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November 2017

parent memories round the world travel Singapore

Singapore Style in a Whirlwind 48 Hours

A whirlwind excursion in Singapore

To get a cheaper flight to Vietnam we traveled to Singapore to catch a cheaper option. I also wanted to visit this place that my parents had been to so many times over the decades as it holds a place of mystery and reverence for me.

Parent Memories

My Dad did a lot of business in Asia in the 1970s to the end of his life. At least once a year my parents would travel to Asia often for about a three-week period when they would visit Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan among other places. Nancy Joy Memorial Show 2001.027In the 1990s, I worked for a short time in Hong Kong for a colleague of my Dad’s. It was an interesting time and experience.

Singapore always invokes a mix of west and east for me. Amazingly, I never got to travel in Asia with my mom and did go to Hong Kong once with my Dad. Being here now, I so ache for an experience of walking around with them if only for a day or a couple of hours. Both of my parents have passed and this trip is often a tip of a hat in their direction as they instilled the love to travel in me partly due to their extensive travel while my brothers and sister were growing up.

I do know, we have very different travel styles. My family and I are decidedly budget oriented. My Dad’s businesses had him ‘smoozing’ folks so, I think there were a lot more high-end hotels, banquet dinners and glasses of cognac.fullsizeoutput_a03a

For a decade, my mom built a part-time career writing about her travels and food. Her muse in her food column, frequently came from her travels with my Dad. She would travel around Asian cities on her own while my Dad was in meetings. I look back and think it had to be rather lonely at times. It is sometimes lonely being with your family in a place where you are the stranger in a strange land.

Strong memories stir as we wander around Singapore. I know my mom thought the world of the Raffles Hotel. We decided to go there for a Singapore Sling and look around. fullsizeoutput_a024While most of it is under re-construction, it held an air of prestige with high ceilings, white columns, giant billiard tables and support staff dressed as Raj royalty. It felt a  little rich for my blood but, I did love being there and smiling up at my mom.

Indulgences 

The Singapore Sling was tasty but, SO EXPENSIVE! We have had accommodations that were cheaper than that drink. Let me put it this way, two Singpore Slings, one mocktail the kids shared and to appetizers cost the same as four nights in our place in Da Nang, Vietnam. I am glad we did it even though we are committed to noodles made at home for several nights to make up our budget!

IMG_7721The food areas in Chinatown and the Golden Mile were well worth a visit. IMG_7828Sumptuous food for really fraction of that cocktail! Such a wide array of foods; Indian, Malay, Chinese, Thai, even Italian, English and American among others.

The journey from Malaysia – leaving Johor to Singapore was a bit of a struggle. Our boys are struggling with their backpacks and this border crossing you have to walk a lot. You have to walk through several areas to leave Malaysia, then ride a bus across the bridge to then go through another series of rooms and passport checkins to then end up without an access to an ATM, a phone with a SIM card that didn’t work anymore and no free WiFi which is frequently available at other ports of entry. We were able to get a taxicab which we have rarely taken as the cost is less predictable.

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Look at the ships in the international waters. Looks like a real life version of battleship.

We have taken a fair amount of Ubers and Grab Cars during our travels. Grab cars (or motor scooters) is like an Uber and you can pay in cash. You can also order food to be delivered or even a masseur to be sent to you. We haven’t tried that option yet although it is tempting!

The people were very, very friendly and of course, with a 1% crime rate we felt pretty safe. In fact, I went to buy a SIM card and the salesman loaded it in my phone and then informed me that they take cash only. I grimaced and slightly panicked.  IMG_7776I didn’t have any cash on me. He directed towards an ATM several blocks away.

Trusting me to come back and pay him. On my way back I got a little lost in a sudden downpour and finally found the shop again. He seemed nonplussed that it took me awhile. No big deal, he shrugged.

I was told there are cameras everywhere so, you may not see police but, they are watching. If you do something you will get seen and visited within 24 hours. This includes chewing gum. Yep, not legal. And don’t even think about selling it!

Singpore Flyer – View of the World

The Singapore Flyer was a treat. My husband kept calling the Portland Flyer – a nod to our hometown hockey team. It was sweet. The ride is a half hour-long and is like a giant ferris wheel.

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Our Space Capsule in the Signapore Flyer

It was spendy but, worth the view especially since we got to have the entire capsule to ourselves. It is reportedly, the largest ferris wheel in the world.

