Thursday, December 20, 2007

And the winner is. . .

Actually, I took GeeGee's advice and went back to Tay Guan Heng and bought another ornament so we have 2 winners. . .

Congratulations, Christianne, (who will be passing them to Abby's family)! You are the proud owner of the original prize: Hope, Joy and Peace ornaments. Hopefully I can give these to you in person while we're both in CA. =)

And, congratulations, Kirsten!
You were the random-draw winner of the bonus prize. I need you to email me your address so I can get this sent off to you ASAP.

An Evening Out

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You know you're in Singapore when. . .

. . . your can of evaporated milk has a recipe for deep fried squids on the back.

I guess, if you're Singaporean, you might eat your squids whilst talking about stuffs or studying your maths.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Toilet Etiquette 101

I saw this sign inside the women's restroom at a mall in Chinatown* and thought my readers might find the content helpful (as well as the depiction of improper toilet etiquette as shown by the diagram toward the bottom of the sign)

Five Easy Steps to Better Toilet Etiquette:
1. Wipe the seat.
2. Flush.
3. Wash your hands.
4. Dry your hands.
5. Toss your rubbish into the bin.

With these helpful hints, you will be on your way to becoming the kind of patron any janitor would love to have using his restroom!

* I thought it was quite humorous that this sign appeared in Chinatown since squatty-potties are all you can find in that district, effectively making item #1 of the 5-step program an impossible task.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Visit to Tay Guan Heng and a Christmas Giveaway

Upon the referral of a friend here in Singapore, Caleb and I took a trek over to the opposite side of the island today to visit the Tay Guan Heng Workshop. In this quintessential hole-in-the-wall art studio, Mr. Tay (a 3rd generation artisan) sits at his workbench all day long creating art. His medium, a pliable dough created from ground wild cinnamon bark; his utensils, an empty wine bottle (to pound out the dough), a little knife, a pair of scissors, and a few other simple items (like straw and small sticks). The result-- unique and intricate figurines. Mr. Tay is especially fascinated with creating one-of-a-kind Nativity Sets (which were out of my price range) and traditional Chinese figures (like The Slave pictured below).

Mr. Tay

Mr. Tay's Workbench

The Slave

I chatted with Mr. Tay for a bit. He demonstrated how he fashions the figures and how he sets them out to dry for several days before he coats them with a clear varnish. Unfortunately, it's a slow process and rather unprofitable. This ancient art form is dying out and Mr. Tay's shop is one of the last.

So I did my part to support Mr. Tay and that's where the Christmas Giveaway comes in. I bought three Christmas Ornaments (the only items I could afford) with the Chinese characters, Peace, Hope and Joy, inscribed on them. On the back is the authentic Tay Guan Heng Stamp. I thought I'd join the Christmas Giveaway Frenzy (here, here, here and here) and give these little Singaporean souvenirs to one lucky winner. Here are the rules, you must leave a comment on this blog by midnight (Pacific Standard Time) December 20th. In your comment, give me a compelling reason why YOU should be the winner. Depending on the creativeness of the entries, I may or may not resort to pulling a name out of a hat, but it will be fun to hear your reasons nonetheless.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stroller Friendly

Singapore isn't exactly a stroller friendly city. Elevators are few and far between (and usually packed to the gills with people). Escalators are everywhere, which is fine since I can maneuver the stroller up the escalator without too much trouble, but often there are anywhere from 5-10 stairs leading up to the escalator platform (why wouldn't they just build a slightly longer escalator??) so that puts me back at square one. Instead of crosswalks, most streets have pedestrian overpasses (a safer, albeit more difficult way to cross the street). And, since we are dependent upon public transit, I am obligated to mention the difficulty of getting a stroller (especially one sporting dangling grocery bags from its handles) on and off the bus (which boasts a few stairs at the entrance and exit) in a timely, much less graceful, manner.

So, although the engineers who are responsible for the infrastructure and transportation here in Singapore do not seem to have much compassion on mothers with prams, the citizens of Singapore make up for it. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have been struggling to get the stroller on the bus only to have a hand swoop in and lift the front for me. Or, the bus driver kindly tell me, "Don't worry. Take your time." Or, two young teens offer to carry the stroller to the top of an overpass for me.

