Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas on Orchard Raod

Every year for the last 25 years, Orchard Road, Singapore's designer shopping district, transforms at Christmas into a magical world of lights and 50-foot trees (well, one 50-foot tree and several others well past the 30-foot mark). It feels so Christmassy, except that instead of mittens and scarves, almost everyone is in shorts and tanktops!

Here are a few pictures. . . I hope you enjoy them =)

A Winter Wonderland--2007
Josh and Caleb in front of Tangs

An icy effect. . . but I mean that in a good way.

A Sweet Christmas--2008
Caleb admires his new basketball; Annabelle admires the lights =)

This arc is about 4 lanes wide!

This is one of about 5 displays telling the Christmas Story.
The REAL Christmas Story.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Team blogging

The last two posts were by Josh, but for some reason, Blogger attributed them to me. Not that I wouldn't be willing to take credit for them, but since they weren't mine, I figured I better set things straight.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Recent Trips (part 2): Phuket, Thailand

Thailand is a must-visit for anyone traveling in Southeast Asia... why? ... because the beaches are beautiful, the rock formations are amazing, the water is blue, the food is great (mostly), and the people are friendly. Hence, our 3rd visit to Thailand in less than 2 years. I'm opting to embed a slide-show for this post since (I think) the picture quality will be better.

Recent Trips (part 1): Hong Kong, Macau

One of the (many) beauties of living in Singapore is the fact that it's a major hub in Southeast Asia...translation: it's really easy to travel to many different countries. There's always the caveat of vacation time & funds to make the traveling possible, but teaching has opened up more time than my previous jobs, and inexpensive flights make the funding a bit more affordable.

Even though Singapore is a great place to live or visit, it's always a treat to leave Singapore and escape the heat/humidity for a little while.

In October, we visited Hong Kong...second time for me (Josh), but first time for our family. It's amazing how much you can cram into a short vacation of 3 full days. Here's a quick picture-synopsis...

who likes airplanes?

disneyland hotel

disney mtr

whoopin' it up at starbucks


two international finance center

view from the peak

peak terrace

praia grande (portugese restaurant)

a-ma temple

macau tower

ruins of st. paul's

lovin' it

disneyland hollywood hotel pool (annabelle's first swim)


Friday, November 21, 2008


Did you know that drug trafficking in Singapore is a capital offense? I'd seen the signs in the airport, but figured they were probably scare-tactics to make would-be offenders think twice. Apparently not. I recently read this article in the local newspaper. That got me curious about the subject. I read an interesting analysis and then looked at these stats. It turns out that Singapore has one of the highest per-capita execution rates in the world. In case you're not able to read the articles yourself, here is a quote that helps explain the government's position on this issue:

"The basic difference in our approach springs from our traditional Asian value system which places the interests of the community over and above that of the individual. . .In criminal law legislation, our priority is the security and well being of law-abiding citizens rather than the rights of the criminal to be protected from incriminating evidence."
Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew

Agree or disagree, you can't argue with the fact that Singapore has done an amazing job of maintaining a low crime rate.

The Best Burger in Town

Okay, I know this is risky because not all taste buds were created equal, but I am pretty confident that I have found the best burger in town (Carl's Junior doesn't count since it's technically fast food. One could make a pretty good case for their burgers, though).

The Bacon Mushroom Cheese Burger at BlooiE's Roadhouse at the Rail Mall on Upper Bukit Timah Road is awesome. Seriously. I'm married to a burger fan and we've tried burgers all over the island. This burger is amazing. I don't normally like mushrooms on my burgers, but this is different. They must have cast a yummy spell on these mushrooms because I just can't get enough of them!

If you're really not in the mood for mushrooms and you refuse to take my word on it that you'll feel differently after you've tasted the Bacon Mushroom Cheese Burger (which wouldn't make sense --why would you go at all if you didn't want to take my word for it), then I suppose you can opt for the Chilli Burger. It's pretty awesome, too.

(I'm not too good at photographing food, but even so, doesn't this Bacon Mushroom Cheese Burger look yummy?)

