Singapore Adventure

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dear Diary
by venitha

I've enjoyed a vacation from blogging this past week, but I've been a faithful e-mail correspondent. I thought I'd post some excerpts so we remember our final Singaporean holiday season.

Dear Diary,

It's been raining non-stop for days, and I keep thinking "If only it were snow..." I like Singapore so much better when I think of it buried beneath a pristine blanket of white snow, myself tromping in enormous boots across deserted Thomson Rd to Cold Storage, where they finally have an excuse for everything being "out of stock".

Colorado's been getting dumped on like crazy, and Jim and I both so wish we were there, snowed in up at Winter Park, skiing by day, watching bowl games by night. Lots of friends and family have sent pictures of the recent snowstorms, and our Singaporean friends are completely agog. Many have never seen snow and have actually been complaining about how cold it's been here lately. The only real difference from usual, in my I-am-always-hot opinion, is that it's been overcast, so the sun isn't beating relentlessly down on you twelve hours a day. A welcome break, to be sure, but it's still wicked hot, even, astoundingly, when you're wet with the rain.

Our Christmas here was wonderful, though it got off to a slow start on Christmas Eve, when we made the mistake of going with a million other people to Orchard Road. Who could have predicted that Singaporeans in extremely large doses are much less fun than Singaporeans in small doses? The experience did not foster much goodwill toward men, though we did see snow (the canned variety), and we did manage to stick it out through the entire candlelight church service we attended. This in spite of many of the sing-along Christmas carols being unfamiliar (not only to us but also to most of the rest of the congregation) and in spite of much of the Christmas message (which, from what I gathered, was basically that despite all the incredible discounts and amazing sales everywhere, all over the island and in scads of nearby countries as well - I mean, have you been to Tang's? - Christmas is not only about shopping) being delivered in foreign languages (Mandarin, German, and Indonesian).

We recovered in style in time for an idyllic Christmas morning just the two of us, listening to Christmas music, doing a Santa Claus jigsaw puzzle, and exchanging goofy presents (a sushi rice mold for Jim and a nuk for me, er, hey!). We followed this with a fabulous Christmas lunch with our neighbors (he's a Brit, but there was no figgy pudding - not sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing), and we then spent the evening with our German friends Timo and Sonja, enjoying that oh-so-traditional Christmas supper (sushi), gorging ourselves on fine German chocolates, and basking in the lights of a Christmas tree lit with real candles: really beautiful.

Thursday we had Kiran's (Timo and Sonja's six-month-old son is our godson) baptism/christening here at our apartment. They were intending to do this next summer in Germany, but as that's no longer going to work for me and Jim, they thoughtfully opted to have it in Singapore while they had family in town over the holidays. Local churches were less than cooperative, so we just did our own thing here on our rooftop. It started to rain just as we finished; so in spite of deciding not to bother with water, God provided. The celebration also gave me and Jim the opportunity to make the feast that we normally have for Christmas eve: ham, Martha Stewart's macaraoni and cheese, and my favorite, ambrosia (pistachio pudding mix, cool whip, crushed pineapple, marshmallows, and walnuts). Mmmm.... Our German guests were really funny as they thought the ambrosia was truly horrible (I don't think they'd ever even seen pistachio pudding before), and tact is not exactly a German tradition.

Jim drove a car in Singapore for the first time ever on Friday, and he didn't crash! I was so proud! We test drove a Subaru Outback, mainly to ensure that Jim fits, even with the moonroof. (Headroom always seems to be an issue.) No, of course, we're not buying anything here, especially not at these prices: more than twice as much as in the US, and yes, that's after the currency conversion. We're merely trying to line up a car purchase in the US in advance of our return. We're committed to giving life with only one vehicle - a shocking concept in the US - a try. If there's one thing we're truly going to miss about Singapore, it's its fabulous public transportation.

We're currently busy prepping for tonight, our final party on the roof. The fireworks should be really great, so hopefully I can manage to stay awake until midnight. My morning sickness is over, thank God, but the exhaustion is hanging on like I can't believe; I'm really worthless these days without a long afternoon nap. At least I'll have plenty of sustenance: I'm making lots of my favorite appetitizers - rumaki! yum! - in spite of the grocery store's wicked attempts at sabotage. I can't believe how hard it was to find canned water chestnuts, especially since when growing up, this was the one food I could have identified as Asian. It was much easier to find water chestnuts in the shell, and it's a hard shell. Think walnut, not pistachio. I can't imagine cracking and peeling even a dozen of them. Mei, my wonderful neighbor, offered to have her live-in maid shell them for me, but, um, how weird is that?

Oh, and did I tell you it's a girl? I had a genetic scan (in-depth hour-long ultrasound) just over a week ago. Everything looks healthy, the feet are adorable, and the endlessly-chatty guy at the helm was 85% sure it's a girl. Jim's been calling her Zoe for about a month now, and I have a feeling it's going to stick, so hopefully the ultrasound guy was right. After the healthy baby news, my best Christmas present was courtesy of HP: a ticket back to Colorado on 31 January. Only one month to go! I can do it. I hope.

Happy New Year! I have a feeling 2007 is going to be a very good year.