wandering about in Chinatown (part 1)

 

We were surprised to wake up feeling rested with no sign of jet lag. Our hotel is on a chic little street at the edge of Chinatown so it was a short walk out the door to get to the middle of it. Above is the view above the subway (MRT) entrance.

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Just at the hotel door was a kishu mandarin tree for the New Year. It’s a shot of home since we have one in the backyard. They’re all over Chinatown.

We were looking forward to Singapore’s botanical abundance and here’s something else on our doorstep, a very large maidenhair fern. Astonishing.

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First order of business was buying a SIM card for my phone. Success. For about US$10 I picked up 1GB good for 30 days. This would be more than enough for using Google Maps and light web browing.

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Google guidance in hand, we set out looking for food: Red Star, a dim sum house that Lonely Planet said was off the normal tourist path. A long walk later we’re found it but unfortunately, it was closed for the New Year holiday.

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Stomachs grumbling, we asked Google to find us another good dim sum place nearby and it didn’t disappoint with Tak Po.

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We had steamed pork ribs, pandan custard buns (for the New Year), fried taro, siu mai…

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gai lan with fried garlic and teochew dumplings.

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One brilliant thing they did with the gai lan was simply slicing the stalk in half. This way they cook evenly and are much much easier to pick up with chopsticks.

For sweets the don tot (egg custard tarts) were the best we can remember with a silky perfectly set custard in a very flaky crust. (I never seem to find them with the crust cooked as well like this.

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By the way this is what the inside of a pandan custard bun looks like:

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It was certainly a delicious way to start our trip. (And yes, I’m one of those people when it comes to taking pictures of my food.)

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Right around the corner is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Of recent construction it houses an alleged real tooth of the Buddha. I think if all the teeth, bone shards and gall stones around the world purporting to be actual Buddha relics were put together, we’d wind up with a very peculiar-looking creature.

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These munchkins were visiting.

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I think Franco Zeffirelli must have consulted on the décor:

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Guess what, we brought a selfie stick!

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The relic was housed on a floor where photos were forbidden so we can’t share the place with you. It was very shiny. And the tooth was distinctly canine looking.

The temple has a lovely and peaceful roof garden. The throngs of visitors don’t seem to notice the signs announcing this after their beatific encounters so we had it pretty much to ourselves.

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There was a prayer wheel. (Sort of like counting hail marys on a rosary.)

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