Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ever Have One of Those Days or Two?

You know the kind where you are all set to fly to Singapore for business but when you show up to the airport, they don't let you board the plane?  Yup. How does that even happen? This trip has been planned for a few months. I was asked to give a presentation to nonprofits in Singapore. I roped Di and Barbara into going along to see Southeast Asia. When will we ever get that chance again?

We showed up to the airport on time for our flight. Di and Barbara scanned their passports in the machine and printed their tickets. I scanned my passport in the machine and got a message to see the attendant. I was informed that I was not allowed to board the plane because my passport expired in September - less than 6 months away. What? It's still valid, I'll be back in a week, but I can't go?

Long story even longer - Di and Barbara checked my big suitcase and went to Singapore while I took a taxi to New York city's federal building to get a rush job passport. I spent the entire day in the cold, rainy city standing in lines and looking for warm, dry places to kill time like some homeless person. People were looking at me funny with no coat, no umbrella, carrying bags around. . . It cost me $95 for the cab, $170 for the passport, $150 for a hotel and 24 hours of waiting for the next plane to Singapore. Ayyy.

I can't say enough nice things about the United Airlines staff. They pointed me in the right direction and rebooked me on the next available flight. Tada - I made it.

Finally
I got to the hotel at 12:30 AM Sunday morning. Things got significantly better the next day when we headed to Malaysia with our bird guide "Con" at 5 AM despite the lack of sleep.

Singapore is a country, a city, and an island all in one. It is pretty small area but it is totally covered by a very large city with millions of residents and virtually no open space. Very modern buildings all around. Check out this amazing building that has a boat on top of it. Di and Barbara went to the top while I was still dealing with the passport thing.

Boat Building
It has very few places to go birding so we decided to go across the channel to Malaysia for 2 days.Going to Malaysia from Singapore is like going to from Philly to Cherry Hill except that you have to bring your passport. We were going out of the city on Monday morning while hundreds of Malaysian people were inbound on their way to work. Can you imagine walking across the Ben Franklin Bridge every day with a passport to work?

Crossing the bridge

So, off we went to the Panti Forest (yes, the pun was not lost on us). The Panti Forest is like a jungle with a gravel road through it. We birded from the road most of the time but we occasionally walked into the forest on a path. Guess what I found? Leeches.

Eeww, Gross
Di found one too. She was so freaked out by the thought of getting one that she didn't follow us into the forest a few times. But like other creepy things, once you get one, they aren't as bad as you imagined.

Leech!
The two of us are like leech magnets. One of those little buggers made it all the way up my leg and lodged itself behind my knee. The weird thing about leeches is that they don't carry disease which makes getting one a little easier to handle. The other thing is that if you pull them off, the wound bleeds forever.

Bleeding Wound
I'll get to the birds next.
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