I started packing what I need for the next one to two months. Wednesday the movers are here and they are packing for my ocean shipment. Meanwhile I need hiking clothes for the desert, long johns for the cool nights in the woods, boat wear for my cruise and winter sweaters for the glacier walks. It has been a little complicated to sort this all out.
But not to worry! I have plenty of underwear for the next month+. :)
It is amazing how helpful YouTube is! Since in Singapore, I have used it to learn how to cut my own bangs, methods to apply eye shadow, how to eat a passion fruit and how to dive with a snorkel mask and tube.
The Internet makes this living abroad thing so much easier. I have a uS phone number for less than $5/month that people call me on and I can call them in the US. I get quick updates on people's lives and don't feel completely forgotten. I can still pay my bills online and check on bank balances. I have friends' blogs to read and my own to write. I can read publications from home and keep current. I can also stream current TV. :)
I am not sure how they did it back in the day. Probably a month to send mail. That would be tough. I am so thankful for my easy connections to family and friends. But my Internet leaves this week....
I went to a badminton tourney a few weeks back. I saw the youth Olympic matches and was interested, so figure adults should be more fun, right?
They make it look simple and I know it is not seen as a real popular sport in the US, but the players were impressive. There were some good, close matches. We saw men, women, singles and doubles. The crowd that was there was pretty lively too. A good time.
This morning I had a prelim walk through of the apartment to see what needed fixing. Then, the cleaning company came to take away my blinds and chair coverings. Per contract, I have to have them dry cleaned before turning over my apartment. My place will be a bit naked for the next week :). Movers come Wednesday, cleaning Thursday, handover on Friday and then I start travels about midnight Saturday. A little overwhelmed right now, but working through it. Have a great friday and weekend everyone!
Oh wait, it's just the regular fogging for bugs and what not. It is sprayed/fogged mid-morning. I hope it isn't toxic. I've walked through it a couple times at my condo. It does help keep the bugs away though! :)
Have I mentioned Singapore is safe? I will one more time. It's funny because I don't see uniformed cops patrolling like you would in the US. In fact, I rarely see them. Instead I started noticing cameras. On the bus. At intersections. I now firmly believe that the whole city is on camera and in some underground building there is a team of cops just monitoring everything through video feeds. You mess up, they will find you.
A bit Big Brother, but it does seem to work. When there is an occasional crime scene, you may see a sign similar to this one. No door to door questioning of the neighbors like on the TV shows. Read the sign and call in your tip.
Crime and crime stopping is a tad different here. On the flight in I only recently realized they tell you anyone found with drugs upon entrance to Singapore is punishable with the death penalty. That is some serious punishment.
As a law-abiding resident, I have very much enjoyed the benefits of camera watching and strict punishments. Should I ever find myself or a loved one in trouble though....I would much rather take it up in the US courts :).
Daily posts are clearly too much to handle :). It is not only the time though, but having a new interesting topic to talk about. Saturday I came home from India and arrived at the airport in Singapore at 6am. Timing works well to stop by McD's on the way out and get some McDonald's breakfast. Then head home for a nap on a full tummy. Saturday was no different.
The Singapore airport is really great and I'll miss it. It can have a lot of people but never really seem busy. There is rarely a long line to check in (may at 10-15 minute wait). I get to use a scanner through immigration which takes about 1 minute. There are free luggage carts all over. And most places I fly get me a lot of miles and keep my Star Alliance status in gold :).
The one thing I don't care for is security. Instead of having it right after check-in like in the US, it is at the gate. It is nice because you avoid long lines and only go through prior to boarding, but it means that liquids purchases can not be brought through. However, I recently (last couple of weeks) found out about two ways around this. 1) Bring an empty water bottle along and you can fill it inside the waiting area. 2) Buy drinks from 7/11 and they will seal them in a bag to take through security for you. Both very helpful and wish I would have figured them out earlier.
If you get time to fly into or layover at Singapore, I recommend it. The airport is nice, clean and pretty efficient. For long layovers, they have areas to lay down, a movie theater, butterfly garden and a giant indoor slide.
I am not looking forward to the return to US airlines and airports :(.
I am at the airport in Bangalore India now waiting for my flight home. India has really grown on me these last few years and this is probably my last visit for a while, though I hope not.
If you haven't been here, I suggest a recent movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I watched it on the flight here Wednesday night and really liked it. I think it presents some of the charm of India.
I won't say I was convinced on my first trip here. It is chaos! :) A good chaos, I have found. The traffic goes wherever there is space. Horns honk galore. Cows are in the middle of the road. Vehicles may include bicycles, cars, monster old bus tanks, tractors, ox carts, three wheelers, motorbikes and of course a pair of feet. The road sides are not the cleanest. The poor live next door to the corporate manicured lawns. Eateries require sinks to wash up after eating with Mother Nature's utensils (hands). It is different. And as I experienced it more, I relaxed and came to appreciate it. The items listed start to blend into normal activities.
I now find myself a bit more relaxed when off the plane in Bangalore. I really have grown to enjoy and sometimes crave the food. Love that naan! Really like paneer also. I haven't seen much else of India outside Bangalore. One day in Mysore to see an old palace that was very impressive. I have the Taj Mahal on my travel list but I think I need two to three weeks minimum to travel in India. Things move slower and I will want to relax and enjoy them.
India is different than the US or Singapore, that is for sure. But that I will miss it is also a surety!
The only India pic on my iPad - ready to tour a local engine manufacturing plant.
Do you listen to podcasts?? I started to when I left the US. I found they help me feel more connected to home. Mostly I listen to WGN personalities from Chicago. You get sports, weather, current events, etc. Best part, they are free!!
