Singapore, Day 9

Learning from our not-automatically-waking-early lesson the day before, Charles and I set an alarm, and we were out the door toward Bukit Timah Nature Reserve at 8am. We figured that since the little shop opened at 8:30, that's when the park opened, but when we got there it was packed with people on their Sunday walks.

There are many paths around the Reserve, but for a guy from Montana (Charles), and a guy who lives in Washington (guess who) it was really quite a tiny bit of land. It is, however, a nice piece of tiny land, and since it has never been logged or harvested, the land is original old growth jungle.

There was a concrete path, and people seemed to be heading straight up Bukit Timah Hill, so we decided to join them. The path starts off steeply, like one of those cartoons where somebody is walking up a hill and suddenly is walking upside-down. It didn't take long for that to level out, and the hike to turn into an easy climb up the hill. Which, as many cabbies laughingly told us, it is not a mountain. Actually, two told me it wasn't even a hill. Barely a bump!

We did see some macuaque monkeys as we drove in, but I'm afraid that any other wildlife was scared off by the exercise-driven locals on a climb, yakking on their sunday outing, four year olds huffing up the hill with their parents, and babies in their strollers being pushed along.

The morning was hot, so I was pretty sweaty by the time we reached the top. We turned around and strolled back down, and by the time we reached the bottom both of us were definitely ready for some coffee and Kaya toast. Charles instructed our cabbie to take us to Anchor Point, the mall and hawker center near their home, but when the cabbie heard that we were after white coffee and kaya toast, and laughed at us, and said he'd take us to the authentic local place, and headed toward Orchard Road.

And real it was. First off, it was packed full of local Singaporeans. It was called Killiney Kopitiam--a strange name sounding like an Irish-Turkish mash-up, but in reality the shop was on Killiney Road, and Kopitiam is chinese for coffee shop.

The place was simple--white tile everywhere. Actually, Singapore is pretty much tiled everywhere there isn't dirt or pavement. It's one of the reasons that everybody is so conscious about bagging umbrellas and not shaking your excess water on the floor after washing your hands.

There were no seats available, so--like the locals do--we just stood hovering over a table until we saw some counter seats open. Meanwhile, the place is bustling--people speaking Singlish, smells of amazing food, waitresses and waiters literally YELLING orders to the kitchen at the top of their lungs.

The food is great and cheap--we ordered Kaya Toast, white coffee, Charles had tea, and also chicken curry with with french bread. Which leads me to a confession--the first day I talked about the great Laksa I had--well, Laksa is a seafood curry. What I had was a chicken curry with potato and Roti Prata on the side. Just like we had this day--delicious!

There is nothing like eating a very spicy curry for breakfast in a hot and humid environment. With nearly-too-hot-too-drink coffee, it feels magical going down. It may seem counter intuitive, but then I hear the busiest Baskin-Robbins in the world is in Alaska, so there you go. Actually, the heat of everything makes your skin feel cool, and you keep the day at bay.

Other breakfast options are french toast--which has Kaya and butter on the side--and assorted curries and rices, often served on a palm leaf.

We took the MRT home afterward, and assisted Dani in dressing the apartment up for a little Halloween party. For entertainment, I downloaded a copy of the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, my all-time favorite scary story, and probably in the top 10 of my all time faves on its own merits. I spent the afternoon whittling the story down to something Charles could read, and that non-American kids could understand.

Around 5pm, Dani's friend Rossi, her husband Buti and their kids (from the zoo trip) Mira and Adi. We had chicken skewers in a curry sauce, and a crunch salad. We had a nice time talking about what Halloween was like in America, and after the kids went to play, American politics and why this election is such a big deal.

We passed out some candy I brought from the states, and Charles told a great rendition of Sleepy Hollow, which the kids really enjoyed. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing with TV, tea, and Arnott's Tim Tams, the greatest cookies in the world.

Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: October 31, 2004 01:03 AM
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