Wednesday, April 23, 2008


After three and a half long months of waiting, I finally got to go see Branden! After several date changes, we finally met up in Singapore last week. We got to spend four and a half days together, which went by much too fast, of course! Singapore is a wonderful city/country. It is a great introduction to Asia, as everything is in English (former British Colony) and it is a melting pot of Asian culture. In Singapore, the Chinese, Malays, Indians and Thais all live in relative harmony. The people are very polite and friendly and the city is very safe. The top things to do are shop and kind of town! Enjoy the photos!

Enjoying dinner at Blu, a restaurant on the 24th floor of our hotel...great food and a great view!

Little India's version of Pike's Place Market. I think I'll take Pike's Place...I only lasted about 30 minutes in Little India.

The smartest toilet I have ever seen (it was actually in Japan, where I had a layover coming and going) had various buttons, including one to release extra air freshener and another to play "loud flushing noises" in case you needed a little extra privacy!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the squatter toilets! To be fair, I only saw these twice in Singapore, but I wasn't a big fan!

Despite all of the fancy restaurants in Singapore, we found the local haunts to be our favorites. On the East coast of Singapore, there is a Seafood Center consisting of your choice of several seafood restaurants. As the sign says, "if it swims, we have it". The food was memorable and delicious!

Deep-fried lobster covered in "oatmeal" (a sweet cornflake mixture). Sounds crazy but it was so good!

One of the most famous dishes in Singapore, Chilli (their spelling) Crab. It is a whole crab in a sauce of chili, tomato sauce and egg. Not my favorite, but Branden loved it! We both loved the fried rolls (just like a dinner roll, but fried)
served wit
h it.

Singapore has an amazing Botanical Garden. It is very interesting because the rest of the city is a collection of high-rises and modern buildings. Then, right in the middle of it all, is this beautiful garden. The highlight of the park is the Orchid Garden.

Singapore has these crazy places called "Hawker Centers" all over the city. It is a crazy version of our food courts. They are outdoors and have three or four rows of all different food stands. It is very overwhelming (try finding a seat...a sweet couple took pity on us and showed us the ropes!) but once you find something you are brave enough to try, the food is delicious! There are stands for all types of cuisine (we even saw a stand with spaghetti bolognese) and for drinks. The stands are graded based on cleanliness and hygiene, being assigned an A-D. Supposedly, anything A-C is okay, but I stuck with an A. Branden chose the stand with the longest line. Both of us were very pleased with our choices!

Our daily cocktail hour at the beautiful Shangri-La hotel! I told them it was our honeymoon and they upgraded us to this special wing of the hotel. The room was beautiful and we were treated to a complimentary gourmet breakfast each morning, as well as snacks and cocktails from 10-10 each day. The house champagne was Moet White Star...not too shabby! We enjoyed a snack and a couple of cocktails each afternoon.

A fun reminder from the hotel...everyday the carpet in the elevator told you what day it was. "Monday" came too quickly!

Enjoying the beautiful pool! Singapore is just 1 degree off the equator, so between thunderstorms, the temperatures soar! The pool provided much needed relief. That's Branden cooling off.

Chinatown! The best place for buying all sorts of Asian souvenirs, if you can tolerate the pushy shopkeepers. Chinatown is also home to beautiful temples, both Hindu and Buddhist.

Time to go home! The trip went much too quickly, but now we're looking forward to Branden's return home in July!

Update from B

While I have been jet-setting all over the country, my wonderful husband has been keeping busy as well. Here is a recent experience he had, hosting some locals (giving them tours of the helicopter and ship) and enjoying dinner at the Mayor's house (Mayor of where, I don't know). I cut and paste these excerpts from a couple of emails he sent, so forgive any grammatical errors or anything like that!

