Monday, January 28, 2008

Lithuanian Potato Pancakes for my Singaporean Friends

Once upon a time I promised I'll let my friends here try out Lithuanian cuisine. Our famous potato pancakes! Ok, they became Lithuanian only a few decades ago, but we are so proud of them :) I should have though before opening my mouth, as it took a few hours of peeling, grating and baking, with the help of potato team - Bridget (she even contributed with a piece of her skin), Eugene with a friend, Zaiming and Haniffa (did I miss anyone)? Big appreciation guys! But, at the end, they liked it, even without being born in Lithuanian. More than that - apparently, these pancakes are Chinese! Yep, that's what my Chinese friend used to eat as kid.

It was so much fun, once again, with wasted Irish girl messing around, crazy Candy Apples-Bridget transforming Chris to Christina, well and all the rest. I got printed pictures from all good times in Singapore, finally it is me who's leaving :) I'm going to miss so much all people I met here, oh but the world is small, so let me know whenever you pass Europe!

It was all like Erasmus #3, and I'm a bit different person now, definitely for the better :) Well but I missed my Aalborg family as well, see you very soon there!!! You'll have to try out my Asian cooking experiments, but that's not gonna be potato pancakes :p

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Border crossings

Every time you cross a border in SEA, you'll have to fill in a form with your name, passport number, address, etc. Half will be stamped and will go into a pile of paper waste, and another half will go there when you depart. In these times of electronics, the only practical use is to help you memorise your passport number and expiry date.

Yesterday, I had to cross to Malaysia and backwards, cause I was about to become illegal in Singapore after I had returned my trainee pass. And - nice surpirse - no more forms from the 1st of January! Hurray to Malaysia, thumbs down to Singapore - it does not seem they are going to stop collecting paper.

JB is quite a big city right across the border, and the only "attraction" is royal palace with a big garden (Istana Besar). Of course, plenty of nice street food in the center as well :) Malaysia is definitely my favourite, people are not fed up with tourists yet, they talk to you and wave you and make you feel of some importance :D Even the guards in the palace!

Some last sunny pictures here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Pictures here

KL = Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia. Like everything else here, it's always called by the short name. After my hospital adventures, it was a while I did not get out of Singapore, and I felt I have to do that right away. Many consider KL not worth attention, one more Singapore (though I like the latter one a lot!), but how could I miss this magic city, a sticker from which was hanging in my toilet (!) since I was born. I dreamed of koalas living there... actually, the name means "muddy confluence (of the river)".

Trip there is easy. Just cross the boarder to JB (Johor Bahru, a city just at the boarder) station and be attacked by guys shouting "KLKLKLKLKL". In 15 min, I am already on the way. The driver promised 4h trip, so I hope to be there in 5h. Takes 6.5h, and there's no time for anything else but go straight to bed. Ratna, a cool Indian/Malaysian girl picked me up in the station and we still spent half night chatting.

Next day, early early out of bed to get tickets to Petronas Towers, once the highest building in the world, and now the highest twin-building. Our time is 2pm, apparently there are many taking advantage of free entrance. After all, they gave 30min presentation of how cool is the company, and 10 min on the top. But now I can say been there, done it.

Batu caves - a Hindu temple inside a cave on the top of the hill - is the next point. That's where Hindus walk during the Thaipusan festival with hooks pierced in their backs and face, dragging heavy burdens behind. Ratna's father did that - apparently, they are in trans and it does not hurt. No, they don't get high, just have a month of preparation, and play drums before it all starts.

In the afternoon - a huge CS birthday party, more like a wedding. Soooo many people, so much food. No drinks - it's a muslim house - and once again I see how people here can have fun without alcohol. Lots of fun! Now I have 100 new friends in Malaysia :) There was even Latvian-Lithuanian girl. And a guy from HK, that teaches people how to use their brain few times per month. The rest he can travel. Apparently his brain is very efficient :) I should attend his class... 12h per day at work, and no use.

