Singapore versus Canada – why I am not thrilled to be back.

Now that I’ve officially resumed my regular Singaporean existence (school, sweating, long MRT rides, more sweating, eating rice and noodles, sweating through my nails), I’ve had a little time to organize my time. And I decided that writing a blog post would be a good use of my time, only because of a recent incident that has stolen all of my attention. I’m supposed to be reading ‘The Paris Lectures’ by Edmund Husserl for my Phenomenology course, but as I am currently unable to suspend any judgment, belief or otherwise, of the following occurrence, doing that reading would be a complete waste of time (and an utter betrayal of Husserl’s philosophy). I’m sorry if that joke was not funny. I wrote that at the insistence of my little friend Floyd:

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Floyd the Canada Goose, playing with my yarn and reading Kierkegaard.

Anyways. Coming back from a wonderful dinner at my godmother’s place, my mum and I bumped into our neighbour. He is a very friendly man in his early 60s, and he’s one of the residents in our building who actually delights in conversing with his neighbours. Most of the others just turn their heads away or stare desperately into their iPhones as if the meaning of life would appear on the top of the screen at any moment. Anyways, this friendly neighbour and I got talking while waiting for the elevator. It went something like this:


Neighbour: Hey! You’re finally back!

Me, surprised he even remembered I was gone: Yeah! Back for good this time.

Neighbour: Are you going back [to Canada]?

Me: Not for a while, but hopefully in the future. I have to complete my studies here first.

Neighbour: Oh that’s good! How was Canada?

Me: Oh it was AMAZING, I really enjoyed myself. It was much less hot, for one…

Neighbour: Ahh but you’ve only seen the surface, haven’t seen what lies beneath all those wonderful things. Once you see all those things…ahhh then you’ll know, Singapore is much better.

Me: Ehhhh…perhaps not, but I wouldn’t say I’ve ONLY seen the surface. Then again, I can’t say I know Canada too well, having only lived there for about 7 months. That’s too short a…

Neighbour: You probably don’t know it well enough. Is it [the economy/political climate/lifestyle] stable?

Me, slightly annoyed: Yes. It’s pretty stable.

Neighbour: But is it as safe as Singapore?

Me, more than slightly annoyed: Oh yes, in fact, it’s even safer than Singapore!

*Me, to myself: Just don’t say anything about the killer rabbit from Monty Python you saw back in Ottawa…*

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At this point we’ve reached our floor and gotten out of the elevator. Walking towards our apartment, I turn around to my mum and say ‘I said that last part on purpose’. I try to be fair and objective as much as possible, I really do, but this time I just could not help it. I was already pretty exhausted that night – being sick and having much of my hair chopped off. Not to mention my incessant longing to return to the country I called home for the last 7 months or so. So I was very surprised that I maintained a fair level of cheeriness when I snapped at my neighbour.

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Missing Canada AND Tembusu College 😦

Since I came back I’ve been talking to people and telling them about my time in Canada. On many occasions, the above questions (or similar) find their way into our conversations. ‘Is Canada safe?’ ‘Do they have CPF?’ ‘Welfare state?!!?!?’ ‘Wait till you actually live there, then you’ll see’ Questions trying to seduce me into declaring Singapore the superior country.

Now, this really rubs me the wrong way. Those of you who know me may know that I am not exactly patriotic, and that I was in fact very glad to be leaving Singapore and very unglad to be back. But this does not mean that I hate Singapore or think that it is an awful country. In any case, I shall not attempt to validate my irrational love-hate relationship with this country in this blog post.

But what my neighbour said rubbed me the wrong way, because he didn’t even seem interested in wanting to know about my time in Canada. All he wanted to do, or at least it seemed that way to me, was try to establish Singapore’s dominance. Wow, we’re such a small, young country, and look, in 50 years we’ve come so far. We’re oh so safe, and the government is doing a fantastic job in ensuring that we’ve all got at least an iron rice bowl, one that most of us can actually dream of galvanizing someday. Yes yes, girl, you are so lucky to be born in sunny Singapore, where it may be hot as an oven but still safe from the grubby hands of adolescent males and shroudy politicians. I hope this trip made you realize how lucky you are to be Singaporean. Because, by GOD, Canada just could not POSSIBLY be as stable and safe as wE ArEEEeeE!

