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Tuesday, July 30

Singaporean Arrival

Our flight arrived a few minutes early, getting us to our new home a little past midnight on a Friday.  Our sleepy driver who had the arrival time wrong was sitting on a bench, with the sign that showed our names folded into his lap.  With sleep-deprived dazes on our faces, we gazed around wondering what in the world to do with no one to pick us up.  I normally would have panicked, but I didn’t even blink.  We just stood there looking lost and stuck to the ground below us.  In the end, I guess four Americans stick out like a sore thumb at that time of night as our driver jumped to attention, unfolded his sign and asked if the name was ours.  He hustled the four of us, our eight bags, two backpacks and one laptop bag out of the modern fluorescents all around us and into the dark night.

The air was a perfect balmy, tropical air.  Not too humid or oppressive as I had imagined, but Kimono Hubby quickly reminded me that it was verging on the middle of the night and the morning sun was sure to bring the heat.  We climbed into the large van and both kids promptly began asking about the missing seatbelts.  Under our breath, we explained that not all countries use them, but we would make sure they stayed safe for the drive to our new ‘home’. 

Leaving the lights of the airport behind and through the shadows, we began to see the outlines of trees emerge.  It appeared like each tree was like an umbrella, with the branches reaching up like the spokes of inside to support the canopy of curved treetops.  The trees made perfect sense knowing all the soaking rains this place gets and how each leaf wants to collect as much water from each rain burst as quickly as they can before the thick, jungle-like growth underneath soaks up the rest.  Then of course, there were palm trees of every shape and variety, my favorite being the fan palm.

It wasn’t long before we were in the true city limits and the trees make way for skyscrapers of every size and color, but all equally marvelous in their modernity.  Immediately recognizable were the Marina Bay Sands hotel, with what looks like a boat parked on top of three sky-scrapping pillars.  They have an infinity pool that, even though I fear it, I will have to try at some point.  Next to see was the Supertree Grove at Garden by the Bay, where these solar-powered ‘trees’ are lit up all in delicate lines of neon.  Then the lotus-shaped Singapore Museum appears, designed to catch rain water in the huge bowl formed by the roof, which will then power a central waterfall in the building and be filtered to use in the bathrooms.  Ingenious!  Everywhere we turn, the next modern wonder challenges the last in interest and design. 

When we arrive at our downtown hotel twenty minutes later, I am not even half as tired as I was when getting off the 20-hour flight. After checking in though and getting all of us into the room, it won’t be long until exhaustion claims us all.  We still take a few moments to check out our suite, which is waaaayyyy too high for my liking.  Like, I-get-ill-when-I-look-down high.  After a quick tour, it was all I could do to get everyone showered and into bed before I fell there myself, only to wake a mere three hours later with the sound of the kids roused and ready for the day.

Typically, my husband and I would have a lot more energy on our first day to explore the new world around us.  Sadly, we gave up all of our energy to tending to the kids on the long trip here, so I must admit that our first day was rather… lame.  Our hotel is connected to one of the numerous large malls in the area, Great World City, and was chosen for this purpose.  Well, that and the Olympic-sized swimming pool that we often seem to have all to ourselves.  But it was the mall that we went to in our first hours.  A mall complete with few clothing or appliance stores we know of, but it did have a Starbucks and a McDonalds.  This actually does me little good as I don’t drink coffee and a happy meal only happens in this house when I am desperate.  Even in our exhaustion, we weren’t that   desperate.  We choose a familiar site… plastic food in the window and a thorough Japanese menu.  Ahh… tonkatsu, tempura, ramen, gyoza… just like home.  That’s what happens when you live in Japan longer than you lived anywhere else.  You have no idea what ‘home’ food is to your family.  But it was delicious and Kimono Peanut even asked us, repeatedly, if we will take him there again.  Kimono Sweet Pea didn’t care one way or another.  He only cares that there is rice, tofu and miso soup.  Yep.  He’s messed up too.

After lunch, we bought a transformer that was supposed to power up our laptops and IPads.  All it did was blow three fuses.  Gah.  And we stopped for Children’s Advil or Tylenol as both kids developed fevers on the flight over and had downed the rest of the bottle I had brought with me in an effort to get them both below 102.  Umm… they don’t use these medicines here.  They use something called Paracetamol?  I did come to find out it is commonly used in England, but with a mom who has worked in a pharmacy all my life and my own background in working in medical offices, I am surprised I have never heard of it before.  Oh and no… it didn’t work half as well as Advil.

Then it was back to the hotel for what was supposed to be a short nap for all before we get up and do more exploring.  Five and a half hours later, I woke in a panic.  All of us had slept the day away!  Dual parenting fail on our part in our efforts to start working on a normal schedule.  We were supposed to go to a welcome reception pool side at 6:30.  I was still bleary-eyed when I showed up in whatever rumpled clothing I mangled out of my suitcase.  I met some wonderful people from all over the world, but I only remember the name of one.  A lovely and snarky British lady of whom I will soon be found shopping with on Orchard Road.  (According to her, it’s THE place to shop, with brands I can’t half pronounce, let alone afford, but I would love the company outside of my impatient men for such an excursion!)

It was late when we returned to the room, not that it felt like it to us.  We got the boys back in bed… and since it was verging on midnight again, KH went out to find food.  Most places were closed, but the front desk directed him around the corner to a Malay/Muslim restaurant.  He laughed when he brought back dinner.  He said he had no way to order as even though they speak English here, the dishes written in the menus under their traditional names, so he just let them pick.  His description to me, “err… this is chicken, this one is chicken, and this is some kind of soup likened to the Thai tom yum.”  Sounded good enough for me!  After my gums stopped burning, I brushed the rawness away and crawled back to bed.  I only slept for three short hours, but I’ll take what I can get at these early stages and say a prayer that jet lag stops kicking me like a rag doll any day now.

24 Hours in.  2 years and 364 days to go.  But I’m pretty sure I’m going to like it here.  Once I can stay awake for more than a few hours anyway.

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