Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bluetooth in the Bathroom

Steve Yastrow has an amusing post on Tom Peters' blog (he of In Search of Excellence fame) regarding cell/hand/mobile phone (take your pick) usage. He notes that society is changing as we become more comfortable in using hand phones. People (presumably, he's referring to Americans in particular) are not as embarrassed to be seen talking to an invisible "other."

"Years ago, we started to see people walking through airports talking on cellphones with headsets. In order not to seem like wierdos talking to themselves, these folks would routinely hold the headset microphone to their mouths, so you could clearly see that they were on the phone.

"Then people dropped their hands from their headsets, assuming you'd know they were on the phone because of the cord dangling from their ear. After a while, the introduction of the bluetooth headset took away that cord, but by then nobody was self-conscious anymore, and it became commonplace to see people walking through airline terminals talking without shame to an unseen companion."

Now, it appears that men aren't afraid of talking in the one place that seems to have been the most taboo for guys having a conversation - the bathroom:

"Many times in the past year I've walked into an airport men's room and seen a lone man standing at a bank of urinals, actively engaged in a hands-free conversation with someone hundreds of miles away, presumably with a hidden bluetooth headset in his ear."

The question that struck me about this article is, how will Asian culture adapt to the Bluetooth headset? When I was in Korea, a couple years ago, I was introduced to the custom of covering one's mouth while talking on a hand phone. Speaking loudly in public is considered rude behavior in Asia, and Koreans (and other Asians) try to avoid doing so, especially while talking on a hand phone.

The question now is, how will Asians be able to keep their voice levels down and remain "polite" while using Bluetooth? It's hard to say. Here in S'pore, it's becoming more common to see people (mostly businessmen) talking away somewhat loudly while using their Bluetooth. But Singaporean society, in general, seems to be getting louder and louder (in their speech). It would be nice to see how this issue is playing out in some other countries, like Korea and Japan.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Buddha and the Bicyclist

Buddha at the former Tai Pei Buddhist Center

These are two more photos from this weekend that I wanted to add. Above is a picture of the statue of the Buddha that sits atop the former Tai Pei Buddhist Center at the intersection of Lavender Street and Kallang Road. Of course, this is a very prominent landmark here in S'pore, and I enjoy looking at it whenever I go through that intersection. The photo itself is not the best quality, even after all the work I put into getting it up to this level. But considering the numerous factors in trying to take a decent shot of the Buddha that night, I don't think this is that bad a photo.

Bicyclist on Geylang Road

Lance Armstrong in Singapore? I don't think so. :) While I was up on the pedestrian bridge over Geylang Road, Milady urged me to take this photo of the bicyclist riding west.

I myself love bicycling, and used to do some serious riding to and from university and work when I was younger (we're talking 1500-odd miles per summer when I was working on my Bachelor's degree, and 15-mile rides each way to work when I was getting my Master's). However, I don't really like the idea of riding a bike here in S'pore. The law says you're not supposed to ride on the sidewalks (although many people do), and the streets are too crazy with drivers here for me to trust them. (I didn't trust drivers when I lived in Phoenix, where I was hit twice on the wide streets there; why would I trust them here in the narrow, congested streets?) Neah, I'll take the MRT instead.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Geylang Serai

The Sims Avenue Gateway to Geylang Serai, at night.

During this month of Ramadhan, the bazaar at Geylang Serai is up and running (as usual). Milady and I walked through the bazaar yesterday afternoon, and then we drove through last night on our way home. Above and below are a few of my photos. All of the night photos were taken from inside the car (often while the car was moving). The day photos were taken on foot from various places along the street and on some pedestrian bridges over Geylang/Changi Road. Above is the gateway to the Geylang Serai area over Sims Avenue.

Detail from the Sims Avenue Gateway to Geylang Serai.

Some detail from the top of one of the pillars to the Sims Avenue Gateway.

Geylang Road, looking east.

This is Geylang Road, looking east (toward where Geylang is known as Changi Road), from one of the pedestrian bridges that crosses above the street. This is a rather typical street scene for the Geylang area, as the road is almost always this congested with traffic and with people walking in (or jaywalking across) the street. This is one of the few pictures I've left untouched.

Geylang Road, at night.

Geylang Road, at night.


