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26 March, 2011

With Or Without You

Saturday morning reflection times with some yum cha in my belly. I've just about clocked up a month here and it's starting to feel like the long haul now, rather than the initial feelings that were holiday-like.

By that I mean I'm starting to get the odd pang of homesickness. I thought I was prepared as I've spent the last three years away from what I'd consider home base in Melbourne, but I had such a tight network of friends in Sydney that part of me is bitter about missing out on the good times.

Facebook is a double-edged sword. It's fantastic for keeping abreast of shenanigans, but at the same time it reminds you you're not a part of the shenanigans.

But it's funny how things work, three years ago I was probably experiencing the same feelings when I moved to Sydney, I can vaguely recall lamenting not having anybody to talk to on the phone. That changed over time - so much so that I barely remember feeling lonely there.

It's just the odd pang though. As a friend would say, it's a marathon not a sprint mate, and my pace has kept me in good stead. I'm relishing the challenge, and the bar for what I could achieve here keeps getting pushed further, even within this short period of time. It's ridiculous what's going on here, and it's hard not to be proud.

I move into my pad today. To say I'm excited is an understatement. It's a guilty treat. It will be good to finally plant some roots here. And show it off to my friends. I'm going to have a dinner party once I'm settled, as I can in this place (it has a dining room). But also, I have a number of friends coming through in the coming months - I think we have people coming through April, May, June and July thus far. Combine that with my own travel plans and I think I'm going to be okay.

But there's always going to be that odd pang of homesickness.

13 March, 2011

Feel so bohemian like you

I'm sitting in my shophouse and the Bohemian Like You came on while I was listening to old MP3s. The memories came flooding back, good times were had around the time that song was out. And it got me thinking about this new adventure I've embarked on, and whether there'll be songs that stand out in my head.

I remember when I left for Sydney, it was The End (Dirty South Remix), I even remember blogging about it and how apprehensive I was and how I was wondering how things would unfold.

I'm yet to find a song that defines this transition, but rest assured it will be something that triggers new memories too.

So I'm sitting at the end of my second week in Singapore and things have progressed a bit since the first week. The sheen has not wore off yet and everything is still a fresh experience. Especially the food, when it comes to the food I'm a man possessed, I'm not much of a photographer but I keep feeling obligated into taking snaps of the chow. Like what I gorged myself on last night when I got home.

But I transgress. I've achieved a few things this week as well. I got my first business trip under the belt, heading to Krabi for a conference on all things digital for our company and the region. It was an honour to be in the same room as some of the brightest minds in the business, and an opportunity I would have normally have to wait years for if I stayed in Australia. The pinnacle for me was presenting. My boss asked me to present the Singaporean digital landscape on our company's behalf and I lapped up the opportunity. It wasn't a long presentation, but the adrenaline rush I got from standing in front of my peers and nailing something was something else.

I actually got a bit swept away afterwards, calling Mum and waking her and then another friend and just debriefing about a new career highlight that had just been achieved.

I've managed to get the menial out of the way too. I now have an Employment Pass (the Singaporean equivalent of a Visa) and a bank account. I've looked at three places now and have signalled my intent for one of them. Waiting to hear back about that today.

I think once I have my own place I'll be truly settled. Then there's two things that need doing. One is to show my friends the town as they come through on their various travels, and the other is to do some travelling myself. I can't wait to go to Chiang Mai and see what the big deal is with some dear friends who live over there, and I also can't wait to just find some locations off the beaten track.

I'm subscribed to the travel newsletters now, and will be watching them like a hawk.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to rustle up some lunch with a pretty lady!

01 March, 2011

And I'm Here

Wow, I really wasn't kidding around when I said 2011 was going to be my last year in Sydney. That sure escalated quickly. Oh Lordy, what have I done to myself? In the space of three weeks I went from brohemian, brunch-loving Newtownian, to fish-out-of-water, international travelling neophyte.

And the verdict? In the words of DJ Pied Piper and The Master of Ceremonies: I'm loving it, loving it, loving it, I'm loving it like this.

I knew my friends were right, I knew the travel thing had to be done, but what I didn't know, and what I'm quickly coming to realise, is that this is pure awesome.


I arrived in Singapore and the first thing I noticed was the carpet. It was an ugly shade of black, grey and maroon squares. But then I looked up, and realised I was in an airport, and that I shouldn't get stuck on such pitifully dull details on my first sojourn through an international airport.

I walked out and after making sure I had all my necessary documentation, walked into a guard and asked with a faint tinge of trembling: "How do I get out of here?"
"Down that way", he said with a smile.

Being subjected to Border Security on Australian TV had me quaking in my shoes at the prospect of passing through immigration. I was envisaging savage customs officials, machine guns, and maybe a rapier.

Instead, there was smiles, stamping, and a pleasant bid on my way.

I've never experienced duty-free shopping. I've heard murmurs of what it encompasses, and the vast, bountiful value that accompanies these purchases. But 1 Litre of Smirnoff for $18 SGD?!?! Yes please. I also grabbed three Tiger cans for under $6 bucks. They came in handy later.

Picking up my luggage was wait-free, and I rather expertly got into a taxi and pointed the driver in the right direction. Perhaps the way in which I accomplished this task had gone to my head, because when I got to the street I was staying in the taxi driver exploded. I didn't say I had a Visa Card. How the shit am I meant to pay for it!

So I fucked up my first cab experience. We drove to an ATM and I got some cash out and paid the good man. I then walked up to the address I was given and had no idea where the agent was. I stood around scratching my head. I called her from a phone on my way through the airport but she was nowhere to be seen. I pondered what to do, as I didn't have a phone and figuring out a local telephone box with a currency I haven't used before seemed like way too much effort given I'd just been in the air for eight hours.


I have to say, it's was the first surreal experience in another country. Another country where you know fuck-all people. Another country where you don't expect to hear your name. I smirked. I think the penny dropped there and then that I was in for a fun ride, even the simplest little things are going to take on new meaning, and this was only the beginning.

Of course, it was the estate agent. She let me into the shophouse, and we navigated three lots of stairs to get to my pad. After an inventory check and receiving the critical "dongle" for Internet, she bade me farewell and I couldn't stop smiling. I was in my apartment, in another country, with absolutely no idea what to do.

Before I left, I spied a 7/11 on Google Maps right next to where I was, so I decided I'd go to that and get some mixer for my vodka. I grabbed my orange fruit drink, paid for it while fumbling around for the correct money, and scurried back to my pad.

I was pretty tired, and after slamming the vodka down, I had my first fitful sleep fighting between the sound of the air-conditioner blasting, and wallowing in the heat.


And that's how I got here. It's now my second day of work and I'm settling in. New market to learn, new procedures but I'm prepared for the challenge.

This aside, I'm now sure coming here was one of the best decisions of my life.