One of the best bars at Singapore airport is a smoking lounge that doubles up as an Irish pub. Similarly, Hard Rock café in Singapore airport is relaxing too. I didn’t set out to write an article on the best bars in Asia, but I suppose I pick up a lot of knowledge as I tred the weary path.
The water supplies we put in villages have a huge impact on the health of everyone.
Over the past 29 years I have kept a diary of my life, times and travel. The first few pages are where I record every town, village, city or significant place visit. Annually I visit well over 200 and over 300 in a good year. Sometimes these places I record are a village four hours up the side of an Indonesian volcano, others merely a cafe in Arthur’s Pass in the NZ alps. Most tend to be villages I visit in the course of my work in Indonesia where we have built houses, put in water and sanitation systems, provided livelihoods, clinics, schools, hospitals etc.
Sometimes the reception I get is hilarious such as a village near Mandrehe, on remote Nias island in Indonesia, which I visited last year. An old man came running up to me and hugged me as soon as I entered the village. We had put in a quality water supply six months earlier and he said, “ I could hardly walk then, I was ill, my stomach full of worms and I didn’t want to live. Once the Red Cross put in a water supply and latrines, slowly but steadily my health came back. Now I can run and I am able to work the fields again,” he told me. Hebent over and whispered in my ear, “ I can now chase women again."
In the same village people told me how absenteeism was high at the school, with around 50% attendance. Some months after our water supply was complete, attendance rocketed up to 90% and then higher. To do this work you have to travel, and airports become your home. I am travelling to Kuala Lumpur today for a tsunami planning meeting. I love KL airport because of its design, cafes, bars, book shops and friendly staff. And the worst airport I have been in ? There is no such place as airports, as every airport, like a sea port, has its charm. You just need an inquisitive mind and even from the most obstinate official, you can get a recommendation to his favourite café. Nine times out of ten he will come and pay for your meal. Everyone is human, if treated as a human being, and a smile, a nudge will bring the best out of the glum.
Just as I am about to post this jotting, a conservative Moslem woman covered from head to toe in black comes into the smoking cafe. Now this is unusual. She looks around, adjusts her head scarf, and lights a cigarette. Never a dull moment on the trail!
Next week I am in Bangkok. I hope I don't get stuck in the airport as there are certain tensions there at the moment.