Thanks to the forest and plantation fires in Sumatra, Singapore is shrouded in haze today. My body reacts badly to polluted air, the airways feel constricted and my head is heavy. I walk around in a daze.
I feel exactly the same way when I land in polluted cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. I used to wonder why but now I know. While people can walk about unfazed by the smog, my breathing is affected, the brain seizes up and refuses to function properly.
Poor YK must have gotten it worse because he is asthmatic. Instead of enjoying a vacation in Hong Kong one year, the poor air quality left him breathless. He spent an entire day cooped up in the hotel room, recuperating.
That's why city-breaks never appeal to me. I would rather be amongst nature though there was another time I had hayfever while cycling in the French countryside. My nose was runny and I couldn't stop coughing. I didn't feel too ill but the discomfort mared the trip and made people alienate me.
I hate to admit it but I don't make a good traveler. While I love going places, I abhor plane journeys. I suffer from acute ear pain during takeoffs and landing, sometimes my entire head just feel like exploding. No amount of head clutching, nose pinching, candy sucking or gum chewing seem to help. I usually walk out of the plane with impaired hearing that lasts for hours. This condition seems to affect my well-being as well. I just feel weird the whole day.
That, combined with jet lag (sometimes), can take the joy out of traveling. I remember arriving in America several times feeling like a zombie. It took days for my body to acclimatise. Just when I could function properly again, it was time to leave.
Because of that, the people I had meetings with think I'm not very bright or quick witted. As if that isn't enough, I suffer from incredible itch on my legs, thighs and abdomen despite slathering massive amounts of moisturing cream on my skin. No amount of scratching will alleviate the intense itching, I usually end up looking like I have some kind of skin disease or disorder.
If I have a choice, I would try to avoid cold places. Or polluted cities. Or distant locations. Or too many stop overs. That's not being practical of course. How on earth can I see the world like this?