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Above: Courtyard of the Penang Peranakan Mansion.

Below (snapshots from left to right): 1) Batu Ferringhi beach, 2) flowers in Little India, 3) relaxing seaside, 4) town hall, 5) traveling feet, 6) enjoying M‘s Nasi Lemak, 7) “Happiness as boundless as the East China Sea”, 8) making Nasi Lemak, 9) climbing a lighthouse, 10) Pound it, man.


How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Singapore like a true American? [pronounced “A-MUHR-ican”]

First you find a Turkey. Don’t worry – there are 7,000 Americans in Singapore and Cold Storage has prepared accordingly (thanks, researcher Crystal)!

Next, you should invite all the Americans you know (of the 7,000, you’ll probably know 10). Plus invite everyone else you know. And then tell them it’s OK to bring friends. Also, you should invite at least one stranger.

Basically, your house should look like the United Nations.

Once you realize how many people you’ve invited, you’ll probably want to panic. It’s OK – there’s a solution: make some Chicken Marabella.

An aside: when you realize the chicken still has a head, feet, feathers, and all its innards, don’t call your mother screaming (oops hehe). Also, don’t name the chicken. (poor little George…)

You’ll inevitably freak out the night before. This may involve pacing around the apartment, chattering incessantly, and getting very little sleep. Make sure you have the greatest roommates ever (je vous aime, S & M!) and you know 2 amazing people like this who will calm you down:

Don’t attempt to prepare alone. Try to enlist the help of some lovely, feisty Singaporean and South African ladies. Do you think mashed potatoes and stuffing make themselves?

Ideally you should invite a professional chef to this little shindig so someone can carve your turkey. It’s okay if the professional chef is British.

Warning: If you invite pretty French girls, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Englishman.

Eventually you’ll realize that you have enough food to feed an army. This means you’ll want to make sure people eat as much as possible.  Sentimental toasts, guilt trips, puppy eyes, and force-feeding are acceptable forms of coercion.

Your work is only done when you’ve given your guests so much food that they need to unbutton their pants. Bonus points if they undo the zipper.

And just when you think you might explode, continue by eating copious amounts of pecan pie, pumpkin pie, cherry pie, and draining all wine bottles in sight.


[click here for the full picture album]

Surely by now you’ve guessed that I’ve been in the taxi of another crazy. It’s true – I got a ride today from Uncle Fruit Loops. Really, the entire conversation was epic, but I’ll give you the more ridiculous highlights:


Uncle: Ok, which way you want to go?

Me: The fastest way! Really, as fast as you can go – I’m so late!

Uncle: Ok can lah… Why you living here in Geylang? This is red light district.

Me: No it’s not bad at all. These lorongs are all condos. Many expats.

Uncle: But maybe some guy come to you and say ‘hey pretty lady’ and then you have to beat him away. Then you must go ‘POW POW POW gwun khai!’ [karate chops air with left hand].

Me: ahahahah!!! Yeahhhh teach me how to say this!!!

Uncle: Ok you do this: [uncle bats his eyelashes and motions sweetly with his free hand]: ‘swai khuh, lai’ [then starts slapping the air] ‘POP POP POP, GWUN KHAI!’

Me: What does that mean?

Uncle: It means, ‘come here, handsome boy,’ and then when he comes you hit him and say ‘GO AWAY!’

Me: Well that sounds counter-productive…

Uncle: Or you call your husband, he protect you.

Me: No husband…

Uncle: But you are beautiful lady! No one to protect you?

Me: Protect me? From what? This is Singapore!

Uncle: Then you call me. I be your boyfriend and I protect my lady. You have boyfriend?

Me: [oh no, not again…lie, Kiersten, lie!] uhhhhh yes.

Uncle: Your boyfriend is handsome?

Me: Oh yes. Very handsome.

Uncle: Maybe I am not so handsome, but I am quality! Your boyfriend is handsome, but maybe not quality. I think he is a playboy. Am I right?

