Ovens, Hot Water, Sugar Sachets and Cereal Packets

So after my cockroach encounter earlier this week it made me think about any other random experiences I've had since moving here.  The first thing that sprang to mind is actually something that I've only recently been made aware of, that having hot water and an oven in your kitchen is actually a bit of a rarity here!  I know I apologise as I never realised how lucky I was to have both of these amenities.

I was not that involved in the condo hunting when my fiance first moved here.  Mainly because he came in January 2010 and I did not join him until the July.  I came out here when he first moved and we viewed a few but none of those came to anything and I honestly don't remember anything about there being no ovens or hot water in the kitchens of those.  Perhaps we were lucky and had an agent who was well aware of these peculiar requirements from Westerners and so just found properties with these in for our viewing.  With the greatest respect to my fiance he was not aware of that either at the time so I guess we were just very lucky.

I duly arrived in July and thought nothing of it.  In fact at the time of arrival the thing I found a bit weird was having water heaters you had to switch on whenever you knew you might want hot water.  We've currently got one that heats up the water in our en suite and another for the main bathroom and kitchen.  This just seemed strange after being used to timers on heating systems which are normally set to switch on automatically to heat up the water at set times of the day.  However I've more than got used to this now and actually think it makes a lot more sense as you only need to heat the water when you actually want it. 

My biggest dismay at the time I arrived was that we only had showers in the flat and no bath.  Oh how little I knew, I'd have been very flummoxed with the no oven and no hot water if that had been the case too.  To be honest, although if we stay anywhere that has a bath that is now my standard luxury, I don't miss having a bath whenever I want half as much as I thought I was going to.

Asides from the unappreciated (for so long) luxuries that our flat has to offer there are other things that still amuse me, firstly that you only seem to be able to buy sugar in sachets or cube form.  I don't mean caster sugar, icing sugar etc. but regular sugar that you use for sweetening drinks etc. (yes there are a few of us who still occasionally like a little extra sweetness in our tea or coffee).  The sachets aren't a problem but I'm still amused that you don't seem to be able to buy a bag of sugar here like you can in the UK.  Please tell me if I'm mistaken on this!

Cereal packets are another thing, they are so small here.  I eat cereal most mornings and end up having to buy so much of it due to the size of the boxes which I eat in no time.  I know another expat who has three teenage sons all eating cereals for breakfast who must have to buy boxes and boxes of it every week just to keep them fed.  I appreciate cereal is not a normal breakfast for locals and is probably mainly only eaten by expats, but I've spent many hours searching for a bigger box of something but to no avail.

All of these things I can, of course, live with and in the case of the oven and the water it sounds like I have it pretty good.  It does make me wonder though if there is anything else we've got access to that I take for granted.


  1. I've gotten used to not having an oven, and to be honest I'm not baking as many cakes and treats so it's probably better for me.

    And speaking of baking, I've bought bags of sugar here. It does exist! Try the Carrefour at Suntec City; they have an aisle of baking stuff.

  2. I love reading blog posts from 'new' arrivals .. though you can no longer be called one of those seeing as you have been here nearly a whole year!

    But it is interesting to read 'first impressions' and it makes me think back on when I first arrived and how naive I was.

    I have no oven and I did not have one in the previous apartment either .... have got used to it as we eat out most nights anyway.

    Having no hot water in the kitchen caught me off guard when I first arrived .... but have it here in this apartment.

    As for the hotwater switches ... I tend to leave them on all the time. Though it is probably why our bill has gone up considerably since we have been at this apartment.... might try switching them off and see what difference it makes.

    SUGAR .... yes, you can but it in kg bags at Fairprice and other supermarkets, do NOT look for it where you would expect to 'normally' find it. Look for it near the large bags of rice.... yes, rice!

    They sell course sugar, fine sugar etc all in Kg bags. But you will need to keep it in a jar or screw top lid.

    CEREAL .... it comes in small packets as it 'goes off' very quickly. Within about 5 days the cereal will be soft and horrible. So sold in small packets makes sense though not financially. I was shopping yesterday and bought three packets of muesli, all small and each one will only last the two of us about 4 days.

    You will find that the 'local people' shop more often than we would .... they will go out daily if they have to. One of the main reasons being lack of space for storage in their homes, small refrigerators and small cupboards and then on top of that ... why buy in huge quantities when it will 'go off' anyway?

    Even a small jar of herbs, not even opened, I had to throw out last week .... it had gone mouldy.

    The joys of living in a tropical climate!!

  3. Thanks for the sugar tips, never would have thought to look for it near rice!! To be honest sugar cubes and sachets are smaller so perhaps I should stick to them to wean myself off, but at least I know I can get it if I need too.

    I never thought about cereal going off but that is true as when I came back after my trip home the bit I'd left behind had stuck together in a massive lump. I guess usually I get through it so quickly I don't have time to notice it might go off if left longer!

    We too have very little storage so even I find I have to shop more and I'm not very organised at it and lots has been thrown away which makes me feel very guilty at times.

    I thought of one downside of having an oven too - having to clean it!

  4. "I thought of one downside of having an oven too - having to clean it!"

    there is always a positive side to everything .... am glad you found it. :-)

    I think I might do a blog post soon on the "power of positive thinking" ... ha ha .... it does make life so much easier for everyone, but certainly as an expat.

    When we went for a walk recently and returning the same way, John said that we have already been this way, we should go in a different direction ... my answer was" but we have not seen the leaves on the tree's from this direction"!

  5. Hi... I believe you can buy bags of regular sugar from any supermarket. Unless you visit those specialty supermarkets. As for cereal, you can try popping into any NTUC (supermarket catered for locals) to get them. I bought a really big box not too long ago =)

  6. Leone - I like your thinking and not only the leaves but sometimes buildings look completely different from another angle.

  7. ... and found really large bags of sugar in at Mustafa's!

    I must take you there, prices are way cheaper too.

    also as a 'side note' the NTUC (Fairprice) stores are also a bit cheaper, as there are five main food items supplemented by the Government (to help the Singaporeans) and they are oil, rice, salt, flour and sugar.

    L x

  8. I think locals like me tend to shop more regularly on a daily basis in fact rather than weekly. Donno why this is, but I guess it's just a habit and when we buy things weekly they tend to go bad. And also these days, we eat out quite a bit rather than cook at home.

    This was an interesting post and I'm glad I came here from your 7 links :)

  9. I have heard that and actually have found to my cost how quickly somethings go bad in comparison to how quickly they do in the UK. I guess that is all part of my expat experience and sometimes I have to learn the hard way!


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