On Sunday I randomly bumped into Malay food fair, all kinds of delicious cooked food, free for all. That was an eating weekend :) The day ended in little India with delicious dinner for ~1 euro for 2. I must say, KL is really pleasant, still clean, but there's something in the air that is not in Singapore. Could live there, especially with danish salary :)) The place I stayed, a huge nice apartment, big room, the price is a quarter of my box. Ratna told her guest was missing aircon and "western standards" or whatever... hm... then he'd think he's a hero he survived the cockroach attack in mine, hehe. Though, I love my pets :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

A couple days trip to SGH

Have never heard of SGH? Well it's not very far away. It was not my intention to go there, but they convinced, so I thought two days won't do much bad... I must admit, quite interesting. Food is awesome, indian curries, chinese vegetarian, malay seafood, even "western" steamed fish was really nice. Usually here understanding of western food is some crapy steak/sausage with fries or pasta, ketchup, and always beans. I am sure chinese the same way enjoy chinese food back in Europe. Back to SGH, people are super friendly and kind. Would do anything for you, always wondering if you are fine and not missing anything. Just it's freezing. And for a bed in dorm for 2 they rip off like Hilton. Ok, if you did not realize yet I had a chance to explore hospital life. Not that I was very sick, but also signing a doccument that I am going against doctor's advice did not seem the right thing to do. Anyway, just a small tropical living being inhabitted my right eye. Certainly the worst eye infection I could ever imagine. But now I am fine, no worries. Tomorrow I am going to work, and I am happy about that like never. Though, they gave me a paper giving me 31 days of holidays. I could wave it and go traveling... not. Eh, sometimes phd has disadvantages over normal job.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Though there's only minority of christians here, obsession with Christmas is nearly like everywhere. The first time I heard Christmas song it seemed unreal... what, Christmas in summer?! Hey, but it's nearly December, hard to believe when you don't need anything more than a T-shirt. Today I really know Christmas is coming. I spent a good hour in a huge supermarket trying to find a few things (pretty hard when I don't see further than a meter, will tell next time why), and listening to the same song playing over and over again... Santa Claus is coming to town! I also know I am not coming back there before Christmas is over. Or maybe tuesdays special is Jinggle Bells?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Have you been too long in Singapore?

This text is not created by me. I hope posting here does not conflict with any property rights, and I must also disclame that this text has nothing to do with me or my oppinion, and is not intended to offend anyone. I removed some items just because nobody would read until the end:) So gals n guyz here u go