Me: Oh well…umm…no, he’s a quality guy.

Uncle: No. I hear in your voice. He is telling you he loves you, but really he is fooling around with other girls. Am I right? But it’s ok, I put on my boxing gloves, we fight, and then the winner will win your heart! Can?

Me: Well, ummm…

Uncle: Where is your boyfriend from? He is local? He’s American?

Me: umm he is… [quick think, Kiersten, think!] … oh he’s from Austria. Big guy, very strong. Lots of muscles. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Uncle: Okaaaay lahhh! Why you didn’t say before? Arnold Schwarzenegger is quality guy!

Dilemma: How do you fit 1 huge roasted turkey, 8 Americans, 4 Singaporeans, 5 French, 2 Malaysians, 1 South African, 1 Pakistani,  1 Indian, 1 Ghanaian and 1 Englishman in a moderately sized apartment?

Hopefully with a lot of love!

Well, at least the guy on the bicycle is reducing his carbon footprint…

Insomnia. Somehow it was so much sexier when Jill Scott sang it.

When you travel to the opposite side of the world (literally), day becomes night, night becomes day, up is down, right is left…well, you get the point.  Basically, my body is a mess and I can’t sleep.

No really. This is night 3 without sleep.

On the upside, I heard some incredibly entertaining (disturbing?) conversations circa 4am in the alley by my bedroom, and I’ve caught up on a substantial amount of Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother episodes.

But enough is enough.  I’m terrified of taking sleeping pills, but surely there’s some natural cure for this? Suggestions?

I’m sitting here in the Denver airport, freezing and starving, when behold! a bakery appears! Mmmmm one last shot at an American brewed coffee and a quick muffin for breakfast.

So as I’m savoring said muffin (zucchini nut), looking at the snow on the mountains, preparing to return to my hot little urban jungle, it occurs to me:

Kiersten, you research obesity and nutrition for a living. What are you eating?? So I did what any sane person should never do in the midst of a meal – I googled the nutrition information online.


Can you believe this little sucker has 700 calories!? That’s practically half of a woman’s daily recommended intake, all before 7am!

Clearly we’re doing something wrong here, America. Several of my ‘foreign’ friends who relocated to the US will tell me how they gained close to 20 lbs (9 kg) when they moved to the US without making any major diet changes. Could it be because there’s so much hidden sugar and salt and fat in all of the food we eat?

700 calories, 40 grams of fat, and only marginally more expensive than the banana.

Not okay.

Yesterday I told you my father was becoming a cowboy. I was semantically mistaken.

In fact, papa had the whole ‘cowboy thing’ down long-before I was a thought in anybody’s mind.

That’s him with my uncle on the California ranch, circa 1960.

Aren’t old family photos fantastic?

This weekend my father became a cowboy.

Then I found the best boots of all time.

Clearly when one finds the best boots of all time, there’s only one thing to do…

Correct. Try them on. Don’t even think about mocking the boots, or I will make sure that the boots mysteriously end up under your Christmas tree (you’re welcome).

Unfortunately they didn’t come off as easily as they went on…

A trip back to la patria, of course!

News flash: I live on the equator, which means in Singapore, we don’t get the change of seasons.  We’ve got hot, hotter, and damn-it-turn-on-the-fan-before-I-pass-out season. Oh, and sometimes it rains a lot.

image via KevinCouncil photography (he's amazing!)

So right now I’m missing my favorite season–autumn in Carolina–and everything that goes with it: going for a run and breathing in the crisp air, jumping in fresh piles of brightly colored leaves, munching on pumpkin pie and corn bread and apple cider, and burying my head in a good book with a giant spiced latte while the rain drizzles outside.

And boots.  Damn, I miss my leather boots.

The good news? I’m off to Colorado via Tokyo and Seattle, and I’m gonna see the ‘rents!  And do as many of the activities above, of course.

Now if only I owned a jacket…

November 2010