The Sisters were in town recently. Paul’s sisters Linda and Helen came from a land far, far away to pay us a visit and to stop by Bali and Cambodia along the way. We were happy to play hosts and guides, which for us just meant a good excuse to go out to eat (well, more that usual) It also spawned our very first Guest Blog Entry! Congrats.
So without further adieu:
First we want to thank our generous and thoughtful brother,Paul, for encouraging our visit, and planning our trip to make the most use of our 14 days in Southeast Asia. We couldn’t have done it without him! And a big thanks for Ryan for being such a great host.
Leaving Feb 14th from San Francisco and arriving Feb 16th to Singapore (where did Feb 15th go?); seeing Paul and Ryan waiting and waving at us through customs; we knew then that the long travel was already worth the effort.
The first thing I noticed about Singapore, (besides the English influenced driving), was how GREEN this big city appeared. I reminded myself we were in the tropics; nonetheless, compared to other big cities, and given the tremendous space restrictions, it was mature green everywhere. Apparently, Singapore also has a highly detailed and aggressive “Green Plan” for planning and sustainability of the city. I was really expecting a little more heat, given how Ryan and Paul complain of the heat and sun (and given Singapore is just 85 miles north of the equator). But it was delightfully “cool” at about 80-85 degrees or so, cloudy and rainy most of our stay in Singapore. During those brief moments when we had full on sun, coupled with the extreme humidity, I did get a taste of the weather I had heard of. I can honestly say, I’m glad we were there at the end of the rainy season! And being from northern AZ, where umbrellas are mere afterthoughts, I had a hard time remembering to take an umbrella with us.
Our tour of Singapore got off to a rocky start our first morning with some, well shall we say, sickness. It was not a pleasant morning for Paul nor Helen, but it did not get any worse! We are chalking those vomit events up to medicines on empty stomach. My small cold turned into coughing; convulsive at times, but the wheezing did not get in the way of food sampling or city tours! In fact, many of the foods helped to clear my sinuses!
Paul and Ryan introduced us to Little India, China town, wet markets, a world of new fruits, and bargaining for product our first day and a half. We also enjoyed a trip to a Hindu temple, foot massage, and Indian food. A highlight was also dinner with some of Paul and Ryan’s friends for dim sum at a local favourite The food was phenomenal, as was the company. We enjoyed Ryan’s demonstration on how to eat a pork soup dumpling. I will never forget that! I will say I feel better seeing and speaking with some of their friends I know they have always had a close circle of friends; ever widening; and I feel better knowing my “baby brother” is surrounded by some great folks in Singapore.
Helen and I proceeded to take two morning tours on our own to gain a further understanding of the history of the city; and specifically China town and the large influence (74%) Chinese have on the city. We did further shopping in Little India then prepared for our trip to Bali for 5 nights
Bali was paradise. We stayed in Ubud, specifically in a village known for wood and stone carving. We struggled (meaning Linda) with keeping purchases that would be able to make the flight back to Singapore. In the end, we made some very reasonable art purchases. Our days were packed with rice paddy tours, cycling tour, cooking class, spa, and temple visits. Something I really enjoyed about the tours was the fact that culture, farming, and history were all intertwined. We didn’t just get on a bike for a few hours. Many a stop to talk about this or that, visit a family, tea tasting, etc.
Last stop for Helen and I: Cambodia. Private tour with good friend of Paul and Ryan: Mooni. He speaks eloquent English, is studying for his MBA, and has never left the country of Cambodia. He is 33 and has a 7 yr old daughter. A few of our highlights with Mooni included peaceful sunrise of the quiet side of Angkor Wat, and a random invitation to a Cambodian wedding (in one of the 1,000+ villages that surround the great freshwater lake: Tonle Sap. )
A common thread of our visits were trying great local foods and shopping. We both traveled back to USA with a full oversized bag in addition to our regular baggage.
It was great!