Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 - A New Year

It's hard to believe that I'm about 2 1/3 years through my assignment here in Singapore.  I'm suppose to come home in like 8-9 months!  Three years sounded so long from the start and now it's flying by me.  I had a good friend move back just before the holidays and as he was preparing for the move, it really made me think about my time here as well and how quickly I'll find myself in pack-up mode.

I'm not really sure when it happened, but somewhere during these last 2+ years Singapore has become home.  I can already see some of the things I will miss (and not miss).  But as time winds down, I need to get in as much fun as I can.  Here's to my Singapore Bucket List...

1) Spend a full, sunny day at the infinity pool atop Marina Bay (thanks Ameer for the pic!)
2) Eat lots of good Asian food.  I need to try at least 3 new restaurants a month.
3) Go to the Bird Park
4) Hike Bukit Timah
5) Do the fish pedicure
6) Try foot reflexology (basically a foot massage that affects your whole body)
7) Ride a bike from East Coast Park to Changi Village
8) Go to two more shows at the Esplanade (theatre complex)
9) Night out at Butter Factory (and any other cool clubs I haven't yet attended)
10) KTV night out (private room karaoke)
**Subsequent Additions**
11) Fly in the wind tunnel

....I'm sure there's more that I can't think of right now.  Will have to add them as they come to mind.

This is without mention of my incomplete travel adventures.  That list is quite long and I won't be able to complete it.  Here's the places I haven't been yet, but are definitely still on the list.
  • India
  • Japan
  • Mongolia
  • Cambodia
  • Vietnam (south)
  • Laos
  • Sri Lanka
  • Australia (except Melbourne)
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Maldives
  • Bhutan
  • Any other tropical island nearby :) (i.e. within a 9 hour flight)
I suppose my New Year's resolution is to accomplish as many of these things as possible.  If any sound interesting, please come along!  I think I've got Mom committed to at least one more trip. ;)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Continuing to Penang, Malaysia

We had an uneventful trip home from Bali, slept in my own bed a couple nights, caught up on work emails and then packed for a New Year's holiday to Penang, Malaysia.

Cindy, a friend of Stephanie also from the US, joined us for a total of three lovely ladies. We arrived in Penang on Thursday, which is an island just off the northwest coast of Malaysia. We tried to book the ferry for Friday to another island better suited for snorkeling and beaches, but it was full. We took our guide books on the road to determine plan B and found a couple of local outdoor bars downtown to read and relax. We headed back to the hotel to catch our lounge singers putting on a show. They even sang one of our requests :).

Friday we went to the sister resort on the beach which had nice pools and an outdoor bar. We had some drinks, played pool, met some friends and headed to the Hard Rock for dinner. We called it an early night as we were planning to hike at the national park on NYE day. Saturday morning was nice and we took the bus to the opposite side of the island to hike. About 10 minutes after arrival, we realized that a wallet was missing. A very nice local lady offered to drive us down the road where the buses stop for a break. We were so lucky! The driver remembered us and we immediately got the wallet back. Crisis averted!! We think the driver was a little freaked out when Cindy hugged him though ;).

The hike was good and I of course lagged a little. We made it nonetheless. At the end of the hike we were rewarded with a nice white beach. There were a lot of locals there as well who are mainly Muslim, which puts a slight damper on running around in your bikini when they are covered. We wanted to be respectful and decided to sit and rest a bit. I eventually got warm enough that I wanted to try the waters, but figured I would leave on my top to be more considerate. I failed to think that through and my thin top was see-through and super clingy once wet. Luckily I had a dry top along that I changed into. Shortly after, we were on our way back. The beach was suppose to have turtles and we found out later that if we had walked all the way to the end there were about five turtles currently nesting. Doh! We missed them.

For New Year's Eve, we were conflicted on where to go but finally followed a suggestion from the hotel bellman and went to a British pub near the hotel. We met a variety of people - Finnish, Dutch, Turkish and Kiwi (New Zealander) among them. It was a fun night had by all and we stayed out a bit into 2012.

For New Year's day we figured to be low key and by the pool. Mother nature had different plans as the clouds rolled in. We decided on a movie (Sherlock Holmes - recommend) and found a bowling alley on the walk home. Later that night we headed back for three games, each of us winning once and breaking 100 at least once! We were very happy with that outcome. The only complaint was the complete disregard and lack of enforcement of the large no smoking signs posted in several areas. I do miss those no smoking laws!

Our last day was spent back at the sister resort relaxing by the pool. It was a nice way to end vacation. I saw Stephanie and Cindy off tonight and tomorrow morning I head home. It has been a good holiday season in Asia and I'm sorry to see it end.

Hope all my friends and family had a great and safe New Year celebration!