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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Singapore Zoo... a different experience this go 'round


Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Left for the zoo a bit after 730am.  Took the usual 3 buses with ease today, but it's still WAY too long and my stroller is still WAY too big.  We took the buses up because I wanted to be there when the doors open and is during "peak hours" for a taxi ride.  It's an add'l 35% during peak hours and since I didn't know how much it would cost so I decided buses up, taxi home during non peak times and when I'm most exhausted.  More on that later, read on.


We got there about 9 and the boys were ready to rumble.  I got out my huge stroller, got the frozen ice water bottles settuated (situated for some of y'all) and we were off.  Off to see the croc & then we were headed to the right this time... right into the monkeys!!!  Seriously, there were 3 wild monkeys on a sign ready for feeding or watching, whatever it was, we watched on.  Weird lookin' monkeys too.  This zoo has everything, except show-case spiders (no prob) and you can virtually touch most animals, don't worry, we didn't.  We also had a GIANT lizard, like 3 feet long, run right in front of us.  Lizards and birds and monkeys oh my, are all around you all the time, it's really REAL.  Made me remember the travel clinic lady saying to STAY AWAY FROM THE MONKEYS... uh oh... haha  There are so many types of monkeys too.  I think I enjoyed myself as much or more than the boys did... except the sweating.  It is so wet and hot.  As soon as I applied sunscreen I sweat it off.  Jacques even said, "Mama, this hat is making me all sweaty" but his skin is so fair like mine, it was a no brainer to keep it on.  Sorry Jacques.  Blake was only interested in the hat when he realized it had a cool looking crab on it.  Then he wanted to wear it... oh wait, no he couldn't see the crab so he took it off again. 




Here are a few of my favorite shots.  These animals are so close and so beautiful... I loved the lemurs but they were napping so only these fellas gave us a shot. :)
















We made our way to the very top of the zoo, ok it's the top of the paper, to the water park.  Boys were thrilled to shed their sweaty clothes and jump in....then this big bucket of water came crashing down and scared Blake so he didn't want any more of it.  I wish I would have brought my suit... I was so sweaty and hot, a nice cool swim would have been awesome.... but who would photo everything or protect my camera and who would carry around my purse?  Domestic helper, where are YOU?  Most expat people I see in the stores have one with them, grocery, zoo, shopping mall, dinners.  It was still a nice time and I got my feet and legs wet. 
Behind the water park are more parks for kids.  Jacques burned his bare feet on one of the play structures so we moved on... to another area, it was like a training ground for the military, "river crossing", "wobbly board", "wobbly bridge" and the ZIP line over sand that nearly killed me.  haha  I rode it so Blake would give it a try, I think he enjoyed my misery more.

We had a fabulous time, this zoo is amazing, but Blake wanted home so at 1255p we headed back to the front.  A quick walk through a garden where there were at least 100 kids on a fieldtrip but I got a few shots of some orchids... wow, they were so pretty.  Wait a minute, fieldtrip?  To the zoo?  Wow, to be a kid today.  Taxi, $14.60, DOOR TO DOOR.  We were home and in bed by 130p!  Ahhh.... this is the way to do it!  I'll figure it out eventually, right?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chinatown


