Taste Stories: real places, real drinks, not-so-real stories.
We recommend sipping on said drink in said places while reading the story.
When he said beach holiday, this wasn't what he meant.
He wanted soft white sand in-between his toes, not wet gravel in his $2 rubber slippers.
"How is this a tropical vacation!?" He vented over his ice kopi.
Pulling her shades down, his sister shot him a raised eyebrow,
"What do you mean? We are in the tropics and on a vacation."
About fifteen thousand rebuttals ran through his mind, but with them all tangled together, he couldn't get a single word out.
So instead he just took an angry gulp of his kopi peng.
Vacation his ass.
They were in a "seaside villa" (as his sister called it) at Changi Beach that has clearly seen better days. It was surrounded by trees, shrubs and mosquitos. He's had high school BBQs in chalets nicer than this.
"Couldn't we have at least gotten a nicer chalet or something?" He grumbled as he swatted at the mosquitoes trying to make lunch out of him.
His sister shrugged nonchalantly, "All booked."
He huffed indignantly and burrowed himself deeper into his seat.
To be honest, he wasn't sure what he was angry about.
The situation? For being so different from his expectations of what his birthday vacation would be?
Or his sister for being able to somehow enjoy the terrible vacation despite how crappy it is?
Or himself, for being an ungrateful asshole who can't let go of his grudge and disappointment no matter how hard he tried?
Just as he was about to think himself into an angry rabbit hole, a pack of biscuits was shoved into his face.
He looked down.
He looked at his sister in bewilderment. Instead of saying anything, she took the coffee out of his hands and replaced it with a bottle of purple liquid.
"All that coffee's making you cranky. Have some Ribena."
Ribena and raisin biscuits...it was a special treat that their overly-strict mom allowed them to snack on only on special occasions, like their birthdays.
Because of its rarity, his domineering sister always stole his share whenever she could. The fights them siblings have gotten into over these biscuits...
He looked at the biscuits in his hand in disbelief.
Just to be sure, he took a bite if the biscuit while staring his sister in the eye. Her jaw tightened as he chewed on the jammy confection, but otherwise said nothing.
Certain that the treat really was his to keep, he finally washed it down with the Ribena.
The two different flavors of grapes tangled in his mouth, forming a key that unlocked the door to his childhood memories.
"I miss mom," he said suddenly, wiping away a stray tear like it was the most natural thing in the world.
His sister took a sip of the kopi peng, their mom's guilty pleasure, and nodded. "Me too."
And that's when he remembered.
The first vacation they ever took with their mom.
At a similar villa at Changi Beach, being regaled with ghost stories by their single mother who couldn't afford more than this when they threw tantrums about their classmates going vacation during the school holidays...
“Did you know September 9 on the Chinese calendar is 重陽節?” His sister mentioned off-handedly.
"That's like some festival to remember your ancestors and stuff right?'
"Something like that."
"...you remember what mom used to say?"
"The sea. She used to say-"
"All kinds of seas are good seas." The two siblings said at the same time.
There was a moment of silence as memories washed over the two of them.
"Okay fine," he finally relented. "Maybe this vacation isn't so bad after all."
His sister let out a tiny smile... and stole a biscuit.
With that, the siblings started squabbling again.
Just like the old times.
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