Jen brought the traditional Yusheng along and together they proceeded to introduce us to the ritual and the food off course. Yusheng is bought in the form of a tray with all the ingredients neatly separated and ready for the process called the prosperity toss.
Jen and Kai Ee (The Leaders at the table) opened the individual containers and gradually added together all the ingredients, the fish, crackers and sauces and while saying auspicious wishes as each ingredient is added. We covered the table with newspaper and put the Yusheng on top. we all then stood up and on cue, proceeded to toss the shredded ingredients into the air with chopsticks while saying various "auspicious wishes" out loud. It is believed that the height of the toss reflects the height of the diner's growth in fortunes, thus we did our best to get some "Fortune"
The table ended up being quite messy and to be honest the dish did not look appetising to me after all the tossing. We all sat down and dished up servings in our individual side plates. And then that first bite and a culinary explosion in my mouth. I have never experienced anything like it. Each mouth full is packed with flavour and while chewing you get surprise upon surprise. We both love it and finished the whole thing in no time. Honestly, I gladly would have had it again the next day but sadly will have to wait until the next Chinese New Year. Thank you Jen and Kai Ee for a truly memorable experience.
We had a lovely afternoon chatting and we introduced them to the Biltong and droe wors. Discussed our long outstanding Braaivleis which is now planned for two weekends from now. I look forward to return the favour and let Jen and Kai Ee experience a bit of South African hesritage and foodie culture. The begrafnis broodjies ended up being our supper as there was no hungry people after the Yusheng.
After months of emailing and one Skype session, Trevor arrived from South Africa on Sunday and yesterday we got together for coffee and finally met face to face. We had a nice chat about the Expat experience, Singapore in general and I look forward to having a friend on this side.
Happy Chinese New Year Gong Xi Fa Cai
As an Expat coming to Singapore and the decision on where to live can be quite a daunting aspect with the major considerations based on your individual needs. Things that will influence your decision are your country of origin and previous lifestyle, family makeup, area of workplace and personal preferences like shopping, restaurants and general lifestyle preferences. The determining factors before looking at the individual areas will be your budget, type of dwelling, and education School Education in Singapore, Study in Singapore in the case of families with children which will influence your decision on where to find suitable housing. If you intend bringing your pets with you it potentially can exclude you from certain types of accommodation.
Obviously I have been house bound for the last week not able to do anything exciting or visiting new places. I nervously ventured out today to the shops to do some shopping as Jen is coming to visit tomorrow and bless our home with good luck and prosperity.
Considering this was our first Chinese New Year in Singapore I think it is appropriate to share my experience and views as a Expat. Here Goes. Back home when the holiday season arrives in December with Christmas and New Year everything winds down, people typically take long leave and the great shopping spree as is the custom commence. Its a time of happiness and indulgence with Christmas music ringing wherever you go. It's busy, especially all the major holiday destinations like Durban and Cape Town. I remember the golden rule when living in Durban. Shop before the "Valies" as the holiday makers were known, arrive and then stay away until they go back home.
Singapore in December is much the same. The shops and streets are decorated, the same Christmas music ring thru the shopping centres and it is busy, but here is the main difference. Back home everything returns to normal by the end of the first week in January. The festivities are over, people get back in work mode and ready to face the year ahead.
In Singapore the Christmas decorations and music is changed overnight and the city turned RED. Now, new Chinese music is playing wherever you go, shops packed to the maximum with all the Chinese gifts, food and decorations and a whole new set of festivals and public holidays. More people go on leave to return to their "Homeland" and the word busy take on a whole new dimension. We made the ultimate mistake to go shopping for the long weekend early Saturday morning and there is only one way to describe the experience. Mammoth Chaos. There was no room to move resulting in us leaving the trolley with one person while the other one goes to find stuff on the list and return. Certainly my worst shopping experience ever.
Don't get me wrong, it's all nice and festive but it just feels like the new year will never start. It feels like a two month Christmas with no end in sight and I guess in a way it actually is. We certainly enjoyed some of the new food on sale but I am glad it is over. The shops are back to normal with the isles cleared although the irritating Chinese music is still playing. This is part of our new life so I guess get used to it is in order.
