Apr 6, 2007

Singapore Sojourn Day 7: "Wrapping Up & On My Own"

The class poses at the entrance to the Singapore Art Museum

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Our last day in Singapore. We'd left the schedule fairly open for this day--mainly we intended to shop. Our only "official" activity for the day was a visit, at Barbara's insistance, to the Singapore Art Musuem. Barbara is adamant that when we take the students to big-city destinations for the class trip that the kids be exposed to a little culture. . .and by that she doesn't mean traipsing through Little India. She means classical music and fine art. We don't have access to much of either on our little island so when we travel to a place that has an active "arts" scene she makes sure we take advantage of it.

We left our cubicle-sized rooms at the Fragrance and had breakfast at a nearby hawker stand. During the meal we tried to figure out where we wanted to "go back to" once we were finished at the Art Museum. The Treasurer wanted to go to upscale malls. Holly wanted to go to the malls but also Little India and Chinatown. Micronesian Queen and Korea had zero interest in going back to the ethnic districts. If they wanted to go to any shopping center, they preferred it be a mall. To be frank, they were pretty much done shopping. They didn't care what we did, though they did make some noises about the possibility of just hanging out at the hotel all day. One thing about traveling with kids: their lack of adventurousness can be somewhat disheartening. Every year we'll have the kids who only want to eat at McDonalds and KFC, shop in malls, and hang out in the hotel. The boys in particular seemed to be completely underwhelmed and uninterested in experiencing new things (though I concede they took pictures of virtually everything). They also hated walking (which we did a lot of) and let us know their distaste for it with much vocal groaning each time I announced we'd be going somewhere on foot. Of course not all the students are like this. There are always the kids who totally embrace the experience--they want to see and do and try and experience everything. They're curious, adventerous, fun. Holly was one such student--she was a joy to travel with.

I confess I was struggling with whether to offer to take the kids--especially Micronesian Queen and Korea-- to a theme park that had been tenatively placed on our itinerary (but that the kids had apparently forgotten about). The roller coasters and thrill rides would have perked them up, no doubt. However, I also knew that we had already used up all our class money. Dear Wilhel at the Southeast Asia Union Mission Office had offered to bill us for our lodging there so we'd had the cash that we'd put aside for that available. But that was now spent. By Wednesday, Barbara and I were paying for food, transportation, and other costs out of our own personal funds--our meager line of credit on the credit card and a couple of trips to the ATM pull cash out of our bank account. The money we would have to pay the Mission plus the money that would be reimbursed to us would have to be raised, and trip to the amusement park would only add to the debt. I decided not to say anything, and consigned the kids to another today of hoofing it around Singapore from one shopping district to another.

In the end our itinerary for the day looked like this:
Art Museum
Babs takes kids up to the Woodlands mall, while I shop on my own in Little India & Chinatown.
I then take the MRT to Woodlands, meet the group, and take the Treasurer, Micronesian Queen, and Korea back to the hotel. Meanwhile Babs and Holly would go on their own to do more shopping in Little India, Chinatown, and Arab Street.

And that's pretty much how the day went.

My favorite part, of course was being on my own in Little India. It was nice to be on my own for a little while, to be able to go where I wanted, explore whenever and wherever the mood struck without having to worry about keeping track of the kids. One of the first things I did once Barbara and the kids were on the train to the Woodlands Mall was find a little Indian restaurant and have some lunch. I ate on the second floor of the resturant overlooking an intersection in the heart of Little India. After lunch, I went looking for gifts for my family. I bought all my gifts that afternoon--all in Little India. I had thought I might have to go to Chinatown as well--I wanted another shirt like the one I'd purchased there the night before. But then I found a similar shirt right there in Little India. With the extra time I gained from not having to make the run to Chinatown, I took the time to have Teh Tarik (hand pulled tea with milk. Very tasty!) at a streetside cafe before hopping on the train to meet Babs and the kids at the Woodlands Mall.

Then it was Barbara's turn. She took Holly and Micronesian Queen, and I escorted the rest back to the hotel. The kids lounged in their rooms. I explored the street in the immediate vicinity of the hotel for a short while and ended up purchasing a really nice kitchen knife for less than $4 US. We ordered pizza and the kids ate in their rooms. Around 9:30 P.M. Barbara, Holly, and MQ returned and we began to pack up in earnest. Our flight was set to leave at 6:00 A.M. the next morning so we would be getting up around 2:30 A.M.

Our trip to Singapore had come to an end and it was time to go home.

Thursday the 22nd was spent entirely in travel and we arrived back home in Saipan in the early morning of Friday, March 23.

1 comment:

Marianas Eye said...

Hi Sean,

Great photos and great story! I ran into Barbara today. We MUST get together. We miss seeing you guys.