Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dreaming



I had the big grandeurous (is that even a word?) dreams that I would be able to get a few posts ready for my blog and have my sister post them while I was gone.  Guess what?  It didn't happen.  So... we leave for Thailand today and I must pack, therefore, I won't have time to write blogs for the next few days.  Where did this last week go anyway?  

We will be back Sunday - in 4 days.  Have you heard the news about the government trouble in Asia - the red shirts, the blue shirts, the yellow shirts... all protesting the government?  Do you know where that is?  Thailand.  Yep, right where we are going.

I have been warned about 'the red shirts' but they are in Bangkok, we are not going there.  There is a remote possibility they will target tourist areas like... well, like the one we are going to - Phuket.  Yay.  But I am sure that is not going to happen.  Right?

So with no further ado, I will get off, finish packing, wonder if the 'red shirts' are going to behave themselves, not worry about the Tsunami's and earthquakes that Thailand is so prone to, and I will ignore the US Embassy warnings about the uprising.  Keep us in your thoughts and prayers - we may need them.

Be back Monday.  Be ready - I just know I will get some great shots.  Hopefully of scenery - not red shirts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

High Tea at the Shangri-La

Nothing says indulgence in such a way as a high tea can. I went with friends from my newcomers Bible study group to high tea last week at the Shangri-La Rose Veranda for a late morning tea.  It came with a full buffet of traditional sandwiches (cucumber, egg, crest, fish paste, ham, smoked salmon), scones, and finally a huge array of cakes, pastries, and caviar served on elaborate silver tiered trays and beautifully arranged. 

Shangri-La served over 100 types of tea; an amazing selection of flavors, types and aromas.


Do you see the silver fancy 'spoon' on the right of the tea?  That is a tea strainer.  As you tip the spoon towards you, the strainer stays level and you pour the tea through it, straining it as it pours.  Once you are finished, you tip the spoon back up to the normal position of holding it and the 'drips' land in the spoon.  A must have.  Now, where do I get one?

Even the finest of linens and silver are used:



A little history of the tea:


Traditionally, at a high tea, loose tea is brewed in a teapot and served in teacups with milk and sugar.


I only took pictures of the desserts - they screamed for attention:





The high tea was a new 'first' experience for me - but one loved by many in Singapore and one I dreamed experiencing at least once while here.  I probably will not take the opportunity to do it again, yet I enjoyed it tremendously.  Visiting it with my new friends from the 'Bible Study' group was a wonderful experience that I will treasure for years to come. 


Thanks to the leaders for all the hard work and to all the girls for making this session a fascinating one - the entire newcomers experience - and the tea.  What a life  :-)  Having you in it makes it even better.  I will miss our weekly excursions, but I hope to see some of you in the new classes - and hopefully we can still do a few things together.  May your days ahead be as special as this one.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Castle Beach on East Coast Park

This weekend, we had planned to go to the beach with a group from the company my hubby works for and build castles with "the castle man".  He is called that because he shows you how to build castles with some great sand castle tools, then conveniently sells his building products.  However, I must say, he is an incredible motivational speaker and teaches you team work in the simplest of ways - and his sand castle building kit is the best I have ever seen!

It has been raining every single day here late in the afternoon.  The castle adventure was scheduled for late afternoon.  The organizers of this great event were concerned that the rain would put a damper on the activity, but me and my optimism kept trying to refocus the attention to the fun we would have.  After all, my thought is we live in Singapore - what are the chances of it NOT raining?  Everyone knows this, right?  And this guy has been doing sand castles for years now, so I had to hope he knew what he was doing.  I told one of the women to quit worrying about it, if it rained she could watch me eat my words with chili sauce.

Saturday dawned as any normal day does; hot, steamy with an air about it that assured me it would rain.  Not that it might rain - it would rain.  I just hoped it would not rain during our castle building fun.  Steve and I packed all the loot we needed to bring (I had all the snacks for about 40 people), and we hauled it down to the lobby area to catch our inevitable taxi.  No, he doesn't have the car right now - his counterpart does.  Once we loaded up the taxi trunk (literally) we headed out to east coast beach.  On the way, looking around, I was dismayed to see rain on the right, rain in front of us and rain on the left.  I was too darned afraid to look back - but I knew without a doubt what I would see.  Our little taxi must have had an umbrella over it though because it was not raining on it.  As we got closer to the beach, I saw very dark storm clouds looming very close by.  I sighed, texted one of the organizers and said, "bring chili sauce" knowing she would understand.

I needn't have worried.  I don't know how, but the rain went all around us - like the beach where we were had a huge umbrella on it.  It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen - but the rain stayed away and we had the time of our lives!

For obvious reasons, I am not going to post pictures here of everyone, but I do have a few pictures to share:

Ann, this is for you  :-)



Since it important to have very wet sand to make a castle, Steve had to fetch a lot of water.  Kids spill too much even though they loved going to get it, so Steve helped by bringing water to them:



He had plenty of help:



We could see storm clouds far out on the horizon:



And storm clouds not far out on the horizon:



Loved this picture:


Don't know what kind of flower that is, but it looked very similar to a hibiscus, but it grew on a tree - not a large bush, an honest to goodness tree.


This is part of one of the castles they built:



And finally time to go home:


Dry and happy, we had a great day with friends.  If you are interested, check out Castle Beach website for more information.  Make plans, take your kids and go out and join the fun!

