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Singapore stopover (or, the tragedy of being full in a city stuffed with delicious food)

Singapore Stopover: Dusk in Chinatown

Our six-month itinerary didn't include any non-mandatory big city time. One of the (unsurprising) realizations we came to while planning things out is that both of us would consistently choose time in the wild over urban exploration.

We made an exception for Singapore, though, for logistic reasons. Our crazy trajectory from Santiago to Sulawesi involved >50 hours of travel and a 12-hour jetlag. Neither of us wanted to arrive in Manado with that much plane time weighing us down. To give ourselves a bit of a breather, a four-day stop in Singapore seemed like the right move.

We were unprepared, though, for how enjoyable a stop it turned out to be. Sure, Singapore is artificially clean, and unnaturally orderly (like a computer game brought to life), but for our short visit, that made everything that much easier. We found a great place to stay in Little India, and spent the subsequent four days either eating, or wishing we weren't full so we could eat again.

Food in Singapore was incredible. Hawker centres (found all over the city) are purpose-built eating warehouses, each packed with >100 street food vendor stands. Because the vendors are all in one place, there's room for specialization - a stand can get by on doing just one dish (say, Hainanese chicken rice, or fish congee) really, really well. The way to eat, generally, is to pick and choose dishes from a few different stands, and build your own multicultural feast.

Favourites of ours were sambal stingray, tandoori chicken with naan, Sri Lankan vegetable mixes served on a banana leaf, and coconut jam on toast with sweet coffee and half-boiled eggs. Nearly every version of everything was the best of its kind we'd ever had.

Throw in some time in the Marina Bay gardens, touring wet markets full of tropical fruit and exotic fish, finding huge snails and happy street cats, and a morning cooking course making laksa, spring rolls and corn kueh, and Singapore was a surprise success.

We left for Indonesia wishing we'd had more time to eat and explore.

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