08 September 2015

On Travel and Life

Time has a funny way of playing tricks on you when you travel. It's almost like the moment you board the plane you enter some weird time machine that contracts time, making it race by ("I can't believe there's only one day left of our holiday!"), while at the same time, it also expands, making it seem like you've been away for weeks, when in fact it's only been days.

Our Asian adventure only lasted ten days - TEN DAYS - but it seemed like at least three weeks. At least.

Chinatown Singapore
Old man, Chinatown Singapore - a face with such character

What is it about travelling that does this to time?
And it's not just time that alters strangely when you travel - it's as if your very self changes as well. Your heart gets stretched. Your mind gets stretched. And the way you see the world (and your place in it) changes forever.

Amazing Luxurious famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore

These days the world appears in the corner of our living room, night after night. We feel as if we know what the rest of the world is like because we've seen it on the telly.

But it's one thing to see the world from the comfort of our couch, and it's another altogether to get out there, smell it, feel it, eat it, sweat and swell in the heat, use those peculiar toilet facilities, meet, hug, laugh and cry with the people whose "normal" is vastly different to our own. It changes you.

Chinatown market, Singapore

I returned home from our trip with more than 400 photos on my camera. I stopped taking photos on about day six. I was all photo'd out.

And now it's hard to know where to begin to share this amazing ten-day odyssey with you all.
It was an experience of extremes.

The famous Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Boarding the Eastern & Oriental Express

We began in the air-conditioned five-star luxury of Raffles Hotel in Singapore, followed by an epic journey aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express (where we guiltily sipped our drinks on the observation deck as the train whisked us past tin shacks and shanty towns, barefooted waifs and herds of skinny goats).

On the Orient Express

We had our hearts bleed over the cruelty and courage immortalised at the POW Memorial Museum and cemetery in Kanchanaburi (Bridge on the River Kwai, The Railway Man)...

Bridge on the River Kwai and POW Cemetery
We stared open-mouthed at the view of Bangkok at sunset from our riverfront hotel suite on the 35th floor ("Can you believe this room? This view? The size of this bed?")...

Bangkok evening from our hotel room

Then we went to Manila in the Philippines and it was anything but luxury. But our surroundings didn't matter. The lack of air-con (and toilet seats) were inconsequential as we shared our days and nights with some of God's angels.

In fact, it's hard to even write about the sights and sounds of our luxurious trip-beginnings because they have all faded in our minds as our experiences (and wonderful friends) in Manila loom so large in our hearts.

Childrens Garden Manila

I sweated, oh boy did I sweat. Anyone who knows me knows how I don't usually handle the heat - but even my hubby was surprised how I coped. And ironically the four nights we spent sleeping at the orphanage (with motorbikes buzzing up and down outside our window) were the best nights' sleep we had the whole trip. Better even than in our king-size four-poster bed at Raffles Hotel.

Me and "Donna Grace" under the bridge

I spent four days looking pretty ugly (with any vestige of makeup sweated off, and all my clothes too tight from swelling with the heat), but I didn't care because it didn't matter.

And now I have to somehow find a way to tell the stories. Where do I begin?

(Help me out here, please?! I really am overwhelmed and don't know how to start, beyond writing a mish-mash post like this. Do I start at the beginning and tell the stories chronologically, or do I go with my heart and write about Manila and the Children's Garden first and come back to the luxury adventure part later? HELP!!!)

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