Singapore Slingshot

We just got back from an amazing trip to Singapore.  We were lucky enough to have The Burthems: Simon, Emma and Harry to welcome us, and put us up for a couple of days. It was gurt lush!

As a first trip to anywhere new, I love the whole ‘not knowing’  and then finding out. It’s pretty much the best excuse to ask so many questions. And you’re allowed to be amazed by the way things are done, even if its just the slightest bit different to what you’re used to.  It always reminds me of a Peter Kay sketch where a Brit has found a packet of Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers in Spain: “They taste EXACTLY the same!!!! Look, it says “Les Fingres!”

Permission granted then to Gape. We’ve hosted many guests in our time and have grown fond of being on both sides of the new arrival scenario. Emma, Simon and Harry, 4, were all too happy with our endless questions.

And we’re off!

Off the plane and straight onto the public transport. Within three minutes of reaching our destination, and following a convenient use of H&M’s wifi; Emma appears. This place is running like clockwork! I’m so happy about it that the next time I go to on the train I casually walk through the turnstiles with an open drink. Merely 5 metres through and I am efficiently stopped by security. It’s a $500 fine for eating or drinking on the subway. As I politely proceeded to finish my drink before I went any further her face turned to ash. Had I just awoken a sleeping giant. Had I pressed a button that should never be pressed. For a split second it seemed that way. And then we all got on with our day.

 

Welcome to Sentosa

Sentosa? What is this? The first I heard of the word was in a facebook post just this weekend past. Steven of Sentosa it read, and was accompanied by some big smiles and beautiful sailing photos . Who was this man! I recognised him of course, as Emma’s dad, out to stay for a couple of months, and enjoying the company of his family.So why the new nomenclature. It turns out that Steven has taken to daily cycles around the island, resulting in a fast growing recognition of the locals. And so fittingly became Steven of Sentosa.

We only just missed Steven, as he returned back to the UK just a day or two before we arrived. Word on the street is that he’ll be back in a month. Lucky guy!

Sentosa, I learned was where we would spend the next few days. It’s a small island of Singapore, with beautiful beaches, amazing appartments and marinas, Jackie Chans house and some eccentric music venues. There is also a theme park that we’ll check out next time.

 

I know I cooked it but it’s not really a meal

After picking Harry up from preschool (he was exceedingly happy to have new playmates), Simon came home from work and we, ahem ‘got on it’. It’s just what happens. I mean, it wasn’t like we trashed the appartment and the neighbours called the police at 5am. Not like back in the day. But we still got on it. My particular combo of Beer, Gin, Whisky and Wine was just what tomorrow’s hangover had requested.

The beautiful giddiness of catching up and hanging out with friends.

Simon can cook. Both nights he sorted us out some badass food. For some reason though, and with great amusement to us all, the Creamy Mushroom sauce and rice DID NOT pass as a meal!

A meat eater cooking for veggies is a beautiful thing. Thankyou. Word on the street is that 2 days later he had a veggie lunch……….

 

Super Tramp

After dinner we sneaked onto their nearby boat for a few more drinks. In the dim red light down below the Super Trampolines of this nippy Trimaran, a toe war (yes a Toe war!) of epic proportions crowned the evening. Later Jen remarked that her confidence was buoyed by the drink, while she believed that Simon’s competitiveness loosened. All things being equal, there may have been a different outcome. As Jen pinned the winning move just seconds after I switched off the lights, you could even say it was rigged.

 

Meet me at McDonalds with your passport and a load of cash

The hangover really helped as I handed our passports over to Mike at McDonalds the next day. Yes, that’s right. In Bali, couriers on scooters come to your address and take your passports away with them for a couple of weeks. In Singapore you have to go to the outside tables at McDonalds and hand them over, with a hefty wad of cash. The absurdity was eased by the crack-like addictiveness of the processed Egg and Cheese sandwich that I had decided was going to soak up the alcoholic remnents remaining in my stomach. ‘Back here at 4pm’ I was told. ‘Sure, please come back too’ I said with my pleading eyes as I shook Mike’s hand.

He was there at 4. The Visas were sorted. I can vouch for Mike at McDonalds now.

 

Chop the table and a Pizza ATM

Stop the Press: Had we not just eaten lunch it would have been a no brainer. PIZZA ATM: Take. My. Money.

