Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011 (Singapore)

FOOD ON THE RUN: We decided to take a 2.5-mile stroll from the Paya Leber MRT station through the Peranakan section of the city, along Joo Chiat Road. Right off the subway, we wandered into the Haig Road Market & Cooked Food Center and had some rice-based Nasi Goreng Putih (with chicken) at the Al-Rahman Muslim Food stall. A dishful costs S$3.50, and it was extremely tasty. Drinks were extra, from another stall.
Hawker centers in Singapore have an interesting history and the government's National Environment Agency has a grading system for cleanliness, hygiene and housekeeping. The grades are renewed annually, with some provisions for qualifying for a mid-year review. This place has a B grade (right). That's really not so bad. Some say some tourists keep their eyes peeled for A-graded stalls. However, some local logic tilts some Singaporeans to the B- and C-graded stalls. The thinking: These stalls are SO BUSY serving great food that they are UNABLE to keep the place TOTALLY CLEAN.
Again, our B-rated food was excellent.

OFF TO THE PARK: The walk opened up a very distinctive new neighborhood for us. We enjoyed the decor of many of the two-story shophouses along Joo Chiat Road (above). We also noticed plenty businesses devoted to remodeling, renovations, construction and interior design. Sprinkled among them were plenty of karaoke bars and eateries.
Our destination was the city's East Coast Park, which sits on a 15-kilometer stretch of reclaimed land east of the central city. We got to the park about 3 p.m., and it was buzzing. Lots of bicyclists, rollerbladers, picnickers and walkers. And, we spotted what looked like a "balloon boy" (left) who was distributing Easter-related helium balloons (with a "risen" theme). We had a salad and beer at Scruffy Murphys and took a cab home.
Didn't see a grade for Scruffy's from the NEA.
Didn't really mind.
Not too much, anyway.

CRANE UPDATE: It's probably about time to explain a bit about how the Singapore Crane Index Limited Economic Indicator is put together. I do this at the risk of exposing the pathetic, lazy nature of the enterprise, but we might find out that this is as good an economic indicator as any. The observation is based on the south-looking view from our living room window (above). This looks at a portion of the Tanjong Pagar Container Terminal. Some cranes are in the UP position (meaning they are idle) and others are in the DOWN position (meaning they are loading or unloading various containers). The view is fairly narrow, hence the word "Limited" in the title.
The most recent view is very enouraging.
It seems to mark a bounceback in the upswing of the DOWN cranes! Here it is:

Date: April 23
Time: 9 a.m. (Singapore time)
Cranes Up (bad): 8
Cranes Down (good): 17
CRANES MISSING (neutral): 2

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