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).
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.)
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.
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.)
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…
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?
You’ll often hear expats here saying that Singapore has ‘everything’. And it really does – if by ‘everything’ you mean ‘everything you could ever hope for from a tiny tropical country sitting smack on the Equator’. Just occasionally, tho, it would be nice if ‘everything’ didn’t include ferocious prehistoric beasts who are adverse to day-trippers…
Some things are sacred in Singapore. Sitting in your car in a carpark waiting for the perfect parking space to open up; queueing for hours because there are rumours that the fruit stall has the best durian; and never EVER taking an ’empty’ table which sits there beckoning you with its forlorn pack of tissues…