Wednesday, September 15, 2010
CHINATOWN SINGAPORE

We planned to head out 1st thing this morning but the rain, I mean the torrential downpour, prevented us from leaving until after naps.  A quick 5 minute TAXI ride and we were in the heart of Chinatown.  Lately, like I've been here years, ok so in the past few days, I've started to talk more with the taxi drivers, some don't talk back or talk very little because their English isn't great, but the ones that wanna talk, have LOTS to say and I'm listening!  Yesterday we talked about kids.  "What do the Chinese kids like to eat, since mine were on the verge of hunger melt-down, he laughed and said, "chicken nuggets".  Not helpful as I'm trying to find something unfamiliar that will also be edible for the boys.  He then gave me a referal to 2 restaurants where the portions are small, I think he called it dim sum.  He then started a little story... said in HongKong, in the olden days, apartments were so small, even had a common toilet and many people hung out around the "dim sum" place to eat little bits and pass the time out in the open.  Interesting note to remember when visiting Hong Kong. ;)
Now in Chinatown, I stood there on a very busy corner and tried to get my bearings when the boys spotted the dreaded McDonalds.  While they quickly scarfed down the nuggets (which is the closest thing to white breast meat we've seen, and funny, I wouldn't let them eat them in the states, but here, it's looking good) I got my bearings and we started walking. 
We walked down Pagoda St which is laden with little shops, a nightmare for a mother who doesn't want a bunch of junk toys.  And food stands and restaurants and did I say food?  Yes, food is EVERYWHERE. 
We continued down this street until we came upon Sri Mariamman Temple.  Boys were more thrilled with looking and running after the pigeons than the massive, colorful statues.  Cows were eyeing our every move, one even looked to say, "what chew lookin' at?".  It was interesting but probably more interesting if someone would explain a few things.  Jacques was thoroughly confused why there were paintings of cow/women and elephant/man.  I really have no knowledge of these things so I couldn't talk of it. 
After we left we stumbled upon a Buddhist Temple.  *YES I NOW know that they are not supposed to be standing on those pillows with their shoes.  I didn't even realize it until afterwards.
We walked past the town center where there were a TON of older gentlemen playing chess, at least it appeared to be chess, and they were very serious too.  Reminded me of New York.  The onlookers were just as serious as the players.  The older men on the outskirts were very interested in the boys, more so than the women today.  Or maybe they were interested in my GINORMOUS stroller.  I got plenty of pointed fingers, giggles and wows.  Then I entered a "center" and walked and walked and actually ended up doing a 360.  I wasn't pleased.  Now I was tired and getting hungry and wanted home.  I just followed a crowd and voila, TAXI stand.  Jacques LOVED Chinatown because of all the STUFF.  We'll be back for sure.  Me to eat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Diet? HA Or maybe???

Friday, September 17, 2010
Very frustrating that NOTHING is open here until late morning.  You have to buy your muffins and breads the night before unless you eat breakfast at 9.  I did find a toast box open at 8 but there were only breads with meats and onions on it or this "soup" like thing with eggs and ??... kids aren't eattin' that for breakfast.  And croissants aren't baked until the afternoon - WHAT GIVES?  Ok, no problem, we'll run by the grocery store to get some fresh baked bread or muffins or bagels...NOT, it's not open until 930!  Thfat was a daily ritual for us... driving to Safeway and getting hot fresh bagels... or driving to BLAZING BAGELS... OH HOW I MISS YOU...so there it is, we have to find another way of life here.... a much later life.   Here's a shot of the breads at the end of the day... yum.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

All the little things... I'll continue to add to this...

