Friday, October 30, 2009

Food: Part Er

Er = Two in Mandarin

  • Let's start with the passion fruit.  I had never had one or even seen one, but found a new juice ("whispers of summer") that I really like and has it in there.  I came across a 4-pack in the grocery store and decided to buy them.  I had to look online to figure out how to eat them.  They are actually very hard to cut open - I tried several times before success.  You basically eat the fruit around the seeds, so it's a very small amount but strong taste.  I think it's probably best added to juices, jams, sausces, etc.  I tried a few bites - it did leave my kitchen smelling nice :).

                  • A new favorite treat - mini yam buns! Yes - it's purple! and has some sort of filling in it.  From the freezer, pop it in the steamer for 10-15 minutes and ready to eat. 

                  • Lunch from Lau Pa Sat (hawker stands - equivalent to the carts in Peoria but many, many more).  This was chicken and had some spices in it that I needed to be careful with.  I'd get a taste now and then and it would kinda make my mouth go numb - not numb, but tingly like it would go numb.  Weird :)

                  • Lastly, I'll round it out with some western food: Nutella and marshmallow milkshake and a bleu cheese burger with roasted pears.  This is my second time around ordering this.  Very yummy!

                  Thursday, October 29, 2009

                  Happy Halloween!!

                  First, a big shout out to my awesome sister !! :).  It's been a crazy, hectic week at work; so I was so happy to see a bright orange envelope in my mailbox tonight - I knew it had to be from the States.  Sure enough - a Happy Halloween card.  Thanks Kate!  (fyi - mail time appears to be less than 10 days!!)

                  On the topic of holidays, I have seen some evidence of Halloween here.  In fact, for about a month now my neighbors have had their door decorated with Halloween signs.  The grocery stores have the giant bags of candy on sale as well (although on sale is still too expensive for me). 

                  I can't imagine there will be anything for Thanksgiving, but I'm hearing that the country goes all out for Christmas.  Already they have tons of lights, signs and winter displays up around town.  My paper today had on the front page "Your Christmas wishes have arrived..." to open to the Starbucks Christmas ad.  I think I might get by okay without having Thanksgiving considering that we've already started into Christmas. 

                  Regardless, it's hard to believe it's almost November when day after day I have sunny skies, 90 degree temperatures and a range of moderate to very humid.  Sorry for everyone at home who wants to kill me about now ;) - don't get mad, buy a plane ticket!

                  To top it off - the last 3-4 nights there have been Chinese parades in the street in front of my complex.  Complete with long dragons, lit-up trucks/floats and marching drummers.  Lots of celebrations!

                  **Side note - I can set up an email alert for up to 10 people for when I post new blogs.  Anyone interested, let me know.

                  Friday, October 23, 2009

                  Poll Results

                  Which sounds like the most fun for a trip in the region?

                  With 5 total votes, we've got two winners with two votes each:
                  -Indonesia (Bali) - Beaches, dance classes and rice terrace walks
                  -India (Rajasthan) - Palaces, lake, desert, overnight camel safari & tigers(!)

                  There was also one vote for Cambodia (Angkor Wat, Khmer museum, dolphins in the river).

                  Actually, I selected the voting options from all the trips I would like to take while I'm here.  But one that sounds really intriguing is Bhutan (tour through picturesque valleys, trekking and watching some remarkable archery contests).  Maybe because it seems to be the farthest off the map as far tourist travel goes - not sure. 

                  But no travel will be had during my Mandarin classes, 5-6 weeks left!

                  Saturday, October 17, 2009

                  Around the World in a Day

                  Well I woke up in Singapore and went to bed in Singapore, but was all over the place during the day.

                  I had my regular Saturday morning/Friday evening calls with some family members back home (love the Skype!).  My DHL delivery actually came before noon like they said.  Then, I was off to the theater. 

                  I spent a little more than 2 hours headed back to Nanjing, China in 1938 with a war between the Japanese and Chinese.  Nanjing (City of Life and Death) was the capital of China then and was overtaken.  It was a great movie, but I don't know how I could ever support a war going foward.  It was terrible.  It made me feel for all of our troops that have ever been involved in combat.  At parts I cried, covered my eyes or stared in disbelief.  I am so thankful for the peace where I have lived (U.S. and Singapore).

