Bali – Ayana Resort Part 2

It is Saturday and time to get up! Sleep in? Who does that when you can easily get up, go find some really comfy lounge chairs by the pool, and immediately pass right back out? The weather is the perfect combination of warm and no humidity – the weather I like to be out all day in just a swimsuit! By the way, yes, I did get some sunburn the 1st day, after 10 minutes, but not too bad. Although that was the last day of the 3 that I spent time in the direct sunlight! Large umbrellas were my saviors.

Besides, I did not want to look like the stereotypical Ang Mo lobster and I knew I actually don’t glitter in the sun (for the Twilight tweenies).

Breakfast is a buffet style with everything you can want: local Indonesian food, a lot of Japanese choices, some bacon, eggs, etc. The best was the fresh fruit – they cut the mango for you and hand it over. Also, there were a lot of coconuts roaming around with straws growing out of the side. Coconuts on the island? (No big birds flew them here). This hotel especially caters to the Japanese client. A lot of the menus and some signs were in Japanese as well as English. You’ll see why I mention this in a bit.

The morning was spent by the main pool (the photo from blog Part 1 with my feet!). It was very relaxing. The pool has an infinity edge which offers a great view of the sea. And it was not very crowded. The trick is to get there early, plop your stuff down on the loungers with a large umbrella, eat breakfast, a lot, then come back and pass out. Nice.

I don’t remember as much, hardly any, of the Japanese I learned in college but when we were hanging out by the pool, there were four chattering girls next to us and I couldn’t resist saying a few words to my wife in Japanese as we got up to leave. I figure maybe they wonder “how much did he understand?” Leave them hanging is my motto. I also noticed the Japanese folks like to take a ton of photos. And for some reason, 90% of the time they hold up two fingers in the form of the peace sign. Everyone does this, young, old, male, female. I have not researched why this is yet but it was very noticeable.

At one point as I was coming back to the lounger, I noticed the girl next to us had setup a tripod with her high-end camera aiming toward the infinity edge of the pool. At least that is what I thought she was aiming at until she sat down, faced the camera, starting smiling, and began clicking the camera remotely. She setup the tripod to take pictures of herself with the pool in the background! Her boyfriend was asleep – no help there. Awesome. This is tourism at its best.

In the afternoon, we both went for a Balinese massage at the resort’s spa, which is rated one of the best in Asia. It was really good! It hurt though. Should it? We went to separate rooms (been there, done that for the couple’s massage), me with my very young female masseuse and YAW with the older one. Figured maybe it would be the other way around. Mine was maybe 5’2” tall.  This is important because when we walked in the room, I saw the height of the massage table (off to the side from the large bathtub and the footbath) and wondered how she would be able to apply pressure from above. Later on I found out she just climbs up on one side of the table and then can easily, and with great strength, press down to apply just the right amount of pain. She was really strong.

Of course this was after the footbath. That is the starting point. Interesting, as I don’t think my feet have smelled like rose petals before. It was a very submissive position! YAW mentioned later she wondered if patting her masseuses’ head would have been bad form?  I won’t get into this massage stuff to0 deeply here. It was only my 5th ever and I am still trying to figure out the benefit. I felt relaxed but my calves hurt! After our massages, we lounged around in these outside pagodas at the spa.  We have decided we will build something similar in our backyard when we come back to the States. It was very cool.

I could regale you with how we wandered around, drank some ginger tea, etc. but let’s skip to dinner. This was the best ever! When was the last time you had a table 20 feet above the water with a direct view of a sunset while small one-man fishing boats are heading out to sea for night fishing. The hotel has a seafood restaurant, the Kisik Bar, at the base of the cliff right above the ocean. We saw it the night before and of course made reservations for our Saturday night dinner.

I cannot easily express here what this place was like – you have to experience it. The view above of the sunset is literally taken from our table without even getting up! When you are ready to order, you walk up to 2 counters and select your fish. The lobsters and crab are hanging out in large bowls in case you want to play catch-my-finger. There are about 3-4 different fresh fish (whole fish) and a lot of choices for prawns, oysters, etc.

