Archives for: April 2008, 18
Nope, I'm not jetting off to Singapore for any funny business, it's just the name of a drink somebody tried to sell me tonight.
At the moment I'm in the wild and crazy world that is Singapore. It's hustling, bustling and moves at a frenetic pace compared to Australia. The people are fantastic though and it has to be the safest place I've ever been (which was lucky when I was lost and walking the streets at 11:30pm one night!). The main thing I've gotten out of this trip, aside from a heap of learning on the work side, has been how hard it is to do the BTD or have food allergies in Singapore, especially if you're an ex-pat. I also got to meet up with some of the Singapore BTDers (more about that in a later blog).
I've been really lucky, the hotel I've been staying at was informed of my allergies/intolerances before I came and they have done a fantastic job of providing safe food. Outside of the hotel, it's a different story. There's a world full of wheat, corn, soy, eggs (personal allergy that's pretty serious) and dairy out there just waiting to trip you up. I had been dealing with it by sticking to the hotel food and tinned tuna, however there's a limit to how much carrot and broccoli a girl can eat and I was craving variety.
So, last Sunday I decided that I couldn't stomache another day of tinned tuna for lunches and braved a new frontier - eating at a restaurant. Now, I didn't jump into the deep end and go to a hawker market, instead I chose an American style seafood restaurant and chose something very plain - grilled fish and salad. I did the responsible thing and asked about wheat, flour, if it was rolled in anything and also told them no butter, milk, etc. I should have realised something was wrong when they brought me out a piece of garlic bread (which I didn't eat), but I thought they've made one mistake, but that's no need to write them off.
Then the main came, with three breaded calamari rings. Well, I wasn't going to be deterred, I cut off about an inch of fish that I thought would make it safe. What I hadn't counted on was the fish being covered in flour before it was grilled. I could tell at the first bite and for the first time in about five years, I got glutened. Five days later, trust me, I'm still paying the price.
So, what's the lesson out of this experience?
From my perspective, planning is the key. I think, in hindsight, a great idea would have been to print out a list of foods that I need to avoid in Malay or Chinese and have that ready to hand over. I don't know how to communicate in their language and it's a little wrong to expect them to have detailed understanding in a second language.
The other thing is, that if you get the chance, definitely come to Singapore. It's fantastic. There's some amazing history and you seriously have to catch their MRT, it's an amazing form of public transport.