When I was living in Singapore, my wife and I would go jogging 3 times a week or more. Even though it was hot over there all the time, even at night, it was exhilarating. Besides being in good shape, every time we would run and hit our target, it gave us a sense of accomplishment. Participating in the first Run350 event on Pulau Ubin Island and finishing the 5k in 31 minutes, despite the god-awful big hills on the course, was amazing!
Something I probably didn’t think too much about at the time but realize more now is that jogging is also a great way to burn stress. Last semester was hell for me. I took on way too many classes and had way too many assignments due. I’m still sleeping almost 11 hours a day recovering from the lack of rest, especially over the last few weeks.
Despite the time crunch I was under, I still took time to jog. Why? Because it gave me an opportunity to stop thinking about due dates and complicated research questions for just an hour or two and gave me a sense of achievement and accomplishment when I met my running goal. Every successfully completed run was a pat on the back that motivated me to not only keep running, but to get back to my classwork as well.
The bonus on top of it all? It’s an opportunity for my wife and I to bond. She runs too and we almost always run together. This month is going to be a little different. She’s working full time and I’m busting my ass to get my master’s degree as soon as possible, so I’m taking summer classes. The summer class I have this month is at night so on Wednesdays we’ll have to run solo like I did yesterday. It wasn’t as much fun, because I enjoy the competitiveness of running with my wife. She’s almost as fast as I am, so she keeps me moving when I start to get lazy.
Once upon a time, before I actually visited a mostly Chinese ethnic country, I thought I knew what Chinese food was, and it looks like this:
Imagine my surprise to not find egg rolls over there. No one knew what an egg roll was, unless they’d been here. There’s something similar called lumpia, but it’s not quite the same.
Chinese food in the US has been thoroughly Americanized, to make it more appealing to the local palate. The Chinese food I ate in Singapore was a lot blander in most cases, with most of the flavor coming from dumping lots of chili sauce on everything. That or eating green chilies along with each bite of food. There’s also a lot of MSG used. (Just a note, I’m basing this on the common Chinese food found in food stalls that a person would eat at on a daily basis, not expensive restaurants.)
[Update: It was very rudely brought to my attention by some piece of shit Singaporeans that I accidentally uploaded the wrong photo from my folder. I’m quite aware that this is ramen, a Japanese dish, most likely from that Japanese food court in Tampines 1. I can’t remember its name.]
That’s not to say that the food there, the ‘real’ Chinese food, was bad. On the contrary, a lot of it was awesome, and thankfully I did read about a place in NYC where I can get chicken rice and pork rice. The pictures looked similar to the dishes I grew to love in Singapore. I’ll blog about it when I find it and try it out myself.
One other thing, the orange duck sauce that you can find at most Chinese restaurants in the US? Ya, that’s nowhere to be found in Singapore that I saw.
My aunt’s mother says that if you can’t find it at Walmart, you don’t need it, and you really could live by that. A Super Walmart has groceries, clothes, electronics, and even car parts and it’s all sold for low, low, sometimes ridiculously low prices. I remember when I was younger I didn’t like the idea of shopping at Walmart, but that was back before I was spending my own money on the things I wanted to buy. Now that everything is coming out of my own pocket, I look for good deals over fancy brand labels.
Something Walmart seems to be doing really well at is their laptop pricing. Have a look:
I remember seeing that 278 USD (362 SGD) Acer for sale in Singapore for 600 SGD. I remember seeing that 298 USD (388 SGD) HP laptop for 800 SGD in Singapore.
Walmart really does have some low prices, and I’m not complaining.
Now, I don’t really care all that much about ‘high fashion’ or brands, but this caught my eye because the first time I’d ever heard of Mango, or it’s MNG line of clothes, was in Singapore, where it’s apparently very desirable. Singapore in general is very fashion conscious and the malls are filled with high end boutiques.
I developed a particular distaste for Mango, not because of how the clothes look (I’ve never even been in the store, but the stuff in the online JCPenney catalog looks nice), but because we lived with a roommate during our first year in Singapore that talked about the brand non-stop. I’m sure you know the type of person I’m talking about. She wasn’t happy unless she was telling you about how great and fashionable Mango (or some other brand) is, and about how many items she has, like I gave a damn. It got to the point that when we’d pass a Mango store in the mall, either myself or my wife would say, “Look! It’s Mango!” The reply would usually be, “Fuck Mango.” Like I said, not because the brand is necessarily bad, but because we were tired of hearing about it and associated it with a bitch we didn’t like.
Anyway, in Singapore, and I presume other parts of Asia, Mango is a very desirable brand. If you have Mango stuff, you’re cool. I suppose that’s just not the case in the US, though. Maybe it just never caught on the same way it did in Singapore? Mango has a few stores here and there in NYC and on the West Coast, but I just don’t get that same ‘exclusive’ feel that I did before, knowing that Mango is carried at department store now.
These are pictures from the Spring Kyushu Fair held in late March to early April of this year in Singapore. This is what I meant about being agitated about not having a Japan blog, because I should have posted them then. This is a bit dated, but I thought it was worth sharing anyway!
The fair’s banner was hanging in the center section of the Tampines Mall. Tampines Mall is set up as round levels with an open center.
This is the view from above, from I think the third floor. The fair was set up in the middle of the mall and was jam packed with people every single day.
I was shocked at how expensive these arus melons from Miyazaki were. If you look at the blue text on the sign you can see that 49 SGD was already the marked down price from their usual 60 SGD. I think we went on the last day of the fair. I tried to do a little research on the melon but there’s little available, through Google anyway. What I did find says that the arus melon is considered “The King of Japanese Fruits” and is highly sought after as a gift for its fragrance, beautifully netted skin and great taste.
There was a booth selling selections of fine tea. I kinda wish I’d bought some now that I look at the photo.
Photos of the crowds and some of the booths.
A lot of the booths were doing cooking on the spot, like this booth, where a girl was preparing takoyaki balls.
And what Japan fair would be complete without a booth selling sake? The sake he was holding was actually really, really good and I wanted a bottle of it but he had already sold out. He didn’t mind letting me have a few shots from the sample bottle though, which was pretty cool of him. We wound up getting a sparkling rose sake for my wife, but got so busy with getting ready for our trip to the Philippines at the beginning of May that we we gave it away as a gift instead.
I’m looking forward to visiting another Japan-related Fair. Hopefully there’ll be one in Manila sometime soon!