Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cleanest city my foot

One of the first things I learned when I got to Singapore was about how the country prides itself on being the cleanest city in the world.

After living here for two years, I must set the record straight.

No, it's not.

It may not have trash littering its sidewalks (at least where the tourists can see), but it'd be a big stretch to call it the cleanest ever.

I've lived in an area of this country that's not frequented by tourists and spent the last two years working elbow to elbow with its local citizens. And you know what? I actually feel less clean when I'm here as opposed to being in the States.

Now I'm not saying that there's a huge pile of garbage hiding behind the jungles or that there's a secret trash stash under Orchard Road.

My issue with the place is the germs.

Growing up in America, I was never the germophobic type, but I had a respect for keeping things clean and sanitary. Our parents and teachers instill it in us from an early age. Wash your hands! Use a Kleenex! Cover your mouth! Don't drink after other people! Clean that with Clorox! We've heard every piece of advice on keeping germs at bay. We've even read countless articles about just how many germs there are in EVERYTHING. There's a fun one here, in case you're curious.

At times I'll admit, we go overboard. For the most part though, we're just trying to stay healthy.

So it was beyond shocking to me that some of the local customs in Singapore are downright germy to the nth degree.

To give examples and illustrations, I've made a list of four specific instances.

1) Public hand towels

This picture was taken in my office building's bathroom. The towel on top of the broken hand dryer is the community hand towel. It rests less than four feet from the nearest toilet. (Which if you've ever read the research, a toilet sprays a teeny, tiny blast of water droplets up to eight feet all around it when flushed.) Despite that, how about the fact that 10 to 20 people are washing their hands and using the same towels for sometimes two weeks at a time? I've even seen some of these people not even bother to use soap.

That's just gross.

Oh and on a side note, the rag on top of the broken soap container is the one our cleaning lady uses to clean the whole bathroom. I'll talk more about that whole issue in a minute.

2) Everybody puttin' their mitts on the raw chicken

This is how a lot of people get their chicken at my local Cold Storage. They take the tongs (hopefully) and select the pieces they want and place them in a plastic bag.

There are two things that I see wrong with this and I'm sure my sister, who's an RN, could name about 50 more. For one, do they sanitize the tongs after each use? I'm going to guess no. Each person that picks those tongs up is also picking up all kinds of harmful germs, like salmonella, and then transferring it to the grocery cart and then to their children in the cart and then to everyone else in the store. What if you forget to wash your hands when you stop by the food court on the way out? You'll be sick as a dog, my friend, and so will everyone else that touches everything else you touched with your salmonella flavored fingers.

And two, speaking of children, what if your toddler wanders over there? They could play in a sea of raw bacteria for quite some time before you finish picking out your ribeye at the butcher station. All it takes is ten seconds of distraction and your kid is covered in chicken carcass juice.

This is just an all around a bad idea.

3) Open utensil grabbing at hawkers

When you visit a hawker stall, these are the trays where you grab your eating utensils. Notice that the Asian utensils are facing all different ways and directions. This requires someone to fondle several pieces in order to get their own set free from the pile. The result is that the person who got their stuff before you has just transferred whatever goobers that were on their hands onto the chopsticks that you're gonna put in your mouth.

And that person may or may not have just picked their nose on the bus.

Sound yummy? Didn't think so.

On that same topic, I also get grossed out when dining as a group at these kind of establishments. It seems that when we order large dishes to share, they almost never come with a serving spoon.

Then people have to do this:

They have to take the chopsticks that they've already put their saliva all over into the community trough. (For the record, the woman in the picture hadn't used her chopsticks yet and they are still clean. She's considerate like that.) I have been in several other situations where people I don't know have plowed their used utensils into shared items.

Nothing makes me lose my appetite faster. I don't know you and I don't know where you've been. Please keep your spit to yourself.

Thank you.

Ok. I've saved the final bombshell until the very end. I did so because it may cause you to dry heave or never visit a public bathroom in Singapore ever again. I apologize ahead of time for feeding you an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Here it goes...

4) Abysmal, horrific cleaning practices of public bathrooms

My dear, sweet friend Sheryl shared this gem of a story with me a couple of days ago and it has haunted my dreams ever since.

