Thursday, July 26, 2012


I thought I would tell you about my evening the other night.
It was hot. We now have summer at the equator! (I am glad I am heading back to Ontario summer.) The days are up to 90'. The humidity is 75%. The sky is clear so the sun is damn hot. It hardly drops temperature at all as the sun sets.
Tim was at work.
So I went to the pool.
It was that magical half hour before sunset. I went in the pool, barely a few degrees cooler than the air and floated on my back for half an hour. I looked at the turquoise sky of just pre-sunset. The towers of our complex framed my view. The moon arrived, a sliver. The same moon as you. The stars started to come out as the sky got darker.
I was the only one in the pool. It was idyllic.
A lovely evening.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tim and I are ships in the night

It is 7 a.m. I have just got out of bed.
Tim just went to bed. We did get to say hello as I got up, and he went to sleep!
He went to work at 6 p.m. last night- to Perth, Australia. It is a six hour flight. The turnaround got him home at 6 this morning. Flew all night. Yikes!
I am up for the day and may not see him. Out and about, yoga, acupuncture, while he sleeps, and then he is off to work again tonight at 6- to Bangkok tonight, home at midnight. We might meet tomorrow morning, but he will need to sleep in because he goes out that night for another all nighter.
They work these guys hard. They do long hours back to back. Do they forget that Tim is 60? Not as easy to miss a night's sleep at 60, as it was at 30. But he loves it. It means time off is spent sleeping, and napping. He does try to get in a bike ride,  swim, or a workout in the gym. What I miss is having a meal together. But you know what? It means I do not have to cook. lol.
My doctors have said my body needs better sleep, to get better. I sleep terribly, about 4 hours a night of deep sleep, with the aid of a sleeping pill, and then surface sleep, or none, for the rest of the night. This has  been for about 2 years. So I have been doing acupuncture every day, to try to  get a better sleep. Progress is minimal, but I persevere til I leave for the home IN THREE DAYS, for the month. My Singaporean (Chinese) doctor is adorable. We talk a lot during treatments. I am learning all sorts about Singaporeans, Singapore, TCM. As he is about Canada, Ontario, BC, Muskoka. It's fun. Singaporeans speaking Mandarin, or Singlish, say "la" all the time. Okay-la. See you-la. I said they are like Canadians- Is that right -eh? How are you- eh? Not that I ever say eh, -eh? They also say sorry all the time. He puts in a needle that hurts a little, and says sorry. He comes in to the room after I have been resting, and says sorry as he turns the light on. I say he is quite Canadian.
Today I am taking my massage therapist from the salon there, to meet him. She wants to study TCM massage with him. HA. I am connecting two Singaporeans to meet. I guess I have arrived.
I have had emails asking me to continue my blog while I am home. So I will. What part of my palette is Bala? I guess a pretty big part! I had said that I was astounded at the number of hits on my blog. I think I said 78 a week. The next time it was 85, and has not been under 100 -  ONE HUNDRED!!! a week since. Wow. I love it. I think I am leading, and telling you about, my ordinary life here, (of course with some pretty exotic trips away,) but I am glad you keep coming back and reading. Still, it is my link with my family and friends back home. I am so glad you are out there.
We plan that we will get a stand-by flight on Lufthansa to Frankfurt Thursday night. It is a 12 hour flight. We are stand- by so we never really know until departure time, if we are on. It will be an overnighter for us, because it is 11 p.m. departure. Then arrival in Frankfurt, with time change, is very early Frankfurt time. A 5 hour (I think ) lay over and then again stand-by, AC Frankfurt to TO. 8 hour flight. So with the crossing the time zones, we MIGHT be in TO midday Friday. Looks not bad, eh? (EH!!!! ) 11 p.m. leave here, arrive what seems just  15 or so hours later in TO. But factor in the time change - 12 hours-. It is awful. But it is home!
It is all stand by. But the price is right. Positive vibes from all of you!!!
I am beside myself with excitement. A kid a Christmas. 3 more sleeps. Then an all-nighter sleepless in the air, and then HOME.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


