Archive for October, 2008

I feel like James Bond

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

This weekend I’m off to Hong Kong. We have a national holiday on Monday and I’m tacking on an additional vacation day to make a four day weekend.

I’m going to take in the sights and sounds. I’ll do a little shopping and of course, enjoying the night life. I’m going to try my luck at Macau as well. Who knows, maybe the Sands will fund my trip. 😉

Anyhow, before I left my apartment today, I realized that my travel drawer was full of different currencies. I’ve got Thai Bhat, Malaysian Ringit, Vietnam Dong, Euros, Hong Kong Dollars, Singapore Dollars and US Dollars as well. All I need now is a collection of passports and a license to kill.

Halong Bay

Friday, October 24th, 2008

My last post was when I first entered Vietnam on my way to Hanoi. I left it wanting more. Three days was just too short.

We went to Halong bay. Amazing.

It doesn’t matter how many photos you’ve seen of the place. They do it no justice. We spent two days and one night aboard a Junk. Apparently, there are nearly two thousand islands in they bay. I bet we saw only 50 at most. It would have been great to spend a week just cruising around, kayaking, eating, hiking and swimming.

I leave you with a photo of the sunrise from the top deck.

I’m a travelling man.

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

As you undoubtedly have noticed, I’m posting blog posts again. That means that I’ve finished my last project. That also means that I’ll start travelling again.

As I write this post, I’m travelling down a freeway in Hanoi, Vietnam. I’ll be spending a long weekend here going to Haolong Bay with some friends from the US: Bobby, Richard and Cindy.

Next weekend I’ll be in Hong Kong. I’ll be there to do some shopping and to take in the sights. I’ll follow that up with a road trip in Thailand, a beach excursion in Bali, a mountain trek in Sapa and a visit back home to see my family during the Christmas holidays.

It’s hard work in Singapore. But, it’s these few months of rest and relaxation that follow that make it all worth it.

Here’s a pic of my dinner tonight. It’s called Banh Cuon. Which translates to wrapped cake. I got it from a street vendor for .85c.

Whatever

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Continuing with the food related posts. I present to you…

Whatever.

We’ve got some weird drinks that you don’t see in other parts of the world. The three most striking are, Whatever, Anything, and Anything Black.

I’ve tried Whatever. It’s a familar fruity flavor that I can’t quite pin point. I’ll try the two Anything drinks next and report back to you.

Breakfast cereals

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

We have a breakfast once a week provided by the company. It’s usually a variety of things. Sometimes Asian, sometimes western.

Every once in a while we have breakfast cereal. I’ve never seen this before, but it’s broad acceptance at my company leads me to believe that the US is one of the few countries that doesn’t do this. People mix their cereals. My Asian colleages do it. My Australian colleagues do it. My European colleages do it as well.

And I’m not talking logical mixtures. They mix it all.

I’ve seen combos like Granola, fruit loops, coco puffs, topped with fruit cocktail. That’s just bizzare to me.

Does anyone feel the same? Or am I just old fashioned?

Quinticentially Singapore

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Here’s a photo I took from a taxi a few weeks back that says it all about Singapore.

It’s a photo of a motorcyclist riding his bike in the rain.

Like most bikers, he wears his jacket backwards. This is to prevent the jacket from billowing out. I really don’t understand this. Isn’t that why they invented zippers?

But, it’s raining, so he has to protect his backpack. So he has to wear a rain poncho. But then, why doesn’t he wear the jacket underneath the poncho to keep that dry as well?

Come to think of it, wouldn’t the combination of a zipper and a backpack be enough to prevent any billowing of a jacket? That’s why this photo is quinticentially Singapore.

All these extra steps for no real gain.

Oh Singapore, you are unique.

Singapore F1 night race

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

A few weeks ago Singapore held the first F1 night race. I’d never been to an automobile race before so didn’t know quite what to expect. My friend Richard was here visiting me from SF hadn’t been to one either.

Well, it was a pretty awe inspiring experience. The first thing you’ll notice is just how loud those cars are. Every time they shift gears, it’s like a gun shot. You *HAVE TO* wear ear plugs. It’s that loud.

