Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Singapore - We're Not in Seattle Anymore

If you've never been to Singapore we highly recommend the trip. Most Americans perceive Southeast Asia as crowded, dirty streets filled with locals riding their scooters. With the perception of the crowded cities also comes the images of secluded white sandy beaches on the outskirts of the cities overlooking crystal clear blue ocean seas. Singapore is neither.

In a nutshell Singapore is a wealthy, thriving city-state that has almost nothing to do with what you might think of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, or Cambodia. All are closely located, but couldn't be any different. You won't find a cleaner, more industrial, organized city in the world. Also there probably isn't an easier country for English speaking tourists to visit. Even though there are multiple cultures and people from all over the world living in Singapore, the common connecting language is English. Also the US dollar is equivalent to around 1.27 Singaporean dollars, so the exchange is pretty simple to figure out as well. However with the level of inflation in Singapore it all evens out as we soon learned.

Singapore felt very familiar because of the language, currency exchange, industrialization, and ease of public transportation use, but obviously had a lot of major differences to what Emi and I would consider the norm.

Since this is a food blog, we wanted to post a photo of the "doctor" fish that ate away the dead skin on our legs and feet. We found multiple Reflexology Fish spas in Singapore. These tiny fish are about an inch long and nibble on your legs and feet to eat off the dead skin which supposedly improves circulation while exfoliating your skin. Who knows if this really works, but it was pretty fun.

Something that we had never experienced before were the Singaporean "to go" bags. Instead of a cup with a lid, they give you drinks in these plastic bags with a straw and a string to carry it on. An old lady on a bike had hot tea in one of these bags and yelled at Emi to "get out of the way!" because she almost spilled her "to go" bag contents on her.

This is a dessert display at... McDonalds! I had to take a photo of this. It's always an interesting experience visiting McDonald's in foreign countries because they are all so unique. In Singapore we were told that they are similar to your local coffee shop or Starbucks. The place was packed with students, families, teens, etc who were plugged in and on their laptops hanging out or studying. It was a nice place too, not like our crappy McDonald's.

Being a very clean nation we didn't see any graffiti, homeless people, and maybe a few scraps of litter throughout our week there. They have also outlawed gum. I guess they look the other way if you chew it, but good luck buying it. People "smuggle" it in from the land connected and "lawless" Malaysia, but in Singapore you just can't find it. I heard it's because they didn't want people jamming up the elevator buttons in the city/state's numerous high rises. As you can see in the photo, mints are king in Singapore and especially Ricola...

Going to the grocery store was an interesting experience. The thing that stood out the most was the cost of alcohol. $125 for a fifth of Grey Goose! In the grocery store! It wasn't just their top shelf liquor either...

For anyone familiar with Carlo Rossi, you never pay more than $10 maybe less (I never drank the crap) because why pay that much for a headache? Also it usually comes in a classy jug... In Singapore a bottle goes for $21 which is outrageous, but it really helped us understand how expensive it is to drink there.

A fine bottle of Yellow Tail, straight from Australia or here in the States your local Costco for $25! Luckily this was one of our first days in Singapore, so we could prepare ourselves for a few nights out drinking on the town.

Other expensive items included dairy. I can buy this exact same milk here in Seattle and out in Singapore it would run you about $30 for a gallon of milk!

Some local Tillamook ice cream, BOOM $18.

We found it interesting that a lot of the processed foods for sale in Singapore were very expensive, but fruits, vegetables, fish, and poultry were super cheap. Probably a reason why everyone was so skinny in Singapore. When you don't have government subsidies lowering your Big Mac or Doritos costs you might change your spending habits a little too....

Emi and I had a fun time diving into the culture of Singapore and were so fortunate to have two gracious hosts to walk us through the experience. The differences we noted were a fun part of the trip, but the food was the focus. Much more to come related to our amazing gastronomical trip.

- Kyle


  1. This is really interesting! I had no idea all the processed food was so expensive over there. And $125 for vodka - yikes!!

  2. Great post Kyle, thanks for sharing all the info, definitely changed my perception of Singapore

  3. Great post, although you forgot to add that duty free vodka was fairly reasonable :)