Goodbye, 2010. Hello, 2011!

12/30/10

May: Jeff at SFO heading off to Singapore for good
May: I graduated from grad school
June: Saying bye to our old apartment's kitchen...almost the size of our current apartment
August: "Wanna go on a plane ride?" Words I used to say to the dogs to get them ready for the 22 hour trip. 
They cower when they hear the phrase now.
October: Hiking in Bali
December: Our doggies wishing you a happy New Year!

It has been a fun and busy year for us. These photos sum up the more important things quite well. The biggest change was moving to Singapore, and we're looking forward to even more change, challenges and travel in the coming new year. 

We're off to the airport to ring in the New Year in Shanghai. We hope all of you have a great New Year's and we wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2011. See you next year! 

Breakfast time!

12/28/10

A common breakfast option in Singapore: kopi (coffee) sweetened with condensed milk, kaya toast, and two soft-boiled eggs with some soy sauce and pepper. 

On some mornings, after Jeff has gone to work and I've walked the dogs, I grab the newspaper and head down the street to my favorite kopitiam (coffee shop) for breakfast just like this. The coffee is very sweet, just the way I like it. I was a little hesitant to try the soft-boiled eggs, but now I'm sort of addicted. And the kaya toast is my favorite: kaya is a sweet, creamy spread made with coconut and tastes heavenly. 

Not only is breakfast like this delicious and filling, it costs about the same as a cup of coffee from Starbucks back home. 

A stroll in the Marina

12/27/10

The weather in Singapore has been pleasantly cool and breezy lately. We haven't turned the air conditioner on in our house in quite a while and have even been sleeping with the windows open. We decided to take advantage of this beautiful weather and take a stroll around Marina Bay a few nights ago. 

The Marina is full of white, floating balls right now (you can see them in the second and third photos). They are actually "wishing spheres" that are part of a visual art installation, turning Marina Bay into "the Bay of Hope and Light." There are 20,000 of these spheres, each covered with people's handwritten wishes for the new year. You can learn more about the Wishing Sphere Project here

¡Feliz Navidad!

12/24/10

I am pretty sure that this Christmas will be forever remembered and recounted at future Thompson Christmases as the time that Flora blew up the Christmas lights. 

I picked up some Christmas lights at Target on our recent trip home to the US, and hung them on our S$20 plastic Christmas tree. When I plugged the lights in, I noticed they were shining very brightly, but that just made me even more excited about our crappy little tree. Then Jeff came home, and the lights started going out with a little pop sound, few by few. He wondered why the lights were so bright (our entire living room was illuminated just with the Christmas lights). Then he turned to me and asked if I bothered to check the voltage on the Christmas lights...the voltage in Singapore is 220v, but our lights were 110v. Christmas FAIL! 

We hope everyone has a happy and memorable holiday this year. 

Love,
Jeff and Flora

Christmas on Orchard Road

For our family and friends back home unfamiliar with Orchard Road, it's the place to go in Singapore if you want to do some serious shopping. There are malls connected to malls going all the way down the street. It's also where to go if you want to see some serious Christmas decorations. 

Jeff and I went last night to see what all the fuss was about. It seems like everyone else in Singapore had the same idea, too. There were tons of people out, many of them with cameras and tripods to capture the moment. Like the shops along Orchard Road, the lights were beautiful and over the top.

(That clear round-shaped bubble at the bottom of the second photo is the entrance/exit to the MRT station below the Ion Orchard Mall. I think it's pretty cool.)

Two signs you will probably never see in Singapore

12/16/10

These are some signs we saw outside a bar while we were at home in the United States. I had to take a photo because now that we pay about S$15 for a beer in Singapore, we can't help but be on the lookout for cheaper-priced brews. 

Singapore does Happy Hour differently, too. Usually in the United States, Happy Hour is a window of a few hours where drinks are served at a lower price. At some bars and restaurants in Singapore you'll pay for your drinks on a sliding scale, depending on the time of day. We've seen as many as five different prices for the same glass of beer. 

Even the lowest priced beer is still more than non-Happy Hour prices in the United States. And the best time to buy beer in Singapore? 11 am. Technically, that's 7 pm in California... Happy Hour! 

