The little things

When I think about what I miss about life in the US, there are some obvious answers.  My friends.  My car.  Target.  Or, to incorporate all three–driving to Target in order to shop with a close friend.

We’re smiling because we’re about to bribed with food so our Moms can talk and shop.

However, those are the things people warn you about.  I think I’ve yet to meet an American mom here who doesn’t mention Target in her list of things missed about home.

It’s the little things that throw you.  And it’s those oddities that weigh your bags down when you come back from a visit home.

We are leaving for Hong Kong on Friday morning (aka Thursday night for those of you playing the East Coast version of the homegame) at absurd o’clock.  Which of course means I need to pack.  Which means I first need to finish UNpacking from the November trip.  Things I found that have inspired today’s post included…

  • A bath pillow–not that as a mom I have time for long luxurious baths, but a girl can dream…and I can’t find them here.
  • Aleve Cold and Sinus–In SG you need to go to a doctor and get a prescription to get children’s tylenol (panadol) or any sort of cold medication.  The last time I got sick I begged for medication and was given a prescription for sudafed…which my cold pointed and laughed at while I hacked up a lung.  On the last trip home we stocked up on Aleve Cold and Sinus, which make getting through the day with a nasty cold a possibility instead of a laughable notion.  Not pictured–3 boxes of generic infant/children’s tylenol and 3 boxes of generic children’s benadryl.


  • Twinkies…they’ll survive nuclear war, but apparently not importation to Singapore…or maybe the guh-ment thinks they’ll drive us to delicious rebellion against the aisles of breath mints trying to pass themselves off as candy?
  • DVDs–Yes, you can buy dvd’s here.  But (a) they’re expensive, and (b) they’re region 3/4 instead of region 1.  Far better to stock up on DVD’s in the US, put them in a cd binder like this one (to save space) and bring them to Singapore.  Yes, those are all new Elmo dvds.  We don’t have tv, they don’t show Sesame anyways, and if I see Elmo “hands, feet, and ears” one more time I’m jumping out of our 6th story window.  By our next trip home, these will irritate me to no end, and I will buy her more, thus perpetuating the cycle of brain cell loss (on my part) and economic advancement (for the Children’s television workshop).
  • Noxema skin cleaning pads-I love them.  I can’t buy them in Singapore.  I’ve been addicted since I was 15.  I can quit any time I want…I just don’t want to yet.
  • OPI nailpolish–US price 8.50.  Singapore price $30.  ‘Nuff said


Not pictured–

  • Sesame Street books, coloring books, and toys because Sesame Street is virtually nonexistent here.
  • Clothes/shoes for everyone
  • Grape jam (they sell grape jelly but not jam here…and YES there is a difference)
  • Slim jims (Yes, they’re gross, no I don’t care)
  • Toddler toothpaste (because I can’t find non-flouridated toothpaste here)
  • Pregnancy tests (I like the digital ones as they’re idiot proof…I only see the ones with lines here)
  • A few cookbooks with western measurements (you can find them, but the mark up is ridiculous and the selection sucks)

While I can’t magically transport the happiness that is a drive to Target to meet up with Aimee and CJ for a day of shopping and playground fun, I can bring the comfort of Aleve Cold and Sinus and OPI nail polish back to the Singapore with me.

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19 Responses to The little things

  1. kirsten says:

    I didn’t even know bath pillows existed.


    • Crystal says:

      They might show it on cable…we have only broadcast tv, and that means that there’s really only channel 5 for us in English. I’m actually thinking about getting cable to cut down on dvd wear and tear. I’m currently re-watching Buffy (we’re in season 2) with Ravi, and West Wing (in season 5) on my own.

      Bath pillows make me soooo happy. Before I had E, I could easily spend 1-2 hours in the tub reading…and did. Maybe this weekend…I can’t wait to go be kid-free for a whole weekend!

  2. Becca D'Bus says:

    The thing is, I find doctors are so much cheaper in Singapore than in the US. So yes, people here don’ self medicate as much, but that’s also coz they don’t need to.

    • Crystal says:

      In certain cases, I agree…but when I have a cold, 54 dollars for an appointment and sudafed versus 12 for a 5 day supply of Aleve Cold and Sinus strikes me as a bad bargain.

      What I didn’t do a good enough job at, though, was my frustration that basic, non threatening drugs, like kids panadol are prescription, which seems like overkill. The medication I’m most frustrated to hear you need a scrip for, though, is plan B. I think most women would rather just go to the pharmacy and buy it if they need it, rather than try to get an appointment so that they can get the medicine in the critical 72 hour period.

