Venturing to Little India

On Sunday night, we went for some great food in Little India and you can see some of it on the post under Food & Drink. This post is more about the walk through Little India and some of the cultural differences here. Little India, once our cab got us to the right place, was packed with people on all the road sides and the parks in the area. There were thousands of people bustling about, walking to a fro, and I am not really sure where they were all headed! Most of the Indians here are the blue collar workers from what I have seen as we wander around. This Country and especially the central part of the city where we live is constantly under construction! There are literally 4 high-rises, some offices and some residential, being built within 2 blocks of where we live. As you venture forth, you’ll see tens and tens of buildings under construction. I saw a small trailer selling condos for a building that hasn’t even broken ground!

But what I really notice is the construction workers appear northern Indian. The same group that is crowding around Little India on a Sunday night before the work week starts on Monday. Actually, construction here is 7 days per week but luckily not 24 hours per day. Each day you’ll see small trucks with open backs ferrying the workers back and forth. You’ll also see a large number of scooters or motorbikes by each site as this is an easy way to get around. One nice thing to see at each site is the amount of signs promoting safety in a number of languages and you don’t hear about too many accidents considering the amount of work. We believe most come in with special short term visas meant to encourage low-cost immigrant labor. It is a necessary thing for a country 3x as big as Washington DC but building like crazy!

How do you like your Water and Power?

Can you believe it has been just over two weeks now that we have been in our apartment and almost three that we have been in Singapore? Seems time has been flying by. I might be repeating some i formation here but I like to list some of the unusual things about apartment living – even in a high-rise that is less than 5 years old!

Water. Water is purchased and piped in from a nearby country and therefore it is very valuable and should not be wasted. To help in this regard, hot water is something often ‘switched on’ and in a limited water heater tank so that you are not spending 30 minutes in a hot shower! There is a switch by each of our bathrooms that you turn on to activate the hot water and it takes about 15 minutes to fully ramp up. Then it is pretty hot but depending on how long you let it ramp up, your hot shower may last 5 minutes. Granted, most days you really don’t want a super hot shower anyway as it is already fairly warm by the time you get up! I am not sure what happens if you leave the switch on all the time but from what I have read in some other postings, your electricity bill might shoot up or the water may be way too hot. The latter I have noticed once or twice if we forget to turn the switch off for the day.

Switches. Actually this is a smart idea – each electrical outlet has its own on/off switch. This is a pain if you forget at night and you think you are charging your iPhone but after learning the hard way once or twice, you pick up the habit. In countries that don’t have the switch, such as the US, your small charger even though not in use is still draining some power. Turning off the switch at the actual socket helps stop this drain which over time can save some money and is much greener!

More water. In case I forget to mention it later, there is no garbage disposal in the kitchen and in fact, the two sinks both have very small holes in the drain covers therefore any extra food or such must go in the trash. At least the trash chute is just down the hall but like many things here, it is small. Think about a shoe box. Your trash bag can’t be bigger than that to get in the chute. This is another habit I have picked up – to walk the trash out every day when I go venture forth! Luckily one day while wandering around the building I found the loading dock with its large trash containers and the recycle bins.

All in all similar to most places as long as you remember your hot water!

Another sunny day and a tour


Last night we finally were allowed to buy mobile phones! You must have your employment passes before you can. That meant a week using a small throwaway with no data and no voicemail. Funny that in this day and age I felt naked without it! Today we also found out our unit is on the market. Discovered this when one of the owner’s agents asked to tour with a group of people. Prices are very high and most investors in these properties are in pairs. I hope they liked the view from our living room. You can see it here!

Some fun things I have learned and Carrefour delivers!

Today is the end of Wednesday – half the week has gone by. It was nice to have the couch, chaise, and TV stand delivered Tuesday afternoon. It makes it much easier to work at my makeshift table (two cardboard boxes stacked on top of each other). We found out yesterday that our air crates have arrived and it will take 5-10 days to clear customs. That should put the arrival of our belongings just after our dining room table gets delivered next Tuesday. It would be nice if we can time it since there is that $50 charge every time we want some large item delivered (since I left the $500 cash on deposit).

Luckily there are no issues for the two Carrefour deliveries! We went on a shopping spree on Sunday to get a lot of the basics we need – home phone, trash cans, iron, hair dryer, rice maker, towels, etc. When you spend $150 or more at what is in effect a very large 2-story Target, you get free delivery the next day. This is super fantastic! Carrying an ironing board in the 90 degree (30 celsius or so) would not be as much fun although it is only a 30 minute walk.