Handbag, anyone? This was one of two pictures of merchandise I took yesterday. I would have liked to have taken more photos of the merchandise for sale (especially of items made out of fabric, for the colors), but I wasn't interested in going up to each and every salesperson to ask permission. This photo was taken covertly. ;)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Three Men on a Motor Scooter and Other Yahoos

This is my other essay that I wrote while I lived in Korea, "Three Men on a Motor Scooter and Other Yahoos." It deals primarily with Korean drivers.

After returning from my "visa run" to Japan, some of my Korean students asked me what differences I had observed between the two countries. Half-jokingly, I replied, "I didn't fear for my life when I crossed the street in Japan like I do in Korea."

The fact of the matter is, of all the countries I have been to, Koreans are by far the worst drivers I have ever seen. They are incredibly aggressive. In fact, the surprise to me is that I haven't seen any accidents. Koreans must be extremely good drivers...or extremely lucky.

The bus drivers here in Busan are the kings of the road. The busses are large enough to carry a decent number of people, but small enough to be nimble in traffic. While American bus drivers are conservative and stay in one lane (usually), Korean bus drivers will use all the lanes of the road on their side. It is not unusual for standing passengers to sway from their handholds as the busses change from one lane to another or from the erratic starts and stops. Being from Arizona, I have been tempted to yell out, "Yeeeee-haaa! Ride 'em, cowboy!" but I doubt many Koreans would understand the reference.

Bus drivers are also not shy about expressing their emotions. These guys lay on their horn often and with a passion. The other day I thought I'd count the number of times our driver honked his horn at the other cars, but I stopped after reaching twenty. Maybe he hit the horn a total of thirty times that trip...and that was just in a fifteen-minute ride. One time he honked at cars in front of him who were stuck in a traffic jam. No one could move, and yet this yahoo was honking at the others for them to get out of his way. Maybe he was honk-happy.

Taxi drivers are as bad as the bus drivers. The only difference, really, is in the size of the vehicles. I've only been in Busan for two months, and already I've been on a couple of taxi rides from hell. The first ride was when the taxi driver misunderstood where I wanted to go. Instead of heading in a southwesterly direction, toward Kyungsung University, he drove toward the northeast. When I started seeing signs for Beomeosa, the Buddhist temple outside the city (which I had already visited twice), I knew I was in trouble. The busses and subways were already shut down for the night (which was why I took the taxi in the first place), and I started wondering where I would ultimately end up that night and how I was going to get home. What made matters worse was that all my efforts at communicating with this guy didn't help me at all. I tried writing the name of the university in Korean script (wrongly, as I later found out), and my Korean phrasebook was absolutely no help at all. The man did lend me a cell phone, and I tried calling my institute's assistant director, who is fluent in both Korean and English. However, I couldn't reach her on the phone, only getting some Korean man whom, at 1:30 in the morning, must have wondered who the heck "Colleen" was. After about 25 minutes of travel, I finally said quietly, "You're going the wrong way." Perhaps he had heard that before from other Westerners or maybe he understood the despair in my voice. Either way, he pulled over to the side of the road where some Korean university students were walking. I told them where I wanted to go, and they gave him the proper directions. He banged his head with his hand a couple of times, letting me know in that universal gesture that "yes, I am an idiot," to which I could only completely agree. Finally, I arrived home, almost an hour after I first started and 20,000 won poorer (he actually gave me a 15,000 won discount; however, a normal ride home only costs 4,500 won).

Then, just the other night, I had another terrible taxi ride. This guy took me home the right way, but he was really aggressive behind the wheel. He whipped us from lane to lane, and several times I had to hold onto the front seat in order to keep steady. Just before I got home, another taxi cut in front of my driver. My driver, pissed at this other guy, swung around and cut in front of him. (Which, of course, placed me in the center of any accident should we get rear-ended.) The other guy got pissed himself, and he swung around to my driver's left. Both men opened their windows (we're now at a red light), and both started cursing at each other. Seconds earlier, I had been frightened to death of being in an accident; now I couldn't help but laugh at these two guys.

The motorcyclists here are pretty similar to most other motorcyclists around the world. They like to drive between the lanes whenever they can, although I've seen more than a few of them drive by me on the sidewalks. The other night was pretty strange for me. One minute, I saw three guys riding a motor scooter together. Not a motorcycle, mind you, but a smaller motor scooter. No sooner had I finished shaking my head, wondering how the heck the third guy was able to hang on, when a motorcycle with two people on it came down the road with their headlight off. This is at one a.m. By the way, none of the five people were wearing helmets.

