What I love about Singapore

Plucking upper lip hairs on the MRT is not an unusual site...

Plucking boyfriends ear hair on the MRT is also not an unusual site....

Men carry ladies purses around as an act of chivalry....

One encounters some very interesting outfit choices at the gym....

See thorough tights in Pilates class

High heels in weight training class

And last but not least in Singapore one can never outgrow Hello Kitty...

Hungry Ghost Month

It is August and once again Hungry Ghost Month.  It is believed that in the Ghost month, the gates of hell are opened and the spirits come back to visit their families. To appease them, the Chinese hold banquets and offer prayers.

Here they are burning paper money outside Kallang Leisure Park the main shopping center by our house.

I found this list of Hungry Ghost Month Do's and Dont's online and thought it was pretty interesting:

  • Do not stay out too late, try and be home by 11pm
    • Yin energy (which is what spirits are full off) are believed to grow stronger at night, especially after the sun sets, so the world ‘belongs’ to the spirits.
  • Do not respond when you hear your name being called late at night
    • Spirits may be calling out to you for help, if you respond then you must help.
  • Never joke about a procession or event even if you are not Taoist of Buddhist
    • This is particularly true if you are not from a Taoist/Buddhist/Confucian tradition or did not grow up in one. There are many grapevine stories of people not of the religion who made fun of these practices and were punished by the spirits.
  • When walking or running, avoid trampling on any place that has had prayer before
    • See the same reason on stepping on things used for prayer, add in the fact that prayer is divided between offeerings for familial spirits and wondering ghosts. And where things are burned (particuarly joss sticks), spirits are sort of ‘eating’ the joss stick as food and you wouln’t want people to step on your food/money right?
  • If you are burning incense paper do not stir the pot to mess up the ashes you spoil the burning and mess up the transfer of items to the netherworld
    • Thats as good as tearing the money up.

Hungry Ghost Month 2014 from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

National Day 49th Year

Happy 49th Birthday Singapore!!   Kingsley and I have loved living here the last 4 years and we are so grateful to live in this beautiful place with so much diversity.

National Day - Fly Over from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

Singapore National Day 2014 Picnic from Kingsley Wood on Vimeo.

Bangkok Squash tour

Two weekends ago we flew to Bangkok for the Singapore Cricket Club Squash Tour.  Kingsley won both of his matches at the British Club and the RBSC club so he was pretty happy with himself.  We also took some time for a bit of pampering and went for foot reflexology before one of his squash matches. 
Foot Reflexology

SCC Squash team

Of course no squash tour would be complete without a boat race at the end. 

Singapore Cricket Club vs RBSC - Boat Race from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

Enjoying the view at Above Eleven

Monday was a public holiday in Singapore so we spent an extra day in Bangkok and went to the Wat Mahathat Temple to do a 3 hour intro to Vipassana meditation.  Kingsley has done quite a bit of meditation over the last few years but this was my first experience and I was a little nervous.

We begin the session by waiting in a small room with a few other backpackers from Holland fior the main monk to arrive.  He eventually showed up almost an hour late which might have been intentional and actually been part of the whole experience.  Once he sat down he began by sharing some details about Vipassana meditation.

Here are some of my takeaways from the experience.  The first thing is to be aware of your actions, your body, your mind, your heart. Whatever thought passes through your mind, just be an observer.  Whatever emotion you feel, just remain an observer. Don’t get involved, don’t try to identify, don’t evaluate what is good or bad.  It is also important to become aware of your breathing. As the breath goes in and out your belly rises and falls. It is important to observe this.

While sitting and meditating, the primary object is to be watching the rise and fall of the belly. While watching your breath, many other things will take your attention away. Nothing is a distraction in Vipassana, so when something comes up, stop watching the breath and pay attention to whatever is happening until it’s possible to go back to your breath. This may include thoughts, feelings, judgments, sounds, and body sensations.

It is the process of being the observer that is significant, so it is important to remember not to become identified with whatever things came up during the meditation.

All of this sounded pretty simple as the monk was explaining everything but when the time came for us to actually sit in silence and meditate everything flew out the window.  I was hot, cold, uncomfortable, bored and restless.  Kingsley, having done 10 days of meditation in the past, was a pro. I have to admit I peaked at the clock several times and was shocked to find how slowly time seemed to be crawling by. However, at the end of the experience I really did feel a bit more peaceful and centered.  Not sure if I could ever do 10 days of it but I enjoyed learning more about meditation and it was interesting to catch of glimpse of what it must have been like for Kingsley during his 10 days of Vipassana. I have a newfound respect!

Dubai - Burj Al Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa currently holds the title of the Tallest Building in the world; it really is an impressive piece of architecture.  Instead doing the typical observation deck viewing with all the other tourists, I planned ahead and made us reservations at the Atmosphere Lounge on the 123rd floor at 7pm to watch the sunset.

