Sunday, July 25, 2010

Salon Day

When it comes to make-up and hair, I'm a pretty low-maintenance gal.  This is demonstrated by the fact that I have waited almost a year before getting my first haircut in Singapore.  I'm not sure why I was so nervous (I don't get highlights or anything), but I was - so it just grew.  

Finally this weekend, I decided it was time.  I had been scoping out places every time I am out and about, and I settled on a fairly large salon in a nearby shopping mall.  Friday I stopped by to make an appointment - I thought mid morning (10am) would be good.  I asked if they also did manicures/pedicures and signed up for one as well.  They lady scheduled it also for 10am, which I thought was odd, but didn't argue.

Next morning, always running late, I grabbed a taxi rather than wait for the bus.  Got to the mall at 9:45...ghost town.  I forgot that Singapore doesn't really get going in the early morning. However, McDonald's was doing breakfast business and I got me some food.  With 5 minutes before my appointment, I walked around a mall still mostly closed to business.  It was weird.  The salon didn't slide up their doors until exactly 10am.  I hadn't realized I was going to be the first appointment for the morning. 

They took me to the back, sat me down and provided me the 'color' menu for my mani/pedi.  Apparently both the mani/pedi and haircut would be at 10 after all.  The stylist asked what I wanted and how long since my last haircut.  I was embarrassed, but honest.  She immediately commented that must be why I had so many split ends and my hair was very dry.  These comments were followed up by a quick question as to whether I wanted to try one of their conditioning treatments.  Come to find out it was $105 for the cheap one as compared to my $40 cut & wash.  I doubted how dry my hair could be in such humidity being as it only gets washed every other day or so and I haven't been swimming a lot.  I think this was a marketing technique for which I did not bite.  She was disappointed - more so when she found out I also don't color (do you want to try?) or bond (chemically straighten) my hair. 

The cut begins, dry hair and all.  I'm paying for a wash....when's that going to happen?  Last time I had my hair cut dry it left little hairs everywhere and was not the best cut.  She was using a single scissor blade as a razor to put in layers.  I was a little worried about how this was all going to turn out.  Meanwhile, I have a second girl at my feet, washing them, trimming nails, smoothing callouses, etc.  Haircut comes the separate lady to wash, pedicure still ongoing.  My hair gets suds and a massage for a while until we're ready to rinse.  To the wash sink - now this is familiar.  Then, back to my chair for a dry and finish of the mani/pedi.  I had four different people working on me - one time three all at once. Another girl finished my pedicure while the nail technician started on the manicure.  It took the lady the whole time of the manicure to dry my hair - no wonder she wanted me to take the conditioning treatment, they planned to blow out every ounce of moisture :). 

(before & after shots)

Finally all finished, it actually looked and felt great.  I was very happy.  After moving to dry my nails further, I did a little shopping.  For one of the first times ever, I did not have pieces of hair all over me and my shirt.  No shower required immediately following the haircut!  It was a different experience but turned out to be great.  It may have been more the 'big salon' than the 'Singapore salon', but I don't plan to wait another year for my next appointment :).

To round out the morning I got some cute new sandals to go with my pedicure.

Hope you're having a great weekend!!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Here is the thermometer in my kitchen.  It pretty much always looks like this, sometimes a little less humid.  I do have air and the rest of the apartment is cooler - the kitchen is kinda blocked off and there's a huge gap under the door to the outdoor utility area.  I have acclimated.  It helps that I don't really spend time in the kitchen.

Crazy talons waiting with me at the bus. You should really click on the photo to get the enlarged, full effect.  It boggles my mind.

Fogging at a condo.  The first time I saw this I thought there was some huge fire.  No leaf burning here. For mosquitoes I assume.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Workin' Lady

I realize I've been very slow in posting new updates the past few months.  The truth is I'm just burnt out and have been very lazy lately - more so than usual.  I'll try to have some more fun, entertaining posts in the near future.  ;)

In the meantime, I thought I would share a little bit about where I spend my weekdays. Here's my cube at the office.  I took this quite a while ago before I let my papers run amok.
The normal workday in Singapore tends to be from 9-6.  There are plenty of people working late, but I find not so many starting early, which is the complete opposite of the Midwest where 90% of the population seem to be morning people.  So I fit in here much better! :) The official start time in my office is 8:30.  The aircon doesn't even come on until 8am, so even if you come in early, you're sweating.  This of course is a loose 8:30 and that's one thing I love about my job - flexibility. If I don't get to work until 9/9:30, I stay late to make it up.  Sometimes later than I should, but I will be focusing on my "work/life balance" as year 2 rolls around.  I can hardly believe it's almost here - end of August was the big move!

