20 points from my first 6 months in Singapore


20 points from my first 6 months in Singapore

Six months ago my hubby and I decided to relocate to Singapore. Not quite the other side of the world from UK, but almost!  After cough40cough years on this earth the time was right. Our 3 children were grown up and I was recovering from surgery with no inclination to return to my old position. It was a case of now or never.

I cant believe we’ve been here six months, the time’s flown. All in all it has been a pretty smooth transition, and there’s still loads to do and see. It’s incredible that places we would only have dreamed of visiting back in the UK are now just a hop away!

So with the first six months down, what are 20 most noteworthy things about our emigration?

1. We’ve just returned from our first trip back to the UK to visit family and friends – the house is still standing and the kids haven’t forgotten to walk/feed the dog! It was a great trip, but we couldn’t wait it get home… or should that be back to SG? At first it was strange that we no longer knew where to call home, but then we realised how lucky we were that after just six months we now have two places we consider home.

2. We’ve learnt quickly to have a number of brollies by the front door as the SG uniform seems to be shorts and t-shirts teamed with sunglasses and and an umbrella! P.s. The rain is warm!

3. We now know how to chope (to reserve a seat at Hawker centers). This is usually done by leaving a packet of napkins on the table or seat when you go to purchase your meal. Amazingly this is respected, but I just don’t think it would work in the UK.

4. Hawkers centers are great! You soon get used to plastic tables, small school like stools and plastic cutlery. Singaporeans care about the quality of the food, not the grandeur of the surroundings. If you’re looking for the best food join the longest queue, even if you don’t know what you’re about to buy it’s bound to be great! Singaporeans happily queue for an hour for their favourite food.

5. Try everything. With so much new food to experience (some  of it quite scary) eating can be more daunting than you’d believe, but don’t be afraid, be surprised. Ask the locals for their suggestions too. You’ll soon get over being squeamish – although I just cant take to chickens paws (chicken feet).

6. You will never reach the end of your “must do, must visit ” list. It just keeps getting longer and longer!

7. Public transport is cheap, plentiful, clean, convenient, on time … and air conditioned! Taxis are cheap too, but you’ll struggle to get one when its wet and you can guarantee that when you’re in a hurry it will be “shift change” and none will be going to where you want to go!

8. You have no hope of ever learning Singlish, I’m still struggling with English!

9. Singaporeans are obsessed with food, closely followed by shopping. Food centers, Restaurants and Malls are everywhere – many open 24 hours – and all are usually busy.

10. Thank god for the internet, it’s invaluable for keeping in touch with family and friends. When living overseas you have bad days sometimes, but the next is always a new adventure. Reading about other peoples expat lives through forums and blogs make you realise you’re not alone, and writing mine keeps my brain in some sort of working order!

11. Who would of thought that someone who suffers from vertigo could live 20 floors up and love it? When we first looked for homes I was adamant that we wouldn’t be higher than the 4th or 5th storey, but the 2 condos I fell in love with were both the highest. The first couple of weeks in the condo I could only gingerly creep onto the glass-sided balcony – but now its no problem!

12. Durian really is the “king of fruits”, even though some can’t abide it. This fruit has a real “marmite affect”, but if you ever get a chance try it do. You may need to hold your nose, but it tastes fantastic – sweet, sour, butterscotch, creamy, soft, sticky and v v naughty!

13. We knew that the tax was high on alcohol in SG, but boy were we shocked by how expensive it was! Even the cheapest “paint stripper” costs an arm and a leg, so we decided to give up red wine!

14. After a couple of weeks of being good we decided any bottle of wine under S$30 is reasonable :p

15. In SG it’s always time for a gin and tonic. – need I say more :)

16. Coming from the UK (where the Summer can be hit or miss) I decided I loved the heat and humidity.

17. The next day I decided I hated the heat and humidity, and my view on it’s changed every day ever since!

18. I’ve gone from bringing up kids with no time to myself, to a job where I spent the majority of the day sitting in front of a computer to finally having time for me. I never thought I’d love getting out of bed in the morning to go exercising along the coast!

19. It took me a while to walk down “Orchard” for the first time (the equivalent of Regents St in London) but its great that you can go shopping anywhere in shorts and flip flops.

20. I wish friends and family were out here and could experience all this too, but holidays will be fab! Son no. 2 is visiting next week (which just happens to coincide with the F1Grand Prix). Our other children will all be visiting us in the months ahead too.

Well that’s my 20 standout observations of the past six months, but there are plenty more I could add.

Now where did I hide that bottle of gin? Cheers, and here’s to another six months of Singapore’s sights, sounds, treasures and excitement!

If you’d like to read more about my adventures you can find my blog “Tails from the Lion City” at www.singaporetales.co.uk. You could also like the Tails from the Lion City Facebook page  or follow me on Twitter @brismart.

I started writing a blog to keep my family and friends updated of what I was experiencing and got hooked! Its great to see who has viewed it each morning and it never ceases to amaze me what distant countries are viewing it. The blog will also act as a diary for me, something to remind me in my “dotage” and hopefully something to show my grandchildren (when I get them) what Grandma got up to.

Please drop by and read about the places I’ve visited and the things I’ve seen, eaten and felt during my “new adventure”  It would be great to receive comments as well (both the good and the bad!)

Bridget Smart
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Hi! I'm a 40 something wife and mother of 3 grownup kids and one soppy dog called Oscar, who we think is around 14 years old now and heartbreaking had to leave in the care of two of the kids (we couldn't taken him in all fairness to Singapore - he hates the heat in the UK - if you can call it heat!) I am from Bristol in the UK and apart from a couple of years living in Germany, in a previous lifetime when I had my sons, I haven't really travelled far; most holidays were camping and walking in the Lake District, Wales and Cornwall. Now with the kids grown up and following a health scare I had last year, my husband was offered the fantastic opportunity of a 4 year stint in Singapore - we jumped at the chance!! Singapore has been great and apart from a few wobbles its been a very easy transition. I still struggle to make new acquaintancies, however I don't miss my old career and am currently enjoying "working hard" at being blissfully free, for the next 4 years at least.