Speaking of motorcycle helmets, Koreans wear some interesting fashions. There are a few guys who wear a helmet that is very similar in shape to the Nazi helmet of World War II. Just paint 'em black (if they aren't already), put a couple of SS stickers on the sides, and voila! Instant Nazi helmets! The other motorcycle helmet fashion this year is fins. They're regular motorcycle helmets, but they sport either two or four fins on the top. I have no idea what purpose they might serve or if they're just an aesthetic design. Either way, I'm almost tempted to buy a four-fin helmet just so I can take it back to America and turn some heads. (Of course, then I'd have to learn how to ride a motorcycle.)

I've been pretty hard on the Korean drivers in this essay, and I do want to say that not every Korean drives badly. I've had a number of taxi and bus drivers who have been very good. Also, the few times I've ridden with other people in cars (like the Korean employees at my institute), they've been very good drivers as well.

One last story, and I include it only because it happened on the bus. I was sitting down in one of the seats, putting photos into a new photo album, when a high school girl standing next to me began saying "I love you, I love you..." over and over again. I had no idea who she was talking to, but I decided to say to her, "I love you too." This embarrassed the heck out of her, and the three friends who were with her burst out laughing. After a few seconds of turning her back to me, she turned around and said, "I'm sorry." I went back to working on my photo album, but just before she got off the bus she again said, "I love you."

Copyright 2001 by John J. Dunne

Post Script: In the second paragraph, I wrote, "Koreans must be extremely good drivers...or extremely lucky." This essay was probably written in late 2001, and I didn't leave Korea until that October. Interestingly enough, in all my remaining time there, I still didn't see any car accidents there (although one of my favorite students, J.Y., admitted about a month before I left Busan that he had gotten into an accident). I still think the above sentence is valid.

Texas Street

One of the nice things about the Web is that, potentially, nothing's ever lost (actually, this can be a bad thing too, but I digress ;) ). I had been thinking that I'd like to put two old essays of mine on this blog. However, the essays are not on my computer's hard drive (or any of my thumb drives). Solution? Retrieve the essays from a website (PusanWeb) where I'd had them published several years ago. Amazingly, the essays are still there (alhamdulillah).

This first essay, "Texas Street," is about my visit one night to an historically famous neighborhood in Busan, only for me to discover that it wasn't quite what I expected it to be.

Recently, we had a new student show up at the Institute, a young woman from Ukraine, I believe. The woman's presence caused a small stir among the Western teachers, in part because of the novelty of having a non-Korean student at the school and also because this woman was amply endowed. (Korea is, after all, the Land of the A-Cup, and the Ukrainian woman's bra had to be at least a C-Cup.)

After the young woman left the teacher's office, I jokingly suggested that the Institute should put up some recruiting posters along Texas Street. Perhaps we could get some new students among the Russian hookers. While we considered that idea, the thought struck me that I myself didn't know exactly where Texas Street was or what it looked like. So, on the next Saturday night, I decided to pay a visit.

Texas Street, of course, originally got its name from the Americans, but the area, officially called the "Choryang Shopping Area for Foreigners," is predominantly Russian now. There is also a growing number of Chinese there as the Shanghai Gate (Sanghaemoon) is located one block southwest of the uglier CSAF Gate. According to one of my tourist maps of Busan, Texas Street is now known as "Shanghae Street." However, despite the crazy quilt work of Russian, Chinese and Korean influences, the "Texas Street" name prevails.

Now one of the things I love about Busan is its incredible nightlife. There are a number of neighborhoods in the city - Seomyeon, Nampodong, the areas around Busan National University, Bukyung National University and Kyung Sung University - where there's an almost palpable energy flowing through the streets. Tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) walk around, shop, dance, eat, drink, and sing in the equivalent of neighborhood-wide block parties every night, no matter what the weather. It's the type of street scene that American merchants and politicians salivate for.

