Singapore, Indonesia, Baby and Marathon
Jeff and Jocelyn Gehring 2012-03-29
A lot has happened since we last wrote anything. We had a nice vacation, saw new images of our baby and I ran a marathon.
In February, we took a trip to Sinagpore and Indonesia. In Singapore, we visited our friend Ben George, yes, THE Ben George and his wife Mie. We stayed with them and toured the City-State for a few days. The weather was hot and humid, a nice change from cold and icy. We went to the Botanical Gardens and the Zoo, both of which were amazing.
The Botanical Gardens boasted a variety of tropical flora and fauna. The most impressive part of the gardens was the orchid exhibit. Perhaps the average person who was not raised in a desert would not be impressed by these things, but for me, it was an amazing experience. I knew these kinds of things existed as Safeway would sell run of the mill versions to rich people willing to fork out the $50 to have an unsustainable plant to show off to their friends, but was not aware of how impressive they actually were.
The Singapore Zoo was another impressive experience. Many of the animals were an arms reach away, and there was a wide variety. As is usually the case, the monkeys were the most interesting and the tigers were a big let down. Is it just me, or are tigers in a zoo the most boring thing to watch. I would personally rather watch a couch potato changing channels on a TV than watch a big cat lounge around in the heat. So, aside from the predictably boring tigers, the Singapore Zoo is an amazing place.
The rest of the time spent in Singapore, away from the touristy things, was impressive to say the least. The place is spotless. I’m not talking about the insides of fancy stores or Government buildings, I’m referring to the entire place. Finding litter of any kind is comparable to a needle in a haystack. Singaporeans don’t trash their country.
There were a few odd things about the country. One, they walk at a ridiculously slow pace. It was not only noticeably slow, but aggrivatingly slow. It blew me away that such an efficient place could have citizens that moved that slowly on a day to day basis. Two, though they all speak English, it is a very odd and at times incomprehensible dialect. It was a classic case of being seperated by a common language. Fortunately, Ben also struggled with this when he first moved to Singapore, so we were not alone in our inability to understand the native speakers. Their accent has since been explained to me as sounding like, “waiters at a dirty Chinese restaurant.” Luckily, Ben and Mie could handle the accent just fine, so there were no major problems.
The second leg of our journey led us to Bali, Indonesia. I’ll start with the good.
Beaches, waves, food*, weather, villas, price
The Beaches in Bali are gorgeous and wide open. The water temperature can’t be beat. The waves are big, consistent and easy to ride. The weather is wonderful. The villa we stayed at had a beautiful room with everything we needed. The price for everything is quite low.
Locals, Australians, airport
The tourism industry has turned a wonderful place with an interesting culture and history into a place full of street hawkers. Everywhere you go, people are trying to squeeze every cent out of you. For example, on our last day there, we decided to go to a beach on the southern portion of the island. The staff at the hotel called us a cab (public transportation is virtually non-existent) and told the cab driver where we wanted to go. After a minute or so of being in the cab, the driver insisted that we go to a different beach that was further away and was better for swimming. Wow! What a deal. Go to a beach that is further away and pay you more money. We politely told the driver that we just wanted to go to the beach we first mentioned and thought that would be it. Oh no. Again, the driver insisted that we go to this other beachand that he would give us, ” good price.” Again, we told him we wanted to go to the original beach and again, he insisted we check out his beach. At this point, we just stopped talking to him, figuring there must be something wrong with his English. He then told us, “I just want you to be happy.”
Eventually, we made it to the beach and he asked us what time we would be finished so he could give us a ride back. We told him we didn’t know.
Bali also hosts a large population of Australians who gobble up huge amounts of land and build massive dwellings surrounded by even bigger walls. Perhaps it’s not the Australians themselves that bothered me, but the complexes that they build and dirty the countryside with.
The Denpensar airport has several problems. First, the attempts to rip you off don’t stop at the airport doors. No, they go all the way until the cabin door is locked. Second, the entire airport smells like 4th ave, which wouldn’t bother me if it were only a few shops, but that is not the case. Third, I question the quality of airport staff who listens to Bob Marley music, at an audible level to the passengers, while handling things related to airport security. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with Bob Marley music, but I would imagine that it would distract someone from their job.
*Though the food in Bali was delicious, it gave both of us food poisoning. Jocelyn had to go to the hospital in Singapore on our return flight, as she was having sharp pains in her belly. The medical care she received was top notch and dirt cheap. An ambulence ride, doctors visit an I.V. and prescriptions was around US$200 and we made our connecting flight. Singapore’s health care system was something to be admired.
Upon returning to Korea, Jocelyn visited the OBGYN to make sure nothing went wrong due to the food poisoning. The doctor said everything looks good and the baby even did some kicking moves for the camera. She is starting to get a baby belly and the clothes just aren’t fitting the same. Luckily she has some maternity ware already, so she should be good. Her next appointment is on the 30th of March and she will be 14 weeks at that point. We have several photos, but we haven’t been able to upload any yet. We will try to post some in the next few weeks.
Please feel free to suggest any names. I think Jeff Jr. sounds good for a boy or girl.
On March 21st, I ran the Seoul Dong-a Marathon. It was a lot of fun but left me in a bit of pain. I will be the first to admit that my training was weak at best. Prior to the race, I had been running 1-2 miles a day for about two weeks. On the weekends I would take it up a notch and put in a 6-7 miler, but never more than that. It’s cold out here. Cold, wet weather mixed with long runs just didn’t sound fun to me at the time, but at the 36th kilometer, I was regretting my decisions.
Another problem that occurred during the marathon was that I thought it was 40 km plus a little change. This thought led me to develop a suicidal strategy. When I reached the 38th km, I decided to up my level for what I though were the last two kilometers. When I saw the sign for the 40th km and refreshment stands, but no Olympic Stadium, I was devastated. How long was this? At this point my mind went in circles, trying to remember conversions from grade school math; frustrations with the American way and its unwillingness to adopt the more efficient metric system. The tall buildings of Seoul left me with no hope either. They dominated the landscape and the Stadium was dwarfed by steel and concrete produced by Samsung and Hyundai.
How could I finish? I blew all of my energy trying to make a glorious entrance into the stadium where legends such as Carl Lewis once dazzled the crowds. I drank some water and Pocari Sweat (Asian sports drink) and slowly trudged along the path towards the finish.
Kilometer 41…no finish line.
Then, out of nowhere arose the most glorious structure man has ever built. Seoul Olympic Stadium. Frank Lloyd Wright never designed a structure as magnificent as this stadium. The massive gray Colosseum stood there in front of me and the screams of Korean supporters would line the rest of my journey.
As I made the final turn before entering the stadium and inched my way up the last hump, there was Jocelyn with the camera to capture, forever, my most painful moments. After a brief photo shoot and a kiss of support, I made my way into the stadium, around the track and across the finish line.
For those of you interested in running a marathon, I would suggest doing a little more training than I did. If you are running outside the US, it will be 42.195km.
You can see the photos from the marathon by clicking the link below our going to “Our Photos” on the right side of the page. http://picasaweb.google.com/jocelyngehri…
That’s all for today.
Jeff and Jocelyn