Anderson’s Big Asian Adventure Day 8: Singapore Food Tour (part one)!

Food tour 1

Ford and Seri are “foodies”. So it was only natural that they would plan an entire day around the tastes of the city! Our morning began at TimHoWan, a restaurant that specializes in Dim Sum. What is Dim Sum, you ask? According to Wikipedia, it is: food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of  food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Another term for my list of “things I did not know”. The menu was printed on a placemat that pictured each colorful item. We ordered a few things that came in succession so you could try something and then move on to the next hot and steamy treat.


Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp, Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce and Baked Buns with BBQ Pork. SO GOOD!

The culinary wimp in me declined ordering the Vermicelli Roll with Pigs Liver. Not happening.

We walked off some of the breakfast calories at the Gardens By The Bay.

Gardens by the Bay 2

This is an enormous park of sorts that was built next to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (remember – the one that looks like a ship in my previous post?)

Gardens by the Bay 7Geez – Louise, this place was beautiful! The cost to build it was over one billion dollars (yes, I’m saying that like Dr. Evil in Austin Powers) and it is a jewel in the crown of this amazing city. Admission to the gardens is free, although there is a fee (and a line – so we didn’t go in) for the two Conservatories that simulate other climates. Gardens by the Bay 3

The Supertrees Grove consists of tall vertical gardens – home to many vines and plants that grow on and around them. They are connected by a walkway so you can literally get a bird’s eye view if you want to.  They aren’t only amazing to look at – each tree contains a photovoltaic cell that captures the sun’s energy and reuses it for lighting, and harnesses rainwater that is used for various purposes around the park and one more thing –  they serve as air intake and exhaust for the nearby conservatories. The amount of planning and forward thinking involved in this blows my mind. Whew!

Gardens by the Bay


As does happen in our marriage from time to time, my beloved was overcome with a sudden urge to skip. Yes, skip!Gardens by the Bay skipping

Seri had to be wondering what in the hell she had gotten into. But then….

Yes, make no mistake...this is OUR son. Guess who encouraged this pose?

Yes, make no mistake…this is OUR son. Guess who encouraged this pose?

Maturity is overrated. That is all.

Even though it was hardly noon, it seemed like it was time for a beer. Because that’s the Anderson way.  At the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is a very chic, VERY expensive bar and restaurant called Ku De Ta.Day 8 021 copy

Where upon entering you MUST purchase a drink, and where this…one beer…cost $18.

Day 8 029But, as you can see, the view was well worth the price! A 360 degree view of Singapore is something I will never forget. Day 8 023 copy There is also an “observation deck” one floor below the bar that cost $22 just to get off the elevator – but no beverages are involved.  So being the thrifty folks we are, we opted for the alcohol. Day 8 031 copy Day 8 025 copy Day 8 024 copy Day 8 035If I include any more in this post, it might qualify under the category of boring…so I’ll thrill you with the second half of the day soon!


Anderson’s Big Asian Adventure Day 7: A Slice of Singapore, a Haircut and a Special Visit.

Umbrellas were in order on Day 7. Not that this is an unusual occurrence – Singapore gets over 90 inches of rain on an annual basis! Ford was able to join us (beginning his vacation – yay!)  We grabbed a cab to the National Museum of Singapore. The Singapore History Gallery took us on a journey from the beginnings of Singapore in the 14h Century to the present day. I found it fascinating that so many countries have had and influence here…Britain, The Netherlands,  Japan, well as the countries that surround it. By the time we were done in the museum the rain had cleared.

Ford, Tom and I at the National Museum of Singapore.

Ford, Tom and I at the National Museum of Singapore. The dome on the top consists of 3000 zinc fish scaled tiles and stained glass panels.

We ate lunch at one of Singapore’s “Hawker” centers. I”l tell you one thing…People in  Singapore take their food seriously. A hawker center is a food court of sorts – but not necessarily with chains like we have in the States. Lots of “mom and pop” food stalls with all kinds of interesting food. Traditional Malaysian dishes, Indian food, Chinese fare…Beef, Chicken, Fish…you name it, they’ve got it. And its very inexpensive! We had Chicken Rice – considered the national dish of Singapore.Singapore Chicken Rice

Then it was on to Chinatown to find Ford’s barber. His name is Mr. Lee. He’s 74 years old and has been a barber for more than 50 years. Mr. Lee is one of  the last remaining “street barbers” in Singapore. They operate their businesses in alleys and have quite a clientele. It was amazing watching him cut Ford’s hair. This was no quick cut – he took his time and snipped Ford’s hair at every angle.

