Saturday, November 21, 2009

Poll Results

What type of food would you like to try in Singapore when you come visit me ;)? (choose all that apply)

This week there were five very hungry voters :). 
3 want Chilli crab (whole crab in a chilli sauce - there are also other types of sauces to choose)

2 want Fishball soup (like meatballs, but fish)
3 want McDonald's delivery
4 want Local fruits (durian? or maybe something less exotic)
4 want Another cuisine of the region (Indian, Japanese, Korean, etc.)
4 want General rice and/or noodle dishes

All of these can easily be accomplished.  I can say I've tried all but McDonald's delivery; although I have indulged in KFC delivery on a few different occasions.  I hadn't had KFC back in the States for a very long time - but it sure is good!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Ups and Downs of the Week

What a're in for a long post today.  So you might want to grab your hot cocoa and snuggly blanket and settle in. 

Monday and Tuesday - This will be short because I can barely remember that long ago :).   

Wednesday - Wednesday is "time out" day at work. Official work hours are 8:30 to 5:30, so on Wednesday's you're suppost to leave at 5:30.  Every other day we should also leave at 5:30, but no one does.  Even on Wednesdays no one does.  So I left the office a little late, but needed to go get a passport photo for my Chinese visa application that I was turning in on Thursday morning.  I headed up the street (3 bus stops) to Tanglin Mall where I thought I remembered a passport photo machine.  The machine was not where I thought it would be; turned out no machine but a Kodak photo express lab (!) and got my pic taken there. I had 10 min and headed to the DIY store, literally named DIY for do-it-yourself and is a mini Ace Hardware. I wandered knowing there was something I needed.  Indeed - I left with a toilet brush, shower liner and sticky tack for posters.  The shower line was a clear, standard liner.  How much?? Guess. But it was the cheapest of other options and what I wanted and hadn't found elsewhere, so it was bought.

Pics are done, let's go home! Oh! Almost forgot that I got stuck in a snow storm!! :)

Yep - bubbles! :) Singapore's very own version of the snow storm.  It was really cute all the little kids running around in it and getting their pictures taken.  Not too far away is the portable faucet so everyone can wash the suds away. They go all out for Christmas here. I think the stores have been playing Christmas music (all familiar tunes of what we hear in the US) for the last 3 weeks at least.  The streets, trees, etc. are all lit up at night.  Here's a pic from when I passed by this same spot one night on the bus.

I updated my blog for the evening and went to bed.

Thursday - First agenda point for the day was to get my visa application accepted at the Chinese Embassy.  It's just down the road from my apartment. Entry hours are 9-11:30 only.  I was determined to be in line at 9 when they opened.  I of course left the house later than expected, but the bus stopped down from the embassy at exactly 9:00! Of course the large line of people had already started going in.  I got into the building quickly and was sent to queue 6.  Soo many people inside, I was going to be there all morning! But those Chinese are efficient; I was at the counter by 9:35, needed to copy my local residency card, but otherwise application accepted! Another 10 minutes in line at the copier, drop it back off at queue 6 and I was out of there and into a taxi in under an hour.  I was so impressed.  We'll see how picking it up goes on Monday morning.  I'll need to be there at 8:30 or earlier I think.  I would have taken pictures, but embassies are sensitive to photos and I wasn't going to jeopardize my application.

Then comes the end of the day.  It's raining.  It's rained all week.  This is the winter (monsoon season) in Singapore - rain not snow.  Granted it is a warm rain, so it really isn't that bad. Until .... you are getting out of the taxi, catch your heel on the hanging strap of your computer bag and fall into the bushes and curb, all in the rain. The look on the taxi driver's face was shock, he did ask a couple of times if I was okay.  Really I was, just more pissed off than anything.  So I compose myself and go to leave and my heel is stuck in the storm drain. Really?! Take off shoe, pull out shoe, put on shoe and go inside.  All wet, annoyed, what an end to the day. 

But it got better. I went home and made a sandwich with some of my remaining groceries. I took some leftovers to have on the side. It was wonderful :D!  I had some turkey, tomatoes, havarti cheese, avocados and chili mustard on wheat (or wholemeal as it's advertised here). The leftovers were chopped up into my mini-bowl - tomatoes, avocado and havarti.  I also added some chopped roasted red peppers - that went a little better with the havarti and left the tomatoes and avocado for some tostidos :).

Friday - Woke up to the bright sun, got a lot of work accomplished and arrived back at the office just in time to change and head out for the Bull Charge! No, this isn't Spain, it's a short race that benefits a variety of charities.  My company is the honorary auditor, so we got a certain number of slots.  My co-worker talked me into it - only 3.2 kilometers, so I figured it wouldn't be that bad.  But oooh it was so painful :).

