Catch A Chili Crab Hon

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Catchachilicrab is catchingthelastbus, hon

Filed under: singapore — Shirley @ 9:45 pm

It’s hard to imagine how quickly these two years have passed. Some days a little quicker than others but that’s just life. I hope you enjoyed our journey as much as we have, we had. It’s harder even to say good-bye to friends we’ve made and now leave behind; to all the things we’ve loved about living in Singapore.

Our bus stop, the bus stop that took us to work, to eat, to shop, to all of our wanderings . . .

our bus stop

Right behind the bus on the right is Stevens Drive, just follow it down and around the bend to Parc Stevens . . .

the 190

Hang on! We’re riding off to new adventures . . .

hang on!

Til we meet again, Majulah Singapura!

National Day flags

This is the last Singapore post. There were too many experiences and not enough time to post them all. I hope you were able to get a good glimpse of Southeast Asia and other countries on this side of the world.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Koh Kret

Filed under: Thailand, travels — Shirley @ 9:29 pm

Of all of our trips to Bangkok, we never before got over to visit to Koh Kret, an island in the Chao Phraya River, 20 km north of Bangkok. One of the ways to the island is by ferry, which costs .06 cents U.S.  We were at the wrong dock so we ended up grabbing a water “taxi” for a lot more – $4.00 U.S. When we saw one of the ferries we decided that it was worth the extra money; by the looks of it, when you hear of ferry accidents due to over crowding . . . that ferry was right out of the headlines!

The island dates only to 1722, when a canal was constructed as a shortcut to bypass a bend in the Om Kret branch of the Chao Phraya river. As the canal was widened several times, the section cut off eventually became a separate island. The island continues to serve as a refuge to the Mon tribes who dominated central Thailand between the 6th and 10th centuries and have retained a distinct identity in their flavor of Buddhism and, particularly, their pottery; renowned above all as a center for kwan aman, a style of Mon pottery, which is fundamentally just baked unglazed red clay carved with intricate patterns.

Koh Kret Pottery Koh Kret Pottery

The one with the white sticker in the right picture is the one we purchased. We decided on one that wasn’t cut through.

There are no cars on this little island. The locals may have a motorbike; otherwise it’s walking or bicycling. And if you want an adventure, you can rent a bike to circumvent the island. We just walked; and we were only interested in checking out the pottery and the fish cakes that the island is noted for.

This kiln was reminiscent of the dragon kiln here in Singapore. This one is called Turtle Back Kiln.

Koh Kret Pottery Koh Kret Pottery

These look like pie plates featured in cooking catalogues but I doubt it unless these are for export. There were few people around and it probably wouldn’t have mattered since little English was spoken here.

Koh Kret Pottery Koh Kret Pottery

Snacking on the island:

The island is famous for the fried fish “cakes”. They’re really more like big popcorn fish. That’s all I can say; they’re a little chewy, not fishy . . . but not yummy.

Famous Koh Kret fried fish cakes

At first I could not tell if these were sweets or savories but they were pretty. I don’t know what is under the white topping but it’s red capsicum and basil on top. Someone left their sausage cart out drying in the sun. I didn’t see brakes on the wheels; luckily it didn’t roll off the dock into the river but that may be where it gets its unique flavor?!

Koh Kret Sweets sausages drying on a dock

These siblings were manning a little stand cooking and selling fried quail eggs. The cooking vessel looks like one of those dishes they serve escargot in. They were so cute but I’m not sure they wanted to be on the other side of the lens.

little vendors

We didn’t snack on alot but I did have to try these – very lightly tempura battered fried flowers.  I got a bag of mixed flowers. I don’t know the name of the purples ones, but the magenta colored ones (on right in left picture) are orchids. In the right picture, the reddish flowers on the very left were actually a little spicy.

purple flower and magenta orchids mix and match

The island population seems like one large colony of artists. Here are some sweets for sale: so simple and so beautiful – coconut candies with little handles, and beautiful sugar roses too pretty to eat.

