Our Neighborhood

Gene and I love the architecture and urban planning here. One of our favorite activities is walking in our neighborhood and in other beautiful areas that are so easy to get to by train. Every neighborhood seems to have a walking path, playground, park, public shelter, covered walkway (to shade sun and block rain) covered over street walkway, seating, and exercise area. We see many people outside playing and exercising including the very old.  Practicing good health and exercise are practically mandated here. (please see the photos below).

There are often shops and medical services on the ground floor of the public housing and schools nearby. The developments we’ve seen are attractive, well kept, clean, and have lots of green spaces and activities. And, since owning a car is relatively uncommon, transportation is amazingly convenient, inexpensive and arrives every few minutes, and every kind of shopping is readily available.

With Singapore’s population of nearly 6 million people on an island that is 14 miles by 27 miles, high rise living (25-45+ stories) is the norm. We live on the 18th floor of a 44 story condo. The high rise housing for the vast majority of Singaporeans, whether owned or rented, is government built and affordable based on income. If you’re not Singaporean like us, or you are and you want a higher-end place with amenities like a pool and gym, there are many private condos to own or rent. These two housing types are intermixed across the island.

And, Singaporeans who are found to be homeless  are provided housing. We’ve been told that police keep an eye on people who are seen for a few days on the streets and they refer them to a government agency. Homeless are provided with a single room occupancy alone or with a roommate in a building with services and amenities. You won’t see many single family homes or even low rises in Singapore since land is at such a premium.

Worth noting, a cultural shift has begun where more younger adults and married couples are moving out on their own, not choosing the tradition of living with their parents into their 30’s, or living with the husband’s family permanently. As a result, senior citizens do not have young family members to take care of them. Now there is a growing need for senior housing and assisted living and many projects have begun being built.

The experience of Singapore’s urban planning and architecture is a big part of what makes this place a world class city-state.


Learning South Indian Cooking

Good Karma Through Cooking

The idea of taking an Indian cooking class came about when two friends I’ve made here, Dani from Australia and Mandy from Hong Kong, and I all wanted to learn about the prominent cultures in Singapore. We decided to take a South Indian cooking class from a very cool woman named Ruqxana (with a great reputation) in her funky little home near the eastern coast of Singapore. Maybe not surprisingly, with 5.4 million people in a place the size of Milwaukee, there are very few free standing homes here so Ruqxana’s house near the coast, or anywhere, is pretty unusual. Homes are crazy expensive and are typically owned by the very wealthy and Singapore has a lot of them (just look at the lamberghinis and other sports cars zooming around).  I venture to say that Ruqxana is not part of that group, thankfully.  Her home is quite bohemian, comfortable and cosmic, with her classic VW bug in the driveway and a number of sweet cats, too.

Ruqxana teaches many types of cooking classes, but we were most interested in learning how to work with Indian spices and making some everyday dishes. The only other person in the cooking class was a fascinating and very well-traveled Asian man named Alvin who was born and raised in Australia and moved to Singapore two weeks before.  The four of us bonded during this 3 hour cooking class.  There was a nice rain while we cooked in the partially covered outdoor kitchen, but we needed to clear the table since it was getting wet. We made dosai (a fluffy rice and lentil pancake like bread) dal, masala potatoes and green and red chutneys.  Mandy, Dani, Alvin and I had a lovely, delicious lunch at the dining table on the front porch while it rained and then became sunny by the end of the meal.

We decided to travel back together, and do a little sightseeing.   Mandy, Alvin and I caught the bus outside Ruqxana’s house to the train and went to the posh part of town to bum around. Dani took a cab to pick up her kids from school.

Our New Apartment Home

After many more days of looking in many different parts of town, all with their positive attributes, we are going to rent a lovely apartment on the 18th floor of The Metropolitan. It is close to the train (only a few stops from Gene’s office), close to wet markets (farmers markets) and Hawkers Center (prepared foods from vendors), and has a great view.

The wet markets and hawkers centers are not everywhere, at least not near where we are now, but in many neighborhoods; they are a big draw for us to live in a more traditional neighborhood.  In addition to younger working people, we saw many elderly and young families here. This building has many Japanese and Indian residents living here, too.  Since owning a car is so expensive, having these shopping areas near train stations or bus routes is quite common.

We need to get furniture and kitchen stuff. This should be fun, or frustrating, probably both.  We have been looking online because we need to get most of it pretty quickly.  I think we move in late July.