Singapore-My Home Away from Home
Singapore's Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino
Two weeks ago while sitting in Changi Airport waiting for a friend to pick me up and take me to my hotel, I "checked in" on Facebook. Within 1 minute a a friend of mine who lives in Singapore posted "Welcome home!' What a wonderful welcome and sentiment as this would mark the start of my eighth visit. My first trip to Singapore in 2000 was for the Inline Certification Program, and as director, I was invited to conduct a Level 1 program to certify potential inline skating instructors. Never having traveled to Asia, the 24 hours in transit and the 12 hour time difference really knocked me out. But what knocked me out even more was hospitality that was non-stop throughout my first visit and has continued in each subsequent visit over the past 12 years.
So the Singaporeans are welcoming AND they love skating-what a perfect combination! Considering that Singapore is only 268 square miles and is the second smallest country in Asia (the Maldives are smaller...and getting smaller by the day--Note to self: Get to the Maldives soon before they disappear!) there sure seems to be a lot of skaters. The parks are full of them and there are so many skating instructors making a living out of selling skates and skating that the competition is fierce. Friends of mine in the US and Europe who are in the skating business would give their third wheel for that kind of 1990's competition again!
The purpose of my visit this time was to meet with my friends and colleagues who support the Inline Certification Program (ICP). We conducted various meetings to see how best to move the program forward in Singapore and throughout the region and made plans for our upcoming skating conference in July. Since our first program in Singapore in 1999, over 250 instructors have been certified in that country. Thanks to the efforts of the first program advocates and ICP Examiers, the ICP is even recognized by the national governing body of roller sports- Rollersports Singapore. This kind of success is a testimony to the program itself and the team in Singapore.
While I didn't conduct any certifications during this visit, I did have the opportunity to meet with the new batch of Apprentice Examiners (AE's) and assist in their training. We reviewed ICP teaching methodology as well as skill progressions and bench marking. As a group, the AE's have a strong understanding of skating and teaching as well as a desire to see ICP continue to prosper and succeed. A perfect combination for future examiners and leaders of the program in Singapore!
On one evening, a few of my friends organized an urban night skate on my behalf. Having already skated many of the beautiful parks that are scattered across the island I really looked forward to the opportunity to explore downtown Singapore.
We rolled by the seafront with gorgeous views of the Singapore skyline, up and down the MRT (subway), passed WWII Monuments and the "World's Biggest Fountain", and underneath the "Ship in the Sky" Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino and Singapore Flyer Ferris Wheel! We covered it all in less then 2 hours-what an amazing skate!
In addition to seeing my skating friends, I also had the pleasure of spending some time with a yoga friend, whom I met several years ago on one of my visits. Like me, she is a life long student of yoga and when we meet we enjoy sharing our latest yoga endeavors with each other. She has recently embarked on learning the ancient yogic language of Sanskrit which is quite an undertaking. Since my word recognition in Sanskrit doesn't go beyond the ubiquitous character "OM" I too hope to begin my studies as I believe this will strengthen my understanding and connection to yoga.
It was a delight to be able to spend time nurturing both my love for skating and yoga in one visit!
Thanks to all the friends who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and for the Singaporean hospitality that always seems to catch me by surprise. Their friendship and support is what keeps me working toward a better ICP and I look forward to seeing them all next time I am "home."