I've waited until now to post this post because I've wanted to be sure that these acts of kindness were actually a cultural phenomenon and not just flukes. But, it has happened enough times now that I feel confident in saying that even though Singapore itself is not stroller friendly, Singaporeans are!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Joyful, All Ye Nations Rise

Today was The International Baptist Church ESL Christmas Program. Our class sung Hark!, The Herald Angels Sing. I got tears in my eyes as I sang with the students, "Joyful, all ye nations rise!" Though our class only represents 5 of about 200 nations, I couldn't help but think of the day when heaven will be filled with the voices of men and women from every nation on earth. Hopefully, when that day comes, I will hear the familiar voices of my students in that choir!

Because my students are in Level 1, most of the words to this beautiful song were new to them. We spent the last 6 weeks practicing the song and talking about the meaning of each line. We could have mastered the singing with just one or two practice sessions, but it takes a long time for English sounds to form into distinct words, and then for those words to carry meaning. Because the lyrics are essentially poetry, it was difficult to "translate" (can you translate from English into English?) word by word, so I tried to take the meaning of each phrase and convey it in words that they could understand. As I translated, this already-favorite Christmas Hymn became even more precious. Perhaps next year, we'll get to do more than just the first verse.

Hark! The herald angels sing, Look! Listen! The angels with a message are singing. . .
"Glory to the newborn King! Worship the baby--Jesus-- who is the King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild, The King will bring peace and kindness to the world.
God and sinners reconciled." The King will make God and people friends again.
Joyful, all ye nations rise, Happy because of the good news, people from all over the world should stand up and. . .
Join the triumph of the skies. Sing with the angels who are cheering in the sky.
Hark! The herald angels sing, Look! Listen! The angels with a message are singing. . .
"Glory to the newborn King!" Worship the baby--Jesus-- who is the King!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pancake Recipes

From Rebecca (America)
Easy Breakfast Pancakes
1. Mix together: 1 cup Better Crocker Pancake Mix, 3/4 cup water, 1 tsp Vanilla, 2 tsps sugar. Mix until batter is no longer lumpy. Do not over mix.
2. Coat pan with a small amount of oil.

3. Pour pancake mix into small circles in the hot pan (about 1/8 cup each circle). When the edges become firm and the center bubbles, turn cake over. Cook until golden brown.
4. Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup.
From Emiko (Japan)

Pancake Ingredients: 100g flour, 100cc water, 2 eggs, Cabbage
Optional Ingredients: Green Onion, Pork, Octopus/Squid, Prawn
Toppings: Katsuobushi (dried, shredded tuna), Aonori (seaweed), Okonomiyaki sauce, Mayonnaise

1. Chop the cabbage into fine strings.
2. Mix the flour, eggs, water and cabbage strings together. Add *optional* ingredients.
3. Fry the dough like a pancake in a small frying pan. Cover as it cooks.
4. Turn the Okonomiyaki so that both sides are golden brown.
5. When fried well, serve the okonomiyaki, top with toppings and serve.

From Jin Ju (Korea)
Vegetable Pancake
1. Chop into thin strips: 6 Spring Onion, 1 Onion, 1 Carrot, 1 Squash,
2. Chop into small peices: Mushrooms, Cuttlefish, Prawn, 2 Jalepeno Peppers.
3. Make a paste out of egg, wheat flour, salt and water. Add vegetables.
4. Fry in hot oil.
5. Serve with Spicy Soy Sauce (soy sauce, jalepeno pepper, spring onion, sesame oil and sesame seeds)

From Yan Shi (Tibet)
Sugared Pancake
1. Cook frozen Roti Paratha (easier than making your own!)
2. Sprinkle pancakes with course white sugar and serve while still warm.

