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It’s a common sight to see a Singapore LTA (Land Transport Authority) dummy acting to control traffic. The first time you see one, you might have a giggle as I did. It can seem a strange tactic and you may wonder if it works.

police dummy Singapore

LTA Mannequin – Photo not mine.

But what if we spin that scenario on it’s side? What about an LTA officer standing so still that you THINK he’s a dummy. This is what I saw on foot near Jurong East the other day. It took me watching for a while to realize this was an actual officer. I’m not sure if this was on purpose or not, but I have to think it was or the officer was practicing for a future career transition as a living statue ala Amanda Palmer.

Well done sir on the discipline. Standing that still takes a lot of hard work! In the end it was the small movements in your hands that gave you away.

LTA officer

Tanjong Beach

Shopping in Singapore can be traumatizing for us non Asian ladies. How many times have we walked into a store to be told some version of “Too big, lah.” Or how many times have we ordered the XL to realize that’s likely the equivalent of an XS in our home country. If you need proof, the online expat forums are full of tearful tales of women made to feel poorly (perhaps inadvertently) about themselves for their size.

Swimsuit shopping can be particularly hard on us ladies on the best of days, much less while doing it in Singapore where sizes run small and most salesclerks are not trained to deal with our Western customs for commenting on body sizes or the general sensitivity needed in addressing us when it comes to our size.

Add pregnancy to this equation and I knew that I was in retail trouble.

My only semi fitting bathing suit was wearing thin and when you live in Singapore, having a working bathing suit at all times is imperative.

I started doing some research and sites like Honeycombers raved about August Society. I know how PR works when it comes to brands and internet promotion, so I approached it with some healthy skepticism.

I stalked August Society like an ex boyfriend for a few weeks. I knew they had a great return policy with free shipping and returns in Singapore, I knew the bottoms and tops were sold separately, and that many designs can be mixed and matched. However, at $89 to $119 SG for individual bottoms and tops and no idea what my body would look like post pregnancy, I still could not take the plunge.

That is until I received a standard $50 off code in honor of SG50. “OK,” I thought, “let’s try it.”

I’m super glad I did. First of all, since I am pregnant, I can later just buy an individual top or bottom as needed when my body does change again. Second of all, the suit is super cute and good quality. Third of all, the customer service was FANTASTIC.

Best of all: I promise you they’ve given me nothing to tell you this and they had no idea that I had a blog to rave about them on.

Toni at August Society was not only super responsive, she went above and beyond when I wanted to trade a size up for the bottoms, making an exception in time schedules to send a courier to my house with my newly sized bottoms before I took off for the long weekend.

So thanks, Toni and August Society for making an 8 month pregnant lady feel nice not only while wearing a bathing suit, but while purchasing it as well.

augustsociety

8 months pregnant!

Films at the Fort

Much like visiting Fort Canning park itself, attending Films at the Fort is something I have been meaning to do but never got around to. Last year I didn’t go because by the time I got my rear end in gear to buy tickets, the shows were mostly sold out, not cheap and ugh, what if it rained? This year I was a bit less worried about inclement weather, a bit more organized, and I am glad for it.

Wednesday night, a few friends gathered to watch the documentary, The Two Escobars, a story of Columbian soccer in the 80s and drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Truth be told, I couldn’t believe how much we lucked out with the weather. We set up our blankets on the slope in front of the screen and set out our picnic.

filmsatthefort

filmsatthefort2

The event allows outside food, but not outside booze. Food is also purchasable at the event, courtesy of The Providore and your ticket comes with a free serving of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

So what of my initial concern that the event was not cheap? If you gather 5 or more people you get a discount of 20%. I also noticed that bottles of Casillero del Diablo purchased at the grocery store came with a 20% off coupon for the event.  In the end, this discount makes the event about $20 a ticket.

“You know, I thought this event was a little pricey for a movie at first,” I told a friend. “But I think by charging it keeps the event from being too crowded and actually really pleasant.”

“Well, when you count the ice cream into the price, it probably brings the cost down by about half,” joked my friend.

Touche. Ice cream in this town is not cheap. Need proof? Here’s a pint of Haagan Das “on sale” at the grocery store for $14.45 SG a pint (that’s about $10 US).

ice cream in Singapore

Films on the Fort ends for the 2015 year on August 23rd. Tickets are still available for the 21st and the 23rd. Get on it now, or you’ll have to wait for next year.

I never thought I would spend much time in Wichita, Kansas. It just wasn’t a place that was on my radar. However, in the last two years I have found myself in circumstances that have required a few extended stays there.

My first visit to Wichita was over a weekend and included a Saturday visit to a diner, an airshow, a wine bar and a club. By Sunday I felt like I had done it all and after a wander in a more than dead downtown, I gave up and spent the rest of the day watching HBO.

