Thursday, January 12, 2006

Singapore - Happy New Year from our new Home

Singapore: A "fine" country
bicycles not welcome here???
Happy New Year from our new location: Singapore. Although here the New Year corresponds to the Chinese calendar which means it’s celebrated on Jan 29, 2006.  Anyway, we decided to use the mid-date between the two celebrations to send this out.

A couple of weeks ago, we moved into our new home (literally brand new) in Singapore and have sorted through most of the boxes that we shipped over. It’s a challenging feat to cram everything into half the floor space, but luckily the floor to ceiling space can and must be utilized.

Patrick graduated in Oct and simultaneously we sold our house, car and various other belongings. (PS. could anybody please tell God that the world’s electricity norms need to be standardized for the global job seekers?) Patrick’s company offered him a position here at the Singapore division which allows him to delve into product management side of business, he will probably still travel quite a bit, but mainly within Asia.

Clare Quay, the tourist mile
Esplanade and Suntec in the background
So, we arrived here in our new hometown end of October and have kept busy with getting to know the Country (actually it's City really) and while Patrick started his new job right away, Julane spend long days searching for an apartment that was somewhat affordable but not located accross the border in Malaysia.

Julane posing in front of the
old parliament building
The "Merlion" the most famous
Landmark of Singapore

We finally succeed and moved into our flat just before Christmas.
Alas, Christmas was spent opening boxes of another sort….sometimes equally surprising when I discovered some of the humorous items that were packed by the moving company: an empty egg carton, empty plastic soda bottles, etc. Plus we killed a few trees with all the paper and carton that they used to pack everything. But breakage was consequently minimal.

Small, but nice views
But we were a tad bit worried when we discovered in Singapore that we needed to declare any and all video tapes that were packed in our 200+ boxes. More shocking was the corresponding astronomical fees ($100 per hour) for viewing these video tapes, editing, and approving them for import. I knew that I had chucked in some tapes from old episodes of Survivor, but since they were American NTSC norm, I hoped that they wouldn’t be discovered or viewable. And I thought America was prude, welcome to Singapore! No porn allowed here…The local TV programming regularly promotes pro-marriage commercials. And to emphasize this, they only offer the subsidized housing to married couples of any age but lonely singles need to wait until after age 35 to get the special privileges to cost control housing. By this time a woman is considered over the hill so I guess she gets spinster-rights and need to own her own place anyway. The alternative is live at home with the parents, share a flat, or buy/rent a private place where costs compare to LA/San Fran/Zurich/Paris, etc. (Only Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York seem to be higher)
Night Skyline from our appartment

Since we’re just getting our feet wet now, I can’t offer too much more insight. We look forward to go Scuba-diving, which has been on the backburner for far too long (but then again, who goes diving in a desert?).
We’re leaving in two days for Thailand (Jan 18-Feb 6) and will be on a live-aboard boat north west of Phuket to the Similan islands. Then we’ll go to the south west of Thailand just above the Malaysia border for some more diving. Right now we’ve been out shopping for dive equipment and are quite excited to have our own gear. Makes a world of difference!

All the best to everyone in 2006!