Mandy’s Update: Part Two

On Thursday, Mary and I ventured on the MRT to Chinatown. We spent the morning and early afternoon walking the streets of Chinatown. For lunch we went to Maxwell Food Center. This is a large open air hawker center with stands serving different types of local food. We ordered chicken and rice and carrot cake. This isn’t the carrot cake we like to enjoy in the states, but a dish made with radishes and eggs. One dish is more savory (black carrot cake) and one is more sweet (white carrot cake). I liked the savory one and Mary liked the sweet one better, a perfect match! We ended the meal with awesome fresh squeezed pineapple and strawberry juice. After lunch, we walked though a Buddhist Temple and shopped the streets of Chinatown. Like Chinatown neighborhoods in other cities, it is full of cheap souvenirs.

Chicken and Rice and Carrot CakeChinatown-36 JuiceChinatown-40

Friday, Mary and I had a great breakfast a a local restaurant, where we split two really good dishes. After, we had to run some errands and then headed back home. We were able to spend a good chunk of the afternoon at the pool, getting some sun, swimming and reading. After lunch at a favorite sandwich spot of Mary and Taylor’s, Mary and I headed out for our big adventure of the day.

We rode the MRT to Marina Bay, my favorite part of the city! We had already been to this area on the river cruise last weekend, but wanted to spend more time here. We started off taking pictures of Marina Bay Sands and the Merlion. Then we walked the perimeter of Marina Bay. It was a great way to see the bay and buildings from all angles. After the 4k walk, we waited a bit for the sun to set, and then took some great pictures of Marina Bay Sands at sunset. It was a perfect temperature as the sun was setting, and we loved spending time in that area. This was one of my favorite things that Mary and I did while I was here.

Walk Around the BayIMG_0403

On Saturday, Mary and I ran some errands in the morning. We met Taylor for lunch and relaxed for the afternoon. We headed back to Marina Bay, and went to Ku De Ta for a drink before dinner. This is a restaurant on the top of Marina Bay Sands (my favorite building), that has great views of the bay and surrounding area. Although we missed the F-16 flyover by 15 minutes, it was a great place to see the city from a different view.

Top of Marina Bay Sands
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We headed to dinner at Level 33, an upscale brewery on the bay. Before dinner we were able to be outside, and see a few of the fireworks from the practice of the National Day show happening across the bay. Colin, a family friend Taylor grew up with who also lives in Singapore met us for dinner. The food and beer here was excellent! Colin teaches in Singapore, so I enjoyed talking education and getting and insight into Singapore education form him.

Dinner View from Level 33SBG-29

Sunday was our most relaxing day yet. Besides watching the CrossFit games on TV and going to the pool, we didn’t do a whole lot more. I think everyone enjoyed the break and relaxing day!

My time in Singapore is ending Monday. I will be flying to Australia and then New Zealand for the next 10 days. Although I am sad to leave my friends, I am excited to get a few more stamps on my passport!

Like my questions in my first guest blog post, here are some new ones after being here for 10 days! (Taylor even helped write some of these)

1)  When you first hear M&T were moving to Singapore, where did you think it was?

Honestly, I had to google it. I have no shame in admitting this!

2)  How was the jet lag?  Is it as bad as its cracked up to be?  What’s the best way to deal with it?

The jet lag hit me pretty hard. Mary will say that she has never seen me hit the wall quite like I did when we were shopping the day after I arrived. Mary was smart and didn’t let me take a nap that day, so it was early to bed that night. I woke up at 4 am the next day, but felt more rested. It took a few days to get on a normal sleep schedule, but after the first night of good sleep I was better. My advice… do all you can to sleep on the flight! I think getting little sleep on my flights did me in. Other than that, you just have to fight being tired for a few days.

3)  What climate in the USA would you most compare Singapore too?  Why?

Central Florida in the summer. From my first few minutes in the country, this is all I could think of. The weather is hot and humid, all the time. I felt like I was in Disney World in the middle of July.

4)  What’s the deal with driving on the wrong side of the road?  (Seriously, whose the better driver?)

Driving on the opposite side of the road only freaked me out when crossing the street (my neck would get a work out looking both directions many times!) I was usually in the back seat of the car, so I didn’t pay close enough attention while in the car to get freaked out. As for who is the better driver, I am going to go with no comment on this one to keep the peace. Mary and Taylor are both good drivers!

