Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's on TV? (incl. poll results)

My most recent poll was inspired by my need to get my cable/internet figured out and set-up. Results of my question "Which are/would be your favorite channel??" were 3 for Nat Geo WILD, another 3 (or maybe the same 3) like FX. Someone out there enjoys the All Sports Network and we've got another who selected 'other'. I really wish I could put a fill in the blank, but can't figure that one out yet. No one wants BBC News or the Hallmark channel in their list of options. :)

There are two main companies in Singapore from whom to select internet and TV services. Internet service is probably the same, but one has cable and another has internet TV. I wasn't convinced on the internet TV as it seemed to be strictly pay per view, which I can get on my iTunes and actually have current seasons/episodes. So, I went with the cable company. Set it up last Saturday. You get three "themes" to choose from on my basic plan, so I got news (CNN, BBC and several others), education (Discovery, Nat Geo and the other various offshoots) and lastly lifestyle, which gives me FX, E!, Bio Channel, etc.

My internet is also up and running, however I don't get my wireless router until next week (it's free, so I'm willing to wait!). In the meantime, the computer sits next to the TV since the cord isn't very long. Thankfully my Skype headset has a long cord and I can sit on the couch and still talk to everyone.

I also have DVR now! Not having cable back in Peoria, this is new for me (I realize I'm behind the rest of the world). I'm forgetting I have it though. Something comes up and I should just hit pause, but I don't. I still wait for commercials to run to the kitchen/bathroom/wherever. The last couple of days I've made a point to start recording series, movies etc. when I see them advertised during commercials. Slowly getting the hang of it :).

Thankfully, it seems there's A LOT of repeat programming - which means I'm less likely to become a Singaporean couch potato! It's a dangerous line I'm walking, I know :).

Friday, August 28, 2009

My new Apt: The Tour part 1

156 Prince Charles Crescent
#14-19 Tanglin View
Singapore 159015

Welcome to my new home!! That's me on the left behind the iron gate. I'm in the corner with no one on either side, which is nice. Not much noise from above or below either. Have not yet met the neighbors. The gate is nice because on breezy days, I could have it shut but keep my door open to air out the house.

The lovely doves make it so peaceful, no? I've got a doorbell to the left and you are suppose to leave your shoes out on your doorstep (see neighbor's doorway below). I don't really like leaving shoes out though. So usually they come off and then are carried in with me. I went for a walk/run this morning, so I decided to let these air out first before coming inside :).

The standard door lock is a dead bolt and can open with a key or card. Yep, like a hotel, I have a key card that is suppose to lock and unlock my door. I tend to prefer the old fashioned key and use that on a regular basis.

Here is my neighbor's doorway, which looks a bit more authentic. We'll see if mine grows at all :)
Once inside, I've got a little hallway with a giant mirror as one wall. I guess I'm totally vain, but I love big mirrors, so I liked this feature :). Check myself out one more time before heading out the door! The phone on the wall is from the security gate. It's a gated area with security guards out front. Once the visitors are in, they have to buzz me from downstairs to get into the building. It calls my phone and with a tap of a button they are in!

I also receive the local free paper on my doorstep every morning. I have started the habit to get up and read it along with breakfast. It is totally out of character, but I'm trying to be more of a morning person. More to come on this as we discuss my adventures on the buses :).

Have a good weekend!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

And the Winner Is.....

Unfortunately, I couldn't wait for everyone to weigh-in and had only about a day to choose. The poll results were 4 votes for #1 at the Emerald Gardens, 1 vote for #2 Tanglin View and 2 votes for #3 Harbour Lights.

No one cared for #4, however this was my favorite, if only it had an extra bedroom. My bus this morning stopped there and picked a few people up. There are some good-looking expats living there that I'm going to miss out on ;).

#3 Harbour Lights was nice, but the tenants were still living there (but saying they could quickly move out) and they were taking all their furniture with them. Decorating the place from scratch might be fun if I had someone to go with, but finding friends is still on my to-do list ;).

