Posts Tagged With: fish

Singapore Wet Markets

Singapore is a fantastic place to visit. On one of our trips to Indonesia, we decided to hop on over to Singapore for the weekend and we are so glad we did! We jam-packed our two days there, viewing architecture, trying out local open air food joints (hawker markets), enjoying the green plants that are growing into the buildings’ sides and roofs, and of course, exploring the wet markets. But first, per the usual set-up, here’s the map showing the trip from Jakarta to Singapore:

Getting to Singapore is pretty easy– a short flight from Jakarta. Although, depending on what airline you take, you may end up in departing from the domestic gates instead of the international gates– just make sure you check! More on that in a different post. For now… wet markets!

Wet markets are more or less large grocery markets… indoor famers markets. But on crack. They have everything from produce to fish to meat to eggs to dried goods to more exotic species, depending on the market. In Singapore, there are a multitude of these wet markets. A simple Google search for Singapore Wet Markets will give you tons of results. You can find articles talking about the best 5, the top 10, the one to visit, etc. We chose two based on proximity to our hotel and also a few articles that I had researched talked about two in particular: the Tekka Wet Market and the Chinatown Wet Market. These two markets are large, carry a wide range of products, and have decent hours. The Tekka Wet Market is located in Tekka Center and is known as one of the best culturally diverse markets. It is also the largest wet market in Singapore with more than 280 stalls. In addition, it has restaurants, so you can do everything in one place. Finally, it is a great market because it has hours into the afternoon (most wet markets are only open earlier in the day). Here it is on a map:

The Chinatown Wet Market, as the name implies, is located in Chinatown. It is also a central location. It is know for its more exotic items. You can find this market in the Chinatown Complex. It also has a Hawker Market, or an area of local cheap eats. This market is open only until noon and if you are looking for something in particular, you should arrive early for the best selection. Here it is on a map:

 

Because we were only in town for the weekend and staying in a hotel room (no kitchen) and the fact that I really don’t like seafood at all, we didn’t purchase anything big at the markets. We stuck to spices and ended up meeting a great guy (Anthony) who makes his own spice blends and ships them all over the world. Something we learned about Indonesia food on this trip was their use of candlenuts in curries. We found out that this toasted candlenut is what gives Indo food a lot of its unique flavor. We also made sure to purchase a LOT of spices from Anthony.

Anthony the Spice Guy

Anthony the Spice Guy

So, what can you find at these markets besides spices? All sorts of things!!

Like, Vegetables and Fruits:

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Fresh Vegetables and Greens

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Tropical Fruits

 

Eggs and Dried Goods (fish, mushrooms, peppers, shrimp and tofu crackers, etc)

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More eggs than you can dream of!

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Dried goods: fish, mushrooms, chips

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Peppers, crackers, spices, dried whole and ground

 

Fish! Sharks, tuna, cuttlefish, and all sorts of seafood that you have never seen or heard of!

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Fresh Fish!

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Squid

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Big Fish: Whole or Chopped Up

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Anything you want: Big or little, whole, or chopped

 

And of course, the meats and more exotics- frogs, eels, and even turtles!

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Live turtles

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Live frogs

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Live eels

 

You can find all sorts of items in these markets. Also, they’re used to tourists and I promise you won’t be the only one there. There are lots of people walking around and snapping photos, just remember that people are actually grocery shopping here as well- so mind your manners and try not to get in the way. Also, we found that some stall owners did not want us to take photos- these places tended to put up signs saying as much, but it always pays to ask if you can take some photos before you just start snapping. It may seem really crazy (and a little creepy!) to see literally hundreds of live frogs in cages for sale, but remember that every culture is different. Show some respect and you’ll be just fine.

I would recommend wearing closed toe shoes– they will rinse down the floors and the “wastewater” can appear less than appetizing at times (remember they’re cutting up fish on the spot!) Also, note that you can get to these markets either by walking or taxi or of course, by taking the public transportation. Singapore public transportation is amazing and highly suggest taking advantage of it! The Singapore Rail (MRT) provides extensive coverage of Singapore!

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Precision

 

 

 

 

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South Water Caye, Belize: Jan. 1 2014

We snorkeled before breakfast. Is there honestly any better way to start off a new year? I think not. So, we hopped into our suits right at sunrise and got in the water. It was a great morning of snorkeling, full of purple mouthed eels, squirrel fish, some weird-looking dragon fish, and a bunch of coral. It was a choppy and overcast morning, but it was just perfect.