She was at Paragon Shopping Centre a couple days ago, which just so happens to be where many of our expat doctors have offices, and she stopped into the bathroom.

While she was in there, she observed one of the cleaning staff cleaning the bathroom. (Not that she was monitoring them, she just happened to see this while waiting.)

First, the staff member used the toilet brush to clean inside of the toilet bowl and without hesitation, moved the brush up and around the seat. Yep. She used the brush, the one full of dirty toilet water, to scrub the part that people sit on.

But here's the kicker! Then, she took a rag, dipped it into the toilet water, wiped down the seat again, rang out the rag and moved on to the sinks.


It's bad enough that she cleaned the seat with toilet water, but then she cleaned the sinks?! I just can't even wrap my head around it.

My stomach can't even get past it.

Thank the Lord above that my rear hasn't touched a toilet other than my own since I got here. I also thank the Big Guy for strong thighs. And hand sanitizer. Lots and lots of hand sanitizer.

Really though, this post isn't to bash Singapore. There are many many people here that are clean and sanitary in their daily practices. What I'm merely trying to find out is why we clash so much on the germ issue as a whole.

Like my husband also pointed out: In Singapore, restaurants are given a cleanliness rating of A, B, or C: A being the best and C being the worst. So basically, it allows them to have a certain level of filth.

C = a lot of filth.
B = just a little filth.
A = clean.

Back home, we have a system too. It's called sanitary or closed.

Granted, I know that the US has its problems in the food industry (and I am getting ready to read Sinclair's The Jungle), but these shops are what the general public can actually see for themselves. Wouldn't you want to keep your shop sparkling clean so people can at least think they're having a safe meal? Why doesn't everyone strive for an A?

(I'm getting off my soap box now. I tend to get a lil' wound up when I'm grossed out.)

Again, I'm really not trying to bash anyone. I'm merely trying to figure out why the vast difference in culture.

Is it that we Americans are just that germophobic?

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Fray comes to Singapore

I finally got to see my favorite band, The Fray, in person, this weekend. They were here in Singapore as the headlining group for Timbre's Rock & Roots music festival.

I'm positively sure it was their first trip to Singapore. And kind of sure it was their first show in Asia.

But that may be a lie. I'm not positive.

The whole shibang was a two-day festival, but since we only really wanted to see The Fray, we only bought tickets for Saturday.

The shows were held at Marina Promenade, which if you have a chance to check out a show there, go. Actually, run. It is such a cool venue to see a live band.

The stage was set up right up against the Singapore Flyer and off to the left, we had an amazing view of the Singapore skyline. Under us, was the track of the annual Singapore F1 Night Race.

So yeah. It was pretty spiffy.

We had a blast. It was such a great night. Timbre really put on a great line up of artists and that's coming from an attendee who only saw one night.

While waiting for The Fray to come on (and when I finished my massive burrito), we listened to a fantastic band, Opshop, from New Zealand. After that, we watched Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. They weren't my fave, but judging from all the Brits, Aussies and Kiwis going nuts, I'm guessing they're a pretty big deal.

The Fray came out for a 17 song set and concluded a perfect evening. We were only three standing rows back.


...is just outside my window.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Phuket Full of Fun

This past weekend, Aaron and I visited the gorgeous island of Phuket, Thailand. (For the Americans out there, it's pronounced Poo-ket — and not the way you'd think.)

Hands down, it's probably the most beautiful place I've ever seen in my life. I was a very giddy tourist the whole time I was there...

...as you can see.

We started our adventure by venturing down to Karon Beach.

It was extremely pretty, clean and surprisingly calm. We spent the first half of our first day just walking along the beach.

To our surprise, the beaches in Phuket have an optional swimsuit top policy. That was a bit of a shock.

It was also shocking that the participants of this option seemed to be in either the "fairly older" or "somewhat larger" category.

For your sake, I did not take pictures.

You're welcome.

Instead, I took pictures of the locals doing local things.

After the walk, we headed up to Patong to check out the shops and book our excursions.

It was there that we discovered the wonderful world of Baht (Thailand's currency). Baht is the magical money that goes so much further than our Sing dollar and even the US dollar. Approximately 30 Baht is equivalent to our one US dollar.


