July 3, 2005
Day 21 -- The Last Full Day Before Takeoff
Today began with a breakfast of toast, tea, and mango, then Dani and Charles took off for the Orchid Garden. Charles and I had gone several days ago, but Dani had not seen it. Today is their 12th anniversary. James and I hung around and I got more items ready to leave. I went down to Mrs. Lem's store and bought a few cold drinks. She gave me one free with a Pokeman card for "the boy." It was nice of her as she knows they are leaving tomorrow. Then, we all headed for Chinatown for Dim Sum. Dani wanted to show Charles a few places that we discovered, and they bought something for his mom. Then, Charles and James headed for the IT mall leaving Dani and me free to roam Chinatown a bit more. But it was very hot, so that lasted only about an hour. We taxied home and finished packing. Tonight D & C went out to dinner down by the river, and I took James to IKEA (about a mile away) for meatballs. We just got home and it's TV until his parents get home. We leave the apartment at 7:30 tomorrow morning. We've called for a van because we have 6 large suitcases and our carryons.
Some interesting facts remaining to share (interesting to me, at least):
1) I have been here 21 days and for 18 days the Singapore newspaper carried feature stories on Tom Cruise (because of his new movie). Finally, on day 19 and 20 -- no Tom Cruise! I thought they finally got over him. Today, he was again featured. Singaporeans must really love Tom Cruise!
2) Speaking of where I am, there are times I look around and wonder if I am in Beverly Hills! Charles says that he has heard that before.
3) I'm getting better at understanding Spanglish. Sometimes the taxi driver says stuff and Dani answers him (we've now had two her drivers) with such pizzazz. I can't believe that she understands. It sounds like another language. However, I am getting better.
4) Charles' friend and China prof, Jay, calls this Asia Light!
5) If you've never been to Asia, this is a wonderful place to go. All the city water is filtered and there is a strict rating system for restaurants. I haven't been careful even once -- not even at the Hawker Stalls which are also rated for cleanliness. I also haven't even felt queasy. You can drink tap water and eat anything as long as you are careful to go to a restaurant with an A or B rating. No shots needed to come here although I did get a tetanus because I hadn't had one for ages. The city is very clean. There are no homeless people and the citizens are very polite.
6) It is always very warm and usually very hot -- as I've mentioned before. I'm going to freeze at home.
7) I'd come back in a moment! It's been great. Of course, it helps to have someplace to live -- and D & C & J live in a very cosmopolitan place. I don't even know if there are any Americans here. If you simply walk around during dinner time, you can smell the different ethnic cuisines wafting out of the open kitchen doors. It is a lovely experience. The apartment is centrally located and close to town. And, of course, it is nice to be with people that know the ropes. I give my lovely family a round of applause for a wonderful experience.
July 2, 2005
Day 20 -- Packing Our Stuff
Charles and I went to Cafe Rossi to have those wonderful scones and tea for breakfast while Dani had a meeting at the NUS Press about a manuscript that she is doing for them. James wanted to stay home -- that is, he wanted to watch television while we went out. Dani and Paul, from the Press, met us just as we finished our food. We then went to the post office and home to pack.
Packing is very interesting because D & C are basically dismantling their apartment and trying to cram everything into our requisite two bags per person. Of course, James Legos take up one whole trunk! But, we maneuvered for several hours with a time out for a swim because of the heat. Even the pool was lukewarm -- but refreshing. We finally got most of the things into the suitcases except for our clothing that we are wearing. I washed all day -- because everything needed to be washed on Saturday to be dry by Monday! We figured that today was the best day to do all of these things. Tomorrow is D & C's 12th anniversary and they are going to be sent off to play a bit while James and I hold down the fort. This evening we headed for a bookstore and Sushi which Dani requested before she leave Singapore. We got home just in time for James to go to bed. I've found it hard to get to sleep, so I'm writing this just after midnight. Tomorrow will be our final day in Singapore. It will be sad to leave Charles, and it will be sad to leave this beautiful place. But, home sounds lovely, too.
July 1, 2005
Books I Have Read in Singapore
This blog has no literary pretensions. The purpose was twofold. One, to let my children know what I was doing and two, to keep a journal for myself so I could remember. The original intention had photos -- oh well! However, I realize that more people may be reading it as I have gotten several emails. That is fine with me as long as you don't expect more than what it is! Here is something for my book group.
