Life In Singapore

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I wrote the following a few weeks ago (see below). A lot has changed since. We are now moving on to Tokyo on Dec. 21. David will be here in Singapore for the second week of December but the rest of the time he will be in Tokyo. This means I fly to Tokyo from Singapore alone with the girls when we officially “move” from Singapore to Tokyo. I told David that I will be a wreck…crying, etc. He joked that that is why he does not want to be with me! (Ha-ha) Logistically, it works out for David to stay in Tokyo the week before Christmas because our shipment will arrive and he will need to be there to have them unload at our new digs. The reason plans have changed so much (I move to Fraser Suites in 2 weeks rather than in 5 weeks) is because customs closes down in Japan for 2 weeks over the Christmas/New Year holiday. That means we need to get our container there and cleared through customs before Christmas or else it will be late January (things get backlogged after the closure) until we see our things. Does this sound confusing to you? It is confusing to us too but we are optimistic it will all work out. We don’t have our residence picked out yet but there is a fair amount on the market to choose from so we look forward to making that decision over Thanksgiving while we all meet up in Tokyo. We think we will be able to enjoy Thanksgiving buffet at the American Club in Tokyo. That will be a nice little touch of “home” among all the craziness. Oh yea, and amidst all this, Donna is coming to visit for 10 days. She now gets to see our apartment and then move over with me to Fraser Suites. Her trip here is definitely not going to be boring.

More to come….

(written a few weeks ago 2 days after the Bali bombing)
When the U.S. state department issues a warning the decision becomes a little clearer. We are canceling our Christmas trip to Bali. Obviously, we are extremely disappointed about our planned trip but moreover, are so angry that these fanatics are taking away so much from so many people. It is such a huge shame for the Balinese who are really peaceful people and their livelihood depends on tourism especially in the Nov/Dec time-frame which is the height of the tourist season there. God Bless everyone who was involved this past weekend.

David’s co-worker flew home from Bali Sunday night. He said there were numerous bandaged people on the flight. We are looking at alternate plans including a quiet Christmas at Fraser Suites followed by a couple of nights at the Shangri-La Resort on Sentosa Island here in Singapore. Or, we might just fly to Tokyo a few days earlier and maybe treat the girls to Tokyo Disneyland.

For anyone out there who has not heard, we are moving to Tokyo on Jan 1. We will be moving out of our apartment here the first week of December and back to our old digs, Fraser Suites, so our things can be shipped off to Tokyo. David will be reporting to his new position in Tokyo in mid November. He will be there a month before returning back to Singapore for the last 2 weeks of December to join the girls and I. The girls and I will be joining David in Tokyo over Thanksgiving to apartment hunt and attend school interviews with Katie. It certainly is a quick turn-around in terms of moving. Of course it is a little bittersweet as we are settled in here and have adapted to life in Singapore. Among many things, we will miss the American School here tremendously. But I keep saying…we are getting closer to the U.S. Only one airplane flight from Tokyo and presto!...we are in San Francsico. More to come…

Thursday, October 10, 2002

I’m baaaaack…in more ways then one. I know I have been absent from journaling for quite some time so I’m back to it. I returned Sunday from a whirlwind 48 hour trip to Bangkok. WOW! I never knew what I was in store for and am so glad I took advantage of the “open” weekend (David has been in town) to go with my friend Eileen.

We flew out Friday morning on an 8:30 AM airplane. The flight is only 2 hours. We arrived safe and sound and our driver Rat (that is really her name although it is short for something) was there to meet us. We headed straight to the Jim Thompson outlet. Jim Thompson was an American who set up the Thai Silk company in Bangkok. He became famous when his silk was featured in the 1951 Broadway production of “The King and I”. We hit the outlet on a good day and enjoyed looking at all the beautiful silk fabrics and accessories and, of course, we made some purchases. I’m excited about the purchase of some upholstery fabric which I hope to use to re-cover our dining room chairs. The dining room set is in storage in the U.S. so it will have to wait a while but I love the fabric so I look forward to that when we return to the U.S.

