Categories
Food Living in Singapore

Shokudo

This sign wasn’t thought through to well was it? I took this photo last night while my wife and I were walking up and down Orchard Road looking at the Christmas decorations and taking pictures. We were coming out of one of the malls where we’d stopped to have dinner at Subway. When we saw the sign we both cracked up laughing!

Apparently there’s a new Shokudo establishment that has just opened, but what exactly is on the menu? Judging by where the illustrated guy’s hand is, do I really want to know? Shall we have one serving or two?

My wife told me I should write about it. Shokudo definitely serves… interesting… food. A couple of months ago a new Shokudo Japanese Pasta restaurant opened at a mall downtown near Orchard Road. I think it’s called Cineliesure Orchard. When I had first come here in March for a few weeks we saw that it was being built. It looked like it was going to be a well set up restaurant and we were excited to see what it was going to be. So, a few months ago when it was finally open we went to check it out. The name of the place kind of put us off. Who associates Japan with fine pasta? There was a long line of people waiting to eat there though, so we thought it must be great! We were disappointed, unfortunately.

The service there was great. I’ll give them that. The employees are friendly, attentive, and our food was brought to us without much of a wait. Plus, it’s in a great location. Depending on where you sit you can look out onto the street below, which is usually bustling with people, or you can look out on the mall. The mall is designed so that the center is open from top to bottom, with stores around the outside edge of the building. You can see quite a bit from the railings, and from the tables in Shokudo. The prices were a bit steep, but from what we’d seen of the restaurant we took it in stride. Most good restaurants have high prices here. The food itself was the let down. I can’t comment on what my wife ate, except that she said it wasn’t very good. She didn’t even finish half of the dish. My dish had a bland, homogeneous taste. The whole thing tasted the same, from the sauce and what was in it to the pasta. It all had an overbearing, unpleasant fishy taste to it. I didn’t finish my meal either.

So, that was the first and last time we went to Shokudo. Now, for all of our pasta needs, we stick with Pastamania. It’s cheaper by half, and twice as good. Not to mention that there’s a Pastamania in sight of this Shokudo restaurant. The Cathay Cineleisure has a great movie theater in it. It’s the one we go to the most. It advertises that it has the only fully THX certified sound system in Singapore. Plus, it’s comfortable and shows all the new movies. So, when we want to eat pasta before we watch our movie, Pastamania is where we go.

Categories
Cats & Dogs

Fievel Goes West… way way west… to Singapore

My wife sent me an e-mail the other day from work and told me that a friend of hers had found a kitten. Well, it wasn’t really her friend that found it. Her friend’s dog picked it up out of the trash and brought it to their HDB flat. She said her friend didn’t want to keep the kitten and was looking for someone to take care of it. She started asking me if it would be ok if we took it in for a while. She seemed to really want it, so I agreed.

She told me that we would pick up the cat on Monday, but she e-mailed me on Tuesday I believe, saying that she was going to go get it then. Apparently the kitten was sick and her friend was scared it was going to die on her. My wife said her friend was thinking of just dumping the kitten back where she found it and leaving it there. That’s not really the point of this blog entry, but what kind of sick bastard would just dump a kitten somewhere to die? So, she went and got it right away and brought it here. Luckily I have a cat carrier handy that’s serving as its home for now.

The kitten looks more like a little rat to me. At best guess it can’t be more than a week and a half old. It didn’t seem to want to eat at all. It still fights when it’s feeding time. We’ve been forcing it to drink milk. When we first brought it here it was really weak and it did seem that it was going to die. Now it’s a lot more lively. We both think it will pull through. I did a little reading up on kittens and it seems that there may be some behavioral issues with this kitten in the future. If they’re separated from their mother too early they can have problems relating to other cats. I think it will be fine though.

We came up with the name Fievel for it because we’d recently re-watched the movie An American Tale and I commented that it looked like a little rat. So, my wife said we should call it Fievel and it stuck. Sometimes she sings that song from the movie, “Somewhere out there…” to the kitten while she’s feeding it. It’s amusing. We’re not too sure if Fievel is a boy or a girl, but either way Fievel is a decent name.

Our other two cats have been acting strangely since we brought the kitten in. Dapper went through a phase where she was very jealous and defensive. She’s slowly becoming less aggressive and more curious. I was starting to get tired of hearing her hiss at the cat carrier where Fievel is. Bouncy on the other hand has become twice the hateful bitch she used to be.

Hopefully they’ll all learn to get along.

Categories
Cats & Dogs

Jailbird Cats

So, I’ve been living with my cats for about 5 months now. These are my first pair of cats as pets. It’s been quite a learning experience. They both have very different personalities, which was surprising to me. Dapper is outgoing, tries to be cute all the time, and wants attention. Bouncy would just as soon not do anything but lay around all the time. She gets mad and tries to run away more often than not when I want to pet her. When she does want to be petted she goes at it retard style. I’ll go more into that another time.

