Monday, February 27, 2012

a short one

I am going to do much shorter entries. That way I stay in touch, and it is easier on my wrists. I am really doing so little that I have been saving up for an entry. But this way there is contact without undo strain on my wrists.
 I think I have mentioned that I have no colour. I really don't get it. I don't sit in the sun, too hot for that. But I have gone swimming in the noon day full sun. I walk everywhere, wearing only sandals. At home, in the summer, although I do not tan, my feet get brown. I have no tan on my feet. I think I have said we are 85 miles from the equator. If I were in the pool in Florida for a half an hour at noon I would get burned. It was suggested by a friend the reason is twofold. The air is so humid, that the sun's rays have more density to pass through. The other reason is the atmosphere is thicker near the equator. We all know about the thin atmosphere at the two poles and the ramifications to the polar ice. So it is thicker here. Hence, less effect of the sun. That is not to say if I went out for the day to a sunny place I would not cover myself in suncream. But day to day exposure does not seem to burn.
You can pick out the Aussie's though. They are so brown. I think they live out in the sun. I saw a couple downtown that were lobster red. That is uncommon. Excluding the Aussies you don't see a lot of colour. But I can only think this couple was out on a boat on the water and they got scalded.
We seem to have had more rain recently. The days are grey, and in the afternoon, rain like a summer rain. Not a summer storm, but an all day rain. I wear only rubber sandals, so I don't care if I am caught out. And when I get wet, it is so warm, that it is not uncomfortable. I might not even put up my umbrella. And for some reason, you dry quickly.
There's lots I don't get. I dry quickly. My laundry does not. We had thunder the other day like I have never heard before. We certainly get the big tall storm clouds and the cracks of thunder and lightening. But this was different.  A low constant sound, really like a jet, lasting about 5 seconds. Tim was here. He's never heard anything like it before, either. The weather here is different to the northern hemisphere. We have lots to learn.
I said at the top, that I seem to do so little. I heard from a friend about how exotic our life was here. Interesting. I think I am doing so little. But it is not dealing with winter. Is that exotic? In fact, I miss, when I get up in the morning, wondering what kind of a day it will be. I get up, and I know. Hot, and humid. The variables are if there is a breeze, and if there is sun or cloud. But there is a sameness. Don't complain of changing weather. I yearn for it. Oh, to dig out a sweater, or socks and shoes. I wonder if my clothes will last. Being here is like 8 summers. Ours being three months, and this being continuous, my clothes will have a work out like 8 summers. It is very difficult to shop here. The sizes are VERY small. And I take a VERY large in Asian sizes.
Enough for now. Off to ice. Again