(taken from

  1. You know why this list needs the following disclaimer: "This list is intended only as an amusing, light-hearted, and exaggerated look at life in Singapore and is not meant to be taken seriously. There is no intention on the part of the authors of this list to make any untrue, misleading, or defamatory statements concerning any person in particular, nor to make any statement intended to cause offense. If any such offense has been caused, the author apologizes and retracts the offending statement. In any event, the author's NOT WORTH SUING, so don't trouble yourself."
  2. You get used to being called "Ang Moh", "Geyloh", "Bulek", "Mat Saleh", or "Orang Putih".
  3. You think there's nothing wrong with putting chili sauce on everything you eat.
  4. You wait for instructions from people in authority before doing anything. Always.
  5. You accept the fact that you have to queue to get a ticket for the next queue
  6. You join queues without knowing or caring what the queue is for.
  7. Your idea of a good night out consists of having dinner at a hawker centre, drinking beer, and then going to another hawker centre and eating again.
  8. You would buy a $20 product you don't need if it's on sale for $10 just to save the money.
  9. You forget to say the last consonant in words like "faCT", "aTE", etc.
  10. Every task you take on and every group you form is incomplete without a mission statement and a cheesy slogan.
  11. "Crossing the country" means taking the MRT to the end of the line.
  12. You think that corn and beans are dessert foods.
  13. You would cross the entire country all day to find the places that make the perfect fried noodles, or roti prata, or ice kacang,or chili crab. And none of these places would be close to each other.
  14. Most or all of these acronyms make sense to you: NUS; NTU; ERP; SDU; PAP; MRT; LKY; GCT; PRC; TIBS; SBS; SMS; JB; JBJ; AMK; AYE; PIE; ECP; CTE; BKE; ISD; ISA; 5 C's; CPF; CHIJMES; SPG; CWO; LTA; URA; MOM; SIR; COE; EP; IRAS; EDB; CBD.
  15. You use too many acronyms when you talk, or you create new ones.
  16. You think that nothing makes a girl or guy more attractive than to dress exactly like hundreds of thousands of other girls and guys who all dress exactly like girls and guys in malls.
  17. You think that $100,000 is a reasonable price for a Toyota Corolla and $1,000,000 is a bloody cheap for a bungalow, but $5 for a plate of fried noodles is a barbarous outrage.
  18. You believe that not being able to get decent roti prata outside Singapore is enough to keep the best and the brightest people from leaving.
  19. You see nothing wrong with forming committees of select elite people to deliberate and study ways to stimulate creativity and spontaneity.
  20. You justify every argument with the phrase "in order for us to be competitive in the 21st century".
  21. You think everything should be "topped up".
  22. You have a naive belief that the war against ants will somehow be won.
  23. You don't think any dish of Western food is complete without baked beans.
  24. You see nothing unusual about an organization of trade unions spending more time owning and operating supermarkets, drugstores,amusement parks, nightclubs, and financial services outlets than planning the next strike.
  25. You wear winter clothes indoors and summer clothes outdoors.
  26. Durian and belachan no longer stink to you.
  27. In a country where people use smart cards for public transit, you have no problem with construction workers riding in the open backs of pickup trucks.
  28. You think paying $50 for a bottle of booze that costs $15 at home is a bargain.
  29. You're not confused by a street naming system that locates streets like Clementi Road, Clementi Street, Clementi Crescent,Clementi Lane, Clementi Drive, Clementi Way, and Clementi Avenues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 all within Walking distance of each other.
  30. You think that skinny girls and guys are the most attractive of all. (How did they get so skinny in the first place?? Do you know how much oil is in nasi lemak, char kuay teow, duck rice, and your average curry.)
  31. When you cross the border into Malaysia, you automatically and deeply fear for your life and your wallet. [this happens when crosing into Singapore. Deeply]
  32. You think that no vegetable should ever be eaten raw for any reason. Except for cucumbers. [and not even those necessarily]
  33. No matter what you're doing at the moment, you'd rather be shopping.
  34. You don't have a problem with four different direct payment systems spread out over seven different cards in your wallet, and none of them will work overseas. [and nothing from overseas works here]
  35. You forgot what chewing gum tastes like.
  36. You're not bothered by the fact that government cares whether you know how to use a toilet or urinal correctly. (People squatting on toilet bowls?)
  37. You think chicken floss, corn, mayonnaise, and tandoori spices are proper pizza toppings.
  38. You've become a fan of either Arsenal, Man. U., or Liverpool when you barely knew what soccer was before you came to Singapore. And you don't care that none of these teams are Singaporean!
  39. You think a bus is incomplete without a TV.
  40. You accept that expressways here are cleaner than toilets rather than the other way around.
  41. Walking in a straight line to avoid people in the street becomes increasingly difficult, and you don't care if you do walk into them.
  42. You watch Tamil soap operas on Central, even though you can't understand a word they're saying, because despite the fact there are 30 channels available to you, there is nothing else worth watching.
  43. You add lah to the end of every sentence.
  44. You think by crossing the bridge to Johore Bahru your are traveling overseas and you will get a lot international experience
