We arrived in Singapore after having only been in Jakarta for 11 days (me anyway). Janine had wanted to see the Indian Festival of Thaipusam (read her blog for more info). It's an amazing display of religious fortitude and craziness - I know those may not seem like they go together but it's the only way I know to describe carrying a fifty pound decorated metal cage connected to your body by a series of needles.
So since then I've done a bunch of stuff - almost two weeks worth in fact. So just to get it off my chest, here are the highlights so I can remember them and you can ask me about if you really care:
- Singapore to Melakka bus ride - never get used to driving into other countries
- Melakka - a CHEAP hostel with great WiFi in the middle of China Town
- The Langkawi Bicycle Race Stages 2 and 3
- Great Nonya, Chinese, Indian, and other food
- Another bout of food bourne illness - it happens, mercifully short this time
- The Jonkers Night Market (not really that great but it's why I stayed in Melakka til Friday)
- A Mosque, a Hindu Temple, and a Chinese Temple (which worshiped Confucious, Tao, and the Goddess of Mercy) on the same street as my hostel - gotta love the diversity
- The bus ride to Kuala Lumpur that cost the same as the taxi ride to the bus station
- Kuala Lumpur Petronais Towers - NOT as tall as Sears Towers but two of the coolest looking skyscrapers on the planet.
- The Red Palm Hostel - $5 more than the other hostel but a wonderful home away from home. I am nostalgic for my Africa hostel days (aahh... The Green Elephant in Cape Town)
- Stage 7 of the Langkawi Bicycle Race
- The madness of a Saturday night in Kuala Lumpur (especially on Bukit Bintang)
- The Batu Caves sans Thaipusam - this is THE place for Thaipusam and we missed it. Still impressive in its own right.
- The amazing skylift ride up to the not-so-amazing "Vegas-of-Asia" Genting Highlands
- The constant sweltering as I do now at 11:00 pm on the patio with my computer - my body is aglow in tiny droplets of my own moisture.
Here's what I learned / remembered. I've always said "If you have a job that lasts about four hours a day, the rest of the day will take care of itself".
Now that I've been "on vacation" for the past two weeks, it's still true and I'm amazed. I put vacation in quotes because I've been carrying around my laptop with me trying to do some iPhone programming for about 4 hours a day. I've been surprised how challenging that has been - for two reasons. First of all - when I log work hours - they are true work hours - no interruptions, no checking e-mails, no getting calls or drop-ins from co-workers - just pure unadulterated thinking/coding time. At some levels, I love it - put me in my puzzle world and leave me alone. So 4 solid hours is hard to really do. You typically have to take at least one break and when you are surrounded by interesting stuff - sometimes that break will last for half of the day (which is the second reason why four hours is challenging and why often my log hours are from 9 until 11 at night). In the office environment, I get up and have a cup of coffee - maybe check some hoops scores. Where I am, I walk across town to check out the dragon boat races (or something to that effect).
And what's amazing to me, is there lots of other stuff I want to do that I just don't have time for. I've barely read the books I've brought with me. I haven't studied near the amount of Indonesian Language as I should have. I haven't really exercised that much. It's stunning to me how much time just slips away - through walking, through sitting down for a meal, through doing the little things that take twice as long as they would at home, through planning the next stage of my journey, through keeping up with correspondence (although this can be a real time-sucker at home too but it seems so much more important when your loved one's are far away).
So that's what this post is really about. Reminding myself that if I truly want to enjoy this experience, I have to allowed my time to be sucked away - difficult for me and my puritanical work ethic to allow this being-ness to exist. But thinking back to my six months in Africa - certainly a transformational experience for me - I have to allow for my work and play to be heavier on the play side - it opens me up for so much more than the puzzles I'm enjoying unlocking on my computer.