The view was incredible especially when you’re told that on a clear day you can see into three countries and 45 kilometers. It was amazing to see all the ships in the harbor, just outside the Singapore border. We were told that the waters are calmer there and that ships often hang out in the international waters waiting to port.

I think all of Singapore feels expensive, especially the accommodations. I cashed in some Chase miles to get a room that was somewhat more reasonable.

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How most takeaway is served. Add a straw and drink your chai.

It is amazing as just across the border the same place would be about 80% cheaper.

We were told that road to the airport has potted greenery in the median in order to create an emergency runway if needed. Singapore is a tiny, island country with a lot of personality, grace and grit.

We purposely spent just a couple of days there so, we could gather ourselves for our trip to Vietnam. All in all a good, brief visit.

Thanks for following! As always, please let me know that you think of the blog. I love hearing from you.

More from Vietnam soon.

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Smoothie? Made with real sugar cane? Why, yes you can!

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Darn, the fresh frog porridge place is closed!

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Chinatown

 

Expectations family travel kids travel Legos mom blog Parenting round the world travel travel travel blog vulnerability world schooling

Lego-lisiousness in Legoland!

Sol 86

As I sit up on my 9th story perch in Ho Chi Mihn City

HCMC Writing Spot

 

I am reflecting on our time in Malaysia. There is so much to write about here in Vietnam and I will get to that but, first want to revisit our adventures at Legoland in Southern Malaysia and Singapore.

Going to a theme park was not part of our original plan but, the opportunity came up, our kids LOVE Legos and the boys were struggling with a bit of homesickness.

The Lobby of Legoland Hotel

Now, do we run off to a theme park every time we are sad…no but, it sure doesn’t hurt to go that extra kilometer (see what I did there with the metric system reference?) to soothe ourselves a bit.

LEGOLAND HOTEL

Legoland Malaysia was pretty sweet. I haven’t been to Disneyland since I was a teenager but, I imagine it is like the ‘happiest place on earth’. We decided to stay at the Legoland Hotel which has themed rooms with scavenger hunts, Lego characters walking around, life-size Lego mini figures, characters walking around and LEGOS everywhere to play with. Big blocks and little blocks.

There are daily building contests and workshops as well as a character parade in the lobby. It was so sweet to see joy on so many faces. Not just ours but, the plenitude of families from all over. There were families there from India, China, and all over SE Asia. We were definitely the minority as we would nod hello to another ‘Western” family from time to time.

Breakfast and dinner buffets were a cultural lesson in itself. So many options of food from standard Western choices to a plethora of Eastern ones too. Did you want Dim Sum with your pancakes? Or French Pastries with Chinese Congee porridge with dried fish on top? Or a traditionally poured spiced chai, watermelon juice, white coffee or full cream milk?

Out in the park, did you want to swim in your hijib or swimsuit or use the body dryer (like a giant hair dryer for your whole body) after getting wet on a ride? Did you want to pray when the call to prayer happened or have a dragon fruit smoothie?

Prayer Spot in Park

All of this while being surrounded by Lego figures?

Our room was the Adventure theme which the boys picked out. It seemed very appropriate for our current journey. Maps and decor from an Egyptian papyrus abound.

Huge ‘Body Dryers’ and all the teens getting dry.

Because we are family half filled with introverts we spent plenty of time in the room. While it was our first place without a kitchen during our travels we did order room service which, amazingly didn’t cost more than the restaurant and the delivery folks refused tips only wanting you to put in a good word at the ‘opinion kiosks’ around the place.

A scooter accident portrayed at Mini-land

THE PARKS

The rides were fine. Oakley tried his first roller coaster and was thrilled. The most impressive areas to me were the Minilands where replicas of iconic places around Asia are constructed to impressive, minute detail. Even the scooter accidents with media and police presence on the street. I could have spent hours here. It was super hot so, we melted as we perused even with the welcome mister machines nearby.

The Star Wars exhibit was stunning with a room dedicated to each episode including the TV Clone Wars. We are Star Wars family so, we loved this geeked out to our hearts content.

They have a water park as well and it was also fine. A lazy river bobbing with big legos you can attach to your floating device. A ‘Build a Raft” float as it were.

In any case, it was lovely to have a big family time in what felt like a big playground. I heard ‘Everything is Awesome’ more times than I care to count but, it was worth it. We did let the boys get a few, small Lego sets to take with us on the road as nothing beats the blues like a couple of hours of Lego play.

