Saturday, 26 November 2011


Oh, poor neglected blog! The last few weeks have been hectic with work and, as you'll see below, traveling, so I've been a bit out of commission. This post will cover one of those weeks, however, and I have a camera full of pictures to update on Singapore goings-on. Onward!

So, two weeks ago at about this time I was sitting at Changi airport (rated one of the best in the world - yay, Singapore!) mentally preparing myself for a long flight. About 30 hours later, after stops in Sydney, Auckland, and Santiago, our little plane touched down in Osorno, Chile, where I was to attend a conference for the better part of a week. The plane and subsequent shuttle to the hotel were full of conference attendees, so there were lots of greetings, banging about of poster tubes (including mine), and jet-lagged conversations to while away the ride to the conference venue near Puyehue Lake. The scenery, even in my I-just-can't-sleep-on-planes state, was stunning - green, verdant hills and the lake all misty. Sheep, cows and alpacas made frequent appearances, and by the time we made it to the hotel I had been lulled almost to sleep. After checking in, the first order of business was to shower off the plane gunk and head to the reception.

The conference itself was great. Interesting people, relevant topics, and well-organized. My poster session went well, I think, and I feel that I represented our project and my organization to the best of my ability. Thankfully, there were a lot of people who were interested, so that made things easier. Also nice was the number of random connections that one comes across at these things - people who know people who you know, people who have worked with former co-workers, people who have published articles you've read...the list goes on and on. It helped me greatly to find those connections and feel more secure in my place in my career.

Outside of the conference, well, I was in heaven. After Singapore's unchanging weather (warm and probably wet is the daily forecast), experiencing some lower temperatures was pure joy, and the sheer emptiness of the area around us was a welcome respite from Singapore's density. (Not that I don't love density, mind you - I do. I just...need some space now and again.) The conference organizers made sure that we had some free time to enjoy the walking trails, hear some music, and take advantage of the hotel's spa facilities. I availed myself of the opportunity for a massage, ate some great food, and wore another few centimeters of rubber off the soles of my walking shoes.


The atmosphere for the week was marked by mist, rain, and ash from the nearby volcano

The hotel

There was a fine coating of ash on everything

The ash made the river water a bit murky as well...

...and full of pumice!

Still beautiful, though.

The first autumn colors I've seen this year

At the concert hall for a night of regional music

How I managed not to slide down this I may never know.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Slacker and cyclist

Apologies for the silence from this end. The last month has been a busy one at work, which means that life hasn't been too exciting. Lovely? Yes. Happy? Yes. Exciting? No, not so much. =)

But I'm okay with that, actually. My routines have mostly settled in, I'm cooking more, seeing friends more, and feeling more like I live here and less like I'm just visiting. It's been a really nice thing.

For those who are interested, we played our first basketball game last weekend. The final score was 23 to 111. Guess which side I was on? (Hint: Not the good one.) Still, it was fun, we got a good sense of our needs as a team, and I didn't break anything. Good times!

Most exciting for me is that I'm finally beginning to break into the non-spandex cycling scene here. Hurrah! Last weekend was Singapore's first-ever (as far as we know) Skirt Ride, delightfully titled "Billow on a Bike". Andrea and Matt (the organizers) did a great job of planning the route, getting the word out, and putting together a delightful day. The weather was perfect, the company lovely, and the route itself was beautiful and a good mix of environments - from the Park Connector Network to the Boat Quay to the F1 track. Lovely!

Of course, it didn't start out so well for me...

We met here:
I got there a bit early, and set about trying to strap my bag more securely to my rack. At which point my bike fell over. At which point I realized I had a flat tire. And no tools (silly Caitlin!).

Thankfully, other cyclists were more prepared with tools and a spare tube, so my flat was soon set to right.

Thanks, guys!
And off we went!

Performance on the bridge...

which we watched for a bit

Cycling on the F1 track

The joke is that the Crane is the national bird of Singapore...
After a lovely cycle, we stopped for coffee...
or in my case, iced tea
and a chat and rest.

And then a leisurely ride home after a wonderful day. Thanks to the organizers and the other participants! Good, good time.

In other news, the rainy season has begun.

Before the storm

During the storm

After the storm