Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ten Things We'll Miss

With less than a month left before Bryan heads back to the States for good (I follow soon after), I thought now would be a good time to share some of the things we'll miss about living in Singapore:

1) Our friends. We've made great friends here. Sometimes the friendships you form when you're far away from your family can be especially strong. We'll miss you, Brian, Andrea, Jayasri, Claire, Tei, Tomi, Assad, Jim, Nancy, Martin, Hen, Mara, Garrett, Sean, Laura, Swati, Gaurav, Eliza, Michael, David, Sarah, Amina, etc., etc., etc.

2) The monkeys. Don't laugh, it's true. I've spent so much time with them over the past few years that it's hard for me to imagine not being around them. It'll be strange to have to go to a major effort to see monkeys in the wild.
It's hard to have a bad day when you're hanging around these comedians

3) I know I've complained about the food on occasion - some of it is seriously weird, and I've gotten sick from food more here than anywhere else I've ever lived, for sure. But there are definitely foods we'll miss. I'll miss iced Milo, pandan chiffon cake, curry puffs, vegetarian kway teow, popiah, masala dosai, Chinese New Year cookies, kaya waffles, and Hello Panda crackers. Bryan will miss chicken tikka, satay, Thai green curry, and laksa. We'll both miss readily available, cheap, insanely delicious Indian food, 100 Plus, and more.

4) Building on #3, Bryan and I will miss our favorite restaurants. Singapore is nothing if not overflowing with eating establishments.We'll miss lots of them - from the vegetarian stalls (especially the one in Canteen B at NTU!!) to the fancy places (Original Sin being my top choice for special occasions). Al-Ameen, Anjappar, Spizza, Brewerkz, Jaggi's in Little India, Din Tai Fung, Marché, and even the little KJM Curry House right next to our apartment - we'll miss it all. Sure, we'll be glad to get American food back, but I'm sure it will only take us a few months before we start saying "Man, I could really go for some good dim sum right now."
Hangin' out at Brewerkz, one of our favorite restaurants

5) Our apartment. It's true that the place has its drawbacks, including being a bit far from the MRT, but it's been our home for the past three years. I'm looking forward to having an oven and a bathtub, but I'll miss the huge kitchen, the ample closet space, and the reminders of happy memories we've shared here.

6) The easily accessible nature. Despite being a big city, Singapore has awesome nature and it's easy to get to. Hop on a bus or the MRT and in no time you can be in the wetlands, the rainforest, at the  beach, in the mangroves, at a lake, a garden, and more. It's amazing. Bukit Timah and Sungei Buloh are favorites of ours, and will always have a special place in our hearts!

7) This goes hand-in-hand with #2 and #5 but it's a little different. We'll miss the wildlife. It's abundant and fascinating, Working on this blog has allowed me to develop some expertise in identifying Singaporean wildlife. I'll miss seeing the cool wildlife when we move away, but I'll also be sad that all the knowledge I've acquired won't be getting put to use any more.
At Chinese Garden, a 15-minute walk from our apartment

8) Singapore is one of the safest cities in the entire world, and I've felt a deep sense of security while we've been here. I'll miss feeling like I can walk down the street alone at 2 in the morning, confident that I'll be fine. I certainly won't feel that way in any American city - I mean, even since I've been here, someone in the US stole my credit card info and my brother's house in the US got robbed. It doesn't really make me feel all safe and secure.

9) Easy travel opportunities to exotic locations. I mean, you can hop on a ferry and be on the beach in Indonesia in an hour. You can get a cheap plane ticket and go to Phuket for the weekend. Wild orangutans, the ruins of an ancient civilization, stunning ocean views - all of it is a short plane ride away from here. We'll miss being able to take advantage of all that.
We'll miss doing stuff like this over long weekends!

10) Our jobs. Bryan and I are off to other opportunities, but we'll miss the jobs we've had here. Bryan has enjoyed his colleagues and his research at IHPC, and I've loved being a full-time monkey chaser!

Despite all this and more, Bryan and I are really looking forward to getting back all thing things we've missed over the past three years! I think it will be interesting in time to see whether I've done a good job of predicting what we'll miss - maybe I'll update everyone in a few months to let you all know if we're jonesing for something unexpected!

There's still time to vote for us in the 2012 Singapore Blog Awards!! You can vote once a day until June 30th!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Silly Signs Eleven: The Australia Edition

The signs in Australia weren't silly so much as they were terrifying. Around every corner was another sign warning you of the dangers of doing anything: walking, swimming, breathing. It was scary at first, but after a while it just got kind of funny.

First came the crocodile signs. They were posted near anything that could remotely be considered a body of water: rivers, ponds, billabongs, streams, brooks, large puddles, etc.
Swimming is risky when giant, hungry crocodiles lurk nearby
The crocodile will toss you around like a ragdoll before eating you for breakfast.
What's that? Oh nothing, just another sign warning you
of your impending death by crocodile.

If you're not eaten by a crocodile, you'll at least be munched on by some bloodthirsty insects.
The Australian government wants you to stay bite-free, and to dress modestly.

And if you manage to survive the crocodiles AND the biting insects, you still have to get past the asbestos and avoid developing a horrible lung disease.
Ummm...shouldn't there be a fence or something?

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the lasers and the bombs. Good luck dodging those while you're trying to escape the man-eating crocs, angry mosquitoes, and scary asbestos.
The "no trespassing" seems unnecessary after the exploding bomb graphic...

Guys, if you make it through all that, you're in the clear. But ladies, you still have one more obstacle to handle.  Nabulwinjbulwinj, the angry spirit, wants to kill you in a very peculiar way. The sign says:
This is Nabulwinjbulwinj. He is a dangerous spirit who eats females after striking them with a yam.
Seriously ladies, watch out for those yams. RUN AWAY.

