I left the U.K. last Tuesday with a heavy heart (heavier bod all round if I’m being honest): after a year down under, it was great to be back home with my friends and family for a couple of weeks. My short trip home was an opportunity to savour all the culinary delights unavailable in Australia – namely, (refrigerated) Haribo Starmix, Tesco microwaveable mash and my sister’s pecan pie.
My heart nearly burst with love as I left Heathrow and flew to Singapore, drinking my way through a rocky flight next to two “cute” and “troublesome” (their own mother’s words) toddlers, both of whom displayed a blatant disregard for personal space (as did their nanny, who fell asleep on my shoulder somewhere over Eastern Europe).
Waiting for me in Singapore was my good pal Katy, who’s been changing the face of chemistry over there for the last couple of months. Our reunion was smiley and sweaty, and on our first evening we caught up at 1-Altitude, 63 floors above the… city? State? Country? I still don’t know.
The next few days was spent exploring little lanes in the Malaysian district, as well as temples in Chinatown and Little India, using both trains and the extensive network of shopping malls to escape the stifling humidity.
Unfortunately, the gluten-free scene hasn’t invaded Singapore like it has the Western world, but cute(?) Katy had researched a few places I could eat. Super Loco, a Mexican haven in Clarke Quay, does some sensational fish tacos with a hint of Asian spice. Another place, Kitchen by Food Rebels, served a vegan coconut curry and green smoothie so healthy that it almost counteracted the guilt of the numerous McDonald’s and Subways I consumed in my desperate search for GF food.
At the weekend, we ventured to Sentosa, the most Westernised part of the city. It’s a small island about 400m offshore, housing various theme parks, beaches and rowdy tourists. Tanjong beach was worth the sweaty trek – uncrowded, blue skies, a dog on a surfboard and the warmest water I’ve ever peed in.
The best discovery came on our last night. Alcohol is notoriously expensive in straight-edge Singapore – $20 a pint is hideously normal! As we walked by City Hall, I spied an empty, run-down bar on the corner of a football field and a roundabout. Instantly attracted, we discovered this little slice of heaven(ish) served $5 pints, with a panoramic view of the CBD and sports on the telly (we also met the self-proclaimed South African Gary Lineker).
We’re returning to Singapore in a few weeks with Katy’s family; it’ll be fun showing them the tapas bar on Haji Lane, the rooftop garden views at the theatre, and, of course, the build-your-own machine at McDonald’s. What a place!