Importing Your Dog to the US


After all the stress of exporting our dogs to Singapore, I was worried about how hard it would be to get Stan and Joe back into the United States. Luckily for us (and them), it was a breeze compared to the strict requirements of Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). It was all easy enough for me to do without hiring a pet agent. The best part is that the US didn't require my dogs to go through quarantine.

The following are the requirements needed to get my dogs into the United States from Singapore. This process might have changed since the date I posted it or differ depending on your country and situation. Check with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that deals with importing/exporting animals, for more information.

Required by US:
-APHIS requires dogs coming from countries where screwworm is known to exist to obtain a certificate stating that they are free from the disease. Singapore is one of these countries (see the list of all affected countries here). When I told my vet about the screwworm part, she laughed and said "Well I don't see any gaping wounds with maggots falling out, so I'm pretty sure your dogs are free of it."

This certificate must be issued within 5 days prior to the date of import. It also needs to be stamped by the AVA to show that the vet who issued the certificate is licensed in Singapore. To obtain this official stamp, take the certificate to the AVA office on the second floor of 5 Maxwell Road, Singapore. It costs about $9 per stamp and they should be able to do it on the spot.

-The State of California recommends that a health certificate be issued stating that pets being imported are in good health, but this is not mandatory. Since I was getting a certificate saying my dogs were free of screwworm anyway, I went ahead and told my vet to state that my dogs were "in good health at the time of examination" on the same health certificate, killing two birds with one stone. Check with your state for specific guidelines on importing your pet.

Some airlines require a health certificate stating that your dog is in good health and able to travel. I was prepared to show this health certificate if I needed to.*

-The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requires that all dogs have a current Rabies vaccine administered at least 30 days before entering the US. This doesn't apply to puppies under 3 months or to dogs that have lived for 6 months in a Rabies-free country. Singapore is considered Rabies-free, but our dogs had valid Rabies vaccines anyway.

Required by Singapore:
-AVA requires dog owners to obtain a Permit to Export Animals prior to date of exportation. The permit is only valid for 30 days, so make sure you don't get it more than 30 days before you fly out of Singapore. You can apply for this permit online or by going into the AVA office on 5 Maxwell Road. The office is located on the second floor. I walked in and the person behind the counter sat with me at a computer to fill out the application. I came back two days later to pick up the permit. It cost $50 for both dogs.

Your dog must have a valid license before you can apply for an export permit. If you haven't registered your pet, you can do so online or in person at the Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, 75 Pasir Panjang Rd, Singapore.

Our flight from SIN to NRT to SFO was, as far as long haul flights go, tolerable and the dogs did remarkably well. That they were able to come home directly with us instead of going to a quarantine facility probably helped them adjust really quickly to the newness of it all. I'm sure they were happy to see familiar people too (our family met us at the airport). Now the only thing they're getting used to is the cooler weather.

*When we checked in for our flight, one of the people at the airport asked to see my dogs' health certificate and export permit. He simply glanced at the documents and seemed satisfied. This was the only time I had to present any paperwork regarding my dogs' importation to the US. The Customs officers in San Francisco just asked us if we had any dog food or plants with us (the answer was no) and waved us through.

Here are links to some other posts I've written about importing and exporting my dogs:
FAQ: Exporting Dogs to Singapore
Exporting Your Dog to Singapore: Category C Checklists
Getting the Dogs Ready For the Move

As always, if you have come across my blog looking for information on importing your dog to Singapore or exporting your dog from Singapore and have questions, feel free to email me at 

Red Dot Reflections


I'm still finding it hard to believe that we're about to head back to California for good, leaving Singapore and all the great friends we've made here. It was a little under a year and a half ago that I arrived in Singapore with Stan and Joe to join Jeff in our new home. This was the first time either of us had lived abroad, and the experience of living outside of the US had been life-changing. In a good way, of course. I really hope it's not the last time we live abroad because I've loved just about every second of it. 

One of the things I've learned is that home isn't necessarily a place, but a feeling. I used to always think "home" was our parents' houses, because it was where we always returned to. I've realized home is where you feel comfortable, surrounded by people and/or things you love. To me, home is wherever Jeff is. Right now I'm writing from my hotel bed, surrounded by Jeff and the dogs. This feels like home to me. 

