Yes, well, it’s approaching one year since we started organising this trip in earnest, and nearly 7 months since it ended, so it’s time I got this story under way before I forget everything that happened.
The story begins with an invitation for Rosemary to represent the Oceania region in the International Association for Mission Studies, then the scheduling of a meeting of the Association in Oxford, UK, in early February 2013. Having taken Mereem to visit Belgian and UK family and friends in 2006, we thought this meeting was a good opportunity for the rest of us to go along too (not to the meeting, mind you), and to see everyone again, this time with Jean-Luc as well.
The trip itself began with what is fast becoming a tradition: hot chocolate at Cocolat, the chocolate shop in Adelaide airport’s departure area. May as well get training for Belgium!
Then an inspection of our plane for the first leg to Singapore, to make sure it was “big enough to have movies” in Jean-Luc’s opinion. The outbound flight went well for us all, as it was during normal daytime hours and only 7 or 8 hours long. Sure enough, the plane did have movies, and games, and food, and drink, and a little activity kit for the kids… heaven!
We had arranged a short stopover in Singapore, to catch up with our old friends Jo, Pat and Sophie, and meet the latest addition to their family, little Tomas, for the first time. We also wanted to experience again the fantastic food and tropical environment of this unique island, and introduce the kids to it. We were still in good condition after our flight so settled quickly into the YMCA at No. 1 Orchard Road then headed out to explore, starting with a bite to eat.
As the light faded the buildings lit up, to our delight. It was at about this point that Rosemary discovered the Spanish fashion shop Desigual (subsequently to be referred to with an expression of rapture), and emerged some time later with a vividly coloured woolen dress. Yes, wool…in Singapore. No concessions to local climate here, but they were evidently doing a strong trade. That’s fashion for you.
The evening was still very warm and humid, though fairly cool by SIngapore standards, and as a special treat we had a night-time swim in the pool on the YMCA’s roof, before all retiring for the night.
The next morning we had a breakfast ranging from the tried-and-true (toast) through slightly adventurous (spongy purple boiled buns) to the somewhat unusual (can’t remember exactly what it was – something involving fish – but it was wrapped in a banana leaf and Rosemary wasn’t having a bar of it). It was the first time the kids have seen a conveyor-belt toaster and they wanted one for themselves. Rosemary had some work to do so I took the kids wandering through the nearby park, sculpture gardens and cemetery. We collected unusual leaves, seed pods and dead insects for Rosemary’s inspection, and had a great time, as you can see from the video below:
After that we took a taxi to Jo and Pat’s apartment. Jo was home with Tomas, who is a very cheerful and happy little boy who doesn’t seem to let anything flap him. We made our way through their neighbourhood together, keeping to the shade as the day heated up, and spotting mango trees and beautiful flowers everywhere. We had lunch in an open-sided food court, stopped briefly for Jo to have another “I haven’t seen you in years! What are you doing here??” conversation (we have ceased to be surprised that Jo’s network of friends by now touches the majority of the world’s population) then went shopping.
I had to capture the fruit and vege stall. See if you can identify more than 5:
On returning to Jo and Pat’s apartment we found the apartment complex maintenance guys cutting down coconuts from a palm at the edge of the carpark, either for their own use or to prevent them from hitting cars when they fell. Jo suspected the former. It was a tenuous process, not without its fair share of drama, and JL and I enjoyed watching.
When Pat and Sophie arrived home we had a swim in the complex’s pool, then a quiet dinner and evening together. The kids got some sleep (thanks again for letting them use your room, Sophie!) before it was time to call the taxi for our late-night trip to the airport. After checking in we had time to visit the huge Angry Birds house in the departure area, and appreciate Changi airport’s facilities.
We all left Singapore happy and refreshed, and the kids still talk about how much they enjoyed it. Thanks once again to Jo, Pat, Sophie and Tomas for making our stay such a good one!
Next stop, London. But that is another story…