An Expat Gets A Mani (and loses a toe or two)

Getting any kind of beauty treatment in Singapore can be a bit of a minefield.  There’s a lot to love, of course – snail slime facials from Korea, Traditonal Chinese Medicine massages that will cure anything that ails you, Thai foot massages that make time stand still as you float away on a cloud of bliss. But, there are also times when the culture shock hits hard. And somehow, whether you’re stuck in a violently vibrating massage chair, or standing awkwardly wearing nothing but a pair of disposable paper undies (backwards actually), these culture shock moments are all the more mortifying. 

And yet, we keep going back, buoyed by the love and tender support of our expat sisters  

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Terminal Happiness (or: Why an Airport is more fun than Halloween…)

Yes, we KNOW it’s Halloween out there in The Rest of the World, but Halloween happened here on Saturday. Or Sunday. Or even Monday – depending on your neighbourhood/ school/ expat club. So instead let’s look at what’s occupying most Singaporeans today: airports. Anyone who’s ever travelled through Changi Airport knows it’s the best airport in the world. And today, with the official opening of its brand new terminal, it got even better- as one well-connected expat discovered (a few weeks ago. Ffs.) So, instead of scrolling through a million pics of kids looking cute in pumpkin outfits / revolting in zombie makeup, scroll through *our* pics. Because Halloween is sortof overrated. (Unless you spent it at a new airport terminal, obv)

Singapore Bathrooms: Still Making Us Laugh, After All These Years…

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Yes, squat toilets are a fairly common thing here in Asia. And yes, it’s not uncommon in a public bathroom to find footprints on the toilet seat because someone has done The Squat, from atop the toilet seat. And so yes, sometimes signs are needed to spell out how to properly use a toilet with a seat. But we feel like – just maybe – this particular sign created more questions (and nightmares) than guidance.

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15 Signs You’re Not a New Expat In Singapore Anymore…

1.     You find yourself surprisingly annoyed at people not following signs / rules.  “There’s a queue lady.  A QUEUE!” “Hey Mister – KEEP OFF THE GRASS!!”  Jeez – what are these people – raised in a barn or something?

 2.     You can predict the weather like a trained meteorologist. (A trained meteorologist who has shit to do outdoors.) “Those black clouds?  We have easily 7 minutes before that hits, and it won’t last more than 11 minutes.

3.     Anyone with a car which isn’t white or black is “a little flashy”.

4.     You remember a time when the road outside of Tanglin Mall wasn’t a complete and utter shit show.

5.     Your car has at least one significant orange scratch along the side from a carpark ramp.

6.     You have a guy for everything:  a chicken guy, a milk guy, a picture-hanging guy, a tortilla guy.  Also, a girl for everything (albeit different everything): a waxing girl, a hair girl, an interiors girl, and exteriors girl… This is a prized possession and only top-tier friends get those numbers.

7.     You can make it through IKEA in 5 minutes flat (because you know the shortcuts to the light duvet section, and from there to the cheese-in-the-fridge section).

8.     31c / 88f and cloudy feels like jeans weather.

9.     You frequently return to your car from a walk or a coffee to find a door or a window wide open.  Instead of checking to see what’s been taken and looking for a policeman, you roll your eyes at your silliness and rive away with all your possessions intact.

10.  You can’t believe that you used to go to those Ladies Nights.  Every. Single. Wednesday.

11.  Your kids have their own devices purely so that they can skype with the latest of their friends who have left the island. (They do a LOT of Skyping.)

12.  You laugh at how you used to consider the flight from Europe to New York (or vice versa) “Long Haul.”

13.  Fried rice is a totally acceptable breakfast dish.

14.  You carry an umbrella, shopping bags, flip flops and sunscreen on your person at all times.

15.  You no longer take a photo of the price tag of every item in the supermarket and stick it on FB.  (Just the CNY oranges.  Because $88 for a small dish of tangerines is expensive by anyone’s standards.  But $15 for milk?  Entirely normal.)

I say Tomato, you say Butterscotch Turkey Bacon…

For every expat, there are moments when  foods or dishes in their adopted countries cause them to pause and wonder (and quietly vomit into their mouths). It’s important, thus, to have a Game Plan for when such moments present themselves: nodding and smiling and looking interested and curious are all acceptable Game plans. (On the other hand, grimacing, saying ‘bluegh’, taking photos and furiously texting your friend are, by and large, not. Sorry, ice-cream Auntie.) 


