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It’s Friday in Singapore! What better reason to reflect on the week and share some fun stories and photos from around the world? Hope you enjoy! I’ve got lots more upcoming posts now that I’m back from the US, settling back into Singapore, and ruminating on my recent travel experiences.

Lake Tahoe

Yes, that’s Lake Tahoe in the photo above — a real-life Rothko last Sunday afternoon. We were driving the east coast on a weather-beaten day when the sun punched through and set the surface aglow. As a friend of ours noted that day, the view of Lake Tahoe can be exhausting with it’s shifting light and brooding colors. It’s a photographer’s dream given a day with no plans and a little bit of weather. Luckily, we nearly had both and were treated to a spectacular afternoon of photographic entertainment.

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Singapore

Did you hear? Singapore is this year’s Most Expensive City in The World. Can you hear the sound of one hand clapping? And a dying party horn? Because the party just officially ended. I can’t imagine that any city really wants or enjoys this label with the negative notoriety it brings. But then again this is not new news. Anyone living here would agree. The cost of a Toyota Corolla in Singapore for example, as cited by the survey, is $110,000 USD. That’s just the car. A Toyota Corolla! Getting it on the road with a COE (Certificate of Entitlement, appropriately named) will set you back an additional $76,999 SGD.

Philippines

Some of you have asked what’s happening with my effort to take part in the rebuilding after Typhoon Haiyan. The answer is… rebuilding is going to be a long, slow process but I am actively searching for the best way I can personally be involved. Naively, I initially thought I might just show up and start helping. However, I would only be adding to the problem as one more person who requires food, water and shelter from an area that can’t currently provide it.

I have made contact with a Canadian who journeyed to Coron (the area I visited a few years ago) shortly after the storm. His wife’s family lives in the area. He says Coron and the surrounding areas were damaged but not as severely as he expected. He writes:

“The island was severly tree damaged and stripped of most leaves and small branches, heavy rains have caused most trees to regrow new leaves…some broken trees were shocked to survival mode where leaves started growing out of the trunks and large limbs….never seen that before. I have been busy cutting broken trees, lumber etc and helping those I can. Locals are resilient in piecing temporary homes together, many with tarps for roofs, but life goes on easier than it would if it happened in a western society.”

I expect I’ll be journeying to Philippines later this year through an organized rebuilding effort, perhaps with Habitat for Humanity as soon as they have host capability which is necessary before sending a team of volunteers. I’ll continue to keep you posted of my plans, as well as ways you can be involved if you so desire. I’m still hoping to buy a boat for a fisherman!

The World

Here’s a fascinating story illustrating how undersea cables are keeping us connected around the world. If you’re reading this blog, it likely made its way to you along the bottom of the sea, not by satellite. Amazing stuff!

The Future

One last Friday reflection to end today’s post … I attended junior high and high school with a classmate named Jon Lujan. He was liked by all — funny, active, caring and just a really good guy. Fast forward 25 years and I just learned he’s been named as the US flag bearer at the upcoming 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.

Jon was in the Marines and injured his back while serving in Iraq. Reparative surgery in 2005 resulted in paralysis in his lower legs. But his condition hasn’t stopped him for a minute. He’ll be representing the US in alpine skiing and carrying the flag at tomorrow’s opening ceremonies — an honor bestowed on him by his Paralympic teammates.

I’m quite certain this is not the future Jon had imagined for himself when we graduated from high school, yet it is a spectacular place he finds himself and a real lesson in how to create and celebrate your life no matter what challenges confront you. Good luck, Jon! You’re an inspiration and I can’t wait to watch you in Sochi!

10 comments

  1. Kelly, I love your Friday Reflections. It’s so interesting that you mention Singapore’s designation as most expensive because I was going to ask you about it. The statistics you cite are staggering! I was curious how you’re impacted on a daily basis? ~Terri

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    1. Hey Terri! How are you? Happy you enjoyed my mishmash of thoughts yesterday! ๐Ÿ™‚ As far as the expense of Singapore, we certainly don’t own or plan to own a car! Public transport and taxis are just fine. We often shop for clothing when we return home to the US — hard to believe, but it’s actually far cheaper to buy shoes, jeans, etc. all the way across the Pacific. Small kitchen appliances are ridiculously expensive — at least $900+ for a good Kitchenaid mixer, $300+ for a basic Nespresso, etc.This makes no sense as most stuff is made on this side of the world. As far as food, the hawker centers here are dirt cheap and okay to dine at every now and then, but there’s no account for healthiness as most dishes are fried, laden with oils, and/or contain MSG. We opt to eat elsewhere, but do so at a price. We’ve been cooking a lot at home as it’s the cheapest option, yet a quart of milk is about $5.50. I bought one Australian onion (a regular yellow onion) the other day… $2.37!! Beer, wine and liquor are extremely expensive due to excise tax by the government — which just went up 25% overnight last month as part of the 2014 budget. Most beers at a bar are about $12-$14, cocktails are $18-$25 at the trendy bars. The cheapest Corona I’ve found is $9 during happy hour. An entry-level bottle of wine that would cost $12 in the US is double that here in Singapore. As such, we buy all our liquor at duty-free whenever possible. Last but definitely not least, rent is sky high. A basic two-bed apartment in a relatively new building in good part of town costs $4,000-$5,500 SGD per month. Keep in mind, I have an entirely expat perspective — there are some cost savings if you’re a native Singaporean i.e. most live in HDB government subsidized housing which is cheaper. Regardless, many people say the market is a bubble, people are way over extended on credit and Singapore is due for a massive readjustment… based on the amount of construction happening, this might be true in the next two+ years. Until then, no more Australian onions!

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      1. Wow Kelly! Those are some pretty amazing stats – I’m gobsmacked! You could do an entire post on that information alone. And I thought London was pricey when we lived there, but it couldn’t hold a candle to those figures. We were last in Singapore 2 years ago on our RTW and I remember we were challenged to find things in our budget – now I know why! Are you based there permanently or do you rotate out to new destinations? Thanks for all this great information. I’ll think of you the next time I buy onions (we’re in Mexico now and they’re really cheap!) … want me to send you some? ๐Ÿ™‚ ~Terri

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      2. LOL, I would LOVE some cheap Mexican onions! Or better yet, a bushel of tomatillos!! Can’t find them anywhere here! I’m dying for salsa verde! :: Yes, I may do a post about prices here with some suggestions about where to stay and eat locally to help visitors stay on budget. I’ve even been toying with writing a guide to Singapore and making it available for download! :: We are based permanently in Singapore, but is anything ever permanent any more? We do love it here so I expect we’ll stay for a while. It’s already been 2.5 years! Jay works for a big film studio here and he’s very busy so we have no plans to leave anytime soon. I’m a designer and I telecommute to a company in California. Not a bad job!! I can work from anywhere in the world now that everything is digital — a benefit I never expected when I chose this field. So nice to catch up with you! Keep those Mexico posts coming! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. First of all, gorgeous shots! That photo of Lake Tahoe is a Rothko and I could walk right into it! Secondly, a fascinating post. The stats blow me away!!!! Wishing you all good things. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thanks so much Chris!! I’m going to hop over to your blog right now! I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t had a chance to do any reading or writing in weeks. Hope you’re doing well! K.

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