Go try it. Even if you don't think it's THE best burger, I am certain you'll agree that it's way up there!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Health Care in Singapore--Part V

(Click the links to read Parts I, II, III and IV.)

This will (most likely) be my last installment in the Health Care series. Of course, there is more to say and I've only scratched the surface, both of my own experiences and of the entire topic, but yesterday was my "last" appointment in this prenatal/labor&delivery/postpartum saga so I think it is a good time to end this series.

I don't know if this last post is a informative piece. . . I think it would be more apropos to call it a tribute to a very good doctor.

A Doctor Who Remembers My Name

Searching for health care in a new country is kind of scary. There are so many questions and everything is so unfamiliar. And, it's not like you're looking to get your car serviced. You're dealing with the most precious possessions you have--your life and health, and the life and health of those you love. When you do find a skilled doctor who seems to genuinely care, it's a huge blessing.

Dr. Lee
(my apologies to Annabelle who was awoken from a nap for this snapshot)

I don't know how Dr. Lee does it, but she knows who I am. She knows my name, my husband's name, my kids' names. She remembers and asks about things I've mentioned at previous appointments. Things like how my sister-in-law enjoyed her visit and how Josh's teaching is going. And the most impressive. . . she remembered that I ran into her in passing two months ago.

I would expect to remember her details. . . after all, I only have one doctor. But, she has hundreds of patients; that fact that she knows me is much more impressive. So, in addition to her medical expertise, I was greatly impressed with her people skills. . . skills that made me feel like a real person and not a number in a chart.

She's a great doctor and if you're planning to have a baby here in Singapore, I'd highly recommend her!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Health Care in Singapore--Part IV

The ER
(Click here for Parts I, II, and III)
Thankfully, I haven't had any personal experience with Singapore's emergency rooms, however that leaves me shorthanded on giving you any sort of assessment of the ER service here. So, instead of breaking a bone or contracting a sudden illness, I did the next best thing-- I stole the following entry my friend regarding her recent visit to the ER. If you're interested in another take on Singapore, I'd recommend you to Gina's blog. She's always full of entertaining anecdotes.
The Cost of Peace of Mind

When your daughter has had a fever for three days and suddenly starts complaining that her neck hurts a lot, the wise doctors on the web say "Go to the hospital immediately!" So I did.

I suspected it might just have been stiffness from lack of activity, or too much movie watching (she's been a pretty tired little girl) but it was 7 p.m. and I didn't want to wait until midnight, realize I really should have taken her in, and then spent a miserable night in the ER, or worse yet, have a really sick little girl.

Thankfully Lisa the maid could stay with Ethan, so Megan grabbed her pink bear for comfort and we went. The ER at the KK Children's Hospital here is a slick operation. S$80 will cover everything you do during your visit. We got in to see the doctor quickly, and she ordered a blood test to rule out meningitis. We had to wait what they said would be 40-60 minutes but which turned into more like 90 for the results. You know what's cute for about 5 seconds? Those squeaky shoes people put on their toddlers. You know what's not cute after 90 minutes? Yeah.

I did get a chance to be entertained by watching I Survived a Japanese Game Show for the first and hopefully only time. Don't get me wrong - I laughed, but watching that level of shame and pettiness is something I can skip. Where do they get the people for reality shows? One of the great mysteries of life.

Before the blood test, the doctor said she didn't suspect it was meningitis, but wanted to be sure. I called Ethan because I knew he would be worried. Somewhere in his life he developed a deep fear of illness - is it post traumatic syndrome from living through SARS? I don't know. He told me he'd been very worried, and Lisa told him to read his Bible. Man, I love this woman. He said, "So I went to Lego Bible and then played a few games and felt better."
One of these days I need to convince my son that Lego Bible is not the same as the other Bible.

After all was said and done, the doctor said she just has a viral fever and it can run its course. I have to say, a Singaporean accent is sometimes hard for me to understand. But a Singaporean accent in a hospital full of screaming babies, when spoken through a surgical mask, might as well be another language. But she got the job done and we were back home by 9:30 p.m.

