Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Longest Day EVER! Traveling from Singapore to LA.

Woke up at 3:45am. Took 2 taxis to the airport. Made it through all the screenings without them saying, “I think it may be too late” for Jo this time! Ky cried as soon as Grandpa & Grandma were out of sight. ): Our flight left on time just before 7am on New Year’s Eve.

We traveled only 15 ½ flight hours plus 6 hours time spent in airports. The flights are shorter coming back. BUT when we got to LA it was 9:50am on New Year’s Eve. So to our bodies, it was 2am the next day – the countdown should have been over already, but this was the day that never ends…
Consequently, as I write this at 7:30pm, we have not yet counted down, though at this point nobody is awake to do so.(:

By the time this day actually ends, it will have been 40 hours long!

What a way to end 2014… with our most fantastic trip!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy Birthday Scott! Singapore. Day 14.

It was Scott’s day and our last full day in Singapore. As the birthday boy, he wanted to enjoy our last day together relaxing. Sy was happy because for the past 4 days, he’s been saying, “Can we just stay home?!” Unfortunately for Sy, we needed to eat lunch and found ourselves walking to the hawker stalls. After lunch, we picked up some snacks for the trip back to LA. It was a somewhat relaxing afternoon. The kids went a little stir crazy and needed to move so we sent them down to the pool. They worked up a nice appetite for birthday dinner.
Grandpa took us on a mystery trip for dinner. We only ever knew where our next stop on the MRT was and then followed him to the restaurant. It was also in a part of town we had not visited yet, Clark Quay. This is the part of the Singapore River where, in the olden days, the boats would come in and unload their goods. Quay is like a wharf or pier. Well, that was then, and now, it’s a very upscale area with expensive hotels and restaurants and electric bumboats made to look like the old ones that would be used to ferry supplies to and from ships.
 CafĂ© Iguana was the first Mexican food we had the whole trip and it was tasty.

After the meal, we strolled along the river
and meandered over to another icon of Singapore, the Merlion.
It is a lion head with a fish tail. We watched the light show we’d seen from Marina Bay Sands from the back side. It was a different show. You could still hear the music, but the show was lights, lasers, and water and less dramatic than the movies projected on water you could watch from the other side.
Super enjoyable evening celebrating Scott and culminating our time together as a family in Singapore!
When we got home (around 11pm), we had to pack and set our alarms to wake up at 3:45am! (:

Singapore. Day 13

Good morning!

Let’s swim!

Scott went with mom to find a TV solution. Now they can watch US TV! Yay!
We finished the puzzle!

We rode a really crowded MRT to the bus station.
Picked up some Subway for dinner in these handy plastic bags with a cup holder incorporated to accommodate people on transit (where no food or drink is allowed.)
Then we hopped on a bus to the zoo. At night.

 Safari starts with a fire show. "Natives" in loin cloths breathing fire.

We elected to take a photo with rather than purchase this $40 stuffed animal. This was definitely a touristy area!

Singapore Zoo has a Night Safari that shows all the nocturnal animals.

Super fun night with no pictures because it was dark! We finished up at the zoo at 10:50pm and got in line for the bus home. We made it on the second bus after waiting about 15minutes. The ride back to the train was faster as it was late and there was less traffic. We had to take 3 trains. After the first, we ran to the 2nd and made it with a minute to spare onto the last train of the night. However, we still had to run to the 3rd train and did not make it. ): So we walked… the last 2 miles… at 1am… to the train station where we’d left our bikes… then rode home from there.
Side note: at 12am, sitting waiting for train #1, we sang Happy Birthday to Scott in the MRT station where one should be quiet. But there were only a few others there.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Singapore. Day 12.

We had the privilege of fellowshipping with other believers at Bethesda Chapel this morning. This is the church mom & dad usually attend when they are in town and don’t have other Sunday duties. We really enjoyed the service and the people were very friendly. This was our second Sunday, second church, and second time being asked to stand and being introduced to the whole congregation. So different from churches we’ve visited in the U.S.


It was a special Sunday so they had a bounce house.
On our 10min walk home from church we stopped by the hawker stalls to grab lunch. On the bottom floor of the HDB flats (aka: government built and subsidized apartments for sale) there are places to buy hot food ready to eat – like a food court – and also small “grocery stores.” This is what it looks like when you walk up:

Here is the inside food court area, called hawker stalls.

