+ singapore love

Farewell My Friend

Change is weird.

It messes with your head.

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It feels like Singapore is changing again. You see, expats come and go all the time. Some go kicking and screaming, some are in the natural migration cycle of, it would seem, about 4 years.

Facebook groups (I recommend Real Singapore Expat Wives or Buy & Sell Singapore) are flooded with people needing someone to take over their internet contracts, funky apartment pictures are posted in the hope someone will take over the lease (this can help expats who only want a place for a short space of time), or household items and personal belongings are being sold (shipping costs can be extortionate!). FYI you really gotta have your fingers on the pulse for this stuff as I swear people are attached to these groups all day and by the time you get round to checking out the page, everything has gone! I’m still bruised from missing out on one amazing Chloe bag.

A contributing factor to expats leaving can be changing circumstances in the workplace. This happens across many industries, it’s cyclic. You hear about it a lot but now, it is becoming real. I can see friends empty desks, I have farewell emails and leaving do invites sitting in the inbox from friends in various industries. Some friends are not only leaving their companies but are also leaving the country. If you haven’t led an expat life, this is huge. You know how they say that moving house is one of the biggest and most stressful experiences of your life? Imagine doing that and moving countries at the same time! Potentially, to one you have never lived in before. This is where expats are seasoned at preparing to move to the next location. They research, look for the best place to live, understand and try to learn the language, check out the climate and even the currency. If they are returning to their native home, it’s the same process and although it may seem easier, even that has it’s ups and downs.

Watching your friends leave town can be an unsettling process. It means adjustments to your life as well. They suddenly aren’t there, things don’t feel the same, memories of going to certain places come flooding back and then this hollow feeling creeps in. Our nearest and dearest are back home in another country, so our friends here are like family. I am lucky to be amongst friends who are like-minded people sharing our lives abroad.  It’s a peaceful, fun group devoid of arguments or rifts. Everyone accepts everyone for who they are and it’s wicked.

One of the family sadly left this week and has left a gaping hole. He is the first of the group to leave Singapore with his family for the next chapter of their life….sigh for us. Friday evening drinks at the regular haunt last night, felt strange. There was an unspoken sense that things felt different. He is of course still on WhatsApp and happy he is in the same time zone for the Euros instead of waking up at 3am to watch a game, how selfish (joking dude, well maybe not ha). Nonetheless we still miss him. But enough doom and gloom, this surely was an excuse for a party right? We are lucky to have an amazing event planner amongst us who arranged an awesome send off in style!  My head however didn’t feel so awesome the next morning…

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Farewell My Friend (Back row, blue Gingham!)

Friends can move on at any time in your life. The emotions are bizarre.

4 tips which may just help you out:

Throw them a going away party to make them feel special and add new memories to their experience. Good times and crazy friends = awesome memories!

Be appreciative of your friendships and memories. Be mindful of their feelings too, although you are sad they are leaving you, they will also be experiencing the feeling of change.

Adapt to the situation as they have made the decision to move. They are progressing on to the next stage of their lives and so must you! Use the time to readjust and allow yourself to be high-spirited.

Stay in touch with them as they haven’t vanished from the planet! It will take time to get used to them not being around but knowing they are only a text or a phone call away will help. And trust me, it will help them too.

N x

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+ best friends

The Zen of a Friendship

My best friend dropped by this week.

I say dropped by like she just appeared in my apartment for a brew (that’s tea for non british folk). She was actually returning home to the UK from completing an MBA in Melbourne, how cool is that? Well done my love!

To set the scene properly, I am super lucky to have many besties. Each one of them is a bestie for different reasons and they all enhance my life in different ways. This bestie is the oldest of them all (not in age as I think she might be the youngest, I am chuckling as I can almost envisage her spitting out her brew at the mere implication she is the oldest!), but we have been friends since we were kids, our friendship has spanned 24 whole years! We have grown up together, been bridesmaids at each others weddings and we still sit here all these years later reminiscing and giggling about bygone days. Discussions of when the next sleep over will commence have been replaced with questions of what the future holds, where shall we go for bubbles (that’s actually a really important decision to make you know) and deep and meaningfuls about how we can achieve our dreams. Okay now we just sound old!