In one day, we ate the best meal of Phad Thai we'd ever had for 50 Baht, got a facial massage for 299 Baht, and we went to a fish spa for 99 Baht a person.

(For those of you who don't feel like doing the math, that's US$1.50 for Phad Thai, a facial for US$10, and a fish pedicure for US$3. This can be translated into English as AWESOME.)

This is around the time that I fell in love with Thailand.

Also, just to note, Phuket is considered expensive compared to the rest of the country. So it just keeps getting better from there.

To finish off that first day, we took the touristy tuk tuk ride.

Day two of our trip was by far my favorite day. It was one of those experiences that will forever be burned into my memory. All day long, I kept thinking how incredibly lucky I was to be able to visit and see such an amazing place in person.

We took a day tour of the Phi Phi Islands.

To spare you the same embarrassment that I experienced, Phi Phi is pronounced like "pee pee". Not "fee fee", as I originally thought. Even so, I continually find myself refering to them as "fee fee". I just can't call the prettiest islands in the world "Pee Pee". To me, pee pee is something that a four-year-old does in a toilet. I just don't think "Pee Pee Islands" paints an accurate picture of just what these islands embody.

But I'm a silly American. What do I know?

As part of our tour, we visited seven different parts of the two islands: Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley.

This was Maya Bay on Phi Phi Ley.

This is where The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio was shot. It's astonishingly beautiful. The sand is so fine that it feels like walking on softened butter. The water is the clearest I've ever seen. You can stand in it up to your shoulders and look down and still see your toes. You can even see fish swimming all the way up to the sand.

I was awe struck. I am forever ruined for every other beach I visit in my lifetime. I don't see how anything else will ever compare.

After that, we snorkeled at Loh Samah Bay, ate lunch at Phi Phi Don, visited Monkey Beach (you know how much I love the monkeys), saw Viking Cave, gawked at the cliffs in Pi Leh Bay, and relaxed on Khai Island.

It was just a beautiful day. I couldn't stop looking at everything all around me. It was like being in a movie. It doesn't seem like a place that pretty can exist in real life.

The tour lasted until late in the day. So, by the time we got back, we were pretty tired. We had dinner at the hotel and crashed at 10 pm.

I don't think I've gone to bed that early while on vacation in seven years. Yikes. That's a sad realization.

Speaking of our hotel though, here it is.

This is the Pacific Club Resort in Karon Beach. We loved our time there. They had three different restaurants to choose from (one in the hotel and two accessible by hotel shuttle), a roof top infinity pool, and gorgeous views. The even better part: it costs less than US$70 a night.

The great thing about a trip to Phuket is that you can make your trip as cheap or as expensive as you want. There are hotels and hostels that rent rooms for as low as US$10 a night. There are also the hotels that rent rooms for several hundred. The same goes for food. There's cheap places and street food carts and there's also five-star dining establishments too. We pretty much stayed "middle of the road" for most things on our trip. I'm a pretty frugal person, but I also appreciate nice things while on vacation.

I am definitely glad that we stayed in the Karon Beach area though.

It had enough things to do to keep us busy, but was a lot less crowded than the Patong Beach area to the north.

The view was also much more exciting.

This was our last big trip in Asia. I'd definitely say that we ended it on an all-time high note.

I was so sad to leave our newly-found paradise, but also kind of glad that we hadn't discovered this place until we're about to leave.

If we had gone sooner, we would have spent all of our money trying to get back there every other month.

That's what you call a blessing in disguise.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Can I use my EZ Link card, like you said, please?

In the past year, SMRT introduced these handy little boxes in the white SMRT taxis of Singapore.

The purpose of these things is to allow passengers to pay for their taxi fare by tapping their EZ Link card (the card we use in Singapore to pay for buses and trains) on top and having the total subtracted from the balance currently on the card.

In theory, these things are awesome. They further aid to streamline the public transportation system into one system in which you use one card for payment, no matter the mode.

However, these machines are falling flat, in my opinion. In the last ten SMRT cabs I've been in, only one had the machine turned on. (The one in the picture is also not powered on. Big shocker there.) The problem with this is when it's not turned on, it takes nearly ten minutes for it to boot up, if it does at all. I've had two fail to boot up for me which caused me to have to run up to my flat while the cabbie waited outside to grab cash.