From a shop owner's perspective this must be like a gravy train. Pack away the Christmas goodies, unpack the Chinese New Year goodies and let the money roll in.
The one thing we really like is those little Pineapple Cookies which reminds me of "Jam Tertjies" which my mother used to make for Christmas. More on this and the recipe in new posting.
Have a nice weekend
This time of the year is also the start of the new Superbru "season" for me and my friends. Hopefully I can introduce some of my readers to this amazing and addictive game. So what exactly is Superbru?
SuperBru is a free social sports prediction game. It's a fun, competitive game for casual and fanatical sports fans alike - and a powerful engagement platform for brands.
I challenge you to give it a try and believe me you will be hooked.
Have a stunning weekend
He started making movies at the tender age of six while living in Hong Kong with his parents. His early movies were mostly playing the role of problem children and he even made a movie with his farther. His earlier movies include Beginning of a Boy, My Son Ah Cheong and The Orphan.
At the age of 18 he returned to the USA to claim his citizenship and started his own martial arts school teaching the art of Jeet Keen Do (JKD). This was a style of martial arts perfected by him and translated it means The Way of the Intercepting Fist. His students included famous people like Steve McQueen and James Coburn. Acting was however his biggest passion and he managed to get a role in Television series called The Green Hornet which did not receive good ratings and was cancelled after one season.
His career came to a halt when he did not get the role in the Kung Fu series which was ultimately played by David Carridene. Kill Bill for those who do not know him. He reluctantly moved his family back to Hong Kong to make the movie called The Big Boss and the rest is history. He became an overnight success and is without a doubt the Best Martial Artist that ever lived. Who can forget his most famous fight scene with Chuck Norris in the Colosseum in Rome? They never fought each other in true life and trained together for years as friends.
He is famous for doing push ups with one arm using only his thumb and one finger. He invented the 1 inch punch and after a live demonstration his opponent said he was bruised for more than a week and had difficulty breathing. To receive one of his famous side kicks would cause his opponents to fly back and they said it felt like being hit by a speeding car. He could side kick a 300 pound punching bag straight up into the ceiling. Many of his movie fight scenes had to be slowed down to compensate for how fast his actions actually was.
Things that are not so well know about him is that he was a excellent Cha Cha dancer and won the 1958 Hong Kong Championships. He did not drink any alcohol, loved motorcycles and only had one love scene in all his movies where a girl made him drunk and he fell asleep. All his movie enemies were foreigners and he always had to be "taunted" before fighting.
Until Bruce Lee came along all martial arts competitions were "no contact" which he did not belief in and over time it changed to incorporate his full body contact style. He was the first Martial Arts Master to allow non Chinese students in his school much to the dismay of the Grand Masters and he was challenged to a duel and if he lost would loose the right to continue to do so. He won the fight.
Tragically he died at at the very young age of 32, as a result of cerebral adema, an allergic reaction to medication and is buried in the Lake View cemetery in Seattle, Washington.
Your Legend Lives on my Hero.
I have said this before, if you intend working abroad do it as soon as possible as it becomes much more difficult as you get older. I had the opportunity to do it when I was offered a very nice position in America in the early nineties which I did not accept for many reasons and it is one of my great regrets. When we announced our decision to come to Singapore it must have come as a very big surprise to many people, family, friends and colleagues but the reality is we had been discussing it for years just waiting for the right opportunity.
So how has it worked out so far. Well, I am not a tourist anymore, I do not get lost and we have settled in and truly enjoy living here. Weekends and life in general has returned to normal and the only thing a seriously miss apart from our friends and family, is not having my job and that will continue to be a challenge. No country is perfect and Yes, even Singapore has its problems. In the end it depends on the nature of the problem and whether you are willing to live with it or not.
Will we live here forever and who knows. One thing is for sure, this is our home for at least the next 3 - 5 years and what happens after that will depend purely on work related opportunities. Going back to South Africa will depend what happens back home and if there will be any opportunity to do so.
