Thursday, January 31, 2008

13 Years

Today is Rohaizad and my 13th anniversary of togetherhood!

To celebrate, we got up early and took the bus to East Coast Park.

It's a beautiful beach with biking/skating/running trails and a beach. And huge ships as far as the eye can see!

We had breakfast by the water.

Look, our clothes are mirror images of each other!

Thank you to Cheryl (you can check out her blog via the link on the left of this page) who is responsible for setting us up 13 years ago in Honolulu!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Recycled WHAT?!

A tiny nation like Singapore doesn't have a whole lot of natural resources.

They call the northern part of Singapore "The Heartlands", but you won't find orchards or grazing cattle. You just see more HDB flats than office towers.

Singapore even has to import its water. But it is doing its best to become more self-sufficient in that area.

There is some desalination going on, but more interesting is this concept of "New Water."

It's a huge misnomer, because it is actually "VERY MUCH USED water." Here is Rohaizad enjoying a bottle of former sewage.

I found that it tastes fine, but I tried not to think about it too much while I was drinking.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Clustr Map Mystery

I'm baffled by this "Clustr Map" thing that I've linked onto my blog down on the left. Lately there have been days that dozens of dots appear, making it look like the map has chicken pox. Other days it suddenly reports hundreds of hits on my blog in contrast to the normal 7 or 8.

And now my Pohnpei dot has disappeared, although Guam is still there! Where did you go, Pohnpei?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Scenes of Singapore

Window washers.

Bleachers beside the road.

The Esplanade Arts Center.

I made this puzzle!

Chinese New Year Preparations

We are approaching the Year of the Rat.

I saw a sign that said "CelebRATe New Year". Something about the word "rat" doesn't make me want to throw my hat in the air.

Eek! Glowing rodents in the trees!

McDonalds is trying to get into the New Year business by selling the "Prosperity Burger" during this time of year, although I think the cows have a different name for it. It didn't taste very good, though. Could it be rat meat?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thaipusam Festival

Last night at 2:00 am we were awakened by the sound of drums, bells and chanting outside the bedroom window. When I looked out the window, I saw a sea of people marching down the street.

This is the Hindu festival of Thaipusam. The marchers are traveling from the temple near my house to Clark Quay.

When I woke up this morning at 5:30, the marching was still going on strong. The marchers tend to travel in clumps around one or two guys who are carrying this:

The men who are carrying these things seem to be in a trance. They have hooks in their skin, as you can see from this photo:

I never knew there were so many Hindus here in Singapore; I can still hear the drums and chanting and smell the incense from the festival's marchers! This guy had hooks through his mouth and tongue - now THAT'S devotion!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Everything Sails into One Great Location

Rohaizad and I visited Pulau Keppel on Saturday morning. The sailboats from an around-the-world clipper race have recently arrived, plus Saturday was the grand opening of the Keppel Bay Marina.

Here is the bridge linking Singapore with Pulau Keppel. There were a bunch of girls who posed on the bridge (in the hot sun) throughout the grand opening ceremony. As we walked across the bridge, the emcee announced that the bridge was officially opened - music blared, the girls danced, the fountains shot water, a huge banner unfurled - and there we stood halfway across the bridge. Eek.

Rohaizad tried to stay out of the sun by standing in the shadow of this balloon which was being blown willy nilly. He looked pretty funny.

Here is the racing clipper from Singapore. It disturbs me to see the words "Uniquely Singapore" painted on the side of the boat; you can't have an ADVERB modifying a NOUN!

The diagonal banners are on the racing clippers as they are lined up in the new marina with the bridge in the background.

The path out of Keppel Bay was lined with these beautiful flowers.

Friday, January 18, 2008

An Evening in Chinatown

The place to buy hot bread.

A Buddhist Temple.

Apparently this temple houses a relic of the Buddha's tooth. I wonder if it was removed due to nirvana damage (sorry).

Some Chinese New Year decorations in front of the temple.

This street, and many others in Chinatown, have been transformed into huge open-air markets in preparation for New Year celebrations.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Mayor of Bean Curd City

Who can resist an eating establishment named BEAN CURD CITY? Well, not Rohaizad and I, that's for sure. We got lured across four lanes of traffic to enter its mysterious walls.

I'm not exactly sure what we were eating, but it was made out of bean curd and it was delicious.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Singapore Views (yes, we're allowed to have them)

Looking at the Singapore skyline from the padang. Padang is Malay for "flat field" and this field has been used for recreation such as cricket and rugby and military parades for a long, long time. It used to be pretty close to the sea, but land reclamation has put it at quite a distance from any water.

