Chendal

I had dim sum for lunch today.  Rolled, stuffed and steamed while I waited.  You can’t get fresher than that.

This is frozen chendal.  It tasted like coconut snow.  With red beans, gelatin cubes and some kind of grass clippings.  It was delicious.

 

 

Stinky Durian.  We bought some of it dried and salted in Thailand and ate the whole bag.  I didn’t have a smell and tasted like Lays potato chips.

 

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Gardens by the Bay

I have been looking forward to visiting these gardens and greenhouses.  They weren’t open on my last trip.  There are lots of free areas to enjoy and then you can buy a ticket for the indoor exhibits.  There was a Cloud room and a Bloom room.  The cloud was like a rainforest and you could walk a spiral ramp all the way up to the top.  The other one was just full of all kinds of plants and trees from around the world divided up by region.  It had a lot of cactus.  It had full grown olive trees, rose bushes, all kinds of things that don’t grow here.

   

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Fort Canning Park

I decided to go for a jog today in Fort Canning Park.  It is just a few blocks from the hotel but it took a while to get there because of construction.  Fort Canning is a huge hill in the middle of the city and it looks like they have a side scraped off and are filling it with a concrete gridwork.  I don’t know if the area was washing away or if they just want to terrace it.  I finally found an overpass where I could reach the park.  I walked up the hill.  It is about a 45 degree incline.  I jogged when I came down.

Fort Canning is a very historic site.  The English built their first settlement there and they found the tombs of ancient Malay kings.  I came across an excavation site and they had some of their findings displayed.  There were pieces of bowls from ancient China and some coins.  Singapore’s water resevoir is at the top of the hill.  It is fenced in and their are signs all around it saying you can be shot for entering.  I didn’t see any guards though.

 

 

         

http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/index.php?option=com_visitorsguide&task=parks&id=16&Itemid=73

I had 4000 on the pedometer and added another 1000 when we went to dinner that night.

These carvings are in stone that make up a fence to a Buddhist temple near the hotel.

     

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Winter in Singapore

Doug had told me that he thought it was a little cooler here.  I had to laugh when I came out of the airport and the hot air hit me in the face.  You forget how oppressive it is.  And this was at six in the morning.  It’s just so humid.  I think you do adjust to it a little though.  I am still sweating but I think it might be a little cooler.  For one thing, it is more overcast so that gives you a little break from the sun.  Nevertheless, it is Christmas in the tropics.  We hear Christmas carols at the hotel and all of the malls just like at home.  We went to the shopping mecca that is Orchard Road and took some pictures of the lights.  Here is a website for some better pics if you want more.

http://www.orchardroad.org/gallery/

 

 

  

 

This Gingerbread house is in the lobby of the hotel.  They are putting up the tree today.

 

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Back to Singapore

It felt like home getting back to Singapore.  I would have loved to spend more time on the beach and I really enjoyed the Thai food and the cheap prices instead of here in the land of exorbitant prices.  Also, if we would have stayed longer maybe we would have gotten more comfortable and adventurous in getting around town.  The traffic is intense.  Not the amount of it but just the style of driving.  There are a lot of taxis and shuttles but also a lot of privately owned vehicles.  I noticed lots of people had pick-ups which you never see in Singapore and when we were going to the airport during rush hour I saw why.  The beds were loaded with people going to work.  Many of them have a bar across the top and everyone just stands in the back and holds on to the bar.  In the evenings you would see whole soccer teams on their way to the game like that.  Most disturbing though are the motor scooters.  That is the main mode of transportation and they buzz around like bees all around the cars, on every side, going every direction.  I saw young children riding in front of their parent’s with their feet propped up on the gas tank.  The thought of Reagan on one of them was horrifying.  I think it is the biggest cause of death there.  We saw several tourists with their knees bandaged up and knew they had rented a scooter.

In the tourist areas the streets are tiny and there aren’t any shoulders to speak of.  What is there is used for parking motor scooters so when you are walking, you have to weave all around them and try to avoid oncoming traffic.  You see tourists just walking along like it is a plaza.  I was afraid someone was going to get run over or cause someone to wreck their scooter to avoid them.  These pictures show the streets but this isn’t at a busy time.  At night everyone would leave the beach and walk along the streets to shop or eat.

     

So that is why it felt familiar to come back to Singapore.  We know the airport, the taxi queues and the mass transit system.  We can go anywhere we want in the city.  It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when we got back to the hotel so we decided to go to the show and see James Bond.  Apparently all of Singapore had the same idea.  There were masses of humanity underground at the MRT station.  We all jammed into the train and then had to change lines and then the mall was packed.  By the time we made our way to the show, the next two were sold out.  So much for our relaxed beach vibe.

