Posts Tagged With: Indian

We Sail Tonight For Singapore

Not so long ago, Sean and I were student teaching in Madison, Wisconsin. When it came time to start the job search, we applied to the Singaporean public school system. Trust me, it felt as surreal as it sounds.  This was before we knew about overseas recruitment fairs. A professor of Sean’s recommended we apply to Singapore, and that she’d put in a good word for us. (As she “knew people” in Singapore.)

We sent our paperwork off and waited a few days. To our surprise, we received an email telling us to go to the Town Bank building on the capitol square at 10:30 at night. There, we would buzz the entrance to the complex, be led to an empty conference room on the seventh floor in the pitch dark, and conduct a video interview with the Singapore school board. We did all this, and were offered a position within the week.

Why am I telling you this? Because we visited Singapore this past month for the first time, and I couldn’t help but think about how our lives would have been different had we accepted the job.

Not only that, but my student teaching supervisor kept singing the Tom Waits song, “We sail tonight for Singapore” as we contemplated accepting the job or not.

Needless to say, there was something that didn’t feel quite right, and we politely declined the offer.

After tasting Singapore’s food and walking there streets, maybe I would have said differently all those years ago…

 

IMG_1719We were there for a conference, and settled into a nearby hawker center for a drink and an Indian meal. Tiger beer is the iconic beverage of Singapore, and due to its international nature, Indian food can be found on every menu.

 

IMG_1722A hawker center is a bit like an open-air food court. People order an iced tea, a meal, or just a snack and rest for a while on the plastic chairs.

IMG_1728As Asian as the hawker center felt, there was so much that was British and colonial about the country.  Such as the absurd pictures for bathrooms in the hotel.

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IMG_1736A morning photo down the street as we walked to the subway. Yes, Singapore is as clean as it’s rumored to be. Also, everything is in English, and the cars are impeccably clean and modern. I think it must be a literalcrime to own an old car in Singapore.

 

IMG_1743The famous “No durians” subway sign! You actually cannot take a durian on the subway. The poor, ostracized fruit. I feel bad for the durian; it is the object of everyone’s contempt despite its luscious meaty interior and pungent, unique aroma.

But seriously. The smell of a durian is like boiling a pot of gym socks, onions, vomit, and sangria. Anthony Bourdain described it as “Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” And he loves durian.

Me? I’ve only ever had durian ice cream. And I liked it. A lot. Honest! It was that type of flavor where the initial taste is slightly repulsive, but the mouthfeel and lingering aftereffect is mouthwateringly curious. You aren’t quite sure whether you like it or not, but you can’t stop eating. I once read an article about a couple who moved to Southeast Asia because they became obsessed with the taste of durian. (You can read more here.) Animals can detect the smell half a mile away.

No wonder it’s forbidden on public transportation.

IMG_1751Another Singaporean classic: The Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

IMG_1788We settled into a restaurant across the water from the hotel and watched the evening light and sound show. All of Singapore felt a little like Disneyland.

IMG_1794After our final day of the conference, we had an evening to explore. As our hotel was in the shopping district, we decided to take it easy and see what the surrounding streets had to offer. It was a bit like being downtown Chicago.

IMG_18077-Eleven is another Southeast Asian ubiquity. We don’t have them yet in Cambodia, but their presence everywhere else is simply astounding.

IMG_1811When it was time for dinner, we went to a food court. That’s right, a food court. Why, you ask? So we could order the following:

Kim’s Meal: Barley tea and nasi lemak (The national dish consisting of coconut rice, fried fish and chicken, and spicy sauce.)

Sean: Pink juice and pepperoni pizza

Like I said, Singapore has something for everybody.
IMG_1824To end our multicultural evening, we stumbled across an outdoor art exhibit. Just when you think you can’t get any more “Wow, I’m really in Asia,” you see a giant glittering dragon. I love it.

 

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74 Days…

Anything short of 100 doesn’t seem like much these days. Less than $100, not a lot of money. Less than 100 pennies, not worth a paper bill. Less than 100 friends on Facebook, less than 100 hours of work, less than 100 vitamins you take in a year, all of these numbers amount to nothing too impressive. When I counted the days left on the calendar and saw that we had less than 100 days left in Kuwait, I was shocked. As of today, we’ve got 74 days left in the country. On June 10, we board a plane to the beautiful Midwest, never to return to Kuwait again (most likely). 74 days is not very many!

