Thursday, 7 July 2011

A Year On - Pandan Thoughts & Hot Soup

This week marked the 1st anniversary of our departure from Singapore and arrival back in New Zealand; for me a moment of sad reflection.

Being one of those people who did not go to Singapore to live an Expat lifestyle, I found myself welcomed by colleagues and made good friends over the four years of our stay - most of the time living in Queenstown.

I admired Singapore before I went to live there and I admire it still.  It's not perfect but no place is.  It is a safe and there are no winters!  The sound of night birds and the lushness of tropical foliage even goes some way to mitigate the omnipresent heat and humidity, although I confess July in the Republic can be very trying.

By contrast, here in Auckland it is the season of porridge and hot soup.  Prices of good quality, tinned soups such as the Watties brand are great value; two servings for $NZ2.50 and these keep us fortified.

It is also the season for multiple layers of clothing and a quick sprint across the cold bathroom tiles first thing each morning.  At least as I write there are patches of sun between the strong westerlies and showers, which meant that I could get out for a walk.

It remains somewhat of a challenge to circumvent slowly pacing pensioners, their dogs on leash, as they hog the pavement and force one into the muddy slush on either side of the concrete.

Quite a change from my walks to the Queenstown library in Singapore where I hugged each patch of shadow under the HDB's to avoid the cranium-boiling sun.  A bottle of water was always in my carry bag as was my small umbrella, its silver side upwards to deflect the worst of the rays.

One of the more distinctive and welcoming smells of Singapore is that of the pandan leaf, which is used in a variety of kueh kueh and gives kaya toast its sweet aroma. Now these same leaves are being used in Asia's first aquatic science centre to filter out nitrates and phosphorus which promote algae growth and effect water quality.

While the NEA has problems stopping people littering their condos and HDB's to their credit they are on the ball when it comes to water quality.
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john said...

Hi there,
I sorta click onto one of ur picture links when I was looking for info on my old school in queenstown. U are exactly the kind of FT that we need in Sg, someone who is willing to go out to meet the local people and experience life as a Singaporean not someone who lives in his expat circle. U know as a Singaporean, this country is beyond all recognition even though I have been living here forever.

Anyway I hope you have been well in new zealand and may peace be with you. :)

Roger Smith said...

Thank you for your kind words John