Which is why my visit to Texas Street was so depressing. There was hardly anyone there at all. Walking along several blocks in each direction, I saw perhaps two hundred people at the most. Many shops were open, but each had only a few, if any, customers. A few Russian hookers walked the streets, dressed in heavy coats and short skirts. They were mostly middle-aged women, perhaps a few years older than me, and not terribly attractive. Looking through the open doors and windows into the bars and restaurants, I saw few patrons (except at the Chinese restaurants). A few Russian women sat in chairs next to the open doorways. "Come, come," they would beckon, but I felt like a moth trying to be seduced by spiders and I continued to walk on.

I felt the most pity for the few Koreans working there. One woman, standing next to a credit card application table, seemed to have few prospects for the night. Another woman sat behind an empty food cart, the only one in this neighborhood in a city filled with hundreds of food carts. As I walked by, she said "Hello," and I said "Hello" back to her. For a second, I almost went over to buy something from her, me feeling so bad that she had no other customers, but I was already beginning to feel uneasy and I walked on. (A few minutes later, I walked by her again. A few men had stopped by to eat some of her food, and I felt a little bit better for her.)

After about fifteen minutes of walking around, I had had enough. I began to long for the company of Koreans, so I returned to the subway station and took the next train for Nampodong, two short stops away from Texas Street.

Copyright 2001 by John J. Dunne

Saturday, October 01, 2005


I'm not quite sure what this is; I presume that it's a dragon of some kind, although it could be something else. (A devil?) Any suggestions?

This fella is actually quite small, no more than 3" x 7". I found it above the door to a small shop on the first floor of my apartment block last night.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fourth Anniversary

Today is my fourth anniversary: I've lived in Asia for four years now.

2001 was a rather turbulent year for me. I had been working for Shasta, a swimming pool company, since late 1999, but felt that my job and career as an accountant had completely stagnated. I had reverted to Islam in June of the previous year, and while I felt comfortable living my new life as a Muslim I found it somewhat difficult (at the time) to find a Muslim woman to marry. So I turned to the Internet, and began a correspondence with a Moroccan woman living in Switzerland. I thought we had a chance to develop a serious relationship, and so I began to divest myself from my life in America - I wrapped up my affairs and traveled to Geneva in June...

Only to be rejected by her almost as soon as we met at the airport. I spent two weeks there, my first trip to Europe. We did spend some time together, testing to see if the relationship could be re-started, but I left Europe with bitterness (at having been spurned after all the emotional and financial capital had been invested) and relief (talking to a friend after I returned to the US, I told her that being with this woman would ultimately give me an ulcer; my friend said, "Are you kidding? She'd have given you a heart attack!"). And so I returned to the U.S., only to find that I was unemployed. I stayed with a relative for a while, but she kicked me out after not being able to pay rent (I had gone completely broke). For three days, I found myself homeless, rejected by family and friends, but welcomed in by Muslim brothers who were otherwise complete strangers. (May Allah (swt) bless these men for the kindness they showed me in my darkest hours.) Eventually my relative asked me to return, in part (ironically) because her dog missed me and would wait at the door every evening for me to come home. (May Allah (swt) bless "Pete" too.)

And while I couldn't find a permanent, full-time job, I was able to go back to Shasta for a few months as a part-time employee. I paid my relative her rent, and began looking for other work. The thought crossed my mind that I had a brand new passport; was there any work I might find overseas that would allow me to travel? Eventually, I came across an Internet advertisement for a job teaching English in Korea. On a lark, I submitted my resume, and an employment agency contacted me very quickly, saying they'd be more than happy to help me find a job. Thus began a dance between the agency, myself, and three schools who were interested in hiring me (the third school ultimately did). The funny thing was that I was very much torn as to the whole idea of moving to Korea. I knew virtually nothing about the country, and I wasn't quite sure if I really wanted to leave the U.S. One week I would say, "I'm definitely moving to Korea," and the next week it would be, "There's absolutely no way I'm going to Korea." It wasn't until I talked to my dad over the phone, when I asked him what I should do, that I made my final decision. "Go!" he said, and I did, and it was the best decision.

So I packed everything up one final time…and then waited. September 11th happened. (I was originally supposed to leave on the 14th, I believe.) Of course, I had to rearrange all my travel plans and get a new ticket. After a 14-hour flight from LAX, I finally got to Incheon International Airport late at night on September 22, 2001, where some woman (an employee of the agency) quickly got me off my Asiana flight and onto another plane bound for Busan (I was the last passenger to board; the plane for Busan had been waiting for me).

