Sunday, April 22, 2007

Food Heaven, Singapore!

My traveling bug is still very much alive and all I want is to get back to it! One of the finest trips I took was to the Lion City. Maybe my views were blurred by my other interest in that city, but I made two great trips down there that I look back to with fond memories. A Fine City, Singapore. To me Singapore has the best of both worlds, it is Asian and looks modernized. Another good things is that I’m not really short there!

As life there is half the prize for me, shopping and going out for dinner were great pastimes. I spend a lot of time walking around town going in and in out shopping malls, one even bigger and fancier than the other. Especially after my first trip I came back with so much more than I came with. Did some of my best music buys from the past years. The College Dropout by Kanye West, Jay Z’s Black Album, picked up some old classics like Illmatic by Nas and Ice Cube’s Amerikka’s Most Wanted. All those albums rank very high on my list. Most of them were bought at HMV down at Orchard Road where I could spend hours skimming trough the albums and DVDs. The Queensway Shopping Centre in Queenstown got plenty of my money as well. The amount of sports gear, shoes and other clothing is great. My love for football had me drooling over the jersey’s they sold there and of course I had to get one from the Singapore national team. Obviously that wasn’t the only one I got, the sleeveless Cameroon jersey was a nice buy too.

Ok, enough about shopping , let’s get to the food! Singapore is FOOD HEAVEN! Everything I want and then some. Like most Asian cities there’s food on every corner and you can get it almost the entire day. The hawker centers are good for a quick bite and a lunch, but I don’t to get my dinner there either. It seems a bit dodgy at times, but the food is usually pretty good. I recommend to take the Indian or Malay food. The Chinese food is my least favorite and at times the hygiene seems not all the good. That said, there’s enough nice Chinese food as well, but it’s just not much for my liking. Curry puffs, satay or popia’s are great snacks and don’t forget the fish balls. I never had a better range of noodles than in Singapore. Fried noodles, tom yam noodle soup and others, the Japanese ones and so much more. Great other dishes are the laksa, rice noodles in a coconut curry gravy with shrimp, egg and chicken. Nasi lemak, coconut rice with omelette, anchovies, cucumber and chili paste. Sometimes it is wrapped in banana leaves, which enhance the flavour. The Malay cuisine is definitely my favourite, but some good Indian food is always welcome. Chicken madras and a nice tandoori can be served to me anytime. I love all the spicy food and that surprised some of the local people I met there. I sweat, turn read, but love eating it. Barbequed stingray is making my mouth water when talking about it. Quite spicy but a welcome change from all the chicken and beef. Ooh shit, how could I forget about all the yummy sushi. However, the best dish I had is not available in stores. The homemade sambal from my ex-mother-in-law (not that I was married) that was all over some big ass prawns is top-notch. Wake me at any time for that dish and I’ll be happy. That alone is worth the trip back there.

Everybody’s hungry now, mission accomplished!

I stayed in the area of Sembawang MRT, near Sun Plaza and the 2nd time I stayed around Yio Chu Kang which are both fine neighbourhoods. I can see myself live down there and enjoy it. Some of the best places to walk around in Singapore are Boat Quay and River Quay. I was absolutely tricked there by a Turkish ice-cream seller. I enjoy walking up and down Orchard Road. I know it’s damn crowded and all, but I love to go up in the masses and observe what’s going down around me. The east coast beach area is extremely nice for a good stroll or just a romantic picnic. A trip down to Sentosa Island is a must. The big Lion in the centre of the island looks amazing, the aquarium should be nice (didn’t go inside, maybe next time) and you obviously have to see Fort Siloso. The great historic value of that place was very interesting. If you’re lazy, tired or just want something different, you can move around in a monorail. Last but not least is the great beach area to swim. It looks absolutely amazing and tropical

I must have forgotten so many other great things about Singapore that I might cover some other time. I have to get back there anyway. I met some really nice people there that made my stay unforgettable and I want to thank all of them. The best thing about my trips there was that I saw all the tourist places and was taken to some less known places by my friends there.