And further into the store.
So, many people in Singapore actually convert their kitchen into a room for another use – like a study room (since studying is super important). They may have a rice cooker in their patio/laundry area and they’ll buy most of their food at restaurants, hawker stalls, etc. Many eat out for every meal. At the hawker stalls, you can get a good meal for $3. In a mall food court, that same meal is $5-6. And at a restaurant (where you sit and someone brings you food) that same meal is $9, but more foods are available in a wide variety of genres and a regular meal can be up to $15/person.

People eat all the time and always meet over food. There is inexpensive, ready, healthy food that is easily accessible at all times. (The first restaurant we ate at here is open from 11am-4am daily!) Also, the climate lends to people regularly grabbing fruit and/or juices to replenish what you lose in the heat and humidity.
We took our food home and had a pleasant lunch and a relaxing afternoon at home. We worked on our puzzle a bit and played some games on the computer. Then we headed out to the Gardens by the Bay. 
 We saw these earlier looking down from the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel.
We walked through the gardens and enjoyed the different tropical plants.

 The floating baby sculpture...

For dinner, we went to another all-you-can-eat buffet where you pick up your foods raw and cook them on a stove on your table. There is a bowl of broth in the middle to cook vegetables and noodles in. Around the broth bowl, there is a flat iron plate to cook your meat on. There is a small fuel tank and burner on the bottom. It was definitely a unique experience. Very fun and yummy.

 We ended the evening with a race home. Since yesterday, Sy was asking to go alone on the train with just mommy. I think he really wants to go by himself! so we were planning to go one train (3-4min) before or behind everyone. Scott got separated from the rest of them and ended up with us. We got down the stairs just in time to see their train pull away. We got on the train on the next platform. So they took yellow and we took blue. Both groups had to transfer to green to get home. We ended up first, but didn't have the keys to the bike locks. Fortunately, all the kids were great sports about the "race" and Jo ran the keys down to us as soon as their train arrived so Sy could take off for home. And he made it - first place goes to Sy! Hooray.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Singapore. Day 11. Part 2 of 2.

Our goal was to finish hiking before the rain came today – and we did it! So we jumped on a bus and went just a couple stops til we saw some food. It was 3pm and we were starving. It just so happened that we ended up at this place that has “the best prata in Singapore” according to a gal who was just arriving to eat. And their sign seems to confirm it.
Since we tried indian food for the first time with our new CC friends and enjoyed it, we decided to give this place a try. Their specialties were dessert prata and the kids ordered strawberry prata and banana/chocolate prata. All the food was delicious and filling. Yum.
Mom wanted to head back to Chinatown, so Kik, Ky and I went along. Scott took the other boys home.
In Chinatown, we headed to the Fish Spa to have our feet tickled, nibbled, massaged. ??? It tickled like crazy at first – like for the first 5 minutes. Ky laughed so hard she cried, then gave up, then decided to try again and conquered it. Kik wasn’t going to participate, just be our photographer, but the owner had other ideas and eventually got him in too!


Singapore. Day 11. Part 1 of 2

Started out like a normal day – we biked to the MRT. Took 2 trains and a bus to the MacRitchie Resevoir Trails. This was my chosen “can’t leave Singapore without doing this” day.

So glad the kids wore bright colors for my photos.

 see if you can find the spider in the first photo and the monkey in the second. the spider was almost the size of Sy's hand and the monkey was one of a dozen climbing all around us!

We saw 2 different snakes. (one pictured here) made us think twice about venturing into the woods to relieve oneself!

We hiked to the TreeTop Walk which is a 250m suspension bridge that is 25m above the jungle floor and has fun views of the jungle. This is what the island used to be before it became a concrete jungle. (:

This monkey attacked the pocket of the guy walking several yards (or should I say meters) in front of me because he had a poncho sticking out and it looked like a food wrapper. Jo & Kik walked back over to me and escorted me to the other side of the animal. Mom was brave and came on her own.

We climbed the Jelong Tower. (Jo at bottom)
More spectacular views – Ky took a photo for her orthodontist here.

We hiked 8km total on the trail (in addition to biking to the train, and other walking to and from bus stops, etc). Lots of exercise to be had here!

This was the 3rd skink Jo found and I finally got a pic. I don’t know how the kids find these little animals! They also found a 9” millipede up in a tree and various monkeys in trees, etc. along the trail.

So cute. I know I overdo the pics from behind, but it makes my heart happy when they are being sweet together. If they see me taking a picture, they pose, so I have to grab them from the back!

Frog. Look down near the car to see a monkey family!