Going to an emergency room at 7 p.m. in Singapore: S$80. Finding out that your daughter just has yet another tropical mystery illness and NOT meningitis: Priceless.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Friends (part 2)

The only problem with visits from friends is that they have to end.

After two fun-filled weeks with Yvette, we had to send her back to California on Saturday. If only she could have stayed another week or two (or three or four).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Weekend in Bali

Since Yvette is here for a visit, we decided last Thursday to take a last minute weekend trip to Bali. (I know I've mentioned it before, but one of the most awesome things about living in Singapore is its close proximity to really cool places, like India, Thailand, and Bali. It's super cool to be able to grab a cheap last-minute ticket for a 2-hour plane ride and end up at some exotic tropical destination. Even if that were Singapore's ONLY perk, it would be a very significant one. Anyway, back to Bali. . . )

We stayed in a beautiful private villa in Seminyak, a small town on the south side of the island. I forgot to get pictures of the inside of the villa, but here are a couple pictures of the outside:

Every morning, a butler came in to cook us breakfast and clean up the villa and a driver was available to us for day trips. On Saturday, we drove to a popular beach about 30 minutes from Seminyak and enjoyed a few hours on the beach. The waves were awesome and the water stayed shallow for a long distance, so Caleb enjoyed splashing in the surf.
The Beach Babe

Saturday evening, we went to Ku De Ta, a chic restaurant right on the beach. It was highly recommended by all of the travel sites and so we were really wanting to check it out. We called for reservations, but were told that nothing was available. We decided to just show up and see if we could get a table. And, sure enough, they found us something. The food was awesome (though a bit pricey) and, if you're ever in Bali, you should definitely go.

Sunday, we took a scenic trip to Katamani Volcano. We passed through several small villages and enjoyed the stunning beauty of the mountainous rice paddies.

We were scheduled to return home Sunday evening, but were having so much fun, we decided to extend our stay. Josh had to be back for work on Monday morning, but he insisted that Yvette and I stay an extra day and enjoy our mini-vacation. His suggestion was met with nothing but enthusiasm on our part =) We spent the last day walking around the shopping district of Seminyak and talking with the locals. We dedided that Seminyak is the Santa Cruz (California) of Bali. Everyone is super laid back and surfer-ish in an Indonesian sort of way. It was fun to talk with a few people and learn more about what life is like when you live on Paradise Island. We finished out a trip with one last swim in the pool in our villa and headed to the airport, thankful for a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


(taken in Thailand, Oct 2007)

One week from today, Yvette will be arriving for her SECOND visit. I am really looking forward to seeing her and hanging out. Skype is awesome and it has definitely made living 1/2 a world away from all our friends and family a lot easier but there "ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Health Care in Singapore--Part III

(Please recall that all of my comments are based on experience. . . if you live in Singapore and have had a different experience, please leave a comment and let me know what health care has been like for you.)

The Doctor's Office
In Part I, I gave an brief overview of my "credentials" for reviewing the Singapore health system. In Part II, I talked about walk-in clinics. Today, I want to talk about the Doctor's Office. No, not the whole building, the doctor's actual office. The one you rarely see if you're a patient in the US.

For those that haven't experienced health care in America, here is a brief description of what to expect at an ordinary appointment. You check in with a receptionist and wait in a common waiting room until a nurse opens a door to the "back office" and calls your name. She then escorts you from the central waiting room to a generic exam room. When you arrive in the room, she takes your stats and finds out why you're there. She then (depending on the reason for your visit) tells you to strip down and dress in a paper gown, sit your buns on the cold examining table and wait for the doctor to come in. At that point, she disappears and you're left to undress, peruse the lame magazines, take your seat on the exam table and wait. And wait. And wait. Then, after you've finished reading all of the lame magazines and even a few of the brochures entitled things like "Facts about Nicotine" and "10 Signs You're at Risk for a Stroke", you hear a polite knock on the door and it opens before you have a chance to say "come in." The doctor gets right down to business. He goes over your symptoms, completes the exam, fills out a prescription and then asks if you have any more questions. But before you have a chance to formulate a reply, he is out the door again, leaving you to dress and show yourself out. This is, I will admit, a very efficient system for seeing a large number of patients in as little time possible. But, it isn't very personable.

