Macula Society in Singapore

I was fortunate to be accepted into the Macula Society this year which held its annual meeting in Singapore for its 40th anniversary. Although Melody could not join me, I was excited to experience the city’s unique blend of cultures and cuisines, with many similarities to Hong Kong from British colonial influence. I departed Monday afternoon and slept through 12 of the 15-hour flight from SFO thanks to my recent sleep deprivation. Since my room was not yet ready, I found an ATM and some laksa at a nearby food court for breakfast, then made my way to the Jurong Bird Park. After a morning of avian photography and high-flying bird shows, I checked into the hotel, then lunched at Chatterbox for their famed chicken rice before attending the meeting’s first session. Our lavish welcome dinner took place at the hotel’s Line buffet, which left me uncomfortably stuffed before bedtime. Next day, I felt like a kid in a candy store at Food Republic, but only had room for chicken rice and tea rice. I walked off my lunch with a visit to the Raffles Hotel and Merlion Park, navigating the vast underground malls and sipping milk tea until I reached Chinatown. Here, I checked out the Thian Hock Keng and Buddha Tooth Relic temples, took an audioguide tour at the Chinatown Heritage Center, and shopped for Chinese imports at Yue Hwa. The long day left me less social at the New Member reception, but I redeemed myself at dinner with my mentors by breaking out the Cantonese and ordering a spread of seafood ranging from giant prawns to chili crab. On Friday, I awoke in time to receive my travel grant, then went to sample the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal at Liao Fan Hawker Chan. From there, I hopped on the clean, efficient subway to the Gardens by the Bay, where I endured the summer heat to peruse the impressive horticultural display before joining the evening gala in the Flower Dome. My basic science talk was relegated to the last morning of the conference, but I was happy with the positive feedback. With the meeting’s conclusion, we celebrated our fellow’s award over dim sum, then headed to the Singapore Zoo. Despite the intermittent rain, we appreciated the unique fauna like giant fruit bats and pygmy hippos. Having purchased tickets in advance, I stayed to visit the Night Safari also, completing my comprehensive yet exhausting wildlife tour. I spent my last day back in the city to round out my culinary adventures, starting with kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs with milk tea for breakfast in Kampong Glam. From the Sultan Mosque, I made my way to Tai Hwa Pork Noodle for my second Michelin-starred hawker meal. The two-hour wait got me behind schedule, so I skipped my laksa stop for delicious, aromatic bak kut teh. I returned to the hotel to pack my stash of Prima Taste packets from the Mustafa Center, then joined my friend Yvette for a light dinner followed by drinks at Ce La Vi atop the Marina Bay Sands. Our view of the city from above on this last night was breathtaking, and I was left with fond memories of this jewel of a city.

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