Here's the before picture.  I also took pictures along the way.  Can't say I was as successful as the friendly neighborhood RD, but I got some early pics off and then at the end.  In the middle, it was just a struggle to keep running.  Ser Yan (pictured below in the after picture) ran with me even though she could have blown me away.  She kept me running, otherwise I would have walked a good chunk of the race.  When I finished, I was very happy that I actually ran the whole thing!! (no matter how slow or close to walking it may have been ;) ). It was a sweaty finish, but a good run.  Time to get home for a cold shower and go to bed! :)
After and during pictures:

Everyone warming up pre-race. I did not warm up, needed all the energy I could muster.

I was soooo hungry.  I wanted to steal this kid's chicken wings.

Oh, forgot to mention there was a doggie run that started just before our fun run.

My time! I will gladly accept this effort. :D

A successful race, lots of sweat but smiles all around.

And I will leave you with the Singapore skyline....Good night and have a great weekend!

*Anyone still reading? The shower liner was a whopping S$17.99!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Package surprises and work fun

Have you been dying to know what was in my package?? :) I'm sure you've had sleepless nights since my last post.  Time for the big reveal.........
1. Paper plates!! :)
2. Q-tips....woo-hoo
3. Mini-snickers - YUM

Some explanations may be due.
1. If you could see my kitchen counter, you would understand.  I'm the type of girl that works better with disposable dishes.  I kept up a good habit of washing dishes regularly for the first month or so, until my reinforcement dishes arrived in my ocean shipment.  Now I'm back to the old habit of a good rinse to remove the stuff that causes mold but not quite good enough to eat off of.  I am too lazy I suppose.  Anyhoo, I found paper plates here, but they are expensive -$3.00+ for 50.  I had some in my ocean shipment and Mom kindly sent some more :).  Although with shipping factored in, these might have the $3 beat.

2. I can find no Singapore equivalent to the J&J brand of cotton swabs, Q-tip. It's just not out there.  I absolutely hate using the hardened cotton-end of a generic brand.  Hopefully 500 will tide me over for a bit.

3. Mom knows I love the sweets.  About 60 mini-snickers since Saturday morning and come Tuesday night I have 5....nope 4 left.  Still managing some weight loss though.  Have to love what a little walking in your everyday routine does for you.

In other news...
I drafted a post a while back but never 'published' it.  In early October I attended my first company function, the annual office party.  It was held out at a public place called the Barrage, which is at the outer edge of the island where the water comes in.  Sorry, don't have a better explanation than that :).  It was a bit hazy due to some fires in Indonesia (I heard), but you can see our view of the city skyline.  It was pretty neat. 

There were soooo many people there though - and it didn't include significant others.  Typically it is a more formal dinner and dance at a hotel, but this year it was more of an outdoor festival.  There were games to play and you win "money" that can be used to bid on prizes.  The games were impossible.  Here's one of my co-workers trying to kick the mini-ball through one of the holes.  You had 3 tries to get 100 pts or more, and the holes were worth 50 and 25 pts.  So you had to hit at least 2 of 3.  There was a similar frisbee game where you had to toss the frisbee through 1 of 4 square slots (think mail slots in doors).  I didn't see one person get the frisbee through.

There were a number of non-work people there (it is a public place) flying kites.  Can you see all the specks above? Some were neat, had long trains. Some had lights and in the dusk you could easily follow them. Some went up so high, you could barely see them any more.  The reels of wire on these things were huge!  Maybe I will take up the new hobby of kite flying ;).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Poll Results

Coming up with a new poll each week is a little tougher than I originally expected :).  I try to relate them to various themes of things I've run into living here in Singapore, but last week I was coming up blank.  Not sure where we'll go for next week. 
As I was writing on my blog though, I did think who actually hand writes things anymore?  While I don't hand write notes that much myself, I do think it's great.  I would much prefer a handwritten note to a bouquet of flowers.  There are quite a few paper/stationary shops here in Singapore.  Maybe I'll have to take up writing :). 
On to our responses to "When is the last time you hand-wrote a letter/card?":
Only four answers this week - maybe too many are ashamed that they would have to answer "Been too long to remember" because we got no responses for that option.  Someone wrote a note "Earlier this week" and the three others wrote a note "On the last special occasion". 
Perphaps with the season of Christmas cards right around the corner, everyone will be writing notes to family and friends.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Introducing the Living Room

I finally got around to getting my living room into shape!  It was a big afternoon project.  First, the before picture.