No so in Singapore. In Singapore, the nurse calls your name and takes you in to the doctor's office. The doctor is seated at his desk and invites you to have a seat across from him. He asks a few questions and reviews your file. Then (depending on the reason for your visit) you step behind a curtain and undress, put on a covering and sit on the exam table. The doctor completes the exam, returns to his desk and waits for you to dress and return to your chair. After you've returned and he has explained his findings, he asks if there is anything else you want to discuss. At that point, he's at your mercy. Since you're the one who has to get up to leave, you hold the power. The appointment isn't over until you decide to get up and leave. It's a much different feeling. In a way, it's weird.

It's like meeting the Queen of England, and not standing when she enters the room. You definitely feel like you're breaking protocol. At my first appointment here, after the doctor asked if I had any questions (which I didn't), I just sat there, completely unsure of what I was supposed to do. I felt weird "dismissing" the doctor so I sat there, hoping the doctor would eventually kick me out. Finally, after a long and awkward pause, the doctor politely told me that whenever I was ready, I could go back out to the receptionist to schedule another appointment.

Granted, it isn't the most efficient system, but since doctors here in Singapore carry a much lighter patient load than in the US, it works. And, I, for one, am a fan! I love seeing the doctor in his natural habitat (the books and family pictures and stacks of papers). I love having to decide when the appointment is over. I feel like I'm in a Normal Rockwell Painting. . . only the doctor is Asian =)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Health Care in Singapore--Part II

(Click Here for Part I)

Hawker Doctors
One of the most convenient things about health care in Singapore are the numerous walk-in health clinics (aka Hawker Doctors because they are usually located in all the local shopping areas along with the food hawkers and mom-n-pop shops selling every sort of random item imaginable). These clinics aren't fancy, but they are reasonably reputable (for the most part) and cheap beyond all get-0ut. A visit to a GP will only set you back S$10-20 (US$6-15), including a prescription or two!

I don't prefer to use these hawker doctors but in a few instances, they have been an huge blessing. For things like sudden high fevers, ear aches, a bee sting reaction, and a horrible heat rash, the extended hours and the fact that we were able to walk in without an appointment made hawker doctors the perfect alternative. Not to mention, they are everywhere so the farthest we had to travel with our sick kid was only a bus stop or two.

Like I said, I wouldn't recommend going to just any hawker doctor, especially for important issues, but for most of those everyday illnesses where you already know what is wrong and just need a doctor to prescribe some meds, they are totally great.

Just be sure you find one whose Singlish is understandable.

Up next in the series: The Doctor's Office

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Health Care in Singapore--Part I

While I am certainly not an expert on Singapore's health care system (check out this article, or if you're really interested, read this book, to find out what the experts have to say), I do have a few observations based on my experiences over the last year--normal well-baby and not-so-well baby visits for Caleb over the last year, "shopping" for the right OB doctor to oversee my prenatal care, and giving birth to Annabelle.

One of the reasons I was open to moving to Singapore was the statistic I had read that Singapore had one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world (update: as of 2008, it has THE lowest), much lower, in fact, that the US. So, while I didn't know much about Singapore, I was guessing that the medical care here was at least comparable, if not superior, to the care I could get in California. I have not been disappointed.

Singapore has a very healthy (pardon the pun) and extensive public health care system, however, because we have private insurance through our employer, we have not needed to access the public health care system. My observations are limited to the private health care system and a few visits to Hawker Doctors, which I will talk about next.

(To be continued. . . )

Monday, September 15, 2008

An Entrepreneur's Dream

Interested in small business? If so, check out this article. I was surprised to find that Singapore was sitting at #1 and the USA at #3.

Camping -- Singapore Style

I am still working on a post about the medical care here in Singapore, but in the mean time. . .

