Weekend trip to Singapore

Howdy folks, here’s another update – This time from Singapore.

The 17. july marks the end of the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar also known of Ramadan where muslims across the world have been fasting from sunup to sundown. This leads to a festival called eid al-fitr which celebrates breaking fast. At my factory this leads to 3 days off (thursday, friday, monday) which gave me the chance to go on an extended weekendtrip and I chose Singapore since my friend Marilyn lives there and I haven’t seen her since San Francisco 2011.

I touched down in Changi Airport, Singapore in the evening around 5pm where Marilyn picked me up in the airport and we went straight to a market at Paya Lebar where I had a delicious Ramly Chicken burger and some thai coconut icecream. We walked around for a while in the extremely crowded market and I bought a white traditional malaysian shirt. Marilyn bought some dresses for her friends in Switzerland.

IMG_20150716_191951                          Thai coconut icecream

 

We then went home to Marilyns place where I was going to sleep for the next couple of nights. I took a shower and then we had to get moving. We were meeting some of her friends for “supper” around midnight. Supper is something practiced in both Malaysia and Singapore (and probably more places) and is basically just eating late at night. I’ve found where Danes meet for a casual beer, Singaporeans meet for some casual food. Food is cheap, beer is not. In Denmark it’s the other way around. The Ramly chicken burger and the coconut ice cream I hadn’t tried before but it was fairly close to “western” food – what they ordered for me here though; Not what my tastebuds are used to! 🙂

Chili sting ray served on a banana leaf, mixed vegetables in oyster sauce, frog legs in porridge and with a brown sauce i couldnt put my finger on and oyster omelet. With that I had jelly lemon ice tea and chinese ice tea. Needless to say, all of it, ALL of it was new to me. So yeah… welcome to Singapore! 🙂

The chili stingray was good and spicy. I could eat that again. Fish and chili spices, why not? The mixed vegetables in oyster sauce was good – very garlicky. The frog legs in porridge… hmmm, well… Frog legs taste like a mix between fish and chicken… add that to porridge and you definitely have a weird combination i’ve never had before (let alone porridge with any type of meat). Add the brown sauce and you have giant mindf*** of a foodexplosion that I was NOT prepared for. I ate a couple of legs and most of the soup/sauce/porridge but then had to give up. The oyster omelet gave me a weird sensation in my mouth and it only took the first mouthful of oyster to leave that dish alone 🙂

Chili Sting ray
Chili Sting ray
Frog legs up close
Frog legs up close
Frog legs and Porridge
Frog legs and Porridge

So. We went home to sleep around 2am and that was the first evening in Singapore.

Friday we woke up late and decided to do traditional Singapore sightseeing. But first we tried the fabled Durians that everyone talk about. This was the Pahang type as they are apparently quite different. Now, Durians are a chapter by themselves and I won’t go into too much details but they are a pineapple sized fruit with a very hard and pointy exterior and they have a very strong smell. Put this together with a very strong taste it leaves you with a fruit that you either love or hate. If you hate it, you can’t avoid the smelll anywhere so you get to really hate it 🙂 On the other, if you love it – it’s a great fruit to have readily available. Me? I like the smell but the taste is… not acquired yet. I think I can learn to like them and its not like the taste is that bad but I just need to try them a few more times before I’m ready to fully indulge.

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Durians Durians Durians
Durians Durians Durians

The sightseeing involved seeing the Merlion:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlion

It’s called so because it’s a mix between a mermaid buddy with a lions head. Very pretty 🙂 Since it started raining everybody left and we got some good pictures.

Merlion + ackward pose
Merlion + ackward pose
Marina Bay Sands in the background
Marina Bay Sands in the background
Merlion
Merlion
Merlion
Merlion

In the evening we went up the Marina Bay Sands hotel that you can see in the pictures on 57th floor. Up there I met up with 2 other long lost friends, David and Grace whom I both met back in Karlsruhe, Germany back in 08. Crazy to meet in Singapore of all places. Grace is indonesian living in Singapore and David is an aussie visiting Singapore for a unicycle hockey tournament.

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From left: David, Grace, Marilyn, Me
The view from Ce La Vie
The view from Ce La Vie

 

Saturday we woke up and got even more food, and we went to the mall to get me some swimshorts and walked around for a bit. Saw Arab street in Singapore and just did some walking around.

Street art near Arab Street
Street art near Arab Street

Later we met up with a bunch of Marilyns friends and Grace at a birthday party which involved many good things such as poledancing and auctions (of men unfortunately) for charity. I also went up into the even higher rooftop bar called Altitude which is on 67th floor making it the worlds highest al fresco bar (open air rooftop bar). Marilyn got us on the guestlist, so we skipped the line and the entrance fee. It felt good 🙂

Marilyn and me and the top of Altitude
Marilyn and me and the top of Altitude
Grace and Me at the top of Altitude
Grace and Me at the top of Altitude
View from Altitude
View from Altitude

I could proably write another 10 pages just about Singapore, involving things as duckrice, starbucks and Singapore in general but I’ll just sum it up with this

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Sunday I left Singapore after a very long weekend with so many new things tried 🙂

Settling in – To work in Penang

I have now been in Penang, Malaysia for a few days and I’ve already had my fair share of new experiences both during and outside work.