These cats are weird. Both of them. They seem spoiled and snobby. They even come off as arrogant sometimes. My wife says that Bouncy and Dapper are spoiled and out of control. She said her cats in the Philippines weren’t like this. I’ve done my best to train the two of them over the months but they still seem to do whatever they want to do, just when I’m not looking.

One thing I’ve been adamant about is that they not climb up into the windows. I know my mom’s cats like to lay on the windowsill in the sun sometimes. The windows we have don’t have sills though, and they don’t look out onto a balcony like my mom’s. These windows have a sort of grill over them that the cats like to climb, but outside the window is a 13 floor drop to hard pavement. The holes in the grill are big enough for them to climb through easily too. At one time I had hoped that we would be able to open the windows sometimes for fresh air, but I guess that’s not going to happen. The cats would run straight through them thinking there was something to jump onto on the other side. I’ve seen them try to run through the glass before. No amount of yelling or spanking has persuaded them to give up on the windows either.

Another issue has been my computer desk. I do not want them on it. I don’t want to run the risk of them knocking over my laptop or bluetooth keyboard or mouse. Not to mention the external hard drives I have set up. Dapper doesn’t really bother with my desk too much that I’ve seen, but from the start Bouncy has had a retard fascination with jumping up onto it. I say retard because I’ve really laid into her verbally and later physically to try to convince her that nothing can come of being on my desk but heartache and pain. It doesn’t register with her though. One time, I came home from being out and walked through the bedroom door just in time to see Bouncy finishing up a long pee on the notebook beside my laptop. I suppose she was determined to convince me that the desk was her territory, not mine. She had a very hard lesson that day and it wasn’t long after that I purchased a cage for them.

Now, whenever we go out, even if only briefly, they get put in the cage. I would have to say that the cage is probably the most worthwhile thing I’ve bought concerning them. Of course, they don’t like it much but it has provided me with a lot of peace of mind. Every so often I’ll leave them out when I go out, to test them and see if they’ll behave. Invariably they screw it up. I’ll come back to find things knocked over everywhere. Clothes will be pulled out of drawers onto floors, the curtains will be thrown around from them playing in the windows, and all other manner of disaster. So, the cage is still getting quite a bit of use.

Another thing that cage has been good for is getting a good night’s rest. When we first got these two, they would play all day and then at night they would want to sleep in the bed with us, usually on the pillows wrapped around our heads, or under the blankets by our feet. That was perfectly fine with me. Over time though they developed the habit of sleeping all day and then going nuts during the night when we are trying to sleep. They run into things, making lots of noise, and they’ll climb over us on the bed at full speed, scratching us and waking us up. Not to mention that me being asleep counts as one of those times when I’m not looking, so they go up on the desk and in the windows. I thought that putting them in the cage and forcing them to sleep at night would cause them to play during the day and then keep quiet during the night. That hasn’t worked though. They lay awake in the cage all night, doing nothing, then sleep all day and right about the time for bed, they go nuts and I have to catch them and put them up for the night.

I’ve slowly come to the realization that training these cats may be an impossible task. They will probably keep doing whatever they like, when they like, if they think they can get away with it. That really pisses me off when I think about it. They’re just cats. They should do what they’re told. That doesn’t seem to register with them though. So, when we’re out and about it’s the cage for them! Hopefully they’ll grow out of this. I’d hate to have to keep locking them up every time we leave and every night. There’s also the issue of having to leave them caged all day and all night too when I start working again. I don’t want to have to come home to a disaster area after a long day at work. If that’s what it comes to though, then these two will be jailbird cats for life!

Categories
Cats & Dogs

The Litter Box Game

I have a cat named Bouncy. She doesn’t do much of anything all day except sleep. That’s typical of both of my cats. They both seem to want to sleep all day and then play all night. What’s strange about Bouncy though is that she seems to not use the litter box at all during the day. I’m not sure if it’s because of where it’s placed or because she doesn’t like its color or she just doesn’t want to share a litter box. It’s really not up to her though and I can’t accommodate her. We have limited space.

At night, they have to be put in a large cage because they try to go nuts while we’re sleeping, running around, banging into things, climbing over us on the bed, and so on. Well, I felt bad for them, being locked in the cage all night, and my wife suggested that I put a second litter box in there for them to use when they can’t hold it anymore. At first they wouldn’t use it unless they really had to go. They both preferred the other litter box.

So, here’s where the weird part comes in. Bouncy seems to not want to use the litter box all day long, but as soon as I put her in the cage she uses the “emergency” litter box there right away. I’m not sure what her problem is, but that wasn’t put there to be her own personal porcelain throne, so to speak. It wouldn’t really be a problem except that we share a house, and their cage is in our bedroom. When she uses the “emergency” litter box, the whole bedroom reeks of her crap.