I thought you'd enjoy this picture of the campsites at East Coast Park. Notice the expressway in the background, as well as the high-rise apartment building. IF I were going to camp (which won't be any time soon), I think I'd at least want to camp somewhere where I wasn't listening to the drone of cars all night long. I guess the upside of camping Singapore style is that McDonalds, home of the S$.60 ice cream cone, is only a 3 minute walk from your tent's front door =)

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Another thing I like about living in Singapore. . .

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Time Zones

One perk about living in Singapore is the fact that we are in the same time-zone as China. Most of the time, this isn't a huge advantage, but when it comes to the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, it is. Josh and I were able to watch the Ceremonies LIVE last night, but in order to watch them live in CA we would have had to get up at 5AM (which means, we wouldn't have watched them!).

If you didn't get a chance to watch the Ceremonies, you missed out. They were amazing. The choreography was stunning. There were over 4000 dancers/drummers/etc. . . and as far as I could tell, every single one of them carried out a flawless performance. As far as I am concerned, Beijing takes the gold medal for Best Opening Ceremonies.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Visit from Family

Yesterday, Josh's family arrived. We three have mushroomed into 13 (and two more arriving this weekend)! We'll be keeping busy the next 10 days.

I'll post updates as I can, but this picture will give you a taste of the pandemonium that has ensued =)

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Cheap Way to Spend a Summer Day

(. . .or a Winter Day since there are no seasons in Singapore)

Where: Sentosa Island
Cost: $3/adult (kids free)
What: Pack a picnic lunch and hang out on the beach, enjoying the only significant breeze in Singapore. Hike the Jungle Trail. Play in the cool water feature near Siloso Beach.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Tropical Shower

For those of you who have never lived in a tropical zone, I thought you might enjoy a sample of typical weather conditions here in Singapore. I think the following sufficiently demonstrates why I never bother to check the weather forecast:

Today's Weather :

10:00-Sunny, Hot & Humid
10:15-Overcast, Thundering, Hot & Humid
10:20-Sunny, Hot & Humid
10:30-Raining, Thundering, Cool and Windy
10:45-Sunny, Hotter and more Humid

NOTE: The sound quality on this video does not capture the window-rattling, earth shaking thunder that accompanies these downpours.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


One of the wonderful things about living in Southeast Asia is the fact that we can travel to some really cool places. This last weekend, we took a short trip to India. I'll probably post more about my thoughts on that amazing country, but for now, I hope you enjoy the video.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Morning Walk

Two days ago, Caleb and I were walking home from the grocery store. The wind was blowing (a storm was looming) and each time a gust of wind passed, leaves fluttered to the ground around us. During one such gust, I heard a large leaf hit the stroller . . . probably a leaf attached to a twig, I thought. I had my eye on the bus stop ahead, hurrying toward the shelter in hopes to get there before the rain started.

All of a sudden, I had this "feeling". . . you know, the feeling you get when you just KNOW someone (or something in this case) is staring at you. I glanced down toward the stroller and saw a pair of beady eyes staring straight at me. YIKES!!! There, about 3-inches away from my hands was a bright green, 18-inch lizard perched atop the stroller, his tail hanging down into the stroller, just missing Caleb's head! Now for the record, I'm not afraid of lizards, but there is something unnerving about having one drop from the trees above you and join you for your morning walk unexpectedly.

The lizard seemed quite content to sit on the stroller, so after I composed myself, I gently pulled Caleb out so that he could get a look at our little friend. We were able to get quite a good look at him. He had a very long tail, a lime green body, and a spikey, bluish ridge on his head. He was pretty cool looking, once the initial shock wore off.

After about a minute, he grew bored with us and leaped into some nearby bushes and disappeared. We said our goodbyes and continued on with our walk, as if nothing had happened.

Image from

I didn't have my camera (after all, I was only going to the grocery store) but I was able to find a site that shows all the lizard species of Southeast Asia. The Green Crested Lizard description fit our pal perfectly. I think were lucky to catch a glimpse of one, since they have nearly gone extinct on the island thanks to the introduction of another species called the Changeable Lizard. Anyway, here is the link . . . check it out. There are several good pictures.