I didn’t expect to experience anything different this time round in Singapore..

I mean it’s my third time. I thought I saw it all. But apparently not.

The hotel I’m staying at is downtown. Highrises and more highrises, sterile, and kind of boring. And yet for the past two mornings I’m sure I heard some kind of monkey or bird calling around sunrise.

There’s something remarkable about waking up so early. The sky lightening even as you look on, the birds are their liveliest at that moment. And even though you have to climb into a rattley little van with absolutely NO leg room, there’s a real feeling of joy.

Every morning we leave the hotel, me and about three other consultants from Columbia university, who are all working at the school. Basically I’m the ‘author in elementary residence’ and they’re all doing professional development with the teachers.

It’s a half hour drive, and what has really surprised me is that this time round I get real glimpses of the jungle that is barely held back by civilization.

There are real areas of Singapore–which is a very small island!–that have remained pristine jungle.

I love it!

Part of me wishes I could slip into the jungle and explore it, and part of me is absolutely terrified!

Even along the highways there are these trees, that look very old indeed, with moss growing all up their sides, and parasitic ferns growing in the bowls of their branches. The top of their canopys look flat, like a shelf and sometimes there are vines also growing up the trunks with leaves that look like a line of marching ants–leaf cutter ants.

Apparently it’s monsoon season.

I only ever came in May before when it was rare for a thunderstorm, at least while I was there.

Now, everyday around 3 pm, you hear a terrific clap of thunder and the heavens open up and dump buckets of rain. Singapore looks so very different under the billows of dark grey clouds. I rather like it!

I really would love to explore this place further. But then it’s not like the forests in Canada where the worst you need to worry about are bears! There are snakes here!

Poisonous ones!

When I do my Ruler of the Courtyard stories, you should see the way the kids’ eyes get round and big! They know how serious it would be to find a snake in the corner of your house!

And then there are the people I’m meeting!

It is SO nice to meet librarians who are so very PASSIONATE about their work!

I really am blessed.

The kids have been very interesting!

I was expecting the kids at such an exclusive private school would be more, hmm, quiet?

They’re an eager rambunctious bunch, but I did learn a while ago how to handle such audiences.

Always find some kid who’s sitting quietly and point him or her out to everyone else as an example.

Honestly most of it’s just eagerness! They’re excited! How can you get annoyed by that?

But the problem is it’s really hard to get through all the information you want to relay with so many disruptions.

But that means it’s exhausting!

But alhamdu lillah! Everything’s going well!

I’m so fortunate! Masha Allah. To get paid for doing what I love!