Singapore Adventure

Friday, March 31, 2006

Our flight time tonight will be...
by jima

I don’t consider myself a frequent traveler. That must sound odd to those who read this blog regularly, but before I took my current job, my life was very... stationary. Sure, there was the occasional trip for work and the occasional vacation to Europe, but mostly I stayed close to home, both when home was frigid Wisconsin and later, when home became still-frigid-by-Singapore-standards Colorado. So be forewarned: this, too, could happen to you!

A previous job took me regularly to Japan, and at three overseas trips a year, Tokyo became yawningly normal, and I became world-weary. But still, I didn't consider myself a traveler. No, I knew the real road warriors, my co-workers who made the roundtrip from Denver to Tokyo once or twice a month. I didn't envy them, and I still don’t. Sure, they dined regularly at the best teppanyaki restaurant in Roppongi and had more frequent flyer miles than they knew what to do with, but closer examination revealed depressed-to-be-single guys in their 30s, with houses they rarely saw, barely furnished, and never called home.

Last week, passing through customs in Taiwan, I got a wake up call. My passport was full. This week, at Singapore's American embassy, as I waited for my number to be called and avoided George W. Bush's portrait gaze, I closely examined my own story, revealed in the stamp-filled pages of my passport.

While I am traveling for work a great deal, almost always to Taiwan, I am also seeing Taiwan and much of the rest of Asia with my blogging partner. My passport contains evidence of many business trips: the Japan of old, the Singapore of recent years, and the Taiwan of today. But there are also Germany rectangles, Malaysia triangles, Thailand squares, a couple of full-page ads for Indonesia, and, finally, the straw that broke the passport's back, a big sticker for India. In this job, there is no escaping the business travel, but it's the other countries, the pleasure travel, that make life in Singapore worthwhile.

The first visa in my brand-spanking-new
extra passport pages
will be from Shanghai, where I go both for business and for pleasure, as my lovely bride has the freedom to accompany me. Despite all the ROC stamps in my passport (courtesy of Taiwan), this is the first time to China for both of us. We're nervous and excited. We've been reading Lonely Planet Shanghai. Chinese friends and co-workers are full of endless advice: where to eat, which town to visit on the weekend, which sites to see...

So maybe I am a frequent traveler. But with so many places yet to see - not to mention so many blank pages in my passport - it's not too frequent.