August/September 2010
1.  Bathrooms are so hot.  No A/C gets in there, so it's pretty muggy.  UGH.  No lingering in there.
2.  Kitchens are also hot, esp after cooking dinner and running the dryer.  Sauna anyone?
3.  Sales at Cold Storage are interesting.  One day a 12 pack of water is $12.80 and the next day it's $6.80 and then the following day it's $8.10.  What gives?  Not a weekly thing?
4.  Boys love the trash shoot, a bit too much perhaps, Blake tossed his glass bowl down it the other day. 
5.  All these little lips in the floors.  How do people in wheelchairs do it?  SO annoying to stub your toe, but it's equally annoying when you step down too hard and jar your back.
6.  We've all had diarrhea...some more than others.
7.  There are no plain chicken breasts.  I'm talking allllll white meat with no stringy things attached.  I soo miss the big bag of them from Costco.  I think I found them... at a specialty store in the basement of our mall.  I'M SO JAZZZEDDDD...  $2/ 100g.  Guess not too bad - not Costco, but better than nuthin'!
8.  Pepsi just doesn't taste the same.  :(
9.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE when you see the price of something it's the price, tax is included in the price and it's all nicely rounded up.  NO pennies and you can have your money ready at the counter.  NOW, before some of you freak out, you can see how much you are paying in tax if you look at the receipt.
10.  Everyone is so nice and helpful.  Everyone.  Some maybe too nice.
11.  Pool.  Everyday, 2x/day.  Do kids ever get sick of it?  We're going on 2 weeks of it and it hasn't worn off yet.
12.  I miss Rory and JoeBlack.  A lot.  When the boys are asleep I really miss them..... a LOT.  :*(
13.  TV shows don't appear to start on the 1/2 hour.  Like right now, 210p a new episode of COPS is on.
14.  There is a hot water button outside of the kitchen and bathrooms, if you forget to use it, you have only warm and less warm water to bath or wash dishes.
15.  A LOT of old men like to watch my boys.
16.  A LOT of those same old men of #15 play checkers and an "othello" type games in the middle of these hawker stalls and "centers". 
17.  A lot of "earth friendly" advertisements here, in the service apartment and a lot on the cartoon channels.
18.  Besides trying to understand the english with an asian accent, it's also thrown in with BRITISH english which causes me Amurican some trouble understanding.
19.  Nothing is open until late morning.  EVEN the grocery store, 930am.  Coffee shops (not that I drink them but they have muffins) 9am.
20.  NO one, except the very rich, have GARBAGE DISPOSALS.......  Are they really that expensive to buy and install?  It's soooo gross scraping food into the trash.  GROSS. 
21.  Ok, so I finally tried Indian food and loved my dish.  Then Alexander told me they had a Chinese and Indian menu and I chose a Chinese dish.  Chicken in Chili sauce... I like Nan bread thou....and whatever that green sauce was with the big chips.
22.  I wish I would have brought more pasta sauce.  1 jar wasn't enough.. maybe another box of pasta too.
23.  (see 14) If you forget to flip the switch for hot water, sometimes the HOT water is cooler than the COLD water. 
24.  I'm so glad I left 75% of our goods at home, I just wish we would have left 90%!  Our apartment is SMALL.....but I'm stilllll glad I brought along my mattress... I can't wait to sleep on it.
25.  The sweat is what it is, you just have to know going to the zoo you will be wet all day.  Baby powder is a must.
26.  Gummie bears?  No I don't think they have them here, but it's ok, any hard candy left out will turn into a gummy.  My jolly ranchers are almost all chewy now.
27.  Glad I dyed my hair brown, people can't tell how WET it is with sweat.
28.  No one has MUSTARD, you know the yellow kind!!!  And don't get excited, the Ketchup is even less desirable.  Most of them are a cross between ketchup and chili sauce (which is dispensed like ketchup at McDonalds).  GLAD my mustard and ketchup are on the boat! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

4 Buses, 2 Trains and a Taxi... The ZOO

Monday, September 13, 2010
Left for the Singapore zoo at 8am....





Seattle Zoo:  Load kids in carseats, turn on A/C, stop by Blazing Bagels for breakfast, put in a DVD to keep the kids quiet, drive 45+ min and then a 5 minute walk into the zoo after parking. 

Singapore Zoo: 
5 min walk to bus #1, 5 min ride, but must board with GINORMOUS Double Bob AND keep 2 kids close by as they LOVE the bus and run to the back out of sight.  Pay with tapping a card and paying with change for boys, all while holding said stroller.  Now, I have to pay attention so I don't forget to 'alight' at the correct stop.  (Alight means Get OFF).  Bus #1 stops, I SCREAM for kids, we all alight but don't forget to tap my card to avoid paying too much for the ride. 

Wait 15 min in swealtering heat for the next bus, I'm all wet, but grateful we didn't have to walk anywhere in the sun, I forgot the hats and sunscreen.  Board bus #2 with said stroller and 2 kids, pay and argue with driver about paying for Jacques (he didn't want to charge me as he only saw Blake).  English but with STRONG accents.....  I go to sit and can't see Jacques, I SCREAM again, I find Jacques at the back of the bus.  Ride for 30+min, actually I've lost track how long it's been now.  Alight, tapping the card again and lugging the BOB and 2 kids, who are now tired and are wondering if the zoo is ever going to happen.