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haircut 1


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This is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip. I think it illustrates the contrast of old and new that makes Singapore such an interesting city!

It was like a trip back in time…the makeshift barber station, an old battery operated radio and clock, various and sundry cans of spray and a sheet for shelter all set against the canvas of the modern Singapore skyline. Mr. Lee finished Ford’s haircut with a straight razor – it was the cleanest and most precise barber cut I’ve ever seen. And it cost $6. I consider myself fortunate to have experienced this simple transaction – a slice of local flavor that will soon fade as Singapore grows and changes.

Here is a link  (Click Here!) to a short video that tells a little more about Mr. Lee.

That night, we were guests at Ford’s girlfriend Seri’s home for dinner. It was a bit of a journey to get there via the MRT public transportation, but thankfully we had Ford as our guide.  Sidenote: On the way, I stopped to use a ladies room in the subway and I saw a woman cupping water from the bathroom sink with her hand and DRINKING it. Sounds gross, right? But that is how CLEAN this place is -no smell, no trash, even in the subway!  According to Wikipedia (we all know this is the BEST source of accurate info, right?) approximately 82% of Singaporean residents live in apartments like Seri’s family does. The apartment buildings are built by the HDB (a government entity – Housing and Development Board) for residents to purchase. Often extended families live together – and there really aren’t rest homes like we have in the US – they care for elderly family members at home.

We were greeted by Seri, her Grandmother, Aunt, Sister and her Grandfather. Her uncle had to work late so we didn’t have a chance to meet him. They had prepared bistik daging for us – it is a Malaysian/Indonesian beef dish that was somewhat similar to chili in the US. But WAY better! The table was beautifully set and we were charmed by their generous hospitality. After dinner, we relaxed and visited, and munched on a traditional dessert. They presented us with a wonderful surprise gift of Singapore novelties. We came home with shirts for Tom, beautiful silk shawls for my mom and I, bamboo placemats, chopsticks, sauce dishes and coasters, a gorgeous table runner and a very special spoon for my collection. We felt so welcome and comfortable in their home – and were so thankful to have been invited to visit the home of some native Singaporeans – especially since one of them is spending a lot of time with our Fordy!

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Seri, Tom, Me, Grandma and Auntie. Such a beautiful home – check out the fancy table in the background!



A Walk With an Old Friend

A year ago today, one of my friends from childhood died.

As I get older, I realize how much the fragility of life is to be respected – at any time it could be over. This awareness makes me want to appreciate every day – each moment…and to always make an attempt to do the right thing and be a good person. I’m not always successful at this, but the intent is there. At the risk of sounding like a full-on Boulder County kook who binge watches Long Island Medium, I do know that in recent years I’ve become much more conscious of soulful spiritual presence taking the place of physical presence upon death. I’ve felt there are times when my loved ones (pets included) who have passed are still with me in spirit.

So, back to my friend who died last year – I had this kind of unique experience upon his passing – couldn’t sleep because of it, and got up in the middle of the night to write about it. Here’s what I wrote:

July 23,2013

Tonight wasn’t much different than any other night. Around 8:00, my dog Zoe and I set out for our routine walk in the neighborhood. She is old for a dog – 16 – but still happy to go with me. I enjoy our little “tours” – each one bringing back a memory of my childhood in this old neighborhood.

 As I pass houses where my friends lived, a smile often comes to my face. Memories of birthday parties, playing “kick the can” and neighborhood snowball fights in the park are some of my favorites. One friend lived around the corner from me. His name was Jamie Taylor. He had red hair, was short and lived in a house that was at one time pink. And he was fun. I have thought of him almost every day for awhile. A few months ago, I heard that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

 I hadn’t seen Jamie since our 30th class reunion two summers ago. And before that, I ran into him a few times at a convenience store that was near both our places of work. Other than that, we didn’t really know each other as adults. Life had gotten in the way.