We are going back there for a holiday in 2013 to our beloved Verloren Kloof, already planned, to visit our friends and family and we really look forward to it.
The year started with a work trip to Singapore in February for Zelma with me coming along as promises based on her previous work trips. Definitely had no idea we would end up living here so I spent most of the week doing tourist things.
My company incentive trip to Phuket, Thailand followed which was an absolute blast (Separate posting on that one). I can not remember the exact date but shortly after getting back Zelma received the news that they wanted her to come and work in Singapore and then all hell broke loose. Decision time and believe me when I say it has been the most difficult thing I have ever done and still have my doubts some days.
The next few months was turmoil like you can not believe. All the preparation back home to sell whatever could not come with, sell the house, Zelma shuttling up and down as she started one month before I arrived, the decision on whether the dogs would come with and all the arrangements for when we would land in Singapore.
Then followed the search for a place to live, the first month in the serviced apartments and another move to where we are now. Furniture shipment delayed due to bad weather and the dogs arriving after 6 weeks of quarantine and putting the house together again.
The year ended very nice, settled in our new home with the unplanned 11 day visit of our best friends in December. The best Christmas present I had for a very long time. And now we are in the new year and already halfway thru January. Scary how time flies.
The Blog and my readers have become an integral part of my daily life and very important to me. I will continue to try and keep it interesting and informative with the right amount of fun and Wow Factor postings. In the process of doing the Blog and the articles for the other web sites I have seen some amazing places and enjoyed some of the best food. The journey continues.
I thank you all for your loyal support.
Well, the last decent rainfall was on 23 December 2011 (117 mm) and then it stopped raining on the 29 th of December and only rained again on 07 January 2012 (5 mm) Since then we have only had a total of 13 mm of rain, so who stopped the rain? In case you do not know answer to the question here is the answer. A very old favourite of mine.
Thanks Gatoe and I will include my Rain Report from time to time.
Here is a link with some of the Singapore Rainfall and Temperature statistics. Singapore Stats
We have always enjoyed our wine and to be very frank back home were spoilt from this point of view as the South African wines are some of the best in the world and certainly cheap in comparison to Singapore. Sure, we do have an extensive range here to choose from but extremely expensive. No "Box" or "Light' wine to be found so far in my search and as I said before the strangest thing, White Wine more expensive than Red Wine which is the opposite from back home.
Anyway, adapt or die as they say so for those who enjoy a good wine you must be clever and shop around to find "Bargain" wines. Not cheap wine but the same wine just on special which often means up to $10 per bottle. They are also limited to only a few cases per sale so do not be embarrassed to buy a box or two and save loads of money. These specials are also not available via on line shopping so you must frequent the stores and seek them out. My favourites include Cold Storage (New Zealand and Australian), Fair Price (Australian, South African, Italian and Chilean) wines, and Carrefour (Depends what is on sale).
If you enjoy a glass of wine often with a fine meal then join the Fair Price, Just Wine Club and for a mere $20 annual subscription fee get your wine club card with 8% discount on all wines purchased from their stores. I am already a proud member. Yes Sirry.
Another milestone reached with the Blog the past weekend is the fact that it reached the 3000 reads. To date I have done 99 postings and are only one away from the magic 100 which will have to be a very special one. This is far beyond my wildest dreams and expectations when I first started doing the Blog and the rest of the "All Time" statistics are also very interesting. Check it Out.
Thanks for all your loyal support and now for 5000 milestone.
These "Drop Scones" as they are known comes from a recipe found in traditional South African kitchens from way back when.
500 ml Cake Flower
20 ml Baking Powder
2 ml Salt
100 ml Sunflower Oil
125 ml Milk
1 Medium Size Egg
Sift together the flower, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl mix together the Oil, Milk and Egg. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the liquid mixture. Fold together with a metal spoon until just combined. Drop tablespoon size of the mixture onto a greased baking plate and bake in a preheated oven at 240 Degrees Celsius for 10 - 12 minutes until golden brown. Voila.
Enjoy with any topping of your choice. They go well with sweet and savoury toppings and if you make them a little smaller is a perfect snack for any party. Enjoy.
