As we enter week number nine and country number three it may be a miracle but we’re all still standing. I realized this morning that we are officially on day 60! This trip around the world has always been a dream of mine. Or maybe not a dream as much as it was a goal and if there is anything consistent about me it’s that I always bring my dreams to fruition. So I knew that this trip would happen. I just didn’t know when and I definitely didn’t see it unraveling in this context. Hindsight is always so much more enlightened then the present. This is a peculiar predicament for someone who values the ability to relish in the present and not be lost in the things that have come to pass.
A few weeks ago I found myself in a cafe staring across the table at my travel cohort and thinking, “How? How on earth did we end up pairing and how the hell did we take that pairing to Bali, Indonesia?!” Almost as soon as the thought crossed my mind he looked up and said, “Is it okay that, when people ask me how we got together, I answer with “I have no idea.”” There was nothing I could do but chuckle. When we left it was easy for me to feel like my best friend and I were heading out on an adventure with my Littles. Then, somehow and quite suddenly, my ‘boyfriend‘ and I were traveling. And finally, there I was, wondering how much we really knew about one another before jumping the metaphorical ship. I have always known that travel is a g-force awakening into the get-to-know you game but this was on a whole new level. We went from virtually single and independent types to rapid fire living together, traveling together and yes, being a family together.
Just a few weeks into our World-Wide Tour W got up from the lunch table, marched up to Adam and asked if he could, “call him dad.” W had not discussed it with me prior. It had no roots in our world yet save for the ones that were currently choking the words and the breath out of me. “If it would make you happy. I’d be good with that.” The words hung there in the air as if I could smack them away. Then without missing a moment R hoped up to declare to anyone who would hear it that she too would be calling him dad for the foreseeable future. I’ll admit, I had to let it all sink in. That night we had the talk as adults about what it all meant. The feelings it elicited in me. The feelings it certainly elicited in them. The feelings it elicited in him. We decided emphatically that it meant Adam would always be a part of their life regardless of how our situation changed and that there would be no endorsement either direction of titles. We would just allow it to play out the way it played out. I NEVER imagined my kids calling anyone “dad” ever again. And now all of a sudden I was hearing the words, “I love you daddy!” and “I love you daughter.” “Dad can you throw the football with me?” ” I’d love to son!” And never mind the words but… the follow through!
If you’re reading this and you know me well then you know the commita-phobic nature that the last four to nine years has bred into me. Let me just say that his matches and perhaps surpasses mine so these realizations are equally captivating and enthralling. For the inherently open book that I am he is a locked up vault about most things. I am a lover. Period. I am verbally, physically and action-ably compassionate. He [was] not a cuddler or a talker. He communicated via time. The only way we determined this was with a ten minute, “Love Languages” test (that he very graciously took to bring me joy) and quite a bit (read excessive in his world) of uncomfortable communication. We have had to make some compromises…many in fact. He cuddles often and makes a point to be more open. I have to dial in my emotions a bit and appreciate the time he offers. I am learning to share and appreciate that this parenting thing is a team effort and that I am no longer the final say. Actually, his parental research puts mine to shame. I am learning to listen and to relieve my control over that which I fought to achieve and maintain over the last four years, the most important things I have ever invested in, my children. At this point it’s safe to say that we are a study-able model of relationship phenomenon. And yet here we sat, happily among one another, working in our together alone fashion that we have come accustomed to. Everyday brings us closer to synchronicity. Every debacle finds us with a bit more understanding and compassion for one another’s perspectives. One thing is for certain, we are here (together) for a purpose and as the weeks flash before our eyes the underlying bond is both cemented and tried but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
So there it is, the family update. Now down to the good stuff. I wrapped up Bali in the tightest bow I could for you in the last blog but here we are two countries deeper. Let me give you a bit on our adventures in Singapore. Some of you have asked why it is that we only spent a week in Singapore and there are quite a few reasons:
- Singapore was a much needed reset in a First-World environment after spending over a month in the Third-World setting of Indonesia. We had been hot. We had been technologically marooned and we had been living on minimal everything for well over 4 weeks. Singapore’s only job was to recharge and reboot us for what came next.
- Singapore is stunning! But it’s only a small island that you can cross in under an hour and aside from the tourist stops there wasn’t much to see or get invested in.
- The prices were much more First-World if not overachieving. As a country they import a majority of their goods which drives up costs on just about everything. Additionally, it’s important to note if you’re traveling during the Chinese New Year, that costs are driven up another $2-$3 USD per item. BEFORE THE NEW YEAR: A cup of coffee cost an average of $6USD. A beer averaged $10USD! A cocktail cost an average of $18USD! And a family dinner ran us around $100USD. The lodging was impeccable but it showed in the final cost, our highest yet, of around $1900USD for a WEEK!
