Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Spectacular Singapore Sojourn Part IV!

On Tuesday, we got a late start. We were going to head out early for Pulau Ubin island, but it looked like rain, so we slept in. But then the clouds cleared, so we went. We stopped by a hawker center in the village to get a sack lunch of traditional food and some rose milk. Rose milk is crushed rose petals in milk. Very interesting, smells good and tastes kind of sweet.

The only way to Pulau Ubin is by bum boat, a ten minute ride, and you have to have 12 people to go. So we waited about twenty minutes or so for the boat to fill, and we got there around 12:30. We rented bicycles and cycled through the jungle. Here are the pictures:

Giant lizard in the trees, as big as my legs. Can you see him?

Jack fruit:

Not many people live on Pulau Ubin now. They say it’s like main island Singapore back in the 1960s, with pit toilets and electricity only from generators. Here’s an old style jungle house, tin roof and all. Reminds me of India:

After we cycled about five kilometers (3 miles), we came to a mangrove preserve and hiked along a board walk. Here is some wild life:

Mud skeeter or “lung fish:”

Mangrove trees:

The roots sticking high from the ground:

Mongroves grow between the low and hide tide zones of coastal areas and rivers. During high tide, the roots are completely submerged in seawater, but are exposed to the sun during low tide. For this reason, the roots are tall, pencil-like, and stick out above the mud. This allows the tree to breathe above the water-logged soil and have stability in the fine, silty soil. The leaves can pump out access salt, and the fruit germinates while it’s still on the tree so it can take root as soon as it drops. Mangroves are very important because they keep soil near the ocean and brackish rivers from eroding away. Lots of food chains can be traced back to mangroves.

Here’s the coastal boardwalk:

Submerged palms at high tide:

We enjoyed our spicy lunch overlooking the vast ocean. We could see all the way to Malaysia.

I wanted to walk back to enjoy it some more and see if I could find some more of the wild life the pamphlet talked about, but we were on a bit of a tight scheduled, so we cycled back, this time on a different route for more scenery. Here’s a cocoa (chocolate) tree. I didn’t know cocoa beans were so big!

Back at the bicycle rental place, a Chinese temple:

I think Pulau Ubin was my favorite place in Singapore. I hope to go back some day!

After we arrived back from the bum boat, we headed for Arab Street to see some Malay culture. Here’s the mosque:

Here’s an old opium pipe (but people don’t use it to smoke opium now; that’s illegal all over Southeast Asia):

I bought a few souvenirs, then we enjoyed Chinese chicken and rice with Ying-Ying’s parents, the most famous signature Singaporean dish. You take your pyramid of rice and smother it with dark soy sauce, chilly sauce, and chicken with the skin still on. We also had fried tofu with green sauce and coconut water. (They told me coconut milk is from the mashed up nut itself; water is just the liquid inside.) Here’s the whole dinner:

After that, we went to Marina Bay Sands to see the Wonderful show, a light, fire, water, and music spectacular similar to Songs of the Sea, only free.

Here's the finale:

Then we walked around the mall until it was time to leave. Here are the palm trees growing on top of the building:

There was actually a “river” running through the shopping mall, and you could take a French style boat down it for $7. Ying-Ying and I got a good laugh at that. Will people stop at nothing to make a few bucks?

Then, sadly, it was time for me to go home. Here’s Ying-Ying, her mom, and me at the airport. They said I was welcome back anytime:

My plane left at 1:20am on Wednesday morning, and after a long, sleepless plane ride with a wailing baby in the seat in front of me, a bus, and a train, I finally got back to my apartment around 12:30, having gone without sleep for nearly 28 hours. I wanted nothing more than to collapse on my bed, but just then I got a call from my school. They said I had some paper work to do and I had to come in. Ug! But went I did. At least I found this amusing billboard on the way, advertising a very happy gravestone maker:

Only in Japan, right? Smiling gravestones. That’s just morbid.

That evening, I had to teach my Wednesday evening class until 9:15. But then, around 9:45, I finally collapsed into bed, having not slept in over 36 hours.

And that was my trip to Singapore! The only other thing I have to report is that I had a job interview the following Saturday with Altia Central. The interview was for a seven month position, September 1st to April 1st with another Assistant Language Teacher company and I would be working for a public school, most likely elementary.