 But there is something very special about your childhood friends. You just are who you are when you’re a kid. You don’t pull judgments about possessions or money – you’re just friends and its as easy as that. You have a bond with those first friends that is like no other you will ever have in life. It makes me sad to think of how as we age we let a lot of other things get in the way of staying in touch.

 But we were just kids and we were friends.

 Jamie, his younger brother John and I spent many nights playing in the ‘hood. It was the early ‘70’s and we didn’t have video games, computers or 200 television channels to occupy our time. I can’t recall many details, but I remember rushing through many a dinner so that I could get outside to play with the Taylor boys. I DO remember one night in particular when we threw a 5 pound bucket of wet beans though an open door down the hall of Central School. (Apologies to that poor janitor!) The boys would always be the ones who could actually manage to climb on the roof of the school too. I could never match their Spiderman like capabilities of scaling the wall to get up there. I think I may have been a teeny bit scared of getting caught too. Its still on my bucket list of things to do. We were a little bit mischievous to say the least.

 Tonight, as Zoe and I walked around the school, we passed the stairs on the east side of the building. A series of class pictures went through my mind as many were taken on those steps. We continued around past the north door (the scene of the “bean” incident) and the gym…more pictures flashing. Trampolines in the gym, those square boards with wheels on the bottom flying across the floor, mean games of Dodgeball and the flipping President’s physical fitness tests I had to endure on an annual basis. (I was the chubby kid.) And then as we reached the northwest corner of the grounds, I felt a presence. Looking back across the playground, I felt a deep sense of memory, of appreciation-of how it seems like just yesterday we were running across that playground screaming our heads off playing tag. It was a feeling of warmth that you feel when a spirit is present. I took note, but didn’t quite know what to think about it. Maybe I was just having a melancholy moment.

 After I returned home, I opened my email and it was there. A note from a mutual friend telling me that Jamie passed away today.

 Now I know what that feeling was earlier at the school. I think that just maybe on his way out, Jamie’s spirit came to say goodbye to the memories of our Central days.

Goodbye my childhood buddy. I wish we had stayed closer as adults – we would have had some fun. Know that someday, I’ll meet you on the playground in heaven. Maybe then, you can help me make it up on the roof.

The only picture I have of Jamie Taylor- at 6th Eco Week (1975 or 6). Camp St. Malo, Allenspark, CO.

The only picture I have of Jamie Taylor- at 6th Eco Week (1975 or 6). Camp St. Malo, Allenspark, CO.

So do me a favor and in honor of Jamie, reconnect with an old friend. Via Facebook, Skype, email or a good old fashioned phone call. It will do your soul~and their’s~good.

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus



Zoe Collette 1997-2014

Zoe had to leave too…in March this year. I know she’s with Maggie and Bill now, running along the ditch and forging the hay field with her wet nose. But as with her canine sibs, part of her is with me – in my heart, snuggling me in the crook of my knees as I go to sleep every night.

Anderson’s Big Asian Adventure Day 6: A conglomeration of cultures…they do it so well!

Our second day on the double decker bus took us to the Little India and Chinatown sections of Singapore. These cities within cities are rich cultural gems. Bustling with people going about their business while we tourists press our noses against the window of their lives.  Little India 2smallCheck out the alley in the bottom picture. On the bottom right is a gentleman who appears to be on his way to the shower…here is a closer view…Day 6 041…so he’s maybe on his way to the shower while his neighbor across the alley fixes his motorcycle…and his other neighbors are drying their laundry, while another seems to be just using the alley as their closet. Just another day in another alley in Little India!Little India 1 The markets were full of gorgeous fresh fruit and veggies. Day 6 057smallAnd this tailor was set up in the walkway in front of his shop. We stopped for a cold Tiger beer and some egg rolls. Yes, egg rolls in Little India. I’m admittedly not very adventurous in the cuisine department – so I was just gonna stick with something I knew. Speaking of Tiger beer – it was “born” in Singapore in 1932. Heineken was one of the founding partners of the company. Tiger Beer small I really wanted to see the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (say that three times real fast). I was in the midst of an Eastern Religions course and one of the requirements was that you visit a place of worship of a religion other than your own. We plotted it out on our map and after a bit of walking looked up to see this. Day 6 058 Bummer. We weren’t going to be able to go in because it was being refurbished. Oh well, we did get to see a little bit of the artwork on the outside. Day 6 061smalland the front doors were amazing! Day 6 059The shutters of Singapore were my favorite architectural elements. So many colors and shapes…every one has so much character and has a story to tell. They just seem so happy! Shutters of Singapore 1 small Shutters of Singapore 2smallSpeaking of architecture, we passed by the “Batman Building” on the way to Chinatown – it is near the Bugis area where we had dinner the night before. It is hailed as a shining example of Art Deco style, built in 2002 as an homage to the Chanin building in NYC to the tune of 71 million US dollars. In retrospect, I wish we had gone in because there is supposedly an amazing wine bar inside. Incentive to go back, I guess!batman building Next stop: Chinatown. Singapore is  city of opposites that blend beautifully…old vs. new…Singapore Buildings 1small skyscrapers vs. neighborhoods…Such an amazing city!