The overwhelming favorite #1 Emerald Garden was too close to work for me. There are so many people all over, all the time, that sometimes I need a breather. Living on top of everything, I didn't think I'd get my breather. I also wanted to make myself get out and have to go places. Living right there, I would be back and forth from the office and don't know that it would be good for my work-life balance. :) Today, while I waited for my bus home out on the street between work and #1, the loud construction drilling, clanging and what-not helped me feel good about my choice!

We are left with #2 who is the winner!! I decided this very shortly after my original post and once the poll results started to come in, I was second guessing myself. But come move-in day, it was great! Ultimately some of the factors included: not claustrophobic, easy transport to work (PwC office and client sites), nice pool area, lots of greenery/trees and suitable furnishings.

The owners came on Saturday to "see" me. They said hi, checked me out and took off, leaving the realtors to finish paperwork, hand over keys, etc. Glad to know I passed the test!

I will begin to introduce the new apartment room by room in the coming posts. There is something unique and different in each one.

Have a great week everyone!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Medical Exam

Today I had to complete my mandatory medical exam before starting work. Here are some observations:

  • No appointment needed - I walked in, got a number and really didn't have to wait. It was like a fast drug testing clinic but they did more than just collect a urine sample. I got a number and there was an actual "ding" that went off as people moved to various stations :).

  • Everyone working there, except the doctor, wore the face masks over their nose and mouth. I thought I understood English spoken with a Singaporean accent - WRONG! I didn't realize how much I needed to see their mouths in order to understand. The lady was trying to tell me to collect my urine sample mid-way through the pee (as in go a little first, then collect, then finish). Took a while to get that one communicated.

  • I was sent to the public bathroom for my urine test. Sorry, maybe I'm a snob here, but I'm use to having an individual bathroom to complete this job. It wasn't a big deal, but took me off-guard.

  • I got called back, "your pee had protein in it, need another sample. drink water and go again." Umm, are you serious?? I just emptied the reserves and now I need to go again?? So I sat and drank.

  • While waiting I get called for my height, weight and eye exam. I stood on the scale, she pushed me back until my head bumped the height arm and then something dropped down on my head, beeped and she said "all done". Fully mechanical scale for weight and height.

  • Saw the doctor, she did the blood pressure, stethoscope, etc. Didn't even ask me about the fact that my history says my mom had a stroke - that is a first! She hears I have to pee again, she's like oh, just drink lots of water and wait out there for half an hour. What!? Seriously? Not in the USA would we just sit in the doctor's office waiting half an hour to pee :) (maybe wait half an hour to be seen). Luckily I passed with the minimal sample I could provide.

  • You're done - leave. No paperwork, billing, nothing. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't have gotten a copy of something to prove that I went.

It's funny the little things that can seem so different.

Side note - should move-in to the apt on Saturday and will have full pics and my final decision up then!

Monday, August 17, 2009

House Hunters International...

Coming to you via special request - a personalized version of House Hunters International. I've only seen the show twice myself, so bear with me...

Today we are visiting Singapore with a single, young professional and are looking for a new apartment! The renter has some "must haves":
1. Near MRT (train) or bus since she has no car
2. Pool
3. Space for visitors :)
4. Safe location

I spent time yesterday and today looking at 14 apartments in 7 buildings, and I have chosen my top four. We will revisit those today before deciding on the final new home! All are within S$100 for monthly rent, so price is not a decision factor. First, please note the places that did not make the list.

Icon - Great location, amenities but small size, only one bedroom or studio.

The Sail - Super new, great amenities (aqua gym!), larger studio with partiton, but surrounded by ongoing construction, so not a lot of development for supermarket, dining options, etc.

The Plaza - Low budget option was very appealing from a pricing perspective but can't compete with the layout, location or updates of the other buildings.

#1 - Emerald Garden
Only a couple blocks from work, but a little farther to the MRT. Pool is in the central area - it's very nice but a little small. However, these units were much more spacious, each having 2 bedrooms and a larger living area. It is an older development, but still very safe. It has good views of the city and is off of Club Street which has a lot of good, trendy restaurants. Apparently a really good pizza place right next door to the property. Follow Club Street a couple blocks and you're into Chinatown. There's a Cold Storage (supermarket having more "European" foods) a block away as well. There is currently construction between the property and my walk to work for the new MRT line that is suppose to start carrying passengers in 2012. Mostly couples and singles live here. The apartment has a nice closet in the master, but none in the guest. The kitchen is a little smaller. Furnishings were nice with a new couch and the morning sun comes into the master. On the 5th floor.