Koh Kret Sweets Koh Kret Sweets

This gal was creating these flowers from a ball of “dough”. Sorry I don’t have any info on the dough that she’s working with. It looked like a marshmallow to me.

Koh Kret Sweets

She used an instrument much like a pair of tweezers to pinch the leaves of the flower and did it quickly.

Koh Kret Sweets

I wish now I bought some to try. Next time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pimp My Ride

Filed under: Thailand — Shirley @ 7:58 pm

Back in the days before MP3s and iPod, when you lived on the island of Koh Kret, just north of Bangkok, which has no cars, it must have been a bit boring and none-to-easy to listen music while tootling around on your bicycle. So, in a “necessity is the mother of invention” aha! moment, an ingenious soul came up with this idea!

pimp my ride

The island isn’t that big so I imagine you could ride all around and pick up a signal!

music maestro

This was sitting atop an overhang of a building that was below the path we were walking on. Very strange indeed but always something interesting to find when poking around in these little lanes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A World of Color

Filed under: singapore — Shirley @ 7:26 pm

Sorry to be so behind in my posting. Between my “boo” and our pack-out it’s been hectic over here. My boo is that I thought making albums of pictures I want to use for the blog was putting them out as copies. So when I moved all the pictures from iPhoto to my external hard drive (incase of a computer crash), I thought the “copies” would be there in the albums; but unfortunately it’s not the case and my albums are empty! Now I have to go back to the hard drive and find the pictures. I didn’t take the time to put them into folders – UGH! Live and learn.

As far as the pack out – everything is gone. The packers were efficient and hard working. I was so surprised when two of them were fasting for Ramadan so they couldn’t even have water. But I keep this apt like a meat locker so they were working cool conditions. We are now rambling around in the near-empty apt, it actually echoes. The Embassy provided us with a welcome kit so we do have the essentials and our luggage.

But lets get on with the post. One of Mick’s birthday presents was his very own point-and-shoot Canon digital camera. He had a fun time with Erin’s on one of her trips here he really needed to have his own. He has a good eye for color and composition and this is a great outlet for his talent when we’re out doing our last spin around Singapore. So let me show you his “world of color”! Enjoy . . .

One of his first pictures was this stand of umbrellas; on one of our forays into Chinatown this display very pink display of Hello Kitty hair clips caught his eye!

umbrellas Hello Kitty

When we’re in Chinatown we always stop for a fresh lime juice from this one stand. In fact we go so often that the proprietress recognizes us as we come to her stand. While we were sitting, getting out of the sun, Mick captured these coconuts. They are fresh coconuts that they open and stick a straw in for drinking. It’s not the coconut milk you actually drink, it’s the coconut water. Not a favorite of ours. Across from us was a stand selling Chinese calligraphy brushes, brightly lit from the sun we were trying to avoid!

Fresh coconut drinks brushes

Imported bowls and cups from a shop featuring kitchen items from Denmark. And a fabric/clothing shop in Arab Street. I was shopping for a sarong. I didn’t find anything here. The shop I was in didn’t have a sarong in the color I’m looking for that was long enough to wrap around my fat body 🙂 Who knew a long piece of fabric for a sarong would be “sized”!

bowls and cups Arab Street fabrics

I love Mentos, and now they have all sorts of flavors. I spotted cola and tropical fruits as I was passing this stand; I had to stop and pick some up. Lion puppets. We just had the annual Lion Dance Competition. You may remember my postings last year (click here to see).

sweets Lion puppets

I hope you enjoyed this cross section of some of the colors of Singapore. Not only is it the greenest place with trees, shrubs, and flowers all year round, it seems there’s just color everywhere you turn around.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy belated birthday . . .

Filed under: food, friends, Thailand — Shirley @ 6:45 pm

Well, not really, just a belated post. Wanted to post Mick’s big 6-0 birthday in the month of August but we’ve been so busy – awww just missed it by one day (it’s Sept 1 here as I write). We weren’t late on the celebration, in fact, we were early. We celebrated Mick’s birthday with our friends while we were in Bangkok.

