This blog follows me, Raewyn MacG, around (hopefully) the world. Currently, I am based in back in New Zealand having returned from JET in August 2010. Still traveling, still having adventures, just not as many.
When I landed in Singapore at the very end of July 2011, I hadn't been to Singapore in 21 years, to be perfectly honest, I didn't know much about the place, my memories from when I was five consisted of The Merlion and possibly a tiny bit of Sentosa Island but I am really not sure.
My former flatmate, Leonard, met me at the airport and escorted me to my hostel which I had booked through HostelWorld. I think that was my big mistake. Not knowing anything about Singapore I just jumped on HostelWorld, went "that looks fairly central and vaguely nice" and booked WoW Hostel. I really should have consulted my family more because I ended up in Geylang, the "redlight" district... not entirely all that central and AlJuneid station is about as dodgy as Singapore gets at night. The hostel was not well sign posted and I got quite lost more than once. Next time I am going to stay Hotel 88 or whatever it is in Central Singapore because at least that way I know that I am safe. My friend's friends were staying there and it was soooo much nicer.
Other than the weird hostel experience Singapore was about as awesome as it gets. I really liked it and would live there if given the opportunity.
I had 2 days and 3 nights in beautiful Singapore. On day 1 I caught up with my former flatmate who had met me at the airport the night before and helped me find my hostel and met up with our former neighbour, Jeroen from Switzerland, who was a student at NUS at the time. He had some girlfriends from Switzerland visiting too. They were also on their way to a wedding in a different country.
As four out of the six of us were tourists we headed up the Singapore Flyer, just as awesome as London Eye but cooler because it's in Singapore. It provides a fantastic start to a first day in Singapore because it allows you to get your bearings from on high. It takes a fair bit of time but gives you such amazing views and such an awesome chance to decide where to next.
For us, next was Vivo City for spot of lunch and shopping. Via the Merlion of course. I remembered it being much much bigger but then I was five the last time I had seen it...
Vivo City resulted in a lunch a murtabak and banana paratha. Oh my gosh, Singaporean food is so dreamy. I am still not sold on Sugar Cane Juice but everything else is just amazing. Leonard, who has seen me not finish a whole pizza before, was wondering where I was putting all the food I was stuffing into my mouth.
After a spot of lunch was a spot of shopping. UNIQLO!!! Oh how I had missed Uniqlo. Shorts, T-shirt, umbrella... gets! I was very happy. So happy in fact that I let the others con me into going to Sentosa Island with them even though I had said that I really didn't want to go there... aaaahahahahaha.
Sentosa actually ended up being possibly one of my best memories of Singapore this time around. Jeroen's friend from the university joined us and dragged us in the direction of a foam party at a beach bar. I laughed so hard because it was a) the last thing I expected and b) the one thing I needed. The music seemed as though it was coming off of my ipod too which made me laugh a little. So we had our Singapore Slings there then headed off for Satay back in town.
Om nom nom nom nom nom nom Singapore Satay. Enough said.
Singapore Zoo: as awesome as it is reputed to be, though I thought it would be larger, again small child memory deception. Got lost trying to get there by train then bus but I did get there in the end despite Lonely Planet's rather amusingly bad instructions.
Arab Street and Little India: Also awesome! My parents think that that area has changed a lot since they first lived there in the 1970s. Well duh! It's called progress. The boogies that used to hang out around the area around the Bugis MTR stop have gone and the atmosphere has changed completely. BUT amazing pancakey crepe things in that area at a Swedish cafe and of course, Arab Street being the former Muslim precinct had awesome scarves for awesome prices. ;-)
Orchard Road: Everything is there, everything!!! Even Sephora... more money spent... too much money spent... awesome flip flops purchased that then got worn to Ladylovescake's wedding. :D
Jammed a million and one too many things into my pack and jumped on my plane to Sri Lanka at the end of Day 2. Late night flight landed me into Sri Lanka at 0100 which is another story for another day.