5)  What’s been the coolest thing you’ve seen in Singapore?  Most surprising?

I love Marina Bay area and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. I liked looking at it from the outside as well as walking through the hotel area.

The most surprising thing is the insane number of malls this city has! Most MRT station has a huge mall associated with it, with the majority of it underground.  Mary and I were always trying to figure out how all of these stores stay in business, especially with everything being so expensive!

6)  If you could change one thing about your Singapore experience so far, what would it be?

This is going to sound like a cop out of an answer, but I wouldn’t change a thing! Mary did an amazing job planning fun and interesting things for us to do everyday. She was such a trooper in walking so much and going to places with me she had already seen before. She is a great tour guide!

8)  What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen/experienced so far?

Although I haven’t actually experienced (eaten) this yet, the durian fruit is the strangest thing. This is a VERY fragrant fruit sold in Singapore. The smell from this fruit is not good, AT ALL! It smells so bad, that there are laws in the country that you can’t open them in certain enclosed areas. You will get a whiff of them from time to time, and I never enjoyed it. Mary and Taylor tried to get me to try it, but I refused!

9)  What’s been the best “asian” food you’ve had?

Lunch on day one was really good. This was dumplings and rice we ate at one of the malls. I love rice and really enjoyed the fried rice we had at Dim Thai Fung was great!

Final thoughts:

This trip has been in the works for a long time (from the day they told me they were moving, I have been planning to come and visit) and it didn’t disappoint. I had a great 10 days in Singapore. I have loved being able to experience the culture of Singapore and live the life of an ex-pat for a while. Also, it has been so fun to spend so much time with Mary and Taylor in this unique part of their life. We usually end up reminiscing about previous vacations when we are together, so this will be a great set of memories for us to have and then tell Baby B and and any other children in the years to come!

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Mandy’s Update: Part One

After being in Singapore for five days, I can safely say that Mary and I have done a good job of seeing the city together. Mary has done a great job of planning activities for each day, and we still have a few days of exploring left. Here are some of the highlights from my trip so far!

On Friday, we walked the shopping area of Orchard Rd and had lunch at Din Tai Fung, which serves dumplings other similar food. After, we did a little more browsing in the shops on Orchard Rd, but jet lag had hit me like a ton of bricks, so it was home to relax, have dinner and early to bed!

Shopping on Orchard RoadIMG_0262 Lunch at Din Tai FungIMG_0264

Saturday, Taylor, Mary and I hiked though a local park. The coolest part of this was the suspension bridge which took us across the top of the tress. After a hot and sweaty hike, we headed to Dempsey Hill for lunch. For dinner, we ate along the river at EM on the river.

Hiking IMG_0276

Sunday was a day spent back on the Singapore river. First we took the river boat tour of the river and the bay. I loved seeing the buidlings and hearing the history of Singapore. My favorite part was being in the bay and seeing Marina Bay Sands, the building topped with a boat like structure. There are plans to return to this awesome building this coming weekend. For lunch, we ate at Mary and Taylor’s favorite Mexican restaurant. Taylor was excited to finally have a buddy to drink the jugs of margaritas with him.

River CruiseIMG_0304 My 2nd Favorite Building IMG_0318

On Sunday afternoon, Mary and I ventured to IKEA (which is basically like going to IKEA in the states) and the Grandstand shopping area. We both bought awesome bamboo kitchen accessories to have, hers is yellow and mine is green!

After a quick check up on Baby B at the doctor (all is looking great!), Mary and I spent Monday morning at the Singapore Botanical Gardens. This has been one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. I loved walking though this well maintained and beautiful park in the middle of such an urban area. The best part is the National Orchid Garden, which is all orchids in all colors and sizes. After the orchid garden we did more walking and finally needed a break and ate lunch at the gardens! It was pretty hot and humid that day, so we headed back for an afternoon of relaxing (ask Mary about her new favorite TV show!)

Botanic GardensIMG_0330SBG-16SBG-21SBG-26SBG-34SBG-37SBG-55

On Tuesday, Mary had booked us a cooking class at Food Playground. This was a great opportunity to learn some Singapore history and culture though cooking. You can ask many of my friends and they will all tell you, I am not the biggest fan of cooking, so of course, Mary made me do most of the work (and volunteered me to be the helper when ever possible)! We cooked chicken and rice and dumplings. The food turned out great and we had a fun morning.