We had a great time in Saigon. I use trip advisor, go to a location , and read reviews of hotels. I picked The Majestic Saigon. It was a lucky pick.
Built in 1925, and added on to, and renovated, it has kept it's French Colonial style. Our room was gorgeous. Not a river view, which I had requested, but a quieter room looking over the central court yard (so French) that has a pool and bar. So you look down 5 stories, to this lovely aquamarine water and palm trees. Out off a wrought iron balcony. Lovely.
The room was all antiques. Rooms. A sitting room, and a bedroom, huge, and a monster bathroom with polished brass fixtures. Not lacquered, but hand polished!
We arranged with the front desk for a city tour, with a car, driver, and guide. The tour was fascinating. We went to the War Museum. It was unbelievable. They warn that it could be upsetting. I was to the point of nausea. They show the atrocities of war. On both sides. It was truly grizzly. I thought it would be very anti-American. Of course they call it the American War, as we call it the Viet Nam war. Viet Nam has been fought over since time immemorial, I think. Being tiny, vulnerable, sea coast, Chinese, Japanese, French, American have vied over control of this tiny "S" shaped coast. And yet they seem a happy people. The American war jump-started their economy, for sure.
Some how pics ended up mid entry....
The pool in our court yard 5 stories down:
 We have traversed the 10 lane madway and are in front of the Chinese Junk for our dinner cruise
Entertainment on the boat- Viet Namese beauties playing music and teaching us to click teacups to accompany them. The girls were exquisite. The food was good too.
 The view of Saigon from the river.
 I am not sure what their legislation is about wiring. This is some cluster!
 A work crew working at an intersection, well protected by their bikes! Miraculously the congestion of traffic is absent from this photo. Very untypical!
We did a second tour. To the Cu-chi tunnels. (koo-chi). The tunnels that drove the Americans crazy. About 60 miles north of Saigon. VC  tunnelled themselves underground and lived in the most appalling conditions. But they managed to drive the Americans out! Tim went down a tunnel and said it was so small, some less than 1 sq meter, and humid, and smelly. And it was not filled with VC! Disguising entry points, deflecting cooking smoke, booby traps for the American soldiers, the ingenuity of the Viet Cong is truly amazing. A very moving trip.
You certainly know you are not in Singapore. (No other city in Asia is like Singapore.) The streets were dirty, filled with street hawkers, beggars with indescribable disabilities, women on bicycles balancing a pole with a huge pot of steaming soup on each end, riding on streets of unbelievable chaos. But it seems to work. The sidewalks are almost non-existent, with mud everywhere. (It was raining).
We went for a dinner across the street from the hotel, on a river cruise. They said they would send someone to help us cross the street. !!! Well, you could see why. 10 lanes of chaos. Motorbikes, bicycles, cars, trucks, ALL honking and weaving in and out. No stop lights, no break in the flow. It was daunting. They sent this little pint-size waiter to take us across. I took his arm. I figured we were safe because we were paying customers, and were about to spend our money at their restaurant. And bad for business if we don't make it safely. Well, Tim said "no, I can't do it" "You mean you can't cross for dinner" "No I can't". "You mean you are not coming for dinner" "No".I thought we were going to have to cancel our dinner plans. I said "just hold on to him", which he did, and we got across. I lived in Manhattan for a year. I know about j-walking. Tim never j-walks. You have to set out, not stop, just keep going, finding the little breaks, and do nothing suddenly. We are here to tell the story. There just about was no story to tell. They escorted us home after dinner-which was great fun. Viet Namese food, entertainment, and on an old wooden Viet Namese ship.
We love to visit Art Galleries. We went to a big private gallery "Apricot"!!! There was a photo of Bill Clinton, who had bought a painting. He is a hero there, because he lifted the trade embargo that kick started VN economy. We could have bought several paintings, but luckily, they were huge, so no where to hang them. I did buy a designer top. A VN woman, who escaped  by boat to Australia as a child. Mai Lam.  Is back now in Saigon, a very successful designer. The piece is a lovely variation on the top that the VN woman wear.
Tim would go back in a minute. I think there are too many other cities in Asia to visit.
A blank palette is starting to get some colours!

