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.)

3 Is The Magic Number

It’s apparently SUPPOSED to be the “cool season” here. If someone could pass on that little piece of info to our sweat glands- and also the sun- that’d be fab. In the meantime, you now know where to find us (well- at least one of us. The other is hiding in a corner somewhere furiously sniffing her own pits).

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Prime Time (or The Joys of Online Shopping in Singapore)

We all get the Expat Blues from time to time. And we all have our own ways of bouncing back. Some start planning their next exotic vacay. Some throw themselves into a new hobby (like mah jong or jogging or bitter complaining and day drinking). And some seek out amazing new local discoveries…


(PS We have no ties whatsoever to this or any other e-commerce company. If we did, our pools would have so many amazing rafts, they’d look like the salad bar at the American Club.)




The Long Haul

It’s the time of year when all expats suddenly drop everything they’re doing and flee the Little Red Dot for the summer holidays. Some have their bags packed the moment school lets out and are boarding planes before the rest of us have even emptied the final school backpacks. Others of us hang about a bit longer, enjoying the relative quiet in Tanglin mall, the absence of traffic on Orchard, and the ease of parking in every mall. We all, however, eventually show up at Changi, full of caffeine and dogged determination that we will survive the next 15-48 hours of travel, dragging excited children and more suitcases than seems reasonable under any circumstances. 

Having been around this particular block a few times, we suggest 5 things every expat should pack for the summer holidays:

1.  Your helper. Well yes- we know she’s not a “thing.” Don’t be pedantic. Our point is, you’re going to miss her (and her cooking, and her child-minding, and the adorable way she folds your clean underwear into triangles- shit you’re going to miss clean underwear, full stop). So if you can bring her, do. And if you can’t, start practicing your undergarment origami. 

2. No clothes. Because there are no Seasons here and as a result, you’ve been wearing the same clothes for a year, damnit. Don’t think no one’s noticed. So the minute you walk into your favorite shop back home, you’re going to buy tons of clothes. Save yourself the effort and don’t bother packing any. 

3. No gifts. (Should this have been a list of Things Not To Pack? Maybe. Too late now though.)  Don’t bring gifts. Because no one in America wants a Tangs elephant and no one in London wants a set of lacquer chopsticks. So don’t bother. Unless you’re Japanese, or going to Japan, in which case, Thing To Pack: LOTS of gifts. 

4.   Exercise gear. Because 7 weeks of dining out and celebrating and drinking and eating your mother’s cooking will wreck your svelte Singapore physique. So run a lap or two around the block once in a while this summer. That way you won’t have to spend the month of August at boot camp. 

5. An empty suitcase – see # 2. 

That’s what we’re packing… at least we intend to…

Check Your Head

There are some times, when life gets uncomfortable, that you just can’t help thinking, “This would be SO much easier if I were in my home country.” (Examples: Flat tires and gynocological exams.) You feel fairly certain that your problem would be SO easily solved, if only you were AT “HOME.” Which is usually crap because life isn’t always sunshine and unicorns, no matter where you live. Sometimes you just need to put on your big girl pants and deal. (And sometimes a big girl drink helps.)




Love Shack

It’s easy to fall into a rut no matter where you live, and even more so when you live in a well-insulated and very comfy little Expat Bubble.  Pretty soon one finds oneself eating at the same places, talking to the same people, doing the same thing, week after week. So every once in a while, one of us really tries to break free and try something new.  Often, it’s wonderful and fascinating and enlightening.  And sometimes we end up running back to our Bubble and cowering inside…


Invasion of the Hipster Surgeons 

It used to be a common complaint amongst expats that there was nowhere to get a decent cup of coffee. This was loudest heard from our antipodean friends who lamented the lack of hipster cafes so common in their homelands. Well lament no longer, Sheilas: the hipster cafe invasion has well and truly taken hold. These days it’s impossible to just get a filter coffe or a cuppa tae. But a hand-pressed deconstructed French flat-white served in a test-tube? Would you like sugar with that?