So I lived for a year in Korea, falling in love with that country and still missing it even today. Since then, I’ve lived in Singapore, where I started another life here with my wife. I’ve had the opportunity to visit a few other countries out here: Malaysia a few times, Japan for a day (to get my Korean work visa), and a few hours at the Bangkok International Airport – if you want to count that.  There are lots of places I’d love to visit around here in time: China, Japan (again, but much more thoroughly), Cambodia (to see Angkor Wat), Vietnam, Brunei (to visit one of my wife’s relatives, who frequently asks us to come over) and, of course, Korea once more.

It’s been a wild ride. Lots of fun, happiness, pain, and sorrow. Real life, just like anywhere else. My dad was ultimately right. Coming to Asia was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m glad I’m here.

Monday, September 12, 2005


This blog's emphasis is primarily on my life here in Singapore; however, before I moved to the "tiny red dot" I lived for a year in Busan, South Korea, teaching conversational English. This essay was what I went over in class on my last day of work at Pagoda Academy, in September 2002.

As I read this today, I see a few things that I might have rewritten, now having the benefit of hindsight and a greater understanding of Asian culture. Perhaps I will write down those additional comments in the future, insha'allah (but not tonight). In the meantime, here are some of my thoughts regarding life in Korea:

Having lived here for one year, I thought I would write about those things that I’ve come to like and dislike about Korea. Following the American style of giving the bad news first, here are my some of my “dislikes,” in no particular order:

  • Filthy streets – While there’s very little graffiti on the walls (unlike America and Europe), Korea has some of the filthiest streets I’ve ever seen. You’d think the city governments could invest in some trashcans for the sidewalks. The good news is that an army of street sweepers appears every morning to clean things up.
  • Spitting, Smoking, Drinking – Speaking of filthy streets, it would be really nice if you didn’t have to watch where you step because of all the globs of spit on the sidewalks. Of course, the amount of spit wouldn’t be so bad if the men didn’t smoke so much. (The Korean government is going to regret encouraging the men to smoke – when they’re soldiers – as they die from cancer and emphysema.) And is there anything more disgusting than all the vomit on the sidewalks from people who drink to excess?
  • Motorcycles and cars on the sidewalk – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tempted to “clothesline” the motorcyclists who drive on the sidewalks. I may break my arm, but it would make me very happy to break someone’s neck because he wouldn’t drive on the road where he belonged.
  • Too many apartment complexes – In the past year, in the neighborhood where I live, real estate developers have built at least twenty apartment buildings. If there was a demand for these units, I’d understand, but many buildings (including my own) seem to have large numbers of vacant apartments.
  • Too little parking – Regardless of whether it’s apartments or businesses, there is just too little parking for cars. City governments should do a better job in requiring developers to include adequate parking for all new projects.
  • Streets should become one-way – In the residential neighborhoods, there are numerous one-lane streets. This in itself is not a problem. The problem is when cars come from opposite ends of the street and find each other blocking their way. (Of course, from the pedestrian’s perspective, it’s amusing to watch them solve this dilemma.) This problem would go away if the cities would make the one-lane streets one way.
  • Dangerous drivers – As I’ve said many times before, Koreans are either the best drivers in the world or the luckiest. I just can’t decide which. I’ve cheated death a couple of times because of some narrow escapes from dangerous drivers. The Korean police need to start enforcing traffic laws much more strictly!
  • Talent of married women is going to waste – Korean businesses are letting the talent of married women go to waste when they don’t hire them in favor of younger, inexperienced (but more beautiful) women.
  • The Korean woman’s whine – If there is any sound more obnoxious in the world, I have yet to hear it. Would someone please shut her up when she starts to whine again?