We already knew that we would be in Thailand around Mick’ birthday and thought about taking a weekend trip out of Bangkok but, since Bruce and Leslie live there and Rachel was going to be there also, we decided to stay in town and celebrate. I asked Leslie to make reservations at the Blue Elephant. You may recognize the restaurant from our trip back in November when we traveled there with Linda and Alex.

The Blue Elephant Rest a cup of tea

Here is the gang, on our side of the table is our new friend Yeon-Jung, who joined up with us for the weekend from Singapore. On the right from the back to front: Bruce, Leslie, and Rachel (you should recognize everyone from other posts!)

the gang's all here

We decided that since no one could decide on just one entree, everyone would order something different and we would eat “Chinese style”. The chef sent an amuse bouche (on the left) to get whet our appetites; and we ordered a slew of starters, one of these being black pepper scallops.

amuse bouche black pepper scallops

The presentation was as pretty as the food was good.

My selection for dinner was a fillet of sea bass baked in bamboo on the left, and Rachel’s choice was Thai spiced spareribs on the right. I can’t remember all of the choices, there were lamb chops too (weird coming from a Thai restaurant!).

sea bass in bamboo ribs

During dinner a lightning/thunderstorm rolled in. While perusing the dessert menu the lights started to go out first in our area where we were seated, and then our whole room. But we noticed that the next room was still lit. Still not suspecting anything but the storm, we were puzzled until we heard the waitstaff coming in singing “Happy Birthday”. A surprise was being cooked up back in the kitchen to bring out Mick’s candle-lit cake. Rachel and Yeon-Jung bought Mick a cake and the restaurant was kind enough to serve it for our dessert. The restaurant also brought out a candle-lit ice cream sundae!

The birthday boy

Happy Birthday Mick, may you have many more and they are celebrated with friends on trips around Europe!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bottoms Up, or maybe it’s Bottoms Out!

Filed under: Thailand — Shirley @ 8:56 pm

We’ve never been able to time our previous trips to Bangkok to be there over the weekend so we’ve always missed out on the Chatuchak Weekend Market experience.

“Covering 70 rai (35 acres) of land with over 15,000 stalls and more than 200,000 visitors every Saturday and Sunday, Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok is the mother of all markets – and possibly one of the biggest and most famous markets in the world.  If bargain-hunting gives you an adrenalin rush, get ready for a head-spinning, earth-moving experience. Conquering this massive market is no easy feat though. The reward for taking a lot of patience along – together with a bottle of water – is that you can find pretty much anything here.”

It’s mind boggling, and you can’t do it justice in just one morning, or with a bottle of water, you need sustenance and several bottles of water!!!! Not to mention the map, lest you wander through endless rows of things you aren’t interested in. We didn’t last long but did a little shopping; and wanted the privilege to say “been there, done that . . . ” There is probably nothing you can’t get there; from your tourist t-shirt to a pet snake (I didn’t see them but I imagine they’re there. The “pet” section is actually not for the faint of heart or animal lover.)

This is everything you could want “on-a-stick” convenient snacking while shopping. We tried some fried meatballs . . .

everything on a stick!

Had I known there were such treasures to be had, I would not have waited until my last trip to Bangkok to find one of these. Something one’s home should not be without. I just couldn’t decide, the female version of this is wearing a thong. I’m not worried that I may not ever be back in Bangkok; I can have one of our friends living there pick one up. How about it, one for you too? Going for $550 Baht (@US$16), that’s just the starting price. I’ll bet you can bargain it down to $350 Baht – at that price, it’s a steal. It’s not just a bare bum here, they’re sporting tattoos!

grab a heinnie

Will wonders never cease 🙂 I’m not so sure I want to visit the “home” that has one of these in their powder room.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Do I know you . . . ummm you’re face looks so familiar . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — Shirley @ 3:25 pm

I know! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Please don’t abandon me, I’m stuck in a rut here, you can understand. There are days when there’s just nothing to write home about! I got a haircut but it’s nothing to stop the presses for.  I just finished working 24 straight days – yes straight through in support of a conference. Never again.

