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The chronicles of two Portlanders in Singapore

It’s mind blowing but true – we’re rapidly coming up on three months outside the US.  In some ways, the time abroad has gone by incredibly slow, especially the first few weeks for me when I knew nobody and felt lost in our new life.  By and large though, this time has swooshed1sorry by as we find new things to do in the Lion City.  About three months to the day of landing in Singapore, however, we’ll be taking our first steps into the greater South-East Asia area with a short trip to Malaysia’s Penang area.  There, we’ll be checking out Georgetown and it’s street art, street food2of course and dizzying array of colonial and traditional architecture.

This is something we’ve discussed at length, Bev and I.  We want to travel – it would be a shame to live in a place that is literally in the center of a destination that would take weeks to explore on vacation from the US and not see some of the nearby countries.  Tops on that list, and already well into the detail phase, is Siem Reap and one of my all time top 5 bucket list destinations, Angkor.  That I live two and a half hours away from a place I once thought was a pipe dream of seeing is an opportunity I cannot pass up.  So, we’re going to Cambodia in a few months.

I have a Lonely Planet book on the Mekong region and was paying good attention to its advice on when to travel.  Much like Singapore, the Mekong3Cambodia, Laos, Northern Thailand & Vietnam has its hot season in March-May, cool peak season in October – February, and the monsoons in June – September.

Wait, monsoons?

The city does see a monsoon season – we’ve entered the second of two, in fact – the Southwest monsoon season.  But before anyone worries about cataclysmic rainfall, rest assured.  “Monsoon” refers to a change in wind patterns, and while a monsoon does bring with it wet, rainy conditions, the amount of rainfall differs depending on the area.  Singapore is incredibly sheltered, being bordered by islands or the Malaysian Peninsula on all sides.  This applies to earthquakes too; though we’re within the Ring of Fire, the nearest fault line is hundreds of kilometers away and those same islands tend to protect Singapore from tsunamis.  Though the “winter” months of November and December will see much more rain, rain is already common here – afternoon storms roll through frequently.

So we might see some monsoon action in Cambodia.  Maybe we’ll be rained out, but as with everything here, I believe the best way to deal with sudden changes in plans is to just find somewhere dry, have some food and a beer and wait it out.  Tell me there are vastly better ways to spend a day.


We finally got a chance to check out the SEA Games this weekend – deciding on catching some Saturday night basketball.  A fellow expat – a Brit – that I talk to down at the dog park on weekdays asked me if watching something that could be rightly considered a national sport played at such a level would be frustrating to see.  (Please note that he also added in an aside that he feels that way watching the MLS after a lifetime of watching the Premier League, the cheeky bastard.)  I feel like Americans revel in watching others’ learn and take on our homegrown sports.  I might wince a bit watching someone play American Football, but the more I think of it, that’s probably more of the damage you can do to your body if you play good ol’ gridiron an improper way.

No, I’d like to think we’re happy to see others play our sports, safe in the knowledge that we’re still the best at the sports we’ve invented4Sorry, I’m not sorry, England..  Now if only we’d send our very best to the WBC to prove that we’re still better at baseball than the Cubans and Dominicans5I’m not even acknowledging that we got beat by Mexico..

Okay, my own turn at cheeky insults6Costa Rica!  COSTA. RICA., England! out of my system, it was joy to watch South East Asia’s turn at basketball.  The men’s game we watched was not good, sadly, because little Timor-Leste was terribly out-matched by the much larger Malaysians.  Malay had at least a 6 inch average over the boys from Timor-Leste, which finished the first half with 4 points.  But T-L showed heart, never lowering their heads and making several inspired plays against a Malaysian team that I hope didn’t think they were taking it easy on T-L.  Still, the result was never in doubt, but it made for good watching, cheering on the underdogs on every fast break.

The next game, Singapore vs. Malaysia in the women’s round robin, was a different story.  Though the final score shows a rather lopsided affair, the Singapore women stayed even with their neighbors except for a ghastly second quarter where the wheels fell off for a brief moment.  For that game, we sat right behind one of the baskets and got a good view of both squads’ offenses at work.  Singapore’s women have some real talent, no doubt.  Their starting small forward played a mean game at the 3 – doing her best to dissect the Malaysian defense, no small task, and made some incredible plays towards the basket.  However, much of the rest of the team was missing that killer attack-the-rim mentality that they needed for this game.  The Malaysian girls were larger, but beatable off the dribble and left a lot of openings in front of the rim.

But, sadly for the home team, the second quarter deficit was too much to overcome.

Outside the venue, the SEA Games were an amazing experience of carnival and show, with a ton of events for the kids to replicate their favorite athletes at the games.  Everything you would want in a games, honestly, and while it appeared that the times, distances, etc were for the most part short of world class, you could see an area sharply rising, especially in swimming where games record after games record fell.  Again, no one from the pool here is going to win gold in Rio, but several will go to Rio and that alone is pretty awesome.

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