Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Exploring Singapore: First Impressions

Hello from Singapore!!!
Yes, I am wearing a shirt in this picture, it just doesn't have sleeves. 

I've been here for over 24 hours, and I haven't yet truly grasped that fact.

Part of the reason for this is because the trip here felt immeasurably surreal. Saturday morning I got up, went for a run, grabbed a green juice at Healeo with my mom, and waited around a bunch. My first flight left Seattle at 6:55, and it was a short trip to San Francisco. Our plane ended up landing a bit before 9, earlier than expected. I couldn't check in for my next flight for another hour, so I grabbed a salad (and a coffee- my next flight was at 1am) and continued reading a book I'd bought at the SeaTac Airport. I checked in around 10:00 and continued to read until about 12:45am, when they started boarding my flight. At this point everything started to get a bit dream-like because I was so tired, and I couldn't really fathom the fact that I had so much more flying left to do...

I can't actually tell you how long that next flight was. According to my official itinerary, it was supposed to have been 15 hours. To me, it felt like a week. You know how old accounts of ocean voyages across the world speak of "lengthy journeys" and the way time just seems to blend together? That's what this flight felt like. I was exhausted but couldn't get comfortable in any sort of position in order to sleep- when I was finally adjusted enough to at least rest a bit, the flight attendant came around with our "supper". I'm still not sure what kind of timeline they were operating on- to my confused brain, it was about 2am. I ate, and half-slept for a time, eventually realizing that my tray had been removed and all the cabin lights had been shut off. The next 6-ish hours were a horrendous muddle of uncomfortable sleeping positions, wishing I wasn't wearing contacts and dubious glances at the plane clock (we can't really have 10 more hours left??). Eventually I'd gotten enough rest, I guess, and I felt energized and awake- but the rest of the plane was asleep and all the lights were off. I had a window seat and the nice old Asian guys next me were sleeping, so I couldn't get up. I opened the window shutter and discovered that it was actually dark outside, too. I gazed at the stars for a bit- that was amazing- and then just kind of waited impatiently for "morning". It was kind of like having a really long bad dream...

FINALLY, we were served "breakfast" and our arrival to the Hong Kong airport was announced, around 5:30am their time. We landed, some people left completely, and those of us continuing on to Singapore got off, crossed the airport to go through security again, and looped back to return to the plane. This was a hassle, but it felt wonderful to watch the sun rise through the airport windows and just stretch our legs.

The last flight was short, only 3 hours. I was completely awake by then and just watched "The Other Woman" and read a bit. Good movie, for all interested.

I expected to feel some kind of big, this-is-it type of emotion. But I didn't. I had a great sense of relief to just be NOT on a plane and total confusion about what time it was (I had Seattle time and Singapore time both on my phone, but we'd just been in Hong Kong and what time was that? And I'd been traveling for 25 hours officially so in theory it should be 7:55 on August 31st but I'd skipped that day completely and gone straight on to 11:30am on September 1st!). This was quickly overwhelmed by a sense of chaotic urgency. Where was my IPA (visa substitute), my passport, did I really need my ticket stub? WHY ARE THEY TURNING ME BACK FROM IMMIGRATION? Oh, all I have to do is fill out this card? Great. Where is my luggage??? Ah, the other carousel. Gotcha. Okay. Taxi?

Luckily, I happened to be flying with two of the guys going to my school, Jevaugn and Edgar, and we all went to buy phone cards and exchange money before sharing 2 cabs to campus (our luggage wouldn't all fit in one). Looking out the cab window was probably where I started realizing where I was. Everything looked like this.

Also, just being out of the airport was HOT. Not so hot now, as I sit here in my dorm room with the window open, 2 fans circling and the AC on full, but enough that I'm laughing at myself for packing things like my running half-tights... who was I kidding? I won't be wearing much more than shorts here. It's humid, is the thing- you get sweaty just sitting at your desk. At the same time, it's nice. I get to have summer.... all year, I guess!

Ah, as I've mentioned I'm in my dorm room... I'm sharing with three other great girls, from China, Indonesia and Syria. We have a super-nice room (in my opinion- my dorm closet actually has more space than my closet back home!) and a great view of the city (which some of you may have already seen on my Instagram). We have bedding provided by the school, our door opens right into a common room with 5 fridges, 2 microwaves and 2 toasters, plus cupboards and a table.

So I am more than okay with this whole dorm thing. :) Plus, here's my campus this afternoon...

The whole building is literally right across the street from Hort Park, which I've been running through and exploring. It's harder to run near any of the streets because you have to stop for crosswalks... Jaywalking at home is no big deal, but in a country where it is very illegal I am not taking chances.

 So this park is cool enough that I went back this afternoon with my camera to take some pictures. There's no way I can capture the scope of it all on film, but I hope this gives you all a glimpse into exactly what it's like to be in Singapore.... Well, in Hort Park at least!

Just so you know, monkeys are a thing here. Haven't seen any yet, but I'm looking!!

Tomorrow is our the first day of orientation (required dress: business suits) and within the next few weeks I need to find a job if I want to eat, so it's not going to be this kind of sunny freedom all the time. But the minute I have some free time, you can bet I'll be back exploring this amazing island (and of course, sharing my explorations here). :)

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