Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Swinging to S'pore

Sorry for the delay in getting at least a short entry up for the great fun that was my vacation to Singapore. I was excited to see my younger brother, Bill and his family. I wasn't so excited about spending practically an entire day in an airplane. I packed a bad full of warm weather clothes (completely inappropriate for San Francisco) and treats for the girls and off I went. I was concerned about how I would entertain myself for 19 hours. I brought books, magazines, my PDA filled with games, my iPod filled with music and some paint and paper. I felt more like an 8 year old than a 38 year old. But I wasn't going to take any chances. Nadine, my roommate drove me and my massive suitcase to SFO and off I went. I bought a little currency at the airport and meandered around the new to me, international terminal.

Boarding the plane I found my seat and was please that the plane didn't look too full. I kept one eye on the cabin door and quickly shifted over to a unoccupied center row. On Bill's recommendation I booked my flight on Singapore Airlines. I was please to receive a little booklet containing all of the dining choices for the next day (three meals) and beverages galore.

After that, my attention turned to the thick entertainment guide. Seems that the plane is equipped with personal seatback screens and on demand movies (60 choices, I counted them all), television programs, music (both mixed and full CDs) as well as Nintendo gameboy games. I had to force myself to sleep. I didn't pick up or turn on anything that I brought. I didn't want to get off the plane, but did so knowing that I'd be back to this wonderful place in just a couple of weeks.

The visit itself was fun. Bill and Hyun Joo had been sending me email asking what I wanted to do and see while I was visiting. Mostly I wanted to see them since Singapore will always be there for future visits and I hadn't seen them in about 2 years. When asked what I wanted to see and do, I replied that I wanted to see their favorite places. Granted I did read about Singapore to get an idea of what the place was like and I assumed that my brother would display his innate talents as a great travel guide. Little did I know that his wife was a kick-ass guide herself. Hyun Joo and I spent a ton of time the first week going to various neighborhoods around town. I would admit that we ate our way through Singapore, but honestly, there was too much food and not enough time.

Would I live here? I don't know about you, but everywhere I go, this question pops into my head and floats about. It's the reason why I moved out to San Francisco. I kept finding more and more reasons to say yes. But getting back to Singapore. Well living close to family would be cool. But the heat there was a bit much. And it's not like summertime back in New York. This is hot, humid, your-butt-is-sitting-on-the-equator-for-Pete's-sake! In all fairness, I'm not just picking on Singapore because it's hot. I just couldn't move to Minnesota either. I love Jerome and his family, but anyplace that gets so cold you need to plug in your car is just too cold for me. (I just realized how much my life resembles The Year Without a Santa Claus. One brother is the Heat Miser and the other one is the Cold Miser.)

But getting back to Singapore, there are lots of things that are uniquely Singapore. Some of them are simple things, like the way everyone backs into parking spots. So there you are in that scary mall parking lot with cars zooming around at top speeds and people are zipping backwards into spots. Since I back past two big pillars every day in the garage below my office, I can appreciate this performance under pressure. So after that I think it's only fair to be rewarded with a huge variety of yummy and incredibly inexpensive food at the hawkers stalls. English is spoken in Singapore, but when you are walking around, you hear so many odd additions, it makes your ears perk up. The use of Can and Lah are heard so much, I found myself starting responding with these two common colloquial words.

Spending time with my 2 nieces also introduced me to the concept of uncles and aunties. Hana's lessons in manners extended not just to immediate friends and family but to the uncle driving the taxicab and the auntie running the shop or taking our lunch order.

So I had a wonderful time, which included the tropical paradise that was our holiday within a holiday trip to Lomboc and the Qunci Villas. Many thanks for those kind visitors that allowed us to take their romantic getaway and add the joyful interruptions that only a friendly 3 year old can bring. I was lucky enough to get the best villa in the place (#8) with views of Bali for much of our stay there.

Trip highlights were spending time with Hyun Joo and getting to know her better. She is a great person and partner for Bill. Bill was busy working for chunks of my trip, so he missed out on tea parties and princess dancing. However I will be ever greatful for his introduction to the Zen of talcum powder. No way to get through this town without it.

No comments: