So much to say that I don’t think I could possibly cover it all. I’ll give it a shot, but please forgive me in advance for bouncing around a bit.
Singapore is an incredible city. I was looking forwad to a nice visit here but really didn’t have any great expectations. In a word, Singapore is lush. Incredibly lush. Everywhere you look there are trees and greenery. It is at the coldest time of the year but very pleasant indeed. The temperature only fluctuates a few degrees over the years, settling in the up seventies or low eighties these days.
The trip getting here was a bit harried. The visa regulations in Dubai for Afghans are extremely difficult and discriminatory. This meant that it took me six hours of hustling at a break neck speed to single handedly transfer the luggage of thirteen paticipants. We made it to our boarding gate with five minutes to spare. I know that if you apply logic to this scenario you couldn’t possibly imagine how an airport transfer could take six hours and probably six kilometers of walking, but it did. Luckily we made it and the final three participants who weren’t able to join us because of poor weather in Afghanistan arrived today. The group is settling in really well and it is great to be working with them as I have looked forward to for so long.
Last night I had a fun and bizarre night. I ended up getting an email from a guy through the internet who found me on a travel site. He is Indian, headed to Australia, and in town for a couple of days. I figured what the hell, might as well not have dinner alone. Ended up that he had someone else from Singapore he met online and we went to meet this other guy and three French guys who have lived here for some time. Add another random young guy from California who said like far too often and the night was complete. We ended up meeting at a place by the riverside that reminded me incredibly of Darling Harbor in Sydney, one of my favorite places. Some folks pealed off at a reasonable hour and the rest of us parted ways at 3:30 in the morning.
The reason for such an early night was that I was meeting up with two Afghan participants to go to a Hindu festival called Thaipusam where they skewer the body 180 times in the chest, back, cheeks, face and tongue. We hand been invited by one of the guys from the centre we are working with here. He was one of the senior guys in the family and led all of the ceremonies. He invited us in like family and we watch the prayers and ceremonies for nearly four hours. It was truly incredible. I’ll post photos as soon as I can. In the mean time this will give you an idea of what we saw. It was a long night but so much fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve pulled an all nighter, but it was well worth it.
Now off to help participants with skype. Off to Malaysia tomorrow night.