However, a few more visits had me scratching beneath the surface and finding a community friendly to an admittedly hippie soul like mine. Here’s what I found so that on your next visit you can skip the HBO and hit the ground running.

Food and Cafes

While a few restaurants and cafes offer vegetarian or a “healthier” option somewhere on the menu (examples Public or Anchor) I found the real standouts to come down to Lotus Leaf Cafe and The Garden Grill. Both are located downtown and have hours that vary during the day with Lotus Leaf closing early some days and Garden Grill closing for dinner completely on some days, so I suggest checking the website before heading that way. Garden Grill’s menu is strictly vegan and there’s often a buffet but I find ordering off the menu preferable. Lotus Leaf offers plentiful vegan and vegetarian options with meat options interspersed on the menu, making it easy to convince a carnivore to come with you if they are hesitant. Both have amazing smoothies and juices.

Speaking of juices and smoothies, I would be amiss to mention that Wichita now has it’s very own Whole Foods on the east side of town. I arrived in Wichita after a few days in Austin, Texas, where Whole Foods is headquartered, and I can’t say that the Whole Foods in Wichita is comparable in item selection to stores in say Austin or Denver, but it does offer a decent takeout selection and loads of other options.

If you are just looking for groceries (and perhaps you are a bit disgruntled at the Whole Foods scene), The Natural Grocer has been around a while in Wichita. Their takeout selection is not so great, but you can get all the yummy groceries and supplements your heart desires!

Yoga Studios

All that food got you geared up for a nice stretch? I hope so because holy crap, yoga classes in Wichita only cost about $10 US a session. Do you know how much they cost in Singapore? Anywhere from 25 to 55 Singapore dollars (that’s $18 to $40 US).

My previous trips to Wichita have had me spending a lot of time with Adrian and Whitney at Siva Yoga. Formerly located downtown, you can now find them in the just east of central neighborhood of College Park. While I enjoyed their flowy classes in a warmish 80 to 85 degree room in the past, this trip I was second trimester pregnant and the thought of being in a heated room, even if it wasn’t Bikram hot, made me want to gag. (Listen to your body, yo!)

This led me to the even more east of central studio, Central Yoga, which is named after it’s location on Central Avenue. First, I hit up the community acupuncture sessions which cost a mere $15. The sessions are drop in, so you don’t have to be exactly on time for Dr. Vicki Dukes, DC to align your qi with her tiny little needles. I left floating on air, came back the next day for a fantastic aligned flow class with Keriann and later that week for an awesome prenatal class with the very knowledgeable Sally Beckett. If you are more into alignment than warm flow, Central Yoga is a great option.

Shopping

If you’re looking to do some shopping, I’d skip the often bragged about Bradley Fair and check out Watermark Books, an independent book store in College Park and RELove, a shop on Woodlawn that sales repurposed furniture and also holds classes to teach you how to repurpose a great find yourself.

Outdoors

While I can’t say I spent much time in nature while in Wichita, I can say that the river area through downtown is nicely kept and good for a stroll or run.

Live music

Live music seemed to radiate from bars and restaurants downtown in the summer evenings. Try Oeno Wine Bar for a start with relaxed jams while you sip a Pinot.

That’s all I have for now on Wichita. Got a secret tip? Let me know in the comments. xx

New project alert!

pregnancy

We are expecting! ETA September.

I don’t know how normal people react when they find out their pregnant, but for me, my thoughts were along the lines of 1.) holy shit and 2.) what do I do now??

So I did what I think most people would do. I asked a few friends. While I had no idea what the normal process at this point was, I quickly found out that everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) has an opinion, often a very strong one, often clashing with my strong opinion.

There was the friend that insisted I spend (or waste, in my strong opinion) money on 3 at home pregnancy test just to “make sure,” even though I already KNEW the moment the first test showed it’s little two lines that it wasn’t lying. Afterall, my period was late, I was feeling super feminine, I had a violent aversion to questionable food, and I got severely loopy from a mere 2 glasses of wine.I didn’t need multiple tests to tell me my system had been highjacked.

I did some research on the most natural friendly doctors in Singapore, and made an appointment for my chosen doctor’s earliest availability. Some friends were appauled that I wouldn’t see the doctor until week 11/12. Others insisted it wasn’t necessary to seek early care.

