I felt revived post-flight from a nice hot shower, so Joanna and I head down to Clark Quai (“key”) for a few drinks and some Singaporean chilli crab. The quai is full of all sorts of bars and restaurants within full view of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, which puts on quite the impressive laser show at night. The area was well populated with Singaporeans and tourists bustling through the riverside shopping and dining areas. For all the action, it’s much more reminiscent of Las Vegas or Epcot Center than a metropolitan city. You could sip an Irish whiskey with your fish and chips at the pub or cross the quai bridge 200 feet and eat some Indian biranyi with a Tiger lager. Seemed a bit bizarre, but I was too interested in this chilli crab to turn up my recently French-ized nose toward Singaporean culture.
We arrive at Jumbo seafood, a popular Singaporean chain, for our 8 pm reservation. After a bit of a snafoo (Joanna is told she made a reservation at Jumbo Riverside and we are at Jumbo Riverwalk, about 500 feet away. Uh, OK.) We are seated and order some beers, chilli crab and steamed bread. We are given bibs and served some salted, shelled peanuts. Crab arrives and we dig in. SO delicious. The crab in shell is cooked in a spicy broth/sauce and is just the right amount of hot. I devour legs and body, obsessed with sucking out every bit of meat. Yum.
We finish our meal and our plates are cleared. Joanna observes that her place setting is covered in crab carcass and spilled sauce, while my side of the table is largely untouched. Another case of you can’t take the New England out of the girl, I surmise. I haven’t met a lobster I couldn’t disassemble in under 60 seconds. Crabs, ain’t no thang.
We decide to have an after-dinner drink at a different bar within the quai area. I casually ask Joanna where it is people “go out” as I’ve heard Singapore has epic night life. She’s not sure. I could swear it was a quai along the river, but I can’t remember if it is this one. Within 30 minutes, I am sure.
We sat outside at one of the less busy bars to enjoy a beer, but soon enough the bar directly across from us fills and a queue forms. The line comprises very young, club-attired patrons. And they are drunk. Then the smoke machine starts. I soon realize I much prefer Parisian cigarette smoke to Singaporean club smoke. I run to the bathroom in between rounds, which is actually a public bathroom used by multiple bars in the complex. I enter a stall to the sounds of vomit hitting toilet water. Perfect. I’m transported to Scorps cerca 2007. Ugh. Homegirl finishes her solid purge and comes out to check on her makeup. Looks ratchet. I feel simultaneously bad for her face and happy that I am not in her position.
Arrive back at our table to see the lines at all the surrounding bars have exploded and the Ke$ha is blaring. It’s 12 am and Joanna and I are ready for bed. Adults, I guess? We head to the taxi line.
En route we see what we can only determined to be a very belligerent Australian man with a wad of Singaporean dollars in his hand being lead out of the quai by four Singaporean police officers. POLICE. SINGAPORE. This is a country that has been described to me as a “benevolent dictatorship” or a “a country that democratically elects its dictators.” You do not want to be a foreigner blacked out in Clarke Quai…just my humble opinion. The man disappears, our taxi line moves forward.
A few seconds later a threesome stumbles up to our place in line – one guy, two girls, all holding hands,and looking like puke is in their imminent future. I avert my eyes, hoping if I pretend they are not there, they will disappear. They do. Our taxi line advances.
A few more seconds later, the eruption we were all anticipating, happens. I missed the actual event, but I turn around to see an impressive splay of vomit covering the next 5 feet in front of me. A completely unconscious 20-something male is lying on the sidewalk next to his masterpiece. His like-stated friends stare in shock and awe for a few moments before dragging his seemingly lifeless body across the pristine Singaporean sidewalk. I think, this must be a cane-able offense. The guy behind me observes the young man must have had Hainanese chicken and rice for dinner. Nice.
We hop over the puke and into a cab. I can’t stop watching this poor gang of drunks. The kid is still completely unconscious and lying on the sidewalk. My brain goes into mom-mode. How will they get home? Does that kid need help? Make sure he’s on his side so he doesn’t breath his puke! Then I force my brain off. This is my vacation. They are not my problem. I will enjoy my chilli crab and my sleep. Good luck and good night.