Doug’s New Career as a Fire Dancer

We slept in today to recover from not very much sleep the night before.  Lynn seems to have either calmed down, or was just too exhausted because we both had no trouble sleeping last night.  Lynn decided to give me a tour of her old food haunts today and we hopped on a express bus straight to Little India. Public transportation really is fantastic.  Our first mission was to find bah kut teh, what Lynn referred to as pepper soup and that sounded right up my alley.  We wandered into a place just outside Little India where no one really spoke English, which surprised me in Singapore, and ordered two of the specials – pork short ribs in a pepper broth – and a peppery tea that was supposed to go with it.  The tea was a little odd, especially because hot tea and the stifling weather of Singapore are not really a great pair, but the soup was fantastic with fall off the bone pork, especially when dipped in the hoisin sauce and chili oil.

Bah kut teh. Pork short ribs in a delicious pepper soup.
Bah kut teh. Pork short ribs in a delicious pepper soup.
The place to get bah kut teh, according to Singapore food bloggers.
The place to get bah kut teh, according to Singapore food bloggers.

After lunch we headed back to Little India to find some desserts and explore the area a little.  On the way we were caught in a quick down pour but it didn’t last long and we managed to hide under awnings to stay mostly dry.  Back in Little India, we first went to the Mustafa Center which I think can best be described as what I imagine Amazon’s warehouse looks like, but crammed in way too small a space spread over several city blocks. Lynn was on the lookout for some lunch boxes for us to use in Australia but we didn’t really find any small enough to fit in our backpacks so we decided to hold off until we actually need them.

We explored the Mustafa Center for a little while longer until we started to get hungry again (pepper soup, though delicious, is not particularly filling).  Then we headed across the street for an assortment of Indian confectioneries, mostly made with various nuts.   Some were more delicious than others but we don’t know the names of any of them or even which was which really, but they were certainly all very sweet and left both of us very thirsty.  Luckily, we can drink the tap water here so that wasn’t a very hard problem to solve!

All of the delicious Indian treats.
All of the delicious Indian treats.

We continued our walk through Little India to the south, taking in all the sight and sounds (and sometimes smells) as we noticed they were getting ready for Deepavali and there were very bright decorations being put up everywhere. All of Indian brightness eventually faded away though and we found ourselves in a nameless commercial district before passing by Clark Quay and making our way into Chinatown.  Here Lynn was on a mission to find two things she has talked about for almost as long as I’ve known her: pork buns from her pork bun lady, and peanut butter filled sesame balls.  We wandered through the markets and side streets with Lynn getting more and more disappointed.  It seems that after five years Chinatown has changed a bit and Lynn doesn’t care for it – there were no delicious treats to be found.  We couldn’t even find the store where she had bought me an ox (that is still on my desk) for the Chinese New Year 7 years ago.  We settled for some fruit juices to try and cool down and rested in the shade for a little while.

On our way out of Chinatown we did manage to find Lynn a pork bun at a coffee shop and even she said it was almost as good as the other ones.  I think maybe we need to stop traveling places Lynn has already been, it seems to always disappoint her that they aren’t exactly as they once were.

We wandered over to Clark Quay and explored the old warehouse shop fronts of trendy bars (and a Hooters) before resting on some steps and figuring out how we were going to get up to the Singapore Zoo for the Night Safari.  We managed to find a pair of subways and buses that would do the trick so we headed off in that direction. Along the way we stocked up on some snack foods at a 7-11  so we could avoid the overpriced zoo food for dinner. We also came across some toast with kaya which was delicious.  It reminded me of toast with butter and cinnamon sugar, only with way more butter.  Seriously, there were thick slices of it like cheese on the toast.

Clark Quay. What was once bustling warehouses on the waterfront are now overpriced tourist restaurants.
Clark Quay. What was once bustling warehouses on the waterfront are now overpriced tourist restaurants.

After a pleasant journey spent listening to the hilarious conversations of an easily riled Australian couple, we arrived at the zoo, only to find out we were an hour and a half early.  Our tickets we had purchased a while ago were for 8.15 it seems and we were not allowed in before then.  Luckily a fire twirling show was about to happen in the entrance courtyard so we headed over to get a good spot.

