Change is weird.
It messes with your head.
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…
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.
15 friends, 4 days, 1 private island.
I have literally just been to paradise and back.
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.
I am now back in sunny Singapore and still on cloud nine.