Tress and I visited kiddo in Singapore for a week and returned to Melbourne last week. Days before the trip, I was in and out of thermal phobic behaviour – every time I see a photo (anywhere) of someone in the tropics, I wondered how hot it was and how I was going to cope or suffer.
In so many ways, we have become people of this land down under. Confronting the hot and humid tropics has become a challenge, especially in the middle of a cold spell in winter Melbourne. I have also recently taken to sweating profusely every time I eat spicy food. I wasn’t like this before and had only in recent months (maybe in the past year) become like that.
When in Singapore we caught up with Jacqueline, an old friend of Tress’s as well as Lisa (my cousin) and her husband (Sam) and their 2 kids. For the latter, I had arranged to meet them and they had offered to come and pick us up from where we were staying (at the Visitors’ Lodge at NUS). I had assumed we were going to their home. Instead they picked us up and we went and ate in a Japanese restaurant in a shopping centre. Later the next day, I said to Tress and kiddo taking someone out as a way to host them is an Asian thing (as in something done in Asia, and not meaning something done by Asians). In Australia, a host would have prepared something in his or her own home. That I had assumed we would go to their home was a reminder we have left that part of the world for a while now (nearly 10 years).
Both our hosts were very generous and gracious. Jacqueline and her husband (Heng Yee) took us to the Cantonese restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental. The siew yoke is something I would never forget. Light, melt-in-the-mouth fare with crispy but ever so light crackling that it stupidly evoked images of Milan Kundera’s work (Unbearable Lightness of Being). Almost sensuous siew yoke, yes. The drive through the city after dinner, the stop over at the Barrage and other little things all told us of the incredible courtesy and generosity shown to us.
Ditto Sam and Lisa. After dinner in a very interesting Japanese place (they sell Japanese produce just outside the restaurant) we went to an ice cream place (delicious durian ice cream) and on the way home, I asked a favour which was granted without any hesitation. They stopped over at Kiddo’s place and allowed us to pick up her considerable bag/luggage to be taken back to where we stayed (which we then brought home to Melbourne with us). So it was full service on both occasions and difference of cultures notwithstanding, the hospitality was unreserved.
Other than catching up with these folks, we did some interesting things too. We visited the Jurong bird park, the night safari, a couple of museums (Asian Civilisation Museum and the NUS Museum) and walked through places like Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. Tress and I also spent a few hours strolling through Chinatown on our last day there and of course, fillers of the ubiquitous shopping and eating completed the experience.
We got home last Thursday night, went back to work last Friday and after work, picked up the little furry ball. It was great to have him back. On Sat night we had a steamboat dinner at Gerry and Jess’s together with Jason and Mel and Tress and I had a go at making wontons to bring along. They were quite nice and we had a good time together with them – all with Singaporean ties. Jess is from Singapore, and Jason worked there for a couple of years.
Early on Sunday morning I woke up early to catch the Oranje match against the sorry Brazilians who tried but could not recover from the massive blow the Germans had given them. After church I suggested we went to Westfield for a “walkabout”. It was another cold day and walking through the shops sounded like a safe thing to do. I had half expected to look for a bathroom mat too but we ended up in Myer with me getting a new suit – the temptation of a good fitting suit and super cheap bargain was too much to resist and I succumbed to add to my modest wardrobe.
We got home after that and Tress and I took the little fellow out for a walk. It was still cold and had become grey and overcast so not long after we started Tress decided to return home. The little guy probably didn’t realise she had gone home till maybe 100 metres later and he then kept looking back, kept searching for his missing owner. My assurances that “mummy went home” only made him perk up more in ever more earnest search. He was so very endearing.
When we got home, we did some cooking – three days’ worth of soups. I had got the hang of making a good roasted pumpkin soup, and a leek and brocolli/potato soup recently. The former is our favourite and in winter it’s very satisfying for a very quick meal on weekdays. So I made that as well as a broth for some leftover wontons. I also fixed lunch and brekky for work. We went to bed early, and I got into the gym as usual this morning and caught the final on the little treadmill monitor. Goetze’s very good goal settled the game late on.
Two anticipated experiences have come and gone. Our trip to Singapore and the World Cup 2014, both great experiences, are now behind us. I now have to find something new to look forward to lest the withdrawal symptoms become too much to bear…