After the outlet we hit a tailor shop and splurged on some custom made outfits. What fun…Eileen and I felt like princesses! We picked our own fabric and styles…the next best thing to being a designer but someone else does all the work. We had to stop for something to eat (after the fitting because we did not want to go to the tailor with any extra ounces! …ha-ha) so Rat took us to a local Thai place with a view of the Bangkok river. The River was fascinating! There are so many different types of boats that use the river. The water levels were extremely high. Just north of the city the banks were over-flowing and it looked like these banks would at any time. There were huge branches (among other things) being swept down with the current. We enjoyed our Thai food and our river view. Not much time to relax…it is off look at stainless steel flatware. Eileen purchased a beautiful contemporary set.

We decided we should check into our hotel, take showers and a little breathier and then we could head out to dinner and the night market. So, we did just that. We went to the market first because neither one of use were very hungry. We had fun bargaining for DVD’s and trinkets. I expected to feel a bit uncomfortable in the area around the night market. The area is called Patpong and it is situated in the heart of the country’s financial district and right around are numerous “girlie” bars. I’d always heard about the prostitution in Bangkok. Even though the night market parallels the store fronts where the strip clubs are, I really did not feel uncomfortable or nervous. There were definitely a lot of people out and you had to watch your handbag/backpack really closely, but other than that I did not feel threatened or nervous. After cruising around a few blocks of the market, we bought a sandwich to split and headed back tot the room to share it. We finally called it a night about 11:30 PM.

Saturday morning started early. We ate a quick breakfast in our hotel (they put out a nice buffet which was included with the price of the room) and Rat picked us up at 7:30 AM. We headed straight for the river to grab a tour on the canal boats. Rat opened up her boot (trunk) and to our surprise were two life vests. She was really concerned that the river was too high and that we should wear the vests if we ventured on the canal boats. Ok, I have a funny feeling about this if our local Thai guide brings life vests. Actually, she informed us that we would not be needing them at all. We would not be going on the canal boats at all. They were all shut down due to the water levels and the current. All we could do was hop aboard a quick river taxi to cross the width of the river and go to the Temple of Don. Ok, sounds good…I don’t want to be swallowed up by the Bangkok River - at least not on my first trip to the city. So, we head to the Temple of Don. It is magnificent. One observation: there are a lot of stray dogs around Bangkok, especially around the temples. Rat tells us the monks feed the dogs and so do the local people. They are really mellow dogs….medium size, with pointed ears and short hair, in all different colors. They are not aggressive at all. In fact, they don’t even come up to you…they just walk around or lay around. We saw one litter of puppies near a food stall…I wanted so badly to scoop one up and bring it home for Katie.

After the temple of Don and the river boat crossing, we head to the Grand Palace. The Palace was built in 1782 and the grounds are 218, 400 square meters. It is magnificent and words cannot do it justice. If you are interested, you can check it out at and be sure to see the pictures on our web site soon. It may sound silly but this place was so overwhelming to me that I just started crying. I was over come with the beauty, the amount of people there and also the fact that I was standing there in the middle of this huge palace in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand…a million miles away from home in more ways than one.

Upon leaving the Palace I almost bumped into a monk and Rat told me that I had to be careful because I was not allowed to touch them. I believe she said that the garments are holy. That explains why he looked at me with such wide eyes as I almost brushed up against him. Hey…call me crazy but this is Asia…you bump into people all the time. I’m respectful of tradition though and will try to be more careful.

Ok…time for the REAL shopping…we head to the weekend market. It is 35 acres, 2000 stalls of shops. Anything and Everything. Antiques and New. Big and Small. Really good prices too! It was a lot of fun. We hunted for silk scarves, pillow coverings, trinkets for the girls, wood carvings, thai silk, etc. Rat was able to find us after parking the car. She was amazing the entire weekend…quite a little business woman. She kept us happy with cold water and sodas, carried all of our purchases, and brought us umbrellas. She even informed us she would be burning us a CD with pictures she had been taking. The last thing you expected Rat to say was that she would be “burning a CD”. She was so cute…after a long day of driving she could not wait to get home to check her email. She was so excited to have a message. After an exhausting day we still have to head back to the tailors to pick up our things. We are so sweaty we cannot believe we are going to try on our new clothes. They turn out great…we have a mini fashion show and decide we have to have our hubbies take us out for a nice dinner back in Singapore so we can wear our new outfits.