I have been reading alot. I read at night and in the morning. Here is the list of books that I have devoured:
1. I brought a library book with me -- Kate Sedley's The Midsummer Rose. I love her mysteries. She writes about Roger the Chapman (salesman) who lives in Bristol in medieval times. I found them at the Bellingham Library and they are not available in American bookstores although I did get one from Amazon UK. Our library has introduced me to many British authors who are not available in the states. I love the fact that our librarians research so thoroughly. I went on the web to renew it, and found that I couldn't because it was a new book. So, I wrote a note to the librarian and told her I was in Singapore and she renewed it until I got back. No fines! I love our library!
2. Ayelet Walman's A Playdate with Death. Christine turned Dani and me on to these wonderful mommy mysteries. They are delightful. This is her third (I think). Her protagonist is a lawyer who has to stay home with her babies and gets involved solving crimes to keep her from getting bored out of her mind.
3. I read three Shredder Man books of James. I heard the author speak once and these are James' favorite books. In fact, I think I've bought most of them as gifts. So, I read three and cannot wait until we get back to Washington so I can read the fourth!
4. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles Dear Departed. I have avoided her mysteries. I must have read one (or part of one) before because she is prolific and I see them everywhere, but never have gotten involved. However, this was really good and I went to the biggest bookstores in Singapore to find another. Unfortunately, they all had this one and so I must wait until I return home. Bill Slider is her protagonist.
5. Judith Ryan Hendricks Isabel's Daughter. Did you read Bread Alone? Same author. This was about an orphan who finds that her birth mother was a famous artist in New Mexico. Good read.
7. Colm Toibin's The Blackwater Lightship is one of Dani's books that she recommended. It was set in Ireland and was a moving story about an estranged family coming together because the son was dying of AIDS.
8. Amitov Ghosh's The Glass Palace that I mentioned in my blog the other day. A marvelous book about Asia before and during the second world war. It follows a family and has some factual information about Persion royalty. Don loved this.
9. Alexander McCall Smith's new novel 44 Scotland Street. Probably not yet available in the United States. I was surprised to see it and delighted. It was written as a serial in a Scottish magazine after Smith gave a talk about early writers writing their prose as serials to appear weekly. So, he was challenged to do that -- and he did. However, it appeared daily. He talks about the difficulty of writing this way -- but it was delightful as his books usually are.
10. Sarah Turnbull's Almost French. I mentioned this earlier. Dani was reading it and now I'm in the middle. It is an Australian book about a woman who goes to Paris and falls in love with her (now) husband. It is all about culture shock. Very enjoyable.
This is the list. I bought a new one today and have saved another for the plane.
Day 18 and 19 -- Counting Down!
Yesterday Charles took James and His school friend to Water World where they have a wave pool. Dani and I headed for a sale close to her house at the Shophouse (normally a furniture store, but this weekend an expat bazaar). I bought a pottery dish and then we headed back to Chinatown to discover some streets that I had read about. The first street yielded some lovely stores. The other streets, however, had interesting old shophouses but mostly restaurants and businesses. So we headed for the Hawker Center to have chicken rice from the stall that Anthony Bourdin raved about. Unfortunately, I ate a couple of bites and didn't feel great so we grabbed a taxi and went back to the apartment. It had nothing to do with the food -- it was delicious. I think it was walking a long time in the heat and my esophagus problem that comes up from time to time.
Today, James went to his friend's house so we took Charles to our little French restaurant, Au Petit Salud, and had a wonderful meal for lunch. Charles had snails, risotto and souffle. Dani had a baby artichoke & mescalin salad on coos coos, duck with white beans, and the chocolate cream puffs we had the other day. I had a salmon and endive salad on sliced potato, seafood pasta and creme brulee again. I learned that creme brulee should always be in a shallow dish instead of a pudding dish -- so that you have some crackly sugar with every bite. I read this in a cookbook at Dani's friend Rossi's house and then noticed that it was served this way at the restaurant.
Charles headed home with some groceries for tonight, and I went to Orchard Road with Dani. She was scheduled for a haircut. So, while she was having her hair done, I wandered in and out of a few malls. The Thai Embassy was having a fair with Thai food, art, and entertainment, so I walked through that. I also walked through two Asian malls. One was upscale and had regular brands. The other was more like Chinatown and I had to keep dodging aggressive male shop owners. I finally left because it had to be over 100 degrees inside the mall. When I went to the restroom, my face was very red. I headed back to the mall where Dani was getting her hair done, looked through some of their stores, sat and had an iced coffee, bought a new mystery and waited for her to finish.
Tonight she and Charles are going to a party with Charles' NUS colleagues and James and I are hanginig together. I'm waiting for his friend's parents to return him -- he probably has already had dinner and I am still stuffed from lunch. Television it is!