October 06, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm......Part 2

It is amazing to me how quickly that which is odd can become normal. I recently read my first "Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm" post and while I still think it's weird that people carry drinks around in plastic bags, it doesn't jump out at me as much as it once did. For the record, I still have not tried a "squatty potty", but I know there will come a time in my very near future when I won't have an option. I have heard so many horror stories that I'm not looking forward to my first attempt at squatting and aiming!

Without further ado, I give you more interesting or strange observations from life here in Singapore!

1. This country is obsessed with acronyms. The freeways here are the PIE (Pan Island Expressway), ECP (East Coast Parkway), and BTE (Bukit Timah Expressway) just to name a few. The boys go to SAS (Singapore American School), play sports with SACAC (Singapore American Community Action Council), do after school activities with EASA (Elementary After School Activities), and take the bus home to the AC (American Club). I have joined the AWA (American Women's Assoc) which meant an instant membership to AAS (American Assoc of Singapore) and love the time I spend at IBC (International Baptist Church) with the WEM (Women's Enrichment Ministries). There are no fewer than 4 banks here that have gone the acronym route. There's POSB, UOB, OCBC, and DBS. We bank at Citibank, which we have shortened to.....well, The Bank. It's enough to make you want to LOL!!

2. Chilis is the only place we've been to so far that believes in free refills on your drinks. This may go hand in hand with why everyone around here is so small. That and the lack of Whataburger.

3. There's no tipping in Singapore. Typically there's a service charge of approx 10% added to your bill at a restaurant but no additional tipping. If you are feeling generous, you can round up your taxi fare to the nearest dollar as a tip and make a driver's day.

4. I do not think it's my own closed mindedness that keeps me from eating some of the strange stuff we've seen here. Some of it is just not normal.

These would be veggies stuffed with Fish Paste. I'm not sure how it turns out so shiny, but that's not the biggest turnoff for me. I just don't think I can eat anything that is a paste of something that was once alive.

5. Apparently, if you have a loved one that has passed on but is really needing a new pair of shoes in their afterlife....or a pack of cigarettes, you can go to a store to buy these items made out of paper. You set them on fire to send them into the universe, and before you know it, Grandma's got a new pair of Adidas. This store was filled with "designer" purses, liquor bottles, jewelry, and shoes.

I could not make this stuff up if I tried.

Notice the razor in the package at the bottom right? Guess you could share it with Moses on a slow day in heaven. A little makeover fun!

6. If you happened to be watching The Amazing Race when they were in Singapore, you will remember the challenge where they had to sell ice cream sandwiches from an ice cream cart. The boys were so excited to try the ice cream sandwiches because they are literally a slice of ice cream put into a slice of bread. And not that stone ground whole wheat kind of bread.....this bread has pink and green swirls in it!

The best part? They cost $1. In Singapore terms, that's practically giving them away!

7. The Mid-Autumn Festival just ended. It is a celebration of the moon and everywhere you go you see a delicacy called mooncakes. Typical mooncakes are made with lotus seed paste in the middle (which I am pretty sure will make you fail a drug test) with 2 egg yolks from salted duck eggs baked in to represent the moon. They are dense and not the yummiest thing I have ever tasted. They are round and imprinted on the top are a description of what's inside the mooncake along with the name of the bakery. Apparently, back in the day, they were used to distribute messages used to coordinate the Han Chinese revolt. I am convinced they could have actually thrown the mooncakes at people and done some serious bodily harm.

8. It is extremely popular to go eat at Hawker Stalls. It is essentially a large area with many different booths serving all kinds of food. It is very popular because you can eat very cheaply at the hawker stalls. If you have any desire to step out of your comfort zone in the food dept, this is the place to do it. You won't lose a lot of money in the process. In a move that is sheer brilliance by the government, the stalls are given a grade. This grade hangs front and center in the hawker stall to let you know where their standards lie in cleanliness of the workspace and food. Every time I come across a stall with a big 'ol "C" hanging there, I have a hard time making eye contact with the owner. What shame!

I am 100% an "A" kind of girl. Won't be taking any chances at any "B" stalls!

9. Let's address caning for a minute. I get asked frequently about caning.......a system made popular by Micheal Fay, the American teenager (18 yrs old) that spray painted and vandalized a bunch of cars and didn't want to suffer the consequences and so mommy and daddy came to his rescue. Parenting at its best!

I digress.

Recently we had dinner with a family that are native Singaporeans. At this dinner was a boy that is serving his time with the Singaporean military which is required of all boys after graduating from high school. I asked him for details on exactly what caning meant. It is used for offenses that deserve severe consequences, i.e. robbery, rape or destroying property. It is used with men under the age of 50 and is done with a cane that is about 4 feet long and half an inch thick. It is often soaked in water to make it more flexible. You are caned on your naked hiney with a doctor present in case you lose consciousness. The person doing the caning is required to put their full force behind it, so there's typically more than one caner present for when one gets too exhausted. I guarantee this is a bigger deterrent to crime than 3 square meals a day and outdoor playtime. Every person convicted of a crime here gets their name in the paper along with what they did and what their punishment was. They don't mess around with this stuff!

10. Yes, English is the primary language spoken here. With that being said, it is more accurately defined as Singlish because it's English with a Singapore twist. The most common characteristic is the tendency to add "lah" at the end of phrases and sentences. Throw in a good Chinese accent and suddenly you get lots of practice asking for things to be repeated or just nodding like you understand what's being said. There is no telling the things I have agreed to or questions I have answered inappropriately because of a good dose of Singlish.

I must admit that this country is growing on me. There are days that I ache for the familiarity of home, but we are exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to be here.

That being said, we are getting close enough to Christmas at this point, that I can almost smell Chuys from here!!


  1. Awww...the memories and stories you will all have to tell:)

  2. What a great post Keri! I feel like I just took a trip there with you. :) I hope to get to see you at Christmastime!!

  3. Keri, I can totally hear you telling these priceless stories like you were sitting across from me at a round table. Thanks for sharing this new wisdom, it is hilarious! You are a trooper, I'm so proud of you for stepping out and getting to know Singapore. Love you, Sarah

  4. :) This made me smile. And it is so good that you're loving it there, but I just need it to be Christmas. Love you.

  5. Oh man...looking that the "things to eat" not only takes away my appetite (which I must get back so can go EAT and celebrate Chris' birthday!), but also makes me appreciate how easy Japan was, even though I thought the raw fish was a challenge. At least it wasn't the "s" thing. I AM Texas and like my food dead and cooked, but prefer eating things that do not crawl on the ground!

    Thanks for sharing the experience. I always get excited when I see you have written on your blog. I am convinced that you, and your family, will never see the world or life the same after this experience.

    I pray for you each time I eat at Chuy's! Can we send you anything?

  6. You'll be home for Christmas?? That's awesome!! Loved this post, Keri!! You crack me up!

  7. What an experience and glad you are learning to like it. When you come back home, you'll be missing Singapore! I want to go to Chuy's with you when you're here. Can you believe I've only been there once? Always, Belen

  8. Just reading about mooncakes are enough to make me gag. Eating them when I lived in China is definitely something I do not want to re-live. OH and also they should be considered weapons. Glad all is well!

  9. I loved reading this- As much as you miss Texas, I am enjoying your adventures over there!! I wish I could figure out some way to get some Chuy's to you...Whataburger.....Oreos.....

    I better stop now before you get really mad at me....




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