Chinatown 1 smallThere was another temple here on my list of things to see – the Sri Mariamman Temple. It is the oldest Hindu Temple in Singapore -Built in 1827.Sri Mariamman LGThe carvings were truly amazing! I could have stood and looked at it for the rest of the day!Sri Mariamann Temple 3small We took off our shoes and went inside to have a peek at the altars and the carvings inside. No pictures as that is seen as disrespectful. Tom was really disappointed he couldn’t participate in the fire walking ceremony.Sri Merriman Temple 1

We came upon Smith Street – Chinatown’s main center of outdoor eating. More Tiger Beer was consumed…I forgot to tell you that it was upwards of 90 degrees with 80% humidity!

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Chinatown lampBack on the bus…and we hopped off at the Marina Bay Sands Complex (remember – the hotel with the “ship” on the top?) Talk about opulent…I think the cheapest item in the mall was at least a thousand dollars. But it was a great place to cool off and window shop.

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In recent years, Tom has developed a serious affinity for the game of craps. He loves craps more than me. Here he is dreaming about winning money.

While we waited for the bus, an elderly man was sitting next to me. I know its kind of stalker-ish (yes, I am an official member of the stalkerzzi), but I couldn’t help but capture a couple of photos of him. Old Man 2 Old Man 3Ford met us at Boat Quay (pronounced “key”). This is a busy area – especially in the early evening as there are tons of restaurants. Dining out is HUGE in Singapore. McDonalds even DELIVERS 24 HOURS A DAY! You’d think with all of the food available you’d see a lot of overweight people – but this is not the case. Maybe because they walk and use the public transportation.

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Quay 2 smallHis co – workers from the UK met us for an evening meal at “The Merry Men” – loved the sign!

Merry MenI was so impressed by this city that embraces so many different cultures. They do such a beautiful job of blending with, understanding, and respecting each other. Sometimes, I think we in the US have forgotten how to do this. The world is a big, beautiful place and we sometimes need reminding of this.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”  – Maya Angelou


Anderson’s Big Asian Adventure Days 3-5: Hello, Singapore!

The plane ride. WOW – in so many ways. Singapore Airlines has this down to a fine art. We are not international travelers – and I’m sure that some of the things I’m going to mention are old hat for some of you – but for us newbies, this was miles beyond any domestic flight we’d ever been on. The service was truly impeccable. Within 5 minutes of the hatch being closed, the attendants came through the cabin with warm damp cloths for everyone. We hadn’t even left the ground yet. This was obviously a high class organization. I began to fantasize about getting TWO packs of peanuts. It was a good thing it was a long flight, because it took awhile to figure out the nifty remote that stored in the seat back right under the my personal TV. Bajillions of programs and movies. And it was free!

Plane ride 1

The next treat was a menu with CHOICES of hot meals that would be served during the 16 hour journey (10 hours to Tokyo and 6 more to Singapore). Free drinks? yes, please and thank you! …And then the meals, which were delicious! Surely this was a dream.Plane ride 2

The negatives were obviously the length of the flight and having the middle seat. Bless his heart – my husband’s broad shoulders require space. Between him and the stranger next to me, I felt like I had all of 6 inches of space to myself. I now know the pain that the Tyrannosaurus Rex must have experienced with their tiny little arms. Eating while only using your forearms is an interesting challenge. You should try it sometime. Preferably not on a 16 hour flight. My upper arms were screaming, “free us!” by the time we got to Tokyo. And God forbid I should drop something or need to reach under the seat in front of me. My liver was squeezed in ways it shouldn’t have been squeezed.

