Friends and Family, Travel
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Szymgapore, part II: ‘Let’s Du-rian it!’

On the morning of my second day in Singapore, Szym took me to Toastbox, so that he could introduce me to a slightly hipster take on kaya toast.

(Because well, nothing says Szyngapore more than ‘slightly hipster take on amazing food’).

Kaya is a a very sweet coconut jam, made from coconut milk, eggs, sugar and some pandan leaves, that is popular throughout SE Asia.

It was also very popular in my houshold growing up, due to the fact that at some point my father locked onto it, and subsequently ate kaya sandwiches pretty consistently for about 10 years.

Anyway. If you’re doing kaya toast the proper way, you eat the very buttery coconut jam toast with super-soft boiled egg, dipping the sweet toast into a salty spicy gooey mess (add some soya and chili paste first).

Very very delicious. Can recommend.

We had hoped to wash down our toast with some fancy bakery finds, but alas! the nearby bakery seemed to skew savoury instead of in the sesame, red bean or pineapple bun direction I would have hoped for.

So instead, we walked around the shops a bit, as a way to both kill time and explore.

Part of this loitering included a trip into Japanese chain Don Don Donki. We picked-up-and-put-back-down almost every item in the store, and spent a good amount of time dancing to the very earwormy, very repeated theme song.

Don Don Don DONKI,

Don Don.. DONKI!

(Repeat until insane).

Post insanity, we exited the safety of conditioned air, and walked our way past tropical forests, back towards the bay, and across the helix bridge.

There was a bit of chilling in front of the ArtScience museum, during which there may have been pastry snacks involved, and we stuck our heads briefly into the very fancy Marina Bay Shoppes for a moment.

And then we entered NEW EDEN.

An exhibit in the museum that looked at the intersection between Asian mythology and science fiction, put together by by women and female art collectives.

The work dealt with overlapping concepts of parallel worlds, folding space, and transcendence, to name a few.

Overall, it was cool exhibit, and I really liked the female and specifically asian-female perspective.

Especially for scifi, which has a pretty hard reputation for being dominated by old white guys.

I also came away with a long list of books to read, including things like the first English language scifi written by an Indian writer, which covers a future hypothetical uprising against the British (which would in fact come to pass some decades down the line!).

I do wish that the themes had been explored a bit more deeply- particularly with a bit more description of the various mythologies, which as an outsider I wasn’t super familiar with. My overall feeling was the connections made between myth and sci-fi were a bit surface-level, but I wasn’t certain if that was mostly because I was missing some context.

But all up, it was a great exhibit, with a nice varied display of art forms.

(^This has a commentary on how robots that code asian are often left to be cold and unfeeling, while caucasian robots often show human emotions!)

After a bit of Culture, it was time for a bit of Capitalism.

Or, because we are poor, a bit of a windowshop of Capitalism.

This is the Shoppes. Complete with Venetian Canal.

At some point we were roaming around and realised that there were throngs of people all aiming their bodies and phones towards a part of the mall that had been closed up.

We figured it must be a celeb, and waited around a bit to see who it was, but in the end gave up- partially because we realised that we would probably not recognise the person even if they did pop out.

Because I live in the UK, where GMOs remain ‘evil’, * (edit– it looks like the chicken version is availiable but the beef GMO heme-burger is still ‘coming soon‘….) one of the orders of the day was to eat an Impossible Burger.

This is a plant-based delight, which uses genetically modified yeast to produce heme, which provides a delicious meaty taste. I had mine with blue cheese, and was not disappointed by the burger hit.

Fuelled up on fake meat, we headed out into the heat again. This time, making our way to the very Kampong Gelam area.

Singapore itself is already considered one of the most Instagramable cities in the world, but Kampong Gelam- originally a muslim enclave- is one of the trendiest most-streetarty neighbourhoods of Singapore.

Plus, bonus points go to the area for having a plant-derived name: the region is named after the Gelam tree (Melaleuca cajuputi)!

After a bit more walking, and another stop for liquid in a random foodhall (Szym literally pointed at the highest housing tower block and was like ‘yeah, that should have one’), we headed back home, via our Ultimate Destination.


The King of Fruit, and also the most devisive.

Famous for its rotting smell, and the subsequent fact that it’s actually banned from being taken on the underground and into hotels.

We took all of the cash out of our pockets, and pointed at a small fruit from the Black Thorn cultivar.

Then, complete with plastic-gloved hands to prevent smelly transfer, we tucked on in!

I think I maybe tried fresh durian as a kid, but since then have only encountered it in various dried forms. This variety is one of the creamier, less bitter ones, but still does have that slightly-overpowering ‘fetid’ smell, that lingers in the back of the throat.

But if you can embrace the ‘tropicalness’ of it all, it really is something!

The richness and the creamyness- the fact that it was so light and smooth and buttery and strong all at the same time- is really a unique and amazing thing to behold.

We scoffed down our Durian, and headed back home to (eat a bit more fruit and) relax.

And that was the perfect ending. I hopped in a cab to the most beautiful airport in the world, stopped briefly to eat another kaya toast, and headed back to the land of cold, wet and grey.

Thanks Szym for the awesome time! Seeyainnabit, on this side of the world or that.

Part I of Szymgapore here:

25-27 January, 2024

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Szymgapore, part I: the dragons and the merlion – Fish with Whiskey

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