    To be fair, here are some of my “likes,” again, in no particular order:
  • Flowers – There may not be much grass in the cities, but I do like the large number of flowers here, especially in the planters on the sides of the streets and on the street medians.
  • Competitive spirit – Koreans have a wonderful competitive spirit, and that’s helped to respark my own desire to start a business and join in the fun. Occasionally, there is too much competition (as in the over development of apartment buildings), but on the whole, I think Korea has benefited (and will continue to benefit) from its competitiveness.
  • Buddhist temples – Serene surroundings, beautiful artwork, religious devotion. Is there any better place to get away from it all, if only for a few hours?
  • City parks – My only complaint is that there aren’t enough of them. Cities need more open spaces, for both the children and the adults to play and run around in. Green grass is soothing for both your eyes and your toes. 
  • Open-air markets – I love how people sell anything and everything everywhere: on the sidewalks, in open-air stalls, on the pedestrian bridges that cross over streets. I wish I could find more of this in America.
  • Korean food – Spicy, with fresh, nutritious ingredients. Pass the gimchi.
  • Well-dressed people – Both men and women dress very well. It makes Americans look like a bunch of slobs.
  • Minimal crime – I’m always amazed when I see Korean women walking alone on the streets at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. You’d never see that in America!
  • Beautiful countryside – I really love looking at the Korean countryside: the mountains, the forests and rivers, the rice paddies. Korea is very beautiful.
  • Willingness for self-improvement – While Americans place a high value on education, I think Koreans may actually surpass this. Whether it’s classes in computers or conversational English, Koreans spend an incredible amount of time in learning. For that, I congratulate them.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hee Hee...

This sign, for a small restaurant near where we live, deserves a caption (preferably humorous, considering the name of the restaurant), but I can't think of anything funny at the moment. Any suggestions?

Mmm Mmm Good?

Milady and I were coming back from the hospital to visit a relative when I saw this banner hanging from a local hawker center. (I took the picture from inside our car while we were at a red light.) This is some fairly typical Chinese fare. The top left and top center selections are "XO" in the respect that they add some alcohol to the soups (note the bottles next to the right of the bowls). The bottom center and bottom right selections, I think, are incorrectly labeled. Instead of, say, "Braised Big Pig's Intestine," I think the restaurant owner really meant "Braised Pig Large Intestine" (and the other would be a pig's small intestine). I shan't make any cultural value comments other than to say that, of course, all these ingredients are haram to us Muslims, so I won't be eating here anytime in the future, insha'allah.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Hungry Ghost Offering

Last night, after coming home from work, Milady and I discovered that many of our Chinese neighbors were starting the "Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival" offerings. It's quite a spectacular sight to see with all the various candles being lit, the burnt offerings, and the food placed out for the "hungry ghosts." We immediately got out the digital camera, and then walked around for a few minutes to take photographs. (Most people were wary of having their picture taken, so I tried to concentrate on taking photos without people - which was a temptation difficult to overcome. ;) ) This particular photograph is, without question, the best from last night. It was also a "mistake" in that I had meant to have the flash on. However, the photo came out with this wonderful red hue, and I present the photo almost completely untouched (the only thing I have done is to compress it to 25% of the original byte-size).

Insha'allah, I'll be adding some more photos that I took from last night (and today) soon.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

So what's an "ang moh?"

Every now and then, I get questions from my sisters and their daughters about what Singapore (SG) is like. One particularly cute question, from one of my neices, was "What is the official language of Singapore?" They had looked up the "answer" on Google, and came up with "Singlish." Of course, this is only our patois, lah! The official languages are actually English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil (a language from southern India). Ang Moh ("ahng moe", with a soft a) is Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) for "Caucasian." It literally translates into "red hair," which of course I don't have. Anyway, my blog's title then means "Caucasian in Singapore," and we all know how very few of us there are here. :)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Thanks to BWG!

I recently came across the quasi-blog, BWG - Adventures of a Big White Guy living in Hong Kong, Randall van der Woning's account of his life in Hong Kong. What had impressed me the most about Randall's work is that he seems not to have lost his spirit of wonder after having lived in Hong Kong for such a long time (since 1998). The cultural distance between North America and East Asia is rather large, and after reviewing some of his photos and writings, I had realized that Singapore, for me, had become taken-for-granted. Perhaps this is because Singaporeans are really trying to be British, but I seem to have lost this sense of wonder about living in a foreign culture. Certainly I had that sense while I lived in Korea a few years ago, but for Singapore, the thrill is gone...or so it seemed a few days ago.

And so, insha'allah, I'm going to try to revive that sense of wonder in this blog by trying to show through pictures and words what my life as an American expatriate in Singapore is like and to inject some "foreignness" into a now-familiar country.

I hope you'll join me for the ride.