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Sunset on Sentosa

A couple weeks ago I had one of my busiest and most exhausting days in Singapore to date. It started out with the SAFRA 5k Run around Marina Bay, which was part of a larger running festival that also included a 21k and 10k (which I would have preferred but missed the registration for). With 70,000 reported participants, its the biggest running event in Singapore.

Army dudes running the SAFRA 1/2 Marathon

First of all, I still don’t know exactly what SAFRA stands for (even their “About” page doesn’t spell it out), but I think it has to do with the Singapore Armed Forces, and is perhaps similar to our VFW or Australia’s RSL. This was mostly indicated by the following: 1) about 75% of the runners were wearing Army singlets 2)  the Minister of Defense waved us off – in full running gear (!), which was awesome – at the start line (can you imagine Donald Rumsfeld doing that) 3) dudes in COMMANDO t-shirts and fatigues were handing out cups at the water stations and 4) various battalions seemed to be mustering for photos at the finish line.

Um yeah, I’d say SAFRA has something to do with the Army

With all that in mind, though, I couldn’t believe how many army dudes were walking the race. I still find the concept of compulsory military service to be fascinating, and certainly came across all shapes and sizes during the run (I’m going to assume that some of the more out of shape participants were new recruits?).

Minister of “Defence” Dr. Ng Eng Hen gamely waves us of at the starting line

Anyway, the 5k course was great: it started at the Esplanade Bridge, then swung around Marina Bay (including going right past our apartment — I was tempted to go back to bed), back through the Esplanade and then finished at the Padang. The only issue I had was that the 5k started at 8:30. Now, I know I’ve complained about early-morning races before but I’ll never do it again, because DAMN was it hot. It was also sunnier than usual, which didn’t help things. It was so hot, in fact, that I actually deigned to drink 100Plus, the super-sugary energy drink that everyone here loves that was being given away for free at the finish line (and along the race course). Note how neatly people stacked their empties in the absence of trash cans:

So Singapore. My mom would love it here.

I also just have to include a photo of the random dudes on stilts who were wandering around the start area (in addition to the totally awesome drum line that’s so far been at every race I’ve run). I mean, I’d hate to have to wear one of those outfits in the Singapore heat too, but their seriousness is just hilarious in contrast to their ridiculous get-ups and signs:

How could I possibly give you “a 5” all the way up there?!

Afterwards I headed home for a quick shower and change, since one of our friends had nabbed brunch reservations at Riders Cafe two weeks prior. It’s one of the most ballyhooed brunch places around, and in fact our friend had tried to reserve the previous weekend but was told it was already booked out. I thought it was very good, and the Bukit Timah setting between a golf course and a horseback riding facility (hence the name) was lovely. I’m always a sucker for places in Singapore with ceiling fans, verandas and wide open windows.

As for the menu, it was a bit on the pricey side ($18 for a weak Mimosa), but the food was very good. Was it worth a two-week wait though? Maybe not. The restaurant’s website doesn’t seem to show the menu, so I’ve included it below so you can judge for yourself. Thanks to my friends for letting me photograph their food!

I got French toast with fresh berries and cream. It was pretty awesome:

The hubs got crab salad on brioche. He said it was ok, but a bit too fishy:

This is what’s called “The Usual” (basically a full English breakfast):

From brunch the female portion of our contingent headed to Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa to help a friend celebrate her birthday. It has a bit of a reputation as the “see and be seen” party spot for expats, similar to the pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt or any number of places in South Beach. I only knew it because they held one of the final dinners there during the Top Chef: DC finale that took place in Singapore. If it’s good enough for Padma Lakshmi, it’s good enough for me, but I’m basically a girl who really likes food and doesn’t love showing off my bikini bod, so I was a bit nervous about what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised by what we found. For one, our friends had been able to snag a pool cabana simply by showing up — no reservations or bottle service required. Of course, there were some dubious stains on the cushions, but we covered those right up with our towels. Secondly, the atmosphere felt more like the kiddie pool at Disney World than a too-fabulous fashion show. The pool was filled with kids (apparently Mummy and Daddy dump them in the pool so they can booze all day), and some people even bring their dogs:

I mean, a pool full of screaming (and peeing) kids isn’t exactly conducive to a relaxing Sunday afternoon, particularly when the swimming alternative is the beach, which is nice to look at, but a bit daunting when you see dozens of oil tankers not too far off in the distance. But it did make me feel less self-conscious than I’d anticipated.

Note the oil tankers in the background, a bit off-putting for a swim

All in all, my friends and I had a nice time lounging by the pool, sipping on some cocktails, and enjoying the seaside breezes. I mean, this almost looks like an actual  tropical paradise, right?

As a bonus, the cocktails weren’t as egregiously overpriced as I’d expect for Singapore (I think $16 for a margarita?), and the food menu is pretty rad. It’s hard to go wrong with garlic truffle fries, you know?

Pool Cabanas at Tanjong Beach Club: excellent for people watching

I feel so lucky to live in a place where you can pack so many experiences into one day, and can’t say I ever saw myself living in a place where a semi-typical Sunday included lounging by a palm-strewn beach. I probably wouldn’t go back to TBC (which calls itself “the playground of Asia,” btw) on my own, but for those of you reading this on the increasingly-chilly East Coast, I’ll happily make a return trip if you want to come visit!

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