It’s Not You, Malaysia, It’s Us

We just don’t know how to say it, M. We had planned to spend a month with you. Really, yes. What? Of course! We wouldn’t lie to you, not about that. Those first three days in May were wonderful. Unplanned, spontaneous. Look, Mumbai doesn’t even know any better. We were never there. We had such a good time, didn’t we? Glitzy buildings, ‘Avengers’, six dollar dinners for four. And look, we’re really just trying to enjoy the rest of our time together, here and now.

Thailand? Well that was rather an … excursion … and, no, no, we’re not trying to avoid the subject of Burma. No, we just don’t think it will get us anywhere to make comparisons. What can we say? We won’t treat you like you’re stupid and say Thailand was touristy. What’s the point? You want to hear that Thailand was 43 Celsius and overrun with pale-skinned shabbies draped in yards of too-loose cotton?You want us to say we were kidnapped in Burma for a five dollar ransom? But, but what? We’re not supposed to say anything about the Lanna Thai teak buildings, the golden Buddhas, and the 25 cent plates of Pad Thai? The amazing hospitality and simple friendliness of the Burmese, the stunning stilted villages of Inle? Why don’t we just leave the past in the past, M? We are here after all, and we didn’t go to Australia early, right? We’re even going Down Under a couple of days later than planned, and that’s for your sake, M. Wait – what – Singa – you’re going to bring that up? Oh, come now, M! Staying in Singapore a couple of days longer than planned! That’s really unfair. The SEA Games were on, it was Oliver’s birthday, and we had hot water for the first time in a month! And haven’t we said a hundred times how much we prefer your vibrant KL to Singapore’s planned perfections? Yes, really. We even told our mothers. Oh, absolutely. So can we just try to make the best of the time we have?

The Batu Caves were wonderful yesterday; and we are so thankful for the fireflies and nature reserve you shared with us today. We’re excited to see Merdeka Square, and your National Museum tomorrow. And there is so much more to see in your jungles, coasts, islands, and Borneo wilds. It would be really sweet to spend a lot more time with you, M. I know, it isn’t easy to hear us say that after we tore off to the north. But we came back to you, M. We didn’t dash off to Indonesia or Brunei; we didn’t let China turn our eye. So, M, maybe if we have a trip to Melaka, or a bit of snorkeling, we can take this thing to the next level. Oh, yeah, we mean it. Now there, is that a little smile?

Good Trip, Good Life (by Oliver)

If you have ever gone on a long trip you would know what I mean when I say, “Some parts of trips are good and some are bad.” So if I said, “Good trip, good life,” you would know that that is not completely true. When there is a good part you really enjoy it, but when there is a bad part, it isn’t fun. But if you are about to go on a trip, and it’s going to be long, then really try to enjoy it. If there is a bad part, try to blow it off. If you can’t do that I don’t know what to tell you. And if you have heard something about long trips that is not a very positive comment then whoever said that was not telling the truth. Like I told you before, there are really enjoyable parts and some trips are all enjoyable. Those are the best. But some of the things you need to be prepared for are limited WIFI, not much electricity, make sure you have vaccinations, and you take the pills you need — although your child might not like that so much. (I HATE IT and it takes me 30 minutes to take them sometimes). Make sure you are safe, but over all make sure you have fun and try really hard to have the best time of you life.

SEA Games in Singapore (by Oliver)

When we arrived at the Aquatic Centre we started out by looking for the entrance to the men’s diving competition. After we found the entrance we had to go through some metal detectors. It was very hard to find seats together because everybody was saving seats for friends and family. I had to sit with my mom in a different row than Audrey and Dad. When we watched the practice it was amazing! From the ten meter platform the competitors were doing, like, twenty flips before diving. Audrey and I were rooting for a Malaysian diver. My mom and I nicknamed him Rockstar. We called him that because of his confidence and the fact that everyone cheered when he was acting macho. Dad and Audrey nicknamed him Big-legs because he had huge thighs. My mom was rooting for Myanmar. One guy landed on his back and had to be taken away on a stretcher. We all felt really bad for him. The Malaysian, Rockstar (a.k.a. Ooi Tze Liang), won! He was amazingly awesome!

The Neoteric Skyline That Is Singapore (by Audrey)

Futuristic. Modernized. Clean. There are so many words to describe Singapore. One word that could not be used is Normal.

The airport has a rooftop pool, video game arcade, cinema, and spa. There are laws to keep everything orderly. You are not allowed to chew gum in Singapore so that no gum ends up on the street.

Traffic flows seamlessly. Taxis are metered. All prices are fixed. No bargaining. It is incredibly expensive especially compared to the places we have been. Over the course of this trip we have all come to accept that a meal should cost under $5 for one person. We have become accustomed to bargaining down from $5 to $2.50. Now in Singapore it costs $12 to have one shirt washed. Gigantic malls can be found on every street. Designer shops line Orchard Road. California Pizza Kitchen and Cold Stone exist here even though we could never have found them any where else (including Europe). Glass and steel buildings rise from the ground. The architecture is incredible, buildings so twisty they should be impossible to build. It is ever changing, always evolving. New neighborhoods are built everyday.

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It is an incredible city in so many ways, but it doesn’t always feel real. It was amazing to visit Singapore and learn about the city. It is beautiful in a very odd way. I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to experience a glimpse of the future. This is Singapore.

I Get Attacked (by Oliver)

It all started when I was walking in Lakeside, Pokhara, and apparently my shoe laces look just amazing because a dog started biting them. (And let me remind you, I did nothing to the dog.) I don’t know how many eyes were on top of me.  Audrey was blushing. I was laughing (and trying not to show that I was kicking the dog that I named “bite-y”.) My dad was trying to grab his collar and drag him away and my mom was yelling “LET’S DO PIGGYBACK! GET ON MY BACK!”

Once we got him away…. we continued walking along the lake … and then, all the people in front of us opened a line (if that makes any sense).  A toddler came running full on towards me; he latched on to me, hugging like mad. He was cute, but also snotty,  slobbery and dirty,  a very bad combination. I was smiling (but I really wanted him off of me).  Then his mom (or grandma) came, but still he would not let go. And this part that I am about to tell you, I don’t like: his mom (or grandma) whacked him again and again 😦

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