Sunday, September 30, 2007

Colonial Singapore

Today, I went to the colonial district of Singapore. Can you tell whether these pictures were taken in Asia?

Fruit of the Week

Vietnamese Dragonfruit. I like Vietnamese Dragons.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Signs of Singapore

More handy instructions. I'm ok, you're ok, together Singapore's ok.
All three of the signs below were found in the same bar washroom. I tried not to lose my joy to crime.
And when search of Engrish, turn to trusty Japanese products like my new hairspray. Can you think of other potential uses?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Holland Village

I live near Holland Village, which is neighbourhood of shops, restaurants, and my local grocery store (though this week I had groceries delivered). In response to the "show us more local pictures" request, here is Holland Village by night.
Above is the toy store, below is the sub-freezing eski-bar.Adjacent Mexican restaurantsHolland Village's hawker center

French Literature in Singapore

When I lived in Paris in grade eight, my school did a play based on a work by Georges Perec, wherein he observed the seemingly mundane events of Place Saint-Sulpice. My international friends and I, our little teenage hearts broken by our impending separation, spent hours filling each others' yearbooks with Perec-ien observations about our lives. It is this which inspired Airport tales, archived below.

Realizing that no literature has inspired me more, I've tried to find this book, but failed. I did not know the title.

Here I am 16 years later, making new international friends at an international school. And, as if from a dream, here is Georges Perec: Tentative D'Épuisement d'un Lieu Parisien. It is not a book, but was published in a journal in 1975.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Aiming to please

Singapore offers directives, instructions, and order. Here is a sign commonly found in washrooms that contains information which might be helpful to you.
Here's the zoom-in. I've known people in need of additional toilet training.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Laura in Thailand

Friday, September 14, 2007. After two full weeks of classes, we needed a break. Here is how our weekend in Railei Beach, Krabi, Thailand began.
2:30pm: Fly to Phuket, Thailand. 32 MBA students, of which 8 are Canadian.
4:30pm: Leave Phuket by vans towards Krabi, Thailand. Our van has a blue neon light, which flashes in time to the Thai dance music blaring out of the dual 12" subwoofers. Bus ride supposed to take two hours.
7:30pm: Bus gets lost in Krabi.
8:00pm. Dropped off at a stall, charged money for a boat ride, though no boats are in sight. Follow man in rain jacket through the dark. Sounds of bullfrogs and Thai chanting. Faint smell of gasoline and sewage.
8:15pm. Get onto small boats, crashing through waves.
8:20pm. MBA students and all their possessions are soaked in many different languages. Attempt to open eyes to see amazing islands emerging over the water in the pouring rain.
8:35. Thai boatman tells us to get out of boat and walk to shore through thigh-deep water. Confusion ensues.
8:40. Arrive in destination, where food and joy are served.
9:35. 15 other students, travelling on a much later flight, arrive and are impossibly dry. We pretend not to know them.
9:36. Amazing weekend in Thai paradise begins. Click for more pictures.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Singaporean Tourism

I'm getting some flack for not posting pictures of Singapore. While I like to please the readership, I've been busy with things other than touring, and have months in which to see the city. However, last weekend my buddy Dan and his crew came to visit and we did the Singapore Zoo's Night Safari. It is dark, flash photography's not allowed, so here is the best dark shot I got of the reservoir.
And this is the Raffles Hotel, which I only happened to see since I was in the rooftop bar across the street.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ode to my Maid

Her name is J.N. or J.U. She comes to my house twice a week, but I have never seen her. I am not sure if she can read, as she seems to check random boxes in the cleaning report. She is short, and has long black hair which occasionally falls out. She cleans my dishes, even though it's not on her job list, leaving me to do them but weekly. I will not clean a toilet for 10 months, I do not own cleaning supplies. She is part of my rent, since as an Ang Mo I do not know how to fend against the mould, mildew and monsters that can grow.

When I first got here, I left my jewelry in a tangled pile on my dresser. Here is what J. did with that:

Your Questions Answered

This entry is less entertaining, but here are some topics that people keep asking about.

