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Arrived home

I'm back in Vancouver!

Due to the creative time-keeping imposed by tradition (time zones are stupid; we should just do everything with GMT), this blog post is approximately 24 hours after the last one, despite the actual local time reported on each blog post being only being 12 hours apart.

Singapore Changi airport definitely is a nice airport, but I must admit that the novel was starting to wear thin after 12 hours. I was really glad to finally board the ANA flight to Narita.

That flight had the individual seat-mounted movie/video/music/game screens. No power on the seats, though, which made it considerably less comfortable than the flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong. I managed to spend about S$35 on souveniers and S$100 on food+drinks (including buying dinner and drinks for the two group members who came all the way out the airport to visit me, and in one case carry my luggage. Thanks again, guys!)

Narita airport was... ok. Not as bad as Heathrow, but nowhere as nice as Changi. After waffling for a bit, I decided to switch my remaining Singapore cash into yen. I didn't know if I'd actually find something to use it on, but I was in a rare spending mode, and I figured that S$64 wouldn't get me far in other countries anyway. After changing all that cash at the first place I saw, I had 3884 yen. What can you do with that? In particular, what can you do with that inside the controlled area of the Narita airport?

First, I went to a bookstore, and picked up volume 26 of Mahou Sensei Negima. Yeah, that's no way I'll be able to read it (there's lots of kanji), but... it's Negima! I had to buy it! ... ok, at least one of you will understand that, and that's more than enough approval for me.

I also picked up a simple manga that had the hiragana and katana written beside the kanji. And, for that matter, there weren't many kanji to begin with. On later inspection, I think it's really aimed at young girls... but I was getting it for reading practice, not to evaluate it for a literary award.

No, I don't know what the actual title is, since it's written in very stylized characters. It's by peach-pitt, which is a team that's turned out some quite nice work in the past.

Then I stopped at the last store before my gate and looked for things to waste money on. Eventually my eye came to rest on the display of cell phone strap decorations. I don't even have a cell phone, and everybody that I know which has cell phones don't attach decorations to them... but these seem to be really popular in Japan, and most of them were just so gaudy that I figured that I had to get a few.

Unfortunately, I didn't really think about how many I was getting... and I didn't really think about what "380 - 400 yen" meant (i.e. approximately $4). So I ended up buying something like $20-worth of silly, gaudy, impractical cell phone straps.

Oh well. It's not like 2150 yen would do me much good in Canada, either. After that, I only had coins left, so I bought a bad muffin and some mango juice. I ended up bringing 134 yen home.

The flight home turned out to be in a refurbished A330-300, so I had power for my laptop! And individual video screens, although the movies being offered this time weren't very good. Apart from "Bolt", which was a great animated movie about a dog actor that thinks that his super-dog powers are real.

The flight wasn't perfect; there was a crying baby right next to me... but it was still a good trip. In addition, I was at the very front of the economy-class cabins. So I got food and drink first, I could leave first (other than the business-class people), and I had a bit more legroom than normal economy-class seats.

Canadian immigrations wasn't bad -- it was much, much better than when I returned from Belfast in late Aug. That was the same time as all the international students were arriving in Vancouver, and it was on a weekend, so it took about 90 minutes to get through immigration. This time it was only foo minutes.

My cat was very happy to see me, and I'm uploading this blog post while laying on the floor of my living room -- if I went anywhere else, my cat would complain.

Only 1.5 hours since I arrived in Vancouver!

Sin Airport is Fantastic!

I've decided that I like airports. Everything is clean and tidy, the staff are so helpful and polite, etc. Granted, you pay over seven dollars for a chocolate mint frappe, but you can't have everything!

Out of all the airports I've visited... yes, all of Vancouver, London Heathrow, Belfast, Vancouver, Hong Kong, and Singapore Changi... the Singapore Changi airport is the best. I've heard other people say it, and I really believe it.

I managed to get my boarding pass and dump my large suitcase ten hours before my flight. So I'm now in the post-immigration checkpoint area with my small suitcase, enjoying the free wifi and power. And somewhat struggling to stay awake... I'm scared that if I fall asleep, the kittens will eat me. Err, I mean, I might sleep through my flight time.