In the foreground is City Hall. The British accepted the Japanese surrender on the steps of this building and Singapore's first prime minister declared independence two decades later on the same steps. The old Supreme Court building is in the background with the St. Paul's Cathedral dome on it.

Preparations for Chinese New Year are well underway.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

An Afternoon at Sembawang

Rohaizad and I went to Sembawang Park for a picnic this afternoon. Where else but Singapore can you take a bus clear across the nation to spend the day at a park?

Rohaizad made some nasi goreng (fried rice) and quesadillas and we brought along some other snacks and drinks.

On our way to the park, Rohaizad texted some family members to tell them we were going on a picnic. When we had been there for about an hour, Rohaizad's parents and an aunt showed up to join us. The sky was looking threatening, so we moved to a small pavilion. Here's the view from the pavilion.

Soon we had one of those storms that only happen in the tropics. The clouds are pitch black and seem to hover twenty feet above your head. The rain seems to be attacking the ground instead of simply falling and the thunder and lightning were all magnified.

Along with the storm, a slew of relatives arrived. Aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins' children... Here is one of the cousin's children.

We huddled inside the pavilion - about 16 of us - talking and eating, eating, eating until dark. I entertained the crowd for a while on the Pianica. Here's the happy mob.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Co-Curricular Smorgasboard

This morning I joined Rohaizad on a trip to the Secondary School where he teaches. Even though it is Saturday, parents and students showed up so that all the co-curricular activities could perform and recruit participants.

Here is the school courtyard with some of the booths...

What an impressive array of activities these students have to choose from, and this was just an ordinary, neighborhood school. They had band, choir, sports, theater, Malay dance, ROTC (or whatever it's called over here), Indian dance, hip hop dance and many others. It was so fun to watch the performances!

Here is the Chinese Lion Dancers. I never realized how difficult being a lion is, and these poor guys were doing it out in the sun. It sure is exciting to see when the drums are pounding away.

Not to judge or anything, but this angklung group was the BEST! They had a huge group and looked like they were having a blast. They wouldn't quit, even when other groups were trying to perform! Here's the director with some of the instruments.

Here are the rest of the instruments in the angklung ensemble.

Here's the Chinese orchestra. They were playing Pachabel's Canon. How ethnic, huh?

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Shoe Drama Marches Onward

Hey, remember these shoes I bought at Goodwill for $5.00 a few months ago?

They are now up for bids on ebay. Check it out here.

My hopes aren't too high. My younger brother has tried before and the bids didn't get too high. Maybe I should have autographed them.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The 10km Disgrace

I woke up early this morning and took the bus up to MacRitchie Reservoir to run a 10 kilometer race.

Its a beautiful place to run: beside the mist covered water and through the dark jungle. Occassionally there were monkeys sitting beside the path watching me pass.

Unlike Pohnpei, all the runners wear shoes. Also, I am no longer among the top ten fastest runners. I ended up in 44th place with a time of 48:07.

I've been reading the book Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee which Rohaizad has checked out from the public library. Having just completed The Human Stain, I seem to be stuck on the theme of disgraced college professors.

Anyways, as I was reading it yesterday evening, I noticed that some six or eight pages were missing. So I asked Rohaizad to return it to the library and pick up another copy for me.

He told me that when he informed the staff of the damage to the book, he was chided by the person on duty. They informed him that it was his fault for not checking for damage before he checked out the book.

Ahh, lovely Singapore, teaching us to keep our mouths shut.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Beauty World

This afternoon we went to a matinee performance of the original Singapore musical Beauty World! Here's the publicity photo...

Pretty cool, huh? Snakes, women floating on feathered clouds and trombones!

Well, it wasn't as cool as the picture makes it out to be.

It turned out to be fifteen minutes of entertainment spread out into three hours. The artistic team apparently saved a lot of time by avoiding that pesky "workshop" process. And editing, what's that?

But it was my first time in the Esplanade ... a beautiful performing arts complex right on the water. From the outside it looks like the eyes of a fly.

It was raining when we left the show and watching the rain cascade down the windows was quite lovely.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Treasure Hunting

On my way home this evening, I took a detour through the Thieves' Market.

I guess it is called the Thieves' Market because of the dubious origins of much of the merchandise for sale. But it has become one of my favorite places in Singapore! It is refreshing to find a place that is seedy and a little suspicious in the middle of this spanking-clean metropolis.

I found myself a little Pianica for sale at the market. A Pianica is a little keyboard that you have to blow into while you press the keys.

After I got home I gave it a thorough cleaning and then JAMMED!!!