Sunday we had another nice day.  We walked back to east coast park and went all the way back to the beach - about a 5 mile walk.  We took it easy and just strolled the day away.  We had intended to eat at the hawker center, but while we were walking, I started thinking about Steve's bbq... chicken I had out... Steve's bbq sauce... air conditioning... Steve's grilling... quiet evening... or the hawker center.  Steve's bbq won out.  I suggesting going home, relaxing while he grilled and watching tv.  It was a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.  

He makes the best bbq sauce ever!  Would you like a copy of his recipe?  Beg him for it and he might let me post it!  Yum!
 
Off to dreamland so I can start a perfect week   :-)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kampong Buangkok - Singapore's Last Remaining Kampong

Singapore is a modern city, highly cosmopolitan and one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. It includes Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians, Caucasians and Asians of different origins.  Singapore prides itself on contemporary architectural designs and state of the art highrise structures.  At first glance Singapore has it all; top notch medical services, extremely (nearly nil) low crime rate, HDB housing for the citizens, and a modern lifestyle. 

You quickly realize when living in Singapore that something is missing here.  History buffs see new buildings housing historical data, modern art, contemporary designs and beautiful homes on the island.  However, upon closer examination, you note that there are no century old homes here.  In the states we have stately plantations mixed in with the newer homes and historical buildings mixed in with the new high rises.  History buffs cherish those buildings; often to the point of protesting their destruction and causing years of court battles to halt their demise.  In Singapore it is not so; progress allows destruction, older homes and buildings are destroyed and new ones rise.  Like someone swiping their arm across a table and knocking off a slew of antiques, Singapore does the same with its historical treasures.  Old making way for new.

But deep in the heart of Singapore, there remains one last kampong village, waiting for exploration, documentation and admiration.  Deep in the heart of the surrounding HDB's, lies a tiny little village called Kampong Buangkok - Singapore's last remaining kampong (village).  Currently the little village is home to 28 families (18 Chinese and 10 Malay). They pay about $13 in rent. They continue to enjoy the slower pace of life that the kampong setting offers while watching the HDB flats going up all around them.  Sadly, the Singapore government has the village slated for the chopping block, making way for new condos and HDB's.

I went with a few friends 3 days ago just to see the little village.  I don't really know what I was expecting, but upon arrival, I was surprised to see small modest homes cramped into a tiny area about the size of 2 football fields. They seemed to be haphazardly thrown into the village with no rhyme or reason to the way the 'fell'.  We wandered around looking at the homes and I took a 'few' pictures... ha!  Do I ever take a few?  I think the pictures are self explanitory, so I won't elaborate - I will just share a bit of what Singapore is about to lose.





















Obviously, this little kampong will die out on its own in time, but to wipe it all off the face of the earth intentionally is so very wrong.  I am glad we took the time to wander through it.  I cannot describe the feelings tumbling around inside of me while we meandered through - I could only take pictures to remember its charm. 

This.  Is. History.  
You cannot replace it.  
You cannot bring it back.  
So.  Very.  Sad.

Prayers still being said for our oil field family.  I am sure you heard about the rig sinking yesterday.  Please remember the families of the 11 still missing; it is looking very dim for them now.  Also, send lots of prayers and thoughts for those trying to get the well and fire under control... it is serious folks.  Very serious.  My heart goes out to everyone.  

We all lost something or someone out there.  All of us.  That is not just Transocean's unit out there - it is the livelihood of the south and a cushy for you.  Think about what those rigs are all about each time you fuel up your car over the next few weeks; if it weren't for those people out there drilling, we would be riding bicycles or walking. 

Puts a different perspective on it, doesn't it?  Suddenly, it becomes 'our' disaster. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Offshore Rig Explosion

I have not posted anything as I have been too busy trying to get updated news on the Transocean Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.  Having lived in deep south Louisiana for 32 years, and hubby having worked in the industry for so long, there is certainly someone we know on it.  Most of the time we have no idea what rig our friends are on, so we don't know who we knew on it - but there is a high likelihood that we did know someone.  I have tried to account for all the close friends; my son-in-law and a couple of friend's hubby's, but you just never know...  It hits so close to home.  Heck, hubby had a unit on the sister ship to this rig, but no longer does.  Working in the offshore industry, everyone knows everyone.  This stinks.

Anyway, I am waiting for a name list to come out, waiting for word they have found the missing people and well... just waiting for good news.  I hope we get some soon.  Saying prayers for everyone out there, all the rescuers, and everyone who loves someone involved.  

Be back soon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Color My World

Have you ever wondered what our world would look like in shades of gray?  I was thinking one day what it would be like - wouldn't it be depressing?  You know - like the people that live in the northern climates when there is no sun for months?  They say their depressions are deep and long.  I can sympathize with that - heck, I love color and a cloudy world might rain on my parade.

Simple little things like brilliant colors in signs draw our attention to them:




And shades of color draw our eyes to or away from things.  Looking at this, you can plainly see where you need to go for that mixed drink  :-)



The colors on these escalators make me want to ride them up and back down again - such a relaxing shade:



They accent this large staircase:



And made me want to stand in the entrance looking up rather than going up that staircase:



When you add color to interesting shapes you get some wonderful effects:





And finally some artists put it all together in the most intricate designs like artist Dale Chihuly did - and make breathtaking pieces:





Yep, I think a world without color would be a boring world - don't you?  Thank you God for coloring my world.

Off to check out the last surviving Kampong on the island... wonder if it will be worth taking pictures of?  lol... 

Have a great day (or night) everyone!  I have to pack my camera - but many you can enjoy some tea  :-)


In the meantime, view the world in technicolor!


Singapore Memory Project