NOTE:  The next day I went online and bought tickets and we went to see Skyfall that evening.  We had Coke light, kettle corn and corn in a cup for a snack.  Why can’t we get those snacks at our theaters?

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Beach Time

The beaches in Thailand were gorgeous.  The sand is powdery, the water clear. The water tasted salty but it didn’t seem to cling to your skin and dry it up.  Doug said we were going to be so white at the beach, but no, not at all.  Thanks to the Russians and Europeans who by the way believe you are never too old or too fat for your bikini or speedo we didn’t stand out at all.  Except with me in my “swim dress” and Doug in his board shorts you could easily spot us as Americans.  You could also single out the Aussies because most of the women were very dark.  They looked like tanned leather.  There was quite a contrast between all of us sprawled out in the sun and the Thai women wearing long sleeves and bonnets to sell their wares on the beach.  They aren’t Muslim, they are Buddhist but they wanted to protect their skin.  They must think we are crazy!

Doug has left a watch in every lake we have ever been in and now there is one in the Andaman Sea.

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No one has brought up our recent election to us except the guy that owned one of the food and drink stands at the back.  While his wife was preparing our order he asked where we were from.  He said only about 10 per cent of the tourists are American.  He gave Obama a thumbs up and the Russians a thumbs down.  I guess he finds them difficult.  Our beach chairs were next to a Russian couple and they were very nice.  I was having a beach massage (about $10 for an hour)  at the back of the beach and it started raining.  It stopped when I was done and I went back to what I thought were our chairs but couldn’t find Doug.  I was walking back and forth along the beach looking for my stuff and she came and told me that he had taken everything and left.  “Even my shoes?” I said and she confirmed.  Someone else had taken over our chairs so I just found an empty one nearby to wait at.  I couldn’t walk all the way back to the hotel barefooted!  She was very concerned about me and they were leaving because it had started raining again.Finally Doug came back with an umbrella and my shoes.  We saw them again when we went back that afternoon and she was very relieved to see that I had been rescued.

There were beautiful sunsets here at the edge of the world.

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Dragon Eye Fruit

We bought these at a fruit stand.  Doug had tried them before and liked them.  They are kind of like grapes.

They have a tough skin but it is easy to peel.

 

When you peel it, it looks like an eyeball.  It doesn’t show up in the picture but the black seed inside looks like an iris.

 

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Thailand Tour

We took a boat tour to some little islands one day and did some snorkeling where the movie “The Beach” was filmed.  They were beautiful.  Phi Phi Island, Monkey Island and Kai Nai Island.

That’s a lot of horsepower.

 

         

The picture below is named Viking Cave.  Apparently a ship sunk nearby years ago and the crew used it as their shelter.  I don’t know what their fate was but the cave was named after them.

Now (and probably then too) the cave is home to the swallows who make the coveted nests used to make bird’s nest soup.  All of the scaffolding is used to harvest them.

 

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Fish Spa

I can’t believe I paid three American dollars for this.  100 Baht.  This is what I try to avoid at the lake!  They are supposed to nibble away the dry skin.  My feet did feel soft afterwards.  They don’t actually bite you.  They have suction cups.  It does tickle, especially when they get on the bottom.  They kept telling me to sit still but it was difficult at first.  I was sitting on the porch with my feet in a big aquarium.  I think all of my squirming and squealing wasn’t good for business.  It did prepare me for snorkeling the next day though.  We fed the fish bananas and they were swimming all around us.

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Thailand Resort

I was so relieved and happy when we got to the resort in Thailand.  I just chose a place online and you never know what you are going to end up with.  I searched for a mid-range place (around $100 per night US dollars), near the beach.  A couple of friends, (thanks Julie and Adriane) suggested some areas and told me where not to stay but I felt like I was just throwing a dart to choose one.  There are so many.  Ours was really nice, clean, excellent views and a walk across the road to the beach.  Oh and an amazing breakfast buffet was included every morning.

This is the entrance.  The lobby and dining areas were all covered but open aired.

Terraced pool

 

This was outside our hotel.  Adriane told me what it was called but I forget.  They are used to place offerings of food and drink.  I saw where they were sold and almost every home and place of business had one.  If they did not, then they still set out their offerings.

 

Offering food on an altar is an act of connecting with the spiritual world. It is also a means to release selfishness and open the heart to the needs of others.

This is the balcony.  Smile Doug, you are in paradise.

Sunset from balcony

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