#2 - Tanglin View
Out farther from the city, but not surrounded by other high rises. The MRT is just across a busy highway and another block (there is a pedestrian overpass to cross the highway) and a bus stop is nearby as well. There are trees and green all over the property so it feels less concrete jungle. The pool and club room area look very nice, pool is big. More families here. The apartment itself is nice, a little older. A king bed fits in master, so my queen would be okay. There was a great breeze flowing through the apartment and there's a gate on the front door so you can have your door open too, but the gate locked. That was a nice feature. Again, good closets and even a small storage room off the outside next to the washer and dryer. Included rods to hang and dry clothes as well. The gym was fairly small, but equipment seemed good. The kitchen was a bit older. Shops, supermarkets, etc. are either just past the MRT station or take the bus/train one stop. I had a view of the MRT and even towards the city, 14th floor.

#3 - Harbour Lights
Again, outside the city but down by the harbor. Across the street from Vivo City (Singapore's largest retail destination) which has 2 supermarkets and plenty of other shopping I'm sure. Sentosa Island is also just across the way and apparently you can ride your bike there (doubt that will be me). The bus/MRT stations are just outside the property, less than a block of walking. The pool is a little smaller as is the gym, however both are right outside my front door. The apartment is on the first level looking at the pool (current tennant says not that noisy) and the gym is in the basement level below. The master in the layout also faces the pool, but the current tennant swapped it with the guest for more privacy. Both have big closets. Need to work out the furniture as the tennant owns everything currently there.

#4 - River Place
Closer into the city but only a bus stop nearby. Closest MRT is 0.6km, which I realize isn't that far, but it's hot and humid here! Next to the river with an easy walk across and down to Clarke Quay and Boat Quay where there are lots of restaurants/nightlife. Supermarkets and other shops are also across the river. Even though in town, there's not too much building around it. The apartment is on the 8th floor and has a great view of the river area and downtown. There are nice big windows with a balcony - the only one I saw. Master bedroom faces same direction, but 8 floors up no one's peering in. Only one bedroom (unless I'm remembering wrong), but the bath does have slider to block off the tub for guests. Apartment is quite updated and furnished well. There are lots of closets and the front closets go very deep, which is nice and not common. There is a maze of pools and lots of green landscaping outside. The club house is also very nice with a BBQ pit, game room and home theater. Security is very tight and it was hard for us to even leave!

So there you have it. Which one will it be?? I honestly don't know, there were features of each that I liked. If I gave it away in my descriptions above, please let me know b/c currently I'm a bit torn. I need to let the realator know by morning so that I have a chance of moving in this week. Vote your choice or which one you think I'll pick in the poll.

Poll Results

So I realize I've had these polls but never share the final results. Maybe this will increase participation?? :) Doubtful, but I want to record the responses anyway.

What kind of tree would you be??
1-Palm tree
3-Weeping Willow

Hopefully the weeping willows out there are just flowing, free spirits and not all totally depressed :)

Thanks for voting!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Flight Attendants: Please prepare for take-off

The big day is here! The family minus Kate, which has become more common than she knows (no worries - we love you and miss you!!), started off for O'Hare at 9:10 this morning - only 10 min late!! We had only one small glitch, well maybe more than small, an auger found its way into my trunk :) (anyone who knows my father won't be too surprised by this fact). I'm assuming it was being dropped off somewhere on the way home. We rearranged the luggage accordingly.

I drove, not bad traffic and we unloaded at United. There were some tears, but nothing too much - everyone was very good :).

My premier exec standing with United got me to bypass the long check-in lines at economy and it was very nice. Good thing for all those trips to Asia the last couple years - they've really helped my United status :). Made it through without issue and headed for the Cinnabon nearest my gate. They do not have Cinnabon (that I've found) in Singapore, and I was having one. FYI - it was not health coach approved ;).