Saturday, February 25, 2012

our Saturday night date

We went to a movie the other night.  We saw "The Iron Lady". We liked it, even if many scenes of sitting around table with her cabinet. I thought it showed the woman, the mother, the grocer's daughter, and she really was amazing- first female leader of the western world. She did some nasties (IRA), but it showed her courage to stand by why she thought right. Big deal of doing what is right, not what will get you elected next time. (Hello America) She hand wrote a letter to the family of every soldier lost in the Flaulklands. And of course Streep was wonderful.
The Academy Awards are this weekend. I have to figure out if I can watch them. It would be the first in years (ever?) that I would miss them.
But going to a movie. You buy your tickets ahead of time. On the internet. And you give your F.I.N number or passport number for the purchase. Who says Big brother is not watching. (FIN is foreign identification number- for Tim, his employment pass, for me my dependant's pass- that just wrankles a little). You have to pick the theatre and I don't know where any are so I just picked one. It was downtown. They put the cinema on the top floor of the mall. Strangest thing. And the escalators are not together so you circumnavigate the atrium of the mall each floor, of course past all the stores, to get to it. Then a sign says "Seating theatre #3 now", (like boarding the plane) and you go in. To tiny theatre, with huge seats, and the AC at about 20'. We have gone to two now, and froze both times. The reproduction on to the screen is like home movies. None of the digital, where you can count the pores on everyone's nose. What surprised me was how the audience "got" the little word plays, subtle humour, and quickly. I guess it was a young audience. Judging by the singlish I hear most places it surprised me. The stands outside for food offer popcorn (not bad) and hot dogs wrapped in bacon. We get a fruit smoothie. Mango, peach, strawberry, yum.
I headed off to the Post Office the other day, to get a parcel that they had attempted to deliver. My sister-in-law mailed an espresso pot. I managed to kill ours. (I put it on the stove without water below. I heard this clunk, and the handle had melted off.) I went on from the post office, along the same street by bus again, to find an electric heating pad at a mall. Luckily the bus kept on the same street and I made it. And found a pad. Things are not easy to find, or not for me, at least. But got on the bus to come back, straight along East Coast Road. The bus turned-on to another street, so I got off, walked back, and got on another bus on East Coast Road. It turned too. So I ascertained that it was gong to an MRT station, and I thought fine, I'll get a cab from there. Well at least 30 minutes later I got to the MRT and the lineup for a cab was 30 people long! It was a long trip home.
The bus routes are like spider webs. I wondered why I was having such  time getting my bearings. It's because Singapore is like London, a collection of small towns grown together. So you have these clumps of old town or village like communities strung together with more modern high rises that are huge. The roads that join them together wander around, change names many times. The MRT is pretty easy to manage but the buses are different story. Now I do have an app for buses. I just have to learn to use it!
We found our way to a new church last night. (Tim is in the sim this morning) I wasn't crazy about the feeling I got from the one we were going to. For Tim it doesn't matter. For me it does. I grew up protestant where a very important part of church was social. Join the choir, teach Sunday school, Join groups. I didn't get any feel for that. So we tried a new one. The churches are new, rise up off the ground one story, so there is parking on the street level under the church. The cars are packed in like I have never seen. I can not imagine getting out of that lot after mass. The congestion, the pollution. Oh my. But upstairs for the church. This one actually had big ornate doors at the entrance. But modern inside. An excellent choir. Asking for members. But I noticed none were over 30. hmmm. A very family oriented service, children withdrawn for teaching, and a homily that asked for some thought. I enjoyed it much better. And th eAC was only about 23'!
We went for wonderful vegetarian food after, where they do wonderful things with mushrooms. All those wonderful asian mushrooms- monkeys brains, oysters, many I can't remember.
I don't want this to be a story of my rehabilitation, as my dear twin pointed out. I appreciated the feed back, but what I do miss in my life here, is the chewing with friends about life and feed back from friends. So update. My wrists seem frozen in range of motion but much of the nerve pain is gone. So stretching, slowly oh so slowly. And much ice. At least I have the time for it.
A not very good photo of this pretty little area where we went for movie and supper. Old buildings restored with commercial below. It is called Katong. An old town.
So off to ice!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Singapore really is so beautiful, so green

