OK, seems like time to catch up with this journal. Sorry for the lateness.
After two long flights, I arrived in Singapore on Thursday morning, smelling like I hadn't had a shower in two days. My best girl arrived the day before. She was staying with a friend and had asked if I wanted her to find me someone to stay with. Her friends in Singapore couldn't put me up, but they asked some friends, who asked some other friends, and suddenly I was staying with this family that--as near as I could tell--no one really knew. Jeff and Karen are Chinese Australians who used to live in Canada, but now they live in a really cool high-rise near a monkey park on the outskirts of Singapore and apparently really like to keep wandering missioners in their spare bedroom. I'm not sure the cruise with my parents counts as mission work, though helping my dad with his socks definitely qualifies as work. They had told me the address to give to the taxi, but why take a taxi when Singapore has a good subway. So, I drug my two suitcases and my backpack on two trains and a long walk including a climb up an overpass to get to Jeff and Karen's. Jeff was home. It didn't take long for the conversation to turn to a polite way of saying, "Why are you staying at my house?" Good question. My friend Lisa talked to someone I don't know who talked to someone else and...here I am. He looked a little doubtful but didn't throw me out. Karen had told me to plan dinner with them, so, after a long shower, I texted Lisa the address and went back to the train station to meet her. We had a nice dinner and I kept dosing off and Lisa and Karen chatted. Karen was trying to find a polite way to ask the same question--Why is it Paul is staying with us again?
I suppose I should have planned to do a little sight-seeing or something. How often do you get a chance to hang out in Singapore? But all I really wanted to do was crawl into bed. After dinner, Jeff offered to take Lisa back to the train station. I rode with them, but crashed as soon as we got back to the apartment.
On Friday, Mom, Dad, my sister Kim, and her two grand-daughters, Katelyn and Haley, were to arrive in Singapore. Lisa was across town from the place I was squatting, so we decided to all meet at the airport. I got up early, got some breakfast, and got my bags together to head out. There was a bug flying around the living room and I sort of wandered why no one killed it. Jeff and Karen have this house-keeper who made us dinner, cleaned up, left and went to church at 10 p.m. and was back early enough to have breakfast ready for me at 7 a.m. Yikes. It turned out that the bug was a butterfly. Jeff and Karen's 5 year old had been watching it from caterpillar to cocoon, and now to butterfly. He would not have been happy if I had squashed it and I'm pretty sure that would have been a sign to Jeff that I did not belong in his house. OK, another sign. When the little boy got up, cheering and excitement were the activities for the morning. His parents had a hard time pulling him away from his bug long enough to brush his teeth and put on clothes for school.
"Don't walk to the train," Jeff told me. We can drop you on the way. We're leaving in just a few minutes. Dragging my baggage up and over the overpass again was not my best case scenario, so I quickly agreed. When I got into the car, they started discussing what station to take me to. "We're headed into town. We might as well take him closer." So, we ended up dropping off the kid at school and waiting while Mom went to see that he was settled in and ok. Then, we headed to Karen's work. Finally, Jeff dropped me off at a train station that was at least five minutes closer to the airport. And it had only taken us 55 minutes to get there.
Everyone was waiting for me when I arrived.
Now you would think that I would have learned something from all my dragging bags around trains for two days, but I don't learn much of anything very fast. So, here we go--Mom, Dad, Kim, Katelyn, Haley, Lisa, and me--dragging our bags onto one train, then another. We had arranged to rent an entire appointment through Airbnb. Our host was Pineapple. Hm. What do I know about names in Singapore? Pineapple had told us that we needed to take a cab to the apartment, but I just took that as a challenge. Everyone was hot, tired, and sore...but I had gotten us within a couple of blocks from the apartment.
"No," Pineapple said, "you cannot walk up with all your suitcases. You must arrive in a taxi and he must bring you to the secret basement door." What? Pineapple was a bit of a freak, I decided. Nevertheless, we started hailing cabs. It took us four of them to get the 7 of us plus about 11 suitcases the two blocks to Pineapple's house. The reason for the cloak and dagger was that Airbnb is actually illegal in Singapore. Great. I'm an alien in a land known for caning people who don't follow the law and I am sneaking into a din for thieves. We are the Hole in the Wall gang. Butch and Sundance would show up at any moment; I just knew it. What's more? Pineapple is an alias. The guy's real name turned out to be Ryan. Seriously now, if you were smuggling people into the Hiding Place and you wanted an alias, would you choose Pineapple?
We left our bags and went out to see Singapore. First stop, Lau Pau. It is a market that dates back to colonial times and now has a giant food court. Singapore is really a multi-cultural mix-mash, so Lau Pau has stalls that sell Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Hamburgers. Barbecued stingray is a local delicacy. Dad picked that. It smelled like...well, dead fish that had been laying out for a few weeks. I passed. Mom was suffering from olfactory overload, so I went shopping. I stopped first at a Thai vendor for some curry. I took it back to mom and asked her if she wanted it. She said she would taste it. Meanwhile, I found an Indian vendor and got some naan and chicken. The curry was too spicy for mom, so I gave her the Indian and dug into the Thai.
The Merlion. The Singapore Flyer. The Singapore Bay. Katelyn and Haley hated it all. They were hot and tired and I was dragging them on the forced march of Singapore of 2017. All they really wanted was to go to bed. I was talking, Night Safari. They kept talking bed. "This is good for Uncle Paul; he does this for a living." I'm not sure they quite get the job of seminary professor. Hm.
We 86ed the zoo, grabbed some food at the mall, and went back to the hide-out for a night's rest.
The illegal apartment was actually gorgeous. Great view of the city. The beds were thrown directly onto the floor, but I figured that would be appropriate--probably the same kind of beds we would have in prison. Dad decided he could sleep on the mattress on the floor, but he would never be able to get back up. So, he slept half the night on the love seat and the rest in a comfy chair. Lisa and mom took one bedroom, Kim and the girls the other, and I slept on the mattress on the floor in the living room so I could help dad get up in case of a swat raid.
On Saturday morning, Kim and I went in search of donuts for breakfast. We found this bakery that wasn't open. But we started snatching up goodies as they set them out for customers. I mean, real customers. The kind who come to buy things when the store is actually open. Starbucks sold us a box of coffee. We got ready and prepared to flee through the hidden access port in the basement to go to the boat.
We were off to a great start.