Lowest Ground

Singapore, Thoughts & Reflections 4 Comments »

At The Inn-Crowd Hostel, the row of five new shower stalls have clean, grey tile floors that pitch slightly towards the back wall. The water from each shower runs into a gutter of sorts, which pitches to the left carrying all the runoff from each shower away. A modern reproduction of a medieval drainage system. Last night I mistakingly chose the shower at lowest ground.

As many showered at once, the single drain could not handle the dirt, sweat, hair and extra’s that flowed with the water, so we began to have a little backing up issue in my stall. Not long after that, someone did the liquid nasty. My first means of perception was olfactory. I thought sweat, I thought toilet. Then the color came. And it was dark. Even diluted in the dirty shower water of three or four; it was dark.

Travel Planes

Singapore, Thoughts & Reflections 1 Comment »

It feels like I’m traveling on so many different levels. There’s the obvious one, where I’m physically moving around the planet, constantly seeing, tasting and hearing new things. But there’s more.

I’m traveling through the other travellers I meet. Daily I have conversations with people from far away, whose life path has crossed mine. I’ve met a guy on a two year journey around the world researching to write a book on spiritual contemporary art, a kid from Canada who decided to move to New Zealand and gave away everything he owned all in a matter of ten days and an English girl who was traveling with her mother in the safety of Singapore where mom wouldn’t let her go out alone at night, even though she had just come from a solo visit to the drug trafficking towns of South America. I met two girls from Jordan, that were surprised I’d even heard of their home since most they met have not, a model from Vancouver who’s walked runways and shot magazines in Italy, New York and Hong Kong and countless Germans and Australians on round the world journeys. One could simply sit in a hostel all day and by smelling the foods cooked, hearing the languages spoken and meeting all the guests that come in and out, feel as if they’re traveling the world.

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Night Safari

Singapore 2 Comments »

The other night I and some friends I made here went to the Night Safari. It’s a drive thru zoo that you can go to in the dark. I’ve got mixed feelings about zoos in general, but there’s no doubt I enjoyed seeing nocturnal animals during their waking hours.

The scariest were the two foot fruit bats that hung from the ceiling of a cage went inside of. They swayed above our heads and we stared straight up at them. Suddenly, one let go and dropped at us. Everyone ducked and yelped as the thing caught flight and glided past.

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Floating Village

Cambodia 1 Comment »

It cost us another $10 to have our driver to take us down a dusty road from the city to the river. We didn’t know anything about the floating village, except that he insisted we see it. He pulled over at a small building with three walls, a roof and a table where a couple men sat surrounding a metal cash box. I haggled with them on the exchange rates between the boat price listed in Cambodian Riels, my payment in Thai Baht and their change in US currency.

Back on the dusty road, I imagined how dry it must be during the dry season. The street dropped off on both sides into small waterways. Shacks stood high on skinny stalk legs. They didn’t look safe, but obviously held their weight against the rush of a wet season’s river. As we drove on, it became more congested. Stilted bamboo houses lined the entire road. The driver we had this day spoke some English. He told us the government lets the people live there for free, since they are too poor to afford anything else.

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I Left My Shoes In Bangkok

Singapore No Comments »

My bag’s still too heavy. The train ride and walk from Singapore airport to my hostel proved that. I’ve been shedding things here and there, but it hasn’t been easy to decide what to give up. The hiking boots I haven’t used yet are heavy, but they’re brand new and my busted ankle won’t support me off road without them. Although a bulk of the weight, there’s no way I’m giving up any of my electronics yet. So when heading out of my guestroom for the taxi yesterday, I opted to leave my shoes sticking heels up out of the trash can. I’d been wearing my flip flops for a week plus the puma’s were pretty beat up, so I figured it was a good move.

After arriving last night, I met with some friends of Phil (who I met in Bangkok) at a bar downtown. We talked about economics, the rules of rugby and “expat” life in Singapore. Then off to Clarke Quay where they could take me to their favorite late night club. The bouncer had the biggest diamond earing I’ve ever seen; super-bling that swung like a star on a string as he shook his head at my flip flops.

Too bad I left my shoes in Bangkok.

Angkor Wat

Cambodia 2 Comments »

Angkor Wat is one of the seven something wonder’s of the world. I can attest, since seeing it was quite wonderful. Here’s a quick history in case your interested. Think Roman Empire, but Hindu/Buddhist and in the middle of the jungle.

Wat means temple. The entire area surrounding Angkor Wat (the largest temple) is called Angkor. Many other amazing temples are located in Angkor. Since we were in Cambodia for such a short time, there was no way we could see them all, but we tried!

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Singapore Bound

Plans & Itineraries, Singapore No Comments »

Today I saved $2 by taking the skytrain then searching on foot for the Indian Embassy. Not that it was worth it, since I arrived 45 minutes too late to apply for a visa. The process takes three days plus they’re closed on the weekend and Wednesday is a holiday, so instead of waiting a week to leave Bangkok, I booked a seat on Scandanavian Airlines flight # SK 973 to Singapore for tomorrow. $100 for an international flight purchased twenty four hours prior to departure! Why doesn’t it work like that in the states?

I’ll be staying here, for the first few nights anyway. Singapore’s one of the most modern cities in the world and the economic powerhouse of Asia. I’m looking forward to some western lifestyle before a month of curry, monks and monkeys. If all goes as planned, I’ll be taking pictures of the Taj Mahal by next weekend.

Phnom Phen – Part 4 of 4 – Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide

Cambodia 1 Comment »

From the killing fields Won brought us to another place where massive numbers of murder and torture took place. The Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide in Phnom Phen was once a high school, but during the reign of the Khmer Rouge it became a torture camp, prison and execution center. The walls previously meant to give studying students an escape from the busy city, were lined with barbed wire and became barriers of imprisonment. The museum sits in the center of a suburban neighborhood, just like any school would. Inside things are as unchanged as at the killing fields.

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Phnom Phen – Part 3 of 4 – Killing Fields

Cambodia No Comments »

I know very little about the history surrounding the genocides committed in Cambodia in the 1970’s. The reasons for war never seem to make much difference when faced with the horror of it. I do have the stories I was told and how they affected me. And they did affect me.

The car door magically swung open and two little brown hands shot towards my lap; palms up and hopeful. I’d been preoccupied thinking about Won’s stories and wasn’t expecting another challenge of the heart. Outside the car I was surrounded by beautiful, three foot, skin and bone children so anxious and hopeful that I had something for them. Each had a well practiced, well pronounced English phrase that cut through me.

“Take your picture! One dollar! Take your picture!” “Just one dollar please! One dollar please!” “Please mister, please mister…”

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Phnom Phen – Part 2 of 4 – Stories of Won

Cambodia No Comments »

When a Cambodian speaks of their family, they don’t usually mean the immediate family. They consider aunts, uncles and cousins to be family and stay very close, often all living under the same roof. Won’s family lived in a village that sits sixty five kilometers from the Vietnam border. In 1970 the neighboring war was raging and Vietcong were crossing into Cambodia to hide in the many border villages, including Won’s. When the US government learned of this they started bombing villages in Cambodia.

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