Where I've Been

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Daily Life in Singapore

I've had several requests for more info on daily life in Singapore and less of my bad jokes. I'm bad at multitasking, so I'll handle the first request this time.

This much requested entry describes my average day in the city-state of Singapore, a.k.a.: “The Lion City”.

My 7AM alarm comes only about 30 minutes after dawn. Since we practically (and painfully) straddle the equator, sunrise is about the same time year round. By 7:45 I’m stylishly dressed in my Orchard Rd. fashions and striding through the condominium complex I live. Here is a view of the building I live in:

Then I walk by the pool:

Nice eh? Everyday it’s like I’m in a resort. So plush.

Then I sit down here for a bit because I’ve been walking for up to 3 minutes:

This is where I wait patiently for the 173 (it’s a rhyme to pass the time).
After about 45 minutes and a bus switch I arrive at the International Business Park.

They call it that because there are a lot of international businesses here. And the park part is because there are some monkey bars behind the fountain there in the distance (I haven’t actually checked, I just think there probably are, monkey bars don’t really “do it” for me).

After my long journey through the Bukit area of Singapore (it means hill, but there is no hill) I’m usually pretty hungry so I go and get some breakfast at the Yummy Yummy Cafeteria. I’ll usually get some noodles with some fishballs (yup) or some tofu skin wrapped sausages. Then I get some juice.

The smiling lady on the right gives me juice about 4 times a day (in return I pay her cash). She blends it up for me then hands it over and says “xie xie” (you pronounce it “shi shi” like “shin” or “shift” or…...or ”shin” again) which means “thanks”. She says “xie xie” a few times and I say “xie xie” a few times. One might say we are full of “xie xie”.

Can I tell you about the juice here? Oh my. As you can see, there are a plethora of fresh fruits that are ALWAYS in season in Singapore (equator straddling will do that to a country). So you can have mango, soursop, kiwi, guava, dragonfruit, avocado, starfruit, ciku, celery, carrot, jackfruit, pear, apple, orange, etc, etc. juices whenever you want. Some juices are better than others, think of drinking a stalk of celery, your tastebuds bleed.

After that I hop on the elevator (they call it a “lift”, imagine that! Sure it describes what it does, but elevator has so many more syllables) and head up to National Instruments.

Here are some of the AEs smiling at you.

At lunchtime we all head out to eat, either at the Yummy Yummy Cafeteria or in another building. It’s also yummy yummy, but they don’t shamelessly promote it. Lunch runs about $2-3 in glorious greenbacks so I stock up. That way I won’t have to eat for like a month after I come back to Austin. Even in the cafeteria the food is great. A staple is chicken rice. That's roasted or steamed chicken, rice, some sauce, cucumbers, and usually cilantro. Then there’s the soup stall, hotpot stall, “economy food” stall, snack stall, vegetarian stall, and “Muslim food” stall which is basically Malaysian food: spicy and sweet.

Disclaimer: This paragraph is for my fellow NIers and will contain several acronyms and terminology that has been known to induce narcilepsy in non-employees. If you are operating a motor vehicle while reading this blog, please pull over.

Working at National Instruments Singapore has been extremely challenging so far. I’ve spent quite a bit of time working on a POC for the Singaporean military. I’ve also learned and taught TestStand, done a LabVIEW Hands on session, assisted in building demos for tradeshows, created training for the AEs over here, abused some of my connections in getting demos sent over, argued with Todd about getting some equipment (you know I love you brother), and I am flying to Malaysia next week for LabVIEW Intermediate. The office is really tight knit, I sit right beside the FSEs and ISEs (yea they’re engineers here). Marketing and operations are just a shout out away. Phone routing isn’t usually a problem, you can always just stand up and talk to the person if you’re having problems. Work starts around 8:45 or 9 and goes until…well it’s kind of like a game of chicken, everybody seeing how much longer they can stay in the road than the other guy (ever seen Footloose? Yea, when they sing the “I Need a Hero” song and Kevin Bacon gets his shoelace stuck on the pedal and can’t jump? Yea, it’s like that). That photo above of the AEs was taken at about 9:30 PM. About 8 of the 11 AEs had their shoelaces stuck to the pedal too. In reality though, we’re all gearing up for NI Days that’s about to happen all over the region. Think NIWeek with the word "week" taken out and replaced with "days". The work is a lot of fun and everybody has a great attitude.
Afterwards we go and get some dinner. Here we are eating some cheese prata:

Mmm. It’s a thin Indian pastry stuffed with cheese that’s eaten with a souplike curry sauce. Nice. Following my stream of consciousness: I have hardly eaten any “Western” food since I’ve been over here. Last Sunday though I had a little hankering and went to an Italian place for some pizza and pasta. I almost ordered a calzone, as the menu tantalizingly described it as “a folded pizza, similar to a large currypuff”. For those of you who aren’t familiar with a currypuff, it’s like a small calzone.
A zoomed out view of the cheese prata place.

Well that about does it for this time.
Next time I may tell you about how easy it is to find a shoe that fits me in Singapore, being that I have a foot that’s as big as most Asian females (notice I didn’t say females’ feet, I said females).

Maybe I'll even talk about some of my "cultural excursions" like karaoke night.

Yea, look at me rock out.

Until next time, remember that all good travellators go to heaven (thankfully, there seem to be hypermarts there as well, whew, I was worried.)