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Andrew and Barbara walking around the island

Breakfast consisted of eggs, beans, fried jacks, apples, and ham with mango chutney. Strange mix I know. This was our final night on South Water Caye. Talk about sad. Our house was booked tonight, so we packed up our bags and moved into a room above the main house/kitchen area. We did some more snorkeling and swimming off the beach before lunch; a lot more eels… and crabs…and LOBSTERS! They’re so creepy and big and they just stare at you. But I digress… we ate our lunch of pasta salad with shrimp, rolls, and coconut empanadas (along with tropical juice) and then we got ready for our final off-island excursion: manatee hunt!!

The bar and restaurant

The bar and restaurant

I love manatees. At the time we went searching for them in Belize, I had never seen one in person before (well in the wild). I’ve read about them, looked at pictures of them, watched videos of them, and even wrote a few reports on them back in the day…but I never saw one. So, imagine my insane excitement to go Manatee searching in Belize!! The only problem was… we didn’t see a. single. manatee. I was a little heartbroken, but I told myself it just wasn’t the time. Truth be hold, we were looking for them during a time of year when they aren’t frequently in those waters. After the lack of manatees, we took the boat over to Tobacco Caye, an island a bit larger than South Water. We walked around for a bit which was nice- and we also saw a GIANT manta ray and a spotted eagle ray swimming right by the boat dock. Tobacco Caye was a lot more populated than South Water. There were a bunch of families living there, as well as some hotels/resorts. We only spent about 20 minutes there- just stretching the legs.

Hammocks!

Hammocks!

After stopping off at Tobacco Caye, we went snorkeling at a really cool spot where we saw electric rays, squirrel fish, lion fish, and cuddle fish. The snorkeling was relaxing and exciting and just perfect. We arrived back at South Water Caye, where we headed up to the puzzle room and worked to finish up our 3rd? 4th puzzle of the trip? This puzzle was of Italy. We enjoyed some Pina Coladas, Beliken Beers, and Island Sunsets. Dinner was spicy onion soup, stuffing, rice and beans, pineapple-cabbage slaw, turkey with cranberry sauce, and chocolate rum cake.

We spent the evening with cold drinks chatting with the crew about tv shows and all sorts of other mindless things. Our boat off of South Water Caye leaves tomorrow at 3:00PM. I’m bummed. I’m usually not the type of person that can stay in one place for very long but I just have to say… disconnecting- utterly and completely, is just so nice. I think I’m going to make a point of having 1 day a month without any technology. Just me and the outdoors… and maybe Andrew and the pups. Just 1 full day of utter relaxation and serenity. Yes, that sounds just wonderful.

Belize- I could get used to you!

Kayaks on the island

Kayaks on the island

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South Water Caye, Belize: December 30th

Is it 5:30AM? I honestly have no idea. The sun isn’t up yet but I feel fantastic. I love having no clue what time it is here in Belize. There’s just something so wonderful about being completely disconnected from technology and the fast pace of Washington, DC. On island time, there are no politics (except when Andrew’s dad brings them up- haha), no worries, no agendas, no rules, and no crises that can’t be solved with a cold beer and a snorkel. I walked down on the beach and took some pictures of the retreating rain clouds. I met a woman and her child (from Germany!) who told me that the previous morning they saw a large Ray. I’ll have to be on the lookout for it!

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Retreating Rain Clouds

 

Returning to our cabin, Andrew was awake and we quickly jumped at the chance to get in the water and snorkel before breakfast. It was completely worth the early morning push! We saw Lion Fish, Spotted Eagle Rays, a Green Moray Eel, a Goldentail Moray Eel, and a ton of other fish. We went in our suits to breakfast just because we could and we met up with the others for a delicious meal of: scrambled eggs, fried beans, mixed fruit (papaya, watermelon, and cantaloupe), a dense homemade creole bread, and hibiscus juice.

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Sun shining through the clouds

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Palm patterns

 

After breakfast, we relaxed and put together a puzzle of frogs. We took a swim and then ate lunch (I know it seems like we eat a lot…) before heading out on an snorkel excursion a little further out, where we saw a ton of fish and a bunch of lion fish. They are apparently invasive species so there are a lot around. The water was a beautiful turquoise color and the temperature was perfect. If I could, I’d stay in the water all day and all night! Lunch was beef enchiladas, powder buns, pineapple, and hibiscus juice. We also tried out our first Belizean hot sauce (Beware).

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Owen enjoying the water

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The water by our house

 

We spent the afternoon drinking piña coladas and beer, swimming, lounging, showering, and reading in hammocks. Just delightful. I forgot what it was like to just slow down. Around sunset, we made sure to place ourselves on the beach so we could take some photos of the bright oranges, reds, yellows, and pinks that stretched on forever. It was like a painting out of some expensive coffee table book. I wouldn’t have believed the colors if I hadn’t been there to see it for myself.