PS. I like to add finely grated cheddar cheese to the dry ingredients for an extra little kick.
I have always made lunch for Zelma and one interesting observation she made at work is that Singaporeans do not take lunch to work. I guess with all the food outlets and the hawker food being so cheap it really does not make sense. They find it strange that Zelma brings food from home and call it, Overnight Food. Huh?
A 22 year old Australian woman did a bungee jump at the Victoria Falls Bridge and survived in the crocodile invested river after the bungee cord snapped. Lucky lady.
Check it out here. Cheating Death
And so the endless and very memorable bird watching sessions on our beautiful patio started with each new species spotted carefully recorded. The problem with some species thou is that there are just so many variations. Different feet and eye colours, long or short beaks, feather's and so on. We were very serious about the rules. Only record a new sighting if both of us saw it and agreed on exactly what the bird is. This led to many discussions and failed recordings as we could not successfully identify the exact bird species. Questions like what colour is the eyes and does it have a long beak drove me insane as I could not see it clearly with the binoculars.
This carried on for some time until one day I decided to find a solution to the problem and headed down to the Pavilion Shopping Mall to find me some real binoculars. As an amateur, I obviously did not know much about binocular technology but decided to get the strongest possible. The kind Indian man who helped me gave me a strange look when I made my choice (A Big Heavy Pentax 16x50 3,5") and asked what I was going to use it for. I said, to watch birds to which he replied, What kind of "Birds"
The new Pentax worked like a charm, improving our success rate with the bird watching and you could see into the future that's how strong the magnification is. Only some time later I realised what he actually meant. You can sit on a beach and look at a "Bikini Babe" more than a kilometre away and see if she shaved her legs that morning.
The downside, the Pentax is heavy and you can not look for long unless you rest your elbows on something. I still have them for the odd "Bird" spotting opportunity. Sadly, not much use in Singapore so far, but will come in handy with any future Island travels.
The gardens are beautifully sculpted and maintained with many different areas like the Gardens of Fragrance, Bonsai, Bridges, Statues and Pagodas. A perfect place to have a quite walk and picnic on a weekend to get away from the hustle and bustle.
There are refreshment stalls at both entrances but the Tea Garden was closed during our visit so make sure you have enough water for the walk as the park is very large. Saw lots of people with children and cooler boxes having picnic's all over the gardens just lazing around.
The visited to the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum was interesting and they certainly have a large variety of Turtles and Tortoises. The museum holds the Guinness World Record certificate for the most live Turtles and Tortoises collection with more than 1000 live specimens. My expectations were higher and the museum is quite small but certainly have some of the weirdest specimens I have ever seen. There is also a collection of related artifacts on display and a small shop for souvenirs. Entrance fee for adults is only $5 so well worth a visit.
The highlight of the 3 hour walk came at the end of the trail in the form of a little gem called, Istana Park. There is a very nice Arts Restaurant, Ponds, Benches and Arches. A group of painters were sitting on the terrace doing their paintings. One of the benefits of doing the trail is the fact that you get to know Orchard Road from a very different perspective and along the way explore and find new places to visit in Orchard Road.
The Verdict. It's definitely worth walking the trail but if you are an amateur like me and its butterflies you want to see, Honestly, go to the Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom on Sentosa Island where they are enclosed in much smaller area. Sit on a bench, put the camera on the tripod, point and shoot. Much easier and a lot less walking. Amazing, what I won't do for my readers?
Enjoy the weekend
Biggest Base Jump of the Skypark
We have been to Disney World in Paris some years ago and although much bigger than Universal Studios Singapore its still definitely one of the Top 10 attractions and loads to see and do. If you really want to enjoy the outing visit during the week when it is not as busy or spend the extra money on a VIP Pass which gets you priority access to all rides, basically bypassing any of the queues.
It's by no means a full day trip if you intent getting value for your money and really take in all the sights and sounds. Without a doubt a kids paradise and to be honest we found it an absolute blast.