Now look, uncle. I will never deny that Singapore is a stable and safe country. And I will also, no matter how unwillingly, admit that I am more than a little bit lucky to have been born here instead of in a country that faces war on a daily basis. Really glad that my (great)grandparents moved here all those years ago.

But what I am more than a little bit annoyed about is that instead of asking me more about Canada (to, you know, maybe learn something about that country?) he tried to compare Canada to Singapore to show how much better off I was here. As if it was a competition between the two countries. And it is exactly in this respect that I think Canada is way better than Singapore.

Now, when I was in Canada, almost everyone I met (Canadian or otherwise) would be interested to hear about Singapore. And almost all of those people asked me about Singapore: where exactly it was located (not China? phew), how big it was, what languages were spoken, if it snowed or not, what kinds of food we ate, what Singaporean literature was like, what people did for fun, who our leaders are, what our political system was like etc. Rarely (if not never) did I have someone ask ‘oh but is it as safe/stable/forward-looking as Canada is?’ or anything milder to that effect. Sure, I was asked about certain policies (we ALL know which gum that is…) and why the death penalty was still a thing, but they asked to comprehend rather than to simply compare and rank. And, at least they were interested in details, not like our friend(s) here.

Now, as I said to my neighbour, I don’t know Canada well enough. That I shall give him. But having lived there for 7 months instead of none, like my neighbour has, I think I know at least a tiny, microscopic bit more about living in Canada than he does. And if he had just asked me about that, instead of trying to toot Singapore’s horn, I would have been able to be a little more fair and objective. If anyone is interested to know, I think Ottawa (I can’t speak for all of Canada because it is HUGE) is extremely safe. I would regularly walk home at around 1am and I’d never experienced anything even remotely threatening. A nice elderly man even waited at a bus stop with me one midnight till my bus came ‘because you can’t trust them teenage boys’, and this was in a residential area. Plus, OC Transpo (the equivalent of SBS Transit) has a policy that allows you to get off the bus at a safe location after 7pm at night, if the bus stops are too far away form your destination. That way, you can literally be dropped off right at your doorstep. Perhaps the most threatening thing that happened was a guy, obviously high on weed, trying to kiss me on Canada Day, but hey, I’ve experienced MUCH worse in Zouk, and I couldn’t even shove the guy away because there was no space. I shoved that stoned kid away, fist to face, and he didn’t bother me again.

But I digress. I was peeved because competition seems to be all that matters to people here. And we must always, of course, being numero uno. Secondly, that friendly uncle invalidated all my Canadian experiences with two questions. I wasn’t the one committing the fallacy, but it hurt me as if I was. And third, I liked this neighbour because I thought he was different (by virtue of him being the kind of person to talk to other people rather than ignore them) and it kind of hurt me to harbour such annoyedness towards him. I’ve gotten over it now, but the thought of it still haunts me.

My fair and objective side is recovering, so I shall say this. No, Canada is not better than Singapore. But neither is Singapore better than Canada. In any case, I think it is a little premature for me to be placing any judgment, having only lived in Canada for 7 months. (Although…OC Transpo, that whole thing where buses cease their service earlier on weekends than on weeknights really baffles me. People like to live it up on the weekends!) Both countries have their merits and flaws, and there are certain attitudes (yes, attitudes) that draw me towards Canada rather than Singapore. A country is more than just its material status; it’s about the people – the mindsets, the behaviours, the attitudes. And I find myself better aligned with the Canadians on that last bit.

And I think 7 months would be somewhat sufficient, if not to discover to intricate workings of their sociopolitical system, to find out what the people are like at least.

P.S This is how their Parliament building looks like:

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To whom it may concern,

It has been a while. A whole long while. Many things have happened, and as many have not. I just haven’t found the words to describe said things.

I have to remind myself that words, unlike wine, do not always grow finer with age. In fact, they tend to get swept off the edge of my memory horizon to make room for more important things, like calculating exchange rates and learning the scientific names of seashells. And perhaps learning how to code too, since I’m doing that.

Hence this post. I will be delightfully vague in this one, just because. And I do feel obliged to post about my travels and adventures, so I will, but when I feel like it. But before I slip into vagueness, here is what I’ve been up to, in point form.

