Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wouldn't You Quit?

Singapore has a very interesting way of "gently nudging" people to quit smoking. They plaster these lovely photos across every pack of cigarettes sold in the country.

Please excuse me for putting such grotesque things on my blog. I just thought a certain member of my family should see these. :)

I'd think just having to carry around a picture like that to support a bad habit is enough to make me give it up. We should do this in the States! I'm all for scare tactics to keep people healthy. Scare the bejesus out 'em. Smoke a cigarette and lose half of your face! I'd put them down. As a former "social" smoker, I'm happy to say that I will never touch one of those face eating things again. I'm way too conceited for that. I need my whole face.

I just thought it might be something for a certain someone to think about....

Friday, August 29, 2008

Singaporean Radio

So I was listening to the Singaporean radio today (on the way back from yet another understaffed mail run) and the DJ reported that the "still-pregnant Halle Berry might be getting engaged to her model boyfriend".

Ahem. Excuse me? Still pregnant? Really? Those 14 month pregnancies must be a bitch.

Isn't that kid called Nahla? and wasn't she born in MARCH? Way to check your facts there journalist. Remind me again why I don't have a job in this country?

Also, do you know what games they play on the radio here on Saturdays? Not the kind we're used to such as "guess this song clip and win two concert tickets to Miley Cyrus". They play the "give me your sleeping friend's phone number so that we can wake them up on national radio at 8 AM on a Saturday" game. Isn't that the cruelest thing you've ever heard? I would walk straight down to the radio station and back hand anyone that called me on a weekend morning for a laugh. Who would do that to someone they wanted to remain friends with? Also, who the hell cares to hear that? Just play the American music and shut up already.

On the plus side, I've found that Singaporean radio plays a much better variety than they do in the States. Back home, if you listen to one station for an hour, things start repeating. Here, they'll pull out forgotten songs of the 80's and 90's. I love it. Remember Robyn? They still play her here. Ah, awkward middle school dance memories.

I also heard that Avril Lavigne is throwing a concert in Malaysia. Rumor has it that they deemed the star "too sexy" and asked her to keep it tasteful. Ha ha. I live in a world where Avril Lavigne is too sexy. I guess I could see how her combat boots and men's tank tops could be over-the-top....in an Amish community.

Now I'm off to bed to finish the sleep that a mail run interrupted.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prayer of a bitter housewife

Dear God,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend a 5AM mail run with my husband today. I should actually thank you for his boss, who if he performed his job correctly, would not have given me the chance to "volunteer". I say this because if he had let his bosses know that the office wasn't adaquately staffed, then I wouldn't have gotten the opprotunity to work for free today, in secret, at 5AM. He must have known that I needed more time with my husband.

Thank you for giving me the strength to not yell at or curse at my husband who has become quite a chipper morning person. While I do enjoy rap music, I'm not sure I can ever enjoy it cranked up full blast in a mail truck that early....or ever. I'm sure even Kanye doesn't get up at 4:30 AM.

Please help me to understand how the Singaporean women wear heels all day and don't wince in pain with every step. I'd like to have feet of steel like them, but not the kind that is distorted and has weird knobs on the toes. Please just fix my sissy feet. The eight blisters I got from my four hour outing last night still hurt.

Which brings me to my last need God. Could you please give scabies to the person who thought it was a good idea to close the ONLY Taco Bell in Singapore. I'm sure he or she does not realize the error of his or her ways yet. In time, I promise to forgive them, but could you just help me out with the scabies right quick?

P.S. Thank you for sarcasm. Without it, I may not get through the day.

IJN,
Amen

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Silver Singapore

Over a hundred American Olympic athletes are returning home this week with medals. That's quite a lot, but not something unique to the USA. We usually have a large showing of talented stars at every Olympics and usually come home with LOTS of medals (even before the Phelps machine was around).

Now that I live in Singapore, I am realizing just how cool that is.
Singapore won it's first medal in 48 years in Beijing. It's first medal in 48 years! We're not talking it's first gold medal, we're just saying medal, period.

They got a Silver in....guess what. Ping pong. Yeah, ping pong. No shocker there. Those Asian kids are AMAZING "table tennis" (as they call it here) players.