                  I needed to perk up and happened across Mango on my way out of the theater. Only one of my favorite stores from my time in Spain!!  I got a new shirt and, if they'd had the right size, I'd have a new jacket now too.

                  After sidetracking, I continued on my way to Little India.  I have only passed through on a bus previously and with the holiday today (Happy Deepavali!) I thought it might be a good time to be a tourist.  Armed with my new camera and a walking tour, I got off the train at Little India and started walking.  It's funny how you can still be in Singapore but it feels like a different place all together.  The air smelled different with Indian spices, people were walking in the streets and the ethnic Chinese were clearly in the minority.  The streets were lined with decorations and lights and the Hindu temples were full - well the neighborhood mosque happened to be full as well.  It was definitely alive - here are some pics.  I did stumble across the closest thing to Wal-Mart here, Mustafa Center - only browsing and price checking today.

                  The evening was to end with some groceries at a store nearby my apartment (well nearby the bus to my apartment).  Chili's was in the same complex and I decided I could use a margartia - one I could count on to be made to my liking.  I was transported back home.  Hadn't seen so many Americans (heck - even Caucasians), since I arrived.  Sat next to 3 teenage boys celebrating a birthday, which involved the b-day boy getting a face full of mashed potatoes (I think).  Then there were the obnoxious middle-aged men across the way who had a couple of young Asian women join them for dinner and margaritas at the bar.  I don't know what was going on, but I was highly judgemental and assumed the worst.  Let's just say it did not look like long lost pals reunited or husband/wife double date night.  Then I had another American guy to the other side of me, he was all business though - sat after me and was gone before me. 

                  I finished dinner, got my groceries and headed home.  But not before seeing the Singapore take on a "sidewalk sale", I think it might be closer to a garage sale.  I continued on and took the bus home to fall asleep back in Singapore.  I got one more reminder of the diverse place I've moved to when before bed (~10pm) I saw the parade down in the street in front of my condo. In celebration of Deepavali, I presume. 

                  It was a long, good day and I slept well :).

                  Wednesday, October 14, 2009

                  Poll Results

                  I felt the Sumatra earthquake in Singapore. What forces of nature have you experienced? (of any magnitude)

                  The results shake out as follows (no pun intended) based on 5 voters:
                  4 Tornados
                  4 Floods
                  3 Earthquakes
                  2 Hurricanes
                  1 Drought
                  1 Volcano eruption
                  1 Other
                  0 Fires
                  0 Sand storms
                  So I have two questions:
                  1) Who/what is the other?? (Times like these I WISH there were fill in the blanks)
                  2) Who was in the volcano eruption?? When/Where??  All I could think of was the big island of Hawaii or Mt. St. Helen's.
                  Well for all of those reading from the chilly midwest, the weather is still on average 85 degrees here, ranging from very humid to raining.  :)  I'm getting use to sweating everyday and don't know if I'll ever be able to handle the cold weather again! (just kidding, I bet within a year I'm wishing for it).  However, it is nice that I don't require a heater in the bathroom and I can get out of the shower w/o freezing my butt off.
                  Have a great rest of your week!

                  Sunday, October 11, 2009

                  Wheels on the Bus Go Round n' Round

                  (photos courtesy of Singapore Shots)

                  I sorta feel like I'm back in school. Growing up on a farm in the middle of nowhere meant you had to ride the bus until you had the all important driver's license and vehicle. My bus ride could be up to an hour long, I had to get up earlier and often share a seat. Well I'm back at it, but with some changes.
                  There are multiple buses in the morning! Yes, I do have to get up earlier. But there's no honking horn when I'm late and if I miss it, I don't have to go to mom or dad for a ride - I simply wait for the next one. Granted it usually takes at least another 15 min to arrive and I'll be later than expected for my destination. *It only took me 3 weeks to figure out there's a second line I can take to and from work!

