Sitting on the upper deck of the Airbus 380 en route for Singapore from a week of business in beautiful Sydney Australia, I cannot stop thinking that life can really be what you make it when you have your health. Next will be Shanghai after landing a couple of days in Singapore, then Tokyo, Düsseldorf in Germany, and then…. Canada for my summer vacation! Yes I am planning to spend 20 days in Canada (from June 28 to July 17) for a well-deserved vacation prior to coming back with Pierre who has taken the brave decision of leaving everything behind him to move permanently to Singapore. Dreaming of a new life has something so exciting and motivating, yet doing it for real takes courage and determination. Pierre is a man of real substance.
–Pierre, perhaps you should go for few days diving in Malaysia or Indonesia with your daughter Virginie while I go to Korea for a few days on business at the end of July.
Spontaneously Pierre answered:
–You will go on a business trip while I am in Singapore?
–But of course Pierre, you will always be there so I guess I will have to continue doing my business trips even if you are around!!!!
He burst out laughing as he realized that, for a moment, his mind had played a trick on him forgetting that he will be in Singapore permanently and not just for 2 weeks as usual.
-You won’t be leaving this time and that is such a cool thought!
Since the last time I wrote to you I traveled a lot: Hong Kong was a fantastic highlight for both Pierre and myself and if you happen to go there, don’t miss the symphony of lights at night. To see an entire city vibrating with music and glittering with lights to proudly introduce each building that compose its core downtown area, is really something. Hong Kong is a beautiful vibrant city; too bad for the heavy air pollution that would keep me up coughing at night if I ever lived there.
A weekend of indulgence in the Banyan tree resort in Bintan Indonesia was also a “nice to have” in our busy agendas. The real beauty of it is the fact that all we need do to get to this paradise island is to take a 45-minute comfortable ferry ride from Singapore and there you are!! A little paradise island with beaches and villas, a place where you do not have to stare at hundreds of gigantic ships parked at sea…a great relief for the eyes of Singaporeans. A banyan tree is this magnificent big and wide tree that keeps growing roots from its branches and connect back to the ground. It is also called the eternal tree because it keeps on growing while the roots are supporting the new branches. Yet, the latest horrible disaster to hit Burma and took the lives of 100,000 of those gentle smiley people has also seen giant Banyan trees being beheaded by the strong winds as if they were toys; so I guess eternity can come to an end when God breaths too hard.
In February, without telling many of you, I did a surprise trip to America. After all, it was my turn to visit with Pierre, so California here I come. I landed in San Francisco and stayed a few days, but not without experiencing a bit of a cultural shock. Surrounded for many months by the kindness and peaceful approach of the Asians, I had grown accustomed to soft talks and friendly service and there I was landing in the heart of the loud and aggressive talkers: North Americans can be stressful in their approach to every day life, even in San Francisco, one of my favourite cities in the USA. From the staff at airline companies, the client at the rent-a-car service who banged his fist on the counter thinking he owns the world and almost ready to pull a gun to teach the clerk a lesson, to the people walking on the street with stressful looks, I kept on wondering why they had to have an attitude. Perhaps unions and individualism are to be blamed for it but it seems that they forgot they are in the hospitality business, that clients are their bread and butter or that things can be accomplished without screams, condescendence or arrogance.
The guilt of being on the same continent as my family and friends without visiting them took the better of me and before long, Pierre had planned to hop on a plane to Montreal where we stayed for about 5 days before heading back to Sausalito and the fabulous Muir forest with its tall and peaceful redwood trees.
I must admit that it felt really great to see my family and friends, but also very odd. It was so easy and comfortable that I felt as if I had never left. Something in me started to grow afraid that I had just awakened from a dream, that this whole thing of Singapore and Asia was gone. Suddenly I felt as if I was back in time and had dreamed my last 8 months. But fortunately, seeing for the first time the small cute yellow ski house Pierre had recently rented in Sutton for his daughter and us made me realize that this was not my past life but rather my future.
Upon my return in Singapore I started to feel ill, a bad cold the doctor said:
-You are no longer used to this cold weather of Canada, I guess Ms Blanchette you will have to stay in Singapore from now on!
-That is a cool thought too!
But after three weeks of loosing strength and being really sick, I could see my general practitioner becoming as worried as Pierre who could witness my health deteriorating daily via Skype, feeling helpless. But Pierre insisted on me changing doctor, going to get tested at the hospital and my colleague Paul at the office sent me straight to the international clinic when he saw me trying to work in this condition.
I ended up having a full package of diseases: a rare case of mycoplasma pneumonia and mononucleosis along with an e-coli infection. A nice soup of germs and virus had invaded my body and were slowly taking over my health, killing me slowly for weeks without being detected.
-The remedy for the soup of germs is a cocktail! Says the very competent Dr. Ru, a female doctor at the Singapore International Clinic. A cocktail of antibiotics that made me very sick while I was curing.
Now, after 8 weeks of thinking I will never get better again and never be able to enjoy life to its fullest, thinking that life was going to take me away because I had made my dreams come true as if I needed to be punished to dream high and make it happen: I kept on thinking that I have many other dreams that I must realize before I go and that I did not want my friends to be saying in my Eulogy: She followed her dreams and at the moment she was about to taste it to the fullest she got sick. I was thinking to myself that I had just started this fabulous relationship and that it cannot be taken away from me before I truly experience it
But now I am alive and kicking better than ever. My health, my strength and my appetite are back. I know that without health, no dreams can be lived, but with it the world is yours. I also know that without the great moral support Pierre gave me on a daily basis from the other side of the planet, I would have just laid there and be good for garbage. I also know that when he landed in Singapore in April and we left to Phuket and Phi-Phi Islands for a nice rest, it made my spirit shift for the better and that day I was on my way to recovery.
I also remember precisely how I got so sick: I was sitting on a plane from Korea next to a woman from Delhi who was so sick that I wondered how she succeeded to get on board the plane from California to Singapore (the plane from San Francisco hubs over to Seoul where I got on board). The woman was coughing constantly without a mask. She was weak to a point where I felt really uncomfortable to be next to her and moved to another seat… too little too late! As for the e-coli infection, remember the beautiful Bintan resort? We used the whirlpool under the stars or should I say we bathed in a soup of germs under the stars!! I know I should have not, but your words are too little too late!
Through this ordeal, I had the privilege of being sick in the amazingly efficient health care system of Singapore: A 5 stars system worthy of dedicating an entire blog article. I could not stop comparing the system and treatments to the ones of Canada.
Human beings accept situations when there are no comparisons and believe politicians and health care authorities when they blame and shoot at everyone to excuse the conditions of our hospitals and its management. Let me dedicate my next blog to this topic of hospitals and health care comparison. Trust me you will feel sick knowing how you have been treated like #@$???!! (censored) all these years and are paying a high price for it.
Since I neglected you for months and have let down my readers, I will give you a double treat and post my next blog within few days of this one.
Meanwhile I will leave you thinking that the world is small when your taxi is a Boeing 747 or an Airbus 380!