  1. Registered in a programming course and working on a project. Trying to figure out how to create an app for a certain crafty idea of mine.
  2. Volunteered at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, Jazz Festival, Cat Festival; currently volunteering at the Central Experimental Farm pulling out weeds and sawing off dead branches; will be volunteering at Bluesfest and maybe even more festivals. It is festival season here, as you might have noticed. Why all this volunteering? Free T-shirts. And access to concerts. And you know, expanding my network. Yes.
  3. Crocheting yarn kitties to raise funds for homeless kitties. And crocheting things in general.
  4. Re-watching Futurama and crying like a baby every 4 episodes.
  5. Sleeping

And I guess I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and self re-re-re-evaluation as well. This last month has, to put it bluntly, not been the best. Lost baggage, deferred flights, work permit still MIA, joblessness, schoolessness, loneliness…and not to mention a fuckton of uncertainty…it’s like Satan took the wheel while the Great Being tried to scratch a persistent back itch. In any case, it feels like I haven’t been in control of my life either way.

Some things have happened that have made me question myself and my approach to life. Now what’s so special about that? Nothing, really. You can’t really say you’ve lived unless you’re forced to stay up till 5am contemplating your identity and whether or not you should text that jerk back.

But through it all, I have learnt (at least) one thing. My intuition is razor sharp.

I am a soft-hearted person, and sometimes I take the life-chewing-you-up-&-spitting-you-back-out routine a little harder than others. But I shall persist, as I always have, even when I don’t feel like it. I still believe in the best that is yet to be (ha). I still hope for the best and work towards it. I still hide my sorrow, which is not always a good thing. Hiding emotions is not gonna help anyone, kids, unless ‘murderous’ is an emotion. Thank goodness it’s not.

I have to work on letting my emotions show, and I have to work on trusting people. My problem is I either don’t trust someone, or I trust them too much that when they let me down, I’m devastated. I have to work to take down that wall I built around my heart 12 years ago, because as much as it has protected me, it has kept out a lot of necessary evils as well. Evils that would have fortified my heart instead of weakening it now by throwing stones over that heart-wall.

I have so much to work on, but I finally have faith in me. Even when I feel like I don’t. And that is a good thing. I think. I won’t let me put myself down. I’m thinking less about what I’d do differently if I could go back in time, and more about what I should do at present. I guess it’s easier to do so when you feel less in control of your life, and hence your preceding life events. At least one good thing came out of that.

So, perhaps this is addressed to YOU, Priya. But it doesn’t matter who, as long as you are concerned with being you.

P.S: Forgive yourself. You didn’t mean to hurt you. And forgive those who have hurt you, for non-forgiveness only weakens your will.

Just Kidding

Ah, March. The month where I am acutely aware of my apparent adulthood and experience the most existential crises in the year. In yet another desperate attempt to prove to myself that I am in fact in my twenties, I’ve been trying to do what I think people in their twenties usually do. Like going to cafés and art galleries, talking to strangers, taking walks in snow-covered parks, watching romance movies alone in small theatres, going grocery shopping and buying only what I need, taking 3 hour naps at 2pm and waking up to watch the sun set, sipping wine alone in my room when I’m bored and it’s too cold to wander outside. You know, that sort of thing.

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Found this gem at one of the cafés I frequent. My roommate thought it was a children’s book. Technically, she’s right.

Oh oh I just made a joke. Wanna hear? Too bad, now you have to. So I’m drinking a glass of red wine (a primitivo, if that means anything to any of you), and I notice that it smells a bit like white wine. So I go, and really this was in total innocence, ‘Why do you smell white?’ And then I reply ‘Oh my god Priya, you can’t just ask her why she smells white!’ HAHAHAHAHAhahaha! Mean Girls anyone? Anyone???

Yeah. I’m livin’ that twennies life alright.

Of said red wine, I could not for the life of me open it. It was not even the corkscrew type, just a regular coke bottle type of cap. I used every last sinew, but it wouldn’t budge. (Might have had something to do with hand lotion, which I now HAVE to wear all the time because I have scaly skin in the webs between my fingers and it friggin cracks and bleeds.) I resorted to violence and tried sawing the cap with the blades of my scissors, but the only victim was my scissors. I even tried using a knife but then remembered it’s fallen comrade and decided to stop. And then I remembered a Science lesson I had when I was 10 that taught me a golden rule. It was this: metals expand when heated and contract when cooled. Added some hot water to the equation and kraaack! went the bottle cap.

