We made it! After some tense days watching the volcanic ash cloud and the status of our flight, we decided to jump the gun and buy new (!!!) tickets to Singapore, using an alternative route. Instead of flying via London, we went via Hong Kong. This, we thought, would absolve us from any ash issues.
We weren't entirely correct. That is, the direct flight from Toronto to Hong Kong is some 15 hours plus. It also happens to go very much via the northern polar region. And it seems some of the ash had dispersed in that direction. So our captain told us happily that we'd be flying a little further south than usual, but that this would add some time to our flight ... 16.5 hours later we finally landed in Hong Kong. I think that's the longest single-stretch flight I've ever been on. I had no idea that planes could stay in the air for that amount of time and don't even want to think about how low the fuel tank must have been by the time we landed.
From there, it was a "short" hop to Singapore, with another 3.5 hours or so of flying. We were smart and encouraged a ticket agent to put us on an earlier flight, since we had a fairly long layover in HK. We were both very happy to land and be amongst the flowers, green trees and the heat. Hubby was glad in particular, as a serious serious bout of diarrhea had hit him somewhere along the way. We already saw a doctor for that, and they reckon it's a stomach virus -- thankfully, doctors here are liberal with medication and within less than an hour, hubby had a bag full of pills and felt infinitely better. Try doing that in Quebec!
Singapore is proving to be a lot of fun this time. Last time I was here, I was totally stressed out from having to give a job-talk presentation, and all that went with it. It was a harrowing experience, and one I never want to repeat. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth for the city-state, but it turns out that much of my view was tinted by my experience. This time round, I feel more at home. Yes, things are still very much changed from the last time I lived here. And I still get turned around everywhere I go because I recognize an area but then feel a disconnect because there are ten new buildings up around it. Construction here seems as permanent as it is in Montreal.
While here, I'm trying to get through a whole lot of work. Mostly it involves prepping for classes, although I might go a bit more easy on that since I've just got word that I could be teaching entirely new courses soon. That means more prep work - something most junior faculty try to avoid like the plague. However, the new courses would be right up my ally, and could therefore be more fun to teach, and MUCH more flexible in terms of content development. All in all, those things would be a major plus. Even so, I think I'll miss my core undergraduate course.
Hubby is also busy working with his business partner here (the reason we came). I go along for lunch, but most of the time am on my laptop, or have a dip in the pool. Yesterday, I spent an entire hour laying on the bed just listening to a thunder storm. I forgot how good they get here, and it's wonderful to have the luxury to listen to it pass through, rather than stare at it from my office window as I used to do in the past.
Today, I have more work planned, but we're also taking some time out. It's a special day for us: on this day, last year, I lost a baby. It seems both a very long time ago, and yet very near. It's been on my mind for a while now, since this date was coming up. A couple on our long flights had twin babies who were about 4-5 months old - the age ours would have been. They were utterly adorable, and didn't squeak the entire flight. I tracked their progress, though I didn't talk to the parents. I didn't want to freak them out with my psychosis: "oh, lovely babies ... mine would have been about the same age". But still, I couldn't help thinking it. Hubby and I are planning a visit to the Chinese gardens here to mark the event - it is fitting, since we planted a tree for Baby K last year. The tree is still doing wonderfully well, thanks to our friends who allowed us to plant it in their garden. They sent us a picture to prove it.