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Laksa and sea cucumbers

When we travel it is with the implicit assumption that the weather will be fine. This assumption is frequently proven wrong. We bought an umbrella on our honeymoon in Paris, another in Kyoto and in Hong Kong. I even bought one to keep me dry in Ghent on my last trip. Today we not only bought an umbrella, but a rain cover for the stroller as well.

It was raining quite heavily when we awoke. The relaxing sound coincided with Alex’s happy morning chatter. We fed him, with me giving him a tiny taste of green and white, kuih talam then returned him to bed, remaining quiet ourselves, allowing me to type up some blog entries.

When he woke up again we left the hotel and crossed over Marine Parade in search of breakfast. One serving of prawn noodles, one popiah, a couple servers of roti telur washed down with sugar cane juice and a honeydew melon milkshake and we were full again.

The rain was still falling reasonably heavily. I had brought an umbrella, but it wasn’t enough to shelter the three of us. We purchased another, larger umbrella, but Alex still got wet, so we visited the Parkway shopping mall in search of a stroller cover. The third floor had a collection of baby goods and we found a cover that fit our little lightweight stroller.

Time then to explore the Peranakan shops pointed out by Ryan the previous night. I was a little confused about their location, but I discovered a Singapore Tourist Board brochure about the Peranakan experience hiding in my bag showing the shops lining East Coast road.

The Peranakans are a culture born of Chinese fathers who married Muslim Malay mothers. They are known for their colourful house decorations and dress, along with a fabulous nonya cuisine.

As we walked along East Coast road we passed a number of small shophouses selling delicious looking kuih. I somehow resisted (tomorrow I return). Our destination was a laksa stall.

The walls of 328 Katong Laksa were plastered with testimonials and newspaper articles, but to tell the honest truth we found the laksa at the Malay Chinese Restaurant in Hunter Street, Sydney to be tastier. The rice in the nasi lemak was a bit too firm and tasteless. Only the otah (otak-otak) was great. Alex managed to swipe my lime juice and send it splashing all over his legs.

We had arranged to visit B’s aunties, uncles and one of her cousins in Bukit Timah on the other side of the city. After asking around we found a bus to take us to an MRT station, where we could change to a train. Unfortunately, we discovered that the very cheap buses don’t give change.

From Eunos MRT station we caught the MRT to City Hall and transferred to another MRT line to Bukit Batok. Unfortunately, we chose the longer, but fewer interchange option. The good bit was that there were some very nice views of green suburban Singapore, along with jungles and a lake.

Alex has a habit of falling asleep at the end of the journey, just when we need to wake him up again. He was rather unsettled in the MRT and I ended up holding him in my arms while looking out of the exit door windows. It was just like Japan again.

We caught a taxi to the Aunty and Uncle’s house, where B’s cousin was waiting for us. This was the same house that I had stayed in during my very first trip overseas. Her other Aunt and Uncle arrived later and we all went back into the city to eat dinner. We were driven past the gorgeous tree lined streets of Bukit Batok Road and along Orchard Road, the shopping malls lit brightly, holding brands we cannot afford.

The restaurant was posh, but noisy as there was a charity auction going on with the auctioneer shouting loudly over the speakers in Hokkien. He would repeat the current bid number several times. At one point it sounded like he was saying “bad boy, bad boy, bad boy”. The food was nice, but unfortunately Cantonese cuisine, including sea cucumber. I’m totally bored of Cantonese cuisine and would much rather eat local flavours.

At home our lives are ruled by Alex’s routine, and in my case the timetables of work and public transport. Here, Alex has had to adapt. But we asked a bit much of him tonight and he was a real handful at the restaurant. Eventually he fell asleep in B’s arms while she walked around and sang to him, but he woke up again when we returned to the car.

It was fortunate that an uncle drove us back to the hotel, as another ride on public transport would have been extremely difficult. Gave Alex a bath, then I had to read him to sleep. Eventually it was my MP3 player and John Williams that let him drift off.

I’m really exhausted by the strain of keeping Alex happy while fitting in with timetables we have little control over. Can’t wait to get to Kuantan where there is hopefully nothing much to do. But first comes Kuala Lumpur.


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