Singapore is a tiny island city-state located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Its total land area may be slightly larger than that of Metro Manila, but it is one of the economic powerhouses of the world. It is home to a thriving community of different nationalities. Aside from the locals, there are also the Chinese, Malays, and Indians among many others, who have already considered this their second home.
What you get from this multi-cultural influx is an interesting, diverse and vibrant food scene. As a result, you may not have to travel all the way to Malaysia to sample the best nasi lemak of your life. All you have to do is go to your favorite downtown hawker center in Singapore and try out this food stall that only offers Malaysian delicacies. From there, you can then hop your away across the globe, as you try the food served at the next stall.
That’s why if given only a few hours or just a weekend to explore the squeaky-clean, megalopolis that is Singapore, I’ll fill up my itinerary mostly with its colorful food stops. While there is nothing wrong with spending a full day at Sentosa or have your photo taken at the Merlion or do what most tourists do in Singapore, you miss a lot if you don’t embark on a Singapore food trip. After all, the best way to get to the heart and soul of any place, is through its food – from the miniature portions served in chi-chi restaurants, up to the exotic fare peddled at the streets.
So when TLC launched a fly-away contest to Singapore last April, I grabbed the chance but sent my entry only a few hours before the deadline. I’ve been an avid follower of Anthony Bourdain, so I thought that this one could be right up my alley.
I first watched Anthony in a late-night No Reservations episode on TLC. I got hooked ever since and I blame him for making me frequently stay up very late at night. I find him as a snarky yet interesting travel/culinary host, a profession that he may have probably disdained, but unknowingly reinvented in the process. Tony manages to show something familiar and different, irreverent and poignant, meaningful and meaningless every time. This is a clear departure from other travel shows where you have the feeling that you just watched a Wikitravel entry come to life.
After sending my entry, I requested my sister to pray with me with on this as Singapore was not even on my bucket list this year. I also thought that there were many others who submitted entries so my chances of getting even shortlisted were very slim. We honestly forgot about it until I got a call around last month. A kind lady from Sky Cable then informed me that I won the contest. My reaction was muffled, almost stoic to a certain extent, since my manager was around that time. But boy, it was one of the best calls I’ve had in recent memory.
That I actually won the contest did not fully sink in, even when I was already in Singapore. It also was not a layover per se, since we spent a total of 3D/2N mostly eating our way around the city. If you’ve seen that Layover episode, you’d be familiar with Samy’s Curry, Chin-Chin Eating House and Tiong Bahru Market. We did all of that, including some restaurants that were not included such as the Peranakan cuisine at Nyonya and Baba, No Signboard Seafood Restaurant and the Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck Restaurant.
To say that I over-stuffed myself with glorious food, would be a gross understatement. The operative word would have to be ‘splurged’ and that is one reason why I did not inform my trainer about this trip. But the entire experience was well worth every pound that I have to lose afterwards.
The next blog entries will feature some of the food stops and side trips that we made. Meanwhile, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank TLC Asia, Sky Cable and Lucky Me for giving me and my good friend the best ‘layover’ ever. Opportunities like this are unexpected and are hard to come by. That’s why are I am grateful, honored and humbled by this incredible gesture.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Singapore Layover series begins with this post.
Catch more of Anthony Bourdain in The Layover only at TLC. Contact your local Pay TV operators such as Sky Cable for subscriptions inquiries.