Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fruit of the Month Club XIII

This is a loquat. I found it, along with about a dozen others, in a fancy package with lots of Japanese writing all over it. The loquat is tiny, not even the size of a lychee; in fact, it may be our first fruit of the month whose photo is basically life sized. Taste-wise, it reminds me of a plum crossed with an apricot (though it’s nothing at all like a pluot). Too sweet for me, almost like honey. It peels very easily, though the skin seems edible as well. The texture is slightly mushy, so while it would work well in a drink (loquat martini anyone?), it’s probably not so great for a salad.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Road Trip to Sentosa

Last weekend we headed out to Sentosa for what Singaporeans (and the British) call a “minibreak.” It’s cheating, really, to put this on our travel log, as Sentosa is a truly tiny Singaporean island just a bridge away from the city. It was the first trip we’d taken in ages that did not involve passports and immigration officials.

It would be an exaggeration to say that Sentosa feels a world away from life in the rest of Singapore. The food is the same, the people are the same - and just as in the city, there are numerous ongoing construction projects (a casino and a Universal Studios, among others, are planned for the next decade).

But thanks to the parts of the island that are still filled with vegetation and quiet, natural spaces, Sentosa is still an interesting place. Not only is it home to awesome fish reflexology, I’m not sure where else your relaxing spa time would be rudely interrupted by the squawky call of a wild peacock and your sliding glass door would carry this helpful message:

Monday, July 7, 2008

Two If By Sea

On our second day at Tokyo Disney, we visited the incredible DisneySeas park, which is exclusive to Tokyo. You won’t find many stuffed-animal-type Disney characters here; in a way, it’s similar to Epcot in that it caters more to adults. There’s less “cute” and more detail, proportion, and interest. Apparently the Japanese company that owns Tokyo Disney spared no expense on creating this park, and in return they got impressive creativity from the Imagineers.

For example, here’s Tokyo Disney’s idea of...

There’s a lot to be said for the photogenic scenery, with combinations and elements that made the fantastical feel real, if only for a moment. It started with the classy park entrance through an archway into a Mediterranean-style town, complete with gondoliers who would sing to you (in Japanese) while paddling you through the canals. Among our favorites were the shimmering, underwatery wonders of Mermaid Lagoon and the breathtaking turrets of an Arabian Coast straight out of the pages of Sinbad’s voyages. Close behind was the Lost River Delta area, with its creepy jungle-archaeology feel and near-full-scale Mayan temple.

We enjoyed the luxe details, like the fresh, modern, sea-themed decor of a hotel restaurant bordering the park. We especially enjoyed the simpler details, like the souvenir-seller who painted Disney characters (Donald Duck, the Little Mermaid) on the sidewalk in water (with a squirt gun from his cart) - an unexpected nod to the Chinese tradition of water calligraphy.

But most of all we loved the atmosphere of the park as it faded from day into night, gradually becoming a soothing, dare-I-say-romantic place with glowing lights and fantastic creations. Here’s what it looked like:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Happy Independence Day to those of you in the States. As you celebrate, we’re sure you’ll feel safer knowing that the Department of Homeland Security is watching over you.

They’re watching us, too.

A few days ago, my dad received his birthday present from Singapore: a couple of green-tea cups with Japanese writing and Mickey Mouse logos (from Tokyo Disney, of course), plus a Disney art book and a birthday card.

Apparently, the package arrived wrapped in big strips of yellow tape informing the recipient that his package had been opened by the DHS. I can understand that these days, packages going through customs may be opened and checked.

But did they really have to open and read the birthday card?

Evidently, they did; it was ripped open and carelessly resealed with a strip of the same yellow tape.

So now you can rest secure in the knowledge that you’re protected not only from any gifts from family and friends overseas, but also from any happy birthday wishes.