We arrived in Singapore at 3 a.m. expecting to catch a cab to Ford’s apartment. What a wonderful surprise it was to find him actually waiting for us outside the baggage claim area! Day 3 001There is a sweetness like no other when you hug your boy for the first time in 11 months! By 4 a.m. we were settling in for what we thought was going to be a little rest before venturing out in Singapore. Enter: Jet Lag. Hmmm…that is one hell of a state of semi consciousness! Could. Not. Wake. Up. When Ford came home from work at FOUR THIRTY in the afternoon we were still laying in bed like a couple of teenage sofa spuds. Okay, okay – it was time to get going! We met Ford’s girlfriend Seri for dinner (more about this darling girl later!) and turned in for some MORE sleep.

Our morning began with a beautiful sunrise. The sun rises at around 7 a.m. and sets around 7 p.m. year around in Singapore. None of this 15 hours of daylight stuff we’ve got going on at the 40th parallel. This explains why I even saw the sunrise…I’m not an early riser. The view from Ford’s apartment is just amazing! He’s got two patios – one even opens up into the main living space to give it a more open feel.

The view from Ford's apartment. Yeah - our kid is living the life!

The view from Ford’s apartment. Yeah – our kid is living the life!

On our way to the MRT  (Mass Rapid Transit – aka subway)  we stopped at Toast Box  for breakfast.  They serve Nanyang Kopi (a special coffee). It was thick and sweet compared to American coffee. It gave us the jolt we needed to get a good start on the day’s activities. Although we were a little nervous about navigating the MRT, we had no problem and were soon at our first stop – Orchard Road.

Tom is debating whether to go into that Chanel store and buy me a purse, NOT.

Tom is debating whether to go into that Chanel store and buy me a purse. If you believe that, I have some swampland in Florida to sell you….

Orchard Road is Singapore’s premiere shopping district. Much like 5th Avenue in New York City – but WAY cleaner. Speaking of clean…the first thing Tom did was to hawk a big old lugee and spit it into a bush. A common everyday occurrence for my farmer guy. However – this is not something you want to do in Singapore – you could be fined for it. After a gentle reminder from me ( “what in the HELL are you doing?”) he decided he would curtail future spitting and save his fine money for gambling. Eventually, we came across one of those double decker city bus tour outfits and decided that this would be a good way to get to see the city.tour bus…and we were off! Singapore Flyer 1The Singapore Flyer, touted as the World’s Largest Observation Wheel was the first stop. I took about 300 pictures of it. Not sure why, but I’ll chalk it up to being excited and not wanting to miss a thing along with having a new camera. Anyhoo..I narrowed it down to these 4. Each one of the cars can hold up to 28 people. You can even have dinner and drinks in some of the cars! We didn’t ride it because we had a better way to view the city in our future plans for the week (more about that later). Day 5 009The ArtScience Museum is a stunning modern structure designed to resemble a lotus flower. Each one of the “petals” houses a different gallery and the tops of the petals are skylights – to enable natural light in the exhibits. Rainwater (it rains  A LOT there) is harvested in a reflecting pool in the center of the building and recycled for use in the restrooms. Well done, Singapore!

Then we saw IT… The world’s most expensive building. It cost 5.7 BILLION dollars to build this puppy.Sands 1

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Whoa. Purty impressive, don’t ‘ya think? I read up on the design concept, and the designer Moshe Safdie said that he had originally designed that “skypark” on the top to be placed symmetrically on top of the three towers. However, after consulting Feng Shui experts, it was decided to move it over a little so that it is asymmetrical – more in line with good Feng Shui which is important to the people of Singapore.

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We decided to hop off the bus and check out the Singapore Botanic Gardens – what a refreshing break from the hustle bustle of the city! Singapore Botanical GardensThe gardens are still on the site where they were started in 1859.  Their early 20th century scientists had an important hand in developing the Para Rubber plant – which was the crop responsible for a majority of trade in the Southeast Asian region at the time. There is a huge rainforest ecosystem within the gardens that boasts 314 species of plants and 165 foot tall trees that are older than the gardens themselves.