But hey, I wouldn't be a computer geek if I couldn't stay up all night, so I'm sure that I can make it onto the plane. And at that point, the more tired I am, the better -- I normally can't sleep on planes, so hopefully I can sleep this time.

While I was wandering around, I noticed a post office. So I sat down to write postcards to Canada and the US... but when I was finished, the post office was closed! Yes, it closed at midnight, and I missed it by two or three minutes. :( I forget when it opens in the morning; I may or may not send postcards before I leave Singapore.

Only six hours until I (start flying) to Vancouver!

The End is Near!

Things are winding down now. I went to the Science Centre, which was disappointing -- I'd seen many of the exhibits at Science World (in Vancouver) 15 or 20 years ago. And it was a lot more kid-centered than Science World... or at least, it was much more kid-centered than I remember Science World being. From when I visited it. When I was a kid.

I discovered that there was a "snow centre" right next door. Judging from the website, it's an indoors area with snow! The temperature in Singapore has only dipped below 20 degrees once in recorded temperature-history (since 1934, IIRC) -- and it was still 19.4 C degrees then! So it must be a real novelty to natives here.

On one hand, I wish that I'd discovered this months ago -- I could have spent every Friday evening there, or something! On the other hand, it's probably good that I didn't discover it, because I would have spent a lot of money there. :)

Yesterday, the research group went to MacRitchie Reservoir, went along the Tree-Top Walk (it's like the Capiliano suspension bridge in North Vancouver, except long and narrower -- it's one-way only). I think we ended up walking about 10km. Inside the canopy of the rainforest, it wasn't as hot as outside. Sometimes I think it was even below 28 degrees!

Near the beginning of the journey, we saw a few monkeys in a tree. While most of us were saying things like "aww, so cute!" and taking pictures, one of the few Singaporean citizens in the group commented that monkeys were viscious little buggers and were not cute at all. He went on to explain that he'd been chased by a bunch of monkeys, and it wasn't fun at all.

I proceeded to mock him for running away from cute little things like that (he'd served in the army, making the mockey especially irresistable for me), and claimed that I could intimidate a dozen of those cat-sized critters. I then paused, and remarked that this was the perfect setup for ten monkeys to swarm down from the trees and beat me to death.

That didn't happen, of course. Comedy: 0, hubris: 1.

Later on, we were walking down a hill on the trail, and the dirt track had a few loose stones (size of a fist) scattered along it. He commented how annoying it was to avoid the rocks or balance on them, and I proceeded to boast about how easy it was, when you had proper footwear and experience doing so. "I love jumping from rock to rock when hiking in the mountains in Canada, and--"

-- in mid-sentence, I put my right foot down on a rock that rolled to my left, causing my weight to descend on right ankle at an angle that the human body was not designed to support. Yep, perfect setup, perfect timing. Comedy: 1, hubris: 1.

After a few moments of pain, and longer moments of dizziness, I limped on. There wasn't much else to do, and it didn't seem too serious. As long as I walked funny, it didn't hurt. Any injury that you can walk away from is a good injury, right? For some value of "good", at least.

Three hours later, after a great meal at pizza hut with the group, I got home, had a shower, then looked up "ankle sprain" on wikipedia (the most reliable source of medical diagnoses and treatment in the world). I put some ice cubes inside a hand hand towel folded in half, then settled down to watch Singaporean TV while alternating between having ice on my ankle, and putting my ankle on the top of the couch (the only way to elevate it above my heart, which is apparently one of the recommended treatments, according to the ultra-reliable source).

The first few times that I got up after being stationary for a while, it was worse than ever. But later in the evening, it felt better, and I could hobble around the apartment without a steady stream of obscenities. It's a good thing that all my roommates have moved back to their countries! May 13, May 20, May 28... we've been counting down the days anxiously. :)

Anyway, right now (approximately 24 hours after the injury), I can walk almost normally, and I can rotate my ankle with only a few twinges of pain. I'm going to be fine... so this just makes for a great story of comedy and hubris.

(I will, however, note that I did not literally fall down. I'm still agile enough to pull my weight off the foot, reposition it, then catch myself before hitting the ground.)

Only 4 days until I return to Vancouver!