Wait another HOUR, ok not really but felt like it.  No one was around at this stop, I started to wonder if I was in the wrong country and then finally the bus arrives.  Bus #3.  5 min and we alight at the zoo.  FINALLY.

1030a ZOO.  Was it really over 2 hours?   The zoo was FABULOUS

1230p.... better start heading home now so I can be home for naps... guess I thought I was in Seattle.  Panic, have to get kids home and forgot to get bus #s for the reverse travel... What, it's not the same as the route you came???  NO.  Ugh.  I try to use my new google map and explorer map on my phone for directions, both are conflicting and I panic.  Get on bus #1 anyway, he drives for a bit and tells us to get off.  We alight, I look up and there are HUNDREDS of buses, some sort of depot.  Man approaches me as I look REALLY out of place and scared (scared because now I'm missing naptime not for any other reasons).  He tells me I have 3 more buses, #x, #xx, & #xxx.  I nod and think, WHATEVER.  I started to walk to find a taxi, I didn't care if it was $500, but then I saw the MRT sign, AHH TRAINS  I know I can figure that out and it's underground and have a/c, not that it matters, I'm soaking wet, my back, pants, all wet.  AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA  I was wrong.  We got on train #1, luckily in the right direction, but it was a deadend, now for train #2.  Got on #2  after long debate with a friendly by-stander.  Got on my phone again, found the name of an exit a few stops up and figured out how far it was from home, "4 min, Taxi $3.60" the column read... YES, I'm there.  I hopped off just as the doors were slamming shut (a man actually helped push the other end of my stroller out of the doors) it was funny.  Followed the signs for TAXI.  Told the Taxi driver, who had to bungie cord tie his trunk shut with said stroller, "STEP on it, we are late for naps."

Home.  230p

Friday, September 10, 2010

To blog or not to blog... ok, a quick blog

Friday, September 10, 2010
As we eat, as we walk, as we talk, we are watched... touched... smothered... all out of love and wonder... I really don't know how to take it.  I dyed my hair dark brown to stop getting the blond hair stares but it really hasn't helped.  My boys are touched, scratched, hugged and smothered by virtual strangers.  MEN or women, old and young.  We dine for pizza or Thai rice and we are gawked at, in a nice and loving way, but STILL.  I scold Blake for something on the street and look up to 5, 6, maybe 10 people looking on, smiling mostly, wanting to reach out to touch him.  I get comments hourly about how cute the boys are but I must have another, a girl.  Like I have a choice in ANY of that???  Paaaahlease.  It's really not bad, I know it is innocent, and I do want to respect them, but scratching my kids hair... after who KNOWS where their hands have been???  We swim a lot and bath a lot, it sounds mean right, but imagine, no personal space?  FORGET it here.  At least it's all nice, friendly and SAFE.  Forget being in a bad mood, someone always says something nice or opens a door for you or hands your change/card back like they truly appreciate your business.  It's everywhere... niceness.  So how does one respect their culture and yet have personal space too???  There you have it.... I blogged it.  Whatcha gotta say???

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sun.... Look Closely!!!! 13

Thursday, September 9, 2010
Sun, good or bad, we Seattle folk don't see much of it so when we do....VOILA.  It's given my little monkey FRECKLES!  When I was a young girl, I remember my Uncle David trying to count my freckles and it always made me giggle. SO, I continue the memory with Jacques.  He's so cute. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

My 1st real day....

Monday, September 6, 2010
Alexander returned to work today after being off and working from home for weeks.  At 1st I was mad, WHAT was I going to do with my 2 wild boys with no car to escape to?  So we started with some cartoons and laundry to get my head on straight and then thought we could head out to Ikea where both could go in the play place and I could shop for some apartment furniture.  But HOW do I get there, HOW and HOW much cash do I need... gotta have cash on hand here.  A major adjustment for me, I was a credit card queen and then paid that off online every month, no cash, cash was for babysitters and that was it.  So I grabbed a look at a website called gothere.sg and I typed in where we live and where I wanted to go and voila, taxi was only going to be a few $.  I was thrilled!!!  We all got dressed and headed out to hail a cab outside our apartment, SO weird to be saying this, such a huge change for me/us.  The cab driver started asking me questions (not usual from the few times I've riden in them) and then said as he glanced over his shoulder, "you have 2 boys" and I said, "yes".  He then said, "you must have another lady baby like you, you have such pretty eyes your husband must have fallen in love with you because of your eyes".  I was shocked and said thanks and then the conversation ended.  haha 
GREAT time at Ikea and a nice cab ride back home for naps and pool time.  The water is actually really cold, no complaints.  Nice.  Now it's dinner, tonight we are going American/Italian.  We've been eating fried rice so often and last night it was SPICY fried rice and a Indian chicken dish.  All good but need a little balance and familiarity.  However, I craving spring rolls!