From Shu Hsien (Taiwan)
Scallion Pancake
1. Combine ingredient:2cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup boiling water,1/2 Cup cold water,1/2 t salt, well and knead into a smooth dough.
2. Rinse scallions well and mince. Knead the dough more smoothly and roll out into a long strips. Then divide the strips into 5 equal portions.
Roll each portion out wide and flat and grease with a layer of cooking oil evenly, then spread with a layer of minced scallion. Roll up into a strip, then roll up from both sides into a cylinder.
3. Press the stuffed dough flat and roll into a flat cake.
Fry in frying pan with a little oil added until golden on both sides.
Remove and cut into sections. Serve.
(If desired, fry an egg and then place the pancake on top of the fried egg and finish cooking them together.)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pancake Day

During last week's class session, my ESL students and I took over the church kitchen and made pancakes. The students brought all the ingredients necessary to make their country's traditional pancake. We had a wonderful time doing mini-cooking demonstrations and taste testing each other's pancakes. We were able to sample traditional pancakes from Taiwan, Tibet, Korean, Japan, and America. The students wrote up their recipes for me (in English) and I will post them as I have a chance.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving in Singapore

Since Thanksgiving Day, for both Josh and me, is usually celebrated with extended family, we weren't sure what to do with our first Thanksgiving-sans-relatives. We talked about trying to make our own Thanksgiving meal (feasible, thanks to the high-end grocery store nearby that caters to Americans and was carrying items like Stovetop stuffing, Libby's canned pumpkin, and Butterball turkeys), but decided that preparing a feast for just the three of us would result in lots of wasted food. We also considered joining a group of teachers from Josh's school who were getting together to celebrate, but since our calendar had been packed the last 2 months, a just-our-family-day sounded like a treat. So. . . we called up one of the nice hotels that was advertising a "Traditional Thanksgiving Buffet" and made a reservation.

(photo from

The Fullerton Hotel, located on the Singapore River, near the Esplanade and Merlion, is absolutely gorgeous. No doubt, it is one of the top two hotels in Singapore (the #1 spot being held by Raffles Hotel). It is the kind of hotel where the valet spends most of the day parking luxury Italian cars like Lamborghinis, Porches and Ferraris (if teaching doesn't work out, don't be surprised if you hear that Josh has taken a job as a valet!) In fact, when we arrived for Thanksgiving dinner, the front entrance of the hotel was temporarily cordoned off and the staff was laying out a beautiful red velvet carpet--turns out that top diplomats from all over the SE Asia were soon to be arriving at the hotel for some sort of international summit.

The buffet was gorgeous, but it was no where close to "traditional". The only traditional items being served were turkey and cranberry sauce. No mashed potatoes, no gravy, no green bean casserole, no buttermilk biscuits, no Jello salad, no sparkling cider, no apple or pumpkin pie. But, if you were in the market for fresh tropical fruit, or sushi, or oyster, or black pepper stir-fry, or bruschetta, or creme brulee, or chocolate torte, you would not have been lacking in options!

Us, in front of one of the dessert tables.

In a way, I'm glad it wasn't a typical Thanksgiving meal because it wasn't a typical Thanksgiving Day. It is nice to know that the giving of thanks isn't dependent on cool weather, cozy foods, and even good family fellowship. I Thes 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Viva La Comida Mexicana!

As I have already lamented, Mexican food is scare here in Singapore. There are few Mexican restaurants and even fewer grocery stores that carry Mexican food ingredients at a price that won't break the bank. For example, one can of refried beans (forget trying to find whole pinto beans. . . they don't sell them here!) runs around $4.50. A package of 8 flour tortillas (forget about trying to find corn tortillas. . . they don't sell them here!) will cost you about $7.00. A small jar of salsa (forget about trying to find fresh salsa. . . they don't sell that here!) comes in at a whopping $8.00. An 8-oz package of cheddar cheese (forget about trying to find Mexican cheese. . . they don't sell that here!) will set you back almost $10.00!

So, as you can guess, when a surprise package arrived from my friend, Sarah Stranske, loaded with Mexican food supplies, Josh and I literally leaped for joy. Dustin and Yvette had brought us a Costco-sized jug of salsa (thanks, guys!), so combined with Sarah's items and $40 worth of beans, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and ground beef, we were able to feast on Mexican food for 3 days straight! Freshly fried tacos. . . mmmmmmm! Tostadas loaded with tons of goodness. . . . delicious! Enchiladas for breakfast. . . why not!? Even Caleb enjoyed eating at our "Taqueria a la Singapora," and filled his tummy (and nose and hair and thigh-rolls) with beans and Mexican rice.

The stash!

Look at that "sonrisa"
("smile" for those of you that don't speak Spanish)

Beans, beans, the magical fruit. . .

