05 December 2011


I knew that I was missing out on a few American standards in Singapore but I had no idea just how good it would be to experience certain things again like it was the first time.

In Doha, just prior to boarding my flight to D.C., I spoke with an American woman on the same flight. She asked where I was from and where I was going and we conversed for a few minutes before we were able to board the flight. When I told her that I had not been cold in nearly a year, she burst out laughing.

I don’t think I have experienced cold yet but the high 40s temperatures I experienced in D.C. were enough to make me consider never leaving Singapore again. “This was stupid,” I told my friend when I walked outside for the first time.

When I arrived at Katie and Van’s house, I slipped off my flip flops and then, after walking a few steps, stopped, squished my toes, moved my feet a bit and nearly melted as I felt the soft fibers of carpet between my toes. I forgot how amazing carpet is since ALL of the floors in Singapore are made of marble.

One thing I know I took advantage of was watching college football while the games were being played on HDTV. Paul and I only got to see 13 games this season and 12 featured Ohio State; the 13th was the first Penn State game following the firing of Joe Paterno.

We only once saw a game live. Due to the U.S. time change and late game start time, we were able to tune into one 7 p.m. U.S. (8 a.m. Singapore) Buckeye game. We only saw a portion of the games in HD if we watched them online.

Singapore stations only offer a handful of HD stations so, even though we have an HD television, we felt it was pointless to pay for the HD receiver if only four channels would be broadcast in HD. Yesterday I was seen staring at the television with my jaw on the ground saying things like, “It’s so pretty,” “Look at all the colors,” and “OMG it’s so clear!”

I realized I was going crazy Friday evening when Van, Katie and I went for a ride. We were on our way to the most American dinner ever and I was secretly freaking out because I thought Van was driving on the wrong side of the road a few times. Any time Van made a left turn, I expected him to turn into one of the immediate left lanes. When he pulled out rather far and continued straight a bit before turning to the far lanes, I wanted to yell but I did not. My brain then realized that I was in America so I needed to readjust.

American food is amazing. The portions are huge, the grease level is high and nothing tastes like it anywhere else in the world. For my first American meal, we went to one of my D.C. favorites, The Counter, a build-your-own burger bar that serves almost anything fried and specializes in milkshakes for kids of all ages, including the special milkshakes with things like bourbon in them.

I ordered a beef burger with sweet BBQ sauce, provolone cheese and fried onion straws on a toasty bun. On my last visit, I had a lamb burger with gruyere cheese, black forest ham and a fried egg. So good. To accompany our burgers, we had a pile of sweet potato fries, fried onion straws and fried pickles. You can’t get more American than burgers, fries, fried onions and fried pickles. And yes, there was a root beer float involved.

Later that evening, Katie and I went to her local grocery for a few items needed for Saturday night’s dinner party. I was amazed at the size of the store, though I had been there before. I found myself walking through isles like a girl in Tiffany’s wishing I could just take everything off the shelf I ever wanted because I knew it was there. The aisles were so huge and everything was cheap. I bought a six-pack of beer. That’s right, this store sold beer in six-packs and cases. Take that, Singapore!

I was like a 5-year-old at the self checkout. Not having stood in front of one of those machines in about a year, I literally had no idea what I was doing. I was so caught off guard that I unbalanced by basket, which fell onto the floor, and the man behind me had to help me. I tried to sign the wrong screen after my credit card was swiped. I just laughed the whole time.

This afternoon, Katie drove me to the train station so I could begin my Amtrak Adventure. By the time we got into the city, I noticed that I really did not need my sunglasses. I was puzzled. The sky did not appear to be cloudy or expecting rain. Then I realized that it was 4:30 and December and that on the East Coast of America, the sun is down by 5. That is something I did not miss.

I had a great weekend with Katie and Van. I totally feel like I live at their house and I even impressed myself with how well I remembered the area. I have been there so often that their friends are my friends but I always seem to make new friends each time and learn something new. This weekend’s lesson: The Bourbon Trail.

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