The opinions did not let up there. One friend insisted I go vegan, another insisted I start eating meat. A coworker lectured me on the importance of finding out the sex ASAP because it was important in case it was a girl so I would know how to wipe, nevermind that I have the equipment myself. There were those that insisted I stop riding a motorcycle immediately regardless that my office is 1.5 hours commute by public transport. Others didn’t see why I should have to give it up, afterall people in Thailand, Vietnam and India ride at 9 months pregnant and even while wearing a sling. I won’t go into the riffs, eyerolls and exasperation when I shared my birth plan of minimal intervention and no epidural. I got called everything from naive to judgmental, until I got super selective in my sharing.

Among my American friends the opinions vary greatly, but add to that the even more diverse population of Singapore, its local and expat communities, and you get an even bigger range of customs, styles and traditions to wade through. For example, in the UK it’s so normal to have a midwife attended birth that Kate Middleton did it, meanwhile in Singapore it’s illegal to birth without a doctor present. C section rates in Brazil are 80 to 90 percent in private hospitals, about 30 percent overall in the US and only about 17 percent overall in Sweden.  In some countries doctors ultrasound frequently, some ultrasound hardly at all. While many in Asia insist upon the benefits of confinement practices, many of those from Western countries often perceive not leaving the house, not washing your hair, hanging out 24/7 with your in-laws and eating pig trotters as a quick way to achieve postpartum depression. Although rumor has it that the papaya fish soup is quite tasty.

So what DO you do when you find out you are pregnant as an expat in Singapore? Well, if you are asking my opinion as someone who is not a medical professional and you are not choosing to terminate, carry on reading. (If you are considering termination, it’s beyond the scope of my discussion here and you may find this post from AWARE more helpful.)

1.) Relax. Pregnancy is a marathon, not a sprint. You are going to be at this for approximately 40 weeks. Assuming you found out early on, you have several months to rearrange your life, your home, your mentality and schedule all the little fun to do items (like maternity/baby portraits and babymoons) and not fun activities (like discussions with your work HR).

2.) Brace yourself for the opinions of others. Learn how to smile and nod while singing rock ballads in your head, say “thank you, interesting idea” as you let their words go in one ear and out the other, or stand tall with a hearty “Thanks for your unsolicited opinion” accompanied by a 30 yard stare. Your choice. I personally like to mix it up.

3.) Evaluate your insurance situation. My insurance is not very comprehensive (meaning it’s actually utter crap) so that limits my doctor choices. Here are the costs of typical vaginal delivery by hospital in Singapore and here are the costs of typical C section delivery by hospital in Singapore. It’s probably too late to buy insurance on your own now if you don’t have it, so relax because there’s nothing you can do anyway. Most policies require minimum 10 month waiting period before covering maternity costs and/or birth. You can still get insurance going from day 1 for your little one, although it likely won’t be cheap. Try contacting Expat Insurance for quotes if you aren’t sure where else to turn.

4.) Start thinking about what type of medical care you would like or need to have in your pregnancy. In Singapore, decisions tend to be deferred to doctors and OBGYNs often explain little and err on the side of intervention. If you are OK with deferring but like to be informed, you will likely have to lead the discussions, so come in with questions. If you prefer a less medicalized experience than the norm on this small island then you are not completely out of luck. It just means you may have to research more, select providers more carefully and be prepared to be treated like an anomaly.You will still have some restrictions, for instance I already mentioned that home birth with a midwife is illegal (ie, birth by anything but a doctor). Don’t worry, I’m here for you. I’ll guide you through this in a later post.

5.) Book an appointment with a doctor that you feel best suites your needs, whether that be degree of planned intervention, location, cost or simply availability. Many expecting mothers have their first appointments at 8 weeks or so, but it’s also likely ok waiting until your 12th week as in my case. You can treat this first appointment like an interview. If you do not connect with this doctor, you still have time to change to another one. You don’t have to stay with a doctor you don’t like.

6.) Celebrate. Because you are a freaking life carrying goddess. Enough said. :)

Oh yeah, and congratulations! xx

Oliver and company at Eyes to the Front threw a pretty badass (and free) party at Sofitel So Singapore last Saturday. The boutique hotel pool setting with DJ tables and skyscrapers  made for good ambience and great eye candy.

DJ Victoria

DJ Victoria

As the crowd got rowdier and drunker, my sober self was ready to move on. I even texted a friend to meet up at a different location for some grub, despite the Sofitel having delicous looking bbq available for purchase.

Then Jeck Hyde came on the decks, and well I had to text my friend “Sorry, music got really good. Can’t leave.” All of a sudden the crowd seemed friendlier.

Jeck Hyde

Jeck Hyde

Sober as I was (and I may have been the only one), I was on my feet and dancing. The icing on the cake was the National Day practice going on overhead featuring formation flying and then this lovely scene:

eyes to the front fireworksMore things are on the schedule for Eyes to the Front and it’s collection of artists. Check out their Facebook page to see what’s next.

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