The couch is L-shaped, so there aren't too many options there.  In the end decided to put it in front of the windows.  I also then moved the tv (gosh I forgot how heavy those old tvs are!).  Here's the finished project:

I have my great elephant pillows - Grandma Cribben made me the one on the right.  And of course we needed a spot for my rug from Spain.  The shelves house the rest of my trinkets and photos.  I get very attached to items I purchase on my trips.  There's an elephant from China and one from India in view.  Also, my Coke bottles - I think I have covered Thailand, China, Italy, France and the US.  My great-grandparents on my mom's side are pictured up there along with my best friend from h.s. (Kristin!) and I at graduation.  And I can't forget the giant mug I made on my first visit to see Kate in Iowa :).  You can just barely make out my banana leaf chair from Ikea on the right hand side - that's a Singapore purchase that I foresee sticking around for a while. 

The electric hook-ups were interesting.  I've got two surge protector type extension cords and one transformer.  Some items, such as the DVD player, Wii and Skype phone, were not compatible with the 240V electricity here in Singapore.  Thus, the transformer.  By using twistie ties and the hidden shelf in the back of the tv stand, I managed to keep most of the wires under control.  I hope I don't need to move/add anything though! :)

Some unique items in the living area:

  • Was told I couldn't/shouldn't use nails for hanging my pictures.  The painted wall should be okay, but the other two walls are wallpaper.  I found these new velcro 3M stickies that work for light items.  So far they work pretty good (they are on the wall not pictured).

  • There is a separate aircon unit for each room and each aircon has its own remote.  There's an 1-hr timer, which is usually what I use so I don't forget to shut it off.

  • There is a full length wall mirror to the right of the couch.  I do my hair here - no outlets in the bathroom! Where's a girl to dry her hair?

  • My couch cushions have velcro to keep them in place - yet it doesn't seem to work.  You can see where I sit by which cushion has popped out. 

  • Also, the "L" piece is not attached to the rest of the couch.  Good for moving, but not always good when you're sitting on it - won't stay in place.

  • I love the Skype phone - thank you Mark! My mom can attest to the great clarity with the new phone.  Took me long enough to get it attached to the transformer.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mr. McFeely brings Thanksgiving to Singapore

Random title I realize, but it's what popped into my head because....

...the Singapore Post may be the most efficient post.  Granted, there's quite a bit less of land to cover than other countries (think the size of Chicago and the suburbs - but not too far west), but I'm still impressed! 

My mom mailed a package and card on 6 November (they state the date opposite here) and it arrived yesterday, 11 November.  That includes one Sunday and basically losing 24 hours in travel time from Chicago to Singapore.  I don't get my mail everyday because it's usually only junk.  Seriously I've never received so much garbage mail, flyers, etc.  So I was excited today to see that it arrived - although I only got the card b/c the package was too big for them to leave.  I'll be picking it up on Saturday most likely, the 8:30-5:00 business hours at the nearby post don't exactly mesh well with my work schedule.  Any guesses on what I'll find?? :D We'll see this weekend.

It was a Happy Thanksgiving card with a very cute turkey on the front that I mistook for a chicken at first (it's a turkey for market, not a wild one w/ crazy feathers like you made with your hand in grade school!).  My mom's so cute, she always signs "Love, Mom & Dad" but we (my siblings and I) know that Dad has nothing to do with such things and often has no idea that she's even sent anything.  I can almost guarantee he is not aware I'll be opening a package this weekend - [sigh] oh Dad.... (no worries; he doesn't read the blog).

Regardless of mail, I had planned to post tonight.  I started the work day early and convinced myself to come home early (well 5:00).  I was able to catch some daylight and walk down to the grocery store.  It was SOOO humid tonight.  It rained in the afternoon and just hung around like it was going to rain tonight.  Good thing it didn't, because I was almost half a mile from home with no umbrella.

Anyway, it was a good walk.  Ran into some old Asian man who decided to talk to me despite me having my iPod in.  He was cute and talking about some stop lights that were being put up for him. 