If any of you are dying to send us a care package, here are a few items that would be a hit:
  • Corn tortillas
  • Plain tortilla chips (we can only get nacho-cheese chips here)
  • Green enchilada sauce
  • Chalula
  • Green taco sauce
  • Whole pinto or black beans
  • Anything else necessary for a home-grown Mexican meal!

Thanks Sarah, Dustin and Yvette for making our Fiesta possible!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Time for a new profile picture

Caleb is getting bigger by the minute so I wanted to use a more recent picture for my profile. This was taken in Bintan, Indonesia. . . just a 45-minute ferry ride from Singapore. It's a nice little resort island where the jungle meets the sea and the sky is big (no sky here in Singapore!).

My Students

We moved to Singapore with the expectation that Josh would be "the teacher" in our family. Little did I guess that God would open up the door for me to teach as well. But, the door was not only unlocked, it was wide open.

The church we have been attending, International Baptist Church, sponsors an ESL (English as a Second Language) ministry that reaches over 250 women in the community. The first week we attended a Sunday service at IBC, there was an announcement from the pulpit that the ESL ministry was in dire need of teachers. . . immediately. Josh nudged me and whispered in my ear, "I think you should check into that," which was exactly what the Holy Spirit was whispering in my other ear. It seemed as though God had prepared me for this ministry years ago, before I ever would have imagined being in this place at this time. My undergraduate studies were in Education and I was required to take several TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) classes. Not only that, but one of my part-time jobs during college was as a private tutor for a Korean-run tutoring center where I had the opportunity to tutor non-English-speakers. And, most importantly, God had been preparing my heart through prayer as Josh and I asked God to provide an opportunity for us to serve the community here. Less than a week after the announcement was made, I was sitting in an orientation class for new teachers!

Top Row(L-R): SoYoung, Tomo, JinJu, Chie, Miki, Joyce, Janet
Bottom Row: JongHwa, Emiko, YanShi, Me, ShuHsien

I have 16 students (though, as you can see from the picture, attendance usually hovers around 12). We meet once each week for about 2 hours and spend the first portion of our time going over basic English skills. The last part of the class is dedicated to Bible study. Many of my students (most, in fact) are not Christians, nor are they even familiar with Christianity. We went over the Creation Story and several of them had never heard it before. . . same goes for Noah's Ark, The Exodus, and The 10 Commandments.

Pray that God would help me be an effective ESL teacher (if they aren't learning English, they won't be motivated to come to class). Pray that God would allow me to present the truth of Christianity to them in an easy to understand way (this is a Beginner class and most of my students have very limited English skills). Most importantly, pray that God would soften the hearts of these women toward the truth of His gospel.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thai Food Poisoning

Thai food is good. Thai food poisoning, on the other hand, is not. Josh and Caleb found this out first-hand on our trip to Phuket, Thailand this past weekend. We still aren't sure exactly what it was that they ate that caused them 24-hours of misery, but we're thinking it was the watermelon slices they ate on our day-tour of the Phi Phi Islands (Yvette wrote an interesting post about these islands. . . check it out here). Josh got hit really hard, but thankfully, Caleb didn't suffer quite as much. He did, however, administer the "True Test of Motherhood" on me and I am proud to say I passed =)

As a result of the 24-hours of misery and grossness, I spent all day yesterday doing laundry. Caleb is still extra-clingy right now (another side-effect of being ill) so posting anything that takes longer than 5-minutes to write is out. However, Yvette has been doing a great job journaling about her visit here so if you want to see what we've been up to, hop on over to her blog.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


This evening we welcomed our first visitors from the US: Dustin and Yvette. They were both planning to visit and, as it turned out, they were able to book their tickets on the same flight (even though the reservations were made months apart).

They came heavy-laden with gifts and hard-to-find favorites (like Lucky Charms cereal and Crystal Light Lemonade).

We have a busy two weeks planned, but I will try to post some pictures along the way.

Right now, I'm just enjoying having a few friendly, familiar faces around! =)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Good Advice (Part 2)

Remember this sign? My brother, Dan, sent me a response that I thought was post-worthy. He took this picture while in Scotland last year.

I had a good chuckle. Thanks, Dan!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Survey says. . .

As I mentioned in the post below, we just returned from a 5-day trip to Thailand. What I didn't mention is that we are heading back there in a few weeks for another 3-day trip.

