Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Moving In

The Alexandra Canal alongside our complex -
muddy cos its been partly drained
for work downstream
 Friday 31 October 2014, hard to believe that almost a year since our eventful voyage from Morocco to the Canaries Temptress’ crew is the other side of the planet signing for the keys to our new home for the next couple of years. Some things however don’t change; some of you may recall during our time in Dubai the hot rain in the master bathroom in the middle of the night due to a burst water heater and the massive laundry cupboard flood. True to form, here the kitchen water heater unused for several months and turned on to test it worked, sprung a leak whilst the paperwork was being completed! Over the next couple of days we realised that the previous tenants had also not reported a leak from a loo cistern, another from under the washing machine and yet more from both kitchen sink wastes. Our snagging list grew rapidly longer as it also included the AC which quite patently had not been serviced as per our request, three electric sockets that have no power (not a great loss as they are in abundance) together with several blown light bulbs out of reach of a 5 ft 8 in human standing on the tallest thing available a dining chair!

Back to that Friday morning…the building management team arrived with a stepladder and turned off the water supply, just as in the Middle East each bathroom and kitchen has its own water heater tucked away in the ceiling space. Our kitchen heater is above the laundry area which is a sort of balcony beyond the kitchen door giving access to most of the apartments AC units. I mopped up the mess with an old towel. The recently painted ceiling didn’t look too bad but the light fitting was full of rusty water. In the afternoon Sam the local plumber came to review the problem, he’d order a new heater on Monday and turned up smiling the following Thursday with his assistant to install the replacement and seal around the leaking toilet. He plans to come again to replace both a cracked loo seat and the kitchen sink unit once he has sourced similar sized ones.
You won't get lost on this canal path
(properly called a PCN route - Park Connector Network)

Triangular flats
I suppose this was the best shape they could squeeze in!

The upper canal is covered

Monday was pretty busy with various tradesmen coming and going; City Gas to turn on and check the supply to our amazing 5 burner hob. Apparently Singaporeans prefer gas as it is much easier to control when stir frying; most of the local cooking is in the Malay or Chinese style ie rapidly fried or steamed. The central burner is a long oblong one - I have yet to work out its purpose but we have one large burner with supports designed to securely hold a large wok and three others of a more European style. The gas is fierce I’ve mostly been using it turned down low. As the gas man left Garry arrived to install our Starhub boxes for TV, landline and wifi – he is a 3rd party contractor who makes a living from the fact that Starhub themselves cannot cope with the number of connection requests they have each week. Before he’d finished, the AC guy turned up and then disappeared – I eventually realised that this apartment has another AC ledge outside one of the master ensuite windows accessible only via a step ladder! The AC service was only partly completed. The units that were cleaned and re-gased now work perfectly but the main living room unit needs a “chemical clean ma’am” for which building management have to provide permission so it is still on the to do list a week later! Not a problem as during the day we mostly have all the doors and windows open like the majority of our neighbours to induce a cool breeze through the place. The only issue is in the evenings when the breeze drops away and the humidity rises or when a thunderstorm comes through with its gusty winds requiring us to shut every utside door and window as it drives the heavy rain hard against the building.

The covered area is a wetland that
forms a filter system - eventually we drink this
water from Marina Bay Reservoir by the coast

Spot the turtles

A pretty and quiet garden
Tuesday morning the new bed arrived so we now have a double bed as requested in our guest bedroom. The LOI process seems to work! The flat itself is sparsely furnished. Our spacious entrance hall cum dining cum living room contains the essential shoe cupboard as it is etiquette here to remove ones footwear before entering an apartment (most of our neighbour have shoes littered across their front step in the evenings), a dining table with 6 chairs, one huge white leather L-shaped sofa, a coffee table and a TV unit; all except the sofa well used dark stained IKEA offerings. In the bedrooms apart from the beds there is a single office swivel chair, a desk cum dressing table, a narrow book shelf a chest of drawers and a single wardrobe again all IKEA but this time in a beech type finish! Both bedrooms also have a range of fitted wardrobes. Until our other two suitcases arrive in Singapore later this month (as of this morning the ship carrying them was entering the Straits of Gibraltar) we have only the few clothes we could squeeze into two sailing bags and a suitcase!

One of our first purchases will be some rugs in attempt to deaden some of the echo-iness of the place as well as add some colour to our black and white existence. With high ceilings and marble flooring in the living areas any conversation or TV noise seems to reverberate around the place. Both bedrooms have gorgeous honey coloured solid hard wood floors referred to as parquet but closer in appearance to the engineered wood flooring popular in the UK rather than the herring bone pattern most Brits think of as parquet. All easy to clean but not good acoustically!

The Blue Mosque
- not as big as the Istanbul one but very pretty

Queenstown School

Lots of explanatory signs along the route
Queenstown had the first social housing (HDB flats),
the first public library and more
The tiny ghost ants which seemed to swarm around the place as we moved in, have mostly taken themselves off elsewhere though a few occasionally appear if we leave any crumbs around. We’ve a plethora of tiny grey ant traps at doors and on window sills which should discourage them. One cockroach was discovered under the kitchen cupboard bin and was rapidly dispatched on day 2, we renewed the roach traps just in case but have not seen any evidence of it having “friends”. And more welcome I caught a brief glimpse of a pale tiny geeko on the tiled wall below the upper kitchen cupboards early last week, I presume he is still in residence despite the dearth of ants and all the disturbances.

The heat and humidity are much as per the Caribbean’s wet season. The year round tropical temperatures and rain mean the green jungle seems only just to be held at bay, the gardens around our block are a riot of exotic greenery. Trees have huge flowers that carpet the ground beneath in pink or white after the daily rain. Stephanotis perfumes the air along the canal side walkways. Turtles, terrapins and carp populate the local ponds. Tall ferns and broad leafed plants take root wherever there is a patch of open ground even on the way out of the Plaza Singapura shopping centre car park in the centre of town! This must be one of the few cities in the world where it is permanently Autumn and Spring combined – leaf sweeping seems a daily occupation as is pruning roadside trees to prevent rain storms bringing the heavy new leaf laden boughs tumbling down on pedestrians and traffic.

So there we have it – we’ve moved in and are settling down, missing our floating home like crazy but enjoying exploring our temporary land-based one for now. Hope you like the accompanying piccies - they are from Saturday's walk along the canal that runs past our home...
Waters meet - the upper end of Alexandra canal

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