Let’s see, we attended a wedding but I couldn’t get any good pictures. I did take a picture of the wedding cake only to find out that it’s not a real cake. It was just a prop! Dessert was a nice array of little bites but what is a wedding without wedding cake? The couple don’t get to take the top layer home to save and eat stale cake on their 1st wedding anniversary? The buffet was amazing, it was a “buffet without borders” – you know, like doctors without borders. Ok so the analogy probably didn’t work so well but you get the idea – food from all parts of the world. My plate was piled in layers and I went back for seconds.

fake cake dinner plate without borders

Here’s the latest piece of furniture to our collection. Yes, I know I told you I was done the last time I posted furniture but I couldn’t resist, not to mention it was priced special for my birthday 🙂 This is the last piece, really. Really.

newest piece

Here is a collection of locks that I found here: On the left top corner is combination lock, very tricky to open. I got it for Mick, I thought he would enjoy figuring out the characters and seeing if it had any significant meaning. I think that was a no, just a string of characters. The other piece is in the shape of a Chinese instrument. The “keys” are at the bottom. On the right is a bat with two peaches. The character for long life is etched on the bat’s back. Bats are considered good luck and are often used as decorative touches on furniture, jewelry, art, etc.

instrument shaped lock bat w/fruit lock

I liked the dragon, and more keys. The one on the right is another combination but with square blocks. I probably can never remove the combination cheat-sheet on the bar, I’d never remember those characters!

dragon lock square combination lock

Remember the antique basket/chest with the original hardware? I found a lock for it in the shape of a swan.

swan lock

We’re heading back to Bangkok in a week. I’ll post some pictures when we get back. I promise, no pictures of temples 🙂 It’s a working trip for Mick and I get to tag along. It’s most likely our last trip to Thailand. I’m looking forward to seeing our friends who live there, and we’re all going to celebrate Mick’s big “0” birthday.

After we get home from the trip we will be going full on to get ready for pack out! This is really it, the packers are coming on Sept 9 – 11. Wheels up is still slated for Sept 25.

In the meantime, I hope you’re all enjoying your summer. Eating fresh summer tomatoes, corn on the cob, cooking everything on the grill; and family time at the beach with sand between your toes 🙂

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It’s a bargain at S$199.00

Filed under: food, singapore — Shirley @ 8:03 pm

That’s $137.25 USD at today’s exchange rate of $1USD = $1.45Sing

I’m sure you’ve all received emails containing pictures of strange foods, funny vehicles and houses, cute baby animals, etc. And the square watermelon that was ingeniously developed in Japan to save space in the fridge.

I was meeting a friend for dinner at Plaza Singapura mall the other night. The atrium area is always featuring some sort of promotion; this week Carrefour (supermarket) is sponsoring the Japanese Food Festival. I stopped to see what fun things were being offered. The Japanese do the best packaging and fun, albeit, strange foods. Poking around I came up on this refrigerated case and Ta-da! spotted these, they’re for real! I was a little taken aback at the asking price . . . really?

Japanese Square Watermelons

They’re all wrapped up and tied with, appropriately, a gold bow. I’ve had people tell me I can’t take a picture of this or that food, I don’t know why. I do anyway because usually I’ve already snapped the shot; I took the top picture quickly and walked away incase this was one of those times. I took this bottom picture from the second floor.

Japanese Square Watermelons

I did just boldly walk up and take this shot! Let me know if you see one of these in your grocery store. I can’t imagine they’re popular outside of Japan. I wonder how much they charge for them IN Japan.

Japanese Square Watermelons

I wonder if they’re seedless – that wouldn’t be much fun, after paying all that money I would want seeds – I would want to challenge you to a watermelon seed spitting contest!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A proper pot of tea

Filed under: food, friends, singapore — Shirley @ 1:22 pm

Coming down to the wire on Rachel’s last week in Singapore. We’ve had a great time getting to know her in our two years here. We’ve shared a lot of cultural experiences, shopping trips, travels, and food – lots and lots of food. When Erin comes to visit Rachel is part of our family, they’re only a couple of years apart and get along so well. We too will be leaving Singapore soon so we’ve been sharing in all those “one more time before I leave”; one last time to see this or that, one last time to have that favorite food, etc.

