Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How am I the weird one?

I was having a conversation with my Singaporean coworkers today about table utensils. We often talk about random things. It makes for the most interesting conversations, as you will soon read.

The conversation began with me feeling bad about continually using plastic utensils at lunch that I just throw away after each use. It's not very green of me at all. So I told them that I wanted to find some inexpensive metal utensils, but also didn't want to have to buy a whole set either.

The conversation went as such:

Singaporean 1: Oh, dat's ok Megan. I just bring some in for you. What you want, just a spoon and fork, lah?

Me: You know, I really just eat with a fork and knife. I rarely use a spoon.

Singaporean 2: Oh that's right. Typical American. Always eats with a knife and fork.

Me: Yes, because I need a fork to cut my food.

Singaporean 2: You use a spoon for that, just like the rest of the world. There they go again. Americans always have to be different.

Me: What? The rest of the world uses a fork and knife too. It's common sense. When you need a utensil to cut something, you use your knife.

Singaporean 2: You can use a spoon! The spoon works just as well to cut.

Me: Why would I use a blunt, round utensil to cut when a knife is made for just that?

Singaporean 2: Nevermind you, it's a British thing.

Me: The British do that? I thought they used a knife and fork too?

Singaporean 2: No no no. That's just an American thing.

Ok, I call Bullhonkey. This cannot be just a weird Americanism.

So I consulted Google. In fact, I've been Googling this issue for over an hour.

This is what I found: The Brits use a knife. Proof is here. In fact, most American table manners are derived from Britain. Also, most of Europe also uses a knife.

Not only that, but only in Southeast Asia is it even acceptable to hold both a fork and a spoon at the same time while eating.

But that's not really the issue we're discussing here today.

I'm still stuck on the whole "knife is better than spoon" pish posh. Where on Earth did Singapore get the idea that a spoon is a better cutting utensil than a knife?

It makes no sense.

I know it's not just my coworkers that think this way. It's a collective opinion in Singapore. Not a single hawker stall that we've gone to has provided a knife. It's either a fork and spoon, or a spoon and chopsticks. Knives seem to not exist here.

It's not usually a big deal as most Asian food is served bite-sized. However, in the event that they serve you chicken with the bones still in it (which is usually the case), it'd be nice to have a knife to cut it off. We've had many an accident trying to that with a spoon.

And by "accident", I mean chicken flying across the table and onto the floor or in my lap.

So no. I'm not convinced that the spoon is a better alternate to the knife. Several curry chicken stains to the crotch can count as my proof.

BUT, I will say this. Eating Asian cuisine with both a spoon and fork in your hands at the same time has proved to be much easier than the American one-handed utensil method. It's a better rice getter. Forks by themselves just make a mess of rice on your plate.

There, I've said my peace.

And now I can sleep tonight.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Joi Chua, is that a microphone....

or are you just happy to see us?

RazorTV posted the following video today:

Um....I don't think its your sexuality they're questioning (although that may come later.) I think they're questioning your gender, Joi Chua.

What is that thing?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Glee for Singapore

Last week, Singapore was mentioned on Glee, my newest favorite show. I was pretty excited.

I was all "Hey! I live there! Yes! They cane the crap out of people! It does work! Hey, I'm here now!".

Then, I mellowed out and realized that it's a little sad that the only thing Americans know about this little island is that they cane the crap out of their criminals.

I'd just like to say that they have delicious chicken rice and BBQ stingray as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tailored for the Sailor Ball


months and months of agonizing,

weeks and weeks of stressing,

and many many conversations in which I talked myself out of hundreds of choices,

I finally found a dress for the upcoming Navy Ball.

This time I got smart about it: I ordered it online. I was NOT going through the headache and stress of shopping for one here again. Remember last year's dilemma? Yeah, me and the overpriced Christmas ornament dresses were not going round and round again.

Thank God for I found a really pretty dress and had it shipped here for almost the same amount that I paid for last year's dress.

Sweet. Even sweeter because the quality is waaaay better than last year's dress.

It arrived in six days. A friggin' record for shipping times to Singapore. The only problem? It was just a smidgen on the large marge side. An inch and a half needed to be taken in on it for Victoria to keep her Secret.

What I really needed was my mom. My mom hems all of my clothes that are too big. Even with MS she can still fix the trickiest of seams. She's come to my rescue about a million times.

But Mom's not here. She's in Kansas. So I needed a Singaporean that knew how to sew. And sew pretty dang well, at that.

I enlisted the help of my dear Singaporean friend from work. She'd told me a few times about how cheap it is to have things tailored here and how she has stuff altered all the time. I was a tad skeptical of her claims.

Until I needed a tailor myself. Then I decided to shut up and trust her.

