Laksa love.

10/31/10

Laksa is one of my favorite dishes to eat here in Singapore. I usually make a mess and splatter the soup all over myself, but I'm too busy enjoying it to notice the stains on my blouse until I reach the bottom of the bowl.
A vendor at East Coast Lagoon Food Village that sells laksa. (We've posted about eating here before). 

Yum! Dinner is served. And it only cost me a few bucks.

Jeff and I have a sort of Singapore bucket list going that we started when we moved here, and one of the things on our list is to order something from every single vendor at the East Coast Lagoon Food Village. We're going to try and eat here at least once a week to accomplish our goal. I'm up for the challenge.

Anyone else have some suggestions for our bucket list?

Happy Halloween!

This is pretty much what Halloween looked like at our apartment this year (and some spiderwebs, I forgot to take photos of that). I didn't even have candy this year; first time in my entire life that there hasn't been a bowl of sugar-loaded treats within arm's reach. Our good friends Jon and Laura mailed us a really rad care package which included these Halloween decorations and some San Jose Sharks gear. Thanks guys, we loved all of it! These decorations are probably staying up until we move out. 

Speaking of the Sharks, they beat the Ducks today. Happy Halloween, indeed. Not so happy for the Giants, but it's not over yet!

Ice skating in Singapore

10/25/10

After being off the ice for six months (he says this doesn't count as skating), Jeff finally got to skate this past weekend at Kallang Ice World. Before moving here, Jeff made sure there would be somewhere for him to skate. He even brought his own ice skates with him. 

Hanging out at the rink (I hesitate to call it an actual rink because it's about half the size of a normal hockey rink) brought back a flood of fond memories. The smell of the cold, artificially cooled air. The whirring sounds of the Zamboni as it smooths the ice. The harsh fluorescent lights reflecting off the wet, white surface of the rink. The goosebumps on my arms and legs. For a while there, I really forgot I was in Singapore. 

Then I noticed the Zamboni driver had no idea what he was doing as he drove around haphazardly on the ice (in flip flops, no less), not really smoothing the ice but just pushing the melted slush around. Instead of my usual hockey-wife-sitting-in-the-bleachers ensemble of coat, gloves, scarf, hat, blanket and hot chocolate, I was shivering in shorts and a tank top. Also missing was the distinct hockey smell that permeates all the rinks back home. A smell so pungent that I demanded Jeff air out his stinky hockey equipment in the corner of the guest room so that I could breathe and the dogs wouldn't get territorial. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually miss that smell. 

The reason for Jeff's return to the ice is not merely nostalgia. Some members of his adult league hockey team back in San Jose entered the World Pond Hockey Championship in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick this February. They told Jeff he should enter a team as a Singaporean contingent, so he did. And they got accepted. He's skating a few times a week now for practice. If you see a tall guy skating circles around everyone else on the ice at Kallang, that's Jeff. You should say hello! 

The dogs got haircuts. Finally.

10/24/10

The chances are pretty good that you've never seen a dog like this before. Here in Singapore, the boys get funny looks from just about everyone that passes us by. Some people even take out their cell phones to take a photo. We're all pretty used to it by now.

I haven't been able to find good grooming shears or scissors to cut their hair myself, so I decided to take them to a groomer near our apartment. They hadn't received a trim since before we left California, so they were long overdue. Stan was starting to get really uncomfortable in the heat. 

I printed out photos and cutting guidelines just in case the groomer had no idea what to do with these guys. When I offered to give them the pictures, the groomers said they didn't need them. They had never seen, let alone groomed, a Bedlington Terrier before. But thanks to the wonder of YouTube, they did some research and did a pretty decent job for their first time. I was very impressed.

The Hot Dog Shop in Candidasa... and some geckos

10/23/10

(okay, last Bali post. I promise.)
This is the Hot Dog Shop, right next to the police station in Candidasa. That man on the left with the white shirt is Gary. He and his wife Tyo run this little restaurant as well as a small homestay next door. They are two very kind and gracious people. Gary makes you feel like you're an old friend and is quick to invite you into his conversation (he's always got people in his shop hanging out, it's a very welcoming place). 
Their menu is small and Western. Just burgers, hot dogs, and pancakes for desert. And of course, Bintang beer and a really good apple cider beer. He always has snacks on the table to go with your beer.
Their burgers were AMAZING. To be completely honest, I think they were the best burgers we've had since we left California. And they are cheap. We ate here a few times for dinner because we were really disappointed with the food in town. Jeff and I couldn't figure out if it was because Balinese cuisine is just not that great, or if the restaurants just didn't really care since most of the people eating there were foreigners. 
On our last night in town, we stopped by a market to pick up some snacks. These geckos were climbing up the walls and running down the aisles. No one seemed to be bothered by them. I was just impressed at how huge they were. 

Take a hike.