This was not the first time I had to apply the golden rule. The first time was when I was making pasta, another one of those cute things to do when you’re in your twenties. I could not open the jar of pasta sauce even though it had been opened before. I swear I almost dislocated my fingers. And then I noticed my pasta was boiling, so I positioned the jar of sauce on top of my boiling pasta to let the steam loosen it up, and 10 seconds later the the jar yielded to the power of science.

I’m just so happy to actually be using something that I learnt in school. Doesn’t happen too often. I sometimes wish that the little geek in me would come back and take over my wandering mind. It feels like I am trapped in a dark forest and I can’t even see the stars above because the trees’ canopies are too dense. I want little me to hold my hand and guide me back to where I shone. Oh I was so intrigued by everything I learnt. It made me a keen observer of the world around me, and made me realise I was not at its centre.

But anyways, I’ve been thinking about adulthood a lot lately, and I think that despite all my misadventures and ever-growing collection of soft toys, I’m not quite as kiddy as I believed I was. I mean, coming halfway across the world and doing my thing must count for something right? Considering I’m still alive and mostly well & happy, it should. I still hold on to parts of my self which are not totally adult yet. And sometimes it does me more harm than good. But for the most part, it has kept my sense of wonder alive. Yeah I still think I’m a child, but I am an adult when I need to be. I’ve had my fair share of events that required adulting and I think I’ve handled most of them pretty well. But of course there is a part of me that wishes that I could retreat into the protective arms of childhood and be shielded from the big scary mystery that is life.

Also I don’t really hate kids anymore. Not that I like them and want to have a truckload of them either, but I don’t feel like my heart is being stomped on each time I catch a whiff of them. Canadian kids are hard to hate.

So the theme of this post is kids. Well, mostly childhood, but ‘just childhooding around’ doesn’t sound too catchy now does it? I don’t really know what else I have to say, but I guess that the most interesting thing I have learnt about myself from this exchange programme so far (halfway through btw!) is that I got this. At least till I have to start paying bills.

Next post will be on my travels, I promise. I ain’t crying wolf this time. Even Marco Polo would be impressed.

Priya out.

A confused person’s rant

After close to 3 years of my education in Philosophy, here is what I have to say

Only I can’t say it, not really. So I will tell you a story. It involves a swimming pool.

I am an able swimmer. This is true independent of this story. I don’t swim particularly quickly, unless we’re talking about the breast stroke. In which case I am the boss.

So this is the story. I decide to go swimming one day. Upon reaching the edge of the pool, I stare down into the water. It looks a safe depth, not shallow enough for me to hit the ground if I dived, nor too deep that I would lose my bearing. So I take a few steps back, do a little run, and then plunge.

Only for some reason I am carrying around my waist a set of tools. Screwdrivers, spanners, wrenches, a compass, protractors, rulers, crochet hooks, knitting needles, scissors, pencils, staplers. Tools that I’ve acquired from dabbling in fleeting interests. And they are still very much attached to my body when I dive into the pool.

I dive in, and realize that the pool was much deeper than it seemed. I am falling, waiting to hit the floor, but it never comes. And my tools make me sink deeper but I am not deep enough. So I begin to discard the tools. I ditch every last one of them, and slowly like a buoy I begin to rise. I cannot swim, for my light body rises faster than I can even try to swim.

Soon I am at the surface again, full of air, unable to swim, unable to sink. If I could at least swim I would be able to reach some sort of end. I know that floating would get me nowhere, but I remember the awful feeling of sinking and I can’t decide which is worse. So I stay afloat, and I never move from that spot. I am full of air, I am without my tools, I am afloat but I am stuck.

And my tools are not to blame. Nor is the pool itself. I know it is me, for choosing not to learn to swim. I still love swimming, and I know I do it well. But in that moment I realized I didn’t know how. And was too afraid to try.

What have I done to myself?