Rachel mentioned she had never been to the Fullerton Hotel. She had been by it, used their taxi queue to get a cab, but never really been inside. It’s sits along the Singapore River opposite the Asian Civilizations Museum between Boat Quay and the Esplanade/Merlion Park. It was originally the General Post Office building but now transformed into a 5-star boutique hotel.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the afternoon tea offered at the Fullerton is a British-styled three-tier service. Not an “East meets West” buffet tea that also offers sushi, dim sum and other non-“tea” fare. Cucumber sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, was de rigueur. Each of our pots were enrobed in these beautiful silk cozies, color coded to our tea selection.

tea pot in silk cozy

Oops, we had already scarfed the cucumber sandwiches before I remembered to snap a picture. The right photo is the top tier that contained the puddings (dessert). The trays are set for two, and we were three, but the waitstaff comes around with replenishment so no one was left out, or left hungry. It’s amazing, you can really fill up on all these little bites of food.

savory/scone tier pudding

Music was supplied by a violin trio accompanied by an electrified piano (not in the picture because it was just a piano).

violin trio

It was very “civilized” as the British would say. A relaxing way to wile away the afternoon, sharing a cup of tea, a laugh, and some great memories. We’re going to miss you Rachel!

Rachel

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just one thing more before we move . . .

Filed under: singapore — Shirley @ 10:20 pm

Stop me! I must be stopped. During my stint as the Assistant CLO (Community Liaison Officer), we sponsored a trip to Lee’s Antiques. It’s one of my favorite places from my first CLO sponsored trip there two years ago shortly after we arrived in Singapore. Mick finds it very disturbing that the owner, Laura, calls me by my first name. (Mick’s comment: And they have each others cell phone numbers on speed dial!)

The last time we were at the warehouse, Laura had a drum cum occasional table in her warehouse/showroom but it was already sold. Of course, she could get me one! We discussed color and painted decoration. I mentioned black and gold dragons but very muted and subtle – antiqued so to speak. So in goes the order . . . weeks pass and it wasn’t ready so I figured maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Well, Laura called the other day to say my drum is here, actually she had a hard time reaching me because we were out of town. Along with Rachel, we headed over to the warehouse. I wasn’t sure they would interpret my idea to my liking, and I was prepared not to like it; an excuse so I could possibly purchase another rug! Well . . . it turned out very nice, though Laura didn’t have the glass top for it, not to worry . . . on the right is the painted design on the top of the drum – the Chinese character that means “double happiness”.

Chinese drum on stand top of drum

I mention our friend Rachel because although she has packed out and will be leaving in a week, she still could not resist “just one more thing”. She got a small drum (different shape), stand, and glass top for a steal – at the “a special customer is leaving” price. Laura also received a new shipment and we could not not poke around. I found my short-legged tea table. It’s 25″ square and sits 12 1/2″ high and solid wood.

short legged square table

But the best find was a lidded rectangular woven basket/chest. Laura had no idea how old it is, or much of the history about it but it was unique, old, and sported all of the original hardware. I had never come across something like this and it was in good condition – I had to have it. Mick was able to read the Chinese characters; vertically from right to left reads: “Huang Tian” and “Bao Ji” but all together it doesn’t make alot of sense. Mick thinks that from the meaning of Huang Tian, the name of a rebellious leader from the latter part of the Eastern Han Dynasty; and Bao: ensure/defend, Ji: records, the chest may have been used to hold his important documents. Makes for a good story, doesn’t it? I’m sticking to that.

antique basket/trunk

Aren’t these the neatest locking pins. My next search is for an antique lock to put through the locking flap – I know just where to go in Chinatown too!

locking bars for the lid locking plate

I’ll have a piece of glass made for the top and use this as a little side table. It’s so much fun when you’re not really looking and come upon something unique!

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