Things I’m looking forward to in the US/Things I’ll miss about Singapore

As my departure date nears, I’ve been thinking about what I’m looking forward to, and what I’ll miss about Singapore.

What I’m looking forward to

  • Long hot showers without running out of water 15-20 minutes into the shower.
  • American Grocery Stores (and the foods I can’t get here/can’t bring back; like ice cream)
  • American food (Panda Express, Friendly’s, Bourbon Chicken, GOOD KFC, baked apple pies as opposed to fried at McDonalds, etc)
  • Seeing my friends, and hopefully attending 2 baby showers
  • Seeing my mom, aunt and in-laws
  • Shopping at stores that actually fit my body size, and where my size 7.5 shoe isn’t ginormous
  • Buying baby clothes from my favorite stores (regular and consignment)
  • Visiting Seattle for the first time, San Francisco for the third–both cities involve seeing friends I haven’t seen in something like 2 years
  • Driving a car (Bonus–Driving a car with loud music blasting)
  • Seeing movies that either (a) won’t come out here for months (b) won’t come out here at all or (c) will come out here censored
  • Ellie having some doctor’s appointments that will spring her from several specialists (the pedi stroke team chief among them)
  • Target…let us all worship at the awesomeness of Target

But, much as I’m excited, I *do* have stuff I’ll miss about home

  • Our helper (let’s face it, on call babysitting ROCKS)
  • Our apartment (it’s home…no bed feels as comfy as our bed)
  • The kittens
  • Ellie will miss chicken rice and maggi noodles
  • Ellie will also miss going to school and gymnastics
  • Palm Trees
  • Efficient and awesome public transportation
  • Texting for a cab (when we’re in the city, proper)
  • The water play areas
  • Kinokuniya (althTough I hear they have on in Seattle)
  • Gold Class movie theaters
  • The Zoo and the Night Safari
  • Botanic Gardens (the public garden and the common are pretty, but they’ve got nothing on the Botanic Garden)
  • How clean it is
  • My friends here


The strange thing about being an expat is that there’s always SOMETHING you miss more about wherever you aren’t in the moment.  I’m sure that by mid-September, while I’ll be watching the leaves turn (hopefully) and feel the pull of fall….I’ll be more than ready to head home to my year-round shorts and flip flops.

This entry was posted in Singapore, Travel, US. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Things I’m looking forward to in the US/Things I’ll miss about Singapore

  1. Dawn says:

    That last paragraph reminds me of the description of Milo at the beginning of “The Phantom Tollbooth.” When he’s home, he wants to be at school, and when he’s at school, he wants to be home…

    Also, 7.5 shoe is ginormous in Singapore??? I think that’s the average size here for women…

    And as for clothes shopping, at least for me it’s totally useless to shop for clothes when I’m pregnant because I have no clue what will fit in a few weeks or a few months, let alone a few years, because the effects of pregnancy, nursing, and weaning on my weight seem to be totally unpredictable. For example, I got more use out of my maternity clothes after giving birth than before, but haven’t used them at all yet (or bought new ones) this pregnancy.

    • Crystal says:

      In Singapore it’s almost impossible to find anything larger than a US 12/14. There’s a british store marks and spencer that goes to a US 16/18 (I’m a 22/24 usually) but they’re far more conservative in style than I prefer. Post partum I have a wide variety of sizes, so something should fit.

      7.5 is a big shoe here (and you absolutely correct that it is dead average in the US) but at least I *can* buy shoes most of the time…although I live in flip flops, so I generally don’t.

      I loved The Phantom Tollbooth–ages since I read that!

  2. bookjunkie says:

    the food, shopping and movies in the US sound really good to me 🙂 I would look forward to the lovely seasons and cool weather too. And just the nature and space as well.

    • Crystal says:

      It’s funny because while I would love to visit more in the fall/spring…I’m kind of dreading our trip home in December/January. I’m sure E will love the snow, but I remember all too well the joys of driving on icy roads, shoveling, and all that nonsense I don’t miss at all. But it will be nice to celebrate Christmas in a properly cold environment…I can’t quite wrap my head around wearing shorts on Xmas.

      There’s definitely far more open space 🙂

  3. bookjunkie says:

    I heard so much about Panda Express from TV and wonder what it’s like. Chinese food in cartons sounds interesting and kinda fun.

