One quick announcement–I probably won’t be posting pics or video here for the next month. I tried to post a pic and it took more than 5 minutes to upload on this connection. I’ll keep trying, but unless I get better speeds, I’ll have to wait and then hit you with a blast of picture posts once we move….
ETA–As it turns out, the connection *is* slow, but I was able to upload a youtube video in a reasonable amount of time. I think the photo upload issue was a wordpress thing. I’ll try again later or tomorrow.
Last Friday night we had a going away party. So many friends and family came to share our last night in the US with us. A bittersweet night, I vacillated between being so happy to see our friends (some of whom I haven’t seen in person in years) and tearing up at the idea of not seeing “Sex and the City 2” with Kate and Aimée or not seeing Julie in a show…or just not being able to see our friends whenever we wanted.
We ordered a cake from the same people who did our wedding cake (and who inspired me to create my own twist on our wedding cake flavor–Strawberry Grand Marnier Cupcakes), which I picked up. I almost walked out of the bakery with a cake that said “Bon Voyage Crystal, Raul and Elanor” because I was so focused on making sure that Elanor’s name was spelled correctly that I almost didn’t see that Ravi’s wasn’t.
Ravi’s dad gave a funny speech where he talked about how glad he was to finally get rid of us (specifically Ravi) and our laundry, but that we would be missed. My friend Stephanie (who came up from New York just for us) read a poem she’d composed in honor of Elanor which I’ll post here another day. We received many sweet and beautiful gifts to remember Boston by and several lovely tacky ones (which we ‘d actually requested…there is a plan afoot for them).
We crashed for a few hours before getting up at 4/4:30ish in order for our 5am (cringe) pick up. We took two vans (this will be a theme) to the airport where Ravi’s parents met us to help us get all the luggage checked and to say good-bye (for now) at security.
This was especially good as we needed about a half hour at the ticket counter. Not because of our ridiculous luggage (and it was ridiculous) but because of the one-way ticket thing. Apparently an airline can be fined 25k US per person in the event of a person entering a foreign country with no exit plan and no permit to do so. They didn’t care about Ravi, who had his Employment Pass to show them. Rather, they weren’t so happy about Elanor and I and for a while I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to leave the country, or that they would let me without forcing me to buy a return ticket with a departure date in the next 28 days (the current length of stay in Singapore for a tourist not holding an Employment or Dependent Pass).
For the record, I had what’s called and “in principle approval letter” as did Elanor for our Dependent Passes. We couldn’t get our actual DP’s until we arrived in Singapore, someone at GNB signed off on them, we get finger printed, and get more passport style photos taken so they can make the official DP cards (which look like driver’s licenses). If you actually just read that sentence, you can deduce that getting our REAL DP’s require us to enter the country of Singapore to complete the process. The in principle letter states clearly that we’ve been approved “in principle” for our DP’s and just need to do the in person stuff…in Singapore. I’m not really sure what was so complicated…but it took a ticket agent, a supervisor and whoever she took our “in principle” letters to show to decide that we could leave the country. But first I got to have a discussion where they stated like 7 times that they weren’t responsible for what happened to me if Singapore deported me because I arrived on a one-way ticket and I responded that I had the “in principle” letters which meant I wasn’t going to get deported which just started the whole conversation all over again. Finally I got to agree that fine, I wouldn’t hold them responsible (which I also kept saying in the conversational black hole that never ended) and got to get the boarding passes. *HEADDESK*
I feel kind of guilty saying this, with European air travel shot to hell due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland, but our trip to Singapore was actually one of the most uneventful trips I’ve been on. All the flights were on time (in fact, 2 of the 3 arrived early with the 3rd arriving on time) and while we didn’t get any of our hoped for upgrades, the seats were in Economy Plus (and believe me, that few extra inches of leg room made all the difference, especially with E’s car seat) and we packed such that we never had to access our carry ons while in flight.
