Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The World Below

Below me spots of light dapple, like stars unseen above, the darkness of what I can only assume in Singapore. Ribbons of light reach through the expanse of black below, like phosphorescent rivers on an undiscovered alien planet. Red flashes, from the wing tip through my small porthole, a view of a new world, are muted by the steel on which they are mounted. Ships, lacking all sense of colour and definition, save for the warm glow reflecting upon their sails by lights within seem to move in silence, along the beaches turned orange by the lit filaments within glass bulbs below.

A grid of brilliant appears below me, the shores recently past over, yet nearly forgotten in the constant surge forward into the unexplored. With night fallen the ground looks more like an on going game played on grid paper where each play may choose to draw on line. When a box is formed, they mark their initial within. One by one a new light appears, cold – bright white – an urban centre, not soft and welcoming like that which came before, save for the fiery glow of two near the perceived horizon. I wonder a bout them, unable to discern anything fro high above, with details lacking.

Soon they too are behind me.

A new country, a new city, a new place to seek out and explore. And I am not worried. There is no fear of transition. Everything is as it should be. Strange that I should leave a country one day, and arrive in another on the very same. While it has happened before, it has been rare and even then the worries of finding my way from the perceived no man's land to what will be my new home has always weighed upon here.

But here, now, I will be met within the airport – at the baggage collection belt of all places – by she who will be my host for the week. Once, I showed her hospitality in Northern Ontario (or what we from Toronto like to call the North, it being far south of most of our country, and some of America as well. When I began travelling I had no intention of coming to this country – but when the offer was put forward, well how could I refuse?

I have had my fears of setting foot on this soil – and the landing card has done nothing to ease those feelings. Drug Traffickers will be EXECUTED by Singapore law. Now, I am not a drug trafficker – why any who dare risk entering this country is beyond me – but there are other such laws. Ones about spitting, about gum chewing, I hear contradicting rumours of, and who knows what else.

And there in lies the fear – who knows what else. What laws might be broken without even being aware of them existing? Ignorance, as they say, is no excuse. Some I have met have had little problem here – others have been arrested for short periods of time. I look forward to having no problems, nor do I expect any. Still – there is the unknown.

But I will have my host to guide me through these perils. And as we gain slightly in elevation, brining to view the stars above, a perfect match for those below, I have no thoughts of anything but that which is to come. Something new, something beautiful, and something to be appreciated free of fear and doubt.

Touching down it became obvious that the lights I looked down upon in my own Peter Pan-esque way could not have been Singapore, not that long ago for a country as small as this. But what land, between China, and here, it was, I do not know.

Customs was quick and painless (running ahead of all the sick, young and old, to the front of the line will do that. Having the man working your line move to deal with a woman whose card wouldn't scan, thus putting up a closed sign causing a few people in front of you to leave – but not you as you held out hope – only to have him come back a minute later, also helps.

As I grabbed my bag, and wandered across into the magical realm of Singapore (only slightly upset that the entrance stamp touched the edge of my Antarctica stamp) I was greeted by my new host – the story of how we met might be told later, but not now. I'll wait for a better opening.

My plane was an hour late, despite only being fifteen minutes late off the ground. Apparently the turbulence we hit was worse than I thought. Or maybe it was the turbulence we avoided.

A bus and short walk later and we were at her place, where I threw down my bags, before heading out to an Indian restaurant right behind her house. And I mean right behind – were she to have had a back yard, it would have been a small hop over the fence. But there was no back yard, and the small fence was a large fence, and it required walking down the street, turning a corner, and walking back up to get to.

This is a twenty four hour Indian place. Good food – twenty four hours a day. If I lived here? Death. And the carnation milk with rose syrup and a healthy addition of ice? Beautiful. And cold. And this is good. Do you know why this is so good? Because it is hot in Singapore. Not kind of hot, or a little hot, but – oh my god, I forgot what being this close to the equator was like – hot. And for added fun, it's humid too. Not Bangkok, I'm never leaving the house again, humid – but it's not far off.

Flyng all tuckers me out. Even if it's during normal hours, the time zones never change, and I slept well. I blame the low relative humidity, but when I'm contrasted with such a high one, can that be it? Sure – for now anyway.

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