    • Crystal says:

      It’s totally fake chinese food. There is NO relationship between real and American style Chinese food, especially fast food. My favorite dish there is orange chicken…fried pieces of chicken drenched in a sweet/sour orangey sauce. I blame Panda Express and other American Chinese style restaurants for Ravi’s and my lack of enthusiasm for local chinese food 🙂

  4. Flora says:

    If you think finding a 7.5 is hard, try wearing size 10. I’ve bought mens’ running shoes here because the stores usually don’t carry size 10 for women. I also scoured five malls to find one pair of flats in my size.

    Also, there’s a Kinokuniya in Pacific Heights in SF. There are a few in the Bay Area; I grew up around the corner from one in San Jose.

    • Crystal says:

      Very true. My mom wears a 9, and I’ve mostly been glad that I have smaller feet 🙂

      Have you noticed that it’s really hard to find a half size here? When I went sneaker shopping I could find the equivalent of a 7 (too small) and an 8 (too large) but after almost every store in the Novena sports mall (and a few others) I just concluded that they don’t sell them. Weird.

      I had no idea Kinokuniya was so popular on the West Coast 🙂

  5. Tabea says:

    I was intrigued by your comment about ‘good KFC’. Most fried chicken connoisseurs know that the KFC in Singapore sucks. For me it’s because it just tastes overwhelmingly of salt, is not actually very crispy, leaves a leaden, heavy taste in the stomach afterwards, and all the outlets have a horrible smell. I’d be interested to know how the KFC in the US is better.

    In Singapore, I wouldn’t eat KFC chicken even if I was starving and stranded on a desert island. The mashed potatoes and coleslaw are OK though.

    If I want fried chicken in Singapore, it’s either Popeye’s or Waffletown. Indeed, if I was on death row, I’d request Waffletown fried chicken for my last meal, it’s that good.

    I was very amused by what you wrote about Panda Express. But I wouldn’t call it fake Chinese food. There are many varieties of Chinese food around the world and each is equally authentic in its own setting. There is no good/bad, just what you are used to. For example:

    – American Chinese – chop suey, moo shu pork, egg rolls, General Tso’s chicken

    – British Chinese – crispy seaweed, sesame prawn toast, deep fried crispy aromatic duck

    – German Chinese – involves a lot of deep fried duck breast fillets

    – French Chinese – Indochinese influence

    – Italian Chinese – wontons renamed ravioli, noodles renamed pasta

    – Indian Chinese – dumplings are called moomoo, ‘Manchurian’ dishes, lots of deep fried vegetables with chilli

    There are also significant difference between Northern Chinese, Sichuan Chinese, Southern Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, Singapore Chinese, Malaysian Chinese etc etc.

    Probably the only value judgement I’m willing to put on these differences is that something out of the freezer + deep fried + gloopy sauce is probably not as healthy for you as say, a fish that came out of a tank and twenty minutes later is steamed and sitting on a plate in front of you.

    • Crystal says:

      Exactly–KFC Singapore is horrible. Apart from the salt, the quality of the chicken is atrocious, and they almost NEVER have white meat…even the popcorn chicken seems to be made of dark meat!

      In the US, the meat quality is MILES better, you can reliably get white or dark meat (and they don’t give you wings unless you ask for them…a 2 piece white meat meal is a breast and thigh…the servings in Singapore are super stingy). The “herbs and spices” come through better, as opposed to the dominant salt. It’s juicier. There are all kinds of dipping sauces you can get. Honestly, the quality of the breading they use alone is addictively good. When it comes to fried chicken, in the US, I’d pick KFC over all competitors any day.

      To be fair, there’s also an element of that is the flavor I was raised eating.

      Popeye’s in SG is tolerable, but nowhere near as good as the US version. They also lose points for not having dipping sauces, especially the BBQ.

      So far the best local fried chicken I’ve found is Texas Chicken. You can at least reliably get a breast of white meat there, it’s juicy, and the quality isn’t terrible.

      I’ve heard good things about a place called Arnolds? But I haven’t been there yet. Will also have to add your recommendation of Waffletown.

      American Chinese Food is generally accepted as being a far stretch from true Chinese Cuisine.

