Sometimes when I’m out and about in Singapore, a sign will catch my eye that just makes me shake my head and say “Bless your heart” to myself. If you saw a store called Goods of Desire, what would you expect to find inside?
Unless your answer is “home decor and gifts,” you’d be wrong! Obviously.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m in a new place is to take a class or two (or ten). There is something so enriching about learning a new skill in a foreign place from a local instructor in a class mixed with other travelers, transplants, and locals. When I started searching for adult classes in Singapore, I knew that I wanted to find something fun and different that my husband and I could do together on a weekend afternoon. Enter The General Company, a small shop that sells experiences in addition to thoughtfully designed handmade wares. After perusing TGC’s website, the husband and I signed up for a 2-hour Basic Leathercraft workshop.
Hidden above Chye Seng Huat Hardware, a hipster-esque coffee bar and cafe, we were intrigued from the first moment we opened the door and were greeted by this staircase leading us up to the store and workshop area:
Upon arrival upstairs, we checked in with our other ten classmates and got to work on constructing a leather card case, led by local designer and artisan, Stone. Stone made the process simple and at the end of the two hours we actually had a card case to take home (and they didn’t look too shabby if I do say so myself!).
Step 1: Trace your pattern onto the leather.
Step 2: CAREFULLY cut the leather following the pattern.
Step 3: Punch holes.
Step 4: Fold leather and attach your hardware.
Step 5: Pray all your holes are aligned and close your card case.
Step 6: Take card case selfies with your classmates’ creations.
We cannot wait to sign up for the next course in the series. This class is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and it is unbelievably satisfying to leave with a cool memory as well as a product that a) we made ourselves and b) we’ll actually be able to use!
After living in our new place for a couple weeks, we’ve noticed that our security guards like to be all. up. in. the mix. They are all super nice, but sometimes we’re a little taken aback by what feels like kind-of-invasive questions. For anonymity purposes (I don’t know if these guys want to be known in blog land), I’ll attribute all security guard quotes to “Uncle” as this is the term used as a polite form of address for middle-aged or older males who you are not well-acquainted with in Singapore.
(The husband and I arriving home in a cab.)
Uncle: Hi! How was your night? Did you go out to dinner?
Us: Hi, fine, thanks! We did grab some dinner.
Uncle: Oh yeah? And were you out drinking?
Uncle: Good morning, Chico! What are you doing?
Chico: (Wags his tail and pees on the grass.)
Uncle: What are you doing, Chico? Are you watering the plants?
(Walking Chico on a different day.)
Uncle: Good morning! Only five minutes walk this time?
Me: Yes, it’s really hot and we went for a walk earlier.
Uncle: Doggies need more than a five minute walk.
Me: Well, he is really small. Have a good day! Bye!
Today marks one of the most important Chinese festivals of the year, the Mid-Autumn Festival. The festival is held each year on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, during a full moon, and within 15 days of the autumnal equinox. In Singapore, we are celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival from August 23rd to September 28th this year. Traditionally, the festival is a celebration of gathering family and friends, giving thanks for the harvest, and prayer. But what does it mean for us laypeople? Mooncakes and lanterns, of course!
The husband and I spent last Saturday morning sampling mooncakes at Takashimaya Square in Ngee Ann City. We arrived right when it opened so that we could taste everything (really, everything)! We found the local vendors to be so welcoming and eager to teach us all about their craft.
The Moon[cake] Walk
We tasted everything from the traditional mooncake (with a single egg yolk in a lotus seed paste filling)
to the more exotic flavors like durian paste, champagne chocolate, and black sesame yuzu truffle.
While I really enjoyed the black sesame, I think my favorite was the traditional lotus paste mooncake. The traditional version reminds me of a family friend’s peanut butter fudge we have every Christmas so maybe I was just being a little sentimental.
We finished our Mid-Autumn Festival celebration with a night out in Chinatown to see the neighborhood decked out with lanterns.
Photo Credit: The Husband
We had such a fun night! You could feel the energy in the air and we immediately knew something special was going on when we turned the corner into Chinatown (besides the 50% off steaks and craft beers that we stumbled upon). 🙂
“Alright stop.” All jokes aside, that’s what I had to tell myself every time I thought about taking the bus in Singapore, but panicked and grabbed a taxi instead. I don’t know why, but I’ve never been a bus girl. Give me a metro/subway/tube/MRT any day of the week, but the thought of taking the bus to navigate a new city has always seemed a little too overwhelming to me. I think it’s because I find the bus maps and routes located at stops to be completely indecipherable. Also, what do you do when you get on the bus? How do you pay? And I’m scared I’ll get on the wrong bus or get on the right bus and miss my stop, ending up who knows where lost and alone with no… You get the picture.
Anyway, I finally gathered up my courage and did it! I was going somewhere that was nowhere near an MRT and I quite frankly just didn’t want to spend another penny on a taxi so I hopped on a bus armed with an EZ Link card (that’s how you pay for public transpo here) and MADE IT to my destination. It doesn’t look so scary, right?
Yes, I even rode a double-decker!
Since that first trip yesterday, I’ve gone all over town using Singapore’s bus system. I’m proud of myself for overcoming a really silly fear. Expat life is awesome, but sometimes the tiniest things can derail you and I’ve found that you just have to rip that bandaid off and go for it in order to get back on track.
Final Verdict: It’s cheap, easy, and accessible all over the island. Riding the bus is definitely a “do”!
Hooray! Our air shipment has arrived (one week late, but who’s counting?) so we are one step closer to being settled in Singapore. We received a total of nine boxes full of our “essentials” that we need to survive until our sea shipment decides to grace us with its presence. Here’s a look at the mess we have so far and a sneak peek at the new place!
So… What did we consider “essential”? Our air shipment consisted of Chico’s belongings (car seat, toys and blankets), clothes that wouldn’t fit in our suitcases, hangers, yoga mats, handbags/briefcases and other small leather goods, kitchen supplies (place settings for two including plates, forks, knives and spoons, 1 pot, 1 pan, 1 spatula, a few large spoons for stirring/serving and a manual can opener), two beach towels, our Vonage box and phone, and last but certainly not least, our TEMPURPEDIC PILLOWS. We totally should have figured out a way to get those pillows in our suitcases! I wish we had also included some bath towels (helloooo priorities!) and a small tool kit, but c’est la vie…
We’ll be moving from the serviced apartment we’ve been staying in to the new place as soon as our guest bed mattress is delivered as we’ve already procured a bed with linens as well as a TV.
Chi was definitely pleased (and maybe a little overwhelmed?) to finally be reunited with his toys from home.
“I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so… Scared!”
I would love to know what others consider essential and what you wish you would have or would not have included in your shipment!
If you’re going to move from a western country to a country in Southeast Asia, Singapore is where you’ll find the easiest transition. That being said, even “normal” things from home are done just a little bit (or a lot bit, depending!) differently here. At home, when you order a drink with your carryout or to-go meal, the drink is always given to you separately from your food. Here, you order something for “take away” and it ALL goes in the bag. Surprisingly, it works! I walked all the way home from the mall with not one drip. 🙂
P.S. Popeyes is alive and well in Singapore… #itsthelittlethings
P.S.S. Do you think the walk to and from the mall to pick it up negates at least a few of the calories??? #worthit