The food was fantastic and very fresh. Six oysters was 180,000 rupiah (roughly $18 US) and, according to YAW, delicious. Me, I have had oysters once and only once. Done. We went through oysters, giant skewer (swordfish, shrimp, squid), jumbo prawns, and red snapper. Since alcohol is cheaper here than in Singapore, we added in an Australian bottle of sparkling Shiraz from Naked Range (990,000). This seemed to be a relatively new idea, a sparkling Shiraz, and it was excellent! The dinner was finished off with an Indonesian pudding colored green and with Java on top. It was fantastic.  The entire dinner was about $250 US and we think it would have been almost double had we had the same items at home (when I say home now, I no longer mean the U.S. I guess!).

The trick is to reserve an outside table and get there about 30 minutes before sunset. That way you have a drink in hand and your seafood is cooking while you just watch the sun drop over the horizon. When you see how fast that little red ball drops, it is amazing we aren’t spinning off the surface.

This by far ranks as one of the best dinners ever, if not the best! The combination of scenery, food, wait staff, my wife, scenery, my wife, all added up to make this one awesome dinner (and the parameters are not necessarily in the right order).  Maybe I should say it was the best outdoor dinner ever only because I really miss a bone-in filet from Mastro’s in Costa Mesa (or South Coast Metro as YAW likes to say).

I have to give recognition to our waiter Pande. He was attentive and funny. All of the staff were great. We even passed some the next day and they said hello to us by name! As we left the restaurant, we booked the same table for Sunday night too. “Yes, of course Mr. Watson!” Ah nice… (usually they always said Ms. Watson since the reservation for the resort was in YAW’s name).

After a walk around the resort to help aid in the digestion of so much seafood, we of course called it a night. That’s all you get for today! Ciao.

Bali – Day 1 at the Ayana Resort

Where to start? Yes, I will be splitting this information into 3 parts – pretty much one part for each day. There were some interesting things that cropped up occasionally and trying to piece all the fun information into one entry would be…well…too long even for me! And I like to type! This was our first getaway since moving to Singapore 2 months ago and it was sorely needed. Yes, we missed the Formula 1 night race which was the same weekend but what can you do?

Overall it was a fantastic, relaxing, great-weather (no humidity!) trip and we expect to stay at the resort again. The Ayana Resort and Spa is located on the cliffs above Jimbaran Bay in Bali (

This was a much-needed respite from the stress that is my wife’s work; her 11-12 hour days here in Singapore. It is all about her well being at this point since I, the “guy tai”, still don’t really work unless you consider I do the laundry. You would think laundry is not time consuming but our washer is the size of an ice cream maker and it takes several loads to get 2 days worth of clothes washed. I know…at least we have one

Let us begin. Day 1: I thought we weren’t going to make it. Our flight was at 12:15 PM and I hoped to try the MRT (subway), which meant out of the house by 10:15 AM. We left at 11:00 AM. Work never stops for YAW even on the mornings we are headed for a stress-free, relaxing time away from…work! When got in the taxi (too late for the MRT), the driver asked our flight time. He chuckled for a good 5 minutes after we told him it was in an hour and 15 minutes. See, sometimes the airport is a 30-minute drive and then there is immigration, getting through the terminals, and lots of security.  Every flight, yes every flight out of Changi Airport is international. Weird huh? Not much need for a commuter jet to go to the other side of the small city-state.

He got us there in 15 minutes.  We breezed through customs making it to the gate with a good 30 minutes to spare! Ah… this is going well now.

The flight left 30 minutes late. Nothing else exciting there. I had just picked up and began reading Return to a Sexy Island by Neil Humphreys. He is another “Ang Mo” (white-guy) but originally from the U.K.  He has lived in Singapore and Australia for a while and has written quite a few books about his life here. A friend here compared me to him so I thought I better check it out. It was a great read and I recommend it with a caveat. Now that we live here I can picture many of the things he talks about and it makes me laugh. “I’ve seen that too” I think. Not so sure it will be as understandable for the non-Singaporeans but it is very entertaining.

Landed in Bali. First stop is the $25 fee for the entry visa. Next was the one hour line to get through immigration because we did not want to pay the $100 “hurry up’ fee offered by the guys at the back of the line.

