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Updated: Dec 13, 2019

As the days went by, It was much harder than I thought to keep to a clean and nutrient rich diet in the days leading up to the marathon as food centres had become our meal destinations of choice. With a myriad of stalls and assorted vibrant cuisines at absurdly low prices, local food centres were essentially a cookbook of all the greatest homecooked recipes you reminisced about and more. Growing up, we occasionally went to this modest little restaurant down the street for Hainanese chicken rice. It was something that I grew to love and more importantly, it was something I grew to understand as something that reminded my mom of her childhood in Singapore. Hainanese chicken is known as one of the national dishes of Singapore but is also found in various parts of southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia. Originating from southern China, Hainanese chicken rice is a simple dish consisting of poached chicken on a bed of seasoned rice with chili sauce and a garnish. While seemingly basic, Hainanese chicken rice can be done incorrectly easily. Hearing about the well recognized Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Food Centre from both my mom and my aunt, we decided to give it a try. As we set foot into the food centre, it was clear there was a favorite. While some stalls opted to open a little later, others starting to serve its first few customers of the day, Tian Tian’s was only prepping ingredients for the day and had already amassed a line-up of a dozen people. While we waited, I snuck the chance to grab a little appetizer of another stall’s take on kaya toast. The chicken rice definitely ended up meeting expectations. While unconventional and boneless, the rice was perfectly seasoned and melted in your mouth in a way that didn’t take away from the chicken.

Following breakfast, we decided to tackle Sentosa Island and the S.E.A Aquarium. Since we had been feeling the effects of our legs from the last couple of days, strategic planning led us to decide that a casual stroll while learning about the biodiversity and marine life in Southeast Asia would be a pleasant break. The S.E.A Aquarium is home to over 800 species and was formerly the largest aquarium by total water volume, coming in at 45,000,000L (12,000,000 US Gallons). As a kid, I had always been drawn to the ocean and all the living organisms in it. A combination of immense diversity of evolutionary adaptations mixed with the vast unknown was what drove me to consider the path of becoming a marine biologist for a couple of years.

Famished, we explored the nearby Seah Im food centre not too far of a walk from Suntec City. Having read a few blogs and their recommendations, I made the rounds checking out the numerous stalls before stopping by Thaksin Beef Noodle for their beef fried rice. Spiced just the right amount, the flavor was a good mix of heat and there was a gratuitous amount of beef. It was however, a little drier than ideal.

After lunch, we opted to head towards the Marina Bay Sands as we had planned out the evening in the vicinity. First, we stopped at the ArtScience museum which had 1 permanent exhibit, Where Art meets Science, created by a Japanese art collective collaboration called teamLab. It strives to illustrate the intertwining nature of art and science in an interactive exhibit where participants can draw and create. Secondly, Disney: Magic of Animation was a temporary exhibit highlighting all of Disney’s classics from Mulan, Tarzan and Lion King to newer films such as Big Hero 6 and Frozen. Each film had its own section comprised of original graphite sketches, preliminary scene sketches and end-production clay models.

The third exhibit, 2219: Futures Imagined, is a deeply immersive exhibit exploring the potential future of Singapore 200 years from now. Created by over a dozen artists, writers and companies from Singapore and all around the world, the reality of climate change and its effects on The Garden City are visualized.

At last, we queued up to go to the observation deck at the top of the Marina Bay Sands. Always a sucker for sunsets, I opted to go just a little beforehand to get a view of the cityscape with the daylight that was left. As the last rays of sun hit the sides of the towering architecture in the downtown core and highlighting the intricacies of the shapes and edges that made up the Singapore skyline, you could really appreciate the beauty of the design of the city. Like ancient trees standing out from neighboring forest, skyscrapers in the financial district looked almost out of place. A little research led me to learn that on 11 May 1967, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew introduced the notion of “The Garden City” as a means of transforming Singapore into a city weaved with lush greenery.

Panorama from the Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck
Daytime Panorama from the Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck
Night-time Panorama from the Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck

Once the sun set, we made our way out to the Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza where a daily evening water and light show was scheduled to start. With an array of lasers out in the water and using a combination of lighting and projections, a brilliantly impressive arrangement of animations made it stand out from your typical water fountain show.

We decided to swing by and pick-up our race packages since we were already close to the convention centre. As we walked in, it became quickly evident that race conventions were a far bigger affair than in North America. When you first walk into the convention hall, you join a color-coded corral based upon your designated race distance. At the first counter, you collect your transparent gear check bag as well as your all important race bib. All runners then join a mixed corral to collect the rest of their free goods. While long, this process made collection far more organized than what I was accustomed to. As the night wound down, we decided to stop by Lau Pa Sat for a night-time snack and found a hand-pulled noodle stall with amazing Dan Dan Mein. The noodles were soft and perfectly cooked, the broth was fresh and aromatic and the chili sauce gave the perfect punch to each bite. An absolute delight. And obviously due to my weakness for frozen desserts, I couldn’t leave without shaved ice!

Luckily for me, I had the foresight to plan ahead and pack my muscle stick and a lacrosse ball. Due to the amount of walking we were doing each day, I definitely felt that I needed a nightly routine to make sure I didn’t wake up stiff and sore the next day. Onto the next.

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