  45. You think a 163 meters hill actually is a respectable mountain.
  46. If you want a taxi, go and stand 20 feet up the road from someone who's been waiting for 10 minutes. Ignore filthy looks from that person.
  47. Walking distance is 10 meters [anything above they say not here lah]
  48. You know how much your friends are paying for rent, how much their car costs, what the make of their watch is and how much it cost.
  49. You spend the day shopping and every shop assistant you come across is rude to you - and this does not give you a complex.
  50. In bars, you consider it perfectly normal to wait 15 minutes for your change after ordering a drink. You spend S$200/night on alcohol alone without batting an eyelash.
  51. You don't get annoyed when you're not given a napkin with your chili pepper crab or you now carry around little packs of nose tissue when you go out for lunch.
  52. You serve warm water to guests even if their sweating profusely.
  53. You've stopped waiting for people to exit an elevator, the train, etc. before pushing your way in
  54. You know exactly where to stand when you wait for the MRT train so that when the train comes, the door will open right in front of you.
  55. You need a trial period to keep left on the escalators.
  56. You actually start understanding what people on the other end of the line are saying & you stop saying 'excuse me' & prefer 'wha lah ?'
  57. You stop explaining nicely to taxi drivers etc that in your home country people actually work. You just snap their heads off and tell them to get a life! [15h per day, 6.5 days per week. anything less is too much fun!]
  58. The taxi driver asks you for the way, even if you have just arrived at the airport.
  59. You honestly believe cars do not come fitted with indicators.
  60. You see red traffic lights as an opportunity to pick your nose.
  61. You put your bag on a table before going up to order.
  62. You've realised sentences just don't end in lah but whaaat and may.
  63. If It's going to be delivered at 4, you know you'll still be waiting at 6.
  64. We in the West have no clue as to what carrot cake is. [actually, it is radish fried with egg]
  65. After arriving into Singapore off a 14 hour flight your first thoughts are of mee rebus and bee hoon.
  66. When someone asks you to do something, you answer with "Can, Can"
  67. You nap on your desk at lunch. [and on table/keybords at other times]
  68. You use an umbrella in the sun. [uv-proof]
  69. You know what they do with all that whitening cream.
  70. You forget how to speak "GOOD ENGLISH"
  71. You hate shopping, all the shop assistants show you in size is XL when in fact back home you are S or M.
  72. You learn how to squat and not WET your SHOES
  73. You know all the holes in Bintan and all the whores in Batam.
  74. You leave your chinese collegues' wedding dinner immediately after you've finished dessert even though some people still haven't started dessert.
  75. you think it's perfectly acceptable for men to drink alcopops.
  76. You think nothing is wrong when the staff at the Cold Storage put each article you bought in a seperate plastic bag. [if you buy two apples, they go in separate bags as well. please no no I don't need bag is not convincing]
  77. You think the long fingernail on the little finger is not only the most useful hygiene implement, but it is also a fashion statement. [and with all long, you'll be the most beautiful bus/taxi driver in the district]
  78. You eat AROUND the cockroach in your curry just because it is from your favorite hawker stall.
  79. You no longer say excuse me when you bump into someone.
  80. You enjoy cold milk tea with bubbles. You know what bubbles and pearls are.
  81. You have forgotten what coffee with real milk tastes like, or worse, condensed milk or powder whitener are preferred.
  82. Paying $8.90 for a pint of strawberries is cheap!
  83. Paying $10 for your favorite cereal is normal. Hitting a sale when it only costs $9.85 is your lucky day! [or, you go for noodles for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack]
  84. You no longer ask for directions, because you know that people will nod and point even though they have not understood what you have asked.
  85. You know that if you must ask for directions to keep the key information required in the first 3-4 words. Second halves of sentences are not heard.
  86. If there is more than one assistant in a shop, it pays to ask all of them the same question. The first may tell you that it is not stocked, the second or third will take you to where it is on the shelf - often in front of where the one who told you it is not stocked is standing.
  87. You know that if you are at a Food Court or Hawkers Stall and you have requested no sauce on your meal, you must hover vigilently so that you can stop them in time as they go to put the sauce on anyway. [same with sugar]
  88. Even as a shop assistant is nodding their head in response to what you have said, you are already formulating a simplified/Singlish version of what you have just said, because you know that the nodding means nothing and that it would be a miracle to be understood first time out. If you really want something until you see the light go on in their eyes. No light, noo outcome.
  89. When talking about equipment you say "off it" or "on it", instead of "turn it off" or "turn it on".
  90. When walking along the steet and a man puts the finger along his nose and snots on the path in front of you, rather than register disgust and nausea, you instead just make a mental note just to walk around it.
  91. You know your passport number by heart
  92. You understand everything on this list!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Saya suka Malaysia. Part I: Taman Negara

