Adventures in Singapore – November 2015

I can’t believe that November has already come and gone.  You know what they say…”time flies…”  I meant to do the blog last week, but “life” got in the way.  So, better late than never 🙂 We started off November with an EXCELLENT food adventure.  A new Mexican take-out place just opened within walking distance of the apartment – Guzman y Gomez Taqueria.  We were cautiously optimistic (descent Mexican food is an elusive beast in Singapore) and had been eagerly anticipating its opening since seeing the sign go up about a month ago.  Well…I must say…we were NOT disappointed.  Sooooo good…and relatively inexpensive (especially for Sing-Sing).  Burritos, Tacos, Quesadillas, even Churros!  And a whole lotta yum!!!  We’ve been back…A LOT…like at least once a week since it opened.  And while it’s not Chuy’s, it’s definitely on par with Chipotle.  We are happy campers!!!

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On November 10th, Singapore celebrated Deepavali (or Diwali).  To give you a quick “tutorial” on this Hindu holiday, Deepavali is an ancient 5-day Hindu festival celebrated every year.  It begins on the shortest day of the year (usually between mid-October and mid-November).  It is one of the largest, and definitely the brightest Hindu festival and signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.  It’s also known as the Festival of Lights.  Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, and around temples.  Hindu families prepare for the holiday weeks in advance by cleaning, renovating and decorating their homes and offices.  On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes &/or their very best outfits, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their homes, participate in family puja (prayers), light fireworks, have HUGE family feasts, and exchange gifts.  In order to learn about and enjoy Deepavali more fully, Dylan and I took a day trip down to Little India.  Everything was so beautifully decorated and the shops were packed full of fun and exciting food, gifts, and trinkets.  They even had a special “Festival Marketplace” set up just for the occasion. It was truly remarkable to see…I wish the pictures did it justice.  We walked around for quite a while and took in all the sights, sounds and smells we could.  Then we went to lunch at our new favorite Indian restaurant – Muthu’s Curry.  Soooooooo good!!!  I swear, Dylan could eat Indian food every day 🙂 I find it so awesome and fascinating to learn about different cultures and religions and their celebrations.  It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of living in Singapore.

Happy Deepavali!!!

Happy Deepavali!!!

Colorful street decorations - and they go on forever

Colorful street decorations – and they go on forever

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So awesome.  The picture definitely doesn't do it justice.

So awesome. The picture definitely doesn’t do it justice.

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Flower display at Muthu's

Flower display at Muthu’s

Beautiful colored rice display.  Note the diyas on the corners.

Beautiful colored rice display. Note the diyas on the corners.

Diya (lamp/candle)

Diya (lamp/candle)

Indian "natural" breath mint mixture.  You take a tiny bit of everything and pop it in your mouth.  Tasty!

Indian “natural” breath mint mixture. You take a tiny bit of everything and pop it in your mouth. Tasty!

The weekend after Deepavali, we went down to the Orchard area (huge shopping district) to find Dylan some new Legos.  Even in early November, the streets and malls were in full holiday mode.  The extensive (and expensive) Christmas decorating here in Singapore is truly impressive.  And they switch it up every year – decorations from last year, NOT the same as this year.  I’ll be posting more about this in my December blog…but the Singapore Christmas “glitz & glamour” never ceases to amaze me.  On this same outing, we even found a California Pizza Kitchen to eat at.  YUM!  Little tastes of home always make my tummy and my mouth smile 🙂

California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen

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Just a little sneak peak of Christmas in Singapore

Just a little sneak peak of Christmas in Singapore

On the 24th, we celebrated my birthday.  I went to a lovely lunch with a bunch of lovely ladies – so fun and so grateful to have such amazing friends!  Cute Dylan bought me a Harry Potter bobble head (all on his own…no prompting) and Dave took me out for CHILLI CRAB!!!  Just so you know, I had been dying to try this uniquely Singaporean dish for many months now.  It is a crab dish (they usually use mud crab) that is stir-fried in a thick, sweet and spicy tomato and chili based sauce.  It was super high-maintenance to eat (had to crack everything open), definitely on the spicy side, and super messy, but seriously G-double-O-D…GOOD!!!  Then they give you these AMAZING little fried buns to soak up the sauce with…so awesome!!!  Definitely worth the wait and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves crab.  All in all, a great birthday for me!

