28 October 2014


Nuts. I am back in PNG. Four weeks went pretty quickly, I must say. I left the country on September 30 under the impression that Paul and I would be taking two weeks to explore Hong Kong and Fiji – a holiday away that we have not had in almost a year. Yes, we have traveled, but not on our own time, away from work and the on-call pilot schedule.

I was looking forward to time away with the hubby, exploring new lands, lying on fabulous beaches in a place people on my side of the world only dream of seeing. One day…one day I will get there.

If you are not aware by now, plans change. Plans change daily, and that was the story of the last four weeks.

I landed in Singapore on a Tuesday evening, in time for the first of three doctor’s appointments booked the latter half of the week. The original plan, already altered by that point, included me spending a few days with friends before Paul joined me after his round-the-world trip to New York City and back. When Paul’s New York trip cancelled, we decided to move forward with our holiday plans, adjusting the dates to fit around his ever-changing schedule.

I was in Singapore. We were planning to fly to Hong Kong. And then the peaceful protests became not so peaceful. Roads were blocked. People were hurt. We decided, on the advice from friends in Hong Kong, that we would be better off visiting the country when we could more freely roam the city. Hong Kong was cancelled.

While enjoying our time with friends in Singapore (Paul arrived a week after I landed), we began plotting vacation destinations. We considered Fiji but determined we would rather spend the money elsewhere. We considered a short trip to a nearby island. Paul, who had really just arrived in Singapore, wanted to spend more time in the city, so we stayed. And we stayed. And we stayed. We would plan to leave and then just stay longer, for many, many varying reasons. Thank God for accommodating friends who are actually OK with us taking up residence.

We celebrated my birthday in Singapore – a whole weekend of joy that began with a peaceful, solitary outing. Singapore is not known for its beaches but Sentosa Island has a couple beach clubs so I made my way to the small island south of Singapore’s main island early Friday afternoon.

I arrived at VivoCity, a grand shopping mall overlooking the harbor, and decided to grab a light lunch and a coffee before traveling the short distance to Sentosa’s resorts. The weather was beautiful. The sun glittered off the water and kissed my shoulders as I walked the back deck toward the bridge connecting the two islands. I had originally intended to take the monorail across but, when I saw a sign indicating a foot bridge, I could not imagine a better way to traverse.

A light breeze blew my hair and my skirt on what I had deemed No-Makeup Friday. I was adorned head to toe in beach attire: sunglasses on my clean face, sun block already applied to my upper body, a cotton skirt and a breezy tank top over my swimsuit, a Starbucks iced latte in hand, flip flops under my feet.

I could not help but smile as I looked across the harbor, gazed up to the white, cotton clouds dotting the bright blue sky that welcomed me into the outdoors. With each step I felt more joy as I experienced the perfect plan-free afternoon, not limited to anyone’s schedule or demands.

When I approached the gates to Resorts World Sentosa, I considered my options. I could take the monorail to the farthest of the three stations where some of the beaches were located or I could continue my journey on foot. In my opinion, there was no other option than to walk, so I continued exploring the island from northeast to southwest.

Not always acting as a tourist while living in Singapore, I decided to be a bit touristy, taking photos whenever I felt like it. I am not a selfie person so don’t expect any of those.

Singapore's famous merlion

I had my lunch on the beach, enjoyed a margarita while scribing post cards and then met my husband for some evening laser shows.

Saturday evening Nic and Duncan took Paul and me to a seafood boil on the marina. I have not had that much fun at dinner in a long time. We sat at a table lined with white paper, ordered an actual bucket filled with lobster, crab, mussels, clams, prawns, boiled potatoes and miniscule corn cobs. We ate with our fingers and drank pints of beer while laughing the whole evening.

The Pelican Boil with the Browns

Seconds after dessert was ordered – I don’t even think the wait staff had entered our order into the computer – a handful of staff members approached the table with chocolate-covered heaven topped with a sparkler of a candle, everyone singing happy birthday. I love surprises. And cake. And the sparkler candles.


Now THAT is a candle!

As if one chocolate, gold-leaf dessert was not enough, we had a slice of the biggest red velvet cake we had ever seen and a jar filled with meringues and berries. One of us whose name rhymes with Nicola would up in a sugar coma the next day.

Yep, cake as big as my head

Sugar Queen!!!

Sunday, my actual birthday, Paul and I woke to attend the best church in the world before meeting our friends for a birthday brunch overlooking the city from atop one of the city’s many skyscrapers.

When I thought that Paul and I had had enough of Singapore and might make our way back to PNG, we found more excuses to stay. Paul confirmed that he would definitely return to PNG on the 20th, and I advised that I would be on the plane with him…until Duncan the evening before casually mentioned that Maria Sharapova was in town for a major tennis event.

I said good-bye to my husband and boarded a train bound for Singapore’s Indoor Stadium. I stayed three additional days so that I could watch the top eight women in the world compete for the Billie Jean King trophy. The WTA event was my first live tennis match, and I immediately became enthralled with the atmosphere.

Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic warming up

My fellow Serbian, Ana Ivanovic

Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova ready for the coin toss

Sharapova finishing a serve to Wozniacki

Only recognizing a few names by the first match, I found myself researching more about each competitor, watching their playing styles and selecting a new favorite – Simona Halep. Until I watched the Romanian play Canada’s Eugenie Bourchard, I had never heard of her. That day, I became a fan. I picked her to give Serena Williams a run for her money in the next matchup and Simona came through, winning in straight sets.

Serena serving to Simona Halep

As each day progressed, I found myself becoming more obsessed with the game. Duncan joined me on day two and we even convinced Nic to join us on day three, though she found better things to do. 

Nic reading a book while Serena Williams experiences the worst loss of her career

I really was ready to leave Wednesday evening and then too late learned that my flight was leaving two hours earlier than I expected, so I stayed yet another day.

I finally made it back to PNG at 5:30 a.m. Friday. I was in the country eight hours before I again flew off to elsewhere, this time known as Sydney.

Paul had a trip pop up the day before I was to arrive, so I said, yes, I will fly home and leave again. I did not even unpack my suitcase – I just dumped the dirty clothes into the laundry, took a nap while Paul finished what I had started, and then packed a smaller suitcase for our weekend away.

While I never before imagined myself living in Sydney – at least once I had already visited – I this weekend started to feel sentimental toward our Mascot neighborhood. We have stayed in the suburb enough times now to nail down our favorite eateries, walk to the Hillsong church without getting lost, find the train station and navigate around the city with ease. We know the good spots downtown, the great places for walks. We recognize when elements of the city are no longer in their place.

Sydney is starting to feel like a home away from home.

And speaking of home. I am here. Paul is in bed. We are on contrasting schedules thanks to the three time zones I have experienced in the last four days. It is actually good to be home, back on the usual schedule. I know what I can expect each day, know what I need to accomplish each day.

If all goes as planned (and who is actually counting on that?), we should be adventuring again in 10 days. Where do you think we will be going this time?

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