Tomorrow we're going to Underwater World to look at the fishies.  That will be more of an adventure, couple buses and trains... ugh.  Stroller time. 

P.S. We mailed off our offer letters for our apartment.... pray we get it if it's meant to be!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wash or Dry? Do you have ALL day?

Saturday, September 4, 2010
Do you need your glasses to read the sign?  It says DON'T wash & dry your clothes at the same time.  I don't know why, I rather don't care why, I just know that it will take me 24 hours to do laundry and I still might not be done.  In the tiny washer, that ran for an hour, I washed 2 bras, 2 pants, 3 T's, 3 kid shorts, 3 kid undies, and a pair of socks.  Now before you say that's a lot, remember the last time you could easily count and type out what you last washed... NOT likely.
So after an hour wash and don't know how long to dry, they never dried, I find myself with LOADS left.  It's not like we can re-wear either, we are sweating so much I could almost change clothes 2x/day, but don't dare, I wouldn't have any skibbies to wear later.  And some of the units we are previewing to rent, have Japanese washers which only washes and it's only cold water... UGH... Another bane of my existence....

Friday, September 3, 2010

1 or 2

Saturday, September 4, 2010
I'm learning every culture has it's traditions... in viewing homes today, I noticed the address on the door had a 1 that was not like the other numbers on the address.  The 1 was bigger, gold and shiny.  The photo isn't very good, but it's hard to take photos of certain things without having a glare or a tisking done to you... In Chinese the number 1 is good luck so they really want it to stand out... However, in Vietnam the number 1 is bad luck so you never have a 1st child it's always the 2nd immediately.  You don't have a floor 1 you start on floor 2.  So where do you fall Americans??  Besides not liking floor 13....  I still have a 1st born!  :)  To each his own....

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fried Rice....YUM...Hawker Stall

Friday, September 3, 2010
Stalls as we locals call them :), or Hawker stalls by others... they are an outside food court where you can get super cheap food but don’t ask for a cup of water or a napkin, you are to bring those yourself. They all have a government rating for cleanliness etc “A” being the best down to an “E” where there is no one waiting in line. Some locals say “A’s” aren’t any good, not enough “flavor” but my digestive system says stick with the A’s and B’s for now. I wouldn’t have normally ventured here alone, but our realtor recommended it to us. We’ve now been twice. You can get creative too I hear, ask for spicy and they’ll throw in some chili’s that will burn baby burn (Jacques and I are enjoying the spicy part of food where the other boys are staying bland). Also, if you ask for the “meat” to be de-boned, they will. Something about eating meat on the bone just doesn’t sit well with me, even in America. So yesterday the little boys and I ran across the BUSY street, with all the other business people scurrying to these shadow’d places to eat... for dirt cheap. The fried rice lady quickly recognized me and offered spicy rice. Is this a good thing or bad????

Ok, what gives??? SQUATTER

Friday, September 3, 2010
I guess they are called a squatter... I always called them Turkish toilets, but who knows... These are not just in old parts of town, or old buildings, they are in NEW malls and NEW apartments also. I don’t get it. Someone PLEASE tell me... WHY would anyone WANT one??? Seriously, I’m quite perplexed. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but usually I have to take my pants DOWN to potty and then do what with them as they brush against the nasty urine stained floor? I’m sorry to be so graphic and gross, but I’m seriously wondering what other women think and maybe a tip or 2.... GROSS.