, I met a Gryffindor who told me he didn’t fully appreciate the new Fantastic Beasts movie (gasp!) although he did note that Newt Scamander was a Hufflepuff, so there’s that. I’m a Slytherin myself, and there were also a few Ravenclaws there earlier in the day. As a Potterhead, it is always fun to meet other Pottergeeks. 🙂

Then I met a few obviously shy people who would smile at me cautiously as I help them pick out some merch. Me being bubbly is not exactly the best thing on the planet because I am not a bubbly person to strangers. I’m more of the “resting bitch face” kind of person because I’m 99.999 percent, well, bitch 100 percent of the time, but I can’t very well scare everyone away from the event, now, can I?

But I’m still doing my “when is the last time you did something for the first time” thing, and this is the first time I volunteered at a literary event so I have to make the most of it — even though I had to drag myself out of bed early in the morning (okay, at nine, which means I’m already up for at least three hours anyway, but it doesn’t mean I like going out of the house that early, either)

All literary things aside, though, meeting a budding reader was my favorite memory of the day. There’s this (probably) six-year-old kid carrying a few picture books as his mom was browsing the merch. I am about 70 percent sure he was carrying one of the books I donated last month at the book swap, a short version of The Velveteen Rabbit, like the one on top of the pile.

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His mother told me that they preferred book swapping because the kid goes through around six picture books a week, and he’s been swapping every week since the Little Library launched. And my heart felt like it grew so much because this kid is way younger than I was when I started reading a lot (although I don’t actually remember when I started reading so much — my  milestone started at 7 when I began reading non-picture books to the tune of Sweet Valley, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Baby Sitters Club)

And I loved how the kid’s eyes widened when he thought I had twenty books.I wanted to give him a big hug, but I settled on congratulating him on his reading prowess.

Made me want to write sunny things again. Thank you, kid. Continue reading: each book is a universe at the palm of your hand, I hope your eyes will always fill with wonder for each one you open.

:3

 

Turns Out, Music One IT Park May Have A Modus

Long story short, we went in a room in Music One IT Park with a damaged wall, did not report it because the waiter already saw it there anyway and we thought it was an old one and that they already knew about it. They called us after we paid and made us pay for damages. We argued it was an old one, and voices got raised. I think they kept touching and moving the wall so the damage got bigger somehow. Then the manager started acting like we spat on him or punched him or something (we didn’t) and called the police.

We explained to the police about the situation. None of us were drunk, none of us brawled, and none of us were happy about the situation because we don’t like being accused of something we didn’t do.

Follow up:

We are starting to suspect a Modus. There had been a few reactions regarding my post about almost getting arrested due to a “damage” that was already there by the time we entered the karaoke room. However, there are reactions that made me believe more and more that they’ve done this before and will do this again.

Someone told me about the same thing happening — they were also accused of damages and Music One “settled” for less than the “actual costs”/

By the way, they made us pay P2,000 for the damage. When we negotiated because of the “lapses” for both parts, they told us it was already a negotiation because the damages would have cost us P5,000.

While I could pass that off as a coincidence, I got this comment on the previous post tonight:

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So, I don’t know, you guys, this could be an actual modus, and I am seriously regretting that we paid them the amount they asked for. Maybe we could ask for a refund, but I doubt it.

I could chalk this up as an experience, but just in case: Check the rooms in Music One IT Park before signing the damned “waiver”.

Cityscapes and Dreamlike States

There are moments in life when you can’t help but keep a big grin on your face. If you were me, your voice would all be high and squeaky from all the excitement, and there’s the perpetual smell of coffee that means things are just looking up.

I have always loved traveling, and just recently, I decided to see a friend in Japan — I booked my ticket on a whim without a visa, because of course I tend to do things like that (usually for domestic vacations), but even more so because I really need a break from reality.

I also get to go on a trip outside the country without family for once, and I get to visit one of my favorite people on the planet (although to be fair, I happen to have a lot of favorite people) in time for his birthday.

I most likely enjoyed his celebration more than he did, but then again, he had been living in Japan for four years, while all I know about the country are food (I love sushi!), anime, and their efficient transport system.

I know exactly four Japanese phrases, too, and only one of them had been useful. Except that I couldn’t even say it right because my friends tend to think it’s funny when I say “arigatou gozaimasu.”

Anyway…

As it is with me, I hit a travel snag: things were all great and dandy until I hit immigration at Fukuoka and forgot the address of where I was supposed to be staying. Things went okay, but by the time I finally got through, Dave almost ran out of patience because by then I had been off sched for two hours — okay, almost three. I’m just glad he didn’t leave me at the airport to fend for myself, what with my vast knowledge of the Japanese language and everything.

Besides, it’s not like it’s the last I’ll see of the airport, we have an early flight to Osaka the next day.

Guys, it looked like Anime!

Here’s the thing: Japan was never actually in my list of places to see — shocking right? However, the trip did push through and I fell in love as the train rushed through the outskirts of Osaka. I am not a big anime fan, but I kept telling Dave that the residential district looked like it came straight out of an anime, and okay, mainly because duh, it did come from Japan.

Also, I tend to love trains. I loved the Singapore transit, and I loved Japan’s as well, although I did notice that it is way more expensive to commute around Japan than it did Singapore.

Back to my trip, though:

Mixing the Old with the New

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Osaka Castle

From gorgeous architecture that makes the city feel so far away, to a bustling central district with lots of shopping and more importantly, food — let’s just say that Osaka is a city after my own heart. I love parks that will allow me to get away from the city, without actually leaving the city. As much as I want to be nature girl, I am pretty attached to the fast-paced lifestyle. Which is why I would love a place where I could go escape once in a while. Besides, have you seen the castle behind me? It’s gorgeous.

By the way, Dotonbori with all its shopping is also considered Japan’s kitchen, and I swear the streets made me so hungry because it smelled that good. We saw Pablo’s and decided to indulge in tarts, but just a little over an hour later (and a lot of walking, because we walked a lot) we were treated to an Osaka dinner by Mama Redd, our friend from university, and honestly, I never knew how much Japanese restaurants ripped me off here in the Philippines. Authentic Japanese food tastes a hundred times better — and at more reasonable prices, too.

And then we went to Hogsmeade…

But that’s a story for another day. 🙂