A couple awesome meals from Singapore (#travel, #Singapore, #food)

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We’ve had a lot of great food here in Singapore on our short stay. But two in particular have stood out.

The above is from Shahi Maharani, “North Indian Cuisine” which was in the 3rd floor of the Raffles City mall. It was BOGO and we were terrified we made a mistake when we saw it was a buffett until we started walking through and looking at the food. I’ve had a decent number of Indian food styles and restaurants so far including food in California and NYC, this was probably one of the better I’ve had. I would’ve stuffed myself but I knew we were going to be walking for hours at the National Museum afterward. It was tempting, though.

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This eclectic mix of Malay/Indonesian food was from a halal shop also near City Hall off the Bugis stop. The place was called Hjh Maimunah. I couldn’t repeat the names of all the dishes but there is a potato fritter on the far right, beef rendang next to it, the yellow dish is a curry coconut milk chicken on the bone and the far left is a chili chicken on the bone (which was out favorite and not as spicy as it looks) and then the top is spinach.

We also got a cup of lime juice which tasted like a lime popsicle. While normally that flavor would be sickly sweet and gross me out, this totally worked and was so refreshing in the heat.

Here’s the neighborhood:

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Our Singapore AirBNB (#travel, #Singapore, #lifestyle)

Our Singapore AirBNB was in a newly developed apartment tower between Shenton and Anson in the CBD. This place is so new that one of the eatery tenants on the sidewalk floor hasn’t finished moving in and opened for business yet.

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This is the front door. It uses a metallic key to enter which routinely gets stuck in the lock either because of the humidity or the design. You rotate it several times and then just push the door inward, there is no separate mechanism for clasping the door open or shut. You use a keycard to access the elevator and common space doors in the building.

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The living room and dining table from the front door, kitchen on the left.

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Wide shot of the kitchen. Two burners. The hood over the burners turns on when you pull it out which is kind of cool. Notice the gloss finish cupboards without handles, Ikea-design style. NK dishwasher. There is a washing machine beneath the microwave which also has a dryer function. This was the first time we cooked in our AirBNB this trip, we had a lot of leftover Korean from the night before as we ordered too much not realizing how big the portions were (MMM, spicy pork and glass noodles!)

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The kitchen on the right, front door area to the left, bedroom on right hidden from view, taken from the sofa in the living room.

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Bedroom from the bathroom. Door to living room on right. Bit of a mess, were really milking the “living out of a suitcase” ethic. The bedroom has a dedicated wall mounted A/C unit. The bathroom stays a bit warm. The living room and kitchen each have wall mounted A/C.

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A shot of the living room/dining room from the bedroom, bathroom to the right off camera.

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Toilet with two button flush, sink on the right. The sink had water handles that were basically vertical rectangles, I’ve never seem anything like that before but they worked okay. Large shallow basin sink.

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Shower area. It has a built in tiled seat. The door closes fully and almost seems to have a magnetic strip embedded to keep it shut. The shower floor is depressed from the bathroom floor and the water doesn’t seep up and out the door. Instead of a grill drain there is a tile with slots around it to the left of the shower head where water drains which is elegant looking. Oddly, the shower has retractable blinds from which the window makes you visible to both people poolside and the office workers across the way.

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Another view of the shower apparatus. Notice there is a “waterfall” shower head in the ceiling as well, very cool!

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We didn’t go down to the pool as we didn’t bring our swim gear but this is the shot from the 6th floor elevator area. I’d probably spend a lot of time here given the heat, if I lived here.

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This is a shot of the building from Enggor and Anson. The tree lined area is the pool. This seems to be the fashion nowadays for buildings like this, a covered parking structure below with a pool above and the resident tower rises beside it.

We were about two blocks from the Tangor Pagar stop on the East-West line, which was very convenient.

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We were also about four blocks from this neat eatery neighborhood nearby.

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Our Taipei AirBnB (#travel, #lodging, @AirBnB, #Taiwan)

This is less a review and more of a “walkthrough” to show you how we were living the last few days. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good shot of the building from the street nor what the lobby looked like (both are understated). Also, I didn’t do a good job of gathering economic data on the property from the owner, but I am pretty sure I can get her to cough that up if I emailed her later which I might do.