I decided to start a bucket list for my final months in Kuwait… I haven’t given it TOO much thought, so if you think of something that is a “must do” before leave, post it below!

1. Go bowling
2. Visit Entertainment City
3. See “Fires of Kuwait” at the Science Center
4. Buy a day pass at a fancy hotel to lounge on the beach
5. Find the Sri Lankan restaurant in Kuwait City that our neighbor’s maid raves about
6. Visit Fahaheel one more time
7. Visit the House of Mirrors
8. Visit Muttla Ridge one last time
9. Sail in the Gulf

I’ve only got 9 things, so it shouldn’t be too hard to cross them all off within the next 74 days. I’ll keep you posted!

Today’s blog focuses, again, on the little things in Kuwait. It is the end of March, and we have our spring break in early April. Until then, I plan on eating out, taking walks, and soaking up the scenery in my neighborhood. Let’s get started…

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Interesting motivational posters at my favorite Indian restaurant…

IMG_4499What they lack in ambiance, they make up for in delicious, DELICIOUS Indian food. Check them out here.

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This exploration all happened one weekend that I went out with my friends Abby and Wyn. After we visited Banana Leaf (the Indian restaurant), we found an interesting snack shop, full of the most delicious home made snacks, both salty and sweet. It is right next to Banana Leaf, and is called Fakhri Sweet Shop, in Salmiya.

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We thoroughly enjoyed walking around the neighborhood. (Check out the interesting mosque and the gigantic tree!)

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I think what I will miss the most about the cuisine in Kuwait is how easy it is to be a vegetarian here. Not to mention the idea of “snacks for dinner”. We had a gift certificate to a Lebanese restaurant called Al Berdawny, so Sean and I went there for lunch a week weeks ago. Look at this amazing spread! There was hummus, baba ganouj, salad, picked vegetables, sambosas, flatbread, and, of course, Sean had some chicken and french fries. What a feast it was! I would certainly return to Al Berdawny. Rumor is they’ve got a delicious breakfast/lunch buffet, too.

IMG_4509After our lunch at Al Berdawny, we decided we had better walk off all those calories. We strolled along the beach from the Marina Mall area up to the Science Center.

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You can see the Kuwait Science Center in the background.

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I feel a little spoiled, but we have seen sooooo many traditional dhows (boats) in Kuwait, that they have lost some of the luster for me! Dubai, Doha, and Kuwait all have magnificent displays of their sailing history. It has been magical to learn about the transformation of these countries from a pearling/fishing culture to oil giants.

IMG_4520Chasing pigeons at the Science Center.

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Even though it was a hazy day, we loved spending time along the Gulf.

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Sean posing in front of some strange alien statues in the Science Center.

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Dr. Who fans: Sean found the Tardus!

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We didn’t have time to visit the Imax, but looked at the prices anyway. I was surprised to see they had separate prices for nannies….

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Most of these pictures were taken around Liberation Week, which was the last week of February. Some people really go all out and decorate their cars! Check out this guy’s rig!

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Ahhhh, our favorite after-school snack. (Or meal!) The Iranian bread guy. There is  a small shop near our school that bakes fresh bread in kilns every afternoon. Each piece of bread costs something like 10 fil, which is the equivalent of 5 cents! We never fail to buy a bit too many pieces, then stuff ourselves with delicious, homemade bread. Sometimes I put toppings on them and make pizzas. Mmmmmm.


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I never post enough pictures of people in my blog, so I worked extra hard to snap a few shots at my friend Abby’s birthday party. We went to her favorite restaurant, a Korean place in our neighborhood. It is the BEST Korean food I have ever had!


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Me and my lovely English teachers/girlfriends. Amber (left) teaches grade 6 English and Humanties, and Sharon (right) is my partner in crime. Not only is she a dear friend, but we team teach grade 8 together. I don’t know what I would do without her.

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Sean had the camera with him one day that he was walking home from school, and snapped a picture of some boys playing soccer in our neighborhood. You have to be creative with your play-space in the desert!

Well, there you have it. A brief caption of our lives over the past month. I will try to post again before we head to spring break; the weather has been fantastic and I’ve had a lot of opportunities to get out and explore the city.

Stay well, and see you next time!

Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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