The park consist of 8 individual themed zones each with it's own attractions, rides, shops, restaurants and shows. Be sure to do some homework before starting the day to know what live shows are on at what times to enable you to plan a route in the park to see as much as possible.
If you are seeking some thrills head straight for the Battlestar Gallactic Roller Coasters in the Sci Fi zone. There are two rides Blue and Red and although the signs indicate the Red Ride the most extreme we actually preferred the Blue Ride and found it the biggest thrill. 90 seconds of adrenaline pumping fun.
From a food perspective you can choose between burger joints, food courts, street food and snacks to your hearts content. Make sure you allow enough time to visit all the themed shops and see some outrages live shows during the day.
For the avid photographer this is an absolute heaven of opportunity for some truly amazing photo shots day and night.
Something I have been wanting to see is the MINT , Museum of Toys. It's housed in a modern, narrow 5 story building with a nice restaurant in the basement. The museum is privately owned, opened in 2006 and is the biggest of it's kind in Southeast Asia. The collection of toys comprise more than 50,000 items from 40 countries all over the world including some rare one of a kind pieces.
Entrance fee is $15 per adult and welcome to take photos as long as the flash is off. The collection is truly amazing and span from the earlier 19th century to the mid 20th century. We saw some stuff I certainly did not know even existed. Start on the 5th floor and slowly work your way down to the basement and grab a nice lunch. A nostalgic and interesting experience. A place that takes you back in time and make you feel like a kid again. I wouldn't mind owning a few items from the collection myself. Wondered what happened to all our toys.
Here are some of the ones I really liked
The James Bond Collection
Not sure this one will be allowed back home
The Beatles Collection
The JFK (Kennedy Doll)
The Monkeys (as in 60s Band) Collection
It was a hot day and on the way back to the Bugis MRT station we came across these two local little boys having a ball in the water fountain in the Bugis Shopping Mall. Just too cute for words and mom just sat on the side while they were getting soaked. Priceless. Boys will be Boys.
One thing is for sure, true to my nature this could never be a serious book although true to life it will contain the normal amount of heartbreak, ups and downs. A collection of short stories with all the hectic detail and on the other side there is the interesting, fun, exciting and surprising events down to the surely this could not be true, but still it is.
My progress in my career to my final position as Managing Director before voluntarily becoming a "Trailing Spouse". The many special teams I was part of and the junior people I mentored and today are the hot shots of the world, The bosses I worked for and how they shaped me to be who I am today.
All the amazing holidays and fun stuff like a 238 meter Bungee Jump, Hot Air Balloon Rides, Flying in a Tiger Moth, Glider Flight, Quad Biking, Visiting White Lions, Micro Light Flight over Hazyview, Disney World, Wine Trip in Cape Town, Game Farms, The Lost City, Madame Zingara and so many more.
All my hobbies and believe me there are many, the awesome cars and bikes I have had the pleasure of owning thru the years. My trips to nineteen countries over the years and all the stories that go with that and my favourite, a round the world business trip when I was a consultant for Ernst & Young, 9 countries, 13 cities in 56 days. That alone would cover a few chapters.
Surviving two serious car accidents, a dog attack by three Rottweilers and a near fatal boat accident in Zanzibar while on vacation. The friends that shared our life's and the ones we lost along the way with all the special occasions. The Harley years and all its stories from the Visitors Book and weekend breakaways.
No story can be complete without the "Truth and nothing but the Truth" so I will include a chapter appropriately named "Time to meet Your Soul" You know, that stuff that maybe only your life partner knows and certainly your friends and family have no idea.
The story is by no means over and has entered a whole new dimension with the move to Singapore and who knows what the future holds so I will leave the final chapter to my wife to finish when all is said and done. I have been fortunate and blessed with little regrets over the years.
Oh, in the event that you are reading this and you have a suspicion that you might feature in one of the the stories, don't worry. Apart from the main characters all names will be changed to protect the innocent and the not so "Innocent". That's only fair I think.
I would love to know what you think of the idea so comments welcome. Anyway, I have decided to do it and have done some postings (snippets) on my Blog. I will continue to feature some postings on selected chapters as I go along.