Singapore has taught me how to pack light. I used to be the girl that always overpacked for really short trips. All our getaways out of Singapore on cheap regional airlines have taught me to cram a week's worth of clothes into a backpack to avoid paying to check my bags. Packing light can also be applied in a more philosophical way for us. We've both really learned to let go of things. Don't sweat the small shit. It's a work in progress and often easier said than done, but when it works it's incredibly cathartic. 

The Merlion

I feel as though I've become so much more independent now. I am no longer afraid to walk into a restaurant at dinnertime and ask for a table for one. I figure things out on my own much more than I used to. I've ventured all over this island on my own, often not knowing where I was going. This is not due to a lack of friends or resources; it's because I enjoy doing things on my own. I like facing the challenges that sometimes come with it. 

On the other hand, my relationship with Jeff has grown so much stronger in the past 17 months. Maybe it's because for the first year or so, we were still getting used to life abroad and we really had to rely on each other. We communicate a lot better now. A big thing we've worked on is our budgeting skills. I'd like to thank Singapore's expensive prices and crappy sales for helping with that. 

I guess worth mentioning is that my tolerance for spicy foods has increased dramatically. "But aren't you Mexican?" you might ask. Yeah, but as a kid my Mom used to tell us not to eat spicy food because she didn't want us to burn our mouths. We always ate really flavorful foods at home, but I generally stayed away from the spicy stuff. I didn't want to miss out on any of the great food I encountered while in Singapore, so I forced myself to get used to the heat. It's been worth the pain! Now I don't even think twice about ordering spicy foods on the menu. 

I'm sure over the next few months I'll reminisce about life in Singapore on the blog. I'll probably write about the repatriation process, too. Tomorrow we're moving back to our hometown, the city we lived in right before we moved to Singapore. Although San Jose will be pretty much the same as when we left, I think it's safe to say that we aren't. Jeff and I have learned a lot about ourselves and have become much more aware of our place in the world. We see things a bit differently now. And we owe it all to the great time we spent living on the Little Red Dot. 

Moving Day


Before: stuff to be shipped
After: all boxed up
Before: The Pidge, being disassembled
After: The Pidge, all wrapped up
Six boxes. That's how many boxes it took to pack up our belongings to ship to California. One of the boxes is The Pidge and another box has three area rugs in it. We're also flying back with only two checked bags each. Jeff and I are rather proud of ourselves for not accumulating a lot of stuff during the year and a half we've lived in Singapore. It's making the move back a lot easier to manage.

In the four years that Jeff and I have been married, we've lived in five different apartments. Counting the place we're moving into this weekend in San Jose, that's six apartments in four years. Moving day can be stressful to some people, but we handle it really well and actually look forward to it. With the cardboard boxes and moving truck comes the promise of something new and exciting.

Change is good.

Happy Chinese New Year!


Chinese New Year is an absolutely beautiful time to be in Singapore. The decorations around town are so vivid and everyone seems to be in a really good mood. Last year we were on our way back to California over the CNY holiday and we missed celebrating it, so we're very glad to have stayed in town for the biggest holiday of the year.

CNY lasts for 15 days and there are different things to celebrate and do on each day. On the second day of the Chinese New Year, some people believe that dogs are supposed to get extra special attention, so you can bet Stanley and Joe will get even more cuddles and dog treats than usual from us.

Jeff and I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Chinese New Year and a prosperous Year of the Dragon. Gong Xi Fa Cai! 

Singapore Slingers: New Year, New Season


The Singapore Slingers opened the third season of the Asean Basketball League against the Indonesia Warriors a little over a week ago (the Warriors beat the Slingers 79-59). The season got off to a late start this year due to some scheduling changes so that the ABL teams could play in the FIBA Asia Championship.

We went to some Slingers games last year and were excited to be able to catch a couple more games before we leave Singapore. Jeff and I have a lot of fun cheering for the home team.

Sadly, there have always been more empty seats than full seats at Singapore Indoor Stadium whenever we've been there for a Slingers game. I'm not sure why there aren't more people at the games. Regular tickets are less than $20, it's a family friendly thing to do, and there aren't many other live sporting events in Singapore. I wish more people would support the Slingers. I'd love to see them play to a sold out stadium.

Want to watch the Slingers play? The next home game is Sunday, January 29th against the Bangkok Cobras. Tickets can be purchased at Sistic or from the ticket window at the stadium. 