Slam Slam Slammin on Heaven’s Door

You have to believe me when I say that I haven’t been blogging that much because I’ve been too busy being out there, livin’ it up. I went to Quebec City and Toronto, I went for a Noodlefest, I’ve been frolicking in the snow, I’ve been trying to figure out what cute guy’s name is (and I have), I’ve taken several walks in several parks, I’ve been crocheting like crazy (I now have more than 12 crocheted wearables) and doing my assignments, I’ve been catching up on TV shows on Netflix, I’ve been yadda yadda yadda.

[The real reason is that I am a tad too critical of my writing and if I feel it doesn’t do justice to what I’d experienced, then I a) take a month to make it perfect or b) don’t write at all. Yeesh.]

But now I’ve gone and finally done what I’d been hoping to do since I got here – attend a poetry slam. And here’s what happened:

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You best believe it. My collective 6 months or so of watching people perform their poetry and writing my own poems about abandonment and love have culminated in this very moment – my judgeship at my very first Canadian poetry slam held at Oh So Good! cafe in Westboro, an artsy neighborhood reminiscent of Bali Lane in Singapore. An undeserved honour bestowed upon me. Ma, please don’t take THIS badge off of me, I worked hard to be able to use it.

[But really, it was because there weren’t enough people that night so almost all members of the audience had to be judges.]

I told Khaleefa, the host and sacrificial poet for the night, that I hadn’t had much experience being a judge of a poetry slam. Heck, I only ever watched people perform. But I take my slams seriously, okay? I didn’t want to be the Simon Cowell of poetry slams. But I also I didn’t want to be giving too high a score when the other judges were not, because then my score wouldn’t be taken seriously. Knowing me though, as I think most of you do, you probably could guess what kinda scores I ended up giving.

For those who don’t know, imagine a puppy bouncing up and down with joy every time she saw her owner come home from work. But I had good reason to.

Now I used to be a frequent slammie couple years ago when I was still staying on campus. I’d go for one of these every month, and sometimes twice a month. I loved going for slams with my friends, and I wonder what I’d been doing all my life before that. (Thank you Fathin for bringing me out of that slam-less hole).

These slams I went to in Singapore were great fun, and though I never dared to read any of my poems, there were some talented poets (like my friend Zack and a few others) who wrote and performed really powerful and entertaining pieces and others who were getting there. And then there were some who *ahem* recited the same poem on 3 separate occasions about a particularly vile ex-girlfriend who was blamed for the failure of their relationship yet remained in the heart of the poet for some reason. Mm. I guess poetry seethes as much as it soothes.

But anyways, I’ve seen really good poets and some not so good ones, and I’d like to think I have pretty good judgment of these things. So when I got my judge game on last Friday I was prepared to dole out some serious fairness. And in all fairness, every. single. poet. I heard that night blew me away. I regret not taking more photos or a recording.

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Look at that gladiator circle. How romantic.

These poets packed each of their lines with punches that never missed. There were poems on love (of course), war and peace. Poems about words and the need to speak. Poems on injustice and hatred amongst man. Poems about first dates and last goodbyes. And each one of them was delivered with utmost sincerity and faith to its subject. It felt like I had paid $7 that night to watch a play on Broadway. And I hate how I’m not doing any justice to the atmosphere of solidarity and wordtistry that was thick enough to insulate me from the cold February winds.

I couldn’t give anyone anything below a 9.0. It’s kinda hard to do so when the sacrificial poet comes on and tugs on each of your heartstrings, making them even more vulnerable. If poetry was acupuncture, all my points were perfectly pressed. My personal fave was a poem by the young man in the picture above, who told about poetry and how it belonged to every single human being. He urged us to write, to let the words be free – from our minds, from our fear, from shame. Perfect advice for someone who frets over every word and refuses to write unless it will be perfect.

So I went to poetry heaven and I wish I didn’t have to come back, because walking alone through a long, dark alley at 11pm at night to reach the bus stop still gives me the creeps. But also because I think it was the best night I’ve had since coming to Canada. I’ve had some guilt over not doing things that people normally do on exchange, but that night made me realize that it’s not about following some sort of itinerary, nor checking off places and events. It’s about finding your own interests and doing what you think sounds cool. And it’s okay not to have everything perfectly planned. It’s okay not to be doing things you thought you had to. It’s okay if you’re not having that ‘perfect experience’. It’s up to you to make your experience, it’s your time to be free – from your insecurities, your fear, your shame.