We head back to the hotel, shower, and head back out. We stop at Starbucks. We decide to for-go any more Thai food and head to another very familiar place – The Hard Rock Café. It is about 10 PM Saturday night. We have a little dinner and listen to a few songs from the band and decide we have got to get back and try to get a little sleep as Rat picks us up for the airport at 6:00 AM. UGGGGHHHHH. I cannot complain. It has been an exhilarating 40 hours….only the flight home left. The airport is packed on Sunday morning. We pay our 500 Baht to be admitted to immigration…it’s called a “fee”…and then spend our last Baht at the airport shop. We board the packed 747 for home. Thai Airways flies a 747 between Singapore and Bangkok because it is such a popular trip.
I arrive home to a cool “Welcome Home“ sign on the door and outstretched arms of two silly little girls. David looks great…he survived! Thanks to Eileen for making our travel arrangements and to my family for supporting me in this adventure. The memories will last a lifetime. Korp kun!

Friday, September 20, 2002

Author: Theresa Frappia

As Anne and I “reflect” over our week (with a glass of Napa Valley Wine) it amazes me how much we did in a short period of time. I was able to stay up the first night until 7:30 and then slept until 6:30 the next morning. Saturday I was raring to go and the four girls headed out on a walk to the Botanical Gardens. Afterwards we went to Great World City, had lunch and then came home for a quick shower and then the two big girls went to Takashimaya for a little shopping and then back to pick up Katie and her friend, Taylor, for dinner and a trip to the Night Safari. I had heard about the bats but I was not aware that they were very BIG bats and very close! It definitely makes my list as one of the best zoos. Sunday the four girls went to Sentosa Island and saw the butterflies and the pink dolphin show. When they asked for two volunteers, my hand quickly went up and I was chosen to go up and pet along with feed the dolphin – another highlight of the trip. Monday Anne and I went to a special craft fair and then to lunch at Jade City where I not only had Shark Fin Soup but wonderful dim sum. Tuesday Anne, Amanda and I went walking and I explored a little bit while Anne and Amanda had their music class. It was then on to the MRT and up to Woodlands to see Katie’s school. It was very nice to meet Katie’s teacher and see her class. That night Anne and I went to a saw “Bourne Identity” via Gold Class. This means you sit in a special room, in a comfy lounge chair, with a blanket and someone brings you your popcorn and drinks! I decided that Bob and I probably would see a lot more movies if we could see them this way! Wednesday Anne and I got the girls off to school and then met up with two of her friends, Trang and Cynthia, to take the ferry to Bintan, Indonesia. We arrived at the resort and after having a bite to eat, which included chicken satay (a new favorite dish of mine), headed out to the beautiful pool over looking the ocean. It was a very relaxing afternoon. That night we had a great dinner which consisted of chili crab, a whole fish and baby kai lan with oyster sauce. All of it was very good. After a restful night, Anne and I got up and went for a walk on the beach, picking up shells for our girls. We then went to the spa where Anne and I each had a body scrub, massage and then a soak in a huge tub filled with scented water and floating orchids, all in our private little bungalow by the ocean. (Another highlight of the trip!) We ended the trip with a swim in the ocean, some more time by the pool and then a ferry trip back to Singapore. Today, Friday, Anne and I went on an American Women’s Association tour of Chinatown where we saw many sights and got to taste the famous mooncakes. Afterwards we had a wonderful lunch at Original Sin, a well known vegetarian restaurant. We then made it home in time for Katie’s swim lesson and Anne’s tennis lesson. I now have to see if I can pack all my treasures in my one suitcase and then get to bed so I can get up early and start my journey back to Napa.

I must add that along with all these wonderful experiences, I also got to spend some time with my favorite nieces, reading books and doing MANY puzzles. I also got to hang out with my good friend and sister-in-law, Anne. If I think about leaving tomorrow I have mixed emotions because I can not wait to see my two girls and husband but I am really going to miss Anne, Katie and Amanda. It has been a great trip, better than I could ever have imagined. Thanks David again for sending me here!