Love me some Harry Potter!

Love me some Harry Potter!

A wall of tanks at Jumbo

A wall of tanks at Jumbo

Singaporean Chilli Crab

Singaporean Chilli Crab

Yes, we both wore bibs.  Sooooo messy!

Yes, we both wore bibs. Sooooo messy!

Ready to dig in!

Ready to dig in!

On Thanksgiving (NOT a holiday here) we had a nice dinner after Dave got home from work – turkey and all!  And this year I’m happy to report and we avoided the great french-fried-onion debacle of 2014 (I found a couple of cans a month ago and bought them right on the spot)!  It also made us happy to know that the girls were well taken care of by family back in the U.S.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The last weekend in November, we FINALLY made it down to Singapore’s oldest and most famous hawker center – Lau Pa Sat.  This beautiful old building (built in the 19th century) is a true Singapore landmark.  It was even gazetted as a national monument in 1973.  Lau Pa Sat means “old market,” which was its original function.  The building has been moved and renovated many times over the years, but its octagonal shape and ornamental columns are truly beautiful.  Located in the central business/financial district, this center is SUPER busy during lunch time on weekdays, but on the late Saturday afternoon that we visited, it was quiet and relaxing.  There is something for everyone there – Indian, Malaysian, Turkish, burgers & sandwiches, Chinese, Japanese, and even a little shop that sold Costa Rican food!  We had Turkish Doner Kebaps, and Costa Rican Chifrijo (if you’re interested…try google).  Delicious and cheap!  Gotta love a Singaporean Hawker Center!  After lunch we walked down to the other side of Marina Bay.  It was fun to see the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel from the other side of the waterfront.  I must say, I love this side of the bay!  A little prettier, a little more tranquil, a more waterfront boardwalk feel.  We even (again, FINALLY) made it down to see the huge Singapore Merlion statue that sits on the harbor.  Unfortunately the statue is being renovated, so he wasn’t spitting out any water into the bay, but it was still fun to see.  The merlion is the unofficial mascot of Singapore.  But why the merlion?  According to ancient legend, in the 8th century, a half-fish, half-lion monster appeared to a Malaysian prince while on the island.  He was so impressed by the experience that re-named the island Singapura – which means lion city.  You can find merlion statues and merchandise all over Singapore.

Beautiful Lau Pa Sat Marketplace - and the clocktower chimes every 15 minutes.

Beautiful Lau Pa Sat Marketplace – and the clocktower chimes every 15 minutes.

Soooooo many choices

Soooooo many choices

Beautiful architecture

Beautiful architecture

Turkish Doner Kebab

Turkish Doner Kebab

Costa Rican chifrijo

Costa Rican chifrijo

Panoramic view

Panoramic view

Marina Bay Sands from the other side of the bay

Marina Bay Sands from the other side of the bay

The Esplanade Performing Arts Center - also known as "the Durian" as it resembles the spiky tropical fruit that is unique to Southeast Asia.

The Esplanade Performing Arts Center – also known as “the Durian” as it resembles the spiky tropical fruit that is unique to Southeast Asia.

Hello Mr. Merlion

Hello Mr. Merlion

LOVE the little hippo statues - they were all over the place

LOVE the little hippo statues – they were all over the place

Little bit smaller merlion statue

Little bit smaller merlion statue

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I just want to wrap-up our November blog post by saying…WE ARE THANKFUL!!!  We’re thankful for a loving family.  We’re thankful for wonderful friends.  We’re thankful to be here in Singapore.  We’re thankful to have the opportunities to learn about other cultures and peoples.  We’re thankful for good health.  We’re thankful for our faith.  We truly feel so blessed and so fortunate to have such a wonderful life.

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