So yeah. I am gonna end like this because it sounds cool to me.

Priya

Ottawa Noodlefest Sip n’ Slurp 2015!

No, this wasn’t some kind of kinky kinkfest, as its name might suggest. Noodle vendors from different parts of Ottawa (and I believe some even from Gatineau) set up shop at the Ottawa Convention Centre for the second annual Noodlefest organized by Privé. Sometimes a girl just needs a night to herself and to maybe devour 5 bowls of noodles in 2 hours, so I decided to go to the Noodlefest alone. Also, Anni was busy studying for her midterms and reading the 100,000 books she has to read for class, so unfortunately she couldn’t join me. But I needed some time alone anyways.

The Ottawa Convention Centre is basically the Suntec of Ottawa – only much smaller and spherical. It looked like a smooth, glassy, baby Esplanade. Aren’t I good at imagery? This only happens when my noodle is being powered by noodles.

The event was held in a large hall on the third floor. There was even a bar set up outside that I didn’t want to sit at because everyone there was with someone else. I mean coming stark alone to this disguised date fest was one thing – drinking alone would have been a tad too pathetic. I was hoping to find cute guy there and start a licentious affair with him based on our shared culinary interests, but no dice. One thing I absolutely love about white people is that a lot of them start turning red when they drink and you can tell how much they’ve had by the shade of their cheeks. One pink-cheeked fella came up to me and told me he inhaled his noodles and I said ‘that’s totally fine’ and he was like ‘not so fine for me actually’ and laughed and walked off. Gotta love them white fellas. They’re so fun.

Back to noodles. There were about 15 or so vendors in the hall, and for the second time in Ottawa, I saw people queueing like Singaporeans. The first time was when free beavertails were given out in school and the line was at least two hundred people long. Anyways, there was quite an interesting variety of noodles at the fest – ramen, laksa!!!, pho, glass noodles, peruvian noodles, udon, soba, hor fun (they spelt it ‘ho fun’…very fun indeed), vermicelli/bee hoon, thick korean noodles (I think it’s called deokbokki), longevity noodles etc. There was also a donut hole stand which, ironically, had the longest queue the entire time. Second longest line award goes to Mr Churritos. I wonder why so many people would pay $10 to attend a noodlefest and end up eating non-noodley things. But hey, food is food I guess. And churros might just be really fat, cinnamon-dusted, fried noodles. It just depends on how you look at it.

I had 5 bowls of noodles and some bubble tea. You thought I made up that whole devouring 5 bowls of noodles thing? Yeah, I wasn’t. Granted, they weren’t so big, but size doesn’t matter. EVER. It’s been a while since I had such a wide variety of noodles to choose from. Here are the dishes I had:

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Longevity noodles by Angry Dragonz

Why this dish: I dunno, I think I felt a little bummed about missing Chinese New Year and Yu Sheng and I also want to live long and healthy so. Also, Angry Dragonz? Hell yeah!

Composition: Longevity noodles, pressure-cooked beef brisket (sorry mum & dad), spring onions, potato, fried shallots, either chicken or beef broth. + ‘super spicy’ chilli which I requested and the lady at the counter excitedly obliged. Bet she’d been expecting another ‘could you make it less spicy?’ It wasn’t super spicy but it did give me that kick I’d been longing for.

Taste: Without the chilli, it was admittedly pretty bland. The soup was refreshing and salty but not MSG salty. The noodles had no particular taste. The beef was good but not something I’d wish to have again. But when I added the chilli it was like having a whole new dish. It brought out the mild tanginess of the soup and made the beef taste almost like my mother’s curry mutton! On the whole it was good, but to me it just resembled a slightly tangier mee soto.

Presentation: Just your typical noodle cup.

Overall Slurp rating: 3.78/5

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Pork belly with salad and rice vermicelli by Wei’s Noodle House 

Why this dish: Pork belly. Nuff said.

Composition: Barbecued pork belly, rice vermicelli, cucumber, carrots, leafy veggies (including mint and basil), crushed peanuts. Sauces chosen by me – chilli sauce and home-brewed onion soy.