Earlier, we met Simon just next to his downtown office in a huge dining hall.  We got the call in advance. He’d chopped us a table. Uh?

Very quickly- put a napkin on a table to reserve one seat. If there’s more of you then put a business card at each seat. I think that’s it. Though there’s probably more. I guess it works really well if people know the system. I envision many napkins getting brushed aside by innocent newcomers.

The food hall was incredible – 2 huge concentric circles of food stalls surrounded by endless tables and sat under a huge skylit roof with a bell tower in the middle.  It makes for an exciting dining experience. Choice is aplenty. Even for veggies.  Chinese, Indian, Singaporean, Traditional, Novelty, even Pork Floss is available.  And there’s beer too of course.

In Bali we call it point and shoot. You just keep pointing and they keep putting it on your plate.  Afterwards, I could not move.

Following lunch we wandered through a beautiful downtown temple and then past rows upon rows of incredible smells, all coming from the vast array of eateries lining the streets in amongst the office blocks. Everywhere was full. It felt like everyone had their own favourite place and they were right there enjoying it.

 

The second evening is always more refined

We ended up raiding the photo drawer in search of an elusive ‘flasher photo’ of Simon. It never showed up. I did however relive some of my own past through an epic photo album of his first trip to Faliraki, club 18-30’s style. Get in.

 

Cycling in Jurassic Park

The next day we got on the bikes and headed off on a morning explore.  First stop was to drop Harry off at school. He’s a fast pedaller and so ready to kick those training wheels off. His adventurous streak will only be fuelled by his growing abilities.  It was awesome to be introduced to his toys in the house as well. Until now I did not know that Thunderbird 4 lived inside Thunderbird 2. And I had certainly never explored Tracey island in such detail.

We carried on past his school, where Harry was busy rehearsing for his Chinese New Year Celebrations, and took our bikes around the coast path. I imagined Steven of Sentosa cruising along these paths. Probably a bit faster than us, as we were in full Gape mode, stopping at all the different waterfront houses, each with its own statement on how to incorporate a swimming pool between your lounge and your garden. Modern appartment blocks with sculpted baclonies intertwined with marinas, trees and mansions.

I became fantastically lost as we continued to edge our way around the cost, noting all the different yoga and pilates classes shading under varying pagodas. We stopped at an automatic gate surrounded by jungle. As it silently opened I had a flashback to Jurassic Park. “What were they keeping in here?!”  I saw no dinosaurs at Sentosa. I remain sceptical.

We made our way along the run of beaches and had some lush food at a beach cafe. Palms and coconut trees up to the shore.  Someone was doing Tai Chi by the water. He simply did not stop. A beautiful reminder of energy in action. Of grace and flow coupled with strength and concentration. Right on.

And so we headed back to the airport and said our thank yous and goodbyes for now. I smiled cheekily knowing that there was so much more to do in Singapore. We didn’t even see the big eco tree thingies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gallery

Dirty lens sunset surf photos , massive coconuts and a language lesson.

So we headed down to another nearby beach for the sunset today.  Echo beach, is just north of what i’d call ‘our regular beach’. The tide was high and the waves were crashing against the rock plateau that we had to walk across. The waves were exploding only a couple of metres away. There were high pitched screams. It was fun.

We made it to one of the beach shack bars where our friend was proudly waiting for us, with the biggest and coldest coconut you ever did see. He would later strike a deal with Made, the owner, resulting in a bar tab of 14 coconuts. I think we know where to find him from now on.

As the tide was in, it meant that the surfers were closer too. I’d been meaning to bring my camera down the past couple of times so it was great that the waves were on.

There was a thick cloud about an inch tall along the horizon. It gave the whole place a surreal feel as it muted the direct sunlight. The waves were forming these perfect darkened pits as they turned their backs on the sun’s light.. Half enticing with their geometry and procession, half terrifying with their shadowed blackness. Although a couple of willing bodies made it into these caves, no one was currently exiting them standing up.

There was a dog played wildly in the shorebreak. They took a couple of waves somewhat heroically on the head. And above all, they did not let go of that coconut.

