Location: Singapore, Singapore
April 6, 2007 - April 10, 2007
Kip and I flew from Shanghai to Singapore (~6 hour flight) and arrived in the evening. We're here to visit Kip's Supervising Professor under whom he did his Masters degree back in the mid 1990s. It's been about 10 years since Kip left Singapore and he's interested to come back and visit old friends, staff and professors and also to see the sights of Singapore and the university again.
Dr. Harianto Rahardjo and his wife, Bee, had invited us to stay with them for the 4 day visit and so we got ourselves a taxi and made our way to the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) campus where they live - which happened to be on the exact opposite side of the island as the airport! They are by far the happiest, sweetest couple I've ever met! We really enjoyed our stay and our visit with them.
As for Singapore, it's hot and humid 365 days of the year. It's almost on the equator so the weather forecast everyday is identical - high of 32 C, low of 27 C, chance of showers in the afternoon. And, in our 4 day adventure, that was exactly what we experienced every day! It was great....clear skies, no pollution, tropical plants and greenery everywhere you go, and even I could stand the heat and humidity...it's great for the skin but bad for the hair if you have natural wave like me! Singapore is a very clean, orderly and beautiful city.
Singapore is multi-cultural with Chinese, Malay and Indian making up the bulk of the population -- and cuisine! The food was awesome -- it's generally too hot to cook at home, so everywhere you go there are "hawker centres" which are essentially food courts where you can get any different type of ethnic dish you want and scads of fresh tropical fruits - and all for cheap, cheap, cheap! About $5 gets you enough food and fruit to make you feel sick! Some of the yummy things I ate - lychees, mangosteens, iced Milo, 2 different kinds of pineapple, persimmons, coconut water, starfruit, and guava, hot & sour soup (have never cared for any of the ones I've eaten in Canada but, boy, it's good there), etc -- obviously one of the highlights for me was the food! Also, my only bad experience in Singapore happened to be with food...a nasty fruit called Durian. Considered almost like a delicacy to the Singaporeans, I was offered some by Bee on my last day...how could I leave without trying this infamous Durian Kip had told me so much about over the years? It's actually banned on all public transportation because it stinks so bad. So, I tried a piece of the slimy, milky white, stinky, nasty Durian and it was sooo bad! It tasted like rotten, fermented onions and garlic. How could anyone enjoy this stuff?? But, Dr. Rahardjo put it in perspective for me: Durian is to the Singaporeans what cheese is to Westerners....how, he asked me, can anyone eat Blue Cheese? Hummm....I think I understand now.
Location: Shanghai, China
April 2, 2007 - April 6, 2007
Kip and I first went to Shanghai to visit his long-time friend from university, Nancy. She's been living here for about 8 or 10 years now and has been very successful in the events planning industry. She's a very talented watercolour artist, as well, and sells a lot of her work.
We had a great time visiting with Nancy and were lucky that she could rearrange her schedule a lot to tour us around. In the 4 days we were there we managed to do a lot of shopping for cheap knock-off bags and DVDs, have dinner with a famous architectural photographer and his wife, visit an old canal city named Zhu Zha Jiao, watch Tai Chi and kite flying on the Bund (the waterfront along the Huangpu River in the heart of Shanghai), walk around both newly westernized and old, traditional neighbourhoods and eat lots of yummy Shanghainese food!
We met some wonderful people through Nancy such as John Gollings (the photographer) and his wife, Matt who is a British friend of Nancy's and is an architect working in Shanghai, and Charles who is Nancy's boyfriend and is also in the events planning industry. Everyone provided us great company during our outings and our dinners and, of course, Nancy was terrific. We had a great time thanks to her!! :o)