Sunday, February 8, 2009

About Being Away


Some random thoughts from the trip (don't worry the pictures will be up soon)

1. Oh how I miss the street food in Asia. Be they the roadside stalls in Thailand where you can get a som tam (green papaya salad) for only 30 Baht (less than 1 euro) or the hawker centres in Singapore. Not just because they are cheap. Where else can you walk into but a hawker centre or the fancier food courts & have so many choices of food. Whenever X & I cannot agree on what to eat, we'll just drop by the nearest hawker centre & each of us can order whatever we fancy. Why can't this concept take off in France ? The closest we have to street food is the pizza truck & that's just so not the same.

2. Don't Singaporeans eat at home anymore ? Even when they do, it's likely to be ta pau food (take away). Granted eating out in Asia may be more convenient & cheaper but there's nothing quite like the experience of inviting friends over, planning the menu, setting the table & having a leisurely meal without feeling the need to rush out the door in a restaurant. During our trip, we dined in only twice. Once it was our reunion steamboat dinner (which wasn't exactly home cooked food) & the other when friends invited us over for dinner on the terrace of their apartment (thank you again Jim & Marc for a wonderful dinner). I'm not talking only about the food, it's the whole experience of entertaining at home, relaxing with friends over a glass of wine or champagne. That was what I missed when I was in Singapore.

3. I've been away more 18 years now & even though I do go back regularly over the years, I still feel like a stranger. I wanted to go to Scotts Picnic for lunch only to discover that they had torn down Scotts Shopping Centre, I got lost at Orchard MRT station, new malls are constantly sprouting (Does Singapore need more malls ?) & try finding your way around the new highways KPE, TPE, BKE.

But there are also certain things that feel so familiar that I suppose it doesn't take long before I fit right back again. The very Singlish speaking taxi driver that picks us up from Changi Airport, the markings on the ground at the MRT station where you're supposed to stand (reminding me how we are constantly being taken care of), the long list of taxi surcharges esp the new 35% peak hour surchage (yet another example of how everything is regulated to supposedly make life easier) and going to all my favorite food haunts (still there & still good). Call me boring - I don't try new restaurants when I'm back in Singapore & don't even offer to take me to an ang moh restaurant. Nothing makes me feel more at home than when I eat local. But the best example is when I go to Il Fiore (a landmark amongst the Raffles Place crowd) - a small Italian restaurant in the basement of Singapore Land Tower to meet friends for drinks, not food. Even before I sit down, the manager Angie already has my favorite drink on the table. After all these years, she still remembers who I am & what's my drink.

It feels great to be home.

5 comments:

monlim said...

Mei, I love your pic of the SG skyline! Took me long enough to find your blog, will tune in often :)

eunice said...

I know what you mean about feeling like a stranger. I don't go back that often now, and everytime I go back, new roads, buildings etc. I too got lost taking the MRT (so confusing).

Yes, agree about Sin not entertaining at home. Never realise that till I left. I love entertaining at home. We've had so many great get 'parties' in my house and it's always fun.

28 yr old lady said...

this is the first time i read ur blog. i am also sad that most of my friends (in fact, all) don't cook and i have to surf in forums to find cooking kakis. people don't cook mainly because they find it too bothersome to go through the whole process of planning, preparation, cooking and cleaning. but i thought that's the fun of it!

Katherine said...

i guess its due to the hassle. funny that this is such a small country yet people find it troublesome to drive 20 mins just to get something from somewhere else. i too love cooking for my friends and family at home but its just that everyone's working or have something else to do. the timing is so hard to fix so if i can't cook i make sure i'll bake something and leave it there for everyone =)

petite fleur said...

Monlim
Glad you made it here. I love your blog too.

eunice
Perhaps we'll get a chance to entertain each other at home soon

28 yr old
If you start, maybe your friends will follow

Katherine
Exactly. I love feeding people to.