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

As I get ready to say “good-night” to an anxiety-ridden day here, I am thinking of everyone in the U.S. as the sun rises on the East Coast. I prayed at church today may God Bless us All and may he touch the lives of those whom wish to cause so much harm to others. My precious Katie made it safe and sound to and from the American School today. My precious Amanda smiled and laughed her way through the day. My beloved husband phoned me from Germany with wishes of “miss you” and love. Am I ever blessed. God Bless America!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

When I wake up it will be Sept. 11 here in Singapore. As we prepared for our move overseas and the movers were preparing to arrive at our home on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, only a few maniacs in the world knew what was about to happen. There is some anxiety around here but not as much as at home, I'm sure. It's my niece's 6th birthday tomorrow so I'm going to be thinking pleasant thoughts of her. I am also going to be thinking about and praying for all those whose lives were changed last year. A friend of mine said to me tonight at the SAS Open House that it would be hard for her and her family to observe a moment of silence tomorrow because the silence would be broken by her crying. Crying, along with the rest of the our beloved country. GOD BLESS AMERICA, LAND THAT I LOVE!

Monday, September 09, 2002

We’ve been having a lot of rain recently. Lately the rain storms have lasted several hours. We got caught in a doozie on Saturday night! Luckily, David had taken Amanda home after dinner out because she saw a dragon (from a dragon dance) and was scared. Along with some friends Katie and I ventured to the Chinese Garden for a Lantern Festival. There were beautiful, bright displays of Disney Characters which were all made out of the same materials used to make Chinese lanterns. They were lit up as well so it was really neat. We saw Cinderella’s coach, Minnie Mouse and her house, Sleeping Beauty’s castle and all 101 Dalmatian puppies (to name a few). We were there about an hour when it just started to pour. I was the only one with an umbrella but it did not really help anyway. Eileen and I stood in the souvenir umbrella line and I was finally able to buy four so all the girls could have one. The girls were just as happy without one though as they were splashing around and getting soaked to the skin. The only problem was the lightning was really close so we were getting a little scared. As we made a walk toward the MRT station a couple of clashes of thunder were so loud that the girls started screaming. The walk to the MRT was about 15 minutes and by the time we got there we were all a little chilly. I never thought I would be cold in Singapore and it did not help that the MRT was air conditioned. BBBBRRRRRRRRRR. It actually rained all night and continued most of the day on Sunday. Since Dave had to leave last night we really wanted to do some family activity, so we ended up going to the movies. We saw Stuart Little 2. Katie and I had seen it in CA but it was worth seeing again. Amanda was excited to see her 2nd movie in a theatre. It worked out pretty well.

David is off on his 2 and ½ week adventure to Germany and the U.S. Theresa arrives this Friday so I’m getting really excited!

By the way, Amanda has hardly asked for her BEE-BEE at all. She did mention to a friend that she did not have a BEE-BEE anymore because her daddy threw it away. David told me that he heard her tell someone that her mommy had thrown it away. I guess she is blaming us both.

Monday, September 02, 2002

Another night with out the BEE-BEE…and not too bad. Amanda woke up a few times but I actually think it is because she is adjusting to her big bed and not really because of the pacifier. Although, it is a little harder to get her back to sleep when we don’t have the pacifier to give her. When I first heard her at about 2:30 AM, I heard her saying her Katie’s name. I went into their room. Amanda was standing at Katie’s bed-side, trying to wake her up. We are not used to the fact that Amanda can just get out of her bed on her own. It ended up (after a few tries of trying to get her tot go back to sleep), that I just slept in her bed with her for the rest of the night. She has only asked for her BEE-BEE a few times today so we are still doing pretty well.

I am heading up to school in a little while. This afternoon Katie has her first gymnastics class so I will meet her, help her get changed, and get her off to class at 4:15. I’ll wait for her while she is in class then we will taxi home. Starting at the end of the month, she will have Brownies every-other Monday right after school, and gymnastics will follow. On the days she does not have Brownies, a friend and I will switch off meeting the girls and getting them to and from gymnastics. It should work out pretty well.