Singapore Zoo and Night Safari? Check.
Shopping along Orchard Road? Yup.
Universal Studios and Sentosa? Done.
Marina Bay Sands? Done!!! :D
Half-day city tour to see the Merlion, etc.? (Yawn) Been there already.
So what is a second-timer (or third-timer) in Singapore left to do? Won't Singapore live up to its derisive nickname of SingaBORE, then? Of course not!
Yours truly was in the Lion City recently, and here are some not-quite-off-the-beaten-track-but-not-too-touristy things to do for repeat visitors:
1. Taste Singapore's finest bird.
No, not the birds at Jurong Bird Park, dimwit! I refer to one of their trademark dishes, steamed Hainanese Chicken Rice.
Endless debate surrounds which particular establishment serves the "best" chicken rice, as everyone seems to have their own favorite. Contenders to the throne include Wee Nam Kee , Boon Tong Kee, Tian Tian, etc.
I dropped by the Boon Tong Kee Whampoa West outlet (right beside the Boon Keng MRT station), and the place was full, with a short queue at the door.
The steamed Hainanese chicken was quite tender and tasty, such that one can opt to forego the accompanying sauces. Very good, indeed!
But the star of the show were the Coffee Ribs (above), which perfectly balanced the sweet, rich flavour of the coffee without being bitter or cloying, or overpowering the tender ribs. If i could eat this dish every day, i would.
This place is definitely worth a return trip.
2. Take a walk on the wild side.
The people behind The Original Singapore Walks run daily walking tours in various interesting neighborhoods, and operates on a simple principle: To bring people into places most other tours don't.
They typically charge SGD30.00/person, and best of all (for me), there is no need to pre-book. One simply just shows up on the designated meeting place/date/time, and looks for the tour guide.
I joined the "Secrets of the Red Lantern" (A Chinatown Night Walk), which is billed as for adults only due to its mature content.
I must say that the Singapore Chinatown district has got to be the cleanest, most organized Chinatown ever! Our guide Gesddine wryly agreed, saying in fact, it was TOO well-ordered.
Note the red lanterns in the bustling streets of Chinatown:
Ah, going back to the 'adult' content of this night walk. Not to delve too much into details, but Gesddine talked about life during the early 1900s in Singapore. Coolies! Opium! Prostitution! Heart-rending stuff, actually.
And to this present-day, despite its well-manicured appearance, Chinatown still is officially a Red Light District. It hosts a couple of working brothels - tucked discreetly in the side streets, with only their larger-than-usual house numbers to give them away, so to speak.