Monday, July 9, 2012

I don't get it

I think I have said that before.
It is summer here. We are just above the equator. Just. It should be hot. I only whispered that, though. Be careful what you say!
This is the nicest weather we have had since arriving in January. (OR I am now used to it!)
It is a lovely 26' in the LR with the ceiling fan going. It is like a breezy perfect day at the lake. Now the humidity reads 72% which for here is low. (The laundry on my clothes horse dries in a day in 72%.)
It really is glorious.
I have come a long way, eh?
I thought I would try to describe some little things of my day that might be different to back home.
In the morning we leave our air conditioned room and step in to the apartment that has not been ac'd. It might be very hot and humid. But I go to the LR and  open wide our sliding doors. We have 2 sets. 3 panels wide each. So two panels open which  makes for big openings to the balcony. It seems at this time of year we have quite a breeze across our balcony. Which is wonderful. The apartment is filled with a lovely 25' breeze. I must say, as well, filled with  the inevitable dirty air of a city of 5 million. Our tile floors get filthy, and I could dust the floors, but instead just run in to the shower and rub my feet clean on the wet tile floor. I do that many times a day!
I turn on the radio to BBC news. It is great to get news of the world. More than just the U.S. election. In fact none of that. Instead Africa, Europe, Greece....
An interesting anecdote. I hope I am not repeating myself on this one. I received an email from Elizabeth that she was going to a concert in TO. I should listen to the band on this link she gave me. I did. Then I  turned on the radio and Toronto made the World News BBC. The stage had collapsed at the ACC Centre. I emailed Elizabeth to ask if she was alright. She answered back yes. This all happened within an hour! From her email, to the news, to her answer back. I didn't feel SO far away right then.
After breakfast I either go to yoga or physio, or the gym. The gym is in our complex. It is good. It is AC'd to about 22'. It has everything I need. Treadmill, bikes, ellipticals, mats, machines etc. It also has a doodad that you stand on the scales. It reads your weight, computes your weight without clothes, you enter your age, sex, height, amount of exercise you do (1 hr, 2 hr, 3 hr a day!) and it pumps out your BMI, % water, muscle fat, and your metabolic rate. It is a great measurement, and a carrot for me. I am very curious every time I go.
I've talked of the yoga studio. It is fantastic. I go to yin or restorative classes. Also pilates now.They have the walls filled with wonderful art. They have an honour system library. Bring a book, take a book. I took a book in to the shelves, then realized I was leading it for my book club when I get home in August! It has been taken out. I check regularly to see if it has returned. Maybe I will be leading without having a copy of the book! They offer retreats. I have signed up for a day retreat in Singapore next September. More about that later. And a week long retreat in Lombok Indonesia in October. The location is supposed to be out of this world. I'll let you know.
If I grocery shop, I take a bus to a mall. I then take a cab home with the groceries. Cabs are inexpensive, (S$ 6.00). I try to get a lot in our little store here in the complex. It is like a 7/11, but amazing what it carries, and the prices are competitive. I have discovered a on-line delivery that is free if you order over $50. That is easy to do with canned goods, etc.
I am getting very used to taking cabs. Remind myself, that a car really is a luxury. And here to have a car, first you have to drive on the left/wrong side of the road. And you pay a huge fee to own a car - like $30,000. To drive on the wrong side of the road? I don't think so.
We are off to Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday. A city trip. Tim's first. I did Chiang Mai way back in February.
18 days to home. But who's counting

Thursday, July 5, 2012

a few thousand words about the chinese herbs

I am trying Traditional Chinese medicine herbs. I am in Asia, and it has been around for thousands of years.
I drink this sludge that I prepare. I have been given a bag of wood shavings and scraps from the forest floor, to boil up and drink. Whether it will show in the photo, but in the "stuff" are wood chips, flowers, leaves, twigs, corms that look just like yellow worms, and, ready for this? the shells of beetles. And  have no idea what else. But it comes from a TCM hospital.
Now, I was your biggest sceptic.
I boil this stuff, strain it and drink the sludge twice a day. It looks awful, smells disgusting and tastes worse. But I throw it down my throat, and manage to do it. I have to say I am feeling better. My massage therapist said she sees a huge difference in my muscles.
I really don't want to think about it.
It just says how badly I want to get better.

Okay, I see your eyes rolling to the ceiling. So be it. I feel better.

This damn comfort box. I am out of it again!

We are off on another jaunt. Tim has 5 days off next week and we are going to take three days and fly to Ho Chi Min City. It is a 1 1/2 hour flight. We will stay in an old hotel, The Majestic Saigon (!)  right on the main drag. It looks old British. Not terribly fancy, I don't think, but right where everything is. We will do downtown HCM City, museums and galleries, hopefully the Cu Chi tunnels (used by the VN during the war to pest the Americans, museums about "The American War"!
Apparently the food is fabulous and we will get great french food. And pho, of course.

21 days til we head home, but who's counting!