Now she and I have to play a game every night. Before I put her in the cage I put her in the main litter box. She hangs out there for a few moments without doing anything and then tries to come out and run under the bed. So, I grab her and put her in the cage. As soon as I turn my back she makes a dash for the second box. I then have to grab her before she manages to squat and stuff her back into the main litter box. I then block the door so she can’t come back out. She seems to wait a while to see if I’m serious, and when she realizes she can’t get out, she does her business. It’s as though she had been waiting all day and after almost reaching satisfaction she just can’t wait to try to go in the emergency box again. She gives in and uses the main box. It’s amusing too, because her scratches at the litter sound indignant, as though I’ve offended her in some way. When she’s done, and I unblock the door, she won’t come out. I have to stick my hand in there under her belly and haul her out. I put her back in the cage and she looks at me as though I’m crazy. She eyes the second litter box longingly, but having nothing to offer it, she lays down and rests. I wonder how many nights it will be before she gets the point? If she ever does? Look at that picture of her, huddling, as though she really has to crap and is dying for me to leave her alone so she can do it without being put in the other box. Weird cat…

Of course, this isn’t the only thing odd about her. More to follow!

Categories
Living in Singapore

Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila, Philippines

NAIA has to be the worst airport I’ve ever been in and I’ll tell you why.

The physical appearance of the airport itself is a joke. From my experience, the airport is the first impression a traveler gets of the place he’s going, and if Manila wants to promote the image of a modernizing, world-class city, it’s doing a poor job of it. The paint on and in the building is faded and stained. The carpets are worn, and in some places the flooring is actually concrete slabs. My first impression was that it appeared to be a cross between a Sam’s Club and a well used, worn out car insurance office. The whole place seemed to be dirty too, to varying degrees. I was definitely not impressed.

The airport is very crowded. The airport itself is small, considering that it’s an international airport and the hub of air travel in the Philippines. This over-crowding is apparent as soon as you approach the building. The taxi drop off area is a mess of traffic and pedestrians that seems much more dangerous than it should be. The exterior standing area of the airport has a small sidewalk that is typically packed with waiting travelers. In addition there was a mob of Filipinos waiting for processing at the Overseas Foreign Worker office adjacent to the front entrance. This crowd of people seemed to spill out onto the street more often than not and consumed the majority of the waiting area. That brings me to another point. There is only ONE entrance! ONE door! All passengers are required to pass through a metal detector and have their baggage scanned at this entry point. That in itself is an admirable effort to keep the airport safe, but why is there only one? Why not two or three? Wouldn’t that make more sense, considering the amount of traffic the airport receives? Wouldn’t that improve travel time and customer satisfaction?

The employees in this airport are incompetent. Outside the airport there is an employee walking around demanding that people move closer to the entrance, even though there is nowhere to move to, since the area is packed full. It’s as if he doens’t bother to look or think about it before asking people to move. At the scanner by the door there is no form of baggage control. One of my wife’s bags was stolen from the scanner area before she was even able to make it through the metal detector. In Singapore, at Changi International, baggage is put in a numbered tray and you’re given a numbered placard to turn in for your baggage after being scanned. This ensures that the correct person gets the correct baggage. No such luck or system at NAIA. My wife’s stolen bag led us to the discovery of further incompetence on the part of airport staff. We proceeded to the information desk and asked if anyone had turned in a backpack. We didn’t expect that anyone would of course, but they made an announcement over the intercom. We didn’t have time to wait around so my wife asked if she could have the phone number for the information desk so she could call back at a later time to see if the bag had turned up. The airport personnel at the information desk DID NOT KNOW THE NUMBER FOR THEIR OWN DESK! How can someone who works at an information desk not even know their own phone number? It seems ironic, and blatantly stupid. It also displays a lack of training and customer care. I suppose the problem with that is that for most travelers there isn’t really a choice when it comes to using that airport. That shouldn’t create an atmosphere where employees don’t care about the customers though. It’s a poor reflection of the airport, the city and the country.

There is a terminal usage fee that must be paid prior to entering the departure gate areas. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t fees of that sort normally included in the price of a plane ticket? Aren’t the airlines that utilize NAIA paying fees already to do business at that terminal? Why is there an additional fee travelers are required to pay prior to being able to leave the country? I’ve never seen anything like this at another airport. I got the impression that it was just another way for NAIA to dig into people’s wallets. Also, where are these extra fees going? If it’s a terminal usage fee, shouldn’t the fees collected be used to improve the terminal? Then why does it look like crap? The terminal usage fee is 18 USD and while that may not seem like a lot to some travelers, I feel that it’s an unnecessary waste of my hard earned cash.

If I had a choice, I wouldn’t use NAIA again. Unfortunately, there aren’t multiple terminals to choose from, which is the case in most areas. My wife submitted a complaint letter to the airport but never heard back from them. I wasn’t really surprised. It would be nice if those in charge of NAIA would take an active interest in the quality of their facilities and the quality of customer service their employees are providing.

Oh, and one other thing to note… NAIA doesn’t even have its own homepage. In this day and age that’s surprising and sad. The hyperlink at the top sends you to the NAIA wiki page.