Singapore, Day 11

Dani and I still had some shopping to do. After all, Christmas was coming up and we wanted to do what we could overseas so that she could send things home with me. Well, if we could find things that just seemed right, anyway. With that said, I will just say right now that there will be no more discussion of presents bought, nearly bought, or contemplated due to the fact that gift recipients could be reading this right now.

We went to Holland V (for village) and sat down at a little outdoor hawker center for white coffee and Kaya toast. I've been reading the website of Killiney Kopitiam, and I've realized that they call Kaya toast Bread Toast. I like that better, but for the sake of discussion, I'll stick with Kaya toast. We wandered over to the wet market across the way and bought some very cool fruit, the smell of durian lingering in the air all the while.

Durian, though potent and stinky, doesn't really bother me all that much. It reminds me of walking through the Pike Place Market, and passing the fruit stands on a hot day when the garbage dumpsters nearby are more pungent than usual. Ah, the sweet smell of decay.

But, no durian this time. We bought some rumbutan, which is a small, round ball with floppy red spikes. The fruit is dense and juicy, surrounding a woody seed, that always seems to peel off onto the inside of the fruit, so you have to eat that to eat the meat. It tastes a little like kiwi, but the texture is like biting into a rubbery candy.

The other that we bought is longan. Outside its the size of a walnut. It's segmented like an orange, but the pods have smooth sides and clear skin. Inside is two brown, and very bitter, seeds. They are extremely sweet tasting.

We wandered around Holland V in the shops for quite awhile, picking up Christmas items, and turning down more than that. We walked over to a long line of restaurants across the way, and bought lunch at Da Paolo Gastronomia. It's an Italian deli which has a large butcher block where they place freshly made foods, including pizza, which they will bake for you right there. I had ham and cheese, Dani had, essentially, salad on bread. Another thing that looked delicious was stewed pears in a large, steaming bowl, the fragrance filling the shop.

We ate outside since the day was beautiful--hot and steamy. When we were done, I went back in for a creamy chocolate gelato that had flakes of bitter dark chocolate mixed in. We wandered into another chic, and brand new, deli called Bunalun where Dani bought Charles some fancy granola.

Since it was Tuesday, the Butcher had a special--buy 1.5 kilos of sausage, get .5 kilos free! Mind you, when I say the Butcher I'm speaking literally, as the name of this swanky, modern butcher shop is, actually, "the Butcher."

Loaded down with goods and meat, we grabbed a cab home just as the rain started. We had sausages for dinner, while poor Charles worked late, and when he got home we glued ourselves to the tube to watch the early returns from the election.

I had voted by absentee ballot before I left, although I did have to go down to the election office to pick it up since mine never arrived. Dani and Charles, however, had a much more difficult time. First, they were signed up as absentee and California sent out ballots fairly late for foreigners to get them in on time, so they were planning on FedExing the ballot in. When the mailbox was empty day after day, Charles called their voting office, and was told that they would be emailed a ballot which they could print and mail or fax.

But the ballot they received had a number of printing errors, for instance, it was clearly marked SAMPLE BALLOT. Charles contacted them again. Oh, that's just a mistake--ignore it. So, they did--of course, it would have been very handy had the office just told them in the first place.

The most disturbing, though, was in their voter booklet. Their city has a progressive mayor in the midst of a hugely republican county. He's very popular, and has managed to keep his office handily. A printing error in the pamphlet, however, put his bio and statement under the header of his crazy conservative opponent. So, anybody looking for the progressive and reading the booklet might very well end up voting for the idiot right winger. Oops! Mistakes like that just happen in Republican counties.

Since I'm getting dangerously close to discussing politics in detail, I'll sign off with this and write later about watching television on Wed.

Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: November 2, 2004 10:40 PM
Can't wait to read about day 12 even though I was there as well. Hope the writing is going well. We miss you.
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