Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Seeing Singapore, Part 1

(Disclosure and apology: I know that you have been eagerly awaiting the next installment of our story. I am sorry it has taken so long! Immediately after I posted the last entry, Blogger began giving me problems; I have not been allowed to post or even save drafts. Thank you to my Mom who is posting for me!)

(Note from Nancy: I am posting several blogs one per day, as Sharon requested. But I want you to know that they have arrived safely in Madang, PNG, and they began POC today (Wednesday, August 12th). Thank you for your prayers and keep praying! J)

Wednesday, August 5, continued

Joe predicted that we would sleep until 11AM, but thanks to lots of sleep on the plane, the kids were ready to get up by 8:30. That turned out to be a good thing, though, as it helped us acclimate to the time zone more easily. The boys had gone to school, and eventually Joe would have to go to work, but he took some time in the morning to take us around a bit first. We walked to the bus stop where he told us, for simplicity's sake, to stick with route 25. Check. We took Bus 25 to the Ang Mo Kio stop. There we found a facility which doubles as a several-story mall housing various types of shopping, restaurants, and a food court in addition to the bus terminal and train station. It was lunch time.

Joe took us to the food court - the local hangout. He said it is usually just as cheap or even less expensive to eat at a place like this than to cook at home, so you can imagine it was a bustling place. I'd been told by more than one person that eating was a great hobby in Singapore; however, as you might expect, knowing they have a much more active lifestyle, we saw very few people who struggled with weight. Soon our table held rice, dumplings, carrot cake (kind of like an omelet with boiled carrot pieces), roasted pork, chicken, and duck. The kids tried drinks which were a cross between a smoothie and a milkshake - strawberry/banana for Andie and rock melon (cantelope!) for Evan. Everyone tried everything and ended the meal very full.

Joe took us to the train station and gave us instructions on where to go and how to get there, and made sure we knew how to get back after we were done. Our goal? The downtown, touristy shopping district. We had no problem navigating the train or finding the correct stop, and found our way to the visitor information office. While they filled me in on good things “to do and see,” Evan took advantage of the leg massage machine. Smart guy. We wandered around for a while, and Andie found another technological bathroom wonder: the automatic door! Finally we made our way back, train and bus, to our friends’ flat.

I forgot to mention that they live on the 12th (top) floor of their building. The kids decided that they thought it would be a good idea to see if they could run up the stairs and beat the elevator. Yeah, yeah, you go ahead. (Insert incredulous look here). As we passed the 10th floor we could see them out the window of the lift. Evan was still trucking along pretty well; Andie was grasping the handrail and her tongue was hanging out, but she was determined. We beat them to the top, but they beat us in the sweat-producing contest. Congratulations, kids. Any mom would be proud.

About 70% of the population lives in high rise apartment buildings like these:

Paul decided to lie down and take a nap. Just so you know, that is not part of the approved process for conquering jet lag. I made sure he knew it.

The kids went swimming with the Lee kids. Good. Wear ‘em out!

That night we went to bed much earlier … like 9:30.

Thursday, August 6

Some of us woke up around 7:30. That’s enough sleep, don’t you think? Others of us, who shall remain nameless, slept until 9:30. OK, that’s like 12 hours, even in Asia.

Joe took us again to the train station where we tried to exchange some travelers’ checks. Apparently, American Express is not common in Singapore. Really? After the bank personnel placed a call to AE, they surveyed our passports, and they got both of our signatures on numerous documents, we were afforded the exchange. I’m not quite sure that we didn’t sign away our first-born, but they let us keep her anyway.

After lunch (the kids cleaned their plates!), we headed to the Singapore Botanic Gardens ( and specifically the Orchid Gardens. I have never seen so many orchids in my life! They were beautiful – so many different colors and patterns – an amazing display of God’s limitless creativity. In addition to orchids, we enjoyed the various pitcher plants. Andie found a large snail on a leaf. When she reached out to touch it, it raised up like a dog or cat might raise up to sniff her. I never knew they were so friendly!

We stopped through China Town for about an hour and just browsed, and then that evening was relaxed.

Friday, August 7

Member Care (Missionary Care) has been somewhat slow to be implemented into the missions culture. Some organizations have done a very good job of it, while others still have much to learn. We had an opportunity on Friday morning to meet someone who is instrumental in Member Care with a different entity. We met Belinda and her husband at a restaurant in town and spent a long time sharing our hearts and our stories. It was such a pleasure.

Later that evening, we boarded a bus and took the kids to the Night Safari, and extension of the Singapore Zoo. The Night Safari claims to be the first of its kind in the world. It was open from about dusk to midnight and includes walking trails and tram rides from which you can view hundreds of nocturnal animals in well-simulated natural habitats. Also included is a tribal show with dancing and lots of fire, and an animal show that was rather entertaining. We caught a taxi back to the house (turns out, it was cheaper and much faster than taking the bus!), arriving at about 11:30PM.

Saturday, August 8

The day was to be filled with a trip to Sentosa, “Asia’s Largest Playground.” We started out by visiting the snake charmer who, for S$5, allowed the kids to hold an albino python. At first Evan was going to just stand beside his snake-holding sister, but the charmer wrapped the constrictor around both of their necks. Afterward, he admitted it was pretty cool.

We moved on to the “Images of Singapore” museum –a beautiful collection of historical information and stories told through dioramas and wax sculptures. I definitely recommend a trip to Images of Singapore for anyone who gets a chance to visit the country. We then had a picnic lunch followed by some wild rides on the Luge (a wheeled cart and a long, gradual, winding, downhill track followed by a trip back up the hill on a sky lift.)

Finally, we went to the beach where the kids played and caught crabs for hours. On this beach is located the “southernmost point” in continental Asia.

Sunday, August 9

On Sunday, we visited Bartley Christian Church with our friends. It was a very nice service and we were challenged by the sermon (about passing a vital and active faith down through the generations.) We had lunch at McDonalds and then spent the afternoon packing our bags.

Because August 9 was National Day, we went to a cell group party at a home and enjoyed the good company and great food along with celebrating Singapore’s Independence 44 years earlier. When the appropriate time came in the televised celebration, I truly enjoyed watching the entire group (except us, of course) stand together to say the pledge and sing the National Anthem.

Monday, August 10

By noon on Monday, our bags were pretty much packed. Lunch included spring rolls, which my sister-in-law had requested I eat for her. Joe had told me that he knew where to get the best spring rolls in town, and, though I have not tasted any others in Singapore, I would have to agree. They were wonderful!

It was decided that we would take the children to a swimming complex. The Anchorvale Community Club is a public facility that includes eight large water slides, two Olympic-sized pools (one covered), and a shallow children’s play pool with spray stations and the like, all for less than $2 per person. The kids, of course, were completely delighted. They wore themselves out on the water slides, in particular. We forced them to give up their nirvana at 4:45 (which was particularly sad because Andie had just made two friends and was enjoying them quite a bit.)

After showering and cleaning up, we made our way to a food court just a few blocks from where the Lees live. This particular one was known for housing a location of Botak Jones – an American food joint with burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, etc. (Botak apparently means “baldie.”) Andie had fish-n-chips, but the rest of us ate delicious burgers and fries. (I think Evan ate his weight in French fries.) Amelia had decided that we had to eat at this place at this time because it would quite possibly be the last “real American” meal we would have for quite some time.

The Maxi-Cab was scheduled to pick us up at 8:45 for our ride to the airport.

(This story to be continued after a couple of commercial breaks.)

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