07 November 2016

The joy of the Singapore stopover ~ Geylang & East Coast Food Village

Two tightarse Singapore stopovers - overnight in seedy foodie Geylang and a hazy East Coast afternoon.

In this grand era of cheap travel on budget airlines we find our holidays often involve a stopover somewhere. Being Sydney folks this usually means Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.

We'd happily spend time in either city but Singapore is our first pick for a stopover, mainly because the airport is only ten or fifteen minutes away by taxi from wherever we want to go. While your hotel dollar goes an awful lot further in Kuala Lumpur, the airport is a solid hour from the fun stuff, which is fine for a long stay but a grind on a stopover. So Singapore it is.

On our last Singapore stopover we stayed real close to the airport on the East Coast but the hostel there since seems to have closed down. So this time we stayed in Geylang, which is closer to town, around ten minutes in a cab.

Geylang feels a little more old school Asia than other parts of Singapore. It's gloriously low rent and you can even avoid the red light bits without trying, we did. But it's full of life, runs late and is famous for it's restaurants.

We stayed at the New Happy Hotel, which would have been very happy at twenty bucks a night, but a bit sad at eighty-five bucks we paid. Still, it was old school Singapore, and that we love.

Frog porridge is one of our favourite dishes in these parts. As luck would have it there's a specialist resto around the corner from our shabby digs, Geylang Lor 9 Fresh Frog Porridge.

It's most likely sheer novelty that drives our love of frog porridge, frogs legs really do taste like chicken, but then again we've never had a chicken congee anywhere near as good as this.

A long lost Malaysian friend put us onto ordering the frog hotpot to complement frog porridge, then mixing them together in your bowl - the cleansing plainness of the congee against the sweet/salty/soy hotpot broth is serious yum. Thanks MYOB Justin!

Good morning Geylang.

We stop at some random corner joint for breakfast. There's a great vibe going - the footy's on and there's some very happy uncles with the tops cracked off their morning Tiger longnecks. Hey, it's Sunday.

We get a top notch prawn'n'pork noodle soup for breakfast. Not sure if this is technically a har mee but fark mee it's good...

The prawnies are sliced down the centre and look quite pretty all curled up and snug on Alison's spoon.

The locals are into it too.

There were a couple of fantastic looking halal joints around too, we'll be hitting these next time.

Friendly local.

Not-so-friendly local. He's all fluff and no interest with a Sid Vicious sneer.

We get a train into town and wander around Bugis Junction which is where we usually stay around in Singapore, oh how we miss the New Seven Story Hotel. We track down the spot where Shawn thinks it's the very first time he had chicken rice.

Well it's either this spot or the one next door on the corner, it's close enough. It was the 1990's and kind of a backpackers hangout, vague memories of Tiger Longnecks and world weery staff.

The owner tells us the joint has changed hands and looks completely different, it lacks that 24 hour grunge factor, but it's still a hoot to revisit.

We get a roast chicken rice and it's great - chicken rice always is.  We love how you can get petite serves here, you can seriously snack.

Alison explodes with delight when she sees her soft googie arrived with piggy pork bun. It's easy to please somebody with the tastes of a four year old.


Another great looking joint we didn't have room for - deer murtabak.

Hipsters are moving into Arab Street.

We love the Albert Centre food court, right by Bugis Junction.

We always end up chatting to some locals at the Albert Centre. On this visit we meet a hardworking couple, a security guy and a maid, sharing a precious few hours downtime together. These folks were Indo-Singaporean, what a killer cuisine combo - we order what they're having....

Nasi ayam penyet - smashed chicken rice. Wikipedia says ayam penyet is given a bit of a bashing after it's deep fried for texture. It just tasted like insanely freaking good fried chicken to us.

When in Singapore B-Kyu chooses Suzana Muslim food for their ayam penyet needs.

We wash away that fried chicken feeling with this cooling papaya and white fungus sweetie....

...it came from this sweetie.

Singapore has a McBreakfast we'd actually try.

We grab a flight to Bangkok. Alison gets all giddy with nostalgic love for the old style departure board at Changi that still has the letters ticking over.

Changi customs is getting tougher these days.

Changi Airport is famous for many things. We love the 7/11 on the top floor of departures where you can buy beer for a couple of bucks a can, while it's seriously twenty bucks a schooner downstairs. Beverages may be enjoyed in the adjoining relaxation lounge. From memory they don't sell beer after midnight.

We're back again after three weeks in Thailand. We engineer this return stopover so we have quite a few hours between flights. Ten minutes and thirteen bucks in a cab from the airport and we're hanging out by the water at the East Coast Lagoon Food Village.

Now this is how to stopover...

Silly cyclist.

We get some Spring chicken wings for $1.30, given a clip clip with a pair of big scissors to cut them into bite-size pieces, which are rather awesome. Another stall specialising in the same dish had a huge queue. The one thing we've learnt in Singapore is not to get hung up about famous places and joining queues of foodies, everything is generally pretty good, we're never going to get it at the same levels the locals do. This chicken was insanely delicous and queue-free.

This kangkong cuttlefish was better in theory, a bit plain and saucy. The cuttle fish was slightly dried, smothered in a satay sauce and served with a sambal and kalamansi limes.

The crab beehoon was magnificent. Crab and rice vermicelli is a magic combo we wished learned about decades ago. Those rice noodles soak up the buttery saucy crabby flavours like nothing else. We've taken to cooking this at home.

There's a great waterside walking trail which is perfect for walking off dinner and longnecks.

There's a great public holiday vibe down here as the sun sets.

The all-day picnics continue, with the ever-present flotilla of cargo ships like party lights in the background.

These guys are just setting up.

The pier is very popular with strollers and fisher-folks. There's a few extended families who appear to  be spending an entire long weekend out on the pier, fishing and eating, complete with chairs, sunshelters and kipping facilities.

A very pleasant afternoon indeedy and just fifteen minutes from the airport by taxi, and Singapore taxi drivers are the best in the world. Be sure to tip them a tenner or so on the way out of the airport, it's a short fare after a long wait for your driver.

We love Singapore.

1 comment:

  1. So much good food. Man I've missed reading all your blog posts especially the awesome travel ones. Slowly catching up :)



Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).