Have a good weekend!
Jeff & Flora

Bukit Timah Railway Station

12/15/10

Recently, I met up with notabilia and Singapore Noodle to explore the Bukit Timah Railway Station. Not quite knowing where it was, I left my house extra early and arrived about an hour later by bus. I walked up a dirt and gravel road next to a black trestle bridge that crosses Bukit Timah Road, right near the King Albert Park bus stop. At the top of the road, I was greeted by this sign:
I was a little disappointed, but notabilia asked the station master for permission to take photos and permission was granted. He seemed used to dealing with curious people with cameras around their necks asking him to poke around his railway station.
I thought the station was abandoned when I first walked up to it. It's in need of restoration. It was first built in 1903, and opened in 1915. It was later rebuilt in 1923.
This is the sign you can see from Bukit Timah Road. Walk up the dirt road and you'll see the station.

The black bridge has the date "1871" painted on it. I'm guessing that's when it was built. 
I'm not really sure what is going to happen to the station, but the land will probably get developed pretty quickly since land is so scarce on this island. Train services will end on this line around June of 2011, so if you're interested in seeing an untouched piece of Singapore's history, you should probably check it out soon before it's too late.

You can read more about Bukit Timah Railway Station here.

Back to Singapore

12/14/10

Leaving California to come to Singapore was easier for us this time than when Jeff came in May and when I followed in August. Unlike our initial arrival, we now know what to expect in Singapore after living here for a few months. I can honestly say that we're pretty comfortable here and can make our way around town quite effortlessly. 

Jeff and I have also become pretty skilled at the art of long-distance flights and eliminating jetlag. We are very efficient travelers and actually love the flights overseas themselves. 

The thing we realized that makes leaving California the easiest, though, is the fact that we were able to see that not a lot has changed back home while we've been gone. We worried that we'd return to an unfamiliar scene, where much had occurred without us being there to witness it. Some things have changed, but not as drastically as we had imagined. Our friends and family are still doing well and the babies in the family haven't forgotten who we are. Knowing that things are almost just the way we left them gives us great ease and makes it easier to come back to our life out here in Singapore. 

Photos from top:
We arrived with two suitcases and came back with five, full of goodies from home
Jeff and his parents dropped us off at SFO
Waiting in line to check in for our flight

A night at the Shark Tank

12/13/10

We were lucky enough to catch the San Jose Sharks play the Red Wings while we were back in San Jose. Unfortunately, they lost. It was still fun to sit in our usual section and see our friend Mike who works at the arena.

Last season, we walked to HP Pavilion for almost every Sharks home game (one of the reasons why we moved to downtown San Jose is because our family has season tickets and the Tank is a short walk away). Now, we're lucky if we can watch the Sharks games at all. We use a combination of internet, Slingbox, and an overpriced Singapore expat sports channel to get our hockey fix. 

Oh, and I got a new shirt. If you want one, you can find it here

Meet me halfway

12/12/10

Top photo from left: my Mom, Jeff's Mom, Auntie Sue, Jeff's Dad, Jeff; bottom: Kaylie, Logan

The day before we left California, some of our family met at a halfway point for brunch. These photos are all from that outing. Our whole trip was last minute so we are glad we got to see as many friends as family as we did. Jeff hadn't seen his Auntie Sue or cousins Logan and Kaylie since April. Kaylie has grown so much since then; she can have full on conversations with people. Kids really do grow up so fast! 

The weekend before our family brunch, Jeff's Mom cooked a post-Thanksgiving dinner for us. Jeff and I arrived in town on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Jeff's Dad's side of the family came over to share the meal together. We didn't take photos of our belated Thanksgiving dinner with family. I wish we did, because it was awesome. 

Home is where your Mom is.

12/11/10

Since Jeff was working day and night (he had to work in Bay Area and Singapore time) when we went home, I headed up to my Mom's house to spend some quality time with her and my siblings. I also got to see my niece, Gabby, who seems to grow exponentially every time I see her.

I loved having conversations with my sister on the couch, nightly family dinners, and my Mom's ever-flowing pot of coffee. These things have gone on at Mom's house for as long as I can remember, but ever since I moved away there is a newfound appreciation for the small things. It's kind of ironic that Christmas this year is more about family than it ever was since we won't be near ours. I savored every moment I was home because unlike before, I am no longer two hours south. It's more like 20 hours east.

It was nice to sleep in my own comfortable bed for a few days, too. Also nice was being reunited with my coat and boot collection that I really missed. Being back was actually kind of weird. Sometimes it felt as though I had never left, while other times I felt completely distant. It was like coming home from college and realizing you are not the same person you were when you left. Except in a more profound and satisfying sort of way. 
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