Monday, March 31, 2008

Mythbusters Goes Down Under

The Redin family just got back from a week-long trip to Western Australia where we did a little mythbusting. We entered Australia with quite a few expectations about what life Down Under is like; some were confirmed, others busted. In case you never make it to Australia to do your own mythbusting, here are a few our favorite discoveries:

#1 Kangaroos hop about freely in the Outback.
CONFIRMED. We took a day's drive up into the edge of the Outback, about 4 hours outside of Perth (the largest city in Western Australia). Our drive took us up along the coast and then inland a ways. Signs like ---> were common. But we weren't interested in seeing signs about kangaroos. We wanted to see actual kangaroos frolicking about in the bush. After all, we'd come a long way and felt those kangas practically owed us an appearance. Being the docile, accommodating creatures that they are, just after we began to complain aloud that kangaroos were a myth, four (two separate sightings of two) roos appeared, flashed us winsome smiles, waved (well, sort of) and then hopped back off to their happy, bush-dwelling lives.

In addition to kangaroos, we also spotted several wild emus, quokkas (stuffed animal sized kangaroo), and other various and sundry Australianesque animals. All in all, we were quite happy with our wildlife sightings. So, yes, folks. . . there really are kangaroos in Australia.

#2 The beaches in Australia are awesome.
Confirmed. We spent several afternoons enjoying the gorgeous white-sand beaches near Perth. The water was amazingly clear and colorful. We've seen quite a few beaches around the world, but those in Australia rank up there with the best of the best. And, we didn't even go to the beach-famous part of the Continent. We've heard it said that the beaches on the eastern side of the big island are even better.

#3 The Outback is full of delicious steakhouses.
BUSTED. Sorry, folks, Outback Steakhouse has you fooled. Not only are there no steakhouses in the Outback, there isn't anything (besides kangaroos. . . see above) else out there either! We drove for hours on end and stopped at the one and only restaurant (a little pizza shop) we could find in a tiny town in the middle of next-to-nowhere. We searched high and low in the Perth area for a good old fashioned, Australian-style bbq steak but we never found it. In fact, I did a bit of research on the Outback chain and it turns out they're headquartered in Florida! So, unless all those Australian steakhouses are hiding in other parts of the country, we're going to have call this one a myth!

#4 All Australians say "G'day, mate."
PLAUSIBLE. We can't say for sure that all Australians say it, but we can say for sure that we had several (and I mean several as in quite a few) greet us with this chipper hello. For some reason, Caleb seemed to be the popular target for this greeting, but that could be attributed to the fact that more people say hello to him anyway. So, go ahead. . . when doing your best Australian impersonation, throw a few of these in there for good measure.

#5 Australian Easter Bunnies lay eggs.
BUSTED. Okay, this isn't really a myth at all, but I had to figure out some way to get a few cute pictures up here of Caleb with the bunnies at a petting farm we visited in the Swan Valley. We happened to visit the petting farm Easter Sunday afternoon and, as suspected, not one of the bunnies laid an egg. We did see a few chicken eggs, however.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Singapore Sky

Coming from Central California, where big puffy clouds are a rarity, Josh and I have been particularly enamored with the stunning, dramatic sky here in Singapore. Although the skyline is littered with high-rise buildings, every now and then, you can find a spot with an unadulterated view.

Psalm 19:1-3
The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Pic1: Taken from bus stop on Upper Bukit Timah Road.
Pic 2: Taken at bus stop near Summerset MRT station.
Neither photo is altered any way, except to crop out a few trees at the bottom.


I can't remember if I've commented on durian here or not. . . if I have, please forgive me for repeating myself, but there are some things this American just cannot get used to, and durian is one of them.

For those of you who don't know, durian is a tropical fruit that is quite popular in Asia. I has a spikey outer shell and a fleshy orangish-yellow inside.

If only I could somehow figure out a way to make a scratch-and-sniff post, I can nearly guarantee that 100% of my readers would know exactly what I mean when I say durian is definitely the worst smelling fruit in the world.

I know I am not alone in this opinion since the nasty-smelling fruit is banned from nearly every public place here in Singapore. You see signs (like the one at the right) in every train, bus, and mall. How people can get the fruit close enough to their mouth to eat it, I don't know. The smell is overwhelming from even 100 feet away.

Despite its nasty scent, durian is popular here amongst the locals. You can find a wide variety of durian products: durian candy, durian pastries, durian ice cream, fresh durian, dried durian, and durian perfume (just kidding).

I must admit that Singapore is known for its discriminating and refined cusine, but somehow or other, durian slipped under the radar. An amazing feat for such a stinky fruit!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Play Money

When I have a crisp green linen USD$20 in my wallet, I usually think twice before breaking it. But, give me a brightly colored, papery S$50, I have no trouble parting with it. . . after all, it isn't REAL money.

Good thing I don't see them often!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kaya Toast

When Yvette came for a visit in October, she brought with her a travel-guide and a wealth of information about what the "locals" do here in Singapore. One of the things she introduced me to was Kaya Toast (a breakfast treat served at the local coffee shops. . . toasted white bread, a slab of butter and coconut egg jam). I was hooked the first time I tried it!

I just discovered a little coffee shop only a few bus stops down the road (opposite direction from the way I usually go), so Caleb and I went there yesterday to enjoy some hot chocolate, Kaya, and a little reading-time. All for less than $5-Sing.

It was a delightful morning outing and one I plan on repeating soon. . . but not too soon, because Kaya isn't exactly low-calorie!