Singapore Botanical Gardens 4…and real life Tarzan vines! I kept waiting for him to swing down and sweep me up, but it didn’t happen. Good thing because I’d probably pee my pants. I can’t take that much excitement anymore. But I digress…

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They have a gorgeous Orchid Garden as well. Many varieties and environments – and colors were breathtaking!P1090977 copy

Singapore Botanical Gardens 2The Raffles Hotel was our last stop for the day.

Raflles Hotel 2You could just feel the history here and imagine Brits in white coats and dresses lounging in the common areas sipping on Singapore Slings – which by the way cost $17 these days. Each! I mean Ouch!

Raffles HotelBack at home base, we rested until Ford got home from work and then headed to the Bugis area of Singapore. Bugis takes its name from the seafaring people of the South Sulawesi Province in Indonesia. They came to this part of Singapore in the early 20th century to trade goods. We ate dinner at one of Ford’s favorite Turkish Restaurants, Ala Turka.

bugisThe Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque) was beautiful against the sapphire colored sky. Interesting tidbit: the shiny facets in the base of the large dome are actually the bottoms of bottles that were donated by devotees during the reconstruction of the mosque in the 1920’s.Mosque Closeup

Our first full day of seeing Singapore had come to a close – and my head was happy to hit the pillow!




Anderson’s Big Asian Adventure Day 2: LA Hotels – From Whimsical to World Class

I get emails from a company called Tablet. They highlight unique hotels all over the world – and 99.9% of the time, they are WAY too expensive for me. But I came across the most charming and reasonably priced little place on the Tablet site when I was looking for a place for our night in LA. The name alone was enough to sell me on it- The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel. Duh! OF COURSE we were going to stay here!

Day 2 farmers daughterHoly cow (pun intended) it was such a darling place! Very shabby chic – every nook and cranny was touched with rustic/industrial/funky touches. I was really bummed out that I had forgotten to pack my Daisy Dukes and gingham shirt. It would have added to the overall experience. DARN!

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Farmers daughter combo 3I have a little bit of a pig obsession. The only thing that kept me from smuggling this guy home with me was the thought of dragging him around for 18 more days.

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Day 1 001The “goody” tray in the room included candy,nuts and 2 altoid size tins. One said: DO IT and contained 2 rubbers and lubricant. Ummmm…. needless to say, this remained untouched for any number of reasons. 30  years of marriage will do that to you. The FIX IT tin contained bandaids, tylenol, antacids, decongestants and one antiseptic towelette. SO much more applicable for us!
Farmers daughter combo 2In the lobby there was a vintage boutique. Of course the prices were not really second hand…but it was fun to look!

Farmers daughter combo 1They used all kinds of old tools as decorations on the outside of the hotel. Such a great idea! We might be inspired to create something similar in our repurposed backyard – we seem to have a never ending supply of old farm implements!

photo-8 copyYou could borrow these bikes…or books!

BelAir Hotel 1webMax and Amber picked us up and drove us to the Bel Air Hotel to meet Kay and Ron for breakfast.  On the way, we passed many crazy huge mansions and estates. The kind of places you see on TV or in movies. JEEZ! I couldn’t help but feel a little out of my element. Lets just say Bel Air is a long way from old town Longmont!

Day 2 025web…and then it was time. Time to head back to LAX to catch our flight to Singapore.

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We passed time in the International terminal by trying some new brews and watching the ever changing “Time Tower” – a beautiful and innovative piece of art.


Let the Big Asian Adventure begin!


Anderson’s Big Asian Adventure: Us? Really?

A year ago it was just a mention from our son Ford. He was moving to Singapore to open a new office for his company. With his contract, he would either get to fly home every 6 months or fly someone from home to see him in Singapore. “I’m not going to come home for the first year – instead, I’ll to give the tickets I get to you and dad so you can come see me.” he said. Really? We took that mention and filed it in the “not sure that’s gonna happen” file and moved on with life here in Colorado. Farming, yard work, bills, laundry  – and oh yeah, that 100 year flood we had in September. The everyday life where we would never even DREAM about going to southeast Asia for a vacation. As the the cold winter set in (an it was a long one!), Ford continued to encourage us to think about coming…after all – the major cost in getting there is the plane fare which was covered.  Tom was less than thrilled at the thought of a 16 hour plane ride and was having a hard time saying, “yes” to the idea, but eventually broke down and decided to brave it so we could see our boy!