There are video and audio options. For a little while I tried out yoga at home. I also found free tv commercials to use in a presentation.
If you haven't tried or browsed the podcasts on iTunes, I do recommend it. Kinda like radio on dvr but free. I really love that free part :).
Singapore is safe. People follow the rules. I've lost my purse a couple times with cash in it and it was later found fully in tact. I've left my apartment unlocked before. It just doesn't seem in the nature of people here to steal or do harm.
This has somewhat lulled me into a sense of security. Until tonight. I try to keep this blog positive, but I'm a little peeved. Here's a bit of a rant coming your way.....
UPDATE: Before you read further, I did hear back from my apartment manager and things have now been explained. Goes to show how important communication is and I probably should have waited more than an hour to record my reaction :). Although explained, it would have been nice to have been told in advance about the expansion of work so that I wasn't surprised.
I have tried to be pretty adventurous in trying new foods while in Asia. If you knew me as a child, I think you would be shocked with the foods that leave my plate. I was definitely a picky eater. My travels to Europe and Asia have expanded my palate but have also helped me to always be willing to try at least one bite.
Things I never ate as a child but do now:
Potatoes, in any format other than thin french fries
Red, yellow and orange peppers (still working on green)
Raw fish in "sushi rolls" - have yet to tackle sashimi
....and the list could go on.
And here are some of the items I've consumed which I would say are more on my exotic spectrum:
Today we rode bikes into town and did some more market shopping. Maybe I am getting sad about losing cheap Asian shopping because I spent all but my last $5.
The bike was fun but hot. Thankfully we survived without accident. At the pool today I worked on trip planning to Sri Lanka. My plan is to finish up work this month, do some traveling in Asia during August and fly back to the US on 31 August. Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and New Zealand are on the schedule and most of the arrangements have been booked. Should be a great time and I am really looking forward to it.
We leave Siem Reap in a couple hours and head back to Singapore for work on Monday. It has been a lovely weekend and I would highly recommend to anyone.
Although there has been some guy on a loud speaker all afternoon. Not sure what he's saying...
Update: It is the Buddhist monks chanting. Guess Sunday is most people's religious day :).
And we passed a Harley convention on the way to the airport!
Friday night a friend and I came to Siem Reap, Cambodia and have really fallen in love! It is a small Asian city, less than one million we learned today. It is very clean, uses USD, and is cheap ($0.50 beers).
We had a guide take us to Angkor Wat, which are very old (~1,000 yrs) temples that were used as Buddhist and Hindu temples and (maybe more well known) served as a backdrop for Tomb Raider. We got there for sunrise but as it is rainy season it was semi cloudy. It was still very impressive and this way we missed most of the crowds.
It is a large complex of temples built in the jungle. I got to try out my new hiking gear and we explored from 6 to 11:30. Our guide shared a lot of new things and spoke really great English. He recommended a spot for lunch and local dishes which were excellent! We came back for pool time while the sun was out and nap time when the rain clouds came. Tonight was spent having some Khmer BBQ and souvenir shopping. Some good finds ;).
More pics to come, but here was our refreshing pool.
No fireworks here. Just a normal Wednesday. I don't think I've talked about holidays in Singapore before (and if I have, apologies).
I like Singapore and the acceptance of everyone's differences without going to the politically correct extremes. I will miss this aspect of Singapore and probably cringe a few times after I move back to the States.
In Singapore there are generally eleven public holidays and these are split to represent the majority of people here. Three national days - independence day, labor day and new year's day. Two Christian days - Christmas and Good Friday. Two Chinese days - Chinese new year x2. Two Muslim days - Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji. One Hindi day - Deepavali. One Buddhist day - Vesak day.
So I don't get 4th of July or Thanksgiving off, but I get some other randoms that usually work into nice three and four day weekends.
Flew to Cambodia tonight and had a fun night out. We have an early sunrise tour planned so I am headed to bed shortly.
A fun weekend to all!
I'm trying to fit in as many activities as possible before going home. It helps when I have other people to do them with and especially when they do all the planning and I just show up :). That's what happened last weekend. I joined Robyn and Stephanie for a girls' weekend in Langkawi, Malaysia which is basically a beachy tourist island.
Saturday was an afternoon at the pool and beach at our hotel then headed into town for dinner and drinks. We found a cute restaurant on the beach that was a bit ramshackle in appearance but ended up being lots of fun. I had some bbq squid that was amazing! Amazing! :) Bad part, I cut the bottom of my foot on the beach somewhere. Thankfully it really wasn't too bad.
Sunday was a day of sailing/boating on a private catamaran. Okay, there was another Asian couple who joined us, but they kept to themselves and it felt like it was private. They even played our "boat" mix from my ipod. We got to swim, kayak, lay on the front while we sailed around. It was a really great day and not that expensive. Lunch was provided and was really good.
Only down side was a bout of sea sickness for me and Stephanie. Next time, take the meds earlier, eat breakfast and skip that last midnight drink the night before ;).
I have less than 2 months before I board my plane back to Chicago. Less than one month at work. Time is flying by very quickly and I'm trying to get things wrapped up and sorted out before it's too late!
I have gotten so relaxed in my blog postings that I feel a renewed effort is required. I'm going to start the countdown blog and force myself to post something, even a little thing, each day until I board the plane.
If I've done my math correctly I have 58 days left as of today.
What else is special about today? It's Independence Day aka 4th of July! The Singapore independence day is 9 August and I will miss it this year as I'll be in Mongolia.
I hope everyone at home has a great holiday, wonderful cookout food and lots of fun with family and friends. I do miss my Midwest summer cookouts. Luckily, I'll make it back in time for some Labor Day fun!