While the workplace environment is different, it's also so much the same.  Since I've started travelling for work I am always amazed how you can go halfway across the world and the day is basically the same as it would be back home.  The little things are different, but the big stuff is pretty much still there.  I've learned:
-my gray-shaded spreadsheets are too drab and boring for Singaporeans who love to highlight with bright colors
-I am now the person on time to meetings (usually we run late about 5-10 minutes)
-vacation is annual leave, sick day is MC/medical leave, CPF is 401k
-it is hard to multiply by 12 in my head - all compensation is discussed in terms of one month, not one year
-no tax withholding! (but not looking forward to having to pay my tax bill)
-lunch rush is at ~12:15, not 11:15 :)
-as with all things American, my calculator is comparatively ginormous and I always get wide-eyed looks when I need to do some math
-we all want to be appreciated, fairly compensated and have a life outside of work :)

I know there are plenty of other things I've learned/observed/appreciated...but for another day.  Here's a current pic of me with one of our summer interns ("vacation trainees" or "VTs" here) who worked with me.  Not the most flattering, but I haven't had a new pic of me recently.  The weight I bragged about losing is back and he caught me on Friday at 5pm, so pretty much ready to call it a week.  Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sports Galore

(pic courtesy of
Singapore is not a sports-crazed country.  Well maybe, but not any sports usually followed back home.  No NFL, no baseball except the kids leagues, no basketball free agents clogging up the media to announce their next team (or any March Madness for that matter) and definitely no where for the Stanely Cup champions to play. 

Sports that are enjoyed - tennis courts down from my 14th floor window are regular active, lots of lap swimmers in the pool, runners everywhere and a number of golf courses around the island.  Professionally, there was huge controversy about which cable provider would buy the contract for the World Cup TV rights.  The F1 (think Indy car, not NASCAR) gets a lot of coverage with televised races on the weekends and a nice race through downtown Singapore in September.  Ping pong (or rather table tennis) which also has televised events - I watched some wicked ladies.  There's also some local football (i.e. soccer) teams that I've heard of and handball (?) as well as I think there's a new cricket field/pitch/something going on.

I have to get all my sport updates through the Yahoo ticker and FB updates.  So, I'm diving into local sports.  I miserably failed at the World Cup.  I saw the Spain/Germany game.  When I saw the time for the Spain/Netherlands final for 2:30am Monday - I thought "Monday late night? Nah."  Well, duh me, Monday morning is really Sunday late night.  Needless to say, my radio alarm woke me up tonight saying "Spain wins! First World Cup ever!"  It hit me, oh crap, I can't tell time and I missed the game :).

Well, I have two upcoming events which I'm sure not to miss!  The first ever Youth Olympic Games are being held in none other than Singapore.  I am a lover of all things Olympic and have it on my to do list to go to the Olympic games one day.  Seeing as Chicago brutally lost the 2016 bid, it is looking less and less likely.  If I can't participate in the real Olympics, next best thing is the kiddie version.  They are in August for a couple of weeks, involve many countries (there should be some US athletes here) and have some similar events.  I debated on what to sign-up for.  I figured I would start with volleyball, table tennis and badminton - three popular sports here which are sure to entertain.  There will be a US team on the day I'm going to watch volleyball.  For now, I only have tickets for prelim competitions.  Above are the mascots, my tickets, and the awesome free transportation passes.  Singapore is represented by a merlion (mermaid and lion) and I believe the mascots are suppose to reflect that in a way.  They have names, I forget them.  I don't know if the games have been well advertised here.  I also have tickets to the opening cermonies and while I'm sure they won't be as good as in Beijing, hopefully they are worth it :).  I'll have some August posts on this event. 

Coming in September....3-day pass to the Singapore F1 race.  I have walkabout tickets to this event and will be looking forward to practicing with my new DSLR (well it'll be a year old by then).  Hopefully some good rac pics! 

I hope everyone is enjoying sports back home.  I'm missing weekly "sandlot" volleyball and will be wishing I could join the Labor Day rolle bolle fun!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

Okay - I'm a bit late, but did not forget.  There is no 4th of July celebration per se (I took Friday off to ensure my own 3-day weekend).  However, in August, Singapore celebrates their National Day.  On 9 August 1965, Singapore gained its independence.  It is so weird to think my new home is so young.

I understand that National Day is heavily celebrated here.  There is a big parade and show near the marina.  In fact, I was out two weekends ago and there was full on practice for the day's events - a month and a half away. 
courtesy of Bryen's blog

I was walking around the Arab Quarter one afternoon and heard helicopters.  I looked up and saw them dangling a giant flag of Singapore (above).  I wondered what the heck I was missing.  I didn't recall hearing about any special events for the weekend.  Bryen's blog above has some insights into what the flag represents.

Then airforce jets flew over, all loud and amazing.  I knew the air show was not going on.  Was there some sort of military drills I was missing??  I continued my way across town to head to another shopping store.  On the way, I cross a major street and could not believe the huge line of military vehicles on the road.  The road was blocked off to regular traffic and the vehicles weren't really moving.  I had my camera with me and snapped a couple pics.  I still had no clue what was going on. 

When I finished shopping, I grabbed a taxi home. It was then that my taxi driver informed me traffic was really bad because of the National Day practice (for the parade and show).  Another practice was scheduled for next weekend too - so he warned me I should stay away from downtown next week as well.  I had no idea that practice was so involved.  I guess I'll have to scope out a spot early for the parade in August :).