When we finally got through, a host from the resort was there to greet us (we found out later they can meet up to 45 people per day). The drive to the resort was a 45-minute trip in heavy traffic, over a few dirt one-lane roads, pass a lot of run-down buildings, and while avoiding the mass amounts of scooters and motorbikes zooming in and out of traffic. It is a sight to see when the dad is holding one child in his lap and the 2nd child is squeezed between the dad and the mom, her straddling the back of the scooter. I didn’t really know much about Bali and I was surprised at its large size and its poorness. It was like driving through Tijuana , Mexico.

The resort gate had one security guard, armed, checking in the car while the other guard had a bomb-sniffing dog walked around the car. Interesting. Another thing I did not expect! Going into the grounds, over 70 hectares, seemed a bit dry and tired but once we go to the main lobby, well then the awe inspiring beauty started.

Unfortunately my first experience with the resort at check in was a little frustrating but luckily it was my only real negative experience the entire stay. There were some issues about the included breakfast (they said it did not, I said it did) and for some reason no one could easily agree to let us stay one more day! We wanted to stay an extra day and had already changed our return flight. Before we left, we figured a 3-day trip was needed. I had sent an email to the resort, which had not been read, but this was the most challenging communication. We just wanted to checkout one day later. Could we? “We’ll check and get back to you”. Really? Don’t most hotels love it when a guest will stay an extra day?

When we checked back later after dinner, it had all been worked out. (Well except for when we were locked out of our room Sunday since the keys had been set for 2 days, not 3). Ahh. Now we can relax. Yes, I was worried we would wake up hungry and have to fight the whole breakfast thing again. It was included and now we could eat. That is part 2.

The room was very ice with a partial ocean view and overlooking the main central area of the hotel.  But as the hotel bellboy walked us into the room, I wasn’t sure to tip him. We did not research this before we left! There is no tipping in Singapore but what about Bali? Still not sure but we do know they also include the 10% service charge in every food bill so maybe it is similar.

We ate dinner that night at the hotel’s Italian restaurant. All the eateries are outside in large covered pagodas and the weather and scenery was wonderful. The food a little saucy but overall very good for an Italian place on Bali!.The bill was only 1,228,150. Not bad. Ha, you do the math! I can tell you the food and drink prices are much better than in Singapore. I could go on but this is enough for the first day. See you in Part 2.

Citibank Singapore – Don’t bother, bank elsewhere: Part 3

For those who have been following my recent rants about Citibank, I am not done yet. Let’s recap shall we? Let’s show the fine timeline that is Citibank Singapore.