The earliest picture I can find of us is from 9 years ago (before you think I’m a bad friend, it’s because all the original photos are back in the UK…I hope!) I must have some terrible pictures from our childhood lurking somewhere, I am on a mission to dig them out. I don’t think we look all that different now, minus the stars 🙂

She scarily knows what I am thinking without actually having said anything, she is honest with me and she helps dissect problems by discussing options to arrive at a sensible conclusion. Note the word sensible, she is probably the most well-reasoned and shrewd person I know. She even follows up with me once a decision has been reached to make sure I am still on track!

See I don’t live close to her, so enjoying bubbles or hitting up a spin class isn’t an option, but when we chat on the phone, whats app or when she is sat on my sofa this week, I remember that geography doesn’t matter. She was only here for a short time but we relished our time gossiping over 100 brews (actually I don’t think that number does it justice), munching our way through bacon butties, shopping, sunbathing, sipping cocktails on rooftop bars and demolishing satay! She has also lived an expat life so our discussions are mutually understood and appreciated. I miss her already but whenever we part we always say, “See you really soon!”

This got me thinking…

For 5+ years now I have been on the other side of the world to her and my other dear friends back home. We have 7 hours between us and I live a completely different lifestyle. I am extremely grateful that we are all still close, when we meet up it’s like we have never been apart, we speak pretty much most of the time and I feel blessed for this. I just had to share some of their icke faces….


When you move abroad, they suddenly aren’t there, your network, your support, your shoulders should anything be wrong. You find yourself in a new place feeling like the only way I can describe it, as the new girl at school. I consider myself to be an outgoing and social person but even I found it tough when I first arrived.  So if I find it tough, what about the people who arrive here alone and are introverts?

You see making friends can be the quickest way to feel at home in a new country, it’s not uncommon for expats to gravitate to other foreigners. My sister’s observation was interesting in that she was surprised my friends consisted of mainly expats. Actually that’s not such a shock as she used to think I lived in a shanty hut here so I am not sure what her expectations of Singapore were! I do however have to mention that I have some awesome local friends too – big shout out to you all!

It’s important I also share some of my fellow gorgeous expat friends who I have gravitated towards, I spend a lot of time with these guys and they are awesome!

The best and most simple advice I can give if you are new to a country is, be brave and have an open mind. If you are here alone or a trailblazing wife (without kids), there are many Facebook groups you can join (there are always expats looking for like-minded people to have coffee and/or drinks with!) and please be open to connecting with any groups of interest e.g. running, book clubs or wine tasting clubs! Don’t rule out socializing with work colleagues either, pretty much most of my friends are from the office!

If you are here with your family and have kids, I have to say it seems to be much easier to make friends due to the busy social calendar children have and the availability of connecting with other parents. But also, do some of the above, every little helps!

So why are friends so important?

They accept us for who we are – weak spots and self doubts aside, they still choose to be our friends.

They boost our self confidence – we may ponder, doubt or be insecure about making a decision or about whether we can achieve something, but our friends do the opposite. They support us, point out all the things we are strong at and give us the belief that goals can be smashed if we put our minds to it, and they help us with that plan.

They are a comfort zone, a comfort blanket – no makeup, spots, stinky after a spin class – they don’t care! I even had to endure a spin class next to my friend whose trainers clearly hadn’t visited a washing machine for quite some time, and I still love her!

We are never lonely – whether it be a normal week; spin classes, BBQs, walks, dinners, drinks or whether it be that you are feeling naff and need a hug, friends are prepared to rock up and lounge around with you at home, watch movies and order takeaways!

“Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, impossible to forget!”

It’s a good job you can’t actually hear me….I’m singing in pure Golden Girls style (for those who are old enough), ‘Thankyou for being a friend’

N x

 

 

 

 

+ paradise island

From Paradise, With Love

15 friends, 4 days, 1 private island.

I have literally just been to paradise and back.

