Friday, February 24, 2012

One blur of a Year Later



It is really hard to believe that it has been 1 full year, since we left the tundra in Minnesota for the tropical little Red Dot on the map.  The kids had no idea what they were in for.  Then again, neither did we. 
"Where are we going mommy?"

The blizzard we left behind.

Half of our (okay mine and the kid's) 2-year vacation is now a memory.  We have several picture books put together to flip through and remember, in awe, that we actually did that, saw that, met that person,  touched a point of history with our own hands...it has all been so surreal.  We will look back on these memories and pictures in years to come, with a new perspective of the big world out there.  We are really enjoying our life abroad.

There are moments that all I want, is to be back in our house in Minne, sitting on the couch, relaxing in the comfort of knowing.  Knowing where to go for certain food; knowing how to get places, feeling comfortable driving there, on the right side of the road; knowing I will find a show with some real drama to watch on television on any given night of the week; knowing how things work; knowing where I will be in a year later; knowing most of our family and friends are just a short drive away.

Then, an email pops into my inbox showing the kid's elite status from the airlines and think, wow! There aren't a whole lot of toddlers out there that can say they have a passport, with 7 stamps from various countries in it. 

Riley has lived half of his life in Asia! Didn't see that coming. 

Every single day of the last year has been an adventure.  Whether we leave our apartment building or not, we meet someone from a different part of the world.  A different accent, different language, different experiences, similar goals: get settled in to this new life and learn as much as possible from the opportunity ~ it won't last forever.

We have learned so much about ourselves, our way of life, the comforts we can't live without (aircon, Welch's fruit snacks, good microwave popcorn, wifi, Haribo gummy bears) and have grown independently, as well as a family.  Figuring it all out together, because there is nobody else that completely understands the situation.

February 24, 2012 ~ one year later

There is so much more to see and experience in the next year, it is going to be hard to fit it all in.  I can see our remaining year dwindling as quickly as the previous.  Time...never enough time...very excited for the adventures planned in the coming months though. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kevin Goes to Taiwan

This traveling business man goes all over Asia, India and the Pacific several times throughout the year.  He often sends me a picture or an update of his travel that he says I can blog about....ummmm....okay.  But, I wasn't there, so I really don't know how I can write about your experience.  Maybe you should write it?
Well, he doesn't have time.  So, here is his most recent picture he emailed me.  I have no idea whether he was just toolin' around, at lunch, or maybe this was his Saturday golfing adventure? Use your imagination...Good pictures though! 


Wish I could tell you who the other guy is, but I really don't know.

Dedicated to: the handsome bald man in this picture! Love you! xo

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Are you in pain ma'am?

Sign posted at the head of massage table in the room.


I have had many great massages throughout my life, the most incredible therapists remove the tight knots without me even noticing. No pain, only relaxation ~ pure bliss!  Moving to Asia, I was expecting a lot of this at really low prices. 

My first massage was a little shocking when the therapist hopped up on the table with me, straddling my legs and putting her entire body weight into my back, massaging everthing not covered by the disposable underwear they provide. 

From then on, I have prepared myself for the moment she hops up over me, but I still tense for a brief second, as she invades my bubble.

The focus over here is much different than at home.  In the US, the therapist is willing to focus on my back, neck and shoulders, as requested.  Here, I go in demanding the "Back Breaker" several times, before proceeding.  Agreeing, the therapist still goes for the legs and feet. Why do you have this massage listed, if nobody knows how to do it?  If I wanted a one hour foot massage, I would have made an appointment next door at the Foot Reflexology hut for a fraction of the price.

Today, I particularly needed some extra attention on the knots in my upper back.  Requesting the "Back Breaker" 90-minute massage upon booking, again at check-in, again when the lady showed me to my room, yet again, when the therapist entered the room and asked how long and type of massage, she proceeded to start on the legs...okay, that's fine.  She'll be quick and move onto the area I requested.

"Are you in pain ma'am?"
"Yes, that does hurt a bit."
"Oh, you must have much pain, you very tight in your leg...."

(Well, considering I ran 6km this morning, half of which was at a steady, pretty steep incline, I would expect my calves to be a bit sore.  It's okay with me.  It's the good sore.  The sore you can grow to appreciate, because I know that eventually, this sore will pay off with results.)

"...I will have to use more pressure to make pain go away."
"Ummmm....well, I guess you can try a little more pressure." She proceeds to work my now, cramping, very tight calf.  "OKAY! that's enough.  That really hurts!"

"OH! YOU BE BABY NOW!!!"

"Excuse me???" I'm not sure whether to laugh or run. Did she really just call me a baby?  I laugh to myself, face pressed into the face hole on the table, as I always laugh in an awkward moment. 

Silence, as she moves to a different muscle with the same amount of deep tissue, times three, pressure.  I hear drums beating in a distance and suddenly a door slams.  Never mind...no drums, just the therapist next door performing his grand finale cupping/punching procedure on the poor victim's back.

