After our wonderful day at the beach, we alighted from the cable car at the Harbourfront station of the MRT and took the train to Vernie and Dhiviya’s favorite place to get roti prata. Though Vernie had hyped quite a few of the foods she planned for us to try in Singapore, few got the same praise as roti prata, an Indian bread. Much like nan, it's flat, slightly risen dough than you can stuff with any food you like, either for flavoring or for actual heft.
We ordered four kinds: plain, egg, egg and onion, and chicken. The dough of the roti prata was salty but still flavorful, and even the plain could hold its own. My personal preference, though, was the chicken — I thought the texture of the egg didn't fit well. Each was accompanied by a bowl of curry sauce.
Roti prata is a perfect example of a dish that started out as Indian, and is in fact still served there, but has taken on a life of its own in Singapore. It goes by a different name, parantha, in its native region in southern India, and even carries a third name when served in Malaysia. Singapore has truly made this dish part of its own national culinary identity, regardless of where it may have come from.
Vernie also ordered us a plate of mee goreng, a sweet red noodle dish, and two special drinks: a milo dinosaur, which was a cold, more full-bodied version of hot chocolate, and a teh tahrik, a local variety of tea.
From there, we took a taxi to one of Singapore's most vaunted tourist attractions: the night safari. Though one of Vernie's friends had strongly recommended we go, I was very skeptical going in, fearful that it was just going to be a huge tourist trap. The high price of admission didn't reassure me, either. But it ended up being one of the coolest things we experienced during our entire time in Asia.
The night safari is essentially a nocturnal zoo. At most zoos, nocturnal animals are shown indoors, in basically dark cages that are artificially lit at night to switch the animals’ body clocks. As a result, they're awake during the day for visitors. The night safari, on the other hand, shows nocturnal animals in a replica of their natural habit.
The experience began with an animal show in which keepers brought out different animals, including a snake of the longest kind in the world, a few small cats, a raccoon, and one animal I'd never heard of that walked out on a rope suspended over the audience. After the show, we filed onto a tram that took us through the different parts of the safari grounds, from rhinoceroses to lions and deer to pigs. Our tram had a phenomenal tour guide, which really helped, but the surroundings stood for themselves. There were huge animals within feet of our seats as we drove slowly and quietly among the creatures of the night.
After the tram ride, we set out on our own through the walking trails that loop through the safari. We got to see the animals from a new perspective, and we also saw some creatures that they have to keep in enclosures, like bats and flying squirrels. I've never been so close to a sleeping bat in my life. They were enormous!
By the time we left the night safari, it was a few minutes before eleven, and we hadn't been home all day. We managed to get our sleepy selves onto the last MRT train to Vernie's house, and we were asleep shortly after we got home.