I had an 8-hour wait for my onward flight to Darwin, so my friend Gigi picked me up at Changi Airport, and we took the train into town. Famished by this time, we had white chicken rice with ginger, and char kway teow, at Chin Chin Eating House.
When Gigi left (she was part of a big show that evening) I sat sipping Chin Chin’s local coffee (thick and sweet with condensed milk) and had barely finished it when another friend, Geraldine, came to pick me up.
We set off on foot and made a tight circle of the city, taking in what we could before night fell…
In the park we came across the ice-cream Tuan (Uncle)—I loved his pink motorcycle cart, his old-fashioned silver-lion freezer lid, and pink umbrella!—who made me an ice-cream sandwich with wafers and durian-flavoured ice-cream. I really wanted the sweet corn ice-cream, but he was out of that flavour.
Man, I miss Asian ice-cream flavours! Some favorites that come to mind are avocado, red bean, purple yam (ube), cheese, macapuno, mangosteen, mantequilla (butter), durian, sweet corn, rockmelon, coconut, and atis (custard apple)…this last is my mom’s favorite.
Finally, Geraldine and I met up with her belovéd (also an old friend of mine), Ash, and the couple took me to dinner before seeing me off at the airport.
The minute I stepped from the train at Bugis Station onto the city’s streets, I sensed that a love affair with Singapura (सिंहपुर “Lion City”) had begun, of which my 8-hour stopover was only the tiniest spark setting fire to something grander—and more consuming—to be played out over the coming years. I can’t wait to go back to her “lotus-covered doors, those temple bells that lead me to her shore”…I hope it’s soon!