4 Countries, 3 Continents, 2 Weeks: Singapore / by vanessa

It occurs to me that the way I write these accounts here will shape the way that I remember them.  If I write only of the lush, cosmopolitan tropics of Singapore and the gratitude with which I am traveling the world, will I forget that I also felt sometimes lonely?  If I only catalog the excitement and glee, is it as if the undercurrent never existed?  And will that matter?  I wish I knew the implications of either so that I could make a proper decision. At any rate, Singapore is a lovely city. With its ample high-end shopping, futuristic skyscrapers, and knoll-filled parks, it is both elegant and bucolic.  It's green like Hawaii and small like Rhode Island.   The island is 41 sq miles, or something.  I'm not much for facts.  Singapore is also humid.  I have an afro.

We arrived on Wednesday night.  When we checked, the five us (my co-workers and I) decided to get a bite to eat at the hotel's "casual" restaurant.  (We're at a Four Seasons hotel, so casual is like, not.)  I opened up the menu and spied what was called "Women's Health Soup."  The soup listed vitality and balance as its benefits.  Sounds promising.  Among its ingredients:  Chinese herbs, ginseng, birds nest, mushrooms, seafood broth.

Turns out birds nest is bird saliva.  That's right.  I ATE BIRD SPIT, PEOPLE.  I AM INVINCIBLE.

Thursday night, the VP of global marketing took us dinner and drinks.  He's the kind guy who works a social situation with ease, deftly brokering new conversation.  (Read:  makes socially awkward people like me feel like we're not going to die.)  Two other colleagues from the Singapore office - equally as hospitable - met us. The eight of us drank wine in a converted military base, surrounded by thick, green hills, and mosquitos at our ankles.  After, we walked over for some of the best Asian cuisine I’ve ever had – a colloquial family-style restaurant, bustling with people enjoying themselves over modest food.  I got drunk.  It felt good.  It's been a lot of working, a lot of thinking a lot and a lot of travelling.  I welcomed the brief respite of wine and conversation over a good meal.

To each of the interviews we've conducted we’ve brought M&Ms and candies.  In Australia one of the interviewees remarked, “How American of you,” but I’m pretty sure she secretly enjoyed them.  On Friday, we ran out of candies for our afternoon sessions, and in sweet turn, the interviewees brought candy for us.  Simple things make me smile.

For dinner on Friday, two colleagues (who are also married and exquisite hosts), took us out for drinks at a nearby pub, and then to a great restaurant called Graze.  The others questioned the logic behind me ordering salt and pepper chips with herbed aioli (also know as french fries) and a microgreens and beet salad.  In my mind it’s an obvious pairing.  If you love french fries as much as I do, but you’ve been told by your naturopath that they are basically the “worst food you could possibly eat, Vanessa; I can’t believe you eat those,” then it would make perfect sense to you to balance the french fries by eating something with nutrients.  Obviously.

Saturday started with an 8 a.m. conference call, lasting for almost two hours, and extended with more work until 5:30 when I rushed to take a shower and get ready for a quick bite before the airport.  I was able to lie by the pool with my laptop and MS Word, and at least one of our meetings was over beer.  Beer makes me less argumentative.  *Sigh*.  Less.

After dinner we each had an hour to get some shopping in.  I tried to shop.  I really did.  But I couldn't shop under duress, so I went for a stroll instead.  I happened my way into a makeshift flee market right outside of a 7-11.  The experience of hearing the constant calls of “Two dollar! Only two dollar!  You want shoes?  One dollar!  Shoes one dollar!” more than made up for the silk wares I had hoped to purchase.