Now I'm waiting at the gate, wait listed for an upgrade to business class. I'm #5 in line and they weren't sold out - so it's looking good! Flight is 15 hrs, 23 min to Hong Kong. Then I deplane, wait for an hour or two and re-board to continue on to Singapore - only about 4 hrs left. I'll arrive 11:30pm Sunday night in Singapore.

Thank you to everyone for your well wishes - I will miss you all!! But of course, I'm only a computer away at all times it seems. Everyone should be good except grandma - can't her to get online.

More adventures to come!!! :D

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First time in OK: woo hoo!

It's only been a week and a half since I visited Mark & Nicole in Tulsa, although it seems like much more time has passed. I had never been to OK before, but I've been to TX plenty and figured it should be similar, right? Probably depends who you ask :). I first noticed the big no guns sign as I exited the airport in Tulsa. Yes, I did find it funny even though I was in OK and, yes, I did take a picture of it like a tourist.

Mark and I met about 8 years ago (man - I feel old after calculating that!) during a summer internship and we've been long distance buddies ever since. Although, it is true that he has never been to Peoria to visit me :). I'm hoping to get him and Nicole to come to Singapore. Singapore....Peoria...yeah, I might have to agree with waiting for me to go somewhere good. No offense to everyone still in Peoria - I did live there 6 years myself.

Anyway.....I got to meet the newest addition to the family - Lily, the super cute bulldog puppy. Don't you just love her! She was lots of fun in the kitchen with her toys. And for a puppy who hasn't gone to training yet (she started as soon as I left - coincidence only), she was really well behaved! Some barks, but nothing like Barney last night (dog next door to Party House).

We had a full weekend - comedy center, pool, backyard bbq, brunch and Tulsa suburbs. The comedy guys were pretty good - luckily a guy and two girls at a table did not fit into any of his jokes. He picked on the old, married man and young dating couple. The pool was nice and we saw some actual parenting in action. We had a great cookout. I didn't contribute much except for helping to deplete all the great food! We played games, had some drinks and Lily of course joined in the fun. We wore her out real good.

The next morning we headed for brunch, the best in Tulsa! at the Green Onion. Lily's first day of puppy class was that afternoon, but she was a loner and instead joined the weeknight class. So we had plenty of time to visit the Tulsa/Owasso suburbs. Ummm...I guess they are called ranches in OK. We saw lots of ranches, not much civilization. As we turned around, some local horses came to great us and we stopped to feed them some grass.

Then it was time for me to come back home :(. It was a great weekend though. Plus, on the way home I flew into St. Louis and met up with Brett - another friend from the same internship!! We had dinner and visited before the drive back to P-town.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Let's Pause for a Moment

You may have inferred from my absence the last week or more (I'm not even sure!), it's been pretty busy. But I had to take just a moment now and blog about what just happened.

If you know me or my family, you know we live in somewhat of an organized chaos :). When required, we can tidy things up, but often still have piles here, piles there, a junk drawer or 5 and it can take us a while to find what we're looking for. But amidst the chaos, we almost always find it. Albeit usually too late for its purpose.

Case in point - This afternoon I'm cleaning out my food. No food through customs in Singapore. So, I've got my three piles, what's expired and should be trashed, what's not expired but still sealed and going to the food pantry and lastly, what is open, still seems good and is going to mom & dad :). I finish the food and see my medicine kit (a large hot pink caboodle for you kids from the late 80's/early 90's) because it's also in my kitchen cabinets. So I grab it and a couple of what I assume to be empty baskets. I pull out one.

(Right now you should be thinking to yourself "it wasn't empty and what could have been in there??")

The answer: my Nike+ and my iPod arm band!!!!! !!!!! !!!!! It seems trivial I am sure. However, I have been looking for these bad boys since I came home from Singapore in May. I had planned to start back up on my running with the "couch to 10K in 12 weeks" program but completely gave in when I searched high and low for this and never found it - assuming it was left somewhere in Asia. Clearly, the title including "couch" and fact that I so easily gave up indicate how dedicated a runner I am, but still. And of course now I remember putting them in this safe place. I had new shoes for the Nike+ and haven't used them yet b/c of this!

Okay, that concludes my rant for the afternoon. I'll have to see what other random lost items I turn up in the next couple of days of packing.

Stay cool on this super hot day!!