Because she's a very nice person, she agreed to take me herself, to the tailor she's been seeing for years.

Here's where she brought me:

I know what you're thinking. I was thinking the same thing. It's a swimsuit store.

But au contraire, my friend. It's a swimsuit/alteration store. There's a cute little Asian seamstress pluggin' away at a sewing machine in the back. She doesn't speak a lick of English, but she's a cutie. Cuteness always bridges the language gap. It also made me less nervous that she couldn't understand what I was saying as I showed her the tricky seams and problematic beading. She just nodded and kept being cute. No conversation needed. I was sure she'd know what to do. She's cute. Cute people can't mess up things.

At least this is what I told myself through this whole nerve-racking process. "The cute girl can't mess up your dress, she's too cute!"

So anyways, they had me try on the dress to put the pins in at the right spots.

Where do you do that in a swimsuit shop?

Right here is where.
Oh yeah. That little curtain is the fitting room. In the middle of the shop. The curtain swings around and gives you as much space as you'd find in a closed tanning bed. It's a little tight. I make do with what I'm given in Singapore. It's best not to cast your spoiled American thoughts around here. People call you mean names when you do that.

So I went with it.

After I was pinned and content with the new seam positions, I changed and handed over my dress and another button up dress shirt that I'd also been needing to get taken in.

The little old man (who I'm assuming owns the shop) told us it'd be ready anytime the following week. That's pretty impressive considering we were there on a Thursday.

Even so, we went ahead and gave them a full week before we picked anything up. I don't like to rush people that have semi-expensive things of mine.

As soon as we walked in a week later though, it was ready to go. I tried it on and it was perfect. It looked like nothing had been done to it at all, only it was a size smaller.

And then something crazy happened.

They only charged me $18 (US) for the alteration of the dress AND the shirt. Isn't that insane? Less than $20 to alter a gown and a dress shirt!

That's crazy talk. I didn't even have that much altered on my wedding gown and that chick charged us well over a hundred bucks for that alteration. I felt like I was almost stealing.

"Excited" can only begin to describe my mood upon leaving this place. I could've danced out of there.

I'm gonna go play in my closet this weekend and see what else I can "fix" now. It's cheap here!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stupid Paparazzi

There are two reasons I rarely go out in Singapore

This is one of them.

It's inevitable. Someone always catches me doing something awkward and embarrassing.

There are endless pictures of me on Facebook with ridiculous facial expressions and odd poses.

This time, I was changing my shoes. Singapore is mean to people wearing heels. It makes you hike long distances to find things like bars and taxis and bathrooms.

I rarely wear heels here. Apparently, my feet can still feel pain. I've not yet developed the tolerance of the high-heeled Singaporean women. I think their feet are permanently numb from years of high-heeled hiking.

Oh and the other reason I don't go out?

A friggin' cocktail costs $18.

I can buy a whole bottle of vodka for that amount and play Guitar Hero at my house.

And feel like a rockstar while doing it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's all milk in my milkshake!

Singapore, your milkshake does not bring the boys to the yard.

I'm sorry. I had to say it. I loved that song back in the day.

But honestly, the milkshakes here are pretty lame.

I didn't even know I cared that much until a fellow blogger asked me the other day if I'd found a decent milkshake in this country. The blogger, we'll call him Greg because that's his name, has been on a quest for a milkshake that doesn't make him have to fly over the big blue ocean to find it. (And no, McDonald's doesn't count. That's a mix; it's not authentic.)

Oh and you should check out Greg's blog too. He's an American guy in Singapore and he lives in another neck of the jungle. So he has a whole other perspective of the island.

But back to what I was sayin....

Greg wants a good milkshake and he can't find one.

And now I want one too. It sounds so good after walking around in this heat everyday.

Our beef with the local milkshakes? I think they take the name too literally. They taste like flavored milk that's been shaken up. No thickness. No ice cream. No brain freeze.

The stuff doesn't even get stuck in the straw.

What's up with that?

Even Dairy Queen messed it up on Orchard Road.

I know, right? I couldn't believe it either.

My latest milkshake test was last week. My friend from work treated me to Haagen-Dazs at Junction 8 Shopping Mall. We both ordered the Belgian chocolate milkshakes (pictured above).

While the Belgian chocolate part of the equation was delicious, the shake was still merely cold shaken milk.

It was a giant tease. No one likes a tease either.

So, if you know of a place that serves real milkshakes on this island. I think you would be our new best friend if you wrote it in the comments section.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

American Food!

America exploded into our house.

Our Aunt Debbie and Cousin Jenny (they're technically Aaron's but I like them so much that I think I can claim them as mine now too) sent us some goodies last week.

And by "goodies", I mean THREE boxes of American goodness. Three!

Aren't they just the sweetest gals ever?