It's not a big deal, but it turns something that supposed to make life more convenient into something that's a huge pain in the tuckus. I'm guessing that that wasn't their intention here.

No one likes a pain in the tuckus.

So basically, I'm hoping that we might actually get to use and enjoy these things sometime soon.

Hello? Anyone listening at SMRT?


Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Little Hot Water Heaters

This is one of the three hot water heaters we have in our home.

Obviously, it's installed at the top of a wall in our storage closet. This one supplies the hot water for both of the bathrooms in our flat. The other two are installed in a similar spot near the ceiling in the kitchen and laundry room.

This is quite different for me. In the States, it's most common for a home to have one big water heater that supplies the whole house with hot water, rather than several small ones scattered about. Also, these types of things are put in our basements or laundry rooms and are tucked out of the way where you don't see them as easily. I'm sure the layout and older construction of our current residence made a large water heater difficult to install in a semi-secret place, so they gave us three, all out in the open.

It's fine with me, most of the time.

However, the water heater for our bathrooms is located in a storage room right above where we store our luggage. We found out very quickly that it leaks.

It didn't ruin any of our rolling bags before we broke them first, thank goodness, but we do have to constantly check back there to make sure there's no standing water. (You can get fined in Singapore for having stagnant water in or around your home as it aids in breeding problematic mosquitoes.)

Then, on top of that, we realized that when both of us want to take a shower in our own bathrooms at the same time, hot water lasts for about two minutes. The small heater is just not made to handle two pokey shower takers at once. It's a no bueno type of situation. Nothing puts me in a crabby mood quicker than a cold shower...no matter how hot it is outside.

I'm not complaining though. From what I've discovered, a lot of people in Singapore don't even have what we do.

They have something like this:

It's a hot water heater that is installed inside your shower. That square-shaped thing is the tank. Can we say TINY? Imagine how quick those hot showers must be. I'd be an angry elf everyday.

How do you take a hot bubble bath with that thing? Do you fill it a little at a time? Wouldn't it get cold before you even get it full? Do they just not take hot bubble baths? How could you live in a world without hot bubble baths?

I just can't accept that as an answer. They must have another way.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Men with Purses

Ok, so I'm just going to put this out there.

What the heck is up with Singaporean guys carrying their girlfriend's purse around town?

There's a word for guys like that where I'm from.

And it rhymes with "zissy".

Just sayin'.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Gecko Chronicles Continue

As you can imagine, I'm still a lil' shaken up since the poop in the cereal incident. Before that, the gecko drama had been slowly building for a while, but that day sort of sealed the deal. I no longer think that these creatures are cute or endearing of any sort.

I'm over them.

What I didn't tell you last week was that something tragic happened at our home a few days after the "incident". I've been holding it back out of fear of judgment and PETA coming to bust down our door. But I think it's time I opened up about it.

I killed one.

On purpose.

And it was ugly. I didn't take pictures because it was a grizzly scene. And ya know what?

It felt awesome. (Not in a pre-serial killer kind of way, but more of a "Hey, your friend took a huge dump in my breakfast and I'm not cool with it" kind of way.)

The story goes as such: Remember the guy that lived in Aaron's bathroom?

Well, I can't be positively sure if it was him, but it looked a lot like him.

I went into Aaron's bathroom while he was still gone to do some tidying up so that I could improve my running in the Wife of the Year category (not really, but it sounds nice). As I entered the bathroom, that creature jumped out of his hiding spot under the window trim and scared the frickin' crap out of me. Because this happened like two days after the Poop Loop incident (thank you Gordon for coining that phrase for us), I was a little high on rage. Basically, I'd just had enough. I'd had enough fear, poop, reptiles, and crawly things that whole week. I was done.

So I started throwing Aaron's size US 14 shoes at him.

I managed to knock him off the wall and do little else but scare him really well.

But that just wasn't enough for me. I retrieved more shoes and kept chucking them at the little Geico mascot.

Finally, five shoes later, I grazed his side and immobilized him.

That is when the rage came to a head.

I took Aaron's big military, steel-toed work boot and slammed it down on him.

It wasn't pretty.

But revenge is a dish best served cold.

It's all fun and games until someone eats a bowl of poop. Am I right?

So anyways, after that day I thought that I'd feel better and things would calm down around here.