Contemplating telling my therapist to just go ahead and skip the other leg, I keep quiet, afraid of her reaction.  She goes back to the calf.  It now feels like it may be bleeding under the skin from her persistence. 

"It will hurt now, but feel good later, lah."
"Right.  I'm pretty sure it won't, so you can just continue on to my back."

For some reason, I can't seem to find a massage house that will actually go easy on the legs and feet around here.  I don't know what it is, or who actually finds pleasure in the pain?  My legs were actually only a little sore going in, but quite cramped following the massage ...I don't get it? A massage that makes it worse?

I have come out of a session at a highly recommended massage hut a few months ago, with a few bruises on my legs and back.  Needless to say, I have never stepped foot in that place again.

"Would you like to top-up your membership ma'am?"

"No. No, I really don't."

Javanese, Balinese, Traditional, Thai ~ will someone PLEASE explain the difference to me!?

I will continue this quest in search of the relaxing bliss that I actually enjoy, but I really don't know how much more of this pain I can handle!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thaipusam 2012 - Singapore

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Thaipusam 2012 - Singapore, a set on Flickr.



Unbelievable.

Until I saw these people barefoot with giant fish hooks, skewers and other metal spikes several feet long piercing their bodies and hauling large heavy structures, I never would have imagined this practice still being observed, especially, in such a developed country.

Hindus subject themselves to painful rituals (piercing themselves with hooks, skewers and small lances) in honor of the Thaipusam festival in Singapore and Malaysia.

The colorful celebration is a period of both abstinence and fasting, and is observed as a day of thanksgiving and paying penance in commemoration of the day when the Hindu Goddess Pavarthi gave her son Lord Muruga -- the god of war and fertility -- an invincible lance with which he destroyed evil demons. (Wikipedia).

Hindus believe they are cleansed of all sins and their misdeeds can be redeemed by observing these strict rituals and prayers during Thaipusam. Some devotees carrying heavy ornate structures called kavadis as they walk barefoot, while others have their tongues, cheeks and backs pierced.

We were watching from the end of the route, after the devotees had gone through the Tank Road Temple with their offerings. So, many had already disconnected their carriages that they had been pulling and a few had removed some hooks.  Still...unbelievable.

Seeing the hooks and skewers removed looked more painful than seeing them attached to the body.  Ready to collapse from the pain as they are pulled out, one by one.

These devotees walked over 4km this morning enduring the pain, some still dancing around at the completion.  Others, gesturing for support from their followers, as they walked into the final tent for removal of the piercings. 

They can not talk with the large skewers through their cheeks and mouth, so they are surrounded by others closely observing, in case help is needed.

We kept our distance, so I didn't have to worry about the kids getting in the way or grabbing at anything they shouldn't be touching. 

These people are dedicated, or crazy, I'll let you make your own opinion!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chingay 2012

88-meter long Prosperity Flying Dragon and the Phoenix floated/danced through to start the parade (Singapore Flyer and the Formula 1 stadium in the background). 

I have never experienced a parade on the water! Leave it to Singapore to come up with such a brilliant idea for their 40th Anniversary of  The Chingay Parade 2012 for the Chinese New Year and it was spectacular!

The word Chingay is from the Hokkien dialect, of which the Mandarin equivalent is Zhuang Yi (??), meaning "the art of masquerade". The festival began as a neighbourhood parade with only Chinese elements in 1973. Today, the Chingay Parade has evolved to be the grandest street and floats parade in Asia, showcasing the rich, vibrant multi-culturalism of Singapore and exciting cultures all over the world. To all Singaporeans, the next Chingay Parade is a parade of our people, our dreams and our pride! (Chingay website).

The parade wasn't actually in the bay, it went down a man-made waterway with ankle deep water flowing through.  The lights and fire flames reflected from the ground, as well as sparkling from the object itself.  9,000 volunteers took part in the parade, dancing, singing, playing drums - Performing their culture to the audience.

Dragon breathing fire.


Human Dragon Dance. (video)

Sorry about the videos.  I accidentally deleted most, thinking they were terrible still-shots and this is what is left.

(video)





The passion the people have for this parade was felt through all of the fabulous performances from so many cultures around the world.  Everyone had to have put all their energy and imaginations into these displays for this spectacular show for months. They were all so different.

The music, the lights, the dance, costumes and the energy that came from everyone at the parade was inspiring and just so....excited and happy! 

The close of the Chinese New Year 2012 celebration ~ Year of the Dragon ~ leaves us smiling and hopeful, that we will keep that smile and positive energy for the rest of the year.


More posts on Chinese New Year 2012:

Lion Dance

Chinese Lunar New Year 2012

Our 1st Two Oranges

Traditional Yu Sheng


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