Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hot Damn Hot!!!

I didn't notice last April that it was so much hotter than the previous three months. But we are now in the hot season. April to July. I actually remember last July as being very cool here. We had Ontario summer weather here, and you in Ontario were experiencing what we have in Singapore most of the year.

It is very hot but more than that it is the humidity. Having been in Saigon, it is as hot as here, but not the humidity of here. On the other hand with this humidity if there is a breeze it really cools things off. Like those fans they have in the Okanagan that spray water in front of their fans. It really does cool the air.

Quick update on my medical saga. I have been without symptoms, i.e.. pain, for 3 months. I am ecstatic. In a way these terrible things that happen have silver linings, and I so appreciate being able to hold a pen, cut vegetables, get out of a chair no hands, climb stairs willingly, the simple pleasures of life. I am so grateful.

So all that I have been doing has paid off. And it really is easy here. Lots of very good modalities close by. I don't know what in my soup of modalities has helped but I will keep up with all of them and hope for continued painlessness. Just the creakies of looming old age.

I was to Saigon with my sister, her husband and grand daughter Cammie. It was so interesting that my impression of the city was so different to the first time. I guess I will have to revisit every where I have been to get the second impression.

I love Vietnam. I love the Vietnamese. They are happy, patient, courteous, forgiving, compassionate, and the list goes on. That country has been sieged for centuries. It was very valuable during the spice trade and  silk trade, it has so much shoreline. It is like a big letter "C" coastline.

I went to the Vietnamese Traditional Medicine Museum. It was fascinating. The lotus flower is their national flower. It is sacred. It grows out of darkness in to light. (It grows any where, in mud along the road.) They use every part of the flower for food and medicine. Stamens, petals, leaves, stem, roots.

There is a similarity to Chinese Traditional Medicine. Yin/yang, meridians, acupuncture. The climate is so good in Vietnam, for growing the herbs used in TM. There is a mountain in North Vietnam called Medicine Mountain.

We did a tour of the Mekong Delta. The source of the Saigon River starts in Burma and travels thousands of miles to the coast. The tour was wonderful. A long drive out to the delta, with a wonderful guide whose English was excellent. Once there we went to a floating village, visited a family of 4 living on a boat with a room about 15X15 for them, huge rice bags to sit on, hammocks to sleep on, children playing with the empty box that ziploc baggies come in, father on the cell phone, the tv on. They were about 100' off shore and a very long extension cord strung on poles in the water to the mainland was their power supply. They feed fish through a hole in the floor of the boat, and after 3 months of feeding the fish are big enough to catch and sell.

Home to Singapore and family left. I have been doing yoga yoga yoga. I love the way I feel after a class so I am doing as many as I can. That I can do 2 a day speaks to how little else I have in my life. But I kind of look at getting back in shape, and getting in better shape that when I moved here, and keeping this fibromyalgia at bay as a full time job. A photo of tonight's class follows. I'm the one on top!

I met with a personal trainer today and will add that to my soup of modalities. I told her my goal is to do a half marathon (power walking) for my 70th birthday. There. If I say it publicly I will be shamed in to following through. HA.

Yoga tonight. That's me on top. Nancy, below, survived to then crush me.

 My room mate in Saigon Cammie Cammaroomie

 Banana crepe. Oily deliciousness. For breakfast!

Mekong Delta Sanpan ride in the backwaters.


 Gord is tall. Our guide Tina is short!

After lunch siesta

The gang in Saigon
Me, our guide Tina, sister Judy, Camaroomie, Gord

Good night, friends.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

next trip - Manado

Manado, ahah, and where is Manado you might ask.

I did too. I looked it up. It is at the northern tip of Indonesia, and hopefully a wonderful dive location. Tim has a lifetime licence for scuba diving (PADI) and I really wanted him to get some great diving in this incredible diving part of the world. So he found Manada, and we are booked for early May. For 5 days. The hotels are pretty basic, because divers are gone all day and come back exhausted to sleep long for the next days' dive.