First off – when we opened the UOB account, once we had our employment passes, it was <60 minutes from seat to ATM card with our names printed. We could get cash that same day! This is important - that same day I could go pull cash to verify the ATM card worked and begin using it to pay our bills. Citibank however, is not easy and I now wish I had never bothered. All this just to make it easier to transfer funds between here and the Citibank account we have in the US without fees or wire transfer costs. Actually, the Citibank account in the US took only 30 minutes but some of the crap is the same no ATM card for 2 weeks. Today is Wednesday, Sept. 19th. On Saturday Sept. 1st, we opened a Citibank account at a local branch near the City Hall MRT station. The entire process was at a desk without a PC. It was all paper. I should have realized then we were going to be stuck in a mess. Read my Sept. 2nd rant for the whole story but when we left, we were told we would have our ATM cards and Credit Cards within two weeks. Last week, literally almost two weeks later, I had to go back to re-sign a US W-9 form. Still no ATM card or credit cards. But we did get a checkbook the week before...that was promising. Yesterday, Sept 18th (18 days later), the ATM cards and credit cards came in the mail. I tried to finally access the website but didn't know the PIN! I thought maybe we entered it when we opened the account but that couldn't be right since the whole process had been paper. Hmmm. I tried the ones I know I use and then had to call Citibank on the phone because nothing worked. I was locked out. I was told the PIN comes in a separate mailer usually 2 days after the ATM card. I did not see any note about that in my ATM card mailer or I would have waited! Good job Citibank. But because I had already tried 3 times, I locked my account and they would have to mail me a brand new PIN (2-3 days) or I could go to the branch nearby for an immediate reset. Cool, I could at least do that. After all, we deposited a lump sum check in the account after opening that was a reimbursement for some of the things we had to buy when we moved here 2 months ago. It was not a small check. Today, before I could get to the local branch, YAW called me and said the other branch, where we opened the account, called to say her US W-9 form was incorrect. It had her married name, which is what we use for our taxes, but it needs her passport name which was used to open the account; her maiden name. Well, I'll pick up a blank form when I go for my PIN today. Easy! I go to the nearest Citibank. I get the PIN reset (after I fill out and sign a paper form). I go to the ATM and I can see my balance. I try to get cash. Nothing. I try again. Nothing. No cash. How can this be? I go back to the desk and they look at the account. Because of the problem with YAW's W-9 form, I can't fully access the account. I can't get any of our money. I can't get any cash. I can't write a check. I can't perform a transfer. Did I mention we deposited a lump sum that has been sitting there for almost 2 weeks that I can't touch! Are you kidding me (profanity removed)? After I finished a short rant on the poor customer service rep about the fact the W-9 form has to have YAW's married name, since that is how we file taxes, and them asking us to put her passport name is fraud (not really since SSN is on the form too), I calmed down, got the form and left. YAW signed two versions (just in case the name we think they want is wrong) and I will stop by the bank on Thursday. It will take another 1-2 days before we can access the funds. IF by Monday I can’t go to an ATM and get some cash, I may walk in and close the entire account. Actually, since YAW can’t go with me to turn in the form, if they give me crap tomorrow I may close the account right away and make them give me a check which I will immediately deposit in UOB. We can get our money there.

Unless there is a very valid reason to get an account with Citibank here, don’t bother. The paper process is antiquated and waiting 2 weeks to get any of your own money, if your lucky, is ridiculous when other Singapore banks can allow that immediately. Remember you need your employment pass and take your passport.

Other than that, another week is almost over so who knows how this will end up. I will of course add a part 4 later. Plus, I have a lot of food posts I better get caught up on. This weekend is the Formula 1 race series here and you can see some of the race course from our apartment. However, YAW needs a break and its time to hide-out. I’ll explain that adventure next week.


Started a company, woken up by a stereo, and still more bank forms – end of Week 9

It has now been officially 2 months we have lived here in Singapore.  Just as we get used to it, something else seems to crop up. Sometimes its good or sometimes it is the new neighbor upstairs who finally connects their stereo at 2 AM Thursday morning and blasts it for the entire building to hear. Its finding out that the construction between floors is not what you thought it would be when you can hear high-heels clicking around (Who wears shoes in the house? Really? This is Asia! Must be some foreigners.)  Considering our apartment is for sale, meaning I have to give a tour to some agent and his client once a week, you’d think for $4.2 million it would be a little better constructed! So how do we deal with it?

Well one option of course is to go upstairs and knock. Not something I usually do the 1st time it happens but we did call the 24-hour security and ask them to check it out. Not sure it helped. The second is luckily we have a nice guest room in a different part of the apartment. Pick up the pillows and let’s go! Any other ideas? I was thinking of going up in my running clothes at 6 AM each day yelling, “Steve, let’s go!”. No, there is no Steve there.  I would say since I took the stairs, I must have missed the correct floor, sorry.

Did I tell you my banking story at Citibank? Yes, I think I did. This week, the same branch called where we opened the account because I had to sign or resign a form! More signatures? It’s been 2 weeks and I still don’t even have the ATM card for this account! I do have a checkbook though. That they can mail quickly it seems. Checkbooks are funny here – it is literally 50% bigger than a standard Passport if you hold it sideways. I guess there are more trees nearby. I was called in to re-sign the US W-9 form. After going through all the signatures for the other forms, the guy finally realized I did not sign that one the same therefore…

Don’t bank at Citibank unless you have to! That would be my story. UOB was much easier and gave us everything we needed, including ATM cards with our names on it, on the spot.

Well there is always a ray of sunshine! Since there is an American from Kentucky here this week, the next 5 actually, working with my wife, tonight is all you can eat Brazilian. I think the meat is from Australia but who am I to pass that one up.

