Ways that living in Singapore has changed me…

I thought tomorrow (the 19th) was our 2 year anniversary here in Singapore, but according to this post, it was today.  Which highlights nicely how quickly time flies, how unreliable memory is, and how crap I am at basic skills like reading a calendar.

Two years ago today, I was wondering around Singapore in a jet lagged haze while Ravi was at work.  I would move our belonging into a serviced apartment (and the very next day into a different serviced apartment after the first was bug infested-fun times!).  I remember  staring stupidly and blurrily at Orchard Road, and having no clue where anything was in relation to anything else.

Today Ravi headed off to work (okay, so his life isn’t all that different than two years ago).  Ellie had crawled into our bed at some point in the night, and I woke up with a three year old snuggled up against me (which is actually something I really enjoy, even if it means I get a grand total of 2 inches or so of bed) and the six month old starting to stir.  We hung out in our apartment (surrounded by our stuff, as opposed to the serviced apartment and a multitude of suitcases full of stuff).  I took Ellie to school, where we met up with my friend Claire.  Claire, Rhi and I drove over to the Titanic Exhibit at the ArtScience Museum–it was my 2nd time and Claire’s first (see my review here–only in Singapore for two more weeks!)  Then we picked Ellie up from school. We chatted with other moms and some of the teachers who had to come coo over Rhiannon.  After parting ways with Claire, Ellie and I picked up some supplies from the grocery store and headed home.  Dinner.  TV.  Bathtime.  Storytime.  Bedtime.

I could go into some long-winded sincere post about how different life is from two years ago.

Instead, I’m going to talk about the shallow ways in which Singapore has changed me.  These are totally off the cuff, and in no way comprehensive or in any sort of order.

Another Day, Another Maserati

Granted, I’ve never been a “car person,” so to speak, but I would stop and stare at the random sports cars I ran into in my previous life.  I’d hear the purr of a sports car engine and my heart would give a small flip of envy.

In Singapore, sports cars (and not just sports cars–Maserati’s, Ferrari’s, etc) are so ubiquitous that I barely even register them.  Or if I do register a sports car, my far more frequent and irritated reaction is “gee, I wish I were important enough to have a car so freaking loud I can hear you drag racing down my street at 1am from the sixth floor!”   Having a car is so expensive in the first place, that if you’re going to own a car, I guess you might as well own a Bentley?

So what grabs my attention in the car department these days?  There are two (or maybe 3) London style taxis; one of them bright pink.  It just makes my day to see one.  I’ve seen maybe 3 Priuses (Priuii?  What’s the plural of Prius?) which makes them stand out, whereas back home they were a super common sight.  Claire and I also once saw a perfectly made up woman riding a vespa with stilettos on (something we were both awed by and admitted we could never replicate ourselves), which was fairly impressive.

But a Maserati?  Meh–see those all the time.

I’m never going to remember which is the wiper blades baton and which is the directional

After driving on both sides of the road for so long, I have no clue what side of the car I’m supposed to get into, and I still occasionally screw up my wiper blades and directional–which has taught Elanor all sorts of colorful words and terms.

I hate closed-toe shoes now

I have always enjoyed a good sandal in the summertime.  But in Boston, at least for half the year if you don’t cover your toes you’re going to lose them to frostbite.  However, in the equatorial heat of Singapore, a closed toed shoe makes your foot feel like it’s dying slowly in a sauna.   Socks and closed toed shoes begin to gather dust as you strap on flip flops and sandals.

On my most recent trip home, even though it was very chilly, my toes felt like they were being held hostage by my sneakers and boots.  Pointy toed heels did me in the night of the Wicked Gala with Kirsten, and she can attest to the fact that on the walk back to the taxi, I had to step out of my shoes or I was going to have to crawl to the cab stand.

Polish, Please

As you might expect, given that I live in flip flops, my toe nails are far more nurtured than they were in the US.  I will grant that the state of my post-partum toes is tragic, but dudes, I had a baby six months ago–I feel lucky I shower most days.  But before the baby, they were kept pretty with regular pedicures (some in nail salons, some self-done).

I am pathetically grateful when I can return something

In the US, I have a hard time thinking of anyone who doesn’t accept returns.  In Singapore, I have the inverse problem.  So I have to be far more careful about purchases, as they are permanent. (Witness my dishwasher FAIL of English vs English)

When I go home, I’ll confess sometimes I buy things just so I can return them for the novelty of it all.

Verified by Visa makes me cringe

I realize it’s a safety measure and I should be grateful that Singapore is trying to keep my identity from being stolen, and blah blah blah…Verified by Visa is a pain in the ass.

For those lucky enough to not know it, Verified by Visa is a process by which whenever you shop online, the purchase isn’t finalized until you enter a pin number sent to your phone.  This makes shopping online, whether for 9 dollar movie tickets or 900 dollar airfare a giant pain in the ass.  Especially if you have a joint card, but have not yet set both of your cellphones up (which meant for a few months, I had to call Ravi for the pin).

I have no clue what people without cellphones do in this situation.  Seriously–does anyone know?  Now that I’ve posed the question, I really really want to know the answer!

What’s a weather report?

The weather in Singapore is so consistent that I don’t ever think about what I might need to wear.  I live in shorts, a tank top, and flip flops.  End of story.  The only thing that affects how I dress the girls is the intensity of the air conditioning at our destination.

This has and will continue to result in a sartorial comedy of errors when I travel outside of Singapore. 

What is this jack-et of which you speak? 