I will not be diving. I had a blood clot in my lung years ago, and have lost the desire to dive. I am sure glad I had done it, though, because it is pretty amazing. I am assuming there will be snorkelling. I find to go out on a boat on the water all day in the sun unpleasant, so I hope for snorkelling off shore.

At any rate, I will bring a good book, and my yoga mat, and "make do" HA. In the sun at the ocean! In Indonesia! This trip will be early May.

Judy and Gord and Cammie just got back from Thailand. They had ablest. This has been good for them to come here and go off by themselves too. Today they have gone to the zoo. Singapore Zoo is really well done. No cages, only moats. Beautiful specimens of each animal. The climate is natural for all those lions, tigers, elephants and hippos that we see in zoos in N.A.

Tomorrow we leave for Vietnam. A 3 hour flight to Ho Chi Min City. H.C.M.C. or still called Saigon, too. It will be interesting to see Judy's reaction. She taught English as a second language when Canada was accepting the thousands of boat people from Vietnam. She has many lifelong friends from those days. And then Cammie who knows little of the American War, as it is referred to here, will have an untainted view.

I must saw I was moved deeply by the war museums in Saigon. I was so upset in one, I had to leave because I thought I would be sick. I was barely holding back tears. They show man's inhumanity to man. They do not spare telling a gruesome story. But it doesn't just have recoeds of the American atrocities. It tells the story of the Vietnames atrocities too. And portrays the frustration the Anmericans had of actually finding the enemy. The Chu Chi tunnels are still there and you see how the Viet Cong lived underground by day, in the tunnels, and came out at night to fight back to the Americans.

Below are some photos.

We went for a walk out the pier that we can see from our balcony. It was a hot but windy day. The pier was filled with fishermen. Some catching good sized fish, maybe 12"  long. And many were catching tiny little 2" silver fish that would be bait for someone else. This guy had a big one, that was taking him forever to reel in. You can see the ships in the channel in the background.

Tim on the computer helping Gord and Jude book the Thailand leg of their visit.

The two twins. Jude and I were out today to my little lady who does alterations for me. She speaks very little English, but another customer was there and she did speak some English. So she translated. She got that we were sisters but could not get that we were twins, and would not accept that the translation was accurate. Sisters yes, twins no. Well. And all these years we thought we were!
I didn't tell you about Cammie. She is a charming effervescent 12 year old. A highland dancer and she dances, and leaps, and twirls, and does point ALL the time. So we were on the balcony, sliding doors open. Lots of wind. So I shut one side of the glass doors. As Cammie lept, gazelle-like to the kitchen, time froze for me as I saw what was going to happen. And it did. She went right full face in to the glass. She had a sore bridge of the nose for days. I think you can see the print of her forehead, nose, lips, and chin, on the glass door. It was awful. Poor dear.
Till next time!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wow a lot of time has passed.

Judy and Gord and Cammie have been and gone! They were here for 4 days, and are now off on a side trip to Thailand. I can't wait to get their views.

You can take some things in Singapore for granted, until you visit another Asian country. Singapore is a first world country. Other Asian countries are certainly not: Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. How Singapore has done what they have done in 47 years is truly remarkable.

The infrastructure here is excellent. The unemployment is low, the standard of living high. The man responsible, Lee Quan Yew, set out to make Singapore a business hub of Asia. He has done it. The businesses must pay a lot of tax, because income tax is 15%,  education to the end of high school paid, some health coverage for all residents, air quality  really very good, considering the population is 5,000,000.

Of course there is the other side of the coin; strict laws for everything imaginable, enforced strongly, secret police, cameras everywhere. But the city is easy. Traffic orderly, city safe , wonderful public transit, very little begging, (I have seen 3 in my 16 months here), and they encourage tattling, or reporting on anything out of the ordinary.

I actually think I am repeating myself. Sorry folks.

Judy and family and I went to Marina Bay Sands Hotel. That is the 51 story 3 towers hotel, with 2500 rooms, with the massive boat/swimming pool on top. If you haven't, you should google it. The Wades asked what they should see, what was the one thing they should be sure to see. For me it is MBS.