The geckos had other plans. Apparently their threshold for revenge is much larger than my own.

I don't know what happened when I crushed that reptile two weeks ago, but I can only guess that his whole family heard his little gecko screams that night.

Since that day, I've found three new geckos inside our house. A record, even for us.

It's made my gecko disdain into what is now becoming an obsession. I can't let it go either.

Whenever I find one now, I stalk it, photograph it and dispose of it. Like I said, I'm done with them.

Here are the current, documented perpetrators:

Gecko A:
Location found: On our kitchen floor (The mess around him are the things I unsuccessfully threw at him to scare him off. Obviously, it didn't work.)

Did you notice the Satanic glowing eyes? I did too.

Current residence: In the jungle behind our flat (Aaron flung him back there with a broom after I refused to leave the kitchen until he was gone.)

Gecko B:

Location found: The backsplash in the kitchen.

Current residence: Heaven. (An unfortunate misunderstanding of where the tea kettle was being placed is to blame. Mwah ha ha ha ha.)

Gecko C:

Location found: Scaling the living room wall.

Current residence: He is injured and hiding under my couch as I type. I knocked him off the ceiling with a broom and magically, the fall somehow did not kill him. The bugger scurried under the furniture before my broom could squash him.

It's a very frustrating battle I'm faced with.

I just told Aaron the whole sordid tale of my latest conquest and he was not at all willing to help.

He just shook his head and said, "You are a forest fire."

You know what? I like that. I'm going to adopt that mantra for my life in general.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hot and Spicy Shaker Fries

Tonight was a lazy dinner night. Neither of us really felt like cooking or leaving the house to scrounge up food either. So we did what any other lazy American would do if they had the choice...

We got McDonald's delivery.

It's the ultimate fat kid's dream. You get to have McDonald's french fries and you never even have to leave your couch (except to get the door). You don't even have to find your cell phone that's wedged between the couch cushions somewhere. They have a website to order from too.

It's scary easy how fat you could get if things got out of control.

Anyways...To make up for our lack of ambition for a dinner adventure, we decided to try McDonald's special of the moment: Hot and Spicy Shaker fries. McDonald's in Singapore pushes out a promotion every month or so that usually caters to the Asian palate. Shocking! I know.

I think the last one was the Prosperity Burger (which I did not try because it looked like a McRib with nasty black pepper sauce on it) and not too long ago, I saw a Wasabi Fish Sandwich with Seaweed Shaker fries (I also did not try this, but Aaron says the fries are really good).

This month it's a Double Spicy Chicken sandwich of some sort and these Hot and Spicy fries. We just got the fries because we cannot handle spicy McDonald's sandwiches. I learned this one the hard way when I got a McSpicy Chicken Sandwich last year. I couldn't taste food right for two days. I no longer challenge spicy Asian food. They win. That Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich that made me feel "oh so cool" for eating without a Diet Coke back in Kansas is nothing but kiddie food over here.

Ok. Back to the fries.

It's somewhat of a process. They bring you a little shaker kit to make the fries into Hot and Spicy fries. I love projects so I was pretty excited. And because I'm a mean wife, I made Aaron wait to eat for ten minutes while he took pictures to document the process.

First, they give you a small, folded bag to put your regular fries into.

Then you take your Hot and Spicy (and slightly blurry, sorry) Shaker packet

and shake it or tap it over the fries.

Then you fold up the bag to ensure that it is sealed and no fries will escape the Hot and Spiciness.

And then, you shake it like a salt shaker.

I really like that part....if you can't tell.

The fries end up with a good coating that's just right.

The flavoring tasted a lot like the stuff on Barbeque chips in the States, only spicier. It was really yummy.

It was so yummy that I forgot to use ketchup.

That never happens. I think a miracle has just occurred, people.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An herb naming issue and I feel dumb

Photo from: Viable Herbal Solutions

As a resident of Singapore for the last two years, there have been many North American cooking ingredients that I've been unable to find. As a result, I've had to tweak many recipes or avoid them all together.

One thing I've never found: cilantro.

It was a difficult thing to go without since I cook Mexican food about every other day to make up for the lack in the entire country. (I consume enough to even us all out. Don't you worry.) Cilantro is a very important ingredient in a lot of Mexican dishes, including PW's Homemade Pico de Gallo that I wanted to try back in January.