After I put everything away I realized something funny. We have not a single thing in our pantry/fridge that wasn't made, purchased or sent from the USA.

Aren't we patriotic?

Ha ha, not really. I bet most of those "American" products were really made in China.

But I'll just pretend that they weren't.

A million thank yous to Debbie and Jenny. You made our whole week. :)

Now I'm going to sit down and pick out a dinner recipe from the family cookbook. Yay American food!

(P.S. See those mini tubes of Degree deodorant? Jenny sent those for me to combat the stinky pits on the MRT. Isn't that the sweetest and funniest thing ever? Do you think I can swipe people's pits without them noticing? Ha.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Even Hitler's upset with public transportation

This video was brought to my attention by my lovely Singaporean coworker. She's such a funny.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Type Thai

If you're from Kansas and you still don't understand how people in Asia type, this picture is for you.

This is a Thai keyboard. Obviously, it's got English letters too. This belongs to a friend's girlfriend. She thought I was a weirdo for wanting to take a picture of her keyboard.

I told her, "But my friends in Kansas have never seen this! They probably have no idea how you type in Thai!"

So if you did know, my bad.

If you didn't know, you're welcome.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Peace Sign

What's up with peace signs in photographs here?

It's something that really irks me. I don't know why, but it does. I just can't figure out Asia's obsession with holding up a peace sign in photos. Everyone seems to do it. Everyone also seems to do it in every friggin' photo.

I know we Americans were all about it in the 60s and whatnot, but it seems that the hand gesture has lost no steam over here. I thought we stopped doing that like 30 years ago. Didn't we?

Yet, every photo op I see is filled with peace sign holding Asians as if they never got the memo that people stopped doing it.

It bugged me so much that I Googled it.

And found this video.

It's pretty cute. Not only does it talk about the peace sign, but it also references all of the annoying poses that your friends make in their Facebook pictures.

I'm not gonna lie. I'm totally that girl.

However, there's one face I refuse to do anymore.

The "kissy-face".

Can we please ban that thing? Ick.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I knew someone was going to get upset...

CNN just posted a story about Skin whiteners being labeled as racist in Asia.

I'm not gonna say "I told you so".

Oh wait, I kinda just did. Didn't I?

Well, I told you that this wasn't a nice thing way back in February. The proof is right here.

I don't care if it's a difference in culture or not. It's discriminatory and it continues society's belief that you must look a certain way to be beautiful.

That is wrong wrong wrong.

Everyone is beautiful in their own way. Brown skin, yellow skin, pink skin; it's all beautifully different.

Let's throw away these bottles of whitener and love the skin we were born with.

It's time for society to teach self esteem rather than an unrealistic standard of beauty.

I'll get off my soap box now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pepper for Dinner

Have you been to Pepper Lunch yet?

It is one of the most delicious restaurants in Singapore. Aaron and I ate there before a movie date last Saturday and it was one of the best meals we've had in a while.

The gimmick of this place is "Do It Yourself Teppan". I'm guessing that teppan is short for teppanyaki, which I've talked about before here.

The way it works is such: You order your food at the counter. Then they bring it to your table in a searing hot grill plate. It reminded me a lot of ordering fajitas in a restaurant back in America. The only difference here is the food is raw on the hot plate.

Then you mix the ingredients together with chopsticks and a spoon while it cooks. When it reaches the appropriate doneness, you pour sauce over the top to stop the cooking process.

Easy peezy.

And you can't screw it up. That's good news for the kids that are clueless about Asian cooking.

It's American proof.

So here's what it looks like:

Aaron got the Pepper Beef.

And I got the Pepper Steak.

The weird yellowish stuff on my steak is actually pepper butter and it's delicious. Aaron has some in his dish too, but it's hidden in the bed of rice. I'm convinced that it's what makes the entire dish so tasty.

But then again, the place is called Pepper Lunch so I'm sure the roasted black pepper plays a part too.

The food is just so so good. It's a little on the pricey side if you're used to hawker prices. We, however, are used to Applebee's and Houligan's prices so it did not scare us one bit.

I wish I could bring my mom to this place. She'd love it. The woman coats everything on her plate in pepper at nearly every meal. This place perfectly speaks her food language.

I should take her there. Just not in Singapore. That's a bit far from Kansas.

Momma don't fly that far.

Looks like I have another recipe added to the list of things to learn before I leave Asia.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Heels and Talons

It's not that I don't love high heels.

I wear them religiously in countries that require less walking than Singapore, but that's not my beef with these. It's just that th....

Wait, a minute.

Hold the phone.

Is that a? Oh wait yes. It definitely is.

Check out the length of that toenail.

She better watch out or she's gonna pop the back tire with that thing. I bet it could even be considered as a deadly weapon. Look at it! It could totally cut someone's Achilles tendon.