The IngredientsFoodPlayground-4Volunteer DutiesFoodPlayground-10 Making the RiceFoodPlayground-16 Prepping the Wonton DumplingsFoodPlayground-25Making the Chili SauceFoodPlayground-32Filling the Wonton Dumplings
FoodPlayground-42 FoodPlayground-40 FoodPlayground-52Our Finished ProductsFoodPlayground-56 Eating the Finished ProductFoodPlayground-59

Wednesday, we explored the neighborhood of Tiong Barhru, one of which had a great bakery where we indulged in some almond and chocolate croissants and a berry tart! We also headed back to Orchard Rd to buy a wallet I had eyed on the first day, and walked up Emerald Hill. This is a cute street with original architecture tucked away behind the craziness of Orchard Rd. I loved it! We continued on the MRT to another large mall on the hunt for a few things for the baby. We were kind of successful, but fun to see other parts of Singapore!

Our Baked GoodsIMG_0366

Emerald Hill IMG_0368

I have 4 more days left here until I leave for Australia on Monday. We have lots more planned and more to see! So far, it has been a great trip. I have loved seeing the city as well as living the life of an ex-pat at times!

Be Our Guest: Mandy Style

Today we have a guest post from our visitor, Mandy! Today will be an introduction, but later in the week she’ll share some of her experiences in Singapore with everyone. Hope you enjoy! If you have any questions for her, leave it in the comments box below!

Meet Our Guest! photo (13)

How do you know Mary and Taylor?

I met Taylor at the end of freshmen year at Purdue through friends of his from high school. We continued to be friends through out college, always living with in a few blocks from each other. Taylor’s apartment at Purdue was always where the dart tournaments and other shenanigans went down.

During fall semester of sophomore year of college, Mary and I had a Stress Management class together. We sat next to each other on the first day and the friendship never looked back. Through out our years at Purdue, we had most of our classes together, coached volleyball together and survived student teacher together.

Some would say I am part of the reason Mary and Taylor are Mr. and Mrs. B! They met junior year while we were out celebrating Purdue’s homecoming. Since then, there have been many vacations and adventures with Mary, Taylor, and Mandy all together.

Where are you traveling from?

Chicago. I have lived in the city for 5 years and grew up in the suburbs.

How long are you staying in Singapore with Mary and Taylor?

I will be in Singapore for 11 days. Just enough time to recover from jet lag, see some sights, and get sick sick of each other. (Just kidding!)

Do you plan to travel anywhere else while visiting?

After leaving Singapore, I will be traveling to Sydney, Australia for 5 days and Queenstown, New Zealand for 5 days. I figured I am already on this side of the world, why not check some more cities off the list! I am a teacher, so it is easy for me to take a 23 day vacation.

How was your flight?

I flew from Chicago to Singapore with a connection in Hong Kong. The Chicago to Hong Kong flight was 15 hours. I was lucky enough to have a friend upgrade me to business class, so I watched lots of movies, enjoyed the service and lay flat seat. I only slept 3ish hours on this flight. I have never been a great sleeper on planes, so that didn’t surprise me.

I had a 2 hour lay over in Hong Kong. The scenery was beautiful from the airport, Hong Kong has officially been added to my list of places to travel!

The flight from Hong Kong to Singapore was 3 hours, nothing compared to the previous flight! I was able to sleep a little on this flight and watched another movie (taking my movie count for the trip to 5!).

It was a pretty uneventful day of travel. The most exiting thing was flying around the typhoon over the South China Sea. I wish it hadn’t been dark, so I could have seen the clouds.

When I arrived in Singapore and made my duty free purchase, Mary was waiting with a smile and sign on the other side of customs. It was great to see a familiar and smiling face after 24 hours of traveling.

What are your first impressions of Singapore?

All I have seen so far is the drive from the airport in the dark and Mary and Taylor’s condo. In my sleep deprived state last night, I compared Singapore to Florida because the humidity and palm trees. The driving also flew me for a loop. Opposite side of the road and opposite side of the car. Mary did a great job, and I only had one time where I got startled by cars approaching. One other interesting thing I noticed was the number of people out and about at 1:15 in the morning. Not really sure why, but it surprised me.

What are you looking forward to while visiting?