This time, I landed in Thailand with a general sense that Thai food is good. But, when it comes to Thai cuisine, I'm a novice. I've only tried two dishes: Pad Thai and Thai Green Curry (both of which I love).

When it comes to vacations and food, I'm kind of a stickler. . . I like to know that what I'm ordering is going to be good. I don't like playing double roulette. As a tourist, one is already taking a risk on the restaurant; no sense doubling the risk by ordering an unknown, potentially gross item. After all, isn't one of the best parts about "vacationing" the guilt-free, delicious food? So, Josh and I usually stick to the crowded restaurants (usually a good indicator that the food is decent) and familiar menu items.

I happen to know that several of my regular readers are Thai Cuisine fanatics and I am hoping that said readers can help me out. When we return to Thailand in a few weeks, I want to approach the dinner menu with confidence. I want to branch out (this trip, I had green curry three times!).

So, here's the question: What is your favorite Thai dish? (You can give me runners-up, too, if you can't narrow it down to just one)

picture taken from

I'm feeling Krabi!

We just got home from a 5-day vacation in to Krabi, Thailand. We didn't know what to expect when we booked the tickets. All we knew was 1) Thailand is only a 1.5 hour plane flight away from Singapore, 2) Vacations to Thailand are cheap, and 3) Thai food is good. We were happily surprised to find that in addition to those three things, Thailand also boasts some of the friendliest (albeit, not very proficient in English) customer service around, the absolute cheapest massages you can find anywhere ($3USD for 1 hour!), amazing weather, and some of the most beautiful coastal scenery you can find in the world. Here are a few highlights from our trip.

Elephant Trekking in the jungles of Thailand
(How many of you can say you have heard an elephant burp?
Imagine a 30-second long, rumbling noise that feels like a mini-earthquake!)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Few More International Night Photos

The Korean Fan Dance
This was a very graceful dance performed by about 10 students.
The traditional costumes were gorgeous!

The Bhangra Dance

This high energy Northern Indian dance was amazing! The group danced to a fun, techno version of "If You're Happy and You Know It . . ." There were three ICS-ers on the dance team as well as 2 Punjab community members. I thought I caught this performance on video, but ended up with a still-shot instead. Oh well!!
( I did a search on YouTube to see if I could find any good examples. This performance is the closest match in terms of choreography and energy to the one at our school, though I think the one we saw was more fun because of the music =)

International Night

Last Friday, ICS (the school for which Josh teaches) hosted it's biggest event of the year: International Night. The school invites all of the students and their families, as well as the entire staff and their families to enjoy an evening in celebration of the many countries represented at our school. The different ethnic groups organize to bring traditional food from their nation. Many students and staff dress in traditional costume. The highlight of the evening is the traditional music and dance presentations.

This year, Josh was recruited to dance on the Filipino Dance Team. They performed the Tininkling Dance--a traditional dance where dancers dance in and out of bamboo poles.

Although Caleb is not Chinese, we decided to dress him in a Chinese costume which we recently found in Chinatown. He left the hat on the whole evening! I am not sure, but I think he may have stolen several girl's hearts that night!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Some Good Advice

. . . and your mother.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Chinese Lantern Festival

Yesterday marked the end of the Mid-Autumn Autumn Festival (also known as the Chinese Lantern Festival or the Moon Festival or the Mooncake Festival) here in Singapore. Actually, not just here in Singapore, but everywhere in Asia. Next to the Chinese New Year, this is the biggest holiday in the Asian Calendar.

Above is a picture of a mooncake (which was "borrowed" from because I couldn't afford to buy one of my own to take a picture of because they run in the upwards of $30 for one 4-inch cake). These dense lotus paste cakes are traditional gifts during Mid-Autumn Festival, as are Pomelos (those huge grapefruit-like fruits).

Not being Chinese, we weren't sure how to celebrate the holiday. So, we headed to Chinatown on Moon Day (Sept 25th this year) and figured that we'd celebrate in our own way by eating delicious Chinese dumplings at Zhou Handmade Noodle Hawker.

After a tasty dinner, we wandered around Chinatown. Prior to sunset, Chinatown was a little deserted and we thought perhaps we had the wrong day. Then, the sun set and the crowds came out, and we discovered why it is called the Lantern Festival.

