Singapore: Jan 1: New Year's Day Party and Katong

On New Year's Day, we were obliged to stay at our host's place for a family reunion potluck lunch. Our host's/friend's parents have seven siblings each, so even though only one side of the family came to this reunion event (and not all of them from that side), it was still a crowded, lively party. All of our friend's relatives were friendly; we were made to feel very welcome, as if we belonged there. Our friend's father made his famous dish, a Portuguese stew called curry devil. Another relative made kueh kosui (the coconut rice cake dessert we previously tried and somewhat liked) (this one was a bit better) and even gave us instructions on how to make it for ourselves. There was also roasted ham, pasta salad, delicious fried prawns, and more.

Because of the party, we didn't make it out of the house until mid-afternoon. I had hoped to leave earlier because we had planned to explore the Katong/Joo Chiat neighborhood of Singapore this day, and I wanted enough time to make sure we could see it all. When we were finally heading out, one of the family members (who was also leaving around that time) realized he was already driving in the same direction and offered to give us a lift in his convertible. On the way to Katong, he showed us around Singapore, including driving past Dempsey Hill (military barracks converted to shops). Also, he owns a catering business and a couple restaurants, so he detoured to stop by the catering area to give us a brief tour. He also owns the restaurant where the prison officers eat. (This isn't near the prison but rather part of a complex reserved for recreational activities for the prison workers.) He brought us there too. Finally, we made it to Katong, where he drove us past the highlights before we convinced him that we actually wanted to walk around the neighborhood to get a feel for it and to see the sights without being hurried by other cars behind us.

Starting with this last segment (driving through Katong), I began to take pictures. Di Yin took many pictures this day, including some from the party and from our drive around Singapore. The link goes to the first picture from this day in her Singapore album (picture #272). When you see a picture of me shaking a container of milk (picture #331), you're done with her pictures from the trip. (She took that one after we got home.)

Once afoot in Katong along Joo Chiat, we explored the Joo Chiat complex mall, then walked down Joo Chiat. We found many pretty shophouses nearby. We also noticed most of the restaurants on one block of Joo Chiat Road are Vietnamese: interesting, as the Vietnamese population in Singapore is minuscule. Much the middle of Joo Chiat is comprised of bars.

Due to our late start, we had to call off our exploration of Katong for darkness when only a third done. As it turned out, Di Yin and I would get to finish exploring Katong on our next trip to Singapore. As we headed back to the main road to catch a bus, we spotted a lively street west of Geylang Serai, including a supermarket, a hawker center with some 24 hour stands, and, in general, lots of people. We'd spend more time in here in Katong on our next trip to Singapore.

For dinner, we returned to Food Republic on Orchard Road, where we also ate on Monday night (Dec 28).

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