Shopping for Food
As part of our efforts to eat healthy, Reggie and I have been out food shopping. You’ll remember from our earlier first week surprises post that we went to 8 places to look for half and half. Reggie now drinks her coffee with regular milk.
We were looking for western style comfort food and decided to buy some tuna. We found kimchi tuna, Penang curry tuna, green curry tuna, tomato chili tuna, tuna in hot mayonnaise, corned tuna and many more. We also found chicken and seaweed flavored Cheetos. McDonald’s sell salted egg covered fries. Haven’t tried any of those yet.
Would you like some Seaweed flavored Cheetos?
We tried tomato chili tuna. We won’t be buying that again. It wasn’t the most unusual things I’ve eaten this month…that designation goes to the worm omelette (no, that’s not a typo, it says worm) that I ate in Hanoi. More on that another time.
Migrate to Singapore: Reggie’s Surprises
I left Singapore 25 years ago to move to the US. And coming back has been very interesting. Singapore has changed so much since I was living here.
The Window, mural by YC Yip. Located on the side of 227 South Bridge Road.
I took Sue to the Everton Park area where I used to hang out as a child while my mother played Mah Jong. I used to climb over the fences and play in the construction sites. Fell and skinned my knees many times. Now, there are huge condos where I used to play. We also saw some wonderful street art by YC Yip about how Singapore used to be. It brought back fond memories as I explained the scenes to Sue.
Jurong East is where we lived from when I was 19 until I left for the US. When I lived there it was like an outpost with a smattering of hawker stalls, a few shops and a bus interchange. Now, it has huge malls and is just a 40 minute MRT ride into the city.
I didn’t think I would be so surprised by the changes.
Getting Around Singapore
Singapore has great mass transit. I love the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and the buses. We take it everywhere. Sue tried to persuade me to take a taxi to the airport when we went to Hanoi. The express bus takes 40 minutes, delivers you directly to the basement of the terminal and is only a block from our apartment. How convenient! Know how much it costs? $1.94 Sing dollars (less than $1.50 USD). And, when we went to Penang, Sue happily took the bus.
Childhood Memories and Food
I’ve been re-discovering some of the food that I loved as a child. Peanut cake. Chendol. Chee Cheong Fun. Mostly snacks, breakfast foods and desserts one cannot find in the US.
Seeing Singapore through Sue’s Eyes
I have enjoyed seeing Sue adjust to living in Singapore. She sees and questions things that I take for granted. She helps me to re-experience things with new eyes. And she’s sometimes funny to watch. Like with the laundry.
Or her trying to understand Singlish. In a conversation with my family and friends, we’ll often be speaking English then Cantonese then Singlish. I look over at Sue and realize that she has no clue what we are saying. But sometimes I am surprised when she understands without even knowing the words. And sometimes I forget she doesn’t speak Cantonese and just start talking to her.
Singapore Rules and the Library
Sue also doesn’t know the rules that we Singaporeans follow. Singaporeans are pretty rigid. We do everything according rules. And if you know Sue, then you know she goes her own way. I’m always finding her wandering off when we travel.
We went to the library to work and the chair at the desk was not ergonomic for her. She simply went to another room and got a chair that was. It made sense. She offered to get me a chair, but I said no. Later, the library worker came to question her about why she moved the chair. Sue politely said her back was bad. It was a lengthy discussion and then the worker went away.
And, never came back.
I don’t think she knew what to do with Sue. Before we left, Sue put the chair back in its proper place and all was right in the world.
Singapore Has Changed
So much has changed in Singapore. I kept hearing people asking about the Passion card. What’s a passion card? It appears to be used for all kind of things—the gym, eating, getting a library card, shopping at the drug stores and even taking public transport. There was no such thing when I lived here.
Eating at Hawker Center with Sue
Every time we go out to eat, the servers ask me two questions about Sue. They won’t ask her directly. The servers will inquire in Cantonese, “does she take spicy.” They assume that because Sue is not Asian she doesn’t eat spicy. The funny thing is that Sue loves spicy and me, the Singaporean, doesn’t. They also ask if Sue knows how to use chopsticks. She probably does that better than some Singaporeans too.
It has been wonderful being able to spend time with family and friends in a more relaxed way. Going to my aunt’s 82nd birthday lunch. Christmas Eve with my godmother and cousin’s family. Sunday night badminton and then dinner with my uncle. When we were just visiting, get-togethers were always rushed and our social calendars, very packed. People always wanted to buy us meals. It hasn’t stopped despite that fact we were not just visiting but living here. I haven’t seen my uncle in over 30 years, when asked why he insists on paying for dinner, his reply was simply: “She’s my niece.”