Shake It Off

There comes a time in every blogger’s life when someone posts a mean comment.  Somebody’s having a bad day, or is just frustrated (or pathetic) for whatever reason and takes it out on a harmless blogger.  In our little corner of the internet, that day was last week, and that blogger was *us*.  And while one of us is too busy sheltering from the rain and the leprechauns while drinking tea and gin (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it) to be too bothered by any type of snarkiness, the other one of us – currently holidaying in the land of perfect smiles and eternal optimism – well… Not so much…   




15 Ways You Know You’re an Expat on Your Holidays “Back Home”

In the absence of any texts of note between us (unless:  “Hi!  Are you sober?” “No.  You?” “It’s 7am.” “Oh.  Bummer.”  counts) we’ve compiled a list of the top ways you know you’re an expat on holidays in your home country.  (This is particularly relevant if (a) you’re expatting in Singapore and (b) your home country is in Northern Europe, the United States, or anywhere else where your hair doesn’t frizz up and you don’t start sweating within four minutes of leaving the (air-conditioned) house).  

15 Ways You Know You’re an Expat on Summer Holidays “Back Home”…  

  1. You sit in your car at the gas station waiting for an uncle to come and fill up your tank. (And you sit.  And sit. And sit.)
  2. When your kids are kicking off their shoes to go play in the garden, you immediately think of snakes.
  3. Speaking of shoes: People wear them inside their homes – and nobody says a thing!  (WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Get those filthy things outside, and into a large pile by the front door, where they belong…)
  4. You have literally no warm clothes. None. So you spend the first few days wearing several t-shirts and your father’s gardening cardigan, before succumbing and heading to Primark / Target.
  5. Primark / Target makes you WEEP WITH JOY.
  6. Grocery shopping takes HOURS because you keep sighing and fondling the produce.
  7. And while we’re on fondling – you hair (YOUR HAIR!!) is a thing of wondrous beauty.
  8. You are shocked – SHOCKED – at how truly bad Chinese, Indian and Thai food can be when you’re far from China, India and Thailand. You bore your friends and family by repeatedly pointing this out – but you just can’t help yourself.
  9. You arrive “home” with two suitcases and leave with fifteen.
  10. Into those two suitcases you actually packed school books for your children.
  11. Your children get freaked out by common wildlife. Such as pigeons.  And worms.
  12. You can’t quite figure out how to negotiate being in a place where there is – horror – *CRIME*. You’ve just let your toddler use the public toilet alone, and you routinely leave your car doors unlocked, and yet you’re wearing a wallet-belt 24/7.  (Well at least your MRT card is safe, PHEW.)
  13. You cannot understand how your children make such a mess. Where has all this laundry come from? Why are there toys and shoes and bits of food all over the place?  WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
  14. You suddenly realise why it’s happening, and make a mental note to build a shrine to your helper when you get back.
  15. Despite loving being home with every fibre of your being – your family and friends and your gorgeous hair and the incredible produce and the fresh air and all the millions of things you miss every day in Expat-Land – you (whisper it) miss your (whisper it again) *other* home.

Home Advantage(s) (Once more)

By now, eagle-eyed readers will have spotted something of a theme in our recent posts.  Yes, they’re all repeat episodes.  SORRY.  But:  (a) we’re thousands of miles away –  from Singapore, each other and, most significantly, our helpers*, which means that we just Do. Not. Have. Time. To. Text;  and (b) truly, these texts from last year sum up EVERYTHING happening in our lives right now.  (Although if pushed to sum our summer holidays up in a few words, we’d choose some variation of “glorious”, “hair”, “domestic” and “drudgery”.)  We’ll post something original soon – promise.  Just as soon as we’ve stopped checking out our hair in the mirror and folding the laundry.  (Often at the same time.)

(*It has dawned on us that all the free time afforded to us in Singapore by having helpers is basically used to text each other.  We’re slightly ashamed of that.  But only slightly.)





 

Four Floors, Redux

It’s summer holidays, which can only mean one thing:  we are in our respective home countries, weeping with the effort of domesticity, salivating over incredible supermarket produce, and unable to find the time to either text, or post said non-existent texts.  In times such as these, we do what all great artists do:  reproduce earlier work….  This post is from this time last year, but is no less pertinent now than it was then.

This summer, as last, the island essentially empties of expat spouses and children, and becomes a forlorn expat wasteland, populated only by lone expat men roaming in packs, looking for comfort in their time of temporary familial abandonment.  Some of these men, we are told, occasionally find themselves, late of an evening, in the environs of a large office/retail complex called Orchard Towers, the first four floors of which comprise bars favoured by prostitutes.  This has earned the building the misogynistic and offensive nickname “The Four Floors of Wh*res”.  However you might describe it, it’s generally accepted that if you’re a man in that building after hours, you’re there for one reason only – and it’s not to eat dinner.  (No matter *what* you might tell your wife…)