The Carrefour is a lot of fun to walk around. They have everything you need and the prices are very low. We spent a few hours on floor 2, the home goods, and never made it to the grocery store. We have already realized it is true that no one eats at home. Other than my PB&J at lunch, after my swims each day, we eat out. The prices for basic meals are $8-$10 (about $7-$9 US) and if we go to a Hawker Center, it is less. There is one 3 blocks from us but we have yet to try it. There are so many places nearby to try that we may not cover them all in two years! Last week was a pizza place (black truffle night), Sunday night a good Thai place in the underground mall under our building, Monday night a not as good Chinese place as we hoped, last night a food park nearby in a large Citibank building – it is amazingly an endless supply and we will soon begin documenting these in a food section!

Today I finally got a printer which is only a big deal because printing a map to find your way walking around is very, very handy! Since I don’t have to be anywhere anytime soon, I often wander the area and find what is around here. Tomorrow we finally get our government cards which means iPhones by Thursday night. Funny how much a phone is a necessity here. There is an app for getting taxis which not only lets you ask for one in the app but you can see where they are on the map and how long before they reach you. Taxis are everywhere and are very handy when you are carrying a printer box home. They do go quite fast so if you get queasy, you have been forewarned.

Time for some US news. It is one of the few channels not subtitled in Mandarin. We do get Fox and CNN now. Interesting to see the US waking up as we are going to sleep the same day.

Have a great day!

Its been a week…what’s new

Wow – we have already been here almost one week and so much has been going on. We know we’ll need a separate food and drink blog and we, more likely YAW, will work on that soon!

As far as the move, here is our short update. On Monday afternoon, we took possession of the apartment except for a few minor fixes and the fact they could only give us one of the three key card. I got the second on Thursday but no one knows where the third is. Luckily, the high tech door locks allow you to recode at any time. Therefore I have secured the apartment for the two cards and that part is done!

We expect to move in tomorrow (Saturday) IF the mattress, yes just a mattress, gets delivered this afternoon (it is Friday morning as I write). We did get some sheets and towels last night. The next set of furniture will be the new couch and TV stand which I hope to get delivered next Tues, Wed, or Thur. The fun thing about condos here is you have to schedule the delivery with the building management and they like 7 days notice! Even then, you have to pick a window between either 9a and 1p or 1p and 5p. I also had to pay a $500 cash deposit against any damage the delivery people incur. I kept it on file for a month since we still have to get some other furniture and our air crate should be here in the next 7 to 10 days. It arrives on July 22nd in Singapore and then it depends on customs.

Our next delivery will be the teak dining room table, chairs, and a very cool small coffee table made out of raw teak logs. We’ll have to post a photo. Because the fabric on the dining room chairs has to be completed, that is 10 days out. Next trip will be Ikea for the desks and guest bedroom furniture! Yes, they have 2 Ikeas and they are very similar to the US but they don’t sell beds bigger than a double.

Therefore this weekend we’ll be sitting on bunched up towels to watch TV (the previous owner left a 42″ LCD!) and sleeping low to the ground. Easier to tool out of bed I guess but now I think we are used to the time change.

Overall, so far so good. There are a few bumps such as we can’t get mobile phones or a local bank account until we get our employment passes which is tomorrow morning. We did get cable TV, internet, and a home phone. The speed over here is 100Mbs versus 15Mbs at home! Super fast – I can watch a movie with no lag time!

What else…the area is great. Everything is very close. We found a great local mall that is similar to Spectrum, store wise, back in irvine. The other closest mall is more like the expensive part of South Coast Plaza. It is attached to the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino. As we complete the transition from hotel to apartment this weekend, I’ll try my first video blog for the photos and area.



Moving Day or Moving Days….

Today was packing day! 3 movers showed up and began packing everything, from the small shot glasses to the bicycles, in boxes, wrapping, etc. We have 36 boxes ready to go by air and the rest go in storage. Amazing that a room full of stuff for Singapore is now in those 36 boxes which includes 8 horizontal wardrobe boxes. The air items went out today and tomorrow, the movers will take the rest and put in storage for the next 2 to however many years we stay.

Now hanging out at a local hotel for a few nights near South Coast. Makes it easier to do the last minute shopping on Thursday before the midnight fly out to out new home.

Lesson learned – take more time in advance to separate things out and make sure you don’t keep years of paperwork! It is amazing how much we found.

No Job, What’s Next

Over the past couple of months, we have been doing much of the legwork to get the needed approvals for our Singapore move. Earlier this week, the apartment lease was signed and yesterday we received Y’s employment pass and my dependent pass! To cap it off, today was my last day at the hospital after close to 4 years. In that time, and in the three different departments I have worked, I made a lot of great friends. Bittersweet to leave during a time of real change but this move will be great for us and I am jumping in with both feet and a really long pre-move checklist! What’s Next?

Next I am off to Texas then Disneyworld for a short visit with my family while Y starts sorting which clothes of heres to take! 13 days and counting.