During Lantern Festival, all the Chinese children are given small paper lanterns with a little candle inside to "play lantern". Caleb isn't Chinese but he got a lantern, too.

We enjoyed the beautiful lanterns handmade by a master Chinese lantern maker. There were about 12 large displays. Some of our favorites were the replica of the Taj Mahal and the 40-foot-long peacock with colorful plumage.

Josh and Caleb in front of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
(we didn't go in because we don't have a huge interest in Buddhism nor dentistry so there wasn't much of a draw)

Monday, September 24, 2007

If only. . .

If only they could figure out a way to install these on diapers.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Monkey Business

Caleb and I were stuck here at home today (we have been having an ongoing problem with our air conditioner and I have to be home to let the contractor in). We decided to have some fun with some recent footage we shot from our 4th floor flat. Hope you enjoy. . .

P.S.- Those of you who check our other blog have probably noticed my recent fascination with home movies. All I have to say about that is, "Blame it on Apple."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Anyone for a Banana Spirit?

We were invited one evening to a yummy Indian hawker, which has become our Sunday after-church-meal-spot. On the dessert menu, you have your typical Milo variations and of course your banana spirit...wait a second, does that say Banana SPIRIT?

If anyone has watched "A Christmas Story", you'll remember the family eating a Christmas meal at a Chinese restaurant, and the waiters singing, "Deck the hars with boughs of hawry, fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra". So apparently there is some difficulty in Asia pronouncing the "L" sound, resulting in the "R" sound.

Back to what we know as the "Banana Split" ... if you replace the "L" in Split with an "R", you get "Banana Sprit". Now, throw in a little accent and the result is "Banana Spirit".
Makes perfect sense. Quite humorous nonetheless.

p.s. No offense to any Asians reading this blog. I love Asians...I am Asian (half Asian anyway)

Bean Burrito-no red, no onion

Ever since I was a kid, my standard order at Taco Bell has been "one bean burrito--no red, no onion--, a regular nacho, and a small Mountain Dew." With a few rare exceptions, I have ordered this same meal for about 20 years. I don't eat at Taco Bell often, but when I do, that's what I get. And, I have a special way of eating it, too. I eat the chips plain and use the nacho sauce as a dip for my burrito. Mmmmm. . . so good!

I have have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. . .you can find just about anything you're looking for in Singapore. In this case, what we found was Taco Bell! Josh heard that there was a 3-in-1 KFC (a KFC branch that serves KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell items) at Shaw House on Orchard Road. Under "normal" circumstances, we wouldn't go out of our way to eat Taco Bell, but life here isn't exactly "normal." So, last night we made the long trek across the Island to see if the rumor was true.

Sure enough! On the 5th floor of Shaw House we found a sight for sore Californian eyes. . . the Taco Bell logo. Though the menu was VERY limited (there were only 5-6 Taco Bell menu items) I was able to get a bean burrito and a side of nacho cheese (no nacho chips on the menu). It had the delicious taste of familiarity; it tasted just like every other bean burrito dipped in nacho cheese sauce I've consumed in the last 20 years. =)

It took us over an hour to get there, and an hour and a half to get home, but I must admit, the familiar taste was worth every minute!

Now, if only we could find an In-n-Out. . .

Friday, September 14, 2007


I am sure this is an effective method for killing the dengue-carrying mosquitoes, but it makes you wonder what it does to the humans?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Multiple Choice Quiz

What is Singapore's National Pastime?
A) Shopping
B) Riding Escalators
C) Both of the Above

p.s.-this was another of my I'm-proud-of-this-photo photos =)

Singlish 101

The primary language in Singapore is English. For most Singaporeans, that means that English is their first language. However, that doesn't mean that they actually SPEAK English; they speak Singlish (English with a Singaporean twist). And, sometimes, Singlish is absolutely unintelligible for us American English Speakers.

We have recently been having problems with our air conditioner. The head of the maintenance crew they sent began explain to me what the problem was and what they were doing to fix it. I stood there, completely dazed. I knew that the words he was using were English words, but somehow, I couldn't understand anything he was saying! Try as he might and concentrate as I might, I never did figure out what he meant. Singlish at it's worst!