Every morning I get picked up at my hotel and every afternoon I am driven home. It is chaos with cars weawing in and out and motos (Mopeds – small motorbikes) are everywhere left and right and infront of you. I understand why you don’t just drive a car here but prefer a driver. They also drive in the left side of the road, courtesy of the commonwealth influence.

We are about 2000 employees at the factory but only about 10 of us are socalled ASIC design engineers. We have our own room and as such the only contact i get with the remaining 1990 people is when I walk through the production offices to get to the toilet, wait for the lift, or eat in the cantina. I have a great interest in local life and what other work is being done at the factory and hopefully I’ll be able to get a tour of the remaining facility.

Naturally, everything is very different from Denmark. First of all it’s a factory with people everywhere doing completely other stuff than what I do; In Denmark we are only 30 people and we are all (almost) doing the same. Then there are the toilets – they are squatting toilets

Squat toilet

To many danes, this is a nightmare and most have never seen one before in their lives. Being a guy, pee’ing is easy – doing number 2 takes some getting used to though. I’ve learned that the best way is simply taking off your pants and hanging them on the designated hanger space (which is in every single toilet so far), so as to not get them… dirty. On a sidenote – there is a hose in every toilet aswell good for easy cleaning whether you are part of the cleaning crew or just feel the need to clean before (or after) you need to go the toilet.

For lunch we usually go out to eat which gives me a chance to both experience the heat, the world outside and the delicious Penang food. There are many chinese and Indian people here so the food varies alot and you have the option to try much different food. There is also a bunch of western food shops but they are extremely expensive compared to street food (5-10x more expensive). A local dish is about 5 Ringgit (9DKK/$1,5USD) while at TGI Fridays its more like 50 ringgits for a burger.

The work itself that I do is very interesting. Both because it’s new people and a whole new environment, so in many ways it’s like starting a new job, but also because I am the only *digital* designer meaning that I get all the responsibility for that side of the chip we are making, which is both exciting but all in some ways scary. If I don’t do good, the project will be delayed (or will have errors) and noone is there to pick up the slack.

Yesterday (friday) we went to the cantina instead as it was raining (and parking is hard to get so people park far away). Also, when it rains it pours – it’s usually not raining but then in short bursts it’s raining alot. Alot; So it’s best to stay inside. One anecdote of one of the other guys at the factory was that he left his car at a new parking lot and when he came back to it the car was flooded (everything was wet inside). That parking lot is now closed until they figure out how to deal with the rain 🙂

Flooded "inside" because it rains
Flooded “inside” because it rains

Stay tuned for the next episode where I’ll try to get into life after work 🙂

First day in Penang, Malaysia

First day in Penang

… which means that once again I’m on an adventure and the reason behind this trip is work. 2 weeks in Malaysia, 1 week in Denmark, and 2 months in Malaysia. This post will be short as I’m tired (jetlagged).

I left Denmark yesterday morning (local time) and arrived safely today also in the morning. I got picked up in the airport by a chaueffeur that had a tag with my name on it. This is a first for me. It is also the first time for me in south-east asia so everything is very exciting.

I checked in to my 2 story suite and promptly fell asleep. I needed the sleep as I had only slept for about 3-4 hours scattered across various timezones  and planes. I woke up about two hours later, took a shower and ventured out to see the local malaysian life.

Everything was very quiet. Maybe it’s because it was 3pm and everyone was working, or maybe it’s because it’s a muslim country and Ramadan is happening. I don’t know. What I do know is that I got a very delicious course that Emily, the waitress, suggested. Forgive my ignorance but i think what I got was Pho phan (which translates into pho noodles, where pho is a river) which is called that because the dish looks like a river 🙂 I also recieved very fresh double orange juice. All for the total of 8 ringgit, or about $2. Come to think of it, she just asked for $1?

I managed quite well with spoon and chopsticks. Apparently you just put the spoon under the chopsticks so as to both being able to stuff food into your mouth really quickly but also so that any spill from the chopsticks doesn’t fall back into the soup and splatters your clothes. It really helped learning that and my clothes are clean 🙂  I also came to learn the story of how she was a student in structural engineering for 2 years in Malaysia when she was young and was supposed to go to England to finish her degree but because her mother got sick they couldn’t afford it. 6 months later her mother died and she has been working in a restaurant ever since. She is over 70 now although she looks much younger.

I also learned from the security guard at the hotel that food is “puta” or something like that. Nice to know 🙂

Now it’s 6pm and I have to prepare for first day at work in Malaysia tomorrow.

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/Thor