After the sun went down we met Made, fresh and happy from his new Coconut trade in. He was getting a brand new pair of sunnies. It was a Win Win situation. Using english as a bridge we talked balinese and indonesian. For now, I have decided to keep all my indonesian in my left hand and all my balinese in my right. Yes, Literally.  That’s how I’m going to it.  For now there’s not much in either, but it certainly keeps growing.  Did you know only one syllable seprates a coconut from your face. These subtleties really illuminated our conversation.

Complexitities presented themselves as we moved from objects and commands into the world of concepts .  It really didn’t matter how many times I mimed ‘forgetting something’, it was time for google translate. A quick ‘ahhhhhaaa!’ and we were back on track once more.

Happily accepting that not everything gets done at once, it was pleasant to consider the usefulness and beauty of recreating these coconut sunset tri-languge conversations.

Approaching our return toward the rocky plateau, there was now only a sparsity of spotlights providing illumination. The sea held all the cards. Divided between the contours of the plateau and the absence of any noise coming from the sea, I reached for the torch on my phone. It was then, as I mixed the fleeting surge of safety from this beam of light with the  hush of silence perhaps forecluding an impending wave of doom, that I confidently stood straight into a huge rock pool. And this time, it was definitely me who let out the high pitched squeal.

 

Gallery

Kicking things off with a photographic stroll around the garden mixed in with a bit of local info.

Welcome to the first post of the JenderBenderWorldWide blog. Here are a couple of photos from around the garden at our current home. It’s definitely full of life. Just earlier a Weevil was being held aloft and paraded down the patio by an army of ants!

Geckos

We have 8 kitchen geckos who hang out on the ceiling and make little croaking noises at each other. (That’s when they are not being hassled by some inch long bee thing!) There’s 2 bigger lizards (blatently getting it on) who live up one of the roof columns. They are around a foot long and have tiny tails. We’re keeping an eye on their regrowth. Then there’s ‘Tiny’, a mega cute super teeny lizard who lives on the wall above our bedroom. He’s about 2 inches long. Go on, do it with your fingers, it’s tiny!!!

Cats

‘Petit’ lives across the road. We haven’t seen him the past few days but for about a week he’s been consistently coming and getting some street love off of us. He/she is the smallest cat we have ever seen. I would say if you think about a guinea pig on stilts then that’s pretty accurate.

Frogs

It rains a lot here. Nearly daily and when it rains it wants you to know about it. There’s been less thunderstorms since we first arrived, but it still loves a chuck down. It’s funny because everything is so outdoorsy. Ponchos are the way forward. As for water loving animals. Holy moly! Frogs are everywhere! We have two that live in  our kitchen underneath our hob. They often make me jump when I turn the corner and see them!

Franz

We had a cockroach in our bathroom for a bit. We got him in a tub and put him out into the garden. We think he prefers it out there because he hasnt’ been back. If you see him, his name is Franz.

High Pitched Screams from ‘Les Frenchies’

Last night the french girls renting the other room let out some seriously impressive high pitched screams. Not one to be a curtain twitcher I timidly tapped on their window enquiring everything was alright. Apparently not. A spider was mentioned and a fist was shown (to equate size) and a broom was pointed at the corner. A quick broom joust of the curtain followed by a flash of something whizzing out the backside of the sliding doors was all that followed. Thank God. That was that. Oh, and they found another one today. I can only say that I hope I never meet one of these ‘furry friends’ personally.

 

Ballz the Monkey

Ballz the monkey is getting along just fine. There’s even a bakery up the road that uses banana flour. It will be his birthday treat in February.

 

Indo Lingo

We are fortunate to have some fairly regular contact with some lovely locals. Aside from ordering food in cafes and bargaining for local prices at the fruit and veg markets we get to practice some indo lingo daily with Dewi (which means goddess). She comes round with her daughters nearly every day. You can see Cinta, her 3 year old starring in some of our photos.

A maid and a gardener.

Yep we’ve got a maid. And a gardner. They come with the house. I’ll write more on  this later, but for now lets just say it is great to be able to provide employment. Made (that’s his name) the gardener has got his work cut out. When we arrived we were like ‘What is he going to do for 3 days a week?’ Well, these plants are pretty hell bent on shedding most of their leaves daily only to pump some new ones out. Seriously, check the photos. Some of the leaves are bigger than my top half!

That’s it for now, more to come and don’t be shy with the messages. Big love to you all wherever you are.

JenderBender XXX