I have been thinking of my little trip to Chiang Mai, and the contrast between the two cities. One in the third world, and one in the first world.
Chiang Mai is a very old city in Thailand, up near the Burma border. It was a cross roads for the silk trade. It has grown on it's own, in the natural disorder that cities can. Singapore on the other hand, was consciously brought in to the first world in the 60's. It had been a British colony and when handed over to the Chinese, a huge thrust was made to modernize the city and make it attractive to business in Asia. It is a huge success story. That's not to say, there wasn't a huge price paid. Often a taxi driver will give a political opinion. After all it is a police state, there are rules for everything. Most know of the fine for spitting out gum You don't even see gum for sale. But also a  huge fine ($600) for picking flowers on public property.
We were watching  a National Geographic film on the occupation of Singapore by the Japanese. Boy, no holds barred. the description of the Japanese and their regime was very graphic. But there was footage of out near the Changi Airport, and there were our high rise buildings out in fields, bare all around them. It was amazing to see. Our complex was built in the 80's so to see what it is like here 25 years ago and see it now,  the growth is phenomenal. And fast.
 Tim, today, said how perfectly located the Changi Airport is. We have thunder storms rolling around, I guess out in the ocean, or off west over the downtown, but out here where we are, near the airport, the storms seem to pass us by. And we watch the planes coming in on final,  huge 330's, 340's, 380's, whatever, every 90 seconds all day, all night. Not deterred by thunder storms that certainly sound like they are nearby. The air traffic is constant.
So the location for the Changi Airport was carefully chosen. The drive in to the city is gorgeous. It is a six lane highway, divided by a boulevard. But the boulevard is potted plants, palm, bougainvillaea, very beautiful. But potted. So if they needed a runway in an emergency, they can remove those big 30' potted plants and use the highway as a runway. Now there is planning. But the drive in is beautiful.
We are 10 k away from the airport. But you know, we don't have any of the sound of all those airplanes arriving. Their final is out over the ocean, We see but do not hear.
The network of expressways is amazing. Often six lane, and the traffic moves at a clip. Often 80-100 k's. That is along urban roads. To listen to the traffic report in the rush hour is hilarious. "There is a back up on the ECP/RCA where it joins with the TCP/PTE before branching to the BMI/OCD. Whatever. A network of expressways. Fast moving expressways. The traffic moves amazingly efficiently. The traffic lights are very long, with right hand turns only signal (like our left, crossing over traffic, because it is right hand drive, on the left side of the road) at the beginning and at the end of the light. So that eliminates cars running the red. How smart.
The transit system uses cards for payment. You buy an EZLink card, put money on it and tap your card on a screen getting on buses or MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) trains. It deducts the cost of your ride. The card eliminates any need for employees on and off any vehicles. The little beep of the screen assures you have paid.
There is, written in the building codes, that large building developments have to dedicate a certain percentage of their square footage to greenery. And they do. Dotted everywhere are little parkettes, and the green is very beautiful. Being such a humid climate everything blooms all year long, continuously, and grows like crazy. Everywhere are little people trimming trees and growth along the roads. Old Chinese, with the straw pointed hat, or a cloth hat with a scarf thing down the back to protect the neck from sun. Using bamboo and straw brooms. Little peeks of the old world. The highways are lined with bougainvillaea in full bloom. (I don't know how the bougainvillea along the highways are full fuchsia, and my little 4' plant on my balcony has been denuded of blooms. I can only think I am watering too much.)
There are very distinct cultures here. The Chinese are most numerous. I think about 70%. Then Indian, Malay, Japanese, Korean. There is a Little India, and a Chinatown whose character have been preserved. But the CBD, Central Business District, could compete with any large modern city, for high business towers. Some of the architecture is really wonderful. Some is very boring.
Singapore is a shopper's haven. Every high-rise , in the CBD, seems to have a mall in the bottom few floors. Orchard Road is THE area to shop. You find Prada, Cartier, Gucci, Tod, whoever. Then the rest of the shopping seems to me to be very mediocre or then the very cheap Chinese stuff. And it all looks the same to me. But I am jaded. I am not a shopper.
Tim went to get a hair cut yesterday. At the Mall. You walk up to this machine, put in $10, and get a number. You sit and wait until your number comes up, and sit in one of many chairs, maybe 8. Someone cuts your hair, never stopping to collect payment. When they are done, they vacuum your head. Yes, they vacuum your head. Much more efficient than the blow dryer and sweeping it up! I came and sat in one of many empty seats beside Tim to watch. The woman cutting asked about my hair , and I said I was not getting mine cut. She very clearly told me that there was a queue and I could wait for him outside! I will attempt to attach a photo of the vacuuming!