I’ll be back!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Champions League football........or should I say FA Cup football

The Champions League is not very interesting anymore. There are too many teams from the big leagues which makes it quite boring. This year there will most likely be three teams from England in the semi-finals. To me that's a damn shame, I might as well watch the FA Cup. I want to see a good variation of teams and preferably just the league's champions. They didn't name it that for nothing. Of course the quality of the games is better with all the top teams from Europe performing in this cup, but there's little room for upsets from the smaller countries. I was glad to see Monaco and Porto reach the final a couple years ago just to see different teams do well. Besides the fact there are too many teams in the Champions League from one country, it's not really special earning qualification in Spain, England and Italy anymore. I might just be frustrated that the teams I wanted to win did not, but I really hope in the next couple of years there will be some changes in this European Cup.

Monday, April 2, 2007

World Cup, Korean Style

Unfortunately the World Cup is not every year, cus the month it's played is my absolute favourite. In all my 25 previous years of life, which include 6 World Cups, I never had the chance to experience it from up close. So last summer in Germany it was finally time to absorb the passion of the biggest sporting event in the world. Luckily I made some new friends at the end of the 2005 summer and one of them had tickets for two World Cup games of the Korean national team. Ok, she didn't have extra tickets for me, but she convinced me to tag along to see if I might be able to get one there and to keep her company of course. One of the better decisions in my life!
The first match was France vs Korea in Leipzig. Once we arrived there the atmospher was already amazing with fans from both countries singing and the streets waving their flags. No clashes between fans, verbally nor physically, which is great for a change. The Koreans were singing their songs in the tram towards the stadium and that gave me goosebums all over. Finally there, I had to find a way to get into the stadium. It was my lucky day, a group of Frenchies approached me with a ticket their friend wouldn't use. My first reaction was: I want it for sure, who cares about the money! So I quickly came up with the 100 euro's the wanted for it and collected my ticket. The prize wasn't too much, it was the exact same as it was printed on the ticket itself. My friend was of course rooting for Korea and sitting with the Red Army. Me myself on the other hand ended up in the middle of a blue see. Of course I was prepared and pulled out my France jersey to fit in perfectly.
The stadium in Leipzig is amazing! The walk up the stairs and before that over the grass towards it looked great. The view, even from way up was perfect and the sound of the singing fans was very good. Eventhough the game wasn't all that spectacular, I was really excited and hyped up afterwards. My first real life World Cup experience was absolutely top notch!

The second game I watched was Korea vs Switzerland. Again the atmosphere before the game was incredible. Hannover turned completely red as it is both countries colour. Every where were people dressed up with painted faces, flags, jersey's and making noise. I had no ticket for this game and absorbing the pre-game festivities I had to get into that stadium as well. My first pickup was a Korean jersey for 30 euro's, which is cheap. My second was the ticket and that was not as easy as the first time. Many people were selling at ridiculous prizes: between 100 and 300 euro's for 30 euro tickets. In the end I found some Koreans that had to get rid of a ticket and we convinced them to sell it at 150 euro. Actually that prize was way too much, but I was determined to get in. I probably wouldn't find one cheaper anyway. This game I was seperated from my friend as well and ended up in the Swiss corner with my Korean jersey. I didn't really care and neither did they. I was cheering for both teams and jumped and partied with the people around me when Senderos headed in the winner. It would have been better to see the Koreans win, cus in that case my friend would have been much happier. On my way home I was still in awe about the whole World Cup experience. The Germans did a great job hosting it, the atmosphere was amazing and all I could have wished for. The only thing I have to improve about this is watch a Holland game next time.
I'm glad I made some nice Korean friends that showed me the Korean way of things. Included was a passion for football. The land that adores Guus Hiddink and brought the likes of Park Ji-Sung and Seol Ki-Hyun to Europe is a defenite stop at a future trip. I'll give kimchi another try then!