One of the things that I learned as an Assistant Language Teacher on JET in Japan was that teaching English as an L2 or L3 (L1 being the native language) does not seem to work if it is done in L1. When English is taught to a student from L1 there is often little compulsion to use what has been taught and/or there is much compulsion to use L1 as a crutch. So coming back to New Zealand and trying out the English teacher at a language school gig was actually quite an eye opener for me. Some students could go from very little workable English to an awful lot of workable English really quite quickly but I didn't know how the teachers managed to achieve this in a classroom where they only spoke one, or in most cases none, of the languages spoken by the students they were teaching.
Before I went to Sri Lanka for Ladylovescake's wedding, I did a 5 week stint teaching Upper Intermediate level teenagers at a local language school. Dear goodness did I feel incompetent when I started out. I expected everyone to suck at English and having to sink or swim scared to bjaezus out of me. However, I persevered and with the help of my awesome class and my plushie Angry Bird, I found much joy in working with language school students. I found this joy because most of them are learning English because they want to, not because they have to. Most have a reason to be learning the language and want to make certain that money is not being wasted.
It was that joy that led me to investigate doing the CELTA, Certificate of English Language Teaching for Adults, so that I could continue to work in this area that I do so enjoy. Even if it is ultimately "my back up plan" and my "ticket to travel" it is still a valid and important qualification for any language teacher to have. In consultation with my boss and with the language school owner's ex-wife, who my mother happens to know, I settled on doing the course at Languages International in Auckland City and found it to be absolutely awesome. I cannot speak more highly of the staff there, the director of teacher training and his team of tutors are absolutely awesome and I highly recommend their CELTA course. It was high pressure, especially financially, but it was well worth it and has opened a few doors even though I've only had it for a few months.
The 5 weeks for work that I did at the local language school prior to my travels to my sister's wedding, may well have set me up for some time to come. Having done the CELTA now and being uncertain where my future takes me I know that at least no matter where I go I can teach English in English. I have the set of skills now and the ability to, hopefully, help any learner through, so long as they are willing to learn.
Well let's just say that the reality of my life at the moment is that since I went to Sri Lanka in August 2011 (which needs blogging, still I know), I am not going to be able to leave NZ for at least another year. I dislike this fact so I am attempting to ignore it.
In my attempts to ignore it I intend to blog about my trips to Singapore, Sri Lanka and New Zealand's Northland over the next few weeks. I also make a daily trip to London via the blog of my sister, LadyLovesCake, who is the whole reason I went to Sri Lanka last year. If I slack off on my blogging, however, it is because of the reality of my life at the moment.
The reality of my life at the moment is that it only took 18 months but I have my life back again after JET. I am so busy that I barely have time for myself (in theory).
This year I am:
Doing my Master of Environmental Management Thesis on base line environmental indicators for newly formed city councils.
Working part time as an ESL teacher subcontracted from the English School that I work for to a lovely little school nearby.
Working part time as an ESL, Maths and Science tutor.
Considering doing some volunteer work with Antarctica New Zealand to pay my Antarctica trip 10 years ago forward.
So reality is that 10 years ago, aboard 2041, I believed that I would be traveling the world as some sort of foreign correspondenty business persony thing woman lady. The truth is that I a) live with my parents and b) am doing completely different things to what I ever would have dreamed of. The reality is that I am busy and the furthest that I get to travel this year will probably not even be as far as Dunedin.
I was at a family function the other day (Happy 70th Auntie!!!) with family that I had not seen in what feels like forever including my great aunt who makes me feel like a lazy poo poo head every time I sit down to write because she is still running around with few hearing, sight, or mobility issues at 82! I felt like a complete loser when I filled my father's cousins in on what I was up to these days, purely because I am living at home on a strict strict budget semi-reliant on my parents for the life to which I could so easily become accustomed. This is not a nice feeling even if they did have that look of understanding about the economy not being in such a flash state since 2008 when I moved to Japan.
But I have a plan and if I play my cards right will be able to return the favour (I am incredibly excited about her visit very soon) and visit LadyLovesCake in London next year en route to Africa. I am hoping that she's in a financial position to join me too maybe. ;-)
More about the past 8 months to come. There is soooo much that needs writing.