Thankfully, Singaporeans have a sense of humor and know that their English is "unique." Those two qualities combined result in some very funny Singlish jokes.

On our walk last night, we passed this new advertisement and had a good chuckle. Kudos to those of you who can actually decipher what the first guy is trying to say!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I surprised myself by taking this fairly-decent photo while we were walking around the Lily Pond at the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Having a photograph turn out reminds me how much I wish I knew more about photography!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Grocery Shopping

Yesterday, Caleb and I ventured out in the pouring rain to meet a friend at Suntec City Mall for lunch.

*side note: Getting out and about in Singapore is a whole different ball game. Gone are the days when I could just hop in the car parked in our garage and go. Never again will I complain about all the time it takes to buckle in a carseat! Our trip included a 1/2 mile walk to the bus stop where we waited 20 minutes to catch a bus, a 10-minute bus ride, another 1/2 mile walk to the MRT station (Singapore's equivalent to an above ground Subway system), a quick trip on the North-South Line and then a transfer to the East-West Line for a 30 minute train ride. Whew!! . . . an hour and a half, and 10-miles later, we arrived!

Kazumi (my Japanese friend who was born in Japan, raised in Hawaii and married a Singaporean) and I agreed that we were in the mood for a Subway sandwich. We walked from the MRT station to Suntec and proceeded to get lost looking for Subway. We were dead-set on finding it though, so after about 40 minutes of wandering aimlessly, we finally located it nestled next to the carpark (a nod to Singapore's ties to Britain) in the basement level. Our search was well worth the effort! When we got up to order, we found out they were offering a promotion. . . buy a 6-in sub sandwich and get a med drink and two cookies for free. The offer is good until September 4th, so I plan to go back at least twice between now and then! =)

After lunch, we got down to business and headed to Carrefour (a French grocery/super store). Normally, I have to walk a mile to the grocery store, carrying the stroller (with my 20 lb son in it) down 4 flights of stairs carved into the side of a hill, and then up and down two more flights of stairs to cross the pedestrian overpass. Getting there isn't the problem . . . it is getting home with all my groceries! When I heard that Carrefour delivers (for free!) any non-perishable items purchased at the store, I was ecstatic. Kazumi and Caleb were troopers. Kazumi pushed the overloaded cart and entertained Caleb whilst I perused the aisles buying everything from laundry detergent to olive oil to root beer. All in all, I came out with a very well-stocked pantry and enough cleaning supplies to take care of this place for the next few months. I dropped my purchases off to the delivery center, scheduled a delivery for today, and headed off to the MRT happy as a lark.

Caleb and the Carrefour Loot.

I've heard of mosquito repellent. . .

I've heard of mosquito repellent, but lizard repellent is a new one!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Point Taken

Perhaps it is the $500 fine and 3-months in jail (for first time offenders!) that discourages people from jaywalking in Singapore. Or. . .

perhaps it is the signs.

Why Monkeys like the Chinese Ghost Festival

The 7th Lunar Month (in 2007, that falls during the month of August) is the Chinese Ghost Festival. There is a very good overview of the festival here, but basically, during this month, the doors of heaven and hell are opened and the spirits of the deceased are free to roam. The Chinese (mostly Buddhist) make offerings of fruit, cakes and other treats to appease the tormented. They also burn incense and hell money to pay homage to their roaming ancestors. We have seen these altars all month throughout the City.

Last night, someone must have made an offering just outside our building because as I was sitting here at the computer this morning, I saw several of the trees on the hill behind our flat shaking violently. No. . . it wasn't the ghosts shaking the trees. It was monkeys. A lot of monkeys. Though I am certain that Satan and his devilish horde have been enjoying all this ritualistic idolatry, the beneficiaries of last night's offering was none other than the mischievous little gang of miniature primates.

There were at least 10, maybe closer to 15 monkeys swinging from the trees, chasing each other with fistfuls of fruit and cake. Every now and then, when their supplies ran low (and when the coast was clear) they would scamper down to the sidewalk and snatch up a few more treasures.

The sight of these playful, mischievous monkeys made me laugh. However, despite the antics of the wild monkeys, this month is a somber month. It is a constant reminder of the spiritual slavery in which many Singaporeans live. Pray that the Chinese here in Singapore would encounter the only Ghost worthy of worship, the Holy Ghost!