So I sucked it up and tried my best to get by without it at all. Then, I even had Aaron's sweet Aunt Debbie mail us some dried cilantro to get by.

It seemed Singapore had a cilantro famine and I had given up all hope of finding it.

You know what herb they did have everywhere though? Chinese parsley.

Do you know what Chinese parsley is?

It's cilantro.

Someone just told me about it. After two years of living in the Cilantro Desert.

It is the same frickin' thing, just with a different name.

I've gone two years without this tasty herb in my Mexican cooking because of a simple naming discrepancy.

Is this common knowledge to everyone but me? Does everyone talk about this at all the dinner parties I don't go to?

What else do people in Singapore talk about that I don't know? Where to find Sonic cheeseburgers? Where the real sour cream is?

What else do you people know?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

That's some expensive bird spit

This is a display of the popular Asian delicacy known as Bird's Nest. It's a very sought after ingredient in Chinese cuisine and is most often dissolved into a soup. It's also very expensive.

Especially considering what it is.

It's spit.


And it's from a wild animal. And it's hard because it's been sitting around for a while.

It comes from a certain type of bird called a cave swift. These swifts build their nests inside caves using their very sticky strands of saliva. The strands solidify, slowly forming a nest. When they're finished, the nest looks like a shallow cup that adheres to the cave wall.

Here's a visual from Wikipedia:

So people enter these caves, harvest the nests, clean them and then sell them for vast sums of money. Then, the people who buy them use it in their cooking, like I said, usually for Bird's Nest soup. There's also several different varieties and one is called "red blood" nests. I can only imagine why it's called that. (*Dry heaving at the computer*)

Call me crazy, but I find it extremely odd not only to pay large sums of money for ANIMAL SALIVA, but then to turn around and EAT it.

I won't even kiss my dog on the mouth and I'm sure he has a cleaner mouth than a wild bird.

The Chinese will tell you that Bird's Nest is full of health benefits. These benefits include: aiding digestion, improving the voice, improving focus, alleviating asthma, and the kicker....

improving libido.

So basically what they're telling me is: they eat spit to get their freak on.

I don't know what gets your jollies off, but for me, making out with Mr. Bird Spit Breath isn't on the list.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Din Tai Fung Delicious

Last night, our friends Jake and Karen took me with their family to one of their favorite restaurants in Singapore.

This is Din Tai Fung.

It is nothing short of amazingly delicious.

Din Tai Fung started in Taiwan by a Chinese man by the name of Yang Bingyi around 1980. It has since exploded in popularity and they have outlets in the United States, China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Korea. It was named one of the top 10 restaurants in the world by the New York Times in 1993.

So yeah, it's good. Really really good.

Their specialty is xiaolongbao — or what those of us unable to pronounce that word call "dumplings".

These dumplings are technically "soup dumplings" because they are stuffed with a pork filling that contains a natural gelatin. This gelatin melts when the dumplings are steamed and becomes like a soup. Somehow the juice stays contained within the dumpling unless you're like me and accidentally poke it with your chopstick. If you're not a clutz, the dumpling is supposed to release the juices and meat when you bite into it. It's kind of like a mini soup surrounded by a thin dumpling shell. They are steamed in bamboo baskets and served stacked with the other five hundred you order.

Don't judge.

I'll admit that eating a dumpling was a bit jarring at first because I had no idea that it contained so much juice in there. When I ate my first (complete) dumpling, I almost felt like I was drowning because the liquid completely fills your mouth and goes down your throat if you're not ready. And I wasn't.

I avoided a scene and somehow did not have a choking fit when the juice shot down the back of my throat. I think karma is being nice to me after previous events from the week.

After that one though, I was good to go. They were so yummy. I ate like twelve of them.

These are the dumpling makers in the back. According to the Din Tai Fung website, they make each steam basket to order.

Can I just say that I'm loving the fact that they're wearing masks? You don't see that a lot in food service over here. However, they're not wearing gloves. I'm sure they can't form the dumplings with gloves on, but I don't see gloves a lot in Singapore either. I have only seen gloves in Subway restaurants. I've learned to live without that food safety precaution. I just pretend they have invisible ones on.