Also, it looks like I am getting a job. Granted I’ll be a contractor but it is for a former employer looking to expand their presence and partners here (the groups who actually sale and implement the product on the ground). I still get to so some project management but now mix it in with partner management and pre-sales/sales assistance. I am excited and I hope it comes to fruition.

Because the company does not have a local office, I will be a contractor which also means I have to go through some hoops with the Singapore government to be able to work. Luckily, there is a great online forum for Singapore expats that explains the steps based on who it has worked for in the past and what they did to get approval. (

It is a little different here when you are on a Dependent Pass.  I won’t bore you with all the details but I will say…

I now am my own company! Welcome to PERC Technology Consulting!! Yes, of course I’ll have a different website for that soon. Since only two people will understand what PERC is, I’ll give you a little explanation.

My dad was a percussionist and worked in the studios in LA for movie music, think the drums in Jaws, as well as a number of orchestras around LA, including the Hollywood Bowl. He had his own company, to hire himself out, and it was called Perc. Might have actually been Perc One now that I write this. Therefore, when I was trying to think of a cool name for my company, I picked that one! Had to add the ‘technology consulting’ so at least someone would know what I do. Now I have to develop a logo and I can tell you Timpani will be involved.

Well it is Saturday morning here and time to go to the gym.  YAW has had a busy week and we need to make room for tonight’s dinner! And there is one more trip required to Ikea for a bed frame. Overall we are now pretty settled in. We have a few restaurants we go to often when we want spicy Thai or German sausages but we are still looking for a good Mexican place!

Enjoy your weekend. Next weekend will be our first out of town trip. I’ll tell you that one when it happens! Ciao.

Who gets a cold when the weather is 88 every…single…day…all year?

Hello friends and countrymen, lend me your ears! It is Saturday morning and the end of week 8 here in beautiful downtown Singapore. It is also hopefully my last day of the lingering cold/flu – not sure which. But I figure when Monday and Tuesday the fever was close to 100 or 101 actually by Tuesday night, I officially get to stay home. Easy to do because I don’t have to take any sick time! Ha! Yet boring too because it impacts my ability to get out and explore. I already know what our apartment looks like. Now I really know. Today it lingers a little – that stupid sinus crap, but all in all a much better, sunny day.

This afternoon is a huge kite festival in our area. I’ll have to get some pictures to explain that one better.

Have I talked about TV here yet? Maybe that will be my topic for today. First of all, I really enjoy catching up with John Stewart and Stephen Colbert on the web. We don’t get many channels here and I am happy I can get my factual, non-biased, doesn’t make me laugh,  reporting from those two. Plus, who has time to sit in front of the TV and watch these conventions every morning? Nightime for you, morning for me. Just a lot of speeches, some with actual numbers and some with stuff about leading something.

As far as TV, we get an edited version of HBO, some Fox and Universal channels, BBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox news, yada yada yada. The one nice thing is no advertising on many of these channels. Sure, there are commercials but they are for other shows on the same channel. This means most shows are 50 minutes in length. That means they have annoying start times such as 10:00, 10:50, 11:40, etc. What is cool is all the Fox shows and movies are on one channel. And one channel is dedicated to crime shows!

What is not cool is some of the series are one year behind. Also, every show is subtitled in Mandarin. No option to turn this on of off (and no, not the news channels). I think is distracts YAW because often she reads the text and is not listening to the dialogue. What is funny is sometimes they will block out a word, bleep it, in a show but the text will show it! At least that is what I have been told.

As far as the timing of the series, even though many are behind, at least this is not true for True Blood but is true for most sitcoms. Oh, and we think we can get Strikeback if we add Cinemax. However, the movies and shows are somewhat edited for Singapore. This means we know some scenes we remember from seeing the movie before are now missing! Amazingly enough though, the TV part of the cable is pretty cheap. Maybe because we have only about 40  channels and of those, 10-12 are the same channel in HD. The Internet service is where we pay the money – the $80 per month – but it is 100 megs which is nice and fast and handy for The Daily Show.

