Don’t Forget Your Tissue Pack

According to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a towel is the most “massively useful” thing you can bring along when you are traveling.

I suppose that covers all of the galaxy except that unique corner of the universe known as Singapore.

In Singapore, the tissue pack is king.

You see, the restaurants in Singapore don’t provide napkins and the bathrooms don’t have paper towels.

So every true Singaporean keeps a small pack of tissue handy in pocket or purse because some of the best food available involves getting your hands pretty dirty.

But the humble tissue pack is more than just a clean up device. It’s a calling card, perhaps better described as a place holder.

In the many Hawker Centers in Singapore serving up fabulous street food, things can get pretty busy, especially at lunchtime. There are usually a lot of tables, but they fill up quickly.

The best way to hold an open table while you order up your food is to lay a tissue pack on the table or seat.

I’m totally serious.

There is a social contract amongst the people of Singapore that says if a table has a tissue pack laying on it, that table is reserved. And everyone honors this.

No one simply pushes the tissue pack away and sits down. The tissue pack carries clout.

I was told that the tissue pack hold can last for at least a half hour or possibly longer.

And then once you get your heaping plate of chilli crab you settle into your saved seat and dig in to crack claws and legs and extract every savory morsel. The tissues are there to help you clean up.

Tissue packs are relatively cheap if you buy them in a drug store, like five cents a pack, but so valuable that it’ll run you up to a Sing Dollar (about .80 US) if you forgot your pack and have to buy one there at the Hawker Center.

It’s best not to show up unprepared.

Oh yes, in Singapore the most massively useful thing is a good clean supply of tissue packs.

Image from the Musings on Communication blog.

I’m an alien. I’m a legal alien.

I’m a New Mexican in Singapore.

What a whirlwind visit I’ve had here in Southeast Asia.

I think I’ve lived a year in a week and on Sunday, my last day in residence, I have a lot of thoughts going through my mind.

I have had some of the best food of my life. I have sweated more than I thought my pores were capable of. I’ve felt more at home than anywhere I’ve visited. I’ve felt more alien than anywhere I’ve ever visited.

I’m not sure where to even begin speaking about it all and rest assured over the next weeks and months it will slowly come through my writing. Or, perhaps, even years. My mind and Muse need to ruminate over it all.

But let’s get down to basics.

After eight days and twelve thousand miles away from home, I need some Mexican food.

On Friday as I visited with my ex-pat friend now living in Bali, we agreed that Mexican is just one thing you don’t get here. You can find just about everything else, but Mexican is a no.

While shopping the enormous Mustafa Market in the Little India district of Singapore (it truly is a store where you can find anything), I happened to stumble across this:

While Old El Paso is my least favorite brand, it’s at least something, right? Salsa! Here! Yes!



Turn over the jar and you see this:

Made in Spain? For General Mills Switzerland?

Remember that old Pace commercial: “New York City!?! Get a rope…”

Yeah. Times a thousand.

I shan’t be sampling the Spain/Swiss salsa. I’ll simply have to enjoy another day of chili crab, delicious laksa, chicken rice and everything else wonderful here and then next week I’ll see about getting my chile meter back up to green.

Disorganized Organization

Since this week’s Theme Thursday is the word organize, and since this blogger is anything but organized, I present a few photos for my entry into this week’s game.

Here’s a few more beauty shots of the fresh veggies on display in my cafeteria at work.

Who knew a simple, well organized pile of veg could look so darn enticing!

Not me.

Lovely, prickly artichokes (a personal fave)

Wait, I thought all carrots were those perfect small baby variety?


Photos by Karen Fayeth, Copyright 2012, and subject to the Creative Commons license on the far right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone4s and the Hipstamatic app.

Eek! A Monster!

Oh, but it’s such a cute little cross eyed monster.**

Look at him all rawr with all the nose holes and the rectangular mouth.

I just want to pat his little growling head and feed him raw meat. Yes I do.

I suppose I should actually find a way to tame this little beast because he’s about to climb into my backpack so we can board an airplane.

That’s right folks, Oh Fair New Mexico is set to hit the road. Or rather, fly the skies.

This time we’re going *international*.

Whew! Very exciting times!

I’m a embarrassed to admit that in my little life, the only times I’ve been out of the US was the many occasions dancing back and forth across the border in both Juarez and Matamoros.

And of course, I spend every day at work calling every country code you can think of. I travel the globe via telephone lines, but when I was hired this was to be a non-traveling position. Ah well.

I’ve had a passport for decades and even had to renew it. But I’ve never, not once gotten that bad boy stamped.

Well that’s about to change. The Boss Man and the Big Boss Man have seen fit to put a ticket in my hand and a Bon Voyage banner across my tuchus.

Next week, I’m headed to Singapore. I’m going for work but I’m as excited as though I was having a vacation.

The Good Man was able to rearrange his schedule to come along so it should be big fun (when I’m not suffering the slings and arrows of my employer).

Actually, the work part of the trip should be fascinating too. I’m attending an event put on by one of our biggest suppliers. They are bringing local in-country reps from each of their offices across Asia. So people from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, India, China, and so on are flying in to meet…well…me.

My company gives their company a lot of money, and I will be the senior representative in attendance, and oh I also run the entire program (i.e. I control the money) so I guess I’m worth meeting? Weird. Really, very weird.

I suppose if I’m the one in charge (a concept that should worry you endlessly) then I’d better behave myself.

That’s going to be really, really difficult.

Geez, I even went out and bought professional clothes for this event (I work in Silicon Valley, “professional clothes” is a concept no one cares about).

I am alternately nervous and so freaking excited I can hardly contain myself.

There! I’m going to be there!! Yesss!

**In case my little monster is unfamiliar to you, it’s a universal power adapter.

Singapore image found in seveal places across the web. If it’s yours, please do let me know and I’m more than happy to either take it down or give you credit.