We went to the Singapore Air Show yesterday. It took us 45 minutes on a shuttle bus from the terminal #1 in the airport to get to the far end of the airport for the show. That is one big airport. We got off the bus and joined the crowds, but when we saw the line-ups for security to get out to the show, we decided to go around to the beach and watch from there. I have some very ordinary pics of the air show. To find those little acrobatic airplanes in my iPhone is a skill I do not have yet but here goes anyway. Tim thought it was great. There was some very fine flying. It was fun. One pic is the crowd on the seawall watching.

Friday, February 17, 2012

and also

I wanted to say about living in the tropics
I get out of a cab that has AC, as do most, on a hot day and my glasses steam up. As does my watch. That is hot and humid!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

life in the tropics

I am posting less than I would like, because I still have a sore wrist. It is getting better.
This is all so new for me. I am an immigrant. I need resources and I don't have them. I really don't know where to begin to get better, or I should say, find help to get better. It is slow but it is moving. I certainly don't want this to be  a blog about my rehabilitation, but until I get myself in order, this is my life. Bear with me.
I have been getting massage a few time a week. She has been doing deep tissue massage, and spending a lot of time on my right arm. I was saying I have to start to get some exercise, she said she had a friend who did pilates. I called her and she said she would want someone professional to see me before she would work with  me. She knew a physiotherapist, so I called her. The chain.
I have had 2 appointments, and other than being very expensive, (out of pocket $160 an hour), she is great. She says it is nerve damage, probably from my shoulder. I am glad I loved my career, because my problems started with a ski fall on a very over-used right shoulder from 25 years of bass playing. So 20 years of on again off again trouble, and the last few years of  total neglect and no exercise. Then the big move in December and huge demands made on it. So she is working on settling the nerves down. She says 3 months. Do I get time off for pain already, and start the count from when it flared? That would give me a good month already. So instead of a wrist brace, I wear a compression glove. And she said lots of ice, and to rest it from gravity, which exacerbates it. So in the water no swimming, just give my arm up to the water. And sleep with  pillow under my arm so my wrist  is "up". It certainly seems to be working. The acute nerve pain is gone, in 2 days, and now I will work on regaining range of motion. And then there is the strength training. I told her I had this idea that  I would come here, get in killer shape, and do a half marathon for my 70th when I get home. She has taken on the challenge to get me back. At this point I am doing a little bicycle and treadmill in the gym. A start. Nothing with the arms yet.
Isn't this fascinating reading? Bleck!
It is interesting living in the tropics.
We are 85 miles from the equator.  I have no sun tan or burn. Few people do. White skin is highly valued here. For the first time in my life my white skin is not the bane of my life. (my curly hair is!). I rarely put on sun cream. It is because if the sun is out, you stay out of the sun. There are so many trees that you can seek shade just about anywhere. And if you can't, you don't go there! Downtown has shaded sidewalks, if not with trees, then with covers.
I saw an advertisement on the bus, to take a supplement to "whiten " your skin. (vitamin "C"and "E").
At the end of a very hot day, I went swimming in the pool and the water was hotter than the air. It had been a full sun day and the water was warm. Swimming, putting my face under water, it was warm water like washing your face. That is new for me.
I have learned that you put dehumidifiers everywhere. I'm glad I learned before I had mould! You buy  a product called "thirsty hippo" which is a desiccant that pulls moisture out of the air. So you put these little hippos everywhere, in drawers and  closets, and try to keep air moving. These little suckers (a grainy powder), grab moisture like crazy (and turn to gel) and need to be replaced every 2 weeks or so. We could close the place up and use AirCon more often, and might do that every now and then, to dry the place.
