Back home, very near to where I grew up, there is a road called Orchard Road. It’s the narrow, twisty, hilly road that took us to church on Sunday mornings, and on the way back, as we crested a rise, we could see our house framed against the Mourne Mountains. My sister once crashed the car on this road.
Here in Singapore, they also have an Orchard Road. It’s a bit wider than the one I grew up near to, and has a few more shops. But I would tip my sister to crash the car here too.
Singapore has been warm and humid, and has been mostly raining since I arrived. Our Aussie pilot came on the PA about 2 hours out from Changi airport, with confident predictions that we were about to be thrown about in a storm on our approach, complete with detailed explanations of how he would abort the landing at the last possible moment, if required. But this was ok because he’s been flying for Qantas since 1967 and let us know this at least 3 times. Naturally, we flew straight in and landed without any problems. Favourite comment from the same pilot, before we took off from Heathrow: “We’ll be taking off and heading east, aw look folks, we’ll be heading that way all night.”
Have now spent a wonderful day in Singapore with Koji, Hwee Sng, and their gorgeous children. Koji hasn’t really changed in 10 years, apart from putting on a little more weight, and losing a little more hair. He still retains a wonderfully positive outlook and smiles a lot. And he still has a BB gun. Hwee Sng, I think, despairs of him ever growing up.
After a morning building Lego houses and crashing racing cars with Isabella (5) and Ethan (2), Koji rescues his kids from further punishment by taking me off on a whirlwind tour of Singapore’s tourist attractions, including, all-importantly, the Singapore Cricket Club. Have posted some photos on my photo page (link on the right). As Koji drives me (efficiently) around I fall asleep in the car a few times. Am not good at overcoming jet lag – having my meals knocked out of sequence is never a problem, as I seem to be ready to eat whenever the opportunity arises, but the sleep pattern really suffers.
Singapore proves to be just as clean and efficient as Jones warned me it would be. And a lot greener than I expected. What’s more, they use British power sockets! I like it a lot here. The heavy rain makes me feel right at home, although thankfully we had a dry day for the sightseeing. Now, sitting at the gate waiting for my Sydney flight to leave, I regret I didn’t have more time here, but that’s just how it goes.
So, onwards to Australia.
In October 1986, I remember coming home from school one day to discover a couple of Australian visitors staying with us. It was my first experience of Australians, and I remember disliking them immediately for their self-confidence and assertiveness! I can also remember being in tears when they left us a week later. Growing up in rural N Ireland, with my friends literally miles away, and a non-sporty sister for company, the arrival of two sport-loving Aussies turned out to be an absolute dream. They taught me 3-man Aussie rules, came and watched me play for my football team on Saturday morning, gave me hope that going to church could be fun and didn’t have to require wearing a suit, and, crucially, represented Crystal Palace and Liverpool in three-way Subbuteo tournaments.
Eight hours from now, and a mere twenty years later, Phil, one of those globetrotters, will pick me up from Sydney airport. I hope I recognise him…