These are what I hear Singaporeans refer to as vegetables. Actually they call it "vegetable". They like to drop their "s"es and I'm trying to get over it.

I really like these, but I have an issue with them. They're blanched so that the leaves are tender, but the stalks retain their rigidity. And they're almost always covered in a savory sauce. Here's the problem though: How am I supposed to pick the friggin' things up with my chopsticks if they're all slimed with sauce?

It slides out of my chopsticks every time I try to pick it up off the plate. I've even tried the two hand approach with a soup spoon and my chopsticks, but it slips off the spoon too.

This is another one of those times that I miss my fork. It's just so much easier to stab food sometimes.

That issue aside, I love this place. I love it so much that I'm going to drag the hubs there as soon as he gets back. It might just be my new favorite place in Singapore.

I'm sorry Pepper Lunch, you may get beat this time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The 25-year-old who's afraid of the dark and eats poop

Obviously, as you can tell from the title, it's been a rough week.

Aaron has been out of the country for work related stuff and I have been left all by my lonesome in our Singaporean flat. I was kind of excited about this at first, but I got over that after my first night.

I forgot that I don't like sleeping in a place all by myself. I forgot this information up until the night he left, of course.

It's because I grew up in a house with four siblings and two parents. There were always at least two other people staying in the house with me at any given time. There was always noise and there was someone else there to intercept the Boogie Man first (my room was at the end of the hall).

I moved out of that house and into a college dorm filled with over 300 other people, then into an apartment with three roommates, and then into another apartment with two roommates.

I always knew that any noise in the night was because of someone else I lived with and any movement was one of them getting up to go the bathroom.

But the game changes when you're alone. You can't blame any of that on anything other than rapists, serial killers and the Boogie Man. Did I tell you about my very active imagination?

This is its specialty.

When I'm sleeping in a place by myself, I agonize over every creak, every click and every whistle I hear. I think I see movement in every dark shadow. Then, when I freak myself out enough, I turn on a few lights and then can't sleep because the lights are on.

So with Aaron gone and me living in a jungle-like area, I virtually get no sleep. I have tried sleeping with the TV on, but it wakes me up. I have tried sleeping with the hall light on, but it wakes me up. I even tried to suffer through a dark, noiseless night and that lasted until my colorful imagination thought that an axe murderer was in the kitchen. (It was the inverter clicking in the living room.)

Basically, I'm a 25-year-old woman who is afraid of the dark.

It's an awesome trait to have as an adult. And that is a lie.

So after several nights with very little restful sleep, it would be safe to say that my week has not been going so great to start with.

But of course, it doesn't stop there.

After spin class this morning, I came home to shower and eat some breakfast. I poured myself a bowl of Froot Loops (cause nothing's better than wrecking a workout with sugary cereal, duh) and began chomping away.

Halfway through the bowl, I noticed that one of loops had a really dark speck lodged in the center of it. At first I thought it was one of those burnt pieces that occasionally ends up in various snack food bags. Then I recalled the I'd never seen a burnt anything in Froot Loops. So I picked out the suspicious loop and poked the blackish stuff. It was gooey and slimy.

It was freaking gecko poop.

A gecko had gotten into our bag of Froot Loops, had a field day, used a piece of cereal as his personal toilet and then skedaddled. He didn't even grant me the decency to let his presense in my cereal be known before I ate his little reptile commode.

I ate a bowl of cereal covered in gecko dung.

Worst. Realization. Ever.

So I did what any rational woman would do...

I started bawling.

Not that it solved anything, but I just had no other outlet at the time to release my frustration. It was just one of those times when you just deal with so many things for so long that it builds and builds and builds and the gecko poop was the straw that broke Megan's back.

And I opened the waterpark.

Looking back, I really hope none of my neighbors heard the hysterical woman in my house. That'd be an awkward conversation later.

"I heard someone crying in your house yesterday. Is everything alright?"

"Oh yeah, that was just me. Don't worry."

"Oh no! Is everything ok?"

"It's fine. I just couldn't sleep all week because I'm afraid of the dark and then I ate some gecko poop."

Yeah. Let's hope for that not happening.

On a positive note, I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. I'm sure it will be a much better day.

Honestly, I don't think it can get much worse than eating poo.