Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Singapore Through The Eyes (& palate) of Grace Koshida! (Part 1)

Ovidia--every other Tuesday
I'm handing the mic over to a friend today--Grace Koshida of Ottawa, Canada, who will be Fan Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime 2025. Grace is an eclectic reader of all crime genres (with a soft spot for P.I., police procedurals and culinary cozies). She's also a Netgalley reviewer with over 600 reviews to her name.
April 24: Grace with Cathy Ace (author of the Cait Morgan and Wise Enquiries Agency mysteries) in a bar at the International terminal, YVR airport. Cathy was headed to Wales before attending Crimefest (as Master of Toasts) and Grace to Singapore... hence this post!
I first met Grace at a Bouchercon (2014 at Long Beach and we've since met at multiple Bouchercons and Left Coast Crimes and--given she's a foodie--she says she first encountered Singapore food through my Aunty Lee books and heard that Eating is a national obsession in Singapore. I thought eating was an obsession everywhere, but then I'm Singaporean.
Anyway, culled (with permission) from her posts, here's a record of Grace's first 5 days in Singapore!

April 25. Arrival in Singapore. Jet lag has NOT been bad today. I must have slept enough on the 16 hour flight from Vancouver.
We landed at Changi Airport at 7:15 am and I cleared immigration, got on a clean, efficient MRT train and arrived in Chinatown by 8:30 am. Travel by MRT from Changi Airport to Chinatown MRT cost only 2.10 SGD.
And yes it is hot & humid but not oppressively hot yet. It's currently 30C/86F feeling like 37C/98F this morning.

Took MRT to Gardens by the Bay to see Marina Bay Sands and Supertree Grove with a dual ticket to the Cloud Forest & Flower Dome. And got my first glimpse of iconic Marina Bay Sands & the downtown--amazing indoor & outdoor views via the catwalks.

The artificial Supergrove trees are lit up in a free 15 minute light show every night.

Got my eSim tourist card setup to work with a new temporary Singtel mobile number. Price was $12 SGD (or $12 CDN) for 100 GB of mobile data for 14 days here in Singapore & 3GB roaming to Malaysia & Indonesia! FYI, I pay $67CDN/month for 90 GB in Canada...we have some of the most expensive cellular phone plans in the world (rant is over, sorry).

Made contact with local friends who live in Singapore & JB (Johor Bahru, Malaysia). Hope to meeup with them on Saturday & Sunday.

Visited Maxwell Food Centre and Chinatown Complex and ate my first 5 dishes: roasted duck noodles Tian Tian Hainanese chicken rice, hand-milled chee cheong fun with prawns, kopi O kosong from 1950s coffee 1.30 SGD and a slice of coconut pancake from Granny's Pancake for 1 SGD

YUM! Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown have several Michelin Bib & other award-winning stalls.

I had the roasted duck noodles plate at Fu Shun Jin Ji Roasted Delights for $5 SGD (or $5 CDN). The friendly owner (uncle) chatted & joked with all the customers, a mixture of locals & visitors. He asked me where I traveled from & welcomed me to Singapore.
And there was no huge lineup at Tian Tian since I came after 3:00 pm.
OK, I really feel the heat mid-afternoon. It is 34C/93F, feeling like 42C/107F! It's no wonder the locals try & walk on the shaded side of the street!!
There is no A/C at most hawker centres.

PHEW, cooled down to 31C/88F at 7:00 pm. Chinapoint Mall & Fairprice grocers are located right across from the Bliss Hotel where I'm staying.
Walked over 17,000 steps, or 12.7 km on Thursday. Figured out how to ride the clean, efficient MRT trains & familiarize myself with Chinatown.

Going on a half-day Michelin Hawker & street food walking tour Friday morning from 9:30 am. Bought some groceries to eat before the tour.

April 26 : Woke up on schedule at 6:00 am, so the jet lag has not been bad at all on this trip. Lucky me.
Enjoying morning coffee, daily greens drink & light breakfast. There is an electric kettle, mini fridge & desk area in my hotel room.
It is 28C/83F at 6:00 am. That is the low temperature. Similar highs of 34C/93F with mid-day t-storms is in the forecast. Dealing with the heat & humidity will be a challenge. Hydrate, hydrate, seek shade & A/C when possible.
Today's half-day Michelin Hawker & street food walking tour starts at 9:30 am from Chinatown. I am so excited!

Our Tour Guide Marcus & assistant Caleb took us first to Hong Lim market & hawker centre. There were 7 women on the tour from North America: four girlfriends from British Columbia Canada, and solo ladies from Portland OR & Tucson AZ and me. We first ate Outram Park Char kway teow & chicken curry (bee hoon) noodles.
Then we went to fruit stands to see a variety of tropical fruit, including the infamous durians. We did not eat durian but sampled pieces of jackfruit.
Next we stopped at the Pure Pandan cake shop on South Bridge Road to sample pandan cake. The green color of the cake comes from the pandan leaf.