In the hotel lobby,  Judy engaged in a conversation with a hotel staff. That turned in to a private tour of the top. Instead of $20 each, to look over a fence to this amazing pool, we got to walk through the pool area, and they got the whole shpeel. Interesting though, the wonderful employee talked of a partnership between the builders and the government. I think the real story is the builders went bankrupt and the government bailed them out.

Another day we went to Little India, to the seven story, two building, 24 hour, 7 days a week, department store Mustafa. It is truly amazing. Makes Honest Ed's look like a small boutique! More than you can imagine of everything, including the kitchen sink. A whole department of chocolate, an area about 2,000 square feet!

I was able to take Judy to an FOM lecture on Indian painting telling a story. Meanwhile Gord and Cammie did a river cruise downtown. We then headed home to home cooking for Cammie, who is a real sport, 12 years old, and trying strange food. But she thought some was almost as good as back in Fort Erie!

When they left town, I did aother cooking class. This now my 4th here down the street. I should get good at this. I would like to be able to know the spices and curries for Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Singaporean cuisine.

I am back to my yoga every day. I really am making headway. As slow as it is, I can see progress. My pain is still silent, thank the Lord and alleluia,  and in some ways I am in better shape than before this whole awful year of fibromyalgia. So I am a happy camper. But I do see I have to stay with it, and if I miss a day or two I stiffen up.

I saw a wonderful movie, Midnight's Children. A book of Salman Rushdie's made in to a film. He did the screen writing and the narration. It was particularly interesting for me because I am reading his autobiography, Joseph Anton, about his years he lived in hiding during the fatwa.

The last 3 weeks we have been through the hottest weather I have experienced to date. Apparently April to July, yes JULY, are the hot months. I think I was so out of it last year, or every day seemed so hot, that I didn't notice. Actually I do recall July being moderate. Well it sure ain't moderate now. Very hot and very humid.

I am starting to think of trip home. I plan to come back in August and stay to October. Tim will come for 2 weeks in September for a wedding in Collingwood. Oops I am repeating myself. Sorry.

I'll sign off. Off to the gym. It's 8 p.m. but the gym is cool, actually cold, so it is easy to talk myself in to going.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A quiet moment

I have a bit of time, and am trying to stay awake and lively. Judy and Gord and Cammie arrive just after midnight tonight. So I will head out to the airport to  meet them at midnight.

Tim has gone to bed. He gets up at 3:30 a.m. -3:30 - and will not be home until tomorrow afternoon. A very early start to his day. And a late to bed for me. We can go days without really having a conversation or a meal together. I don't know how he does it. But he is blessed as a good napper. He can store up ahead and after these gruelling flights.

It has been a busy few weeks. It is now two months with no pain. Yippee!

I have done some cooking classes. A woman a 30 minute walk from here teaches vegetarian cooking in her home. I have done a Sri Lankan cooking class, a super foods class, a private where she gave me recipes for meals for Tim to take on these overnight flights. Good protein, no carb overhang of the sleepies. It is great. I have a goal - to be able to identify the difference between Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian, Malay, Sri Lankan, Indian cuisine/spices. Quite a challenge I think.

But I have a year.

I also want to learn Tai Chi. There are classes a 15 minute bike ride away, free, Saturday mornings at 6! Hmmm. My sleep is getting better so I am thinking of setting an alarm to get there. When in Rome. Well when in Asia I should learn Tai Chi. I learned some a few years ago. But I have lost it. I have not lost the wonderful feeling of focussing, and discipline. (My osteopath also said it would be really good for the fibro.)

We went to see Noir, a show by Cirque de Soliel, and it was fantastic. Maybe the most entertaining event I have ever seen. It was in a very small theatre, smaller than Stratford Festival Theater. A cast of maybe 20 performers put on the most entertaining, awesome, funny funny evening. Do catch it if it comes to a theater near you.

Not sure how the next few weeks will unfold. Judy and family will be taking trips from here, and whether I go with, or do some travelling of my own, remains to unfold. I have a friend in Georgetown that I might go visit. And I have to plan our trips to Maldives and Borneo for May and June.

The weather here is stinking hot. It really is as hot as it has been since coming Jan 2013. And has been so for weeks. Yikes!