Pliny the Elder, Now in Singapore


Pliny the Elder is the name of a double IPA from the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California. Jeff loves it because it is so hoppy, but another reason why he and many other beer drinkers find it alluring is because of its elusiveness.

One grocery store I visited in northern California kept all their Pliny in the stockroom and only allowed two bottles to be sold per customer per day. Another grocery store put me on a waiting list to buy it the next time their shipment came in from RRBC.

It's hard to find this beer just a few hours away from the place it comes from, so you can imagine we were pleasantly surprised to see that this beer is now being sold at Brewerkz in Singapore, along with several other really good California brews. Jeff has visited Brewerkz a few times to take advantage of his favorite beer being in stock all the way out here.

If you like your beers on the hoppy side, try ordering a Pliny. If there are any left. 

Getting Ready for Chinese New Year


The streets of Chinatown are lively and colorful on most evenings, but it's during Chinese New Year that visitors really get to see the neighborhood come to life. I love navigating my way through the crowded streets lined with vendors selling everything from traditional foods to Chinese New Year decorations. 

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. Red decorations with auspicious sayings and dragons (since this is the Year of the Dragon) adorn homes, shops, and restaurants. Traditional foods such as pineapple tarts, oranges, abalone, fish and others are served in homes. Some of these are served at Chinese New Year because the Chinese names of these food items often sound like prosperous or lucky words and phrases.

Another thing that inundates Singapore at this time of year is the Chinese New Year music. You can hear it in just about every grocery store, shopping mall, and even in taxis. I don't know what the song lyrics are, but I find myself humming along to the songs because I've heard them so much. Click here if you want to hear some of it for yourself. 

A Day at the Singapore Zoo


After living in Singapore for almost a year and a half, I finally visited the Singapore Zoo last month while my sister was in town. I've visited the Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park already, but of the three animal animal parks I'd say the zoo is the best one. If you haven't been, I highly recommend it.
White tigers, kangaroos, zebras, and Hamadryas baboons
Of the 316 animal species on display at the zoo, 36% are endangered. The Singapore Zoo has an "open concept" layout, with spacious and natural-looking enclosures for the animals. Set in the rainforest and surrounded by the Upper Seletar Reservoir, the zoo is a beautiful place to get lost for a few hours.

Lemur, duck, Mandrill baboon, and my favorite animal at the zoo, the mousedeer

The Highest Urban Craft Brewery in the World: LeVel 33

Did you know Singapore is home to the highest urban craft brewery in the world? Singapore loves superlatives, and this place is one more to add to the list (see Tanya's blog post about superlatives for others).

We learned about LeVel 33 while attending the Brewer's Conference at Beerfest Asia last year. Their beers are pretty good. I had the delicious 33.3 Stout. Jeff had the 33.1 Blonde Ale and their seasonal winter beer. Their beers reminded us of Gordon Biersch, a brewery in San Jose.

Here's a quick video showing how the beer tanks were lifted 33 stories to the brewery. A total of twelve tanks and two copper kettles were hoisted up this way, weighing 8,000 kg (17,637 lb.). LeVel 33 is located at the top of Marina Bay Financial Centre and has breathtaking views of Marina Bay. We came on an overcast day, but I would like to come back at night to enjoy the views of the Marina all lit up.

Back to Pulau Ubin


Having visitors is really fun because I get to play tour guide, which I really love to do. My sister Fauna came to spend Christmas with us and of course to do some sightseeing. Singapore might be small, but there's definitely lots to do. I think we had something planned almost everyday she was here, yet as soon as she left I remembered a few other things I had wanted to show her. 

The weather was pretty bad around Christmas here, with really heavy rain falling almost everyday. This made some of our plans fall through. Still, we managed to get outdoors as much as we could.

Jeff, Fauna and I went to Pulau Ubin the day after Christmas to ride bikes and enjoy the cooler weather. We saw some wild pigs and went to visit the German Girl Shrine again. Pulau Ubin was recently named one of the World's Most Secret Islands by Yahoo! Travel.

Riding around Pulau Ubin is such a fun and easy way to spend a day (and to get some exercise, too). It feels like you are traveling back in time to what Singapore may have been like in the 60's. Just bring bug repellant and make sure to ride slowly through the puddles! 
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