Taste: ZING! The pork tasted like slightly sweet thick bacon, but tender and juicy. In other words, I wish I could’ve had a whole bowl of it. The rice vermicelli went really well with the onion soy sauce, which was slightly less salty than normal soy sauce and also a bit sweeter. Veggies were…veggies, but I love them so and they made me feel slightly cleaner.

Presentation: Very colourful. Very symmetrical. Very yummy.

Overall Slurp rating: 4.85/5

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Lomo Saltado by Petit Perú

Why this dish: I’ve never tried Peruvian cuisine before, and it’s not like there are 20 Peruvian restaurants nearby for me to visit on the weekends. There was also a really smiley counter girl who made me feel less awkward being there alone.

Composition: Beef strips (well, I already had that beef brisket so…sorry anyways parents), onions, soy sauce, tomatoes, vinegar, stir fried yellow noodles (which were a bit like wonton noodles but way less bitter and yellow). + hot sauce which was not really that hot but was strangely addictive. It tasted like mildly spicy tomato chutney.

Taste: I think this one was the clear winner. It exceeded my expectations by 2000000%. I have never tasted any noodle dish quite like the Lomo Saltado before. The most accurate and only way to describe it would be this: a pizza in noodle form. And anything that tastes like pizza wins. You could really taste the enhancing effect of the red onions. And the meat was so tender and soft it could easily have been used in a shepherd’s pie.

Presentation: Okay, but who cares when you have pizza noodles?!

Overall Slurp rating: 4.999999/5 (there was one too many onion slices and my whole mouth still reeks of onions)

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Prawn Laksa by Jonathan Korecki

Why this dish: LAKSA. Anything that bears the name ‘laksa’ needs my Singaporean Stamp of Approval. I was doing it purely out of duty for my country. (And also I might just be missing laksa a bit.)

Composition: Prawns, thinner yellowish laksa noodles, coconut milk, spicy prawn paste, milk, some kind of chilli that is a very mild form of laksa chilli. No cockles or fishcakes 😦

Taste: Not laksa. Very nice, but not laksa. It was more like a milky french onion soup with prawns and noodles. A very delectable dish, could have used a sprig of lemongrass, but DEFINITELY NOT LAKSA.

Presentation: It looks nothing like laksa. I initially thought it was some kind of frothy french onion soup before I saw the sign that said ‘Prawn Laksa’. But it’s cute. I like the sprig of whatever veggie that is just hanging out on the side, doing it’s thang.

Overall Slurp rating: 4.32/5 (Because my feelings were betrayed. If they’d called it ‘Prawn French Onion’ soup I’d have given it a 4.83)

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Lobster Boat by Miso Japanese

Why this dish: I was already bursting by now but I insisted on having something Japanese to end my wonderful noodle fiesta. I’d initially planned to get the pork belly ramen but heard someone behind me telling their friend that the soup was less than desirable. So I got this instead. Not in picture: milk bubble tea. Tasted like Gong Cha milk tea around 25% syrup level, but more milky. Pearls were starchy, as usual.

Composition: Udon, ramen, carrots, scallop, lobster and crab slices, topped with creamy lobster-fied Japanese mayo, fish roe (tobiko) and sesame seeds.

Taste: Imagine lobster bisque, but with noodles. Really rich lobster-infused mayo that I think I would have appreciated if this was not my fifth dish. The crunchy tobiko and sesame seeds added a crisp touch to an otherwise slippery dish. Lobster was sweetish, and the mix of udon and ramen gave the dish a really nice texture. Each mouthful was a new experience.

Presentation: Cuuuuuuute. Though for some reason I kind of expected it to have half a lobster shell on top and be called ‘Dragon Boat’. A food coma started kicking in so I didn’t really pay much attention to how it looked.

Overall Slurp rating: 4.57/5 (a little too much mayo, I’m not a huge fan of it, but otherwise, extremely delectable!)

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There you go! I was proud of myself for going for this despite feeling lethargic and having a midterm to study for next week. It’s nice to be back in Ottawa and doing stuff again. I should prolly make posts about my Quebec and Toronto trips. After mids, that is. In the meantime, y’all should go have some noodles and tell me about it.

Slurpfully yours,

Priya