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Pangkil Island, Indonesia

2 hours from Singapore is an island called Pulau Pangkil (which means small island) in Indonesia. A ferry, coach and quick speedboat is all it takes to transport you to nirvana!

As the speedboat approaches the island you can’t help but let out a bit of a squeal…I hope noone noticed, nobody said anything anyway, but this was ours for 4 whole days! We literally hired the island!

On arrival we were greeted with cocktails and introduced to our rooms. 3 of us shared ‘The Big House’ which reminded me of the Swiss Family Robinson movie! I was waiting for ostriches and zebras to come speeding out! Disappointed much. The rooms however are clean and simple, literally like a massive tree house, with everything you need…including wifi!

I reckon I counted about 15 friendly, smiley staff on the island yet you wouldn’t know they are there! It’s like they are invisible and when you need something they just appear! Nothing is any trouble and they run the place like clockwork. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at various spots on the island, from the main house, to the pool, out on the grass and for our final evening we dined on the beach with fireworks and a bonfire. I get super emosh about fireworks, I don’t know why but I become overwhelmed! We finished the evening with karaoke (we brought the machine with us)…X Factor watch out I think there is a new rendition of Barbie Girl coming your way!

The island oozes tranquility. You are literally forced to relax which is something I struggle to do. I think over those 4 days I was almost horizontal I was that chilled out. Their main instruction should be prepare to go and totally unwind. For me, I think that because the entire island was occupied by only us, made it feel more comfortable. I knew that no matter where I went, someone would be there chilling and doing their own thing, it felt serene.

Well, until the evening. What to do? Our sundown events consisted of board games (with penalty shots, don’t ask!), card games, karaoke and dancing! Considering most of us are in the Global Corporate Step Challenge, we were stepping and dancing on the spot to achieve the daily target!

The island offers many activities: fishing, snorkeling, sailing, paddle boarding, volleyball, table tennis and pool. I have probably missed something but needless to say they have everything covered! They even have a disco ball to create a dance floor in the sand! It was amazeballs!

They also have an honesty bar. We took our own alcohol so they cleared the bar, laid our tipples out and kept 2 ice boxes fully stocked with beer and soft drinks for us to help ourselves (the bill for this is settled at the end).

The food was awesome! Breakfast included cereal, bread (a toaster), various jams and spreads, an egg menu, sausages, bacon, fresh juices and of course a tea and coffee stand. Lunch and dinner consisted of various fresh fish (red snapper is officially now my fave!), various meats, tofu, salad, vegetables, rice and noodles – all cooked to perfection and they even provide gluten free options! Afternoon tea is also served which is an added bonus!

The weather was perfect, there was only 1 day where it rained (it did rain in the evening but who cares at night?! It was a perfect opportunity to open up the blinds in the tree house, let the breeze in and look out to sea). The day was spent lazing around reading, enjoying massages (be prepared for a strong but invigorating rub down!) and then our own movie theatre was installed! Giant bean bags in the sand with a rum & coke, watching Ted 2, it just doesn’t get better than that!

I am a beach girl. Any excuse to lie on a beach, feel the sand in between my toes and hear soft waves crashing against the shore…ah man I wish I was still there. I love sitting in the sea and looking out at the vast ocean, somehow whenever I do this I think that anything is possible?! I feel there are endless possibilities in life and have this zingy feeling! It’s the exact same feeling I have when I am in New York City, bizarre. I spent pretty much most of my time on the beach, it was peaceful, breezy, untroubled and gentle. I slept and slept and slept. When I woke up I was tired!

If you are looking for a nap in a hammock, going barefoot in the sand and enjoying a vivid blue sky with cotton candy clouds, this is the place to visit. For me, I was encouraged to appreciate how simplistic life can be. I mean, when was the last time you played board games, read a book in a bean bag or danced in the sand?

The 4 day break was absolute heaven. I hadn’t had a proper vacation in 8 months and there is a lot happening in my life so this really was rewarding downtime. Thank you to all the staff on the island and all 14 friends for being fabulous company and for a superb long weekend.

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I am now back in sunny Singapore and still on cloud nine.

N x

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