Chinese New Year Travels

Happy Chinese New Year! The Year of the Horse has gone and we are now in the Year of the Goat. Most countries in Southeast Asia have a day or two off for CNY and because I’m a teacher, I have more. (Don’t be jealous.) I flew to Singapore early Wednesday afternoon and Mitch flew back to Malaysia with me Saturday afternoon. He left today, Monday, and I return to school tomorrow. I feel relaxed and refreshed, though sad to say goodbye to Mitch. We haven’t spent this long together since going to Spain with my family over Christmas. Before, we hadn’t spend that long together since he left Malaysia in October. We are getting rather tired of so much distance.

Going to Singapore over Chinese New Year is a bit like coming to the US over Thanksgiving – for a day or two, everything is closed, streets are quiet, and most people are spending time with their families. Luckily, Singapore has expats, constant tourism, and such a large expat community that there were more than enough places for us to eat and wander around. I’ve been to Singapore four times now and I really enjoy just meandering through different areas and exploring places that real Singaporeans frequent. Having Mitch as a quasi-local is definitely helpful!

Speaking of local experiences, I went to a 24-hour health clinic while in Singapore to get my eye checked out. Last week it was red and swollen for a couple days and got better so I thought everything was fine. It flared up again the first night I was in Singapore so we headed to the doctor in the morning. I have two types of eyedrops that I’m using now, so hopefully that will clear everything up.

One of our impromptu destinations this time, largely because we couldn’t remember the name of the MRT stop for the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, was the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Everyone who wasn’t having a family meal was picnicking under trees, playing Frisbee on open fields, or running on winding paths through the different gardens.


Really cool plants

Big lily pads!

Fun fact: Turtles spend time out of water! Look!


We watched the turle leave its shelter among the tree roots, cross a footpath, and make its way down a small bank. We didn’t wait to see if it made it safely into the water; turtles are slow.

Singapore, like Kuala Lumpur, is home to numerous independent coffee shops and cafes that roast their own beans and are eager to teach their customers about it. We started exploring coffee culture in KL a few months ago and Mitch has done the same in Singapore. This picture from Singapore’s Common Man Coffee Roasters pretty much sums up what we’re looking for:

How can you not love a place that serves coffee like this?
How can you not love a place that serves coffee like this?

One day when both Mitch and I are employed, we’ll treat ourselves to Common Man’s food. Reading the descriptions of some Middle Eastern-inspired brunch items on the menu made my mouth water.

Happily, we did find brunch specials in other parts of the Robertson Quay neighborhood. We walked around hoping for less expensive food than they serve at the Common Man, but honestly didn’t have much hope in finding any. To give you an idea of the neighborhood, consider this: In a city that limits the number of cars allowed at any one time, there’s no MRT station within a 20 minute walk. Still confused? Think about the type of people who don’t need public transit . . . because they have cars . . . In short, Robertson Quay is far from affordable for most people. It sure is pretty, though!

Roberton Quay

A number of the restaurants serve breakfast all day or until mid-afternoon, so that’s definitely the way to go when watching one’s wallet. There’s less of a mark-up on eggs.

Back in Malaysia, however, Mitch and I are able to smile at the prices – they’re often nominally the same in ringgit and dollars, giving us much more purchasing power. Mitch doesn’t have a functional kitchen in his apartment so we shared the cooking at my apartment, which we always enjoyed at home. We made some darn good food, too! You can take a look at the tantalizing lists of ingredients here, here, and here. Some creative substituting was required; there’s no Wegmans here and Cold Storage is in KL 😦

We went up to KL on Sunday to visit Antipodean Coffee in the Bangsar neighborhood. I highly recommend, both for their brunch and the coffee! I’ll probably be back there next weekend, to be honest. Bangsar Village is home to a plethora of unique cafes, boutiques, shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s basically everything I hoped I’d find when moving to Malaysia and it’s everything I miss living in Seremban. There’s even a farmer’s market nearby!

Farmer's market
You pick your produce, put it in baskets, give the baskets to the farmers, and then pay by weight!
Lots of leafy greens
Lots of leafy greens

Food, coffee, greenery, relaxation made for a  happy Chinese New Year for me. Happy Year of the Goat!

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