Mary has planned lots for us to do while I am here. I am looking forward to experiencing life as an expat wife and the culture of Singapore. Mary and I also have a few TV shows we both love to watch together that are cued up for our viewing when we are tired from all our sightseeing and eating! Of course, I am also excited to spend time with Taylor, although I am sure he isn’t too excited to have both the women who bug, nag, and tease him the most under one roof.

Balestier Road Heritage Trail: Photography Walk

BHT-26May’s photography outing followed the Balestier Road Heritage Trail. Our group met at the Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple as our starting destination and walked from there.

Pretty LanternsBHT-1-3 BHT-6 BHT-7 BHT-8 BHT-9 BHT-11 BHT-12Traditional Chinese Opera House: Still in OperationBHT-13

We passed unique old shop houses and traditional pre-war homes.

Shop Houses

BHT-21 That’s a lot of cardboard!BHT-23 Have to love an “American Grill” in an old shophouse!BHT-24Interesting Pre-War HomesBHT-28BHT-29Front Door
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We passed Balestier Market that was busy with the local lunch crowd. BHT-33

Just down the street was an amazing temple that had just celebrated its 60th birthday.

Details
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We walked through Zhongshan Park where we took a quick break and snuck in a group shot. 10365831_10201027726174756_719061407702596724_n

Our last stop of the day was at a Burmese Buddhist Temple. This was by far the most interesting stop of the day.

BHT-55 BHT-56 Outdoor SculpturesBHT-58 BHT-59 BHT-60-2 BHT-60Buddha’s Foot PrintBHT-611st Floor
BHT-62 BHT-63 2nd StoryBHT-65 3rd StoryBHT-66 BHT-67 The History of the TempleBHT-68 Yes, it felt a tad bit like Vegas with the revolving and changing lights. Interesting for sure!BHT-69

 I enjoyed this photo walk as we walked to many different and interesting places. I also got to use our new lens. My favorite pictures are from the 2nd Temple with the person playing the instrument and at the Buddhist Temple.

 

Indiana: Part Two

Week two back in Indiana was just as exciting as week one! We continued to enjoy so much time with family and friends.

On Sunday, my mom held a  Baby Bee Shower for us at the Wicker Park Community Center near my parents house. So many people attend, our little one is so lucky to have this many people love her already! She is so spoiled as we received so many lovely gifts. We appreciate everyone’s kind gifts and can’t wait for things to arrive this week in Singapore.  We had a nice brunch for lunch and family members contributed to the desserts. Everything was so yummy.

Mom and IBabyShower-8Table SettingsBabyShower-7Favors: Burts Bee’s Chapstick and Little Jars of HoneyBabyShower-5Flowers: Sorry it’s blurry!BabyShower-6Buffet LineBabyShower-13Desserts!BabyShower-15

We headed back to Lafayette on Monday.  We spent most of the day running a billion errands. For dinner, we had  homemade pizza on the grill and tomato pie. Yummy!

Tuesday morning Taylor and I woke up and worked out at Crossfit Uncommon in Lafayette. We had a great workout and enjoyed the community.  On our next visit, we will for sure head back to workout. For dinner we had some close friends over and spent the evening together. It was a lot of fun.

Wednesday was spent getting things done and visiting. In the afternoon we headed back north to my parents house for the rest of our trip.

Thursday morning we woke up early expecting the movers to show up ready to pack our “Baby Shipment.” Needless to say, they didn’t show up until 4pm. We spent the day around the house. I had a hair appointment, we did yard work again, and relaxed.

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Friday was an exciting day around the house as we were having a cookout later in the evening. We spent the morning preparing goodies for the cookout, lounging in the pool, and then starting to pack our bags. The cookout was wonderful because we had family from Missouri that were in town for a wedding that we haven’t seen for a long time, some of our college friends were able to stop by and many more of our family and friends were able to make it. It was so great to spend so much time with everyone! I wish I would have been able to take more pictures of the cookout, but I was to busy socializing!

Pool Time!IMG_8746My Puppy(who’s 11)
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Cousins10441486_914823605199538_2374560612977864600_n FriendsIMG_8770

Saturday was our last full day in the States. We spent it doing some last minute shopping, packing and relaxing.

It is crazy how fast our two weeks home went. We were so happy to spend so much time with all of you! We can’t wait for our next visit home as a family of 3!