And boy are they fast. I tried for a full 10 minutes to take a photo. All of them came out super blurry. They can slow down and speed up in a blink of an eye. I’d like to think I’m a decent photographer. I tried a bunch of tricks to get a shot with the cars in focus with my point and shoot. None of them worked. You’ll need a DSLR with a nice low aperature lens to get anything useful.

I heard that Singapore will have the race here for the next 8 years. I’ll probably go again.

Wedding crashing. Part deux

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

So, about a month ago I got invited to a Singaporean wedding. On the whole, it’s similar to a lot of Chinese, Vietnamese, and other Asian weddings. There were a few distinct differences though. Most were just interesting, but a few really stood out.

The interesting ones included the following:

The food was very eclectic. It was a mismash of a few Asian cuisines. The first dish was a cold platter. This is typically served at most of the weddings I’ve been to. However, It was filled with sushi rolls, egg rolls, dim sum rolls and roast duck.

Interesting.

Secondly, the first dish is apparently a really big deal. They turn off all the lights and the waiters brought out the platters in the darkness. On each platter was a candle and, I’m not certain here, but I thought I saw dry ice smoke rising up. On cue, they present all the platters simultaneously to each table.

Cool.

At most Asian weddings I’ve been to in the US one of the final platters was usually a rice dish. Rice is important to singaporeans, but the noodle reigns supreme. At this wedding the last dish was an Udon dish. Now this is where it becomes evident again how international Singapore is. And how they try to maintain their roots while being “modern”. The Udon dish was served dry with black pepper. Traditionally, Udon is served in a broth. So, in one dish, you see Chinese, Japanese, and Singaporean influences. Too bad none of them truly worked.

Next on the list of culinary oddities, was the biggest problem I had with the whole experience.

There was no cake.

Now, they had a cake at the reception, but it was plastic. The first thing the wedding party did was come in, give a small speech and then cut the cake.

They cut a plastic cake.

They have this beautiful platic cake that is there for photos and photos alone. Like many other Asian cultures, appearances are everything. So having photos with a cake like “western” weddings is de-rigur I suppose. Personally, I would rather have nothing there than tease me with a fake cake.

There is no dancing. There is actually very little merry making comapred to a western “Asian” wedding. There was a trio of musicians that played classical instruments. But, they performed some more contemporary songs. Stuff like Jason Mraz or John Mayer songs. But, you can’t dance to a violin and cello the same as to a guitar and drum.

One very popular bit of celebration was to toast the wedding party. The unique part of this was the method they chose to do it. Everyone holds their glasses up and they all cheer with one breath as long as they possibly can. At the end of that breath, everyone takes a big gulp of their drink. Another twist was to have the bride and groom kiss for as long as people were shouting on that breath still. Quite cute as people were cheating and taking extra breaths of air to prolong the kiss.

I’ve heard Indian weddings are week long parties. I’ll have to see if I can crash one of those next.

Caffine headaches

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

So, as all of you have undoubtedly noticed, I haven’t posted anything in a long while now. I’ve been in crunch mode at work for a little over a month now.

We’re nearing the end of a project and I’ve been putting in a massive amount of hours. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-85 hours a week. Quite bad, but I’ve seen much worse.

I’ve been falling behind in my sleep and to make up for it, I’ve been drinking coffee. I normally don’t drink the stuff, but I need to stay awake at work. My daily intake went from zero to four cups a day.

Now, two days ago I experienced my first caffine headache. I always thought people were exaggerating when they said they “NEED” their cup if coffee. I know better now.

I went two days without drinking any because I had a few extra days of sleep. One afternoon I noticed the start of a headache. I took some advil before going to bed that night, expecting it to go away. When I woke up with the headache still, I just thought it was peculiar. After all day of having it still and a few panadols (the Asian version of Tylenol) I realized I had a problem.

Luckily for me Richard was staying with me. Since, he’s a doctor I asked him what the problem might be. After the usual round of questioning, he deduced that it might be a caffine headache.

I pounded a can if coke. Lo and behold, the headche went away after about half an hour.

I’ll have to try and ween myself off of the coffee slowly now.

I voted today.

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

I know it’s still over a month out. But, I voted today. I sent in my absentee ballot from a hawker center. I urge all of you to do the same.