There are some other funny things such as how the online guide works here or the DVR’s ability to easily record. Coming from DirectTV-land, the technology here seems so primitive! Overall it works and the previous tenant left behind his 40″ flat screen which meant one less thing to buy.

Well it is almost time to venture out, find food because we absolutely have come to the realization we are too lazy to cook at home, ever, get an Apple TV (I want movies!), YAW to get her nails done, etc.

Tonight we are going to a coworker’s home to have dinner with a few other of YAW’s coworkers. I think I am actually the only spouse invited. That of course means there will be multiple conversations about work, their work, therefore I will play World Welder.

Banking in Singapore: Why do I want paper?

Ugh. I think that sums up my two recent experiences opening bank accounts here in Singapore. It is so strange how some parts of the process are high-tech yet others are so far behind the times it makes me squirm and even lose it! (Almost).

Two weeks into our stay here (and we just ended Week 7), we opened an account at the #3 bank United Overseas Bank. Actually easy enough because we only had to sign 3 to 4 forms, maybe one or two times, and some of the application was on the computer as the lady got our information. We had to wait several weeks until we could get an account because they won’t allow it without our government employment passes. Well, actually mine is a dependent pass but still. That actually brings up something funny. As we sat there and added my name to the account, the lady asked me what I did for work. I said unemployed. Her face said it all – “Unemployed”? Singapore has less than a 4% unemployment rate and I was a MALE expat. She paused and you could tell she did not know what to write on the form. Then YAW reminded me I still teach online for UCI and therefore I am technically not unemployed and can be called a Professor! Day saved.

But the second time the lady was at a loss was when I said I did not need my own online logon and password for the account. I could just use my wife’s, I said. I think she thought I was crazy. I let me wife do the finances? Hello, I don’t work here! lol. Actually YAW is so busy I do the finances anyway! We were in and out within an hour and even got ATM cards with our names on them immediately at the bank. A week later, we go the small token device that we need to do the banking online other than just an inquiry. That is very cool and that is the high-tech piece. The fact we get a paper monthly statement, and there is no other option, well that is the funny low-tech piece. Paper? In this decade? Really?

But yesterday, well that was the kicker! My most frustrated banking experience ever.

Because we may need to move money back and forth to pay our US credit cards (which we use here because some banks won’t give an American working here temporarily a credit card – something to do with US tax laws), we went to Citibank to open a 2nd account. Citibank allows the transfer of funds between US Citibank and Singapore Citibank with no fees, therefore I had opened one in the US before we left knowing this would come up.

At the small Citibank branch, we sat down with our customer service guy at a small table with no computer. We filled out a 4-page form by hand with all of our information, even our US addresses and phone numbers, and we also filled out a US tax form. This took about 30 minutes. At the end, the guy says to YAW, please sign in these 4 boxes and your signature has to match across all four. Easy enough. Except for the new, added pressure of signature matching. We sign our name somewhere everyday. Well, it turns out we (maybe just her and I), don’t actually sign the same way each time.

They, Citibank SG, take the signature match very seriously. If we need to change our address or phone# in the future, we have to go to the branch, show our photo IDs, and still sign the exact same way we do on that form! To even open the account, we have to ensure all four signatures are the exact same (4 for her, 2 for me). Well guess what, she does not sign her name the exact same each time. There is a small mark, like crossing a t (and yes, there is no ‘t’ in her name), that shifted as she signed and therefore the first form was not accepted. She also doesn’t do this the 2nd time with a new blank form that the guy will fill in the rest of the information, manually, later if the 4 signatures were to match. It doesn’t work the 3rd time. It does not work the 4th time – again wasting a new 4-page form each time.

I am frustrated enough that I say “who cares if they don’t match?” We’ll just never change our phone# or move until we go home. And if they won’t accept that, I’ll drain the account through the ATM so that there is no money anyway! That is when he says they won’t even open the account if the signatures don’t match. Now I am figuring the wire transfer fees we’ll have to pay with no Citibank account but it is not worth YAW’s stress, nor mine, for this stupid paper form!

