Archive for Singapore

Goodbye Summer Vacation

latte-and-a-good-book-2-300x212Thank you summer vacation!

Last Friday I arrived back “home” in Singapore to glorious hot, sunny weather and a leisurely day at the condo capped off with an evening walk through Emerald Hill and dinner and lime juice at Warong M. Nasir Indonesian Food, one of my favorite inexpensive restaurants in the “hood.”

Today is National Day in Singapore and since my body’s still in travel adjustment mode (wide awake at 2 a.m. and again at 4, then desperate for a nap in late afternoon), I’ll take a few minutes on this holiday to return to my blog, hoping to create a new rhythm for blogging this second year in Singapore. As summer vacation wraps up, I’m reminded of the blessings in my life. Among these: an abundance of work that satisfies and challenges, and time to enjoy travel, family and friends, baseball, good coffee, and reading.

June travel took me to Phuket, Thailand for three relaxing days soon after school was out. Summer is off-season in Phuket. This translates to no crowds and (relatively) inexpensive luxury accommodations. The Indigo Pearl was a true gem of a hotel – my room even included a bathtub on the deck!


tsunami-photo-2-300x225Since the weather was iffy, I had time to sleep, read, walk, and discover the quiet of my location on the island, Nai Yang Beach. Unexpected pleasures included meeting the owner of La Maison while ducking out of the rain for coffee, then returning that evening for green curry with vegetables and bananas floating in warm coconut milk, the breath-holding quiet in anticipation of each night’s sunset, collecting unusual shells on my beach walks then happening upon Thai messages written in the sand, and the kind hospitality of the Indigo Pearl’s staff as they drove me to a local pharmacy for medication to sooth infected insect bites. My memories of Phuket are now etched by a handful of scars on my lower legs, the kindness of the locals, sobering reminders of the devastation this area experienced during the 2004 tsunami, and baffling names for cafes and massage businesses.  I mean, a restaurant in Thailand called “Aloha” that serves Thai and Swedish food?


A Thai massage hut with an unfortunate name?


Summer travel also included:

—  five days in New Orleans for the American Library Association’s annual conference (barely broke a sweat in the Nawlins’ heat – thanks to life in sticky Singapore), and a side trip to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to tour the DeGrummond Collection

—  three days in Toronto where I met with the editorial and writing team at Rubicon as we worked on Interface, an exciting literature-based project for teen readers (stay tuned for more about this)

—  Four (or was it five?) days in Vancouver, BC to fulfill the required 330 days “out of country” for income tax purposes

—   And never-enough-time in Bellingham and Seattle to enjoy family, friends, WWU colleagues, and Piggy, my nephew Trevor’s generous-sized (and appropriately named) cat!

I miss you already, Summer of 2011!


Twenty-Ten Pleasures ~ Part 1

G-H-poetry-cafe-wave-small-300x225In a few short hours Bellingham time, 2010 will be just a memory . . . one filled with more “new” than I imagined as I sat in front of my MacBook last December 31st.  A new passport.  A new home.  New city.  New friends.  New job.  New food finds.  New hairstyle (thanks to the humidity and the challenge of seeking someone who cuts non-Asian hair).  New appreciation for middle schoolers and for a teacher’s life. New, new, new.

My promise when we moved to Singapore was to maintain a blog — hoping it would allow me to keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues Stateside AND serve as a way to chronicle this new life. I got off to a rather decent start . . . and then teaching took over.

Thanks to those of you who followed along those first few months and apologies for becoming a blog drop-out.  My 2011 goal is to make time for more than teaching, including re-igniting the desire and B-I-C (butt in chair — thank you Debbie Wiles for that phrase!) requirement to kick start this blog again. I begin with this short but hearty salute to twenty ten . . . a year that expanded my notion of what I call home, a year that brought me full-circle as a teacher.

[Part 1 of] Ten (new) pleasures from this past year:

1) Middle Schoolers — Goofy, smart, roller-coaster-ride savvy.  They’ve taught me far more than I’ve taught them.  Who’d have imagined I’d look forward to a 5 a.m. alarm clock five mornings a week.  But I do and much of that is because of the gift of middle schoolers.


2) Top-notch Teaching Partner — Reminded of the rewards from collaboration, this teaching journey works because of my colleague/partner, Brian Arleth.  The hours devoted to planning, revising our plans, creating curriculum, sharing the read-alouds, discovering what engages (and doesn’t engage), and generally leaning on each other, have energized me professionally and personally.  Kudos to our administrators who created this partnership.  I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather teach with side-by-side at SAS than Brian.

3)  Life Without a Car — The MRT (mass rapid transit) has become my favorite form of transportation — reliable, clean, efficient, inexpensive, convenient, etc., etc. etc. Between the trains and buses (which we rarely use since we live .3 km from the closest MRT train station), we can get nearly everywhere in Singapore (as long as we head home by 11:30 p.m. — trains stop running before midnight EXCEPT on New Year’s Eve when they extend service to 2 a.m.).  It’s my “office on wheels” every afternoon as I either respond to student writing or read uninterrupted during the 30-40 minute journey from school to our condo.  Owning a car in Singapore is ungodly expensive, it’s a hassle to negotiate traffic, parking, auto taxes.  The MRT allows me anonymous time to work, people watch, rest.  I’ve become a mass transit addict!



4)  Bling — It’s everywhere — shoes, handbags, clothing, Christmas trees — and it’s not just for evening!  While I haven’t (yet) succumbed to too much sparkle, I find it’s creeping into my wardrobe (or at least into my shopping taste).  My newest flip-flops have a gem or two but not quite the glitter of the Singapore set.  I’ve become attracted to the sparkle and will need to make some adjustments when I return to the States (how will it go with my Bellingham fleece?).  For now, I’m enjoying the gemology, curious how much of it I’ll own in the next year and a half.


5)  Shoe Obsession — For the fashionistas in SE Asia (and also in Australia), shoes are the thing (second only to short, skinny dresses).  The higher the heel, the better. Or so it appears.  While I’m not a convert (not enough skinny — or balance — in me), it makes for good people watching.

❧                ❧                ❧                ❧                ❧                ❧                ❧

Since this blog entry has exceeded my intentions (that’s what happens when I wait two months between writing), I’ll save the last five 2010 pleasures for the next blog entry (to come very soon, I promise).  If you’re still reading, thanks for your interest and welcome to a brand new year . . .

Goodbye October

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAAs another month wraps up, I can’t help but wonder, “Where in the world did October go?”  I’m fairly certain I’ll feel the same way when the last day of 2010 approaches, at the end of our first year here, and (no doubt) when my two-year Singapore commitment runs out.

Highlights of this month include: a blissful four days in Bali (see previous post), weekend ventures around Singapore (including this afternoon’s prowl around Chinatown), Singapore American School events (most notable was last week’s high school musical production of “Grease” — remarkably talented cast, including a surprise appearance by Tim Stuart, the HS principal singing “Teen Angel”), parent-teacher conferences, and 8th graders’ Halloween costumes.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAMy commitment to get more sleep means I now try to turn out the light by midnight.  I need to make a new resolution for November (light’s out by 11 p.m.?) because the only time I meet this goal is on Friday nights when I’m so exhausted, I can barely keep my eyes open on my MRT ride home from school.

So, in an effort to end October in style — and before midnight turns into November, I’ll blog-out “early” with more “voices” of my 8th graders in their assorted Halloween garb.  Enjoy!