The worst part about having a cold in Singapore is not the fact that your “oh-so-scratchy” throat prevents you from telling your students to quiet down for lesson unless you use a microphone. (A microphone, by-the-way, actually, has the adverse effect of making students believe they simply have permission to talk louder to compensate for the fact that the teacher is louder. It seems my natural voice is scarier that the microphone-enhanced one despite the scratchiness or maybe because of that scratchiness. I do, after all, sound a bit like the Wicked Witch of the West when I yell with this voice.)
The worst part about having a cold in Singapore is not the fact that your mom and dad are not around to take care of you…although, this is a major drawback.
The worst part about having a cold in Singapore is not the fact that you cannot go to the gym, let alone climb the stairs, without wheezing two weeks before you will be sporting a swimsuit for a week straight in Bali.
The worst part about having a cold in Singapore is not even the fact that it takes you 34 minutes to find the cough drops at the grocery store, because grocery stores here just do not look like Wal-Mart. (The cough drops, by-the-way, are “conveniently” stocked next to the hard candy. Note to self.)
The worst part about having a cold in Singapore IS in fact the conundrum it creates. I mean, really, who gets “colds” in this kind of “heat?” And when I say “heat,” I mean it. According to the Straits Times, Singapore’s leading newspaper, February was the driest month ever and one of the hottest on record. In February, Singapore received just 6.3mm of rain – the lowest for February since 1869, when rainfall records were first measured here.
If that wasn’t enough, the highest maximum temperature, which was recorded on 26 February and also, unfortunately, my school’s Cross Country Day (more about this later), of 35.2 degrees Celsius (95.3 degrees Fahrenheit plus humidity like crazy), measures just below the hottest day ever on record, which was 36 degrees on 26, March 1998. Not exactly the type of weather in which you want to curl up with some hot, soothing peppermint tea and warm, healing-of-colds soup now is it?
And the weatherman is not predicting a cool-down anytime soon. So, it looks like I’m stuck substituting wheatgrass juice for hot tea and gazpacho for chicken noodle soup. Thanks a lot El Nino.
Before the cold attacked, though, I did have quite a nice weekend. Friday morning, aka the hottest day ever, I attended my school’s cross country meet where I thoroughly enjoyed cheering on my students as they completed a 4.2 (for boys) and 3.6 (for girls) kilometer race through the Chinese and Japanese gardens. I’m not so sure my cheerful demeanor was reciprocated as the sweaty students ran by in the scorching heat, though, many of them did still manage to pant a breathless, “Good morning, Ms. Rachel,” as they ran by. I cannot say enough about how polite these kids usually are. Positions reversed, I’d probably rather give an overly enthusiastic teacher standing, and barely sweating I might add, on the sidelines, the finger instead of a greeting.
Exhausted from the heat, I spent my afternoon off taking a nap with Ella followed by a hot yoga class. I settled-in for a quite Friday evening with a movie and some homemade popcorn, which I proudly popped myself in my microwave-less kitchen over the stove.
Saturday was spent lounging on the beach with Steph, and, in the evening, we joined Jacob at the movie theatre to see the musical “Nine.”
On Sunday morning, picnic breakfast in hand, I made my way to MacRitchie nature reserve to do a 13 kilometer solo hike complete with a tree-top walk through the rainforest and around a lovely reservoir. The majority of the hike was peaceful and uneventful, spent enjoying some quality time with Lady Gaga on my IPod and an occasional break to read a bit. However, toward the end of my hike, things escalated from uneventful to eventful and unusual really fast.
Apparently, monkeys have an exceptional sense of smell. And though I had re-wrapped the leftover biscuits from my breakfast, a monkey detected my secret with his laser nostrils. Soon after walking past this clever little fellow, I suddenly felt a tug on my bag. Before I knew what was happening, there was a monkey in my purse. Needless to say, I walked only a few steps before dropping my bag on the ground in a panic. I proceeded to watch the smug fellow remove the biscuits from my purse, climb a tree, open the package with his little opposable thumbs, and finish my leftovers all the while happily looking at me with a sort of “finders keepers” grin.
Now, while I will say I was rather frightened of this opposable-thumbed, cat-sized thief at the time, looking back it is a pretty surreal experience. I mean how many people can say they carried a monkey in their purse? And how many people can say they “shared” their breakfast with a monkey in the rainforest? Not many, would be my guess.
Such is my life in Singapore.
Despite the cold, my week in school has passed-by fairly smoothly thus far. Maybe I should knock on wood though as I am accompanying 38 students to the National Museum of Singapore’s “Quest for Immortality” Egyptian exhibit tomorrow afternoon.
Stephanie’s U.S. friend, McKenzie, arrives on Saturday morning, and Tim’s plane lands late Sunday night. As I will be enjoying my time re-discovering Singapore and subsequently discovering Bali for the next two weeks, look for an exciting blog post near the middle of March covering all my yet unknown adventures.
Cheers and TiA,
Pictures have been added to the "Year of the Tiger" album, including some of the sticky-fingered monkey: http://picasaweb.google.com/rachelknutson.knutson8/YearOfTheTiger#