Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011 (Winchester, Mass., USA)

GO TO ASIA AND FALL IN LOVE AGAIN..... WITH..... PRINGLES: Upon reflection, I've wondered about the things that surprised me during the four months in Asia. One thing definitely stood out. The Pringles Proliferation. They are sold in all the usual places (e.g., 7-Eleven stores) and in some unusual places (such as on the floating convenience stores in Halong Bay, Vietnam (above and right, with helpful arrows pointing to the Pringles cannisters).
These were a bit of a blast from the past. They came out when I was in high school. I liked them immediately, but since then we kind of drifted apart. Didn't see each other often. Really wasn't much chemistry. Then I went to Asia and BLAM. The feeling is back.
There's plenty of information on the Wikipedia entry.
There's a Facebook page for Pringles Asia.
There are plenty of flavors, including "soft shell crab" flavor. And there are some Pringles collectibles out there.
They travel well and last forever.
I will eat some in the U.S.A., especially if I can find some of that Seaweed-flavored Pringles.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 (Singapore)

MERLION IS FINALLY UNCAGED: After spending a couple of months being cooped up inside a temporary hotel room, Singapore's signature statue, of the mythical Merlion, is returning to the light of day (see March 1 and April 29). During its life as a hotel room, it was fully booked.
On Tuesday workers were peeling away scaffolding. Not sure when the water will spew from the mouth. Glad this happened by the time we left. The statue has been under wraps basically since we got here in February.
Now Marina Bay is back to normal.
Today is our somewhat reluctant getaway day. Our flight leaves Singapore mid-morning, ending a delightful stay.
The Merlion is back in action, and we have left the building.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 (Singapore)

A PARTING SHOT: I glanced out the window this morning and saw a little water ballet going on by the wharf. It included the incoming Los Angeles Express (left) and the outgoing San Francisco Express (second from left) and the outgoing green Lyra, with attendant tugs. I'm going to miss the water traffic. (Both of the Express ships are out of Hamburg and are in the Hapag-Lloyd fleet.)
On a whim, I submitted a photo I took this morning of the Los Angeles Express to Lo and behold, it's on the site. (That's a screen-capture on the right.) As of now this is one of ten photos taken of the ship. Heck that's almost enough for a CALENDAR of FOLD-OUTS. I think that makes me a published ship photographer.

I'LL TAKE THE BREAKFAST BEHIND BANANA LEAF NUMBER 2: I've walked by a small breakfast place often during the last four months and have noticed a number of people buying some food that's wrapped in a banana leaf that's been folded into a pyramid-shaped structure. I never knew what was in it, and I wanted to find out. I assumed it was some sort of rice-based concoction. What better day than today? After all, we fly out tomorrow morning.
I walked up to the counter, pointed to the closest little pyramid, said I'd like to buy one. I think I was secretly hoping it was some kind of rice dish that included some Cocoa Crispies or Corn Flakes. No such luck.
I had some shredded dried FISH for breakfast, with some egg, rice, chilli sauce etc. In addition, as if to make sure I knew it had fish in it, the unwrapped leaf included the fried/dried/smoked/whatever carcass of a fish.
Not used to that.
I'm not sure of the name of the meal. I think it's some form of nasi goreng. It cost only S$3.30 (including the coffee).
No, you don't eat the banana leaf. That's what I was told by a horrified onlooker.

WHAT'S A MOZZIE? As is my wont, I went to this morning to check up on Boston-area news. This banner-ad appeared on the top of the page. I am sure it did not appear to Massachusetts viewer. It touts a "5-step Mozzie wipeout," connected to efforts to limit dengue fever.
After months of seeing the ad, I decided--on our last day--to find out what this is all about.
I am probably the only person in Singapore who did NOT know that "mozzie" is a nickname for a mosquito. (It's kind of a jaunty diminutive for such a deadly beast, no? Is it a hypocorism?)
Dengue is a big deal here. The government does a lot of campaigning for it, including releasing a booklet called Denque Prevention Tips for Foreign Domestic Maids. It's in English Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia and Singhalese. One tip that really doesn't come up much in New England (when it comes to eliminating still-water breeding grounds) is pictured at right. The wording that goes with the picture is "Cover bamboo pole holders when not in use." It shows how to cover up the ends of bamboo poles that extend from some homes. These hollow protrusions are not designed for flag poles. They support poles used for drying clothes. They'd rather use their precious energy resources on something other than drying clothes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011 (Singapore)