Then what are the reasons to visit you may ask:
- The people are extremely helpful and kind. We never met a stranger and everyone was anxious to offer us extra tidbits on where to visit and what to try.
- Sentosa Island was a Westerner’s playground. There was Universal Studios, the Largest Aquarium in the World and all kinds of other shops and activities to explore. This is where you; made your own pancake batter, bungee jumped on trampolines and had a decent cup of coffee while perusing the western-nature mall.
- We fell in love with the City Hall train station where we found some of our favorite shops. Adam had the flour-less chocolate cake of a lifetime and our vitamin deficient bodies all fell back in love with protein smoothies.
- Metro passes are unlimited and invaluable. Hop on, hop off, it’ll take you anywhere for right around $60USD for a week. It’s worth the mention that the kids were free but we had to bring them to City Hall (4 stops away) with their passports to get their metro card. The city officials did allow us the free passage to secure these tickets.
- Cock and Balls! This was a chicken and beer sports bar (hence the name) where we became all but regulars there as it was around the corner from our home. We highly recommend it and it’s staff should you have the chance to pop over. A drink will take an average of 20 minutes to make but it is well worth the wait when it’s perfectly curated ingredients finally hit your mouth.
- Singapore really does have the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. It takes about half an hour to get around the full circle and travels so slowly that it’s movement is virtually in-perceptible on the ground. The view is notable since your in country but it wasn’t inspiring to any of us as much as it was a nice break from the chaos of the Chinese New Year happening in the streets down below.
- Lastly we all enjoyed the Sky hotel. The prices were as high as the rooftop view but there was no better place to watch the laser show on the bay then from the comfort of a blanketed couch that had a direct line of sight to the entire bay. When the show finished we enjoyed New Years entertainment on the roof and the expat company was remarkably warm and great conversation.
That wraps Singapore for us. As a country it’s unlikely to make our top 50. It was unanimously a country that we’d return to for a wedding or 3 day family adventure but nothing more. All in all we were mutually neutral on this, the most expensive, Asian country.
We came to Japan because:
- The flight price was right from where we were located.
- I used to live here and have always had an infinity for it.
- We were ready for affordable First-World
- The weather looked phenomenal
Only 10 days in and this country, Japan, has not been disappointing. We have already taken the nostalgia tour of where mom used to work and play. We have all but worked out the kinks on the metro and we have made a few friends. We are supremely blessed to find ourselves in the position to utilize military assets and have chosen to use DOD lodging for the first leg of our stay. There is a gym, great food and a cafe always available. The gate check can be a little cumbersome but we are ideally situated by the metro and securely tucked in behind the well trained guard crew that I have been continually impressed with. We were spoiled by an intimate, no kids allowed and in-hotel, 6 course Valentines banquet dinner this week. We watched the Superbowl live and with a buffet of phenomenal food and drinks.We shared a Sunday banquet hall brunch with the Littles to the tune of an eagle ice sculpture, an impeccable pianist and some of the best food either of us has ever sampled at a buffet like brunch. And all of that was just in the hotel!
A week in to our Japan journey and we have focused on the most local hubs. We explored Tokyo and did some minor shopping for things like jackets! When we left Bali it was a steamy 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Today it is 30 degrees Fahrenheit in Japan and snowing! A jacket was a must and the gear put us on the fast track to snowboarding later this week. Today we will adventure in Kamakura where I intend to have my pack rub the inside of Buddah’s belly the way that my best friend Jessica and I did more than 15 years ago. Still later this week I will get to experience Yokohoma through my children’s eyes. Yokohoma was the city of play even as a teenager (yes, I said teenager) when I was here last. There is another Ferris Wheel with a city view and multiple roller coasters. I am truly enjoying watching my Littles explore and experience the nuisances of Japan with the same fervor and joy that I had so many years ago. Just the other day they broke out dancing in the street with this reckless abandonment and adoration for their surroundings. My heart swam.
Every few weeks we touch base on how all this travel is effecting each of us. We have a family meeting around the table and talk about the things and people that we miss as well as the things that we are finding to be blessings. We discuss who wants to call it quits and who wants to roll on. We verify that this is an asset to all of us or what it is that we are in need of before we move forward to the next location. I am happy to report that currently we are ALL overjoyed to be on the road. We miss you ALL very much but we are enjoying this deluge of ubiquitous education and culture.R, who would be enrolled in pre-kindergarten in the states, is currently working through 1st grade workbooks. W, who would be enrolled in Kindergarten back home, is currently working through 2nd grade workbooks. Both worked through the three books prior to their current status. W has began reading and R isn’t far behind him. The independence and strength just seeps out of these kids and I couldn’t be any more proud.
As always we look forward to your feedback and leadership. We are enjoying all of the emails and travel suggestions. We would love to see you all posting your photos and adventures with us on your social media platform with the tag “alphasoscarmike!”Please keep it all coming and THANK YOU for sharing this journey with us!