This was the first time E flew with her own seat (that was planned for, anyways) and having her in the car seat made all the difference. She slept for long chunks on all three legs of the flights and was generally easily entertained when not sleeping. I found a travel tray that attaches to the car seat’s straps which I had hoped would be a hit. E liked kicking it, she liked eating some of my potato chips off of it, and used it to hold her pad of paper to color on, but she also discovered how to detach it and kept throwing it at us…so I’m not sure it will make future appearances on airplanes with us. There was Elmo, but there was also coloring, some playing with dolls, various toys, many songs, and other such things that have already faded into memory 36 hours later.
I have to stop and do a product endorsement for my new favorite travel accessory–the “traveling toddler;” quite possibly the best $15 (US) I’ve spent in a long time. It was super easy to attach the car seat to a carry-on and then stroll her through the various airports without yet another thing to push/carry/cart around. It WAS a pain in the ass to detach the car seat for security check points, but security check points are always a pain in the ass, so I’m not going to subtract points for that. I’ll also note that it wasn’t always easy to pull her down the aisles of the airplanes to our seats (on one 777 it was fine but on the next it got stuck…same plane, some company…who knows why?) and we basically had to be the last ones off the plane so that we could hook her up to the carry-on before de-planing (not enough hands to get off if one of us just carried the car seat) but those were trade-offs that were more than reasonable. It’s also $70 US cheaper than the Go-Go Kidz Travelmate which is what I kept finding reviews for online and my favorite baby stuff store sells (and which creates another thing you have to push) and takes up no room in my purse (it’s a t-strap)…GENIUS. Considering my next trip back to the US will be solo with E, it was a HUGE find for me.
Arriving in Singapore, things went far smoother than they had at the United counter. I showed them the “in principle” letter, they wished us the best, stamped my passport, gave me the white card I had to give to whoever along with “in principle” letter to get my (and Elanor’s) DP’s and sent me on my way. Thankfully, no one felt compelled to go through our bags (not that we had anything we weren’t supposed to, rather just that even though it had been uneventful, it had also been like 36 hours at that point since I’d lain down on a bed) and we and our two porters met our two drivers and the two vans were loaded.
We got to the Hilton at about 1am Singapore Time Monday morning (about 1pm Boston Time Sunday afternoon). We were all starving at this point…and happily made our way to the 24 hour full service McDonald’s (they’re everywhere here) to get some dinner (breakfast? lunch? who knew?) rather than call or order online for McDelivery (no, seriously…that’s what they call it; picture some dude on a vespa style scooter in a red jacket with a red helmet emblazoned with the yellow “M” and a giant red bag on their back putting along a busy road). I think we got to bed around 2:30/3am Singapore time, although I ended up staying awake until 4. Ella woke us at quarter to 6, and we went downstairs for breakfast. After Ravi left for work at like 8:30 (he was a little late) I put on Elmo and dozed until 10:30. We grabbed lunch (yes, McDonalds again…whatever, it was right there) and then moved to our serviced apartment at 1:30.
The first serviced apartment didn’t work out for reasons I don’t want to go into, but let’s say that when I opened my laptop this morning, little bugs were crawling in and out of my keyboard and over my screen. At which point I freaked out fully and upgraded my status from “requesting a change soon” (the previous day’s email) to “GET ME OUT TODAY, PLEASE.” I checked out a few places this morning, and when my first choice just couldn’t get us in, we moved to a different location. Poor Ravi has come home to 3 different places in 3 nights. But here we’ll stay for a month while I locate a permanent home here in Singapore.
Last night we ate at Marché (for our Boston friends-yes, the same place that used to be in the Prudential Center) where I found the best restaurant high chair EVER. I really wanted to upload the picture, but instead you’ll have to imagine a standard high chair with two shelves jutting out of the back on wheels. Marché is set up like a market so you wander from station to station ordering food and they swipe a card-at the end of the meal the cards are swiped to calculate the bill. With the miracle high chair we didn’t need to take turns, and both Ravi and I could go and order food and actually (GASP) eat a meal together with Elanor.
Today, as I said, I checked out other properties and handled the two van move. I spent the morning/early afternoon unpacking what we do need and repacking what we probably don’t in the next month. Nothing too exciting.
Elanor is currently napping. When she wakes up, I’m heading out to the grocery store to buy some essentials and then we’ll possibly hit the pool as Ravi will be getting home late tonight.
In the meantime…here’s a quick video I shot to show you around our new place