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Monday, August 5

We Were Sick, Tired, Hungry and... Lame

The jet lag/time difference seems to be a thing of the past now, which means I have a little more energy to blog, but less time to actually do so.  Nonetheless, if I am going to remember these first precious days, I need to get my fingers to the keyboard and just do it already.  So allow me to go backwards and fill in the week long blank.

On our second day here, we were still battling fevers in both boys, which the Singaporean fever reducer just wasn’t helping so I sent KH off with our sponsor to procure whatever pain reliever the Navy Exchange was selling.  It takes a half an hour to get there from our downtown hotel  and our sponsor also gave him a small tour, so the day was pretty much spent watching cartoons, whining that he’s-touching-me-again, and trying not to let them sleep too much past the regular nap time.  I laid down, but only for an hour this time.  Until KH got back, it was dark and late and we were in need of some real food beyond chicken nuggets.  There is a hawker center across the street, so there was no time like the present to try it. In my exhaustion, I forgot to take the camera so I have yet to photograph it.  What is a hawker center though?  Think low lying building with colored picnic tables in the middle and surrounded by tiny stalls of various Chinese, Indian and Malaysian cuisines.  Most stalls only make a handful of dishes.  KH chose a Malay soup with prawns that you have to fully de-shell and de-head.  It was heavenly!  I chose for the boys and myself the (arguably) most famous Singaporean dish, chicken rice.  Umm… well… there is chicken.  There is rice.  But I am not really grasping the popularity of the dish.  The rice was plain, which is fine as it was pretty much the only thing the boys would eat.  But the chicken was boiled and very fatty.  It almost seemed a bit raw to my brain, but I know it wasn’t, just the cooking method.  There was a little broth with it, but that was about it.  It also had a bean sprout dish with a sweet soy sauce dressing on it, which was quite fresh and delicious and a clear soup of chicken broth and cilantro that was also good and fresh, but really… I don’t think there was much to this ‘famous’ dish.  I was told by a Singaporean more recently that I need to get the roasted chicken instead.  That could surely help, but I think there are more interesting Malay dishes to be discovered.  I didn’t force the kids much although I did push the broth for their illnesses.  I even got them a freshly squeezed sugar cane juice where they heat seal a plastic lid on the plastic cup and still neither kid would drink a cup of sugar.  They still fought me every step of the way, so I gave up and just brought them back up to our room to watch the laser light show that was going on all the roof of Marina Bay Sands Hotel.  I bet the pilots coming in at night LOVE that craziness in the sky. 

After another fitful night of sleep for all, we all got up around 4 a.m. and puttered until the pool opened.  At 8:00 a.m., we were the only ones there to enjoy that massive pool.  Bonus, it helped bring the fevers down a smidge too.  For a few hours anyway. 

Changed and ready for the day, we decided to do a small excursion to Little India, just so we weren’t all going stir crazy.  A quick cab dropped us right in the heart of the Sunday shopping.  There was no solid plan except to take in the sights.  I will go back and shop another time, but the most we bought was an Indian Mango juice which was purely heaven and all of us fought over the bottle. 

As it was nearing lunch time, we made one final stop at an outside restaurant.  Again the ordering was something of a challenge, but we did get a chicken biryani which is a fragrantly spiced basmati rice with a boiled and then fried egg and an intensely-spiced curry chicken on the side.  Once I got used to the burning, I really enjoyed it!  We had roti prata (a fried pancake of sorts) with another curry and a few chutneys that ranged from fiery to rip-your-insides-apart levels of goodness.  So far, we have discovered that the food here is not for the weak-stomached.

By Sunday night, we discovered that kids had more than just fevers, but were now the proud new owners of another round of croup.  This is something we are no stranger to in our house.  I can hear a croup cough from three floors, two loud televisions and a snoring husband away.  And where there is croup, there is generally pneumonia right behind for Kimono Sweet Pea.  Of course, this is Sunday afternoon and every medical clinic is closed, so unless we wanted to locate an emergency room, there wasn’t a darn thing we could do about it, but for me to snuggle the wee one in comfort while we all tried to sleep. 

Monday found us rising in truly exhausted states, but we had to go to the base for appointments to do some of the paperwork that will get us settled here in a new country so we shoved ourselves in clothes and shoes and lumbered zombie-like down to hail a cab.  By the time we got back, the kids had to nap so I woke them with just enough time to get them to the medical clinic.  I feared the worst for this experience, but it turned out much better than I could have ever expected.  The facilities, while small, are very modern and efficient.  I signed the boys’ names in at the desk, and sat down and waited until we were called, which was exactly 45 minutes as they had promised when I signed in.  They even offered for us to go shopping in the attached mall until it was our time, but there was no way we were dragging the kids anywhere.  They pretty much laid on me for 45 minutes while everyone in the crowded waiting room pretended not to hear the whining or the barking that would come from them every few minutes.  Seriously?  How can these people not even look down for the origin of that God-awful sound?  If their head stood at attention and only their eyes found us, I didn’t see it.  We Americans surely would have shown a little more revulsion at the two offending, little hackers. 

Upon seeing the doctor, she quickly put each of the boys on a chair and did a quick check of everything and got their history.  She confirmed what I knew about both… Kimono Peanut was almost over it, but KSP was on his way to pneumonia.  Shocker.  She asked what they normally would be given, of which few of those medicines are given here in Singapore.  KP got one bottle of codeine cough medicine and KSP got three bottles which would be collected right at the front desk as we pay and check out.  Glorious!  I don’t have to do to a pharmacy too?!  America – take note!  Now, we have no Singaporean medical insurance so we pay up front and submit claims to our carrier back home.  I expected to pay a small fortune for this visit today, but was thrilled to find out that all visit and medicines only cost me a little under $88!  That is cheaper than at home, by FAR!  We went straight to the room to give them the newly procured meds only to discover one tiny tidbit… the medicines here do not contain any sort of kid’s flavorings.  While I am thrilled for this as I don’t relish the thought of the added sugar or the chemical colors of home, I didn’t consider that the black, inky medicine will not be taken as easily by the child either as evidenced by KSP’s violent spitting and tongue thrusts to shove the vile stuff back out.  That dear sweet child continued to fight me for many more days of his medicine, when one day he happily opened his mouth and ASKED for the medicine.  What the hell was all the kicking and screaming for then?  Just to challenge me? 

We spent the next 48 hours in quarantine.  I didn’t mind.  I was darn tired.  I was even more tired at 3 a.m. for three nights in a row when KP kept bringing me oranges.  “Peel this for my breakfast, mommy.”  KID.  It’s 3 a.m. and pitch black out, hardly a breakfast hour.  Get back in bed.  And he did. 

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