Here's a pic I got from Xinhua of the Singapore table tennis star:


It's actually a pretty intense little game that they play. It's not at all like the "see how many times we can make it back and forth" games we used to play in Grandma Jackie's basement. These kids do tricks and fake-outs. Most of the time, I couldn't even follow where the ball was.

Needless to say, the Singaporeans were crazy excited. They keep playing the flag ceremony (the one with the Singapore flag to the side of the gold medal-winning flag) in commercials. They are mighty proud. Congratulations Singapore.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Our home away from home, away from home...


Last weekend, Aaron and I took a "holiday" to Bintan, Indonesia. Jennie (from the post office) and her husband Melvin brought us as a wedding gift. They might just be the sweetest people on Earth. We had a great time. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment:


When you arrive at the Nirwana Hotel Resort, they dance and play drums to welcome you. Can we say fun?! I was very excited.

Then they give you this watermelon tea drink thing. It is super delicious. I practically chugged mine.
This is the back view of the hotel. It's all open-air, which surprisingly stays cool.




Here's the hotel's infinity pool. Even though it was very pretty and had a swim-up bar, we spent our time on the beach.



We had to walk a little ways to get the more secluded beach, but it was so worth it. We had a whole stretch to ourselves.


The water is clear as glass. It's really cool at first and then when we noticed the creatures swimming next to us, we decided that dirty water might not be so bad. Ignorance is bliss, right?
The dancers from the resort put on a show for us during dinner. Then they came and gave us all a flower for our hair.

We will definitely be returning to Bintan. It was the perfect getaway to de-stress my little overworked postman. Many thanks to Jennie and Melvin for the great weekend. I kinda want to move there and just commute to Singapore. Can we arrange that?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My New 'Do



Singaporean heat inspired me to chop all of my hair off. My husband making me an appointment finally gave me the courage to let a Singaporean cut it off.
Now, I take back all those doubts I had about Singaporean hair stylists. Shirley (of Kim and Shirley's Salon on base) did an awesome job and I really really LOVE it! She was the most meticulous person I've ever had cut my hair and she even gave me a scalp massage during the shampoo. It was much appreciated. I was a tad nervous (but I wouldn't tell her or Aaron that). The haircut took about 2 hours. No jokes. Two reasons: 1) I had that much hair and 2) She washed, cut, re-washed, dried and flat-ironed my hair. How much did dear sweet Shirley charge for all of this? About $25. Is Shirley an angel from God? Yes. Why, yes she is.
We were going to attempt to donate the massive mound of cut hair to Locks of Love, but my length needed two more inches to be considered. I was sad to have my unintentional good deed of the day not work out. Boo.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Adam

Today my big brother turns 30. When I asked him what he wanted from his Singaporean sister for his birthday, his request was one I should expect from a big brother. He said he wanted me to eat a durian. Isn't that mean? Doesn't he want some new chopsticks? Or a fancy Singapore t-shirt? Nope? Fine.



I put it off as long as I could but, I finally did it. Here's the proof:


video


It was awful. Andrew Zimmer on the Travel Channel once described the taste as "rotting onions". He was so right. That's exactly what it tasted like. The texture was like a really old and slimy avocado. When I picked it up, it felt like wet bread dough.


After choking it down, we went and ate dinner to get the taste out of my mouth. It didn't so much work. My breath reeked like durian stew all night. I kept burping too, which gave me dry heaves. It filled my nose and mouth with the putrid gas of the stupid fruit.


Needless to say, I went to bed with a stomach ache. That's love. Happy Birthday big brother :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Only You Can Prevent Dengue

Move over West Nile, there's a bigger problem in Singapore: Dengue. (It's pronounced like "dingy".) Dengue fever to be exact. This disease is carried by the Aedes mosquito and make you very sick or worse, will kill you.

You can only get dengue fever by being bitten by an infected mosquito. These mosquitoes tend to bite the most during dusk and dawn. I'm not sure why. Rest assured though, Guinness and I don't go outside till well into the 10 AM time slot. As for dusk, I'm usually in the house or on the MRT. I'm not really an "outdoorsy" kind of girl, especially in a country with killer mosquitoes.


