Thursday, April 05, 2007

One doodle to rule them all...

First page of The Camel Diaries by Camel-san, Petra, Jordan, May 2005 (photo courtesy of J)

One of my favourite people in the world, J (previously living in Darfur, now living in my other favourite city, Bangkok), sent this picture to me a few weeks ago. It was almost two years ago when D and I set out to meet J for our epic odyssey through the Middle East.

The moment is still so clear to me. I was at work in Wellington, New Zealand. It was the dying days of summer, autumn chill in the air. J and I exchanged an email where we suddenly thought how cool it would be to meet up in Petra, Jordan. J at the time had regular R&Rs cos of his hardship posting in Darfur. The idea germinated and from one email, it became a frantic series of emails exchanged over two days where we agreed, all things going well, we (D, J and I) would recon on a chosen day at the end of May at the Petra Moon Hotel, in Wadi Musa, Jordan. He would travel from Darfur, via Khartoum, to Amman, and then bus to Petra. D & I would start at the other end of the earth, leave Wellington (for good), stopover in Singapore for a week, fly to Cairo, then travel overland through Egypt, then via boat from Nuweiba to the Jordanian port city of Aqaba, and then bus to Petra.

I never quite believed we were all going to meet up until right when we saw a minivan pull up into the hotel drive way and I saw J hop out. What a feeling, just awesome! So the point of this whole long ramble is that that night, I drew the doodle that started the Camel Diaries. I swear on all I hold dear that the erm, extra appendage was TRULY meant to be a camel's TAIL! Of course, J took a photo of the faux pas and then suddenly, two years later, he skypes me the picture he took and all the memories came flooding back.

So tonight, I am sitting here, in the quiet heat of Singapore, Dave Brubeck playing in the background, revelling in the wonders of travel, of memory and of friendship.

View of The Treasury, Petra, Jordan, May 2005 (photo courtesy of D)

Talk about journeys, another of my favourite people in the world, my mother-in-law M (I am truly not kidding. She is one of the bestest people, great fun to hang out with, and who shall henceforth be known in the blog as MIL) has flown to Singapore all the way from the Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand. Home of the yellow-eyed penguin and the royal albatross. She arrives last night, bearing gifts in the form of honey, chocolates, DVDs and books! I now have my two holiday books sitting temptingly right in front of me, Duet by Carol Shields and Mister Pip, by kiwi writer Lloyd Jones.

She's staying for three weeks and D, MIL and I will be heading to Hanoi for 7 days on Sunday! She spends today wandering the city and orientating herself to Vivo City, making friends with the Nepalese bartender in a restaurant, the assistants at the optometrist, the salesman at the camera shop and the security guy in Vivo. She's Singapore's friendliest tourist.

In the meantime, D and I are slaving away at work. Today, I am Singapore's most productive employee. I have 28 things to do on my checklist, which I complete one by one until the last task (a media strategy paper which I write in one last sprint to the finish line at 8pm while listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers). D lasts 13 hours at work straight. By the time he comes by to meet us at the quiet Island Cafe in Tangs at Vivocity, the three of us are spent after our respective crazy days.

I'm still a bit wired after my epic work day. I can't believe I'm going to have 10 days of holiday away from work. Seinfeld is now playing the background. I'm feeling slightly like that, manic is the operative word. If not for a few angels at my workplace, I'd probably have committed death by paper cut (with a squeeze of lemon) by now. Yes, it was that bad. But I survive, and have ten glorious days ahead.

To J, thank you for sending me the picture of my forgotten doodle that started this whole camel journey. I can't wait to see you in two weeks. So we may not be scampering around ruins of Crusader castles, but Singapore does have its erm, charms.

It's late now. MIL has gone to bed, and D and I are on our last bits of energy. Tomorrow our vacation begins. I love this night-before-Christmas feeling. I'm happy and I'm about to hit the road again. What a life :)

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