Singapore: Day 5.5 + 6

I love flying in half-empty flights. It’s bad for the environment, but it makes traveling less stressful — there’s not as many strangers sitting close to me, invading my personal space and testing my immune system with their germs.

Whee, window seat!

On my flight back to Singapore, I sat in the emergency exit row. I’ve been on enough planes to generally remember the procedures, but in a real emergency I would probably panic and forget. So I was a bit nervous about my seat, but the perks — no one else sat in my row! also, 20% more leg-room — quickly washed away my misgivings.

So much leg-room!

HZ came to fetch me from the airport in the afternoon with some bad news — he had to rush for a project (the same one he worked on during the second day I was in Singapore) — so we were just going to have dinner and then he would go back to work. Eventually we agreed that I would stay at the office with him until he was done (whenever that would be).

For dinner, we had bak kut teh, or “meat bone tea” directly translated. Must, must eat this in Malaysia and Singapore. According to HZ, the Malaysian version has a stronger herb taste, while the Singaporean version has a stronger pepper taste. I have to say I really liked this version better — the pork was softer than I remembered, and the pepper taste in the soup was just strong enough that I could feel the heat, but my mouth wasn’t on fire. We polished off the food in record time.

Mmm~ So filling too!

Singapore’s Chinatown still has a number of early 20th-century shophouses, though their interiors have been upgraded to a greater or lesser extent. I’ve never seen anything like it before — it really brings home the knowledge that Singapore is a mish-mash of old and new, Chinese and other cultures.

The fire escapes behind two shophouses

More shophouses

I haven’t pulled an all-nighter in a long time, but out of solidarity, I tried to stay awake as long as possible. HZ was working with a power drill, and I worried that he would become drowsy and careless. At around 4 AM, he succumbed to a power nap, and when he woke up, I took his place on the office cot and slept until he finished at 8 AM.

A dark corner of the office, located on the second floor of a re-purposed shophouse

I spent that afternoon packing, then ate my last dinner with his family (his mom is a really good cook!) before his older brother dropped us off at Changi.

While waiting for my flight, HZ finally managed to get me to try a little bit of durian (I had been avoiding them during the entire trip) — I only caved because it was durian cake. Naively, I had hoped the flavour would not be as strong as eating the fruit itself.


Unfortunately, I had underestimated how much some people love their durian. The roll cake had actual pieces of the fruit in the cream!

I was less than pleased to find this out the hard way…

Not happy

Finally, it was time for my vacation to end. HZ and I parted ways at the departure gate, and I returned to Japan (via Bangkok) on an overnight flight.

Thai Airways has one of the nicest colour schemes in the industry!

Things I learned: 

  • I can’t pull all-nighters anymore.
  • I need a much better camera to photograph the shophouses. My point-and-shoot doesn’t do them justice.
  • Never, ever touch anything durian-flavoured in the future. It’s too risky…