Well, then we say what if I am the primary? I figure I can do pretty well with matching my 4 signatures!! Eventually, after 2 more forms, I get it close enough to pass inspection. And guess what? One of the signatures is for the credit card application. I guess Citibank doesn’t have the same rules as UOB around credit cards therefore we hope we may get a local card. We actually can use our no-fee US cards just fine but there are certain things here you can not pay for, related to utilities, with a US-based card. All in all, it took just over an hour to open our account. Or I should say to get our signatures right because the account still won’t even be created until Monday – one of the drawbacks to using a Saturday branch.

We should see our Citibank ATM card within about 10 days. Not immediate with this bank! Like UOB, there are no fees for the account providing you maintain a minimum balance at all times. UOB wants $500 and Citibank wants $2,000. Otherwise, Citibank charges $10/month. This happens to be the same as the US if you don’t use direct deposit but here they just need the minimum. Why doesn’t the US do that actually instead of making me change or split a direct deposit of payroll anytime I might want to try a different bank?

It was much easier, and cheaper, to open the UOB account and if we did not want to move money for certain bills and savings, I would have walked out of Citibank after the third failed signature attempt. At least we’ll get our monthly statement electronically…



Start of Week 7: My Discourse

I realize it has been several weeks since my last update if you don’t count the food and drink section! It’s funny how time flies, even when I’m not working, as I continue to explore the city during the day and while my wife and I find new places to eat and tour in the evenings. There is still a lot of ground that we have not covered. Amazingly we have yet to do any of the “tourist” things such as the riverboat tour, the giant Ferris wheel, or the amusement park island which has its own Universal Studios.

I figure I’ll cover some of the fun highlights that have happened in the last few weeks as we continue to experience the people and culture that is Singapore. Like most foreign countries with a number of US citizens, there is an American Association here. We joined it partly because it has frequent seminars on finding jobs in Singapore, which is useful for me, and other topics such as the health care system. I’m actually attending the healthcare system seminar tomorrow night which is being led by a doctor from UCLA. Speaking of finding people who are pretty much from our hometown, over a week ago we attended a pub crawl with the American Association which started in the nearby Boat Quay area. There were probably about 50 people of different age ranges.

One of the interesting things we notice, and this is neither good nor bad it just is, you have to remember that my wife was born in China, moved to the US when she was 10, and then lived in the West LA/West Hollywood area up until college when she then moved down to Irvine. We think that living in Singapore with a large Chinese population most people see her first as Chinese and not American. Where this gets interesting is when we meet new people, they may not think that she is from the United States and we can’t tell if this is why it seems some people don’t approach her and begin a conversation. I won’t get into a long discourse about this but where it’s funny as when she opens her mouth, you know she is American! From then on, we have great conversations.

One example of this, and the small world stories, was during the pub crawl.  At the second location we sat down at a table with three blondes and one brunette (sorry! I just classify them that way) whose husbands were in the bar getting their drinks. As I began to talk to one side of the table, YAW began a conversation with one of the wives on the other side of the table. The next thing I know, I find out the wife also worked at Hoag Hospital for a number of years as a nurse however this was a few years before I worked there. Needless to say, of all the people we would meet in Singapore meeting one who grew up in Lake Forest and worked in Newport Beach was not something we expected!  From that point on we had a lot of conversations that evening with this group and found out there are number of things in common. It was much more fun that we initially had expected. Many have not been here much longer than us! The one thing not in common is one of the first questions often asked of the man (me!!) which is “what do you do for work?” As soon as I say “nothing”, I’ll see a few confused looks, then they look at my wife, then they look back at me and say “man I wish I had your life!”

Then the question is what is my life? I continue to look for jobs and have two possibilities, one with an old employer and the second with a healthcare software company that I have experience with while working at Hoag. Both of these are still a few weeks out but they are at least promising. Otherwise my typical day is somewhat that of a house husband.  I make my wife fresh juice in the morning and walk her to work on Mondays. The other days she takes a taxi to a different building which pretty much means I say goodbye at the door. During the day I have time to swim, go to the gym (which has its little rock climbing wall), find restaurants close to us for good, inexpensive food, cleanup a bit of course, send e-mails, etc. etc. We’ve cooked once since we have been here and realized it’s too much work! It is actually easier and cheaper to go out. Now if we could just find a good Mexican place! We found good steakhouse (see Food & Drink).