I quite literally can’t seem to wrap my head around “weather” and that it varies in other places.  Witness me trying to pack for our trip to Australia…first I need to convert all the temps into Farenheit, and then I try to remember what they feel like and what sort of clothing that might call far.  Anyone who wants to lay bets on us having to buy one or two things because I screw it up may as well start the pool now.

I’m always going to be able to identify durian blindfolded

Once smelled and tasted, durian is something that sticks with you for life.  A waft of stinky gym socks moldering in a plastic bag for a month will always make me nostalgic for Singapore.



This entry was posted in Before the Move, Culture Shock, customs, headdesk moments, Identity, money, Random Stuff, Shopping, Singapore. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Ways that living in Singapore has changed me…

  1. Verified by Visa is the absolute WORST when you’re overseas – they send the PIN to you, you have about 3 minutes… but you’ve changed the SIM card in your phone. And so begins the mad rush to FIND the Singapore SIM card, swap the cards and reboot the phone. UGH.

  2. Claire says:

    Woo thanks for the mention (feel a bit like a celebrity!). Congrats on reaching the two year mark!

    I am definitely with you on the shoes thing. I have a ton of ballet pumps that I wore to death in the UK that I just don’t wear here. Way more practical to wear flip flops, except when you get stuck in the rain of course!

    The not being able to return stuff really winds me up. When we first arrived I went Christmas shopping to get Will some gifts. I bought him a T-shirt but wanted to check their returns policy in case it didn’t fit him or he didn’t like it. It had to be returned in 3 days time! I don’t know about the US, but in the UK you get 30 days minimum, and at Christmas a lot of shops extend that as they know people are away and a lot of things are being bought in advance as gifts. I had to argue with the shop manager here to get an extension to 10 days!

    The weather still fascinates me. Yes, I know what I need to wear every day, but the way the rain rolls in during the day or the unexpected storms at night still makes me keep an eye on the weather. I’m a Brit, its in our genetics to talk about the weather! I am a bit worried about when we go back the UK in August – everyone there will probably think its warm, and I’ll be shivering in jeans (which I haven’t put on again since we got off the plane).

    Durian – I will never forget the smell of that. It will go with me to my grave!

    • Crystal says:

      Glad to know I’m not the only one with a bunch of shoes that are just gathering dust!

      I love the storms in Singapore, too. I’d love to get some great shots of the lightening in particular, but the placement of our apartment isn’t really ideal for that.

      I had a blast with you, as always!

  3. Amelia says:

    Oh I HATE verified by Visa!! After going through a long and exhausting plane booking on frickin’ air asia entering details for SEVEN people… for some reason there was no reception on my phone – no matter how much I waved the bloody thing about, that little PIN wasn’t getting through to me and I had to repeat the whole booking process again after I recovered from the ordeal and had reception back. I’ve looked at the weather app for Singapore on my iphone – no point – everyday just says 32 with a little picture of thunderstorms : )

    • Crystal says:

      Ravi tells me that the reason verified by Visa hasn’t taken off in the US is because Amazon doesn’t want to do it. Yay Amazon.

  4. Sandals should be allowed at work 😉 Not suits please. Singapore would be a much better place to live if we could dress according to the weather.

  5. katrijn says:

    In the past seven months I’ve worn out three pairs of sandals 😦 I think I need a bit of help finding sturdy ones! I’m dreading the weather when we go for our first home visit in a couple of weeks time… But I don’t think I’ve been here long enough to really get used to our new life yet – or maybe I just haven’t realised it yet, and it’ll hit me on our trip back home 😉 What are those like for you guys? What should I expect and what should I bring? (Have already been warned to download baby apps onto the tablet. Many, many baby apps.)

    • Dawn says:

      Not sure about how they’d hold up in Singapore, but I just bought a pair of SAS (San Antonio Shoes) tripad comfort: http://sasshoes.com/main/view_styles.php?catid=4&prodid=65. They felt amazingly comfortable in the store, so even though they were pricey, I splurged. The only problem was that I did a lot of walking in them in heat when they were new (like, a 1+ hour walk in 80+ F heat on the first day), and sweaty unaccustomed-to-sandals feet + new sandals = serious blisters. (I was still able to wear them with band-aids on the blister sites.) But now that they’re mostly broken in (and my skin has toughened up), the blisters don’t seem to be an issue. I’m definitely a fan of flat sandals that have a lot of padding on the bottom, and those are the ones that tend to last, too. And for a hot climate, I’d go for sandals that are as open as possible.

      • Crystal says:

        I tend to live in teva flip flops that I get for like 20-30 bucks a pair at DSW. I just buy 4-5 pair on each trip home. I also recently bought crocs flip flops–we’ll see how they go. I’ll check out the SAS on my next trip home, though.

    • Crystal says:

      I tend to wear teva flip flops. I go to the store and buy 4-5 pair on each trip home (as they’re cheaper in the US). I also have a pair of crocs flip flops (don’t tell anyone—shhhhh)

      On trips home, we have left a lot of stuff there, so we tend to go with close to empty suitcases and return with full ones to the max of our luggage. We tend to bring back food, medication, clothes, shoes, kid crap that’s cheaper at home than here.

      To keep the kid sane? Lots of baby apps, elmo or whatever her tv drug of choice is, some triangular crayons and paper, a few books and a lovey. Mostly pray she’ll sleep–they tend to take longer than average naps because of the white noise of the plane. And keep as your mantra….this too shall pass.

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