Monday, September 3, 2012

What a weekend!

As I enjoy my quiet Monday morning (I don't start until noon!) I reflect on how after one full week in Singapore, it's already starting to feel more comfortable - and like a home-away-from-home.  I'm excited about Week 2 of teaching - and I'm armed and ready with my camera today so that I can post about it soon - and I'm also excited about how much more of Singapore I'll get to see week-by-week.  Take just this weekend, for example.

Lau Pa Sat: Satay Street
On Friday, I let myself completely indulge in the need for rest.  I slept in, watched one of my favorite movies, and was just generally lazy.  That night, I met my new friends - colleagues in the UB-SIM program - for satay at the Lau Pa Sat Festival Market!  I've included a video so you can get an idea of the surroundings - all the hustle-and-bustle of an old-world food market surrounded by glossy, glassy sky scrapers near the heart of the financial district of Singapore.  There, we enjoyed one another's company and some truly wonderful satay.

Mutton, pork and chicken satay
Satay is marinated meat cooked on a skewer over an open fire and seasoned with a blend of spices.  It originated back many generations ago when the proportion of men to women in Singapore was roughly 10:1.  These poor, helpless bachelors had no one to cook dinner for them when they emerged from their workdays, tired and hungry, so the street vendor found his niche.  (I mean really, barbecued meat on a stick - it's the quintessential guys' food, right?)  It was absolutely a wonderful experience, one I plan to repeat again and again while in Singapore.  Equally enjoyable was the companionship of my colleagues - individuals from departments ranging from my own (communication) to history, economics, sociology and others.

Mary with some cheery
decorations for the office
Then the next day, I met my friend Mary for a journey to IKEA - my first time ever in one of these stores!  The day proved to be quite an adventure, filled with bus trips, MRT rides, shuttles, and a good deal of walking - but we made it!

Me, lost forever in the
IKEA was like nothing I've ever experienced - a bit like Target on steroids.  I found myself flitting from bin to bin, room to room, shelf to shelf, and by the time Mary and I left, we each had giant IKEA sacks full of awesome new things.  We also took the time to indulge in Swedish meatballs, lox, marzipan cake, chocolate mousse, and lingonberry juice!

Among the items I procured at IKEA were a small pot and stick-free pan for cooking individual sized meals, storage containers for leftovers or for packing a lunch as well as a soft woven throw blanket for my sofa - yes, I'm wrapping up in a blanket in Singapore!  The air conditioning, while absolutely indispensable, can also get a bit chilly at times!

My first view of the National Museum through the trees
The next day, I took a shuttle provided by Fraser Suites to a shopping center for my newly-traditional weekend breakfast of kaya toast and coffee (called "kopi" in these shops) and then took a bus to a stop where I could walk to the National Museum of Singapore.  This gorgeous, classical building was full of exhibits that gave me a deeper understanding of the Singaporean people - where they had come from, the important events in history that shaped their world.  I spent the day taking in the creative, interactive history exhibit, as well as enjoying others on food, photography, fashion and even a visiting exhibit on wedding dresses from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  A brief walk around during lunchtime took me down Armenian Street, where I discovered the Peranakan Museum and the National Museum of Art.  Looks like my next two Sundays are already in the works!


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