Just how big of a problem is it? It's pretty big. Hundreds of Singaporeans contract dengue fever each year. It usually gives you flu-like symptoms or even a skin rash. Sometimes it can develop into dengue haemorrhagic fever which causes internal bleeding of organs and such. Great.

Since the country is a very humid and rainy mosquito haven, the government has launched many many ads to get you to dump standing water in and around your home...and to scare the dengue out of you.



They play these ads on TV and in movie theatres everywhere. Here's one of the ads that I found on YouTube. There's also ads on buses, MRT ads and huge billboards in Singapore urging you to "STOP DENGUE".

This is one of the really terrifying ads that are out and about in Singapore.

While I think it's a little over the top, I'd agree that it's pretty damn effective.

Now, I'm not only scared of the snakes in Singapore. I'm scared of all things that crawl, jump and fly. Even the ants bite the crap out of you here.

The insects are pissed in Singapore.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Hello from Guinness the Menace

video

I guess with a face that cute, I can forgive him for his new found shoe fetish.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I heart chicken strips

Aaron and I are on a quest to find the best way to bread and fry chicken strips. In Singapore, the strips are pretty sub-par. Last night, we used our fancy new fryer from Myrna (thanks Myrna!) and made what we both agreed are our best yet. I'd compare them to Applebee's. The last time we made them, we concocted a batter like Chili's chicken strips (my Sis's fave). They were good, but a little greasy. However, despite the fact that the ones last night were good...I'd still like to figure out how to get the really crispy and crunchy ones that they serve in most restaurants. If anyone has any tips, please let me know. I'm also going to get working on a homemade honey mustard sauce. Martha would be proud.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Maybe Not So Natural After-all

So after Singapore cut the Americans out of the opening ceremony by quickly cutting to commercial last night, I was too angry to watch anymore of their broadcast of the event. I decided to surf the internet instead. I frequently read all kinds of blogs and usually end up browsing beauty industry sites. As I was surfing, I landed on a plastic surgery blog. Not something I think I could ever do, but fascinating none-the-less. What I found was very interesting: pictures of movie stars and a Hollywood plastic surgeon who pointed out what work they'd had done.

These pictures are Jessica Simpson in 1999 and again in 2007.
The doc says that she most certainly had an eye-lift between then and now and has also had her nose shaved down a smidge. I dunno about the nose, but I definitely think her eyes look way bigger. There was also a pic of her boobs from way back when, but I'm not even gonna go there.

Here's a pic of Angelina at about 16 and another one taken in the last 5 years.
"Dr. Hollywood" says that she's definitely had a nose job. I agree. It looks like it shrunk quite a bit. I'm pretty sure that noses don't get smaller as you get older. My grandma once told me that the two parts of your face that grow the fastest are your ears and your nose. This was not a good thing to tell a 13-year-old who was VERY self-conscious about her nose at the time. However, Angelina's genes must be ones of the shrinking variety. I see that her lips have been reeled in a bit as well.
I'm no doctor, but I'd say something un-natural has been going on here.


It's growing on me

I think you all know that I was pretty reluctant to try the food of Singapore at first. However, after trying a few things here and there, I'm finding that it's not so bad. Now, don't get me wrong, I'd still prefer to be able to go to Applebee's or Olive Garden for a familar airconditioned, evening. I'm just finding that the food isn't so terribly bad and I can sometimes get a little craving for it. (Don't worry Taco Bell, you're still my favorite.)

I've lifted some pictures of some Singaporean dishes that I've tried and liked recently.


This is Lumpia. It's actually a Filipino thing. Jenny from the post office (and who's also from the Phillipines) makes this for dinner parties and big functions. It's delicious. It's meat, veggies and spices diced up very small, wrapped in a rice flour tortilla and fried. Sometimes she serves it with chilli sauce. It's definitely a crowd pleaser. Think of it as an Asian chimichanga.

