Somewhere between Sydney and Brisbane, the glamour of international travel wore off.
HULL, United Kingdom—It has been six years since my last visit to Singapore, and one thing you can be sure of in Singapore is that nothing changes. Admittedly, the terminal at which I arrived at Changi Airport—Terminal 4—was new, but its structure so resembled the terminal I previously used that I did not realize it was new until someone told me. I think this permanency is a deliberate feature of the island. The roads are lined with finely manicured trees and verges, there is a sense of order, and everyone smiles.
I was here to attend the 22nd East Asian Forum of Nursing Scholars (EAFONS), where I was to present a session on publishing in Science Citation Index Journals. The conference was fully subscribed with 800 delegates, and I was pleased to see more than 100 people at my session. It was good to renew long-time acquaintances from the region—Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines—and especially good to make new friends, particularly among the many Japanese doctoral students present. Those who have traveled in the region are familiar with its business card culture whereby exchange of cards is done with great politeness and attention to their details. I left with a folder full of business cards—other people’s—and very few of mine. I am never sure what happens to all those business cards.
Before moving on to Australia, I had a free day to spend in Singapore, and I was very happy to see my good Burmese friend, Su Wai Hlaing, a local nurse and fellow haiku writer. Her work is now published in the Living Haiku Anthology. Also a runner, she recently discovered that there are several of my beloved Saturday morning parkruns in Singapore, so we decided to take part in the one nearest my hotel, in lovely Bishan Park. Running in Singapore is always hard work if you are not acclimatized, and I wasn’t. I managed 24 minutes 30 seconds, which is a minute longer than my recent times at home, but paid for it with an hour of profuse perspiration and dehydration. That was my last run in more than a week. Shortly afterward, I came down with a viral infection and have been suffering ever since.
Because I arranged my flights to Australia at the last minute, I was unable to book a direct flight to Sydney from Singapore. Hence, I was routed via Hong Kong, arriving in Sydney at 7:30 a.m. And I had a 10:30 workshop to present at the local campus of the University of Tasmania! I will never make that mistake again. I struggled through the day and saw nothing of Sydney that evening. The next day, I gave another workshop and left directly for the airport to fly to Brisbane. Somewhere in mid-air between these two great cities, the often referred to “glamour” of international work and long haul flying definitely wore off.
My only reason to be in Brisbane was to catch up with my cousins there, but my late flight arrangements meant I only had an evening and a day with them before I was back in the air for the start of a 19-hour journey back to the UK. My next major bout of travel is to China for a prolonged period in March and April, and I will be sure to arrange those flights well in advance. RNL
Roger Watson, PhD, RN, FRCP Edin, FRCN, FAAN, a professor of nursing at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom and a frequent visitor to Australia and China, where he has visiting positions, is editor-in-chief of JAN and editor of Nursing Open. Click here to access Blogger-resident entries posted before 2017 in Watson’s former blog “Hanging smart.”
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