IT DIDN'T FEEL LIKE IT, BUT THE PROCESS REALLY WAS SMOOTH AS SILK: While in Beijing, we bought some pillows and bed coverings at the Yuanhou Silk store. We were at the store on April 13 (The little cocoons at right that we got from the store are NOT going into our luggage; Sandy thinks I threw these away weeks ago. I didn't. Took the photo today. Then I threw them away.)
Anyway, back to the silk store.... We bought some stuff. The store absolutely positively guaranteed the stuff would be at our Winchester home within 40 days. TODAY would be the 40th day. And, guess what? UPS made its first delivery attempt A WEEK AGO. We found out on Friday that UPS had tried delivering the stuff three times and was done. We heard from people at Yuanhou that the shipment might have to be returned. (Sending silk to China has that coals-to-Newcastle feel.)
Well, it turns out that the package can be held in Chelmsford, Mass., until June 2. We can pick it up ourselves. So, the long-distance shipping seems to have worked. The shipping history shows that UPS's shipping process began on May 10. Here's the lineup:
Chek Lap Kok (the site of Hong Kong International Airport) (May 11, 10:40 a.m.)
Anchorage, AK (May 12, 1:10 p.m.)
Ontario, CA (May 12, 10:27 p.m.)
Louisville, KY (May 13, 10:23 a.m.)
Chelmsford, MA (May 15, 6:11 a.m.
Went smoothly until it hit our neighborhood. They did it in less than 40 days. The guarantee, I'm sure, was that they would get it TO our home within 40 days. Getting it INSIDE was not part of the guarantee.

NEXT TIME IN SINGAPORE.... As we prepare to leave, I'm thinking of a few things I'd like to do next time here. My eyes go out to sea. I wish I'd been able to spend a couple of hours on one of those tugboats that wrangle the container ships and help them dock.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011 (Singapore)

SORRY TO BE BLOCKING YOUR VIEW OF THE ARTWORK: At noon today we taxi'd over to the Four Seasons Hotel to see a colleague of Katie's and walk through an exhibit of highlights from Sotheby's June auction of Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary art in London.In the photo at right, we are posing in one of the galleries on the 20th floor of the hotel with Miety Heiden of the New York office. I know, the message appears to be that we are more important than the art. If you must know, that's "Edwardian" by John Currin at the left. We are almost totally blocking "Cafetiere V" by Jean Dubuffet--behind me-- and "Eccentric Scientist" by Roy Lichtenstein--between Sandy and Miety. We had a nice lunch afterward. I had what is probably my final nasi goreng in Singapore. I think the chilli drove much of the cold out of my head.

A LONG GOOD-BYE: We had a going-away party for the Cambridge Associates office here in Singapore from 6 to 10 p.m. (and beyond). Everyone gathered at the rooftop restaurant called the Lantern, atop the Fullerton Bay Hotel, which is perched on Marina Bay. It was great fun. All the photos were just enough out of focus to be annoying. The group shown above is sitting in the southeast corner of the rooftop. Behind them radiate some of the night lights of Singapore. Our original plans called for flying back on Monday. Now it's Wednesday. The clock is ticking. Do we have enough room in our luggage? Big question.

Saturday, May 21, 2011 (Singapore)

AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE KING: Sandy and I went on a date today. We figured we better get at least ONE in before we leave (on Wednesday). We saw "The Lion King" in the theater at the Marina Bay Sands. (Of course, it was the matinee; we thought we might keel over during the second half of any 150-minute performance that would begin at 8 p.m.)
We absolutely loved it. For a review and some images of the Singapore production (which opened in March) go here. I recall that a traveling version will be in Syracuse this fall. It's well worth seeing. After the show, we ate supper at db Bistro Moderne. All within walking distance of home.

SPOTTED A DIFFERENT KIND OF MANE MEN ON THE WAY TO SEE THE LION KING: While walking along the shore of Marina Bay, we came across installations of cat/lion statues. These represent Singa the Lion, who is a mascot for the Singapore Kindness Movement.
It's been around since 1982, when it was created in conjunction with a National Courtesy Campaign. Lots of Singaporeans have grown up with this mascot. I think these particular Garfield-esque felines were installed earlier this month, while we were away.
A sign near the trio says, "I'm here to inspire kindness and graciousness in everyone." When we first walked up two children were fighting over who would be the first one to touch the lion.
They pipe in a lot of music along the shoreline here. With these kindness cats in place, I don't think the playlist will include the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice."

WILL YOU BE ABLE TO WALK INTO A CARTIER STORE WITH A SLURPEE? The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, known for its luxury-goods lineup, is filling some of its storefronts on the western end. As we walked to the Lion King, we noticed that one large spot will be devoted to a 7-Eleven store, I mean shoppe. The convenience store fills many niches in Singapore and Southeast Asia. It can evidently stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the world's great high-end emporiums. On the level below, the sign says, "The world of luxury shopping starts here." It's a whole new world. The attitudes around the 7-Elevens here are totally different from the attitudes in the U.S. The products are wide; the neighborhoods cover the entire spectrum.