Singapore -- Our Journey
Oct 31, 2004
|We arrived in Singapore on October 31 at 3 am. Clearing customs and picking up our luggage took 4 minutes, we caught a taxi, and were in our accomodation less than an hour after landing. The system is extremely efficient at the airport.
We booked into the Holiday Inn Parkview, because it was the middle of the night. Jungle across the street, television cameras that follow cars, and humid weather met us outside the front door. This was a great place for us to get started, as we had a good rest, and the environment was familiar.
We changed to a small hotel in Little India, -- as with many places, there is air conditioning in the room, but not the bathroom. Clean, simple breakfast, and great location for <$100. Around the corner there was a food court -- called "Hawker's Stalls" here. We were to find out that these places are everywhere. You can get decent food for $2.50 to $5.00 per plate. It is multiethnic, and it would take a year to learn what all of this food is. See the food section...
This place is walking distance to the hospital, through Little India. On the way we found a spectacular private swimming pool right across the road from the hospital, and Gerry registered as a senior member -- $2.50 per swim, usually with no one else in this 50 metre pool.
We asked around, phoned around, and visited a few places. There are many "serviced apartments" here, and we ended up at the Metropolitan YMCA -- 20 minutes to the hospital, including a All short bus ride. Three bathrooms, two bedrooms, cleaned weelky and new sheets once a week, and use of the YMCA facilities. This includes telephone, internet, towels, fax machine, and people to solve problems and answer the telephone for $2900 SG per month. The Singapore Dollar is about $0.72 Canadian.
This is Monsoon season in Singapore, and it rains, and then cools off. The rain is very heavy, and there is water everywhere. Actually, it is very cleansing for the city. I took a few pictures.
The subway and buses are frequent, inexpensive, and convenient. There is a card system which charges by distance, and used entry/exit information from every journey segment, buses and all. The subway is very clean. One day, we were sitting and waiting for a train, when this 110 year old man started talking to us - he had been a journalist for the local paper, in the 1920's. Now, he tutors in English, helps others where he can, and is very positive. It was refreshing to meet him.
Kester Brown put me in touch with an old friend in Singapore, KhooSiew Tuan,and her husband Evan. We have met her several times, and learned a lot from her about this place. One more connection through Pediatric Anesthesia friends --!
Early on in our stay, we went to Mt. Farber for a view of the harbour. The trip was mind-numbing for Darlene, as she is afraid of certain types of heights. It was a lovely place, however -- jungle, fish in ponds, humidity, and openness. So very different from where we normally live.
With this environment, there are some disadvantages - Dengue fever, which occassionally occurs in Hawaii, had 310 cases reported in one week in August alone, this year. The mosquitos hatch in fresh water in potted plants, and they bite during the day. Properties are sprayed with a fog, and owners can be fined $50 if they are found to have water sourced on their property that act as a source for the mosqitos to multiply.We have not seen any snakes in the wild, yet, but this is Cobra heaven.
It took 3 weeks for me to get a medical license and a work pass so that I could put my hands on patients, but it eventually worked out, and I was able to do some anesthesia, mostly to teach.I will do a summary of that experience later.