      A good quote is from the wikipedia article to better explain the differences…

      American Chinese cuisine often uses ingredients not native and very rarely used in China. One such example is the common use of western broccoli (xi lan, 西蘭) instead of Chinese broccoli (gai lan, 芥蘭) in American Chinese cuisine. Occasionally western broccoli is also referred to as sai lan fa (in Cantonese) in order not to confuse the two styles of broccoli. Among Chinese speakers, however, it is typically understood that one is referring to the leafy vegetable unless otherwise specified. This is also the case with the words for carrot (luo buo or lo bac) or (hong luo buo hong meaning red) and onion (cong). Lo bac, in Cantonese, refers to the daikon, a large, blandly flavored white radish. The orange western carrot is known in some areas of China as “foreign Daikon” (or more properly hung lo bac in Cantonese, hung meaning “red”). When the word for onion, chung, is used, it is understood that one is referring to “green onions” (otherwise known to English-speakers as scallions or spring onions, green onions). The many-layered onion common in the United States is called yeung chung. This translates as “western onion”. These names make it evident that the American broccoli, carrot, and onion are not indigenous to China and therefore are less common in the cuisines of China. Since tomatoes are New World plants, they are also fairly new to China and Chinese cuisine. Tomato-based sauces can be found in some American Chinese dishes such as the “beef and tomato”. Hence, if a dish contains significant amounts of any of these ingredients, it has most likely been Westernized. Even more divergent are American stir-fry dishes inspired by Chinese food, that may contain brown rice instead of white, or those with grated cheese; milk products are almost always absent from traditional Chinese food.

      Let’s not forget the American tradition of “fortune cookies” which are so NOT chinese food… Again, from Wikipedia

      Fortune cookies are often served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants in the United States and some other countries, but are absent in China. The exact provenance of fortune cookies is unclear, though various immigrant groups in California claim to have popularized them in the early 20th century, basing their recipe on a traditional Japanese cracker. Fortune cookies have been summarized as being “introduced by the Japanese, popularized by the Chinese, but ultimately … consumed by Americans.”[2

      Most “chinese food” dishes that Americans like are not available anywhere in Asia, and not even a little, in China. Hence, it’s “fake” chinese food by most standards. It’s an “american interpretation” of chinese food, if you want to be generous. When I’ve asked native Chinese about American Chinese food, they’re pretty horrified and think it’s swill. Terrible stuff. Hate it. Or at least that’s the common reaction from exchange students and expats.

      Char Cze in SG comes close in a few dishes (the fried chicken wings, for example aren’t a huge stretch.) But mostly it’s one of those things that I consider only as available at home in the US.

  6. Tabea says:

    I don’t like Westernized Chinese food, for the same reason I don’t like stuff like Pop Tarts – because it’s overly processed and too many steps away from what the ingredients were originally. But that doesn’t mean it’s not its own legitimate branch in the family of Chinese food around the world.

    What most people consider ‘Chinese’ food in Southeast Asia uses many ingredients which are unheard of in mainland China. For example dairy products (e.g. butter prawns), mayo, salad cream/Miracle Whip, fermented shrimp…

    Authenticity is constructed!

    On fried chicken – Arnold’s is located in City Plaza. It’s very popular so if I were trekking out there, I’d go at an off-peak hour. I made the mistake of going on a Friday night and ended up waiting almost an hour for a table. Waffletown is at Balmoral Plaza; there won’t be a wait there and it’s much closer to where you live. The eponymous waffles are not too bad either.

    The dark meat is a cultural thing. I have the opposite problem to you living here in the UK. In most mainstream British eating places, ‘chicken’ means only one thing. Boneless, skinless chicken breast. Yuck. It’s as if all British chickens have no bones, no skin, and only pneumatic tits and nothing else.

    The yuckiness of KFC in Singapore is such that even the KFC in Malaysia tastes better. I have to confess I have never eaten at KFC in the States. I always preferred buffalo wings. And don’t get me started on the awfulness of buffalo wings in the UK! They are usually not even properly fried, so are not crispy, and worst of all, always come with a sweet, gloopy BBQ sauce. It is so wrong! I now make my own buffalo wings – but of course, the sauce isn’t available in the UK, so I get friends coming from either the US or Singapore to bring me bottles of the stuff!

    • Crystal says:

      My gut reaction was “mmmm pop tarts” (which yes, I can get here).

      Thanks for the tips on the local fried chicken…will trek out once I’m home (assuming everything is okay with the pregnancy–small chance I might be on rest).

      You made me laugh on with “Pnuematic tits”. The US is fairly equally guilty on that charge. In SG, I was initially baffled by the lack of local boneless skinless chicken breasts (yes, you can get boneless, but you’re cutting that sucker in half yourself and taking the skin off at home).

      I think we all have those “care package” items we need from home. If we ever ended up in the UK (which was my original hope for an expat experience) I know I’d have a long list.

Comments are closed.