Our apartment is big. It is 2000 sq ft. It has a large LR, DR, (in which we have no table and chairs yet), kitchen, powder room and 4 bedrooms. And 4 bathrooms! The master has an ensuite. At night we close up our room, put on the ceiling fan and the AirCon to 24, and the room is great. We sleep under a light "quilt". But to get up in the night and go to the bathroom, you open the bathroom door and are hit with a wall of humidity. OY.
There are 2 other fairly ordinary bedrooms that share a bathroom (that has a tub, a big deal here, I think). Then there is a fourth bedroom that is interior. It is about 10'X10' and opens on to a little balcony on which is our washing machine. It is tiny, does only cold water wash, and no dryer. The room has a bathroom off the balcony. Yes, not access from the bedroom, but from the balcony. It has a toilet, and a shower head, and a drain in the floor. A hose from the washing machine on the little balcony goes to the floor of the bathroom, too, so the machine drains directly on to the bathroom floor! I can assume that this 4th bedroom would be for the maid. I'm waiting to find out! At present we have a drying horse for clothes and an ironing board in that bedroom. It does a have a door to the balcony, and a window, that is slatted glass that opens to the balcony. The room is small, dark, and minimal.
I wash clothes in cold water. That is fine, but I bought "Tide+Downy". The second wash with this product smelled a little mildewy, so I googled, and found that mildew loves cold water wash with a liquid soap with fabric softener, in a hot humid climate. So I have a big jug of Tide that I will not use. To dry the clothes, I have a "horse "to hang stuff on, and leave in this 4th bedroom to dry. It takes a day or two. I wait to do towels until a sunny day. Then I put them on another drying rack that I have on the balcony of our bedroom. It gets full sun, and if Tim has the AirCon on in the 2nd bedroom (that he uses for studying) the AC unit is on our bedroom balcony and blows out hot air. So it helps to dry towels. Nancy, who has a dryer in her apt. has said I can come over to dry my towels. I might take her up on it. My towels need washing and it is a humid and rainy today!
So we have a small balcony off our bedroom, a tiny balcony where the washing machine is, and a wonderful balcony off our LR/DR. I will try to attach a photo. It is beautiful, big, with a view of the ocean and the container ships anchored in the Straits, waiting for berth to unload in downtown Singapore. In the background is Indonesia. The view is beautiful. We also see the skyline of the city. We spend as much time out there as possible. If it is not raining, or full sun, that is where we are.
As to clothes to wear. I have trouble getting my head around it. Very light cotton top, quick dry pants, sandals. EVERY DAY!!! I have a suitcase full of my summer clothes that I will not wear here. Even t-shirts can be too hot. So I have a few linen shirts, one light cotton top, and that is it. Tim's tops are too heavy. I have to find him light weight golf shirts. His tops take days to dry. He brought long sleeved uniform shirts, because he is diligent about sun exposure (and UV is very high in the cock pit). But long sleeves just are too much, so I will take his shirts to a tailor to have them lopped off to short sleeve shirts. When I take the MRT I take a shawl. The AC on the MRT can be very cold. Also in some stores. And even on the sidewalk downtown where some stores have their doors wide open and the AC pouring out. It does male it inviting to come in!
I had visitors at the front door the other day. "Mosquito Patrol". Two uniformed officers, who came in and checked for potential mosquito issues. Standing water. Plants on the balcony with standing water. Toilets flushed every 2 days. The life cycle of the mosquito is 3 days, so we have to flush every 2. We had never even been in the 4th bathroom, and never use the 3rd. So I must remember to flush these lonely bowls every few days.
Then in the tropics, there are the animals that love food. (cockroaches). No sign in the apartment, but I saw a mother of a roach down at the recycle bin. Like 3". So you are to spray the opening to your garbage shoot very few weeks. I hadn't seen any at our garbage shoot - the other side- not in the apt- until I went to spray , and there was the big brother of the one I had seen earlier. Ugh. But life in the tropics, eh?
Do love to hear back from you, who ever is out there.........
HA! I got the photos to attach. I did it again. Have no idea how!
THE balcony, THE  view, the cityscape,

Off to ice.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I'm glad to be back