Next we entered the huge Chinatown Complex for an early lunch of Hawker Chan's soy sauce chicken & rice. They're famous for being the first Michelin 1-star Hawker stall in the world. Our cold drink was soursop juice (not sugarcane juice as in the original menu). I liked it.

Our tour guide Marcus provided useful background on each dish, hawker stall etiquette (chope-ing) table.

He also discussed public housing, Singapore's reputation as "the Rule City", recent politics (PM Lawrence Wong to replace PM Lee) etc.

We visited the Yi Chong murals on Temple Street then I spent an hour touring the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum.

Finally we ended up at Maxwell Food Centre for 1950s Coffee (kopi) & popiah (veggie spring rolls).

FYI, you can buy Western coffee here but it costs $5-8 SGD!
When the tour ended at 12:40 pm it was 35C/95F with a heat index of 42C/110F. I am hot, sweaty but my tummy is content.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I had to book this tour 10 days ago. The same company is leading the Night Market Tour that I signed up for on May 1.

P.S. I am meeting Sheila & Addie again for Sunday dinner at Lau Pa Sat hawker centre in the CBD to eat the famous Chilli Crab, followed by either watching the Spectra or Supertree Grove sound & light show near Marina Bay Sands or Gardens by the Bay.

April 27: Happy Saturday from Singapore!
Sunny and 28C/83 F at 7:30 am.
Another busy day #3 (out of 10 days here) for me.
Weather Update: It is sunny & 33C/93F with heat index of 41C/106F at 11:30 am!
YUM!! Had a traditional Kaya toast & kopi breakfast with Yvonne Bankston in Chinatown at 9 am. We are both members of "Solo in Style: Women Over 50 Travelling Alone & Loving It" FB group. She lives in Long Beach, California and has been in Singapore since last week.
We had a great chat about recent solo travels.
Went back to the Bliss Hotel where my friend Eko Bachtiar met me. He made it across from Johor Bahru, Malaysia to Singapore but SG traffic is crazy busy!
He currently lives in Johor Bahru (JB) Malaysia with his family.
Spending time with Eko will be fun! He & his family lived in Ottawa, Canada (where I live) for 4 years until they returned to Indonesia in 2019. We became friends while walking with the Capital City Walkers.

Once we walked all-year round in Ottawa & Gatineau, Quebec a few days each week for several years.
Today we walked along the Esplanade towards Clarke Quay & past the historic Fullerton Hotel to get iconic photos of the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands area. Sunny, hot at 33C/93F with a heat index of 42C/106F at noon Saturday.

April 28:Little India Tekka Centre

I ate an egg & onion prata with curry, only 2.20 SGD, from Fatimah Stall AR RAHMAN. I have been awake since 6:00 am
Produce & wet market on 1st floor. GROAN, fresh galangal (needed for laksa), ginger and turmeric are easily abundant. I am so envious!!

Swee Choon dim sum with Ovidia!
we finished the first 2 dishes before realizing no photos were taken!!

Followed by Singapore Slings at the Raffles Hotel Long Bar,

Sunday dinner was chilli crab, stingray & assorted satay for from 7-9 pm with solo ladies Sheila & Addie at Lau Pa Sat & Satay Street
Plenty of laughter and fun chats during the evening. Sheila & Addie are traveling by bus to Malacca, Malaysia on Monday morning. I am spending another 6 full days on my own to explore different parts of Singapore.

We ate at outside tables that surrounded this historic octagonal shaped hawker centre building.
Lau Pa Sat stays open until the late evening. SATAY STREET opens from 7 pm.

We added 2 jugs of Tiger Beer to the meal (not in photo).

Ovidia: So far in this hot, humid and (hopefully) happy adventure, Grace has explored historic enclaves of Chinatown & Little India and regional and local specialty dishes.
In Part 2, the "MAKAN-MAKAN SINGAPORE EATS melamine plate that inspired a challenge to track down the 20+ dishes on it!


  1. Grace!!!! How cool is it to see you here? Love the post, love to see you with Ovidia, and can't wait for Part 2. xx

    1. Hi Wendall! Ovidia saw my detailed FB posts about my solo trip to Singapore. She asked if I would do a 2-part guest post on MIE, so I was happy to oblige.

  2. Hi Grace! This is a fun surprise. Those dishes sound and look fabulous. It sounds like you are having a truly grand tour!

    1. Hi Kim! Thanks for visiting. I certainly had not planned to do a MIE blog entry about my solo Singapore trip. Ovidia had been reading my numerous FB posts each day and asked me to do it. This text for this blog entry was hastily cobbled together on my phone while I was in transit back to Vancouver!

      Looking firward to writing Part 2 from my home laptop!