Are you making friends? What is your class like?
Well, of course. My class has students from something like 75 different countries, with 450 students spanning French and Singaporean campuses. Canada is the fourth most represented nation, with approximately 10 Canadian students in my class here. My fantastic study group, with which I do numerous group projects, is a fun team consisting of a Korean, Russian, Indian and Belgian. My responsibility in the group, as the token native anglophone, is to teach them slang, and to edit our assignments' grammar.

How is the weather?
Canadians ask me more about the weather than we talk about it here. It went down to 23 last night, and this was remarkably cold. It is consistently hot and humid, sometimes hot and rainy. This does not often bother me, as my four apartment air conditioners are effective.

How are your classes?
Well, fifty thousand euros gets you good teachers, in general, and my courses are interesting. That whole reading and homework thing really cuts into my leisure time, however.
How is your apartment?
It is lovely and very comfortable. It has Balinese furniture. It has three corkscrews. Please see next entry.

What do you miss most?
Well, I've only been here for 3 weeks, but of course I miss my friends. I miss having drinks and in-depth discussions, I miss sushi, I miss discussions in cubicles, and I miss my car (oh oups, that one's material).

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Gastronomical Errata

Today, my study group is coming over for dinner and to work on a project. For the occasion, I bought oven-ready pizzas at the grocery store. Upon returning home, I realized that I have no oven! Since the rice maker is not large enough for baking, I will have to get delivery.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Singaporean Gastronomy

At my former work's Sodexho food court, several options, including dry sandwiches, boiled hamburgers, and the unidentifiable stuff that Frank eats, are served for $7 CDN. At Insead's Sodexho food court, there is an Indian food counter, a Singaporean counter, a guest chef (this week Japanese, last week Thai), Western options to address cheese cravings, and a sandwich counter. Lunch is under $4 CDN.

Given its multicultural nature, Singapore's cuisine is a mix of Chinese, Malaysian and Indian. Very yummy Singaporean specialties include fish head curry and chili crab.
I eat lots of dumplings, steamed with veggies in my rice maker. There is microwave laksa here that is nearly as good as Abba's. I have also discovered a true love for passion fruit, which I identified on the Internet on my second attempt.
Western cravings
While I sometime dream of cheese (please send me a Works burger!), the grocery store offers me all things western. Except cream for my coffee! Coffee makers are a rarity here, so I use my bodum (thanks Heather!). Here are some things I'm using as cream substitutes. Clearly a literacy problem led me to choose the low-fat one.
Finally, unlike many drink options, this falls into the non-yummy Singaporean gastronomy category. Slogan: "Whatever: Any taste for any thirst."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ornithological Errata

Jason, newlywed and bird classification expert, has pointed out a disturbing error in the post below. I incorrectly assessed pelicans as non-threats, when in fact my test bird is likely some sort of faded flamingo (severe lack of pink). As such, I'm now classifying all large aquatic birds, along with gels and liquids, as potential threats, pending further data. I humbly apologize to my readers and hope that I have not misrepresented the dangers of living in Singapore.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Vermin in Singapore

On Saturday, I found a big snail in my kitchen, marking my first exposure to the mollusk family of vermin. My second vermin encounter was this little lizard in my apartment: Sometimes, it would make sense to open my windows at night. There are, however, no screens, just bars. I'm afraid of vermin like, say, a fruit bat, flying in and attacking me in my sleep. Luckily, many stuffed animals came with my apartment, so I performed an experiment to see how safe the windows were against vermin. Here are the results.

Possible Vermin: Brio's Italian bears, cheesy love bears, Balinese Buddhas,
scary Asian boys with hats, pug dogs, wild sheep, and sad blowfish.

Non-threats: Rocking horses, pelicans, creepy kitties.

Based on this, I've decided it's simply to dangerous to open my windows except briefly. I am unprepared to deal with this kind of vermin threat. Imagine the Cheesy Love Bear / Wild Sheep combination at night, for example.

My first MBA case study

For those of you who don't know him, the real Peter Green is featured in several of the MC pictures below.