Tuesday, November 10, 2009

James's birthday

"Do I look older?"

Last Wednesday, we took the day off to celebrate James's birthday. We began the day in the neighborhood at the Tiong Bahru market. I had convinced the plant vendor to bring in a Calamansi lime tree for him, which James had made VERY clear was his heart's desire.

(This bowl of limes was destined to become key lime pie)

After the tree was safely planted in our al fresco bathroom, we went out for porridge at Ah Chiang's, a neighborhood institution, and James's favorite breakfast since introduced to the goodness of pork porridge in Laos.

The shredded ginger and chillies make all the difference.

After breakfast and a nap we headed back to East Coast Park, the site of our Monsoon Halloween to try our luck with the weather. Almost as soon as we sat down with a coconut (to drink from with a straw), it began to rain again. We ran for cover in the same spot, but this was no 2-hour deluge. We had just about made it through the satay and popia rolls when it stopped. We took a beer down to the water's edge and watched antsy high school kids in teams and uniforms build sand castles. Windsurfers went out to the container ships and back again. No paddling through the inside!

It was my intention to get on the water or on a bike, but the sailboat rentals were for certified sailors only, so biking it was. We rode along the beach to a trail which turns north, running alongside Changi airport. It was gorgeous and wild, with the occasional plane watching -- this airport has one of every kind come in like clockwork all afternoon long. We'd ride a while, then watch planes land, then ride a while longer.

After we returned the bikes to the rental stand -- late -- we took quick showers at the changing stand, then drip dried while watching the sunset.

Once we were presentable, we made our way to the "Seafood Centre": the five top rated seafood restaurants in Singapore, all "co-located" by the Housing Development Board into one seafront extravaganza of capitalism and chilli crab. Jumbo, Red House, Fisherman's Village, Long Beach, No Signboard -- all of them set up to seat a thousand diners, all clamoring for our business. The only chilli crab we hadn't tried was the name that suited the day best: Long Beach. All day we'd been pretending that we were in California!

We got "Set A" which came with bamboo clams, rice with tiny, crispy silverfish, spinach and garlic, fried buns, chilli crab, and pumpkin ice cream, served over a jar of smoking dry ice. We ate everything but what got left behind on the table cloth!


While we were photographing Mt Phousi, a group of French tourists decided that James and his camera are part of the attractions of Luang Prabang! Hear the temple drums in the background?