Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lunch at The Jade Garden Corner in Sungai Rengit Malaysia

We landed at SIN at 12:30 a.m. local time and immediately walked over to the Transit Hotel with a couple of other FlyerTalkers, arranging to meet at 7:45 a.m. After a comfortable sleep we met them, proceeded through Immigration (a longer wait than we would have liked around 8:00 a.m.) and grabbed a cab together to the Conrad.

After dropping off our luggage in the Executive Lounge, the four of us shared another cab to another hotel to meet the group of FlyerTalkers going to Malaysia. A couple of subway rides, a bum boat trip, and another taxi ride later, 19 of us were seated at two tables in the Jade Garden Seafood Corner at Jalan Hee Seng at Sungai Rengit of Johor, Malaysia. During our cab ride we spotted people in traditional Malay outfits and also a group of monkeys frolicking (monkey business?) along the side of the road.

This is one of four neighboring fishing villages (according to our friendly taxi driver), and Singaporeans visit on weekends to eat good food at a cheap price. The Wikipedia entry describes Sungai Rengit as "essentially a collection of fishing villages...very popular with seafood lovers."

The Jade Garden is a Chinese restaurant and the food was delicious.

It wasn't difficult to figure out we were in a largely Muslim country...

But with seafood this fresh, who needs pork anyway?

Kathy spotted an older woman cleaning birds' nests to convert them into ingredients. As described here, "The preparation of unclean bird’s nests can be a very tedious task. First you need to soak them for at least a day. It will expand, loosening most impurities to float to the top. Wash the nests under running water and repeat the process if necessary until nothing comes loose by itself anymore. The remaining stubborn impurities stuck in the nests will have to be patiently hand picked using a pair of tweezers aided by a pair of sharp eyes, which explains why, despite the price difference, very few people would go for the unclean nests." Obviously, labor isn't that expensive in this locale, because that's exactly what the woman was doing...

On the way back to the dock, the taxi driver pointed out a pillbox built many decades ago. Our research indicates it was built by the British (scroll down to "British Pillboxes") to defend against the Japanese, although we've seen mention of Japanese pillboxes in Malaysia as well. Our driver's English was enthusiastic but not fluent, for which he frequently apologized, so we didn't clarify that detail with him.

We also saw rubber trees with taps in them to harvest the latex.

And then we were back at the dock to board our bum boats for the return ride to Singapore. In the course of this lunch trip we had to formally exit Singapore, formally enter Malaysia, formally exit Malaysia, and formally re-enter Singapore, explaining why Kathy has to make a quick trip to the Seattle Passport Office to have pages added to her passport.

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