Last Weeks In Sing

Well now Friends, Family, long lost readers, random person reading this(?),

I’ve been caught up in quite a whirlwind, hence my lull in responses.  Almost twenty days later, I have many more memories for a lifetime, and will never be able to do any of them justice.

*Note: I’m writing this on the 12th, aka the day I leave for India. I’ve been sick with a cold/flu thing for the past two days, and am severely sleep deprived, so pardon my brevity, lack of lucidity, and lack of description- my brain just isn’t on that level today…..

Brunei- what a place. Whenever anyone in our trip is talking about our time in Brunei we usually use words like crazy, surreal, fantasy, adventure, etc. Why? Well the first night we get into Brunei we go strait to the University of Darrusalam campus and check into our dorms. These are by far the swankiest digs for university students I have ever seen- plush leather couches, a common room, fully stocked kitchen, beautiful modern architecture- essentially UNC needs to pick up its game. That night we had dinner with a couple of the students who were around for the summer, and then learned some local malay dance. Mad fan dancing skills. Then it was to sleep as we were all exhausted from the flight. Also, as a Brunei airlines flight, they had a prayer play on the tv screens before takeoff, and then classical music while we were waiting for takeoff. Just think about these things ever happening in the US- bizzare no?

-Day two: we had classes in the morning…. Two taught by our program director in Brunei- a really excited man, but really a horrible teacher. We essentially had Malay vocab thrown at us for hours in a supremely haphazard manner without ever using it. Sleep inducing… luckily we convinced them to let us go to the beach around 3. First we had to go to the grocery store to pick up snacks for our rainforest ventures the next day. While shopping there was music playing in the store- first and Islamic prayer… followed by Miley Cyrus. Wrong on some level? Yes. Anyways, then we were off to the Empire- a six star resort that just let us use their private beach. In all honesty, this was probably one of the prettiest moments in my life. Throughout this post, and especially with respect to Brunei, I will be mentioning the beauty of the scenery. The thing is, I cannot help myself.  We were all discussing this, and its just the fact that until Brunei we had never seem such amazing natural beauty on such a grand scale so rapidly- just one amazing thing after another. Well we all enjoyed the pristine warm water as the sun set over the South China sea right across from us. Then it was back to the dorms where we got to watch an epic thunderstorm start to break open the sky as the call to prayer was happening- surreal no? Game night, and then up super early to go rainforest hopping!

-Day three: Up at 6, a boat ride up a river cutting through the forest (seriously, the trees edge the water, no build up, just a wall of 80 foot trees), to a connection point, a bus ride, and then arrival at the long boat river. Here we all got in these flat boats that skim the shallow water that were to take us to the tree top walk…. Which was epic. First we had to climb over 1200 stairs in rainforest heat and humidity. We may have been a bit sore afterwards. Eventually we got to the walk… and more stairs. Finally, after climbing over 120 into the air, I was above the rainforest. George of the Jungle, the Phantom, Indiana Jones- whatever pop culture reference I can make about rainforests, here is the cue. On top of a mountain above all of the trees surrounding me, looking out over expanses of rainforest with the fog rising out of the trees, what more could I have asked for? Since I was with the first group, I made it down before the last group had gone…. So I just did it again with them. We then went river swimming with our local Iban (indigenous natives) hosts before going to the longhouse- which is seriously long, aka fits the 90 families under the same chief in one long house, room after room.  Volleyball, rice cooked in bamboo, a sham wedding ceremony with Ian & Madison, Iban party games, making mats from pandan leaves, waking up in the morning to walk with Gautam down a path where we discovered pinapple trees- it deserves more justice than I can give it right now. But it was amazing. We eventually made the trip back to Brunei proper, showered, and eventually met up with other University of Brunei students who we were all set up to hang out with for the rest of the evening. A brunei mall, belting out songs on the highway with our host, Nani, was the lead singer, visiting a wet market where I had honey roasted chicken butt (so much fattttttt) and an amazing pancake like thing with chocolate, peanut butter, and condensed milk on the inside (monoms), and other adventures (surprises upon return! Don’t worry, I didn’t get any of the massive tattoos of the Iban)

-The last day we went up a different river to watch proboscis monkeys in their only natural habitat. Silliest looking monkeys ever.  Cue plane ride back

-Upon arrival, we had 12 days left in Singapore, so it has been many days of lasts and firsts… coupled with a final and two papers which I just turned in yesterday. So the random list of things done:

-Went to Sentosa beach, a super touristy island with Universal Studios, but Emily and I just walked the day away up and down the beach

-We celebrated the 4th of July with Kareoke, sparklers, and Wendys. GO AMERICA

-On July 5th while discussing the Reluctant Fundamentalist we flipped to a bit of America Bashing. Listen to this poem (pretty please), so much love. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS7xOqjjAow

-visited the Science and Math school here in Singapore, aka the path to amazing universities and research opportunities. It is far more goal/medal based here though. competition to the max

– right, so I have to go pack. I leave for india in mere HOURS!!!$##$@$$#@$ Cheers to India, to going back to where I began, to new adventures, and amazing friends and times to be had!

ps. USA Womens national team= glory

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