August 10, 2010

Things that make you go "Hmmmmm"

We have officially been in Singapore 5 weeks as of today. School is in session and schedules are filling up with lunches out with friends, meetings for church and school, business trips, and even a birthday party the boys have been invited to. While it doesn't feel completely like home, we are not wasting any time in putting down some roots. I guess you could say we are embracing the concept of "blooming where you are planted".

I still walk around in awe of where we live. I have had some incredibly interesting conversations with taxi drivers and am starting to learn a little about the culture of Singapore. There are several interesting aspects of this country that I feel compelled to share with you because after all, I want you to feel like you are getting the full Singaporean experience through us.

Here we go.

Things that make me go "Hmmmmmm":
(insert throat clearing here)

1. This first item I have tried to articulate several different ways and can't seem to get it right so I'm just going to say it.

There is an obvious lack of silicone here.

I am not going to insert my opinion one way or another about that fact, but it honestly took me all of 48 hours before I mentioned my observation to Scot. Being a wise man, he made no comment at all. I have since voiced my observation to new friends who have all concurred. The end.

2. For some unexplainable reason, people walk around here with their drinks in plastic bags. There is a straw sticking out of the top of the bag in order to enjoy the refreshment but it's in a Top Secret kind of way. Like they swore off Frappachinos but then passed by a Starbucks and couldn't help themselves and now they are hiding their drink in a bag to avoid judgemental stares from others. These pictures are not the best because I was taking them while pretending that I wasn't taking them. It makes me feel like I'm a covert opperative of some kind.

Notice his drink from McDonalds in a clear bag? He's not ashamed!
Her drink in her left hand in a handy carrying bag.

3. There are NO baked chips of any kind in Singapore that I have found thus far. I am assuming that since everyone here is 4'9" and 70 pounds, they are probably willing to splurge on a bag of Lays.

4. There are more Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Porsches, and Aston Martins here than anywhere else I've ever been. They are everywhere! We live on an island! A crowded island at that. I'm all for driving a fast car, but when you can go from 0-100 in 5 seconds flat before having to stop for a stoplight or traffic, what's the point? Never mind the fact that you can't even get a new Toyota Camry for less than $95,000 so you're talking some serious coin for one of those rides. Notice how I slip so easily into street talk? I'm just cool like that.

5. When handing over a business card or credit card, you do it with both hands, not just one. It's like paying respect to the card. I like to throw in a little bow just to spice things up.

6. This is a typical Asian toilet. Every restroom, or loo, that I have been in has had the typical Western toilet as well. My friend informed me that in Malaysia and other neighboring countries, that is not the case. Which means at some point I am going to have to figure out how to get my 5'11" self into a squatting position without touching every germ infested wall around me or losing my balance and falling into the hole which would lead to me screaming and would certainly incite a national disaster. It is not unusual to walk into a restroom with all Western style toilets and find a set of footprints on the seat where someone felt the need to practice their aim.

7. It is Hungry Ghost Festival time here in Singapore. All around the country you find altars much like this one. The Hokkien Chinese believe that the gates of hell open up at this time of year and souls roam the earth. What a fun filled festival! It makes you want to grab the children and hop right over to Singapore, doesn't it? The Chinese build altars with incense, mandarin oranges, roasted suckling pig, and rice being offered up to the ghosts to appease them.

Don't want Grandpa getting ticked off!

They also burn fake money to ensure great fortune in their afterlife. Why fake? I was told it was because they can fool their gods using fake money instead of real money. it just me or does it seem a little odd to actually trust a god that is that stupid? Just sayin'.......

8. Speaking of money, all the "paper" money here is actually made out of plastic. They come in $2, $5, $10, $50, $100 bills which are different sizes depending on the amount. It's brilliant and fun and still seems very fake to me.......which is absolutely reflected in our poor bank account.

9. I have been told that they do hangings at the prison on Fridays. It is not open to the public which works well for me because you couldn't drag me to something like that. BUT, it is a very useful fact when threatening my boys about consequences for breaking the rules. Fear can be a very useful parenting tool.

10. We are now using words such as "alight" instead of get out, "queue" instead of get in line, "handphone" instead of cellphone, and "lift" instead of elevator. You refer to Asian men as "Uncle" as a sign of respect and the women are "Auntie". It makes us feel very cool and proper to use our new vocabulary. We are doing our best to blend. Well, except for the height issue and my curly hair and Garrett's red hair, but other than that, we are totally blending in!

There are many more things, but I like things all nice and neat so we'll stop at 10.

Every day I encounter something new or different that makes me smile or wish I had my camera with me or shake my head in wonder. It's a wonderful and fascinating country with much, much more exploring left to do!!


  1. Wow, what a trip! So facinating...definitely makes me go hmmmmmm....! I'm intrigued (and a little weirded out) by the hole in the floor toilet thingy. Can you imagine THAT squat?! They may not have boobs but I bet they have good leg muscles! As a fellow 5'11" girl, well, let's just say that my aim probably wouldn't be good enough to use one of those toilets...just sayin;-)
    I love reading about all the "normal" things of Singapore. And I have an idea: in the effort of blending in, I think you need a Ferrari;-)

  2. This post made me happy. That's all. Oh, and I don't like to think of you blending in. It's more fun to think of you being tall with curly hair not looking at all like you should stay in Singapore with their dumb gods and greedy ghosts. :) Got it, Auntie?

  3. This is my first time to your blog. It's totally awesome, Keri. Oh, and the pictures are great. I've been walking around the office showing people the bagged drinks and the Asian toilet.

  4. Keri - reading your posts makes me sad we didn't have a better chance to get to know each other in Texas. Now I have fond visions of you and your cute boys using plastic "monopoly" money to buy a drink in a bag. Oh and not to mention squatting over a hole in the floor but I think I'll try and erase that one :)

  5. Haven't had internet access in a while-at mom's house outside Denton for a week. Feel like I am in the twilight zone without technology! Liked your new insights. I assume you mean lack of silicone boob jobs-do they have sunken chests or just not much to speak of! Ha!:) Drink in the bag thing is new-very odd. I have used one of those toilets and all I can say is practice your squats or don't waste the money on nice shoes. YUCK! Talk to you once I am back in Canada.

  6. I love this post. Based on my limited knowledge of Asian countries, I'll add a little commentary.

    They have the bags in Cambodia too, and I'm pretty sure they're not ashamed of their drinks. :) There just isn't any such thing as a take-home cup. Too expensive maybe?

    And in Japan, we handed everything to people with 2 hands (particularly money). If you just use one hand, you're saying the other person is lower than you. It's disrespectful.

    And we saw Ferraris on Okinawa too! Itty-bitty island with fast, expensive cars.

    Anyway. I LOVE all your observations and all you're learning. It's fascinating, and you write in such an entertaining way.

  7. Just now getting to catch up on your blog. I can't believe you don't carry your camera with you EVERYWHERE! :) I love being able to see and learn about another culture through your eyes!



Site design by Fabulous K Creative