Here are the pros:
1.) They pay pretty well, though not as well as my current job.
2.) I could come home for about 3 weeks during Christmas
3.) I could attend a really good evangelistic church in Osaka called Jesus Life House.
4.) I could finish up some traveling I want to do (Okinawa, Shikoku, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Guam and New Zealand)
5.) I could come home just in time for my book Treasure Traitor to be published (hopefully by Written Word Communications) and for me to promote it at the Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc. Conference in May 2012 (if all goes well with my current agent).
6.) I could save some more money.
7.) I wouldn’t have to look for a job in the U.S.
8.) I’m able to be very “green” in Japan. No car and mandatory recycling.

1.) Like I said, I’ll most likely be teaching elementary, and the job won’t be nearly as easy as what I do now. It might be downright exhausting.
2.) I might not have as much time to write.
3.) I’d forfeit my free plane ticket home
4.) I’m utterly exhausted, and I’ll probably be even more exhausted after Mom and my trip to Thailand. Do I really want to move to a new place, find my own apartment, and start a new job immediately after I get back?
5.) A large part of me just wants to go back on the same plane as my mom.
6.) I might be smarter to be home for the few months before my book is published to spread the word and begin promoting it. If I took the job, I would be trying to do publicity from Japan, and when the book came out, I would hit the ground running without a breath of air.
7.) I really, really, REALLY miss my family. My sister-in-law is having a baby in November. I missed my nephew’s birth. It would be nice to be there for my niece.
8.) My mental health in Japan has not been so good. I suffer from severe bouts of depression, crippling anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, and weight fluctuation. (I often go for days when I can’t eat anything, and then I’m so hungry I eat everything. Sometimes I lose and gain back as much as ten pounds in one week.) It would be nice to get back on some herbal remedies to help combat that, and that will require tests and doctor’s advice. I don’t like to just take stuff that others recommend. When it comes to my brain chemistry, I would rather not do the hit and miss method.

Final thoughts: Oklahoma Christian University just requested my resume. If I get the job with Oklahoma Christian (teaching ESL to Japanese students) then I am, without a doubt, coming home. Teaching Japanese students at a university and full-time writing is the best of both worlds. I would be home with my family too. Problem is, I probably won’t know about the OCU position until AFTER I have to make up my mind about the Osaka job. There is a small chance Altia won’t hire me. They have to speak to two of my supervisors, and that might no go so well, considering recent events. There was quite a bit of confusion over my plane ticket home and my tax forms, which wasn’t my fault or theirs (technically it was the IRS and a misunderstanding with the Board of Education). Maybe they’ll realize that, or maybe they’ll get frustrated and it’ll sound to the Altia person that they’re angry with me. Besides that, my supervisors made it pretty clear that they were unhappy about talking to strangers about me. So who knows? I will find out tomorrow whether or not they want to hire me, and then I must decide by next week Friday.

It all comes down to trust. I’ve prayed a dozen times for discernment, and God does not seem to be sending any clear messages. Maybe He’s leaving it up to me. Whatever I decide, I just have to trust that God will love me and guide me and provide for my needs.

Last thing. I just found out who my successor is. She’s seems very nice, but she’s Muslim, so I have to find someone else to take over the Christian library and my church class. I have no idea who, but I’m attending a Christian conference this coming weekend in Aomori, up north in Tohoku. Hopefully, someone there might volunteer!

Prayer Requests: Wisdom and discernment about my new job. Safe travels as my mother and I head to Thailand in two weeks (we’ll be there for three weeks). Prayers that I find someone to take over my Christian stuff and get everything I need to get done done before I leave. It’s so overwhelming! I also have to make a speech in Japanese on the last day of school. I hope God will give me the right words to say!

Until next time, keep praying and loving, no matter what the cost,
L.J. Popp

1 comment:

Bindegal said...

You opium pipe is not a opium pipe. Is a so call Hookah, shisha and a lot of other things in the east. Is for smoking syrupy tobacco (called mu‘assel) mix with molasses and vegetable glycerin- Typical flavors of mu‘assel include apple, grape, guava, lemon, mint, as well as many other fruit based mixes.
Ps. I really love you blog