103 visits to my blog the last 7 days!!!!!! WOW

Monday, July 2, 2012

never posted this

I thought the journey was the destination

Sitting in the cafe of a very posh marina awaiting our transfer to our hotel on the island of Koh Phi Phi. It is a rainy day, and if too rough we will take the commercial ferry, but so far looks like the speed boat will work. A one hour ride in the speed boat, two in the ferry. Out in to the Andaman Sea, which stretches over to India if we kept going! I just hope it is not rough water. One hour of rough water! Ugh. But before the weekend in Koh Phi Phi, I want to tell you about the Symphony. Tim was working Friday night so I looked to see what the symphony was doing. Night in Vienna. I thought an evening of Lehar and Strauss waltzes. I'm glad I looked at the program! Mozart Piano Concerto 14 and Bruckner 8. Not exactly lite fare!! So I zipped downtown and went. The orchestra is wonderful! The Bruckner calls for a huge cast of thousands. Well not thousands, but augmented numbers. Alphorns, all sorts of brass. and the strings, and of course the basses play their hearts out. For eighty 80 minutes! It is a marathon for the players and the listeners. Interesting, I expected many caucasian players. Not many at all, maybe half a dozen and several of them looked northern European, Baltic, whatever. To see Asians all playing these Alphorns, so not Asian instruments. But then why not. The hall is gorgeous. Sounds fantastic. Is so kind to the basses. I've rarely heard such a rich bass sound. It's beautiful all wood (Unlike Thomson Hall poured concrete) and beautiful. I loved it so much, I have joined "Friends of the Symphony". Why I am going to be friends with everybody!!! Friend of the Museums, Friend of the Symphony. I have to say I am enjoying being free to go where I want when I want. And such wonderful choices here. Something else to tell you about. Saturday night our date was to go to evening mass and dinner out downtown. So we went to a very old beautiful Carmelite Church downtown. At the end of the mass, I sitting on the aisle, had someone tap my shoulder. IT WAS SOMEONE I KNEW!!!! To bump into someone I know in a crowd just thrilled me. It was my physiotherapist! Actually it has happened now thre times. A friend/neighbour from in our building downtown, and a pilot I had met on the bus. Now in a city of five million it is thrilling. I think I am settling in!!!! It is getting lighter out and the rain has stopped. Off to Phi Phi!

feeling sooo much better

90 blog visits this week!! I am becoming obsessed about seeing how many visits to my site. As I was reminded, some people visit more than once a week, but still 90!!!!!
This is a health update. So if you wish, pass on this entry and see you next time.
But this health thing is my life. I am damn lucky that it can be. I have the time, the money, and the connections, now, to persevere.
So it turns out my body just shut down Dec 16 with the move. But you know, the craggy old body hung in until everything needed doing got done. For that I am thankful.
The first few months here were dealing with inflamed nervous system, and nerves are very slow to settle. And, boy, do they hurt. Anybody having had surgery knows about that. So that was Jan/Feb/March.
Then it seems to be now, that the fluid in the joints are seized up. As one layer corrects itself, another rears it's ugly head.
BUT, it is not rheumatoid arthritis, it is not lupus, it is not fibromyalgia. No big label. And it is not arthritis! Thank goodness. I went to a medical doctor, had the blood tests and then went to a rheumatologist. So that it good news.
But I was left with very sore joints. Every day I would wake up like I ran a marathon the day before,  without any warm up. (I can only imagine of course). My knees would simply not bend.
But there have been big changes in the last week.
The rheumatologist said I am not sleeping enough to heal, and gave me sleeping pills. They did nothing and after 3 nights without sleep I, in frustration, I went to a traditional Chinese doctor, at a TCM hospital. I know, I know. But the specialist had sent me away, with what it wasn't, to see her in 3 months, with pills that did nothing to make me better.
So I went to the TCM dr. He gave me herbs, to boil and drink. Some to relax the muscles, some to deal with the heat in my body. I guess when you sleep, your body temperature cools off, but if you are not sleeping you are overheating. I don't know. And I don't care. For 2 night nothing. And the 3rd night I slept. AND my muscles are much happier. I woke with knees that would bend. SO
I was to go back to him, after 4 days, which I did today, and he said to continue and come back every 4 days.
Now this visit costs me S$22. Herbs and visit. It is amazing. And I waited 5 minutes to see him. Walking in off the street.
I had to really discipline myself to not be sceptical about the herbs, but I was so pissed off at the allopathic drs saying come back in 3 months. And leaving me with what I had come in with.
So I am feeling amazingly better. I get out of bed, without having to mechanically moving my legs. So herbs schmemrbs. I feel better.
I now go to yoga 3 times a week, alternating with pilates alternate days. Then I come home some days and do the gym. Not heavy, but 20 min bicycle, 15 min treadmill and stretches. THEN I sometimes go in the pool and use the water resistance to work these still resistant joints. I am feeling so much better. I feel I have a sense of control over my life. It is a welcome return feeling.

An advert in the MRT " I feel closer to my children with healthy hair" ?!?!?!

A sign out on the street "a bicycle theft, looking for witnesses"  A bicycle theft- and there weren't big brother cameras to document it?

A sign on the road  " accident, such and such a date,  looking for witnesses" same, there are cameras everywhere.

 We are back to Canada for a visit SOON. July 27 or so, we will head to TO. For a few days while we see the kids, and dentist etc, and then up to Bala! My Mom's Celebration of Life is August 5th. We take possession of Southwinds August 7th. Tim will stay til about the 12th. I will stay on for a few more weeks. Excited, am I? You bet.