Sometimes I think it's funny when Singapore gets all bent out of shape about their big "monkey problem" when places like Australia have to deal with crocodiles, dingoes, kangaroos, and wild horses.
So many animal warnings! But seriously, watch out for those kangaroos!

Apparently the Northern Territory floods like crazy, but the locals are troopers and they just drive right on through the water! Some of the cars even have snorkels on them!
The indicators went up to like 3 meters!
Flooded roads are no problem for a JACKAROO (an actual car in Australia)

Australia may not have the funniest signs, but it certainly has the scariest!

Hi there! Our blog is a finalist in the Singapore Blog Awards! You know you wanna click this link and cast a vote for us. Nabulwinjbulwinj will strike you with a yam if you don't!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We're Leaving

Bryan and I are moving to St. Louis, Missouri at the end of July. I'll be starting a PhD program in Anthropology (focusing on monkey studies!) at Washington University. Bryan is still looking for work in the area, but we're hopeful about some of the leads he has.

Leaving Singapore will be bittersweet for us. By the time we leave, we will have been here for almost exactly three years. We are unbelievably excited to move back to the US, and to experience all of the things that we've missed so much. We especially can't wait to be closer to our families and friends, to be able to call them whenever we want, to get back home without flying for 30 hours through 13 time zones, to eat all the Mexican food we can get our hands on, to drive cars, to snuggle with our cats, and to wear sweaters, build snowmen, and drink hot chocolate.

But after three years in Singapore, there are things that we'll miss about living here as well. We've made some excellent friends here, and we will miss them so much. It's been a joy working, laughing at monkeys, playing board games, eating delicious food, watching movies, and drinking Tiger with all of them. We hope that our Singapore friends will feel welcome in St. Louis, if they ever happen to be on the other side of the planet.

It'll be hard to say goodbye to our non-human friends too. As silly as it may seem, I've gotten attached to the monkeys here and it will be sad to leave them. We'll miss seeing all the amazing wildlife of Singapore, but we'll miss the monkeys most of all.

And of course, after three years of jet-setting around Southeast Asia, chilling on the beach in Phuket, admiring the ruins at Angkor Wat, trekking through the jungles of Sumatra, snorkeling under the waves in Bali, watching the wallabies in Australia, and getting engaged in New Zealand, we'll certainly miss this crazy lifestyle.

Singapore will always have a special place in our hearts. It's the first place Bryan and I moved as a couple. It's where Bryan had his first job after earning his PhD. It's where we were living when we decided to spend forever together. It's where I finally figured out what to do with the rest of my life. We've made memories and friendships here that will last a lifetime.

While we'll always look back on our time in Singapore with happiness, we look forward to continuing our adventures in the newest chapter of our lives - as a married couple in St. Louis!

Ready for the next phase of our lives - in the good old USA!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Australia Day Five: One More Day in Darwin

We had pretty vague plans for our last day in Darwin. We slept in and checked out of our hotel pretty late. Our flight out of Australia left in the early evening, so we had almost a whole day to spend hanging around. Our first order of business was food, and I was eager to try a place I'd been eyeballing on our map since we arrived in Australia. It was called Simply's, and specialized in healthy vegetarian food. Bryan was less enthusiastic, but good-naturedly allowed himself to be dragged along. Man, I was SO glad we found that little place. It was THE best meal I had in Australia, and I didn't even have to feel guilty about eating it! Bryan seemed to enjoy his falafel, although he was perhaps a little less enthusiastic than me.
Mexican pie and SIX kinds of salad. Curried pasta salad was my fave.

While hanging out at the restaurant, we dug through our wallets and admired all our Australian cash. It's so pretty! I think every country has more colorful currency than the US!
Like Monopoly money, but with kangaroos on it

After lunch, we walked over to a little Irish pub and had some cider while we watched bowls on TV. Have you ever seen bowls?! Apparently it's some huge thing in Australia. It's kind of like bocce ball, except that instead of doing it casually at a cookout with your family like Americans do in their backyards, Australians do it professionally at bowls clubs and they are DEAD SERIOUS about it. It was pretty fun to watch, so I see how people get so into it.

Eventually we peeled ourselves away from a riveting bowls match and walked over to the Esplanade. There's a path along the Esplanade that meanders along through a park area and along the water, but there isn't really any beach to lounge around on. We did see some neat stuff, including some more birds.
Rainbow bee-eater
Two zebra doves

In our aimless wanderings, we meandered into a historical district with cool old buildings and neat sculptures. One of the most impressive buildings was the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral, built in 1902 and still in use as a church today. The church even survived being hit by a bomb during World War II!
Christchurch Anglican Cathedral

The sculptures scattered around the historical district were pretty cool. These were two of my favorites.
Reminded me of demons!
Tawny frogmouth owl sculpture named "Chinute Chinute"
by amazingly named artist Koolpinyah Barnes

We wandered town a while longer, but the historical district was really the last interesting thing we saw before heading back to the airport, where we had a very strange dinner at Fannie Bay Ale House. We got nachos that had....marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese?! Probably the strangest interpretation of nachos I've ever seen. It's like something I'd come up with when we're running low on groceries.

After dinner and a very thorough security screening (Australia does not mess around about airport security), we boarded our Jetstar flight back to Singapore. It was very strange - that flight was the last time that we would be flying back into Singapore! But more on that later...

Oh yeah! Did I mention that we're finalists in the Singapore Blog Awards?! It would be super if you'd vote for us!