10/22/10

We took a hike in the countryside while in Bali. We crossed this little, rickety bamboo bridge. Apparently, before this bridge was built, a man would wait at the river and carry people across on his back for a small fee.
We walked through rice paddies on the way to the village of Tenganan in Bali. There were lots of workers in the fields as it was harvest time. 
Jeff and me in front of the tallest mountain in Bali, Mount Agung.
On our walk, we passed by many homes and vendors selling handmade rattan goods. 
One of the entrances to Tenganan. According to our hike guide, the village of Tenganan is an original Balinese village, with pure Balinese residents. They were in Bali before people began to arrive from nearby Java. They are an exclusive community. Women who marry must marry from within the village. If they marry an outsider, they must leave. The women are allowed to leave to go to school, though. 
Sacred water buffalo hanging out inside the village walls. Those baskets are for containing roosters.
A lot of the chickens and roosters in Tenganan are brightly colored. I saw a hot pink rooster, but I couldn't get a clear photo. There were also some bright blue chickens. I'm not sure why they were colored, but I guess it makes identifying your chickens a lot easier.
Selamat jalan! 

We won't be carving pumpkins this Halloween...

...because I can't justify spending S$33.90 on one and actually carving it (that's about US$26).
 
This is the limited Halloween selection at the nearby grocery store. So disappointing; it's not even good stuff!

I miss going to Target and seeing aisles and aisles brimming with awesome Halloween stuff. Even the drugstores like Longs and CVS have an entire aisle dedicated to Halloween stuff. I guess it's not as big of a deal here as it is in the US. Which for me is a bummer because Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. 

Pour some pumpkin seeds out for us, friends!

Gone fishin'

10/21/10

We went fishing while we were in Bali. Actually, Jeff went fishing. I was handed a fishing line at first, but I got impatient and didn't last at it for long. Jeff caught two fish. The fisherman who took us out caught so many of them. And every time he felt a tug on his fishing line, he got so excited. He told us he's been a fisherman for 20 years and he still gets stoked when he catches a fish. 
We also stopped at Blue Lagoon, a really good snorkeling spot. Jeff went snorkeling while I laid out on the beach. Jeff said it was the best snorkeling spot he's ever been to in his life. I had the beach all to myself, except for the occasional scooter that drove by. 
After Blue Lagoon, our fisherman took us to his house, where his wife had prepared the fish we had caught. She also prepared some mackerel he had caught earlier that morning. Her peanut sauce was the best I've had so far. It was a cool experience to eat at someone's house in Bali. We ate on the floor of his home's small courtyard.
And then we walked back to our room and took a nap.

Haze in Singapore.

The view from our living room balcony.
On a typically clear day, you can see way more tall buildings than this. 

The haze from the Sumatra fires here in Singapore is pretty bad. It is apparently an annual occurrence here as a result of the farmers in Sumatra clearing land for the planting of crops (source). A few hours ago the Pollutants Standard Index reading hit 100, making the air in Singapore officially in the unhealthy range (read more here). This reminds me of the California wildfires we used to experience annually back home. 

One plus side to the haze is that the temperature hasn't been as hot these past few days, because the sun isn't as intense as it usually is. It still sucks, though.

Sacred Monkey Forest

10/20/10

 The Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud is a Balinese Hindu sanctuary. On its premises are three temples and one cemetery. The monkeys have free reign of the entire place. There are dozens of them at every turn. For the most part they tend to mind their own business (unless you bought bananas at the entrance, in which case they won't leave you alone). Jeff and his water bottle were assaulted by a young monkey, but Jeff just walked away and the monkey was quickly over it. Jeff also slipped on a banana peel as we entered the forest. Too appropriate.

Despite the hoards of tourists (all of Ubud is very crowded with tourists) and the occasional loud monkey street fight, Monkey Forest is very serene and beautiful. 

An orangutan named Jacky.

10/19/10

There is an orangutan at the Bali Zoo named Jacky. Before you get to his enclosure, there is a sign warning visitors that he has a tendency to throw things at you.
At first, we didn't see him. I was ready to leave since I figured he was sleeping and uninterested in us. He must have heard us approaching though, because he sauntered out of his shelter towards the moat surrounding his enclosure. We were the only ones around.
He just sat there facing us, exuding attitude, and put his palm out. Jacky was asking for a snack. Or maybe the key to the gate? His body language was like that of a human. 
Jeff tossed him the last piece of fruit we had left in our basket: a banana. 
He quickly ate the banana, and then threw the peel right back at Jeff! He was too fast for me to take a photo, but Jeff moved aside quickly and didn't get hit. I thought he wouldn't throw anything at us, but I guess Jacky doesn't discriminate. He's disgruntled towards everyone.
A parting glance as we left Jacky. I wonder if he's lonely. 
Jeffrey + Flora. All rights reserved. © Adorable Design.