Denver - LA - Tokyo - Singapore - Ho Chi Minh City - Siem Reap - Hoc Chi Minh City - Phu Quoc - Ho Chi Minh City - Singapore - Tokyo - LA - Denver!

Denver – LA – Tokyo – Singapore – Ho Chi Minh City – Siem Reap – Hoc Chi Minh City – Phu Quoc – Ho Chi Minh City – Singapore – Tokyo – LA – Denver!

We decided on a 19 day timeline in April 2014. A good time for Tom to leave town – after his winter job at Lake Eldora ends and before summer farming gets rolling. Ford suggested we add Siem Reap, Cambodia to our itinerary since the Ankgor temples are located there. Our oldest son Max told us about an island off the coast of Vietnam called Phu Quoc . One look at Google images of it = SOLD!  And of course, Ford’s apartment in Singapore would be our home base.

We needed to  catch our flight on Singapore Airlines (also known as the most awesome airline in the world!) in Los Angeles, so we built in a day to spend a day with Max, who lives in Los Feliz. He picked us up at LAX and we drove to Santa Monica for lunch with Tom’s cousin Kay. She took us to lunch at the Penthouse  at the Huntley Hotel – an award winning restaurant with a 360 degree view of Santa Monica (beach included!). Huntley  2 The craziest thing about this place is the view from the bathroom! Gosh – I can imagine that there is a line for it because you just don’t want to leave! I’ve never seen anything like it.

Knock knock…”hellloo? Is anybody in there? I NEED TO USE THE BATHROOM!”

This is a bathroom???

The view from the bathroom window. I MAY have stayed in there for awhile.

Kay's friend Ron, Kay, Me. Tom, Max and his girl Amber at the Huntley Penthouse.

Kay’s friend Ron, Kay, Me. Tom, Max and his girlfriend Amber at the Huntley Penthouse.

So…after a few hours I decided to let someone else enjoy the view. All of that gazing made me hungry. We were lucky enough to have Kay’s friend Ron and Max’s girlfriend Amber join us for a lovely lunch. Brush with fame: At the table next to us Joel Embiid (a KU basketball  player who is entering the draft this year) and an agent were having a lunch meeting. He is one TALL boy! Max saw the agent plop down a big wad of cash and tell him he wanted him to have a “good weekend”. We tried unsuccessfully not to gawk. After all…things like that are not everyday occurrences where we’re from!

Our next stop was the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. It was built by J. Paul Getty  to house an extensive collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art and artifacts, and is patterned after the Villa of Papyri in Italy. An absolute oasis of art and architecture.

the Getty Villa

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I fell in love with this mosaic – it had been restored and the colors were just beautiful.

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Day 1 007

Max and Amber at the Getty Villa. Such a beautiful couple!

Max and Amber at the Getty Villa. Such a beautiful couple!

Kay took us on mini tour of Beverly Hills and Hollywood. She has lived there for many years and has a wealth of stories to tell! One of my favorites was when Frank Sinatra flirted with her in a store…so cool!

Tom and Max in front the the famed Beverly Hills Hotel. You could just imagine all of the history this place has!

Tom and Max in front the the famed Beverly Hills Hotel. You could just imagine all of the history this place has!

At the end of the afternoon, Max took us to a Home Depot parking lot near his house. Sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? BUT the reason he took us there is because from that spot you can see both the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Park Observatory.

Tom and I at the end of our first afternoon. The "Hollywood" sign is in the upper left and the Griffith Park Observatory is in the upper right.

Tom and I at the end of our first afternoon. The “Hollywood” sign is in the upper left and the Griffith Park Observatory is in the upper right.

It was sunset…ahhhh…California! We had dinner with Max and Amber and then retreated to our darling hotel. More on that in my next post!

The Farmer's Daughter charming!

The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel….could a farmer and his wife really stay anywhere else?