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My Geylang Love Affair (Food)

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [434] | Scholarship Entry

Due to unnecessary VISA complications I found myself on an impromptu visit to Singapore with less than 18 hours to prepare. Now, twenty two hours after arriving, I find myself penniless, perched at a Geylang hawker stall with a bowl of duck noodles, a large bottle of Carlsberg and a shirt stained with mutton Biryani. In 5 hours I will be boarding a plane back to Bangkok. As scribbling on a piece of paper is easier than hauling luggage through Singapore’s streets I have decided to mimic a travel blogger for the next 5 hours.

Geylang (MRT Aljunied)

This is where I had booked my hotel. The cheapest hotel I could find located in the centre of Singapore’s infamous red light district. When I first arrived, alone, trailing my fake Gucci holdall through the seedy streets of Geylang I admit, it was a little intimidating. Being the only white guy in sight did add to this anxiety. Nonetheless I marched on through head held high until a few blocks later I found my hotel.

That evening when the streets were darker I ventured to the main street to feast. Meeting the hawker stalls I was somewhat reluctant to take a seat. Am I welcome here? How will people react? Feeling courageous I approached a stall, ordered Roti Prata with Mutton Murtabak and took a seat close to the street. I felt at home here. My presence did not disturb the clean-cut Chinese man from scribbling on his horse betting book. The toothless banter between flat-topped Chinese gents continued. I loved it and I was hooked.

The area itself is not intimidating. Join the streams of leggy ‘freelancers’ and inconspicuous, local punters as they navigate the seedy side streets of numbered brothels. People barely notice you. Unlike Bangkok there is no hard sell here. People just go about their business. Every time I left the area I was itching to get back. My Geylang love affair continued. Hainanese chicken, mee goreng, duck noodles. My biryani breakfast is the reason I now sit here with a stained shirt.

Tags: boutique bangkok, budget travel, geylang, hotel 81, mrt aljunied, singapore on a budget, singapore street food, thai visa run, travel writing scholarship 2012

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