With Chinese New Year underway, the city basically shut down this past weekend. We had to stock up on groceries last week before Thursday to make sure we’d survive until Monday!
Refusing to be confined to our condo for four days, we furiously searched for an activity that we could do despite the foretold relative sleepiness of the city. Enter the Istana! The Istana is the official resident and office of the President of Singapore and opens to the public on five national holidays for an open house. Chinese New Year was the first open house of the year!
After a quick swim at the pool, we hopped on the bus and headed toward Orchard Road to roam the Istana grounds. First, lunch. Coincidentally the first thing we saw when we got off the bus was Fat Boys – a gleaming burger bar touting milkshakes and french fries and USA comforts galore.
We love all sorts of cuisine – we do! But we also like burgers. We actually really like burgers…. And we’ve actually been craving a real, good, down to earth burger for the past few weeks. TT tried one other burger since being here but it was subpar. So in we went to try Fat Boys.
The restaurant is small and funkily decorated. They have a menu or you can opt to build your own burger – picking the bun, the meat, toppings, and the sauce. NUTELLA IS A SAUCE OPTION PPL.
TT chose the Burgatory burger – beef chuck patty, topped with a signature spicy chili queso and juicy jalapenos on a sesame seed bun
While I really was craving a burger, I have been craving a salad even more. Mixed greens are expensive here! And there are literally no salad places unless you’re in the central business district.
I opted for the Southwest BBQ Salad – Iceberg and Romaine lettuce tossed in homemade honey mustard dressing topped with grilled chicken, corn bits, chopped bacon, shredded cheddar, crisp tortilla straws and drizzled with signature BBQ sauce.
This salad had so much potential but was so sad. The chicken was perfect and freshly fried. The romaine and iceberg were the green crunch I was looking for. The corn was fine. And that was about it. There was no bacon. There was no cheddar….and I counted like 5 tortilla strips. How can you serve a salad with only 2/6 of the listed ingredients? HOW?!!
But I endured. I really wanted a salad!!
We were hungry so it was fine. Overall this place was delicious. If they hadn’t forgotten half my salad, I would have been extremely pleased. I’m sure we’ll be back the next time we have a burger craving – I want to try a nutella burger…and a milkshake…
Much better than the clowns down the street –
After eating, we headed a few blocks over to the Istana. Istana is the malay word for palace! It is where the President receives and entertains state guests and is also the working office of the Prime Minister of Singapore. The estate sits on about 106 acres and was built between 1867 and 1869.
When Singapore was a British colony, the Istana housed the British governor. When Singapore became independent in 1959, the grounds transferred over and began housing Singapore officials, becoming the residence of the President.
We passed through security and paid the $2 entrance fee (free for Singapore citizens or permanent residents) and were left to wander the grounds alone. There were tons of people there. The sun was blaring down, it was humid as anything. Kids running through the fields and having a great time while parents trudged behind them trying not to sweat to death.
Also trying not to sweat to death we made our way up the hill to explore the house. On the way we saw a pack of people all crowding in a huddle with phones up trying to take pictures of what was in the center.
We wandered over to see for ourselves but couldn’t get close enough to see more than a video camera seemingly recording someone giving remarks.
About to give up, we started leaving the crowd when a Singaporean couple practically grabbed us to gush that just over there in the pink shawl was their President! President Halimah Yacob was giving an interview on the grounds of the Istana surrounded by crowds of people all counting their luck to be so close to her.
When the interview was over, President Yacob started walking to her next destination and I kid you not there was a MAD RUSH to get there before her. She was completely surrounded and people were RUNNING with their phones out to get in front of her and get a good picture.
Talk about star struck!
We spent the rest of the day exploring the main floor of the Istana and getting lost on the grounds.
Extremely close to literally melting into the grass, we got bubble teas as a treat and took the bus home, very hot and happy we had gotten out of the house.