                  This bus is not free, but it only runs about US$1.25 round trip, and has air conditioning. The evening bus usually isn't too crowded and I can get a seat.  The mornings however are a crapshoot. Sometimes, I have my own seat, sit peacefully for 10-15 minutes until my stop.  Other times, I am standing, trying to take as little space up as possible and the quick trip turns into 30 minutes.  Those mornings, for every 2 people that get off, 5-10 more get on. Once, the bus driver had to keep telling us to "move back, move back".  Luckily I seem to avoid the crowded buses more times than not.

                  Things about the bus:
                  • Swipe your metro card on the way in and out.
                  • Have a view (so you can make sure you know when you're stop is coming up!)
                  • Beware of front seats as these are usually reserved for elderly and infirm.
                  • If you're stop is coming - press the button!! If not, the driver may whizz by.
                  • On the flip side - if your bus is coming, raise your hand so he stops.
                  • Podcasts are my new best friend for bus rides.
                  • Always hang on! (especially when in heels)
                  I have become painfully aware of how much I appreciate my personal space and exactly how large that space is.  Lugging around my computer bag and purse while carrying my iPod and trying to not fall over with heels, I often feel like I must take up the space of two Singaporeans.  All in all, it's great, cheap transportation and less crowded than the trains at rush hour.

                  Wednesday, October 7, 2009

                  Poll Results

                  My shipment came today! Which item was I most excited to unpack?

                  a) Scale
                  b) Bed
                  c) DVDs
                  d) Elephants
                  e) Fridge deco (magnets, pics, etc.)
                  f) Lap desk for laptop
                  g) None - unpacking, cleaning, putting stuff!
                  h) ALL! I've been waiting for the day these items in particular arrived.

                  This was sort of a trick question.  All of the answers are correct, even g!  The votes broke down as follows:

                   1 vote - Scale; Whoever selected this knows that I think I have been losing weight, but had no way to verify.  Of course the day I am unpacking, I find one in left in one of the cupboards.  Well the scales don't match, but still seem to indicate that I've shed a few pounds or kilos :).

                  3 votes Bed; I did make sure the bed was set up that night and it was a great night's sleep!  This bed is sooo much higher than the one already in the apartment.  Don't know why, but I like that.

                  1 vote - DVDs; The TV lover/couch potato in me was very happy to see these.  Although I have figured out other TV shows to get my fix.  I haven't set up the DVD player yet (thinking of rearranging the entertaniment area) but happy to know I have my movies :).

                  0 votes - Elephants; Of course I was happy to get my elephants - stuffed, framed and fragile.  Nothing broke! I was so happy.  My blue elephant from the Keefe's went right next to the kitchen sink where it was in Peoria.  Made my kitchen feel like home :).  My framed elephant from Thailand, punched out of rice paper made it unscathed.  Shaun - you will be happy to know that it fits perfectly on a wall hanger already in the bedroom and the tinge of green nicely accents the new bedding ;).  Shaun's mom framed it for me and does wonderful work!!!

                  0 votes - Fridge deco; I LOVE having a normal fridge again that attracts magnets! My peoria one was the metal finish, except not magnetized.  So nothing ever went on the fridge.  I was so happy to put up my pictures.  The following individuals have made the refrigerator: Grandma Cribben, Katie, Sean & Sara, Mark & Nicole, the Gilbraiths & one of the Beijing olympic mascots.  Send me your pics and you too may be on the fridge one day! :-D

                  0 votes - Lap desk; What a life saver.  This is one of my favorite Christmas gifts from Santa.  It gets sooo hot with your laptop on your legs and your legs don't have a flat surface for your drink.  Used this on day 1 as well!

                  1 vote - None; Of course whoever selected this one knows I am a completely lazy person who puts cleaning as the last item on the agenda.  So yes, while 100% of my stuff is unpacked, I woul say about half is actually put away.  Of items not put away, I've made no progress since unpacking day.  One day it will happen :).

                  0 votes - ALL; As noted, I loved and hated it all.

                  Here are some pics of moving/unpacking.  I'll wait for the "after" pics once I've actually put it away.