That does not mean anything bad as Lithuanians might thing, just I like Malaysia. If spelled correctly. In a short time, we did quite a lot: starting from train trip to the jungle, ending by visiting beaches and towns on the eastern coast.

Here we go!

To the jungle we took a train. The only tourists in the second class. Though I did not see much difference, except double price. Reminds my childhood trains in Lithuania, just those were much warmer. "Express" does not mean anything. 7h half way through peninsula. Though good sleep, and freshly cooked rice in banana leaves for nearly no price. Right after getting out we are picked up by the only agency doing boat trips. Nearly impossible to be cheated. No need to negotiate, they don't have "special" tourist prices. Minibus to hotel, bus to the boat, and 3 hours in the jungle river. Beautiful views, and once in a while settlements of indegineous inhabitants - Orang Asli.
Warm welcome to the jungle

Taman Negara is the biggest national park and nature reserve in Malaysia, as well as the oldest jungle in the world. At least in Asia. It takes maybe thousand sq km, and in the far away places is still quite wild. The park was isolated until end of 80's due to (racial) conflicts in Malaysia. Just a few years ago it was only accessible by the river, now there's a road and a local bus. Seing how locals are entertained by riding together with some dirty stinky tourists, apparently not too many choose the second option. If you want to be bored in an aircon clean bus full of tourists, there's an option of paying 5 times more and taking a shuttle.

First shower we took the first evening. We did not have much time to explore the jungle, but facing the wildlife was instant. First we spotted raindeers and little shining bugs (jonvabaliai). Right after - bloody thick leaches in our skin. These were our most faithful companions for the rest of the days in the jungle. From disgust and screems "get it out!!!", we transfered to automatically picking tens of them every hundred meters from our shoes and out of feet, and taking photos of these lovely friends... NOT. That was the most annoying thing, that made us run without looking to the trees (we decided they attack less if we are fast), rest only on the trees, and come back to the hut even before 6pm rain.

That was tough... but we did it!

Second day started with ease. We forgot leaches from the evening and headed to the canopy walk. A bridge up high in the trees, maybe 30m. Only 4 at a time on one bridge, at least 5 meters in between. After that, more hiking up, nicely sweating. Bit of mud. Until we saw our legs... full of bloody bastards. Still I can proudly say we did nearly full day, just at the end we cut off the waterfalls and rested by the river close to our hut. That was were we spend the night, a hide with wooden "beds", were you are supposed more wait for animals then sleep. The far away was fully booked, so we went for the closer one, where we stayed alone. Very romantic, and very scary :) Tropical rain outside, anymals roaring... ok, more like barking... all jungle sounds, absolute dark... and the most scary talks ever :)

The next day we ran straight to the headquaters in the morning, and learned about baigon. Something that you should spray far away from skin and clothes, never touch or breethe in. Having nearly bathed our shoes and trousers in it, we were safe from leaches. And saving everyone we were meeting on the way :) Anyway we went for a bit of rest, swimming in the river. and visiting Orang Asli.

The wild people

Nomandic tribes, the race of negritos. Still living from hunting and picking fruit, building sheds from leaves, never going to school and getting married at the age of 16. When boys know how to hunt and light fire. When girls know how to build a house and catch fish. It's not a show-off four tourists. Some of them do have t-shirts and sneakers, others cover with piece of cloth. Observe us, but don't wave. They probably don't know what is waving. Some speak English, all understand Malay. They sell forest stuff for production and some souveniers to us, like hand-made bamboo combs. They don't eat tourists and are shy, pieceful and friendly. Malay government is trying to bring kids to school, integration is hard. Jungle life is happy, but there's not enough jungle anymore.

To be continued...