“… here above the Ancre lie many of the most gallant of my regiment, men who were my friends, men whose memory I shall revere to the end of time. Some of them were soldiers by profession; others had turned aside from their chosen avocations in obediences to a call which might not be denied… they have passed into silence. We hear their voices no more. Yet it must be that somewhere the music of those voices linger…”, Charles Douie, The Weary Road (1929)
I first visited the Somme battlefields more than thirty years ago. During a hot summer as a teenager I walked the ground with my father; somehow the old Somme battlefields enchanted me and the voices of men like Douie (above) took me on many more journeys over the years; sometimes with veterans of the battle, more often with friends and finally I…
We don’t write blogs purely for ourselves — we write them to be read. For people who live far from family and friends, blogs serve twin readerships: they give the intrepid traveler a simultaneous way to chronicle travels for a broad audience and update those back at home.
We love following the worldly adventures of these four expats and nomads, and we’re sure their friends appreciate the virtual lifeline, too!
Writer J.D. Riso is a self-identified dromomaniac — a person with an uncontrollable desire to wander. Wish I Were Here is her record of a lifetime of global peregrinations, told in in musings and photos.
I was recently asked to be a guest author by the International School Community website and wrote about my journey to school when I worked for Dulwich College in Suzhou, China. Here’s the link to my post on the site.
One of the cool things about living overseas is trying really unusual things and it doesn’t come much more unusual that Dragon Boat Racing. I’d watched it in China where it was a national holiday. I saw a lot of boats capsize there as they were racing on an open lake and it was windy, so I figured that was usual.
However, the Kallang River in Singapore is calm as a millpond this morning as Dragon Boat teams from America, Germany, Canada, America and other nations zip past paddling furiously. We quip that that will be us soon as we’re briefed. This is a charity events for ‘Caring for Cambodia’ where we’re raising money for five Primary Schools there. The first heat of four boats will be the corporate event. We watch as they stretch and are kitted out with life-jackets and paddles and get the boats in the water.
We’re in the care of the American Dragons and they’re great as they train us to paddle: “Make the A-Frame with your paddle and your hands!” “Press your hip into the side of the boat.” “Dig your paddle in vertically.” “Timing, watch the front paddler diagonal to you.” We learn to stop and race set-three strong strokes to lift the boat and to paddle in sets of ten. Up and down the river we go as we train for about an hour. Neat to see Singapore from this viewpoint- the Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Flyer even came into view. A race is short, no more than three sets of thirty strokes from start to finish. Thankfully the boat is steered from the stern and they give the commands too.
After the first four teams race (looking very professional I might add) it’s time for the International Schools to race. We’re in the Chatsworth International School boat of teachers, students and parents racing against Tanglin Trust, Singapore American School and Dulwich College Singapore. After some good-natured trash talking we’re off! “Paddles up, Ready, Go!” A very close race ensued and I have no idea who won. It really didn’t matter as a good time was had by all. After beer and popcorn (pop or water for the kids) and some socializing I squelched home to enjoy the rest of my long-weekend in Singapore.
One of the lovely things about living and working overseas is exploring the new country you’re in, and in my case it’s Singapore. It’s May 1st today, a public holiday and the Istana, the Presidential Palace opens to the public. Some friends and I lined up with thousands of others to get in but it was well worth it.
After paying $2 to the Presidential Charities and passing through security we went in through the tall wrought-iron gates past the guards in white dress-uniforms and a green vista opened up in front of us.
This is what Singapore was once like, green space, trees, there’s a reason the main shopping street (think Rodeo Drive) is called Orchard Road, it was lined with Apple orchards and beautiful Peranakan homes set back from the road. We slowly wandered up through the grounds…
Swan Lake, Japanese Garden, beautiful lawns, trees and flowers and at the top the Presidential Palace.
Now this is where the Colonialism comes in, the Presidential Palace was built in 1869 on a nutmeg plantation by the British Colonial Government to house its Governors. Queen Victoria’s son visited here. The house is 18th century neo-Palladian style with British India influences like statuesque columns, deep verandahs, louvred windows and a lovely airy and cool interior on a hot, humid day. No pictures allowed inside but fabulous crystal chandeliers, and all the art and treasures on display. Also some seriously good-looking young men in full-dress uniform!
When Singapore gained self-government in 1959 the building was handed over to Singapore and is one of the lovely examples of colonial architecture, like Raffles Hotel.
I got my current job as an English B teacher at Chatsworth International School in Singapore through an agency called True Teaching. This was a very different experience than the ‘meat market’ feeling of the large recruiting fair I went to in London for my job in China. Instead I registered with True Teaching for their Flying Squad for International Substitute/Supply teaching. After a personal interview with Skype online I was offered several overseas placements and accepted my job in Singapore.
I have been in Singapore now since the end of December 2014, teaching at an International School here. When I was blogging from China it was anonymously as if you annoy the authorities there you can be deported. So I blogged as Britchick and most of my friends didn’t know who I was. You can read all my blogs from China on my blog.
Even though some say Singapore is not an open society it feels like it to me so I’m going public with ‘Travelling Teacher’ now and I hope my friends and family enjoy my blog posts:) Hello from South-East Asia!
Dragon boat racing is a big deal in China and a public holiday is given for it. The boat teams are often sponsored by and representing various companies. The drum keeps the rowing beat. I was interested to see how easily the boats swamp and capsize, hence the rescue boats in the pictures!