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Beautiful textures

 

For dinner, we had coconut rice, herbed fish, a potato-esque salad called, “cho cho”, and bread pudding with rum sauce. After dinner, we retreated to our cabin and brainstormed our resolutions and goals for 2014. *Side note- we didn’t actually end up doing everything we had planned in 2014… but it was a great year, nonetheless* :0)

Until tomorrow!

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A kayaker enjoying the setting sun

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I just can’t get enough of those palms!

 

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Nusa Lembongan: Another Island Paradise

For the last two nights of our trip in Indonesia, we were scheduled to be on Nusa Lembogan, a small island off the coast of Bali [and a part of Bali]. It is right next to Nusa Penida, another small island. Andrew set this part of the trip up and it was awesome! As you already read, the first day started in Ubud on our rather crazy, hectic, fun scooter adventure around Ubud. When we eventually made it back to Swasti Eco Lodge, we packed up our stuff, checked out, and grabbed our ride to the coast. When we arrived at the ticket office, we talked over our reservations, and then moved to the beach. When the speedboat appeared on the beach, the employees grabbed our bags and loaded them first. Then it was our turn. True to the island life, we took our shoes off, rolled up our pants, and walked through the water to the boat ladder. The boat was small- about 6 or so benches. It was covered on 3 sides with windows. We all sat down and took off. If you’ve never been on a speedboat before, let me tell you, it’s pretty insane. I don’t get motion sickness at all and I love boats, but this ride was crazy. I’m pretty sure I left a dent in the bench back in front of me from squeezing so tightly. The boat “FLEW” over the water, hitting massive waves where water would cover the boat. I don’t think I like riding under the covering of the boat… next time I’ll opt for the open air part. After an hour or so of too much crazy [I think it was actually a 30 minute ride, but felt longer], we pulled up to the coast of a small island. Boats everywhere. It looked awesome. Again the employees carried off our bags and then we followed in suit. We waited a bit until a truck with two long benches in the bed came over. Again we loaded our bags and ourselves up. On this island, there are very VERY few cars/trucks. In fact, I think the one we were on was one of about three. The truck drove us around dropping everyone off here or there on the island. We were the last to be dropped off. We were staying at Alam Nusa Huts and Spa.

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The first night on Nusa, we relaxed. We walked down to the beach [about a 5 minute walk] and enjoyed the sunset. We chatted with the owners of Alam who were so completely friendly and we dined on delicious Indonesian meals and tropical drinks. We also lined up a snorkel trip for the morning. In the morning, we ate breakfast at Alam [can’t get enough of Nasi Goreng!] and then we met up with our boat driver for the snorkel trip. He wasn’t very talkative but apparently knew the folks who owned Alam, so we happily followed along. He took us two different places; one a calmer place for snorkeling and the other on a drift. It was awesome. So many fish and coral. He also brought along bread that he crumbled up and threw in the water to attract the fish– they were everywhere and completely surrounding us. Just an awesomely amazing experience. To top it off, we went in a traditional fishing boat- just the two of us. What an awesome time.

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After the snorkeling trip, we changed our clothes and decided to try another place for lunch that was a few buildings down from where we were staying. Ah island time. We were the only ones in an open-air restaurant that had darts and pool tables. We ordered and were served and then the person working disappeared. As in, we could have gotten up, left, and never returned and no one would have even noticed. It was relaxing and fantastic, but we had sights to see! We paid our bill and then grabbed a scooter to explore the island. We drove all the way to one end and sat amongst mangrove trees, sipping out of a fresh coconut… then we turned around and crossed the bridge between the two parts of the island– only accessible by scooters and walkers. We watched on as workers farmed seaweed [the big economic focus of the island]. We  took pictures of seaweed drying and looked at plots set-up just off the beach using bamboo stakes. We drove by a cemetery where a large platform used for cremations was still smoking from the previous day. We walked through the small road-side shops, talked with locals, and purchased bamboo goods and batik fabrics. We explored every edge of the island under the beautiful sun, shaking our heads and laughing at what an amazingly awesome time we had on the trip. We finished our day with a delicious dinner at Alam. It was starting to sink in that we were leaving. But really, our adventure was just beginning– we were getting ready to fly to San Francisco, California, to embark on an 8-day, 525 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Santa Monica to raise awareness of Arthritis. A bike ride, that we hadn’t even trained for.

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Indonesia is a place of awesome culture and bountiful beauty. It is colorful and vibrant and full of love and passion. I would spend so much more time there if I had the chance. There is so much to see and do. I would recommend it to anyone craving adventure and one hell of a time. Andrew summed it up perfectly– “Never have I felt closer to death… and never have I felt more alive.”

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Until next time, my friends…

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