A BALANCE OF TRAVEL AND FAMILY

Our travel journey is of where we are going but, it is also richly in the details of our relationships with our kids and between my husband and I. We are a collection of varying personalities and we all need different things to fill our batteries. We discover that more and more as we move along.

Family outings are my favorite and seeing the world whiz by in my window really fills my cup but, I know Oakley and Kelvin need more down time. Canyon too at times. I do too in my own way. Writing is actually very, very helpful for me to sort my head.

I get worried about the things we are doing or not doing and if we are keeping the kids on track in school. Do we communicate enough with family and friends. How do we sort out the time differences and make connections.

Accepting that we can be doing a once in a lifetime thing and still feel rather lonely and miss down time tucked in our oversized duvet back in Oregon.

It is all a balance. And we are working on it day by day. Okay, okay….enough about our inner-psyche.

Next, we headed to Singapore for a couple of days before heading to Vietnam. More on that in our next blog.

As always, thanks for reading and following!

I’m still in love with my Chef Husband but, it was nice to met Lego Chef!

The Deathstar!

The bathrooms at Legoland

Mini-Legoland

Ha! Love the sense of humor!

Fresh Seafood at Legoland?

 

round the world travel

Malaysia on My Mind

Sol 74 

We are on week two in Malaysia and just left Kuala Lumpur for the south. We came  to be near a big city to find some Halloween experiences for our sometimes homesick boys, buy some supplies and to make some plans. 

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Halloween party at Jump Street

IMG_7256It has been a delightful place to see albeit a bit further removed from our more hands on experience in Bali. A bit of an adjustment after Bali as we are on the 16th floor of a shiny apartment and not even a third of the scooters we have been used to seeing whizzing past.

We have been introduced to a large, multicultural city which is predominately Muslim and full of dining, entertainment choices and other big city options. We have spent some time planning our next weeks as well as taking care of some tasks. Kuala Lumpur is known for ‘medical tourism’ and I decided to try it out.

I have hypothyroidism for 10 years and have been managing this by getting blood tests every couple months and taking an appropriate dose of daily medication to balance it. When I left Portland, I had a three month supply of my medication and our last prescription plan wouldn’t let me have anymore. Which is not usual, but annoying. So, I knew I would need to get a new supply from the road. 

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Check out the hours. He is almost always here.


So, I went to a doctor here in Kuala Lumpur. The host of our Airbnb helped me find one and my experience was pretty interesting, at least from the point of view of an American used to our complicated medical/insurance institutions.

The Doctor, Dr. Anthony Samy, was everything I needed including kind and no-nonsense.

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Dr. Anthony

I had to show up and wait (no appointments allowed) but, only waited about 30 minutes. He chatted with me, asked what I needed and took a blood sample. His assistants spent a lot time calculating prices of medications and we got it all sorted out.

Two days later I came back for the results, another consult and then was given four months of medications. My only concern was that the sense of privacy is different there.

They took me in a room to be weighed and there was the doctor at his desk talking to another patient.

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Paying for my medications.

“Oh, excuse me!” I said, but, they were indifferent, shrugged their shoulders and went back to their conversation.

The medical office also takes you on without a lot of information. My script has my first name only on it. It reminded me of Dr. Fleishman in Northern Exposure when Marilyn would just number the people in the waiting room.

While I was a bit worried about the process, it turned out fine. In the entire process with two doctors visits, blood sample, lab work/results and four months medication the total cost was $61. Wow…

In Kuala Lumpur we also visited the tallest twin buildings in the world. The Petronas Twin Towers  and  KL Bird Park an amazing bird park with an outdoor aviary several acres big. We also visited the National Mosque of Malaysia and they proudly told us that Obama had visited there just last year.IMG_7392

fullsizeoutput_9dc8In our world-schooling lesson we had a long lesson on mosques and Islam. It is always fascinating for Kelvin and I to see things and think they are a big deal and then have the boys just accept all as ‘normal’. People doing their everyday tasks, working as a nurse, checkout person at the grocery store, kids jumping on trampolines or on school trip at the park – all in their hijibs. So many colorful varieties.

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The other Twin Tower and I

Normalizing plurality. Always a good world-school lesson.

We are in Malaysia for one more week then are heading to Vietnam with a two day visit in Singapore. We made to Johur yesterday via bus from Kuala Lumpur. From our current place we can see across the river into Singapore and the kids love being able to say. “Hey, I can see into another country over there!” and then they collapse in a pile of giggles.

As usual, thanks for following.

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National Mosque

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School on the Bus to Johur.

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