I’m debating taking the subway system and going to a different station every day just to say that I’ve done it. But like many cities, when you get to a certain point outside the main city core, each subway stop tends to repeat itself meaning there is a mall and food. Therefore we realize it’s time to venture forth into the world that is Southeast Asia and begin picking trips to nearby countries to see what we can see.

While I am on my little rant the only other funny story recently was taking the subway system and getting on the train that I knew was going the right direction but at the next stop the overhead and the computerized map showed I went the wrong way! I got off at the stop but as I looked around the station I realized I was going the right way, the train messaging and computer were backwards. I looked around and saw other people had confused looks on their faces. When the next train came by going the right direction, we all got back on and eventually made it to the correct destination. Lesson learned is pay attention to the subway station names which are easy to see as you pull into them; just in case you think you’re going the right way and the train mistakenly tells you you’re not!

All in all this is an easy place to live. It’s easy to get around and you pretty much can trip over restaurants every 10 feet. Or maybe make that 3 meters. This week is the first week that some major thunderstorms have come in each afternoon. These are actually nice, when you’re inside, because they cool down the air and make for some interesting viewing as you watch the sheets of water go by the windows. We’ve now begun week 7  here and I’m sure there’ll be some more interesting stories coming up! Or I’ll just rant some more!

The Rotisserie @ MBFC Tower 3

(Update 20/11/12) – I knew the price had changed and here it is in my blog! The price for the family meal is now $28.00. It increased by $3 in the last few weeks. I know because we now buy this meal 2x per week. Since I work at home, it gives me some healthy leftovers (related of course to our Gym posting for Pure Fitness). In LA at the large member-only warehouse club, the chickens were $7 for a whole chicken! Yet, this is still a good deal and I recommend it if you need something to take home after a long day at work.

Update (31/10/12) – I notice this blog entry comes up in quite a few searches. If you like large portions, this is the place! We have gone 5 times now, with 2 of those times being a pick-up of the S$25.00 whole-chicken meal. My only complaint on the family meal is the seemingly small portions of the side dishes. Instead of 3 salads and 3 vegetables, I now get 2 and 2. yet that still is just enough for us to split during the first sit down! At least I still get leftover chicken for lunch. When you eat there, however, the portions are big! It is very much American-sized portions which means you should be careful not to get American-sized bellies.

We have yet to try their sandwiches. I guess I should! Are they any good?

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The Rotisserie is a fairly new restaurant on the 2nd floor of tower 2 at the Marina Bay Financial Centre. They serve up 1/4 or 1/2 roasted chicken with a choice of 2 cooked veggies or 2 salads. A 1/4 with 2 sides is S$11. There are also paninis.

The chicken was good, just slightly dry which might be why they offer a large ladle of gravy! (I passed). There is a nice selection for the side salads. Mine is potato, bacon, and egg for one and quinoa red rice and lentil with spicy cauliflower for the other. I should add this is one of the biggest serving sizes i have had since coming here. Environment is nice, clean, and open.

For S$25 you can get a family pack with a whole chicken, salad combo, and mixed vegetables.

Update: (Sept 5, 2012) – recently we bought the $25 deal to have some food for the week (for me at home!) and it was very good. The chicken was perfect. I wish the sides had been bigger portions. When they say salad or mixed vegetable combo, this means 3 different single-serving sized salad choices (in one big cup) and 3 of vegetable. Looking back, I should have stuck with one vegetable (mashed potatoes!) and 1 salad.

There is also a illy coffee stand inside. Because this is the heart of the three tower complex, it can get packed during the week for lunch which id typically close to noon. Open 7a to 10p M-Sa



1st Sushi – Ministry of Food

Sushi and a large variety of Japanese food! This was actually from the prior weekend but sometimes, these gadgets just don’t work as well as you would like! This was good sushi at a reasonable price. Near Bugis MRT station.


Asia Square Food Court

Typical meal for about S$ 9.00 when picking a food court in one of the high rise office buildings. In this case, Asia Square which seems to be the HQ for Citibank here. BBQ pork combo with rice.