What better way to dissolve a challenging and frustrating few months than taking a vacation, and to one where I consider home. Back to Singapore.
It’s home for many reasons but the most fundamental being that in the seven years of living there, I discovered who I was. I flourished and became an improved version of myself. So landing in Changi two weeks ago granted an immediate sense of belonging and freedom.
It’s been two and a half years since I left the Lion City to move to the Big Smoke and whilst not much had changed, everything had changed. It’s an evolving red dot with an abundance of new bars and restaurants, fancy new buildings and developed parklands but the sense of safeness and friends with welcome open arms still remains.
Vacations are a wonderful way to improve your mood, relieve stress and disconnect which I was in desperate need of, but have you ever been to a place where you just feel, well, happy? The moment the plane touched on Singapore land my shoulders dropped, I won’t lie I was slightly emosh but I felt like I was home and I was secure.
So what is it about Singapore that can make me feel rejuvenated and relaxed?
Ok so 33-degree humid heat isn’t for everyone but I love, alright obsess about hot weather. And I love a sunkissed glow. But let’s be honest how can a daily dose of vitamin D be a negative? And whilst humidity can be a pain, the heat helps dissolve my asthma. Growing up in the UK I have to use my inhalers four times daily yet in hot weather I don’t need to take them at all. Breathing naturally and unaided is an incredible feeling, one which I feel intensely grateful for.
Where else does the CBD close a busy street and line it with barbecues and serve endless satay?! A relaxed environment to savour delicious bites washing it down with jugs of Tiger beer as sunset falls. It’s one of my favourite places to dine.
Grabbing dinner from a local Hawker stall for a few bucks is my idea of a perfect evening, life can be pretty simple sometimes hey!
Living in Singapore meant I could quickly change into my activewear and walk home from work, taking in the fresh air as I walked along the beach. It used to take three hours but I didn’t care and smashing Fitbit steps was an obsession. So whilst on vacation after dinner and catch-ups with friends, it was a quick change at the hotel and out in the late hours to make the most of enjoying a long walk. It’s safe, slightly cooler and it gives me a real sense of freedom. Heading out alone for a walk at 11pm in London somehow doesn’t have the same, comfortable safe feeling!
Not only are you safe as an individual, but you can literally leave a handbag, laptop, purse or phone on a table and head to the bar. Sounds strange right? Things just don’t go missing as crime is low and being found guilty of such can bring shame on a family, so it doesn’t occur often.
Note to self: remember not to leave personal belongings out now I’m home, it’s a different environment.
You can travel North to South, East to West in Singapore within 30 mins. Popping on the bus or MRT (tube) is affordable, air-conned, clean and wait for it…on time! You can pretty much “chope” a table (reserve a spot by putting tissues or even a wallet/phone on the table and yup, go and order!) at any time of day or night and there is always a hawker centre close by.
I’M A SOCIALITE
Catching up with friends and colleagues in Singapore is uncomplicated because it’s pretty easy to grab a cab or take public transport and you can be in the city within 20 mins. After work is the most common time for networking and letting your hair down with no issue in having to schedule dates weeks in advance which seems to be more common in bigger cities as people have much longer commutes home.
IT’S AN OUTDOOR CULTURE
The weather and safeness cultivate an outdoor vibe encouraging a healthy lifestyle. The island is full of fitness fanatics looking after themselves, whether it be running, cycling, walking and even Auntie and Uncles (this is how you refer to people older than you which is a sign of respect) enjoying tai chi as night falls.
It’s an addictive healthy lifestyle, one I succumbed to with pleasure and one I happily slid back into on my vacation. Comfort food didn’t enter my head, xiao long bao and barbecued prawns all the way!
The thing is, being back in Singapore I felt alive. I remembered who I became when I was there and how I maximised my life. Somehow in London, I have gotten out of that habit and started more to exist rather than maximise and it has affected me more than I thought. Being happy was BAU and I felt there were endless possibilities, I could achieve anything.
This vacation was timely. I drew a line under the last tough few months and concentrated on rediscovering ‘me’ the person I felt I left behind by doing all the things I used to enjoy when I lived there. I enjoy living in London and my job but regaining the lost Nicci was an important exercise, getting back on track with my goals and where I absolutely need to be.
That person has come back to London full of energy, plans and restored happiness.
And to that, Singapore, I owe a great deal. You brought me back to life.
By Nicci McShane