You have been more to me than a checklist of cities, but if I had to use checkmarks, they would be in the shape of lightening bolts for the moments that were too quick to catch but still made a thunderous roar. You have thrown hailstorms and terrible timing at me along with everyday hallelujahs and souls that were too good for me to hold. You have been the opposite of restful, but the cure to my restless. You have taught this lover of words that there is a love beyond words. I leave you with sand in my shoes, chaos in my heart, and a little more understanding of why people do what they do. My suitcase is heavy. My heart is full.
Vancouver, I am ready to come home.
1. When I was a child, I told my grandfather that my favourite food was BBQ pork. Every single meal he has made me since I was 5 has had BBQ pork in it, even to this day. Every morning I have been here, he steams BBQ pork buns for me. Every lunch or dinner, there will be slices of BBQ pork on the table, which he will intentionally buy from the deli down the street. I think I like BBQ pork more because of this.
2. My grandfather has always been a man of service, but I have never received a gift from him until this week. He gave me two film cameras to take home with me, saying he wasn’t sure if they worked anymore, but I will keep them anyways.
3. When we were in Singapore, we went to the beach and I dipped my feet in the water. As we were leaving, I was about to put my sandals back on, but my grandfather stopped me. He bent over with a water bottle in his hands and offered to wash my feet so they wouldn’t be sandy when I put my shoes on. I wanted to cry, because my grandfather, who has never read a word of Scripture in his entire life, probably had no idea how Biblical that was. Sometimes people can be a lot like Jesus without realizing it.
1. Travelling with a baby, my grandfather, and relatives that I don’t know well was frustrating, but a necessary learning experience. Everyone travels differently and wants to see and do things that other people don’t. Learning to be patient is a HUGE part of the process of accepting these facts, but we now know better what to do and what not to do. One of the nights we were in Singapore, my Gong Gong asked me, “Are you happy? Because that’s the only thing that matters,” and I really was happy that I got the chance to travel with my family. In the end, the most important thing to my family is that we are having fun, and that is something to delight in.
2. I tried butter coffee. I didn’t like it.
3. Gardens by the Bay was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was a like mini city made of plants and flora, and was not only beautiful, but also incredibly educational about ecosystems around the world. We went to Cloud Forest, and it was like walking into Avatar. I wish we were able to stay for longer and explore the entire place.
4. We spent one of our days in Singapore visiting different Hawker Centres in Chinatown and Little India. It was a day of strong spices and observing facial expressions as everyone reacted to new flavours. I got a coconut as big as my sunglasses, and tried local dishes such as oyster omelettes, pepper crab, pork rib tea, and not durian.
5. I would never be willing to pay to stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (minimum $500 per night for a whopping second floor view), but thankfully, I have friends who do. Enzo took Adrian and I up to the 57th floor Infinity Pool, which overlooks arguably one of the best views of the city. It was the perfect way to spend my last night in Singapore.
6. One day, I will see all the major aquariums in the world. Something about watching fish is incredibly restful and life-giving. Also, as I saw on Sarah Keller’s wall:
“The Aquarium is used to educate the masses, not entertain.”
Go and learn about the ocean!
PS: Shoutout to Sarah and Laura who are off on an adventure in Israel right now! Can’t wait to swap stories with you guys.
7. Travelling with my family inevitably means you mostly get to see the touristy parts of a city. Singapore is impeccably clean and is a haven for foodies, but I left with a ton of questions, such as: “Why are there no homeless people?” and “Why don’t local people swim at the beach?” and “What do people do here when they aren’t at Universal Studios and the aquarium?” I hope one day I will come back and get these questions answered.
8. As for now, I’m on the hunt for the best shaved ice in all of Asia.
Last night, I met up with some fellow Sauderites to check out the nightlife in Singapore. We sat along Marina Bay with the entire city lit up in front of us and drank Tiger Beers (of course) on the oceanfront. Someone told me there’s a building law here that says all the high-rises have to look different (don’t quote me on this tidbit though), which makes for aesthetic architecture and a great midnight view. As we walked along the waterside to the other side of the bay, Beni stopped me and said, “You have to take a picture here. This is the most Singapore that you can get.” Something about that felt very true.
I feel so lucky that almost wherever I go in the world, I have a friend or two. Even if I don’t have someone to guide me personally, there’s always somebody to point me in the right direction, and the results are always better than anything I could have done on my own.
Cheers to the best night I’ve had in Asia so far!
I’ve traveled often with my dad’s side of the family, so I have so many childhood memories of packing into a minivan with my cousins and driving to faraway places with no air conditioning but plenty of snacks. My dad has always said, “You’ll get many opportunities to travel with your friends, but as you get older, it’s more rare to travel with family, so take advantage of it while you can.”
Today, we’re taking our first family vacation ever with my mom’s side of the family. They actually thought it was a bizarre suggestion when we first brought up the trip, because it’s something they have never done.
This morning, I asked my grandpa when the last time he traveled with his kids was. His answer: “30 years ago.”