We stayed in a district called Da’an. See the link here and look for the park, you can find it quickly (Da’an District https://goo.gl/maps/8VkRbYqL5g62). Specifically we were off the Da’an Park. Da’an means “great peace”. The parks in Taipei were often constructed by the Japanese, it was they who introduced park culture to Taiwan during their occupation, a culture they in turn received from Western nations they were trying to emulate after the “opening” of Japan. The park was formerly a farming community. It is considered an upscale, hip neighborhood and was one of two we were told of by tour guides, the other being XinYi.

It is a very large area. You can walk on foot about twenty minutes in any compass direction from where we stayed and still be in Da’an, with various degrees of fanciness from pretty understated, well to do middle class vibes to pretty glitzy and glamorous. Apparently this neighborhood has had this reputation since the occupation when it was the place many professors and other educated professionals of the Japanese regime chose to reside.

The park is referred to as Taipei’s Central Park, not because it is as big or has that kind of significance to the city, but because it is quite large relative to city blocks, other parks and it is fairly centrally located and historical.

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This is the view out our window on the 8th floor (very lucky in Chinese culture!!)  looking westish.

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The view of the park, it takes about 15 minutes to walk the length of the park and their is an MRT station at the opposite end from us.

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The intersection of HePing and Xinsheng (the “heavens road” because there are worship sites for 7 different religions on this one block beside the park, including Islam and Mormonism). There is a pedestrian overpass but most people wait and cross at the light.

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This is the Queen bed beside the window. Not terribly plush but also not uncomfortable, I slept well and found the duvet worked well with the A/C running despite the humid clime.

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This area is right to the left of the bed and is separated from it by a small cubbyhole wall. The table has an electric burner pull out. I enjoyed using the reading light as I worked through some of the books I brought.

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This A/C unit is right above the window. Remote controlled, worked well enough, we never kept the temperature below 23C which was comfortable.

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Looking toward the front door from the bed area. Mini fridge kept our bottled water cold (tap water is safe to brush teeth and shower with but is not potable otherwise). Bathroom sliding door is up on the right where the light is emanating from. Far right of the picture is a series of closets.

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Cubby wall, bed area, from beside the bathroom.

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Bathroom shot. The look and finish of the place is likely IKEA, which actually felt quite stylish and upscale despite IKEA having a reputation of kind of imitation luxury. Maybe it was not IKEA, but I saw some IKEA products and had that anchored in my mind. The tub is definitely small from a Western size scale, I’d likely have to curl up my legs to sit in the tub. But the showerhead, which is detachable, had a holder high enough up on the wall that I could shower without stopping. Water pressure was VERY strong and basically was hard to calibrate between fire hose and off.

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Bathroom water heater, it is one of those instant hot water heaters so you really didn’t have to wait for the water to heat up and it was always capable of being hotter than you ever needed it to be.

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Toilet. The flusher is on top. I think the blue button is full flush and wider white button is half flush. At least that’s how I used it. Use your imagination here why you’d do one or the other. And these tissues are ubiquitous. Maybe they use a special type for the toilet but you’re basically wiping with Kleenex, and at restaurants instead of paper towel or napkins you get tissues there too.

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Detail of the sink, and medicine cabinet mirror. There was a hair dryer, which I used to style my hair. It worked just as well as one in the US, and Taiwan uses the same adapter as the US so all our chargers worked in the walls.

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This is interesting. This is on the wall of the bathroom. You have a circulation fan for when you’re in the can, and I never used breeze but I imagine it’s like a dehumidifier to not suffocate in the shower in the summer? Forgot to test it. Then you have a heat for staying warm and a dry so your towels don’t mildew. You can set the system on a timer so it will dry while you’re away and then turn off without running all day. We used that a lot because things don’t dry on their own otherwise. A really nice feature.

I don’t know how common these amenities are for most Taiwanese but I’d imagine many have the basics but not all of it. The relatives we stayed with when we first arrived did not appear to have A/C nor comfortable restrooms and bedding, but they were also older (although I understood their neighborhood was middle class). However, even assuming that this studio we rented was atypical, I think it demonstrates that a  comfortable, modern lifestyle is indeed possible in Taipei.