My parents and the two of us went to Killiney Kopitiam for breakfast. Killiney Kopitiam is a very traditional kopitiam (coffeeshop) and has been around since 1917. Kopitiams, unlike food centers are little shops with one kitchen that serves food. Food centers are a collection of little stalls. Killiney Kopitiam is one of the most famous kopitiams in Singapore because it serves really good kaya (coconut jam) toasts and coffee, just like Dunkin donuts have relatively okay donuts and coffee. I guess everyone could go for a snack and coffee anytime.
Anyway, at Killiney Kopitiam, we had mee siam (Malay sweet and sour vermicelli noodles with chives and tofu), mee rebus (Javanese in a sweet curry-like gravy, with chives and tofu), nasi lemak (coconut rice with fried anchovies, fried fish and sambal chili wrapped in banana leaves) with otak-otak (spicy fish paste wrapped in banana leaves and grilled), chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll), Killiney's famous kaya toast and teh (milk tea).
Breakfast at killiney kopitiam - mee Siam, mee rebus, nasi lemak, otah, chee cheong fun, Kaya toast, teh
Nasi Lemak and Otak-Otak
half boiled eggs with soy sauce and pepper - my mom's favorite!
chee cheong fun
After that, we visited an old neighbour of more than 30 years, Aunty Rose, and her daughter, Aunty Sandra, and their three dogs, Mimi, Coka and Cheero. I don't know what Mimi was, but she was a fat little thing. Coka is a dark brown lab-retriever and Cheero is a samoyed.
us and Cheero
my brother, Lenny, with Cheero
After visiting Aunty Rose, my dad drove us around Joo Chiat to look at peranakan styled housing, since Aunty Rose is peranakan and the whole talk about peranakans in Singapore came up. We later drove from the east to the west, passing by the bay area, the central business district, the port authority, before driving around my university, and finally ending up at McDonalds.
Before anyone starts to judge about our trip to McDonalds, I've got to say that McD doesn't have such a terrible name here in Asia. For one, its not a slummy place that has meals for a dollar. Instead, it is a al fresco styled self-serve restaurant that is popular because it serves food hot, fast, and provides a clean and modern environment for customers to have their meals in.
Dad & Jas walking to McCafe
al fresco - lovely!
Yes, McD in Singapore has landscaped gardens and waterfalls. Weird isn't it? Anyway, we also have McCafe, which serves much better food for slightly more, and also a whole variety of coffee type things. McCafe also has the #1 cheesecake in Singapore. The Ritz Carlton cheesecake came in #2, to McDonalds - what!? Also, every cup of coffee is personalized and decorated before it is served. Yes, this is McDonalds in Singapore. I find the stark differences between Singapore McDs and McDs in the US appalling. Its the same McD right?
'landscaped' cappucinos and mocchiatos + oreo cheesecake and chicken sandwich
Mom, Dad and Jas @ McD
After McD, we drove to Orchard Road, and later went to the Singapore Botanical Gardens. I'd say the botanical gardens is Singapore's answer to Central Park in NYC, just not as centrally located. It is at the end of Orchard Road, not quite smack in the middle of it.
one of the many entrances to the Botanical Gardens
symphony stage @ Botanical gardens - I played there a couple times!
greens leading up to symphony stage
Anyway, we walked around the botanical gardens and went to the most famous 'attraction' at the gardens - the National Orchid Gardens. I had never been there before. Personally, paying money to see flowers is kind of strange to me. Flowers are everywhere, why do I need to spend money on that (especially spend five times the price for an adult ticket instead of a student ticket because we both didn't bring our student IDs).
National Orchid Gardens was just filled with orchids. What else, right? So, I found out that Singapore breeds a hybrid orchid for worthy foreign dignitaries, and names the orchid after them - what better way to trade for good diplomatic ties than giving someone a personal flower breed, and your own species in the biological classification? We saw some of that, some temperate orchid species that were in a really cold room, some special orchid collections, and also Vanda Miss Joaquim, Singapore's national flower. My mom went completely bonkers with photographs at the National Orchid Gardens, and took at least 600 pictures there. My grandfather is an avid green person and volunteers at the old folks home by manning their gardens. We'll try to take him there on another trip, this time, remembering our student IDs!
hybrid orchids - so pretty!!
cool house @ Botanical Gardens
inside the cool house
nice and cool!!
3 hours in the botanical gardens, and we only walked less than a 1/4 of it. I've never completely walked all of it before too, but its a lot of ground to cover.
After that, we drove through the city again, and went home. We had a late lunch/snack of char kuay teow, specifically Hill Street Char Kuay Teow, another famous one.
char kuay teow - dabao!!
longans and rambutans
After that, my family on my dad's side came over and we all went out for dinner. The official occasion is my brother, Ivan's birthday, but I think the sub-occasion is that Jason is here, since there was no talk about birthday, presents, or any sort of birthday cake. We went to a Thai-Chinese restaurant called Tai-Pan. Had what the westerners will call banquet style food since there were about 9 dishes out and everyone shared. Two tables - 15 people total, and that's because the girlfriends all weren't free (I think its because they all had Fathers' Day dinners with their own families.)
king/emperor pork chops (Jas' favorite!)
Braised pork knuckles
homemade tofu (Jas ate 3 of these, OMG!)
shrimp paste chicken
black pepper steak strips
dou miao (veggie) with century eggs
Dinner was awesome. Of course, food is just simply great, much more so because there's just no time to eat anything mediocre with only one month in Singapore. :)
Dinner kill: Emperor pork chops, braised pork knuckle, fried rice, broccoli and carrots in stock, stir-fried dou miao (vegetable), shrimp paste chicken wings, homemade tofu with pork floss, butter squid, black pepper beef, steamed buns and noodles.
Thoughts about being home so far:
Jason being here is just awesome!!
Everyone takes us out for all the fun stuff and great food, and in the past 3 days, I've only bought us a meal once (Phew, I thought this trip would wipe out my entire bank account!) Every meal was either at home, or out with my parents. Also, everyone seems so happy to drive us around. That never happened when I was here~ Also, my mom got all the stuff we need figured out and put $60 on each of our EZ-link cards (cards you use for public transportation), and I don't remember the time I've not paid for my own EZ-link cards, and my grandmother gave each of us a 4-digit amount of spending money in addition to presents of all sorts. I feel so spoiled this trip, and I think Jason is super spoiled here too. *haha* I don't ever remember being so spoiled, which adds to the list of why I think my family likes Jason more than me - I'm jealous!
Jas has also been really open with food. He's had prawns on more than one occasion, and had three pieces of tofu today. He also tried a whole bunch of stuff he normally wouldn't even Jason eating prawns and tofu? What!?
Also, the most jaw-dropping experience so far has to be that MY PARENTS ACTUALLY HAVEN'T QUARRELED yet. 3 days? That's never happened before! And, I've never seen my parents do things together for at least a decade, and today, I had never expected that they'd both take us out today. Never thought that they could actually have a conversation without wringing each others' necks, but I guess I'm wrong today. That's just gotta be the most *wow* moment for me - my parents actually don't hate each other. *wow*