Yet, this is not the first or second or third time I've seen heels paired with something uber casual and eagle talon toenails.

Women here love love love their heels. So much so that they often don't even care if they coordinate with the outfit's style or color.

Pajama pants? Let's wear the four inch stilettos! Grubby t-shirt and shorts? Put on the red sequined heels! Athletic pants and a sports bra? Platforms all the way baby.

While I appreciate a cute pair of shoes, I'm not digging the whole idea of "dressy on the bottom, casual on the top". It's like fashion's equivalent of a mullet.

Then come the toenails (that are usually sticking out of the above mentioned heels). I'm sorry, I know this is a cultural difference, but it just absolutely freaks me out. Some of the toenails here are longer than most fingernails I've seen.

So I have some questions.

How do you wear normal shoes?

Don't you hurt people when you walk too fast behind them?

Haven't you cut someone with those before?

Those cover the basics of the questions I have. I'm sure I'll have more later. Now I have to go trim my toenails because I just feel "eewy" after seeing that much toenail.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hi-ho, hi-ho

It's back to work I go.

After a nice long and relaxing weekend, it's back to the daily grind.

This is what awaits me tomorrow morning:
Yes, it's that dark when I leave for work. And no, the lens of my camera wasn't smudged. That's how friggin' humid Singapore is at that lovely hour.

When I look outside with my naked eye, the lights are still blurry because of the dense humidity.

I once described it to my grandma-in-law as walking into a bowl of warm soup. I don't take it back either. The moment you step outside, it just envelopes you. Your clothes feel moist, your hair goes in every direction it's not supposed to and you curse yourself for even bothering to shower.

Because you immediately want to take another one. Like right then.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade it for a Kansas winter morning. Those hurt in a such a way that you don't get warm again for months.

But I would like to have just one good hair day. Just one!

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Moment Alone

A rare occurence in one of the most densely populated countries in the world, I got a moment to myself in a public place.

The peaceful and uncrowded five minutes I got on an empty bus was pure bliss.

This will be the happy place I go to next time I'm squished in the MRT next to Mr. Stinky Pits and Ms. Elbow Shover.

I'll just close my eyes and come back to my empty bus.

Ah. So relaxing.

On that note, have a great Labor Day weekend my fellow Americans. I will be sleeping all weekend and dreaming of my empty bus.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Fall" Proof

I know this is old news for some, but I just now saw them. I realize I'm usually a little behind. It's like my thing.

These are the safety doors that are being installed at every single above-ground MRT station across Singapore. The whole project will cost S$126 million once it's all said and done.

The reason?

To prevent people from falling on the tracks.

Ah hem.


If that's what they're calling jumping these days, then I guess I'm really behind.

These things are less than 5 feet tall. If someone wanted to "fall" bad enough, they're gonna get the job done.

Oh and don't worry, in case someone does decide to "fall", they're also installing cameras to detect such people.

Great idea.

There'll be no question over who to fine then.

Good luck collecting that payment.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Little People on the Fridge

Believe it or not, this is my absolute favorite part of our home.

And not because it's where the food is.

In all honesty though, I love this fridge. Not just because it's one of the biggest ones in Singapore, but because it is the perfect fortay to showcase our favorite little people. Aaron and I hang all recent pictures, drawings, paintings, postcards, coloring pages and sourvenir magnets that we receive in the mail.

We have six nieces and nephews (and two more on the way) back in good ol' Kansas. So we get a lot of cool stuff. I've had to cycle the content three times in the last year so that we are still able to open the fridge doors. This particular picture was taken after a major clean-up of faded marker pages and old Christmas photos.

Both Aaron and I get really excited when we get a new photo or a new art piece in the mail. We always look at it for half an hour and either talk about how cute his or her dimples are or what a genius he or she's become at age 5.

Isn't it crazy how much you love little people that aren't even yours?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Scary is NOT delicious

Ok now, I remember that I'm from another culture and everything. I don't always understand things that I see, smell or eat in Singapore.

But really, someone's gotta explain this to me.

How in the world could anyone look at this and say "Mmmmm, lunch!" ?

Because I look at it and say "Oh God! Someone gave us a dead and decrepit fish in a banana leaf! Who would do such a thing?!"

Unfortunately, this was what my friend got for his lunch in Science City. It was a complete accident though. When he asked the gentleman behind the counter what was in the banana leaf, the man said fish, chilli and rice.

Seemed innocent enough, right? None of us had any idea the terrifying scene lay inside.

(By the way, the tadpole looking things are anchovies, I'm pretty sure. Not that that makes it any better.)

My poor friend went very hungry that day. Thank goodness I went with fried rice. It's hard to make fried rice scary.