Singapore   2002.10.25 - 11.03

Visiting Friends

We didn't plan for Singapore to be the final stop of our multi-year world trip. Instead, Singapore was supposed to be a transit between Paris and Perth. We booked flights in February 2002 just before large blocks of Singapore Airline KrisFlyer miles were to expire. Rather than lose accumulated miles, we issued tickets. Our intended itinerary would have taken us from Paris to Singapore to Australia to New Zealand to Tahiti to Chile etc., eventually delivering us to the US in July 2003. Things change. 4 months ago, we both started to grow tired of travel without objective. Travel for the sake of travel is fantastic for a limited time. For us, the time limit was 24 months. We meet others who quit after 12 months for the same reason. Some people continue for over 5 years. Fortunately, we both reached our limits at nearly the same time.

In Singapore, we visited friends of many nationalities. Singapore remains a diverse mix of people from Asia and Europe, despite recent European and North American divestment from the economic downturn. When we traveled around Singapore, we noticed some positive changes in social behavior, but discarded our impressions, attributing them to a change in our perspective rather than a change in Singaporean society. After all, India and China makes any society seem advanced by comparison. "No, Singapore really has changed," our friends confirm. It seems the government's "Courtesy Campaigns" are having an impact. We see people queuing on the train platform and waiting for others to alight before trying to board. On escalators, people are starting to stand to the left to let those in a hurry walk past on the right. One of our friends says he notices the biggest difference when driving. "People are more courteous when driving. They don't intentionally cut me off anymore." It seems that with repeated slogans, the Singapore government has managed to change annoying social behaviors of the masses. Incredible.

Special thanks to Jimmy for hosting us in Singapore. Staying with friends is always more enjoyable than being at impersonal hotels.

What will happen to this journal after Singapore? We are searching for work. If we find something within the next 2 months, the job will determine the location of our next residence. If no acceptable job materializes by yearend, we will settle in Shanghai for economic reasons. Though Shanghai (and most of China) is not an ideal place to enjoy life, the city's economy is booming, prices are low, a 6-month or 12-month visa is simple to obtain in Hong Kong, and there are few restrictions on where a foreigner can rent, even without a work permit. We expect the Chinese economy, especially in Shanghai, to continue to grow rapidly at least until the 2008 Olympics. Whether the publicized economic growth is real or fictitious, there is little chance that the government will allow an economic correction before the Beijing Olympics. That gives an ample 5-year window for us to re-establish our careers and for the US stock markets to recover. Between Singapore and our newly settled life, we will continue to document events, track expenses, and attempt to shed light on what it's like to transition from being a nomad to a member of society.

Singapore is officially the final stop on our world tour, but not the end of this web page.

Wes' university friend Art and his wife Saiping were in Singapore for one week on vacation. How did we chance meet after not seeing each other for 10 years? "I did a google search on Wes Heiser and found your web page and email address," Art explained. Thank goodness for google.
We visit the home of Wes' former work colleague Lakshmana and his family. Lakshmana's wife Tanuja cooks the most fantastic Indian dishes. An invitation is nearly impossible to resist.

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