Singapore – part 2

Here it is, the much-anticipated second part of our Singapore trip.

On Day 2, we spent the morning trying to open a bank account. This was complicated by the fact that we weren’t exactly sure how to do this. First, we google mapped the bank we wanted to visit and found a location reasonably close to the hotel. So we took off early in the morning, thinking we could get ‘er done quickly and head to the zoo afterwards.

Yeah.

After we wandered up and down a few back alleys, we realized that the bank we found online must have been run out of someone’s basement or something. It was not there. Back at the hotel, I made a list of all the branches in the city. But which one to visit? Your guess was as good as mine. I guessed wrong.

After a few taxi rides back and forth, we ended up at the right location, just minutes away from the hotel (the other way). We milled around in the lobby for a while, being passed off between staff members who were trying to figure out what we wanted, until we said the magic word “offshore account.” Ah-ha! Suddenly we were whisked away to an elevator in the back that took us to the magic rich peoples’ floor, where we were offered tea and snacks and talked through the relatively simple process of opening a “gold-level” account. Hooray! It was all very fancy and satisfying.

Meanwhile, we headed out for lunch (while our personalized account cards were being embossed). It broke my heart to pass up the awesome dim sum place we saw, but we found a choose-your-own sushi kiosk instead. LittleB’s had salmon sashimi and cucumbers, and ours had salmon sashimi, avocadoes, tempura onions, sweet thai chili sauce and dried apricots. It was fantastic! And the sweet old cleaner man in the mall food court saw me stash away the beautiful boxes and gave me another one to keep. It was funny.

Choose-your-own sushi rolls. Yum!

After our relatively successful bank outing, we headed to the Night Safari for the evening. It was basically a zoo, but all the animals were either nocturnal or more active at night. We saw the usual suspects (elephants, lions, tigers, hippos) but there were a ton of interesting malaysian and south asian animals. Here are some highlights:

-We saw the malayan tiger being fed. It was huge and terrifying, until the keeper accidentally threw a hunk of meat into the dirty pond and the tiger was so indignant it made me think of Hobbes.

-There was a free-flying fruit bat cage, where you could walk through and see them eating. They were huge. It was awesome.

-We saw a group of asian otters who were begging for food and following us around. Their annoying screams are still ringing in my ears.

-Best of all, the “creatures of the night” show featured a number of exotic nocturnal animals. The headliner? A couple of raccoons. B and I killed ourselves laughing.

I don’t have many pictures because it was night, but here they are. Enjoy!

Here are the kids at the entrance to the Safari, waiting for the fire-dancing show to start.
And the show. This makes it look way more exciting than it was. It was just a bunch of teenagers walking around looking bored and dancing to embarrassing 90s-style tribal pop. Something made me think the “traditional” interpretation about this was pretty loose.
Waiting for the “Creatures of the Night” show to start. LittleB was just practicing, I guess.
A cool underground cavern in the Australia section of the safari. It was one of few places well-lit enough to get a photo.
The only animal shot I got – a sugar glider squirrel. The kids loved these things, and they now feature in every game of animal 20 questions we play (and we play it a lot!).
The kids with a stuffed cassowary and some bones. They just like the skeletons. I don’t know why we bother coming to the live animal shows.

School and friends

This has been a busy week chez the Cayas. Both kids started on Monday at the international school, we’ve been (unsuccessfully) house hunting, and we opened a bank account!

At school, J is in a preschool-level class, which she already loves. Even the teachers commented on how she just walked in and started conversations with everyone (i.e., forced the other kids to be friends with her) and how she felt comfortable enough to play right away (i.e., used up all their art supplies). LittleB is in an SK/grade 1 class, which seems to be significantly harder than the schooling he took in Canada. It turns out that you actually have to learn here, and do homework and stuff. I think he’ll figure it out eventually.

Next up was our first house hunting trip. The local real estate agent took us to see two houses in the area near the school. I was pretty excited to see some houses, get a baseline for what we want and look at the prices. Unfortunately, it was a bit anti-climactic. We did see two houses, but when I say “see” I mean it quite literally. We were only able to see the outside of the houses, since the caretakers of both places were not there. So the grand culmination of our trip consists of these two photos:

And even after all that, we later found out that this particular house is the infamous “turtle house” – a few other colleagues had come to see it recently and told us that inside there is a showcase of taxidermied birds of paradise and a giant preserved galapagos turtle. I’m more concerned that my kids would actually like to live with those, so I think it’s a pass… At least there was a tiny dead lizard on the front step that the kids enjoyed stomping on, so the trip wasn’t totally wasted.

Then today, we braved the language barrier and headed to the bank to open a local account. I think we managed to open a savings account with something like 4% interest. So we deposited $2 million into it!! Before you get too excited, that’s about CDN$200. It was a big deal, though. I also it connected to B’s cell phone, I think? Or else I signed him up for cat facts, I’m not sure. Anyway, at least now I can actually get paid and we don’t have to hoard cash in our hotel room like the immigrants we are.

Coming up next: another “word of the day”.