Giving Tours
It was a busy day for me yesterday with all the tours. We give tours pretty much everyday when we pull in, so it is kinda a pain in the butt. I don't really think most of the people on the tours speak English, but they seem to have fun and like I said before take a lot of pictures. I think they are at awe with my height because these people are so small. These little old ladies just run right up to me for a picture. And it is usually not just one. I have to get one with each of them and then some with two or three and then some with the whole group. That is only one group and I think I had 10-12 yesterday. It is not that big of a deal though and there are definitely worse things that I could be doing. I am excited to go to the Mayor's house tonight and have dinner. It should be very interesting. I'm sure I will let you know all about it tomorrow.

Dinner at the Mayor's Home
So I had a very nice evening last night. The food was great as well as the company. The mayor probably has the biggest house in the city. So we got picked up from the ship and we had a police escort throughout the town. Sirens blaring and everything. It was pretty crazy trying to go through these tiny roads that were suppose to be two lanes, but really only made for one car. Everyone would stop and stare. It was like the president was going through town. It was pretty crazy. I think that if we just went through without than nobody would have given a care in the world, but we drew a lot of attention our way when we had the big police escort. So it took about a half and hour to get to the mayor’s house. He has a very beautiful house and not just in that country. He built it himself and everything is made out of pine wood, so it smells really good as well. It looks like a log home in the US, but about double the size. He has a huge yard as well with a couple man made ponds and he had a swimming pool in the back. The whole estate has a 10 foot stone wall around it with barbed wire above that. He also has police and army guards. Pretty crazy.

Dinner was awesome. We started off with some sushi, which was really good. Then we had prawns, fish and pig. Yes they had a whole pig that was roasted. It was really good. The also had some really good rice and what I thought was black beans with bacon in it. I ate it and thought it was awesome. Come to find out it was pig’s blood cooked with pork in it. I am glad I didn’t know that before I ate it, but now since I thought it was really good I would probably eat it again. You would also be happy to know that I had wine for dinner. In fact I had Redwood Creek Cab and Carlo Rossi California Red. Good to know that in PI they support Gallo. It was nice to have some wine. They only had a few bottles, so I only had 2 glasses. It was very nice to get a little wine though. For dessert they had this great fruit cocktail and a mango cake. I know you wouldn't like that, but I thought it was delicious.

After dinner we just conversed with the mayor’s children and grandchildren. He has four girls and two of them were there and they are both lawyers. The other two live in Chicago. They were very interesting to talk to. Their children reminding me a lot of Michael’s kids, when they were a little younger. They look very similar. They are very cute children. I actually had given them a tour of the aircraft the day prior, so they were still asking questions about it. We left shortly after for the same drive back to the ship.

Racking up the frequent flyer miles!

Wow, I am really bad at keeping up with the posts! Every time I log on, I can't believe it has been a month since my last post. I am very sorry. This month, I think I have good reason though...I have passing the time by traveling! I love to travel and I take advantage when Branden is gone, using the time to visit friends and family in far-off, fun places. This month, I visited my family in Texas for Easter, visited my sister-in-law-to-be in Seattle, went to Napa for work, hosted my sis, and went to Singapore to see Branden! What a great month. Singapore deserves it's own post, so I'll start here with Seattle.

Branden's "little" brother (he's 6'6"), Ryan, proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Ellen, right after the New Year. Pending Ryan's deployment schedule (he's a Marine), they are planning a December 27 wedding. Ellen is wonderful and recently moved to Seattle with her job at Kimberly-Clark. While Ryan is training on the East Coast, she is building her own career and hopes to transfer closer to Ryan sometime in the next year. While Ryan was away training for a few months and Branden was on deployment, we thought it would be fun to have a girl's weekend. So, my mother-in-law, Dede, myself, and Ellen's mom, Mary, met in Seattle for a fun weekend in early April. Ellen was the prefect hostess and showed us all the sights and sounds of Seattle! It was my first trip up there and, despite the cold, it is a beautiful city!

Dede and I enjoying the beautiful harbor views in Everett

Ellen and I braving the cold to get a view of the Seattle skyline

Pikes Place Market! What an awesome place...I wanted to buy something at every stand!

The very first Starbucks, located across the street from Pike's Place Market

A Seattle icon, the Space Needle (as seen on Grey's Anatomy)

Thanks for a great weekend, Ellen!