Every time I visit Singapore, I think of four things: gigging, food tripping, sight-seeing and hanging out with great friends. And that’s exactly how I spent mine last week with folks from Requiem Rising, a fun-loving events group.
the inn crowd
I traveled alone and arrived on a beautiful Thursday morning, 12th of December, fresh from the previous night’s gig with Kakoy Legaspi in Makati jamming Lennon songs. A trippy night as I recall. I took the MRT from Changi airport and my feet automatically brought me to familiar streets in Little India till I reach the famous backpacker’s hostel The Inn Crowd located along Dunlop St. I consider this place my second home whenever I am in the city.
I was greeted by a large cat beside the electronic-lock powered wooden doors with glass panels of the hostel, sitting comfortably on a towelette placed neatly on the left edge of the fixed bench. I couldn’t resist to give him a pat and a chin rub.
The atmosphere inside is very convivial. The accommodation is cheap ($20 SGD per bunk bed including breakfast per day) but the experience is excellent. The common room at the ground floor is where I spent most of my time. Enjoying fast internet, unlimited coffee, a big flat screen TV to watch the news/movies, and lots of books and reading materials especially on traveling. There’s a dining area, a living room sofa set, and an elevated lounging area where I can sprawl anytime. It’s the best place to interact and have fun with other travelers from different nations.
I shared a room of 8 double-deck beds with both male and female occupants. The only time I visit my bunk is when I need to sleep. And indeed, after helping myself with a serving of Ban Mee (a flat egg noodle soup served with meat, anchovies, and vegetables) in a nearby hawker place, I climbed up my top bunk to seventh heaven and slept for five hours.
steamboat and raffles hotel
I was up and about by 5pm, preparing myself to meet my friends for dinner and drinks. I met Geny Gutierrez of Requiem Rising at Bugis Station and she took me to a popular street for Steamboats (Hotpot) along Liang Sheah.
We settled on small table outside Zhong Hua Steamboat and for the first time acquainted myself to this eat-all-you-can dining experience for $20.00. The hot plate steamboat with divider pot offered two soup base options.
We tried the special chicken soup base and the Shichuan Mala, a soup base containing oily, spicy, and numbing Chinese sauce which consists of Sichuanese peppercorn, chili pepper and various spices simmered with oil. Then we helped ourselves to hearty servings of various meat, dumplings, fish balls, seafood, veggies, mushroom and seaweeds. Tossing them evenly on each side. I ate to my heart’s content. Hao hao chi!
Shortly after my last chug of meat and lime juice, Deo Virtucio arrived and brought us to the colonial cocktail bar of Raffles Courtyard for some after dinner-drinks and chit-chat. I can’t help but admire the white arches and old vibe of the historic place.
Monx Moncayo, one of the head honchos of Requiem Rising, joined us later on. Our conversations ranged from music business to catching up on personal stuff and crazy stories mixed with occasional profanities in Filipino, knowing we’re the only Pinoys in the area, well, except for the cool bartenders.
We downed two wine pots, left, and convoyed to Geylang to set up and test the guitar and amp system we borrowed for my Saturday gig at the art exhibit of Michael Cu Fua. I didn’t bring a guitar with me, just a small backpack I also borrowed from a neighbor to avoid the hassle of checking in and dragging extra baggage everywhere I go. Ronnie Ambrosio from the SG based band Cajooters was very generous to loan me his beautiful Taylor 414CE electic-acoustic guitar complete with a tube acoustic amp and a microphone.
Arriving at Lorong 24A Shophouse before midnight, I did a quick soundcheck, and we continued drinking with shots of whiskey, waited for Michael and his wife Cynthia to show up fresh from their vacation in Bali, Indonesia. And when they did, Michael surprised me with gifts — a copy of “Morrissey’s Autobiography” and his artwork of a dragonfly perched on a nude lady subject! That was the second book I received that day. Earlier, Geny handed me a hardbound edition of “The John Lennon Letters”. I can hardly contain my excitement for these great addition to my book collection.
Before parting ways, everybody had Taiwanese Misua at the corner of Geylang Road except me (I think I ate too much at the Steamboat restaurant). I contented myself with a take away coffee at the Kopitiam on the other side of the road while ogling at the amusing signages of Singapore’s red light district.
…continue reading A Weekend in Singapore [Part 2]