The show started out pretty normally.  Three scantily clad men came out twirling fire steaks and breathing giant plumes of fire into the air to the soundtrack of an electric guitar and heavy drums.  About mid way through the show, one of them came towards the crowd and singled me out, perhaps because I was the tallest one around, or maybe I looked the least objectionable.  Either way, he pulled me out of the crowd and had me take me shirt off, he claimed so it wouldn’t catch on fire but I think he really wanted a look at the gun show.  I headed up on stage and followed the lead of two of the others as we swung a fire stick around a little, accompanied by a lot of yelling and strong looking poses.  There was of course, some Tom Foolery and I may have burned one of the men on accident before they let me go with a little button as a souvenir.  Lynn was very good about taking video that you can see here.

Fire breathing.
Fire breathing.
Fire twirling.
Fire twirling.
Doug doing his best Bornean fire dancer impression.
Doug doing his best Bornean fire dancer impression.
Don't worry, they didn't actually have me eat the fire.
Don’t worry, they didn’t actually have me eat the fire.

After all that excitement we still had an hour to kill so we found a restaurant serving Singapore Slings and each ordered one of the very sweet, bright pink drinks.  Though still overpriced, they were fraction of the cost that the Long Bar was charging for them so we felt okay about it.  The drink itself tasted like fruit punch kool aid, so you can probably save your money if you ever come to Singapore.

Singapore slings. Very bright, very fruity, and very sweet.
Singapore slings. Very bright, very fruity, and very sweet.

Finally it was our turn for the Night Safari.  We lined up at the entrance and headed over to see the show first.  It lasted 20 minutes and featured more audience participation and some fun nocturnal animals including a hyena, a wolf, and a snake.  Overall is was entertaining, though as Lynn pointed out, not as good as she remembered it being. I was not surprised.

We next got aboard the tram for a guided tour of the park, before we struck out on our own to see the rest of it.  The tram ride was accompanied by a teenager very poorly reading a script to us about the animals. It seems the normal narration was broken and so they had grabbed someone to fumble through it for us.  Besides that though, the park was really cool.  The main draw of the Night Safari is that you can see all of the animals at their most active, rather than lounging about and sleeping in the middle of the day like at a normal zoo.  We saw lions, tigers, and (sloth) bears all quite active and feeding.  We also saw some very happy elephants (and one distressed one) and a whole host of other animals, all on the prowl and running around their large paddocks.

After the tram ride we walked the path through the park which gave us some more time and let us see some of the animals not featured on the tram.  Our favorites were the mouse deer, which were absolutely adorable, the fishing leopards, and the slow loris with its big eyes.  We also got to go into a large cage with free flying fruit bats and got thoroughly creeped out by them flying so close to us and crawling around on the trees and ceiling.  One of them took to dancing next to the light on the ceiling, which was especially eerie.

We finished the night safari and headed back out to the street just before 11.30.  Just in time to catch one of the last buses back to Rubaina and Tawfiq’s before calling it a night.

Some sort of cervit, making itself at home on a trainer's face.
Some sort of cervit, making itself at home on a trainer’s face.
A hyena tearing a log out of the ground. Their jaws are so powerful they can crush elephant bones.
A hyena tearing a log out of the ground. Their jaws are so powerful they can crush elephant bones.
A mouse deer looking adorable and cuddly.
A mouse deer looking adorable and cuddly.
A small leopard waiting for a fish to pounce on.
A small leopard waiting for a fish to pounce on.
Really creepy bats dancing in the light.
Really creepy bats dancing in the light.

Daily Walking Miles : 15.4

Fun Facts:

  • Hippos don’t float or swim.  They run on the riverbed on their tip toes like ballerinas.  Maybe Fantasia wasn’t so far off.
  • Singapore has no mosquitoes.  It’s very weird, but much appreciated.  I can only imagine how much spraying with nasty chemicals they do to keep them at bay in this very wet and tropical place.
  • There is currently a volcano erupting just east of Bali, putting next weeks plans at risk.

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