Here are my purchases ($20) from the store tonight:

I've fallen in love with the snacksize Mars bars.  They are bigger than fun size but smaller than regular size.  And don't be fooled! These are really Milkyway.  Someone mixed things up here and 3 Musketeers are Milkyway; Milkyway are Mars; and I haven't seen any Mars.  (Snickers are Snickers)  I've also fallen in love with Gardenia raisin bread - raisin toast with peanut butter and honey...yum!  I eat a lot more oranges now, but usually manage to get an orange juice stain on my shirt - every time! The Edam is cheese - I'm hoping it's a cheaper option ($6.90) that is still palatable.  Usually, I have a smaller block of swiss that's about $10. The tomatoes are really cheap though, 17 cents per 100g - so my four small tomatoes were a total of $0.73 - that's less than US$0.50! The avocado was a treat that I thought I may like with my chips and salsa and on sandwiches.

Thanks to Mom for the card and package and now it's time to get some dinner going.  One more day to the weekend!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Poll Results

If you're going to exercise, where would you go for a run/walk?

The votes were clearly split with 4 people choosing to exercise in their local park (or cemetery).  I had to add cemetery because there's one "next door to" my parents that we would walk to and around in (or play in when I was little).  I love looking at the grave stones to find names I like.  The rest of the group (3) goes to the gym for their workouts. 

I posted this last survey question after getting back from a walk/run last weekend.  There's a path just outside my condo, which I didn't know about when I moved in.  It's very nice. It's quieter than the road full of traffic, so I can listen to my iPod without killing the little hairs in my ears that keep me hearing ;).  That was a shout out to my sister and her bio-med knowledge.  She told us all about this one time over dinner :). 

Anyhoo, this path is a "park connecter" and there are apparently many aross Singapore.  I really like mine because it also takes me down to the local grocery store.  I have not yet ventured out to the other paths.  Maybe I'll try one tonight? It's too hot during the day.  Here's a little video that shows you my path in particular.  I forgot to mention that there's also workout equipment along the way.  I have not used any of it yet.  The video is courtesy of Singapore National Parks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Introducing the Bathroom

I realize I haven't introduced the rest of my apartment.  This is mostly due to the fact that while I have "unpacked" everything from the boxes - 75% of items have not found a permanent home.  They are resting in hallways, the extra bedroom, the dining table, etc. 


Two weekends ago I was shopping and happened upon some neat baskets made from some polyester type material.  They were the perfect addition I had been thinking about for my master bath.  You see, while there are are two showers (one with tub, one standing); there is no counter space or storage space.  So I needed something to get organized.  The owners have put in some bathroom fixtures (for lack of a better word), but these are metal and a bit corroded, not practical for my uses and more in-the-way than helpful.  I've taken out the face mirror on an extend-an-arm and another shelf which were both secured to the frame of the mirror with phillips screws.  The other items are secured to the marble and require an Allen wrench.  The Allen wrench I have is of no use.  So these remain, although empty, until I can get the right tool.

With my new baskets, I have now organized myself and cleared the sink area! It's so much nicer and now I wouldn't be embarassed for anyone to see.  Hence the purpose for waiting until now to introduce the bathroom.  Here are the after shots along with some tidbits of info about the bathrooms in Singapore (or at least mine in Singapore).


  • Like I said, there's a standing shower and a tub with shower.  I have chosen to only use one shower (the tub); leaving the standing shower as a good place for my hanger rack thingy.
  • All showers are the removeable handhelds.  Good for directing the cold water down into the drain and not on your body while you wait for it to warm up. 
  • I am never cold when I turn off the shower.  I can get out of the shower, then grab my towel and then open the door to let in some of the aircon b/c it's so warm.  Not my issue from Peoria of requiring the towel to be in the shower before opening the curtain and only stepping out of the shower when my little electric heater was on and aimed at me :).
  • Step down into the bathroom and up out of the bathroom.  There's always a minor height difference in the floors - to help prevent flooding ? not sure.
  • My toilet doesn't have this feature, but many in Singapore are "double" flush.  Meaning there are two flush buttons, one for #1 and one for #2.  I guess it's obvious that one takes more water than the other to clear.  A+ to Singapore for water conservation.
  • The tubs seem to have a long back end which acts as a very nice shelf area for all your bathroom products.  I love this feature.  Your bottles and such can actually stay dry!
  • I have found it hard to find shower curtain liners in Singapore - I am still hunting.  Currently I am stuck with an ugly one that has pink and yellow tulips.  In the pics it is nicely covered from the outside by my old shower curtain from home.
I saved the biggest nugget of interest for last! :)  My water heater is tucked away somewhere I can't see but it is specific to my bathroom (there's a separate one for my guest bath).  When I want hot water, I need to turn on the heater.  Next to my light switches I have a switch for the water heater. If I want a warm shower, I need to let it heat up.  I continue to forget this point and suffer with either a long wait or a cool shower.

There's my bathroom - all the required features and now a little more comfortable.