Next up is Mee Goreng. The first time I ate this, I was in the dark and was terrified. I don't think anyone should eat food they're unfamiliar with in the dark. This stuff was even scarier because it's noodles and lots and lots of vegetables, or so Aaron said. You have to watch them Asians though, sometimes they like to throw in some dried anchovies or other creatures that still contain heads and eyes. When they turned on the lights though, I saw no faces in the mass of noodles. It's safe.

I like this stuff. It tends to be VERY spicy at times. Aaron has to "doctor" his up to be able to eat a lot of it. Sometimes they put tofu in there and the other night we had some calamari and fish in it. Mmmmm.

Then there's the Curry Puff. It's exactly what it's called. A puffed pastry with a crap ton of curry in it. Surprisingly, it originated in Malaysia. I thought it was from India cuz you know those kids love curry. Anyways, I tried a curry puff just today and it was pretty good as well. The one I had had potatoes in it. I hear they make some with meat, beans, sardines, corn, grass jelly and even durian in them. I think I shall stop at potato.

And lastly, there's my beloved Sun Maki. I get this stuff from Sakae Sushi, a chain sushi restaurant that's everywhere here. I don't know much about what's in the Sun Maki and I prefer to keep it that way. Sushi ingredients tend to scare the bejesus outta me, so I like to be kept in the dark. I do know that it comes with a slice of avocado on top and anything with avocado on it has gotta be good, right? Please excuse the cheesy picture. I got all of these pics from the web and this is the only one I could find of the maki.

Guinness has also been expanding his food repertoire. This week he has discovered he likes:

ice cubes, hot dogs, dead birds, questionably dead geckos, peanut butter and fuzz from his stuffed animals.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where the White People Are

Yesterday, to cure my boredom, I made a trip down to Holland Village. I've heard lots things about this place including that a lot of expatriates (foreigners of Singapore) hang out there. That, in itself, was exciting to me because I hadn't seen large amounts of non-military white or black people in a long time. This is also the place where Toni & Guy Salon is, a salon that Singaporeans recommend "westerners" go to get their hair done. (and after seeing the kind of haircuts that Asians get, I'll definitely be going to the "white people place".) Holland Village just sounded like a non-Asian paradise on all the sites that I looked at. In my head, I imagined a little piece of Europe hidden in the middle of Singapore. I should have known, I always tend to imagine things a little greater and better than the actual version is.

There's a whole description of the place HERE on wikipedia.com.


So here is the view from the MRT platform in Sembawang. I tripped up the escalator, briefly lost my shoe and missed my train. So here I wait for the next one. Enjoy the picture...at my pride's expense.
It was about an hour's worth of travelling to get to Holland Village which including switching lines and getting a cab to complete the journey. Once I got there, I was pretty surprised to find that Holland Village was a measly street and not even a whole one at that. The two "shopping malls" there had about 20 stores in them combined...and all were Asian and Indian merchandise.

So I found a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and sat and people watched to kill time. Here's the view from my outdoor table.
Here's the view in the other direction.
This is the only thing that convinced me why they call it "Holland Village". Slap a dang dutch windmill on anything and is looks like a dutch town. Well done, Singapore.

So I was a little disappointed and to rub a little salt in the wound, on the way home, one cab driver overcharged me and another got lost and took me the wrong way home which ended up costing me double of what it was supposed to. I'm a little angry at Singaporean cab drivers right now.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention. White people in Holland Village? Yeah, about 15 of them. If you can pick them out of the 100's of Asians.
On a happier note, Aaron and I are playing Bingo tonight through the base's television station. If we get a Bingo, we're supposed to call in and receive a gift certificate to somewhere. Let's just hope it's not to Holland Village. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My recurring dream

Ever since I finished my last day of class at KU, I've had the same dream every few weeks.

In my dream, it's the week of finals and as I map out what day each of my finals are, I realize that I totally forgot that I enrolled in a class and thus never attended it. To make it that much weirder, the forgotten class in last night's dream was Advanced Typing. Seriously? I did not attend college in the 60s or the 70s and I'm pretty sure that it's not even a class anymore. Yet, I still panic and freak out because it means that I don't actually get to graduate. Without the dumb typing class, I'm still three credit hours short.

Isn't that the suckiest dream ever? It's very stressful and I wake up in a subconscious panic. Not a good way to start the day.

