Saturday, May 20, 2006

Feeling Giddy

The first four months of 2004, I was sick. I had daily episodes of dizziness and headaches. Actually, they both lasted most of the day every day. I saw several doctors, none of whom seemed to know what was wrong with me. They all concluded with, "Well, I'm not sure what's wrong, but I don't think it's serious and it will probably go away on its own."

It did go away on its own, but I have always been fearful that it might return. Last week it did, along with the frustration of wondering how long it would last. I hated the thought of trying to describe my symptoms to a doctor, to once again get puzzled stares. Part of the problem with diagnosis is that doctors wanted me to classify my dizziness as either lightheadedness or vertigo, but it didn't feel like either. Now I know why.

On Wednesday, after a week of this, I went to a neurologist here. He did a serious of tests to determine the extent of my vertigo. In the end, he concluded that I didn't have vertigo. Actually, that I didn't have "giddiness" which is what they call it here. Or "vertEEgo." Can I help it if I wanted to giggle whenever he said I was giddy? Anyway, he called it "disequilibrium." It's caused by something affecting the inner ear.

He also determined that my headaches are chronic tension headaches. Having something deemed "chronic" makes me suddenly feel quite old. He put me on a muscle relaxant which seems to be doing its job. This morning, three days later, I can stare at a computer screen without feeling like it's rocking back and forth. My husband is now back in town, so hopefully the source of my tension will dissipate because I was tired of feeling giddy.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Weekend Trip to Bangkok

I suppose if we lived in the States, we would take weekend trips to visit our parents or go up north to the lake. Since those options aren't available to us, we'll just have to be content to continue our weekend jaunts off the island. :) This past weekend we joined Erik in Bangkok, where he was in the middle of two back to back conferences that are keeping him away from us for 11 days.

I was a little nervous about my first flight alone with the kids, but they are stellar travelers so we were fine. I was even pleasantly surprised by my first taxi ride ever in Thailand where I didn't beg the Lord to spare our lives. Usually they drive like they're in the Indi 500.

We arrived Saturday, and my ever-gracious servant of a husband took the kids swimming so I could relax in the hotel, eat something claiming to be Mexican spring rolls, and watch Stars on Ice. Does it get any better than that?

Sunday we went to Safari Park, a drive through zoo recommended by friends and internet folk alike. It was raining, so we didn't want to buy the all-inclusive package that allowed us to wander the Marine Park, but the drive through was only 40 minutes. We had hoped this would be an all day activity. We didn't understand why they wouldn't let us just walk through the park on our own. Once we took the drive, we understood why - the animals are wandering freely, and probably would either eat or trample individuals roaming through their territory. We enjoyed the ride so much that when we were done and realized they hadn't taken our tickets, well, we'll admit it, we went again.

Since we still had half a day to spend and no immediate plans, we threw our taxi driver several curve balls. "Take us to the Center Pointe mall." Wait, I don't think he understands. "Ok, take us to the World Trade Center. Yes, this place on the map. No, use your meter. No! Meter! Ok, we'll pay highway, but use your meter!!" (They don't like to use their meters, prefering to charge you twice as much as it would be if you did use the meter). Then halfway there we decided to go back to our hotel instead. He vented his frustration on us by driving like a maniac.

After lunch and a rest, we discovered the "weekend market" which sounded promising. It was! It would have been even more fun if we'd had more time, more money, and fewer children. They were troopers though, since we did walk around for about 2 1/2 hours looking at everything from clothes to silverware to beads to Buddhist idols galore. (If you're in the market for idols, this is the place to go). I bought a bunch of used kids' books for about $7. We had two fruit shake breaks, and a unexpected "listen to what we suspect is the Thai national anthem" break. At 6 p.m., we were walking and chatting, and we realized that everyone around us had stopped talking and gone absolutely still. We did the same, not wanting to look like insensitive idiots. After the song was done, everything went back to normal. It was eery.

Monday morning we'd planned to go to the river and float around, but we decided the kids had endured enough of Thailand (Thai hands are magnetically attracted to Megan's hair) and would be happier just swimming. I got a wonderful Thai massage for mother's day. In the afternoon Erik had meetings, so I took the kids to a shopping mall with an indoor playground where mom and kids enjoyed themselves.

This morning we flew back to Singapore. My favorite quote from the weekend was when we were taking off for Thailand. Megan said, "Mommy, are we getting ready to blast off?" I love my life. What a blessing to experience so many cultures around us all the time. So how was your weekend?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sunway Lagoon Resort

May 1st is a holiday here, another in a long list of holidays that mean nothing to us but afford Erik a day off of work. Our friends, the Wilsons, invited us to join them at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the long weekend so we all piled into our cars and set off.

When leaving Singapore for Malaysia, you are required to have 3/4 tank gas. This is so that people won't drive to Malaysia on a daily basis to take advantage of really cheap gas. We had just under a half tank, so we thought if we put 10 liters in we'd be ok (we though it was 2/3 tank required). As we approached the border, we started seeing every 15 meters or so signs asking drivers to top up to 3/4 tanks. After about 5 of these signs, another sign announced that it would be a $500 fine if you don't comply. Of course there are no gas stations in sight, and let's be honest - those 10 liters just pushed us a fraction past 1/2 tank. I started to get quite nervous, but Erik, whose Indian name is Calm Waters, kept saying, "We'll be fine. They won't check it" even though they did the last time.

Sure enough, they didn't check it. Whew! So we were off. We did a driver and kid swap halfway through so Wendy and I could talk and keep the younger two kids. Since we all neglected to bring directions, we were at the mercy of signs for the resort (fortunately a well known one) but there were never warning signs, just signs we'd see 50 meters out and go, "Quick! Cross those 3 lanes and take the exit!" It took about 5 hours, but we made it!

We spent the rest of Saturday exploring the huge complex (several buildings of the same hotel connected to a waterpark and a mall). Sunday morning we hit the waterpark right when it opened at 10. Even though it was open until 6, we only made it til about 3 before we were all too waterlogged and sun weary. It also had become incredibly crowded!

Monday morning we went to the "dry park" within the water park where we discovered immediately that sunscreen and humidity are literally oil and water. I've never seen 9 people that wet from just walking around. Hitting the flume helped though! We only lasted until about 12:30, when we decided to get changed, eat lunch, and get a head start on the traffic out of Malaysia. We anticipated huge crowds at the checkpoints back to Singapore, but it was the traffic going to Johor Bahru that was worse. Once we passed that, there was no wait at the checkpoint at all. We almost got stuck without any ringget (Malay money) to pay the tolls, but some nice Singaporeans at a rest stop did a money exchange for us. Altogether it took closer to 6 hours to get home, but it was all well worth it.

Road trip! We set off for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Saturday morning with our good friends, the Wilsons.

Megan and me

Erik and Ethan, taken by Megan

Ethan and me

Can you see our little man in there?

Self-taken picture of Erik and me

The swimming pool of our hotel

Erik and Steve

Me and Wendy in the morning

You might be able to see Wendy watching the boys slide. She's the only white person in the picture.

Erik and Megan take a rest

One of many kid's playgrounds

Waiting for waves

How long is this thing?!

Sunway Lagoon waterpark

The kids on the big bridge

These smiles are what it's all about

The Wilsons wait for a ride

Happy Megan waiting to watch Erik and Ethan

Erik and Ethan make a splash