      • Mishelle Pang says:

        Hey Crystal,
        You can buy Kids Panadol and like 5 other varieties of Panadol at Coldstorage. They’re usually right next to the check-out aisle. Or Watsons, Guardian, etc. Have a great time in Hong Kong!

      • Crystal says:

        But not the infant liquid suspension. E won’t do chewables. Sigh.

      • Becca D'Bus says:

        Didn’t know about Plan B in Singapore, though, as I understand it, abortions are way easier to get in Singapore than in most parts of the US, and you won’t be conned into a lookalike clinic next door.

        And I know Plan B is not an abortion drug, etc.

        Things I miss about US durgstores, the incredible range of brands of anyone product category. Deodorant, toothpaste, etc.

        Things I don’t miss, staring at the shelf and trying to make a choice.

        Interestingly, the range of condoms here seems on par if not better than what I saw in the US, comparing say Guardian pharmacy and CVS.

      • Crystal says:

        The one notable exception to abortion access is of course the female foreign domestic workers, who have no access to abortion or any sort of hormonal birth control.

        We miss our favored brands…I actually have a back stock of like 20 things of dove deoderant. I’m freaked by the deoderants here that will whiten my underarms…any more white and they’ll be translucent, thanks anyways!

        The condom selection here is pretty decent, although Ravi said he thinks the Japanese are slightly more narrow? I’m can’t find contraceptive jelly/spermicide on it’s own here though.

      • With foreign domestic workers, isn’t the problem a lack of access to healthcare, period?
        They are dependent on their employers to pay for healthcare, therefore get what their employers will pay for.
        I feel like I know employers who have paid for their maids’ abortions. Access to the pill, as I understand it too, a domestic worker could go to a doctor and get it, she might not afford it, then it’s all super complicated.
        In Singapore, employers see foreign domestic workers as old children, hence words like “naughty”, and therefore too, the ideal of chastity etc. It’s a problem.

      • Crystal says:

        Agreed, they lack access to healthcare, period.

        However, on abortion, you have to find a doctor who is willing to do it in his/her office and not report. Even if we were willing to pay for one, if B went to a hospital, she would be reported and deported.

        The larger cultural attitude towards maids makes me angry and sick.

  3. bookjunkie says:

    woah I had no idea the prices of OPI nailpolish differed that much. Our nearest Target is in Australia I think. I wish they would come to SIngapore already. We had Walmart for a while but they closed down.

    • Crystal says:

      When I went to buy some here at an OPI store, I had to scrape my jaw off the ground.

      Back home I hated wal mart because of their discriminatory and sexist hiring policies. In Singapore…man, my ethics would be out the door in a second. Kind of glad I’m not faced with that dilemma.

      There’s Target in Australia, but I read that they just bought the rights to the name and the logo…that it’s not exactly like American Target. But I’d happily take that, too!

      • I didn’t realize it was different from the American one. The US is like shopping & dessert heaven! Maybe it’s a good thing I am not there. In Singapore I just don’t want to buy anything so I’m saving money. Most of the western desserts here kinda suck in comparison. Like the cheesecake at Starbucks is so stale compared to the one I had at the Cheesecake factory in Boston.

      • Crystal says:

        Yeah, can’t tell you how much money and time I’ve wasted at Target.

        In my teens and early 20’s it was all about hanging with my girlfriends at the mall. Now in our 30’s we hang at Target.

  4. kierstens says:

    oh man! western prices on beauty items! come to momma, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Clinique! why is everything so expensive here???????????

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  6. Kit says:

    Great blog you’ve got here! I’ve not visited Singapore for ages but many of my countrywomen seem to think of it as heaven esp as it’s a developed nation.

    Really surprised to hear that they don’t have Sesame Street on TV anymore 🙂 I remember growing up with it in the 80s on Malaysian TV. One of my kids was a big Elmo fan but the other one is unfortunately turning out to be a Barney fan. Bleagh!

    Am surprised to hear how expensive OPI nail polish is because shopping in Singapore is supposed to way cheaper than in Malaysia…

    Anyways, I pack a lot of stuff from home also because I can NEVER be assured of anything original here in China!

    • Crystal says:

      I guess Sesame is on a cable channel now? We only have the broadcast channels 😦

      Today I’m told it’s the inverse…that everything is cheaper in Malaysia. I havne’t been though, so I can’t verify as to the veracity of the claim.

      I’m in the US and loading up on stuff as we speak!

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