Brave Megan move of the week: (I think I shall try something daring each week to keep life interesting from now on, we'll see how long it lasts) Last night, I walked from the Sembawang MRT station, which is the closest one to our house, all the way down to S21 Hawker Stall by my lonesome and in the dark. Singapore is one of the safest places on Earth so don't freak out, Sis or Mom. When I got there, I ordered us dinner: pineapple rice, mee goreng and some beef dish that I didn't know how to pronounce and wasn't even sure what was in it. Take a risk, I told myself. After the cab ride home, Aaron and I tried the new dish and it was DELICIOUS. It was just a glorified black pepper flavored beef and noodles concoction. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself. Aaron pointed out a good point last night: when it comes to Asian food, it usually tastes better when you don't know exactly what's in it. As long as I don't see eyeballs looking at me in my sauce, I think that phrase will work.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Saturday in Batam

Yesterday, Aaron and I went to Indonesia on a whim. Ha ha. That's the weirdest statement: to Indonesia, on a whim. I love it.

Anyways, Jenny, the sweet lady that works with Aaron in the post office, was taking a few of the reservists over there before they left for home on Monday. She invited us along and since we'd never been and had nothing else to do, we went.

Batam is an island of Indonesia located to the south of Singapore. To get there, you have to take a ferry (a.k.a. a transport yacht). It's only about an hour ride from Singapore to Batam. Not too shabby. We got a nice view of the man-made beaches of Singapore and the millions of ships just chillin in the harbor. (Most of which are really in bad shape and look like they can sink at any minute.)

Here's Aaron and I waiting in the terminal to board the ferry to Indonesia.


This is the "transport yacht"/ferry that takes you over there. Inside, there are lines and lines of cheap-looking airplane seats and two bathrooms. It's not fancy by any means, but it's definitely nicer than the Staten Island Ferry in New York.

The currency in Indonesia is seriously on crack. One U.S. dollar is equal to 9,132.40 Indonesian Rupiah. It was really hard to fathom how much things cost. Especially since neither of our phones could figure the exchange rate for Rupiah. Thankfully, many places would accept Sing dollars.

This is the Mega Mall in Batam. It's a really great mall for cheap, real-looking knockoffs. However, that's about it. Needless to say, we didn't buy much.

Jenny said that Batam is more of a place to go for inexpensive shopping. Bintan is an Indonesian island just to the southeast of Batam and it's the prettier of the two. It's known for it's beaches and nightlife. We're going to try to plan a trip there next. Bring on the beaches and cocktails!

Back in Singapore, we stopped at Vivomart (the grocery store in Vivo City) to get some ingredients for my Rachael Ray Chili Dog Chili recipe. The Singaporeans didn't make this store "Aaron-proof". His head hit the signs hanging from the ceilings. He was sad.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Singapore Family Game Night

To curb our spending (which easily gets out of control in an expensive place like Singapore), we've begun cracking into our stash of board games. Thank goodness our friends at home bought us these as wedding gifts.

Wednesday night, we played The Game of Life: Twists and Turns. It was a much more modern and realistic version of the old Game of Life. In this one, you choose whether you go to college (which also determines whether or not you get promotions later), whether you want to get married and have children or whether you want to spend your life traveling or working. You also get to choose how long you play by programming the console to how many years you want to play. We played three games: 15 years, 20 years and five years. I won two games out of three. Apparently I'm more into getting married and having children and Aaron is more into making money. (You get more "life" points from "life" experiences and that's why I usually win).

Thursday night, we decided to test our minds and play Trivial Pursuit Greatest Hits: 80s, 90s and Pop Culture 2 Edition. We thought we'd be awesome at this one. However, it turns out we don't pay attention all that much to things going on in the world. One game lasted over three hours because we couldn't answer a question to save our lives. It was at least a learning experience.


We have many many more games to try out. Game night brings out the competitive jerk in both of us and makes for a hilarious evening. Aaron is a taunter....until he starts losing. I want to play the game all night...until I start losing. You'd never know we actually liked each other in a heated match. Pretty funny.

It's all good fun and it keeps us from sitting in front of bad TV.