A Taste of Freedom and Ice Cream Sandwiches, Singapore

[Millie] We left the comfort of our government-issued-quarantine hotel on Monday and although the stay was great we were all ready to leave not a minute after our 12 noon check out time. The staff had been so attentive and friendly – always quick to respond if we called down for more supplies.

We put on our masks and walked out of the door – a slightly surreal experience to know that we had finished our quarantine and were about to start life over here. Being on SHN (stay home notice) felt like the pause button had been hit. I’m sure many of you know what that feels like during this time.

We got into the cool, air-conditioned mini bus with all 13 pieces of luggage and set off. The kids were so excited to be looking out of the windows and seeing the palm trees flash by. Our son is a huge car fan and quickly spotted out fancy super cars. We arrived at our next hotel, the Orchard Rendezvous. We were met with friendly staff who took our temperatures and asked us to scan in using a QR code to ‘check in’ to our destination, later we found out this was something we would have to do at every destination we went to, be it a shop, restaurant, mall or taxi. The QR code required us to enter our passport number and then saved our details for future use. Our family suite wasn’t quite ready so we ‘checked out’ by scanning the QR code again and went to find some lunch.

Walking around an usually quiet Orchard Road, one of the main shopping streets, brought back memories of previous trips with many more people about. Orchard Road is filled with shops many can only dream to shop in: Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Prada… the list goes on! High buildings that just keep going as you follow their sleek designs up to the blue sky. A light cooling rain had started to fall as we emerged from the MRT station and we made our way to a food court.

Once again we had to scan and check in, it takes seconds and is such an effective system. It means that, if a case of coronavirus is identified, a person’s movements are recorded and the government inform us should we have been in the vicinity of an infected person.

We walked into a food court and we found a table at which to sit. A few tables have “Please Leave Empty” stickers to indicate social distancing but as it was after the usual lunch time rush we quickly found a table. The only issue – if you can call it that – was trying to decide what to eat! A food court is a bit like a market, with lots of stalls all selling different meals from a variety of countries and cultures. With our seats reserved, we walked around. It’s a treat for the senses. Hearing the tap-tap of a wok frying, the sizzling of beef on a hot plate or smelling the warming chilli up your nose as your take a breath.

My husband and I went for a Singaporean favourite, Chicken Rice. Simple and delicious. Soft fluffy rice is cooked in chicken stock giving it a distinctive but light flavour. Something to note is that the chicken is cold. Not like fridge-cold but room temperature and has been boiled whole, which is where the stock comes from. When I first heard of this it didn’t sound too tasty but I was quickly converted and it became a regular dish at home. My husband makes an amazing chicken rice complete with chilli, which is another hero of the dish. You have the dish with thick, sticky dark soy sauce and a chilli that isn’t too overpowering and ours had the slightest hint of lime. Ask anyone is Singapore and I’m sure they all know the best place to go for the dish and I bet they all say somewhere else! We collected our food from the stall and ate our meals. I washed it all down with my favourite fruit drink – watermelon juice. That’s all it is, not watered down, no sugars or additives. Delicious. Many food courts have fresh juice stalls. Our children both chose noodles that came in bowls bigger than their heads! The price of the food is so reasonable – my meal was about $7 which is around £4.

We had some life admin to do – change some money, buy a coffee machine – my husbands treat for quarantine, and a visit to the Lego store for some gifts for kids – their treat for quarantine!

We walked some more of Orchard and heard a faint bell ringing, a welcome sound to those who know. My husband spotted a large yellow umbrella and I instantly knew we were in for a treat. These two things along Orchard Road can only mean one thing. Ice cream sandwiches! We walked up to the motorbike cart where we picked our flavours and the vendor quickly took out a block and cut off a slab which he placed in a slice of sweet rainbow bread. This costs $1.30 which is about 75p. Try making one for yourself with slices of brioche if you can’t get to Orchard Road!

After a day of walking, shopping and eating we were all feeling pretty tired. Although we had gotten over our jet lag long ago we were now not used to doing so much activity so we stopped at the hotel for a rest. We decided to let the kids choose what they wanted for dinner and Milo was desperate for a pepperoni pizza. On our venture out earlier we spotted a Jamie’s Italian close by and headed out. The temperature here only drops by a couple of degrees after sunset around 7pm but you really notice it, especially with a cooling breeze.

We walked along taking in all the sights of night life, the road seemed to take on a new personality with its huge TV screen advertisements were more noticeable, people sitting outside dinning, more cars on the roads and many of the buildings having light displays in a variety of colours. We noticed things we hadn’t seen in the day.

ION shopping mall at night.

The children were invited to go and watch the chef make their pizzas and they took great delight in seeing the bases go spinning into the air, catching their breath as it came down safely in his hands. After dinner we returned to the hotel room very full and very happy.

We’d only been out for a day and already the days that dragged during our SHN seemed long gone.
The city had given us a brilliant welcome.

Have a look at our vlog for more about our first week here.

3 thoughts on “A Taste of Freedom and Ice Cream Sandwiches, Singapore

  1. Food seems the theme at the moment. Such a lovely variety too. Great to know you’re released.

  2. Just catching up on the blog and really enjoying the ‘journey’, narrated beautifully in your great writing style 👍🙂

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