Tag Archives: Barbecue

Friends across the sea

12 Nov

One of the wonderful things about all the travel I’ve done this year was the opportunity to see people that I don’t get to see very often.  As long as I know I’ll be in an area and have a little free time I will reach out to people to see if we can spend some time together.  This year was a new record for me.  I have been blessed with wonderful friends who are now scattered all over the world – I like to say that I “collect people” through my life, like the pearls of a necklace.

In February I got to spend a weekend with my sister in Austin, Texas between two sets of meetings for work.  The last time I was in town she was recovering from a knee injury – this time we enjoyed local barbecue at Rudy’s and took a long walk down by the river.  I would go back again for the barbecue in a second – and the banana pudding!  It was a great weekend.

Barbecue!  They even let us try samples before we ordered.

Barbecue! They even let us try samples before we ordered.

Nobody does barbecue like Texas!

Nobody does barbecue like Texas!

A couple of months later I was back in the States again and got to spend a weekend back in my hometown with my best friend and her kids.  We had hamburgers and ice cream and went to the park.  It was the quintessential American weekend – one of those days that made me wonder why I am still living in Shanghai so far away from friends and family and blue skies.  The weekend also made me thankful that I have the resources to travel and the experience to appreciate going home.

Blue skies at the park

Blue skies at the park

In June I managed to connect with a former colleague in the UK at Paddington train station in London before heading off to the airport.  We had a long brunch and traded stories since we had last seen each other, nearly a year before in Singapore.  She has now retired and looked fabulous – rested, relaxed with a bit of a tan.  I hope when I get to that phase of my life I have that many stories to tell.

At the end of June I was in San Francisco and managed to connect with many old friends – both at the actuarial conference that I attended,

An old friend from Chicago who worked in Hong Kong, visited me in Shanghai and went to the same conference in San Francisco.

An old friend from Chicago who worked in Hong Kong, visited me in Shanghai and went to the same conference in San Francisco.

but also a friend from Shanghai who moved back to Canada and was randomly in town for the weekend when I was there.  That connection even surprised me – we both put a photo on social media of the beautiful day in San Francisco and then realized our hotel rooms were on the same street!

Also in San Francisco I met up with a friend from Shanghai who lives there now.  She spent a day taking me to Fisherman’s Wharf where we had seafood and visited the famous Boudin bakery where I bought myself a sourdough roll.  We rode the trolley and explored the city – I even bought a T-shirt.  Sometimes being a tourist is the best way to see a city.

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In July I had a friend come to me – Carissa from Everyday adventures in Asia.  She was in town for work and I was actually in Shanghai that week and volunteered my spare room.  We stayed up way too late to squeeze in every moment of time together  because neither of us know the next time we’ll have the opportunity.

And finally I managed to squeeze in a quick breakfast with an old friend from Shanghai who was in my first Chinese class at Miracle Mandarin when I was in Jakarta in August.  She’s Indonesian, married to an Australian who has lived in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Australia.  Her daughter was born in Shanghai and they moved a couple of years ago back to Jakarta.  We hadn’t seen each other since, but we connected as if we had seen each other the previous weekend.

We even remembered to snap a photo!

We even remembered to snap a photo!

Friends are that way – even when they are across the sea.  Shared experiences and special relationships come together to make a wonderful, welcoming place for me all across the world.  If you’re in my neck of the woods – I’m happy to welcome you too!

Do you have friends across the sea?

A Singapore food crawl

11 Jul

During my recent trip to Singapore I was able to stay over the weekend and lucked out that one of my colleagues was arranging a food tour for the newcomers to the office.  I readily tagged along on their adventure to sample local specialties.

A word of warning, I did not take any photos – not a one!  I don’t know if it was the jet lag or the heat or I was just tired of whipping out my camera, but I have not one visual for this post.

My colleague is a local who knows his food and so he took about 10 of us to the neighborhood where he grew up on Singapore’s east side.  I had never been out of the central business district, so that in itself was an adventure.  We spent the entire afternoon from 2pm to 8pm sampling.  His word of advice was not to eat breakfast or lunch before we started!

At each restaurant we sampled a different type of food.  The first was luscious pork barbecue and pork belly – the Chinese influence coming through clearly.  It was very good, but it was also the dish I was most familiar with.

The second stop, just across the street and down a block was famous for laksa.  From my point of view there are as many types of laksa as there are cooks.  This laksa was heavy on the coconut milk and a wonderful mix of seafood.  It was meant for sharing because the noodles were precut so that you could eat it with a spoon.  We gobbled down several bowls and started to comment that we were feeling full.

Crossing the same street we then approached a famous chicken rice restaurant.  We stuffed ourselves with perfectly poached chicken and the delicately prepared rice.  In addition there was deep fried tofu cubes with a spicy sauce.  Very, very good and something I would eat again if I ever come across them.

Now, really feeling full, we pushed on to a place with a more Malaysian feel.  They had the sweets out front including pandan candy which was my favorite.  I first had pandan tea in Thailand several years ago and it is a unique flavor that I enjoy.

Inside we sampled the popiah – kind of like a vegetarian sandwich or a wrap.  They also had small fried cups filled with veggies that reminded me of mini taco bowls, just big enough for two or three bites.  All fresh and flavorful and something I had never heard of.

By this point we were all slightly green and decided we needed some liquid refreshment.  Tucking ourselves into a small bar just as it opened we drank beer and solved the world’s problems until people started drifting away.

I was the only one going back to the central city as that was where my hotel was, so my colleagues told me which bus to get on and I rode back along the waterfront, people watching until I saw my stop.

It was a perfect afternoon, a combination of friends and food, trying new things and seeing places beyond the tourist view.  Everything aligned and I feel lucky to have gone on my Singapore food crawl.

Have you tasted local flavor before like this?  Who was your guide?  Where were you?  It felt a little like the Taste of Chicago for those of you who have ever been to that, but more laid back, an everyday event instead of one time a year.

Where would you take someone on a food crawl in your hometown?

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