It has been a while, I know. I'm so afraid I will fall off people's radar. You will look for a post and after a while of no posts will no longer look. Tell me it isn't so.
There have been reasons  for no blog. I wanted to keep this upbeat and not talk of all the complications, but it is so our life here that I am going to explain the big gap in the blog.
Tim has had every road block possible put in his way as he has pursued his goal of getting on with Tiger. It has been interesting. Now I will to try to keep it simple.
There was a qualification on his Air Canada licence that CAAS (Civil Aeronautic Association Singapore) didn't like. AC tests this PPC (Pilot Proficiency) every 2 years with a AQP (?) alternate years. CAAS insists you  have to have the PPC within 365 days. Tim's was 380 because he had had the QCP. (His buddy here was 361 days, so okay.) So Tim had to fly home to Vancouver this weekend (on his own buck) and hire a simulator, an examiner and a first officer to do this ride. This MAY appease CAAS.
Then he did a stress test and they read that he had schema in his heart. That took him out at the knees. He is followed very carefully at home and never had any such indications. He contacted his doctor in TO who sent info to back a healthy heart. That was a misreading on Singapore doctor, and the heart is fine. Just an unbelievable scare. THEN Tim takes something for his eyes and AC was fine with it and he has been followed very carefully at home. CAAS doesn't like it. Again he sent for all his medical back-up from TO and the verdict is still out on the eyes. Given the stress he missed one exam. No small wonder. Rewrote that and it is fine now. NOW he is taking a glucose test because his glucose readings were high. Does stress have anything to do with glucose readings? He is at the Sg dr. now, redoing the test to see what is up. So he has had licence, heart, test, eyes, and glucose. Needless to say it is very not fun right now. But he says he has done everything he can and the decisions rests with CAAS, a board not of pilots, or medical doctors. So we wait. In limbo.
Other than that everything is fine. HA.
Today is a gorgeous day. Sunny, blue sky, puffy clouds, and about 72' in the apartment.
I have not been blogging, because of all the STUFF going on, because of my bad wrist (I think maybe caused or at least exacerbated by the computer- I am trying to be better about posture) and I was away on my first little trip.
I flew to Chiang Mai Friday night, came home Wednesday night. It was  perfect timing because Tim's trip home was Saturday to Thursday. So flew to C M and Andrew met my very late arrival (midnight). Andrew is my cousin Sue Edwards Maclachlan's eldest son. He teaches at an International School outside C M, as does his wife Mary, and their 9 year old daughter Maeve attends. He lives off campus, in the country in a beautiful quite Thai home set in an orchard. He looks west to the mountains that begin the foothills to Burma and the Himalayas. We had a quiet weekend, ate out lots , I had 3 hours of Thai massage (a total of $24), a gorgeous Sundowner's drink and dinner evening at a very posh Four Seasons hotel near his place. The last evening he had a surprise for me. He bought 4 huge (4'X6') paper lanterns and we lit them up into the night sky. We could follow them up to the stars and moon for probably half an hour. It was spectacular.
Then a car came for me Monday morning and I met up with my friend Ann who annually visits her son who has lived in C M for 18 years. He married a Thai girl and they have two children a daughter Ti 7, and a son Ju-Ju 13. They are lovely. We did the tourist things in our van- silk factory, celadon pottery, wood village, Flower show. It was very hot 92' and full sun, but dry. Still stinking hot. My last morning I hired a car and went to see the elephants, orchid and butterfly farm. The elephants were amazing. They are very special in Thailand, and the show they put on is very entertaining. I also saw 3 big temples in C M and then flew back to Sg.
I will try to add some photos of these things.

So Sundown dinner at the Four Season's
     Andrew in his Thai living room
     Me totally surprised by this thing that came up and wrapped itself around my neck
     A temple in C M
Too bad my lantern photos did not turn out. It was so gorgeous. They do a festival of lights and send thousands of lanterns in to the sky. Saw a youtube that Andrew did of them. It is so beautiful.
So this is a fast catch up. Stay with me. My wrists will get better and it will be easier for me to blog.
Now I will go ice!