Since it was Ramadan the restaurant was not able to serve food or drinks till 8pm but that was fine as we were too mesmerized by the view and watching the sunset over the desert. 

When 8pm rolled around I ordered a glass of wine and Kingsley had a cocktail and we ordered the lobster salad to share which was tiny but delicious. The bill for the evening was crazy but I felt it was still worth it for the amazing view and the overall experience.  

Later that evening we had a delicious Lebanese/Arab meal at Abd El Wahab restaurant overlooking the fountains and then at midnight we took a taxi to the airport to catch our red eye flight back to Singapore. 

Dubai - Souk Market, Ramadan and Atlantis Resort

After our high tea at the Burj Al Arab, Kingsley and I took a quick taxi ride to the Madinat Jumeirah Souk market which is located next door to the Burj.  As we walked in I found this shop that sold sparkly tierra headbands that could be woven into your hair and couldn't resist trying and then buying one.

Afterward we went to the Bahri Bar which has great cocktails and an awesome night view of the Burj Al Arab.

Day two in Dubai was spent exploring the Atlantis Resort.

 We spent an afternoon at Atlantis hotel which has a massive indoor aquarium.  Like the rest of Dubai all restaurants were either closed for Ramadan or had sectioned off hidden areas where you could go to order food.  Part of the restaurant was open behind the partition so we were able to order salads for lunch.  My salad ended up being almost as big as I was!

Coffee shop with a sectioned off area for those who needed to get their caffeine fix!

Dubai Atlantis Fish Tank from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

Dubai - Burj Al Arab High Tea

Kingsley and I celebrated a belated anniversary high tea at the Burj Al Arab.  We spent part of our Honeymoon 7 years ago at the Burj Al Arab so it was incredibly special to be back again.

Burj Al Arab fountains from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

The Burj did an amazing job creating an awesome gluten free high tea for Kingsley and I.
Service began with a glass sparkling date juice (due to Ramadan no alcohol can be served till after sunset) which was quickly followed by an artfully presented berry tart with cream.
The second course was the “chef’s carvery of the day,” which prime rib with mashed potatoes. At this point our coffee/tea orders were taken. They encourage you to try as many teas as you’d like, and I certainly took them up on that. I began with my favorite Jasmine green tea but also tried the oolong, vanilla rooibos, chai tea, beauty tea and a few others.  I think I drank about 7 pots of tea throughout the afternoon. Kingsley was somewhat mortified by my tea consumption but the waiter didn't even bat an eye.   Next we were offered a selection of gluten free finger sandwiches, each of which was explained to us in great detail. We were then offered a tray of sweets, presented on a “Burj Al Arab” style carrier. My favorite was the gluten free scones which were served with clotted cream and passion fruit jam. The next course was a lychee and rose sorbet. We were also given a to go box with some more chocolates. Lastly they brought out a beautiful red rose and some ice cream with Happy Anniversary written on it. Overall it was an incredibly romantic and memorable way to celebrate 7 years of marriage.

We left our high tea just as the sun was setting over the horizon

Kingsley and I on our honeymoon in 2007 - we look so young!

Dubai Burj at night from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

France - Paris

We spent our last 4 days in France exploring Paris with Sally, Shaun and Damien.  Early on Sat morning we packed all our gear into Sally and Shauns car and drove about 7 hours from Corlac house  to Paris.  We arrived in Paris on a rainy afternoon and went right to our French apartment in the Monteguile district.  It was a cosy little apartment very close to the metro and exactly what we needed for four days. That evening Sally and I made a mad dash through the rain to stock up on groceries and to buy stuff for dinner. Neither of us knew where the grocery store was, but between Sally's French and my rapid hand gestures we were able to find a little shop that was open just a few blocks from the apartment. 

The next day we started off by visiting the love lock bridge where Kingsley refused to buy me a love lock.  I know its all hype and the bridge is sinking so its not good to do but I still somehow wanted to add our own love lock to the mix.

Later we visited the Louvre and while we were there the sun finally peaked out from the clouds and it turned into a glorious day. 

Paris Metro Opera from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

Just as soon as we got Damien into his rain gear the sun came out! 

Arch de Triumph was the next stop.  It was built by Napoleon to celebrate his victorious battles.  It also has, in my opinion, one of the best views of Paris.

Look at that view! 

Later that evening Sally and I made wraps for dinner at the apartment and we played a bit of friendly poker. It was tough competition but I ended up being the tournament champion!

The next day we spent exploring the Marais neighborhood.  We then walked to Nortre Dam and then Montmartre and the Mulon Rouge.  Later that evening we took a picnic to the Eiffel tower.

Enjoying lunch and people watching in Marais

Going up and down the Metro stairs was one of Damiens favorite activities.

On our last day Kingsley and I went back to the Marias neighborhood as we really loved exploring that part of Paris.  We had a champagne and falafel lunch and then did a bit of perfume shopping before heading to the airport to catch our flight to Dubai.  


Paris Eiffel Tower at night from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.