Merry Christmas!

We all started Christmas Eve Day with a trip to Springleaf Prata, where we indulged in a variety of fried breads (egg prata, banana prata, sugar tissue prata, and a masala dosa).

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We then went home to get in the Christmas spirit by building a gingerbread house.

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Starting with an IKEA frame that I got as part of a Yankee gift swap, we added a few amenities:  a flagpole, a cat house, a compost pile, solar paneling, and evacuated tubes for a solar hot water heater.

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After that important work, we headed over to Jalan Besar so that J and Prescott could experience the temples and tea tour that I took myself on earlier this week.  We explored the temples in more depth than I had the first time — it’s amazing how busily these places are decorated and how much there is to notice.  For example, it’s worth taking a look at the squid and turtle guys getting ready to battle a pig guy here:

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I also wondered at the presence of a very large Ganesha — a Hindu deity — in what is clearly a Chinese Buddhist temple (note Ganesha’s vehicle, a tiny mouse, in the lower righthand corner; that’s what Ganesha uses to get around):

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After J and I had wandered through four different temples, we all walked down the street to visit the King of Tea.  It was another very local, very unusual experience.  Mr. Long, the owner, ate his lunch as we perused the teapot selection — then we found ourselves at the big tea table with one Chinese guy, one Singaporean, and Mr. Long presiding over it all.

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The Singaporean gentleman was very chatty and excited to talk about tea.  We learned all about master pot makers and the prices of teas and pots (we were all drinking from a $1,000 pot that he had recently bought).  Like any good collector, he was happy to answer questions and give us tips.  He also talked with enthusiasm and nostalgia about growing up in a kampong, an old Singaporean neighborhood, before the government tore down all of the dirt-floor houses to build HDB residences many decades ago.

Once we’d had about fifteen cups of tea and J had purchased a new teapot, we left the shop to look at the local architecture.  But as rainclouds began to gather with some seriousness overhead, we changed plans and went in search of a place to stay dray.  Our first choice was unexpectedly closed for the holiday (that’s rare here), so we ended up at a cafe called The Tiramisu Hero.  Their mascot is a masked cat (not a panda, not a raccoon — they’re very clear about this) named Sir Antonio.  You really never know what you’re going to find in Singapore.

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We spent much of our time at the cafe searching on our phones for a place that Prescott might find turkey for Christmas Eve dinner.

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While we sat, a storm raged outside — the rain poured down, and you could hear the thunder all the way at the back of the cafe.  But we braved the downpour to dash into an Uber pickup and make our way to Arbite, a restaurant that had turkey on the menu (though no mashed potatoes, sadly).  J and I both had very satisfying seafood dishes instead.

Our evening ended back at home, with a now-traditional viewing of The Muppet Christmas Carol.

J and I woke up early this morning, but not to get our Christmas stockings.  No, we went to the gym — that’s a first for us on Christmas morning.  J wanted to get a workout in before she headed to the airport; she’s starting a 6-day solo adventure in Chiang Mai today.  We all went to Changi airport together and stopped to see some kinetic art before she hit the departure gate.

After we said farewell to J, Prescott and I went for a Christmas bike ride in East Coast Park. To stay in the Christmas spirit, we sang Christmas carols for part of the way (though singing and exercise are not a great combination).  It was an unusual but wonderful way to celebrate the day.

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Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone!

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