Jen and I ate pretty well during our time in Singapore. It would have been hard not to do so with Chinatown on our doorstep and Little India and Arab Street a short distance away. We had dinner with unlimited wine in a French place around the corner and tapas at a Spanish restaurant in a busy street at the back of our hotel that we didn’t stumble across until our last night.
There was also a food court nearby and within a few hours of arriving we’d already been told by two different people that there was one particular stall famous for its chicken-rice. As you might have suspected that’s chicken accompanied by rice. In this case, both boiled. The taxi-driver that took us into town from the airport claimed that he ate there every day.
With that sort of hard sell we had to give it a go. I can’t remember what time the stall opened, but fifteen minutes beforehand there was already a queue and apparently it sells out within a couple of hours. I think I’d be tempted to boil more chicken and rice if I were them, although knocking off two hours after getting to work does sound like an ideal shift.
Anyway, it was cheap, it was chicken and it was rice. No more than that. I suspect these things take on a life of their own and become self-perpetuating. They even had a photo of Gordon Ramsay eating there. I was tempted to draw a little bubble coming out of his mouth saying “Fucking fuss over fuck all” but I understand they have strict sentences for that sort of thing in Singapore. I didn’t see our taxi-driver having his lunch either.
Whilst the chicken-rice was a bit ‘meh’ I was much more impressed with the eggs that we had for breakfast. There was a café nearby that served uncooked eggs in a jug of just-boiled water. You sat around drinking your coffee for fifteen minutes whilst the eggs cooked in front of you and then you cracked them open and dipped your toast into the yolks.
Genius. Just enough arseing around to make it perfect for idling time away on your holidays. The café was opposite a temple that claimed to have one of Buddah’s teeth in a box. A Swan Vesta box I hope. It was very popular with the tourists and probably the tooth fairies as well.
As we waited for our eggs to cook we watched busloads of people photographing themselves outside a recently erected temple before going inside to gaze in awe at a box that may or may not have contained dental waste from someone who may or may not have existed.
I told my Mam about the eggs and she said “You mean coddled?” I’d no idea if I meant coddled or not, but it turned out that I did. Apparently it’s nothing special and everyone did it in the olden days when they weren’t busy having a bath in a bucket in front of a coal fire or treating rickets by wrapping cabbage leaves around their knees.
That’s enough culinary stuff, time for football and the S-League game between Home United and Young Lions.
I took the MRT up to Bishan and then walked for five minutes across to the Bishan Stadium. There were a few fans hanging around outside, draining the last of their bottles of water before they were confiscated at the entrances. What’s the point? It turned out that they didn’t actually sell drinks inside, so it couldn’t be to protect their sales. In a climate where I’m likely to lose a couple of pints of sweat over the course of ninety minutes it would be nice to be able to replace some of it.
I bought my five dollar ticket and found myself a seat in the two tier main and only stand. There was a running track between the stand and the grass pitch and I had a small group of ‘ultras’ with a drum to my right and near to the half-way line.
There was a decent crowd when everyone eventually arrived with plenty of families and a few groups of young women, many of them wearing headscarves.
Home United were in red, with Young Lions, who are actually the Singapore U21 national team, in blue. It’s an interesting concept, letting a national development group play in the league. If it happened in England I imagine it would mean more game time for the young players and I’m sure their increased familiarity with each other would improve results in their age-group international games. It might even improve the prospects for the senior national team. I’m not sure what clubs and fans would think about it though. I’m not even sure what I think about it.
Young Lions should have been in front after thirty seconds but the straightforward chance was lifted over the bar. The miss didn’t prove too costly as ten minutes later the Home Utd keeper came out of his box in an attempt to head the ball away only to collide with one of his defenders and allow a visiting striker to turn the ball into an empty net from twenty-five yards.
The home side soon hit back when a fella with a top knot finished a cross from the left to equalise and then they took the lead with a left-footed free-kick curled in from the right that eluded everyone including the Young Lions keeper.
At half time we were all allowed out to use the drinks machine at the nearby leisure centre, on the strict condition that we drank it all before coming back inside. Nobody checked any tickets so unless the stewards have a fantastic memory for faces it’s easy enough to watch second half soccer in Singapore for free.
Home United increased their lead soon after the break with a strong header back across the keeper and then added a fourth close to the end after a bout of head-tennis in the box.
The grown-ups deserved their victory and the defeat kept Young Lions at the foot of the table and left me none the wiser as to whether playing age-group national teams in a domestic league was beneficial to anyone at all.