Monday, June 15, 2009

Ain’t Walkin’ No More

We are stateside now. It took a five-week whirlwind of frenetic packing, sorting, redistributing, and moving, but now two adults, one cat, and a dozen bags of assorted personal belongings have arrived in NJ. (The rest of our stuff is in a container ship still floating across the Pacific.) What was our first impression on repatriating? Well . . .

We arrived in Newark on a grey, sunless afternoon. It wasn’t exactly cold—just limp. We had reserved a room at the airport hotel so we wouldn’t endanger fellow motorists by trying to drive after our 19-hour flight. Stepping outside the arrivals terminal, we could see the hotel across the parking lot. There was supposed to be a shuttle every 15 minutes. But it was still light, and we figured, how difficult could it be to get over there? Let’s just wheel our luggage and walk.

Five minutes later, we’d crossed the parking lot and were congratulating ourselves on not being lazy and taking the shuttle. We just had one street left to cross. Actually, it wasn’t exactly a “street.” Main thoroughfare, boulevard, autobahn, would all be more apt, given the way the drivers were careening from one lane to the next. Not wanting to play Frogger with our luggage, we glanced around looking for a pedestrian bridge or even a crosswalk—common enough where we’d come from. But not only was there no footbridge, there was actually a barrier of some sort that made walking across impossible, with luggage or not.

Disgruntled, we walked back across the parking lot and waited for the shuttle. We hauled our dozen pieces of luggage up onto the bus, then waited as it slowly chugged around the airport loop. Fifteen minutes later, it turned onto the street where we’d originally stood and dropped us off at the hotel entrance. Total time: 35 minutes. We could have walked it in 10.

Now that we’re in our temporary apartment (waiting for our stuff to arrive), it’s much the same. Few sidewalks. No footbridges. And when people in our complex need to take their trash to the community dumpster two blocks away, they don’t walk there. They drive.

US car-centered infrastructure: 1
Singaporean pedestrian-friendly lifestyle: 0


Cheryl said...

I'm proud of you for trying to walk. Keep trying. Your permanent neighborhood will be better :)

Anonymous said...

It's the goal of the U.S. to burn as much fossil fuel as possible, even if that's unnecessary, wasteful and unhealthy.

BB said...

Aww! Airports are notoriously bad places to try and walk ... I think things will improve once you get to somewhere more permanent - although they still won't be anywhere near the Singapore lifestyle. But keep it up - you could start a movement in New Jersey. :-)

Anonymous said...

Welcome Home!
I've been following your posts for almost a year now when we learned of our possible move to Singapore. We leave our home in NJ on July 20th and board our one-way flight to Singapore on the 31st. We'll be having our own 3-year adventure and I couldn't be more excited!! We plan to take every advantage of living in that part of the world and experience all we can!