02.07.2014 - 03.07.2014
Day Three: We had a nice breakfast together before splitting up: Karina went to meet an NP from Children's Hospital LA to work on something (wait, work!? I don't even remember how to do that), Bev went to the conference to learn about "pre-clinical trials" (AKA molecular genetics and words I don't know/don't want to know), and I went to the pool. I wonder who was the wisest in this case?
We met back in the conference room for the sessions on Survivorship and Quality of Life. This was a really interesting session, as it raises the question of whether the side effects/late effects of intensive treatments are acceptable for our patients. I won't go into it, but it's a really important talking point, especially since we are increasing survival rates for many types of brain tumors, and therefore we will have more and more survivors- we need to know what their lives are going to be like five, ten, twenty years after treatment ends. Is survival worth it at all costs? Are higher cure rates preferable over higher quality of life for fewer survivors? If only I had an answer...
Later that afternoon, with our brains just filled TO THE BRIM with knowledge, we took off to go back to Kampong Glam for something that I love even more than Peds Oncology: SHOPPING!! As you may have noticed, this is our third visit to this area, but on other occasions we couldn't go into the adorable boutiques lining Haji Street. My shopping eyes had lit up at the sight of these shops, so Bev and Karina indulged me and we spend a few hours going to all the very Liz-friendly stores full of jewelry, adorable clothes and shoes, and other great accessories. In the end, I picked up couple of birthday presents for myself, and Bev and Karina had some great finds as well.
This being my last night, we had decided we would go on a bit of a Singapore "pub crawl" to try out the Singapore Sling and check out the view from the top of the magnificent (ridiculous?) Marina Bay Sands. First stop was Raffles Hotel, the famous hotel that is home to the Singapore Sling. Sitting in the Long Bar was like stepping back in time to the Colonial era, with banana leaf fans on the ceiling, a winding staircase, and peanut shells all over the floor. I enjoyed the classic Sling, while Karina and Bev had the Spring and Autumn varieties.
After our slings had been slung, we made our way to the Marina Bay Sands, the "large fish slapped on top of three towers" hotel/casino extravaganza. This is a bit like a Vegas hotel which is there as much for the shock value and self-aggrandizement as for people to actually sleep in while in Singapore. In any event, you can see it from almost anywhere in the Colonial District/CBD, and so it was too hard to resist going there for a drink.
They run a bit of a racket here, in which they charge tourists $22 to go to the "Skypark" at the top, or, you can go to the bar on the top for free and use your $22 for a drink. I think it's pretty obvious what we did... However, if you think you're allowed to wander freely throughout the Skypark/pool/restaurant just because you've re-mortgaged your home to get a drink, you would be wrong. When Karina went to see if we could get a table, she was quickly ushered back into the standing-room only bar area. We got some nice pictures anyhow, and enjoyed our delicious Sangria.
At this point, it was 9:30 pm and we'd drank more than we'd eaten that day, so we decided to go eat some famous Singapore Chili Crab. Bev and I had been talking about this delicacy for a few days, and so although Karina doesn't care for seafood, she accompanied to a restaurant entitled "Legendary Seafood" just under the Singapore Flyer, where we declined to order the crab once learning that they would like us to pay $200/kg. Ummm.... I think I'll just have the chicken? Throw some chilies on it and I'm a happy girl.
With that, we called it a day and I called it a trip. We went back to our hotel room, I packed up all my new Singapore goodies, and had one last sleep in my little corner bed.
This morning, I headed to the airport, my head and heart heavy knowing that this will be my last trip for a (long) while. I'm starting my master's in the fall, and as I have failed to save any money (I may have spent it all over the past couple of months... don't tell the bank though, ok?), I probably won't be doing any jet-setting until I've worked enough to pay for said degree. I had hoped that this big trip would curb my wanderlust, but in fact it is fiercer than ever. I'm sitting in the (super crappy) Manila airport, thinking about all the airports I've ever been in (I don't know, a billion) and all the airports I still need to see. It's rather unlike me to come home from a trip without a next one planned, so I guess I just have to settle in to knowing that my next "adventure" won't be defined by the places I see or the currencies in my wallet. I am about to embark on a mission to gain knowledge, to build a career, and to truly start the next phase of my life. I'm excited about it, to be sure, but it's always hard taking a step in a different direction. I've gotten used to flying off to places where I don't know anyone, to do this or that, always knowing that in a few weeks or months I'd be back at home in Edmonton. A new home, however transient it may be, awaits me. I have no plan for coming back to Edmonton (other than frequent visits), and I don't know where I'll be planning to go at the end of next year. All I can say is that I do know that wherever I go, the travel bug won't be far away, waiting to bite me and leave me with the itch to get gone. Stay tuned, dear friends, because this surely won't be the end...