The Leasing Saga

We all have them.  A collection of stories that we trot out at dinner parties, or when we’re making new friends.

They are usually stories borne out of adversity or difficult times.  Mine include:

  • the 3 day stopover in Singapore last year where I was doing a the solo parenting thing and wound up in the emergency room at 1am.
  • a lion roaring really loudly in the vicinity of my very thin tent in Kenya.
  • the Big Missy’s premature arrival (she weighed 3lb 15ozs!).
  • forgetting to put the date on my wedding invites.

There’s a couple of other ones founded in awesome experiences (particularly the journey I went on for THE BOOK), but it’s the shitty, scary, frustrating experiences that most people turn into a funny story.  And that’s what I hope our leasing saga will become, something to laugh about with friends.

I’m not quite there yet, though.

We’ve been in Singapore just short of 8 weeks and our situation has not really changed much from Day 1.  Whilst we haven’t been truly homeless, we have lacked an address and this has prevented us from sorting out stuff (car, school buses, furniture, helper) that would have been sorted weeks ago had our plan had gone to plan.

So, I sit and I wait to hear if tomorrow is the day we will get the keys to our new life.

I look forward to turning The Leasing Saga into an amusing story.  But that may be some time away as we need to heal first.

Postscript: Thank you to all my wonderful friends who have had the misfortune to witness The Leasing Saga. x

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Treading Water

treading wa·ter : a stroke that keeps the head above water by thrashing the legs and arms. (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

tread water : to be active but without making progress or falling farther behind (http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/tread+water)
Well, I’m not thrashing my legs and arms (and a sore back has prevented me from moving much at all, but I’m on the mend now), but I am active without making progress or falling farther behind.  So, I am defintiely treading water.
Which is massively annoying and frustrating and is sending me slightly bonkers.
There are hold-ups with our lease but please don’t ask me what as our relocation/property agent seems to think we should not be worried by details. Either that or she doesn’t give two hoots about it.  We first put in our Letter of intent for our chosen house around the 20th April – over 5 weeks ago – and yet a lease has not been signed. *sigh*
So, we’re in a serviced apartment and being well looked after, the kids are happy-ish at school, but the treading water aspect of life at the moment is getting me down.  It’s neither a holiday nor is it real life.  I don’t feel free enough to laze by the pool, drink cocktails and chillax, and yet I can’t move forward to buying furniture and settle into our home (because we don’t have a home and no-one can/will tell me when we will have a home).
(Apologies for the sooky la-la post but it’s how I’m feeling and I needed to get it out.)

O Week: Random Musings

I have been an appalling diary keeper my whole life.  Recording the day-to-day minutiae of my life is not for me, which is why I only managed to blog O Week for three days in a row despite vowing to myself I’d do better.

For a wrap up of the rest of the week I’m just going to do a Brain Dump.

Ready? Here we go ……

  • I had a lunch date with three other Expat bloggers.  Well, I kind of invited myself along but Andrea, Laurel and Tanya didn’t seem to mind and it was lovely to meet other women in the same position as me (although Andrea and Laurel are way ahead of me on this Expat living thing, and Tanya is a week further down the track).
  • The school run  would take just under 4 hours a day if we were only using public transport.  Trains are certainly the cheapest way to get around but when you add walking time from the station to school/apartment it’s not the quickest option.
  • The flashing light above the door on a Singapore train means the door is closing. Do not try to get on or one child will end up on the train, the other on the platform and your arm will be stuck in the door. This happened twice before the penny dropped with me.  Quick, aren’t I?
  • I need to buy a bread maker as Singapore bread has sugar added to it. Blergh.
  • Having a back spasm makes everything a gazillion times more difficult.
  • Hawker centres and food courts do not provide napkins.  I must remember to carry tissues/wet wipes at all times.
  • If at all possible stick to the shade.
  • We saw Malaysia from Sembawang Park and Miss 4 is keen to swim over.
  • Sweating is not embarrassing here, it’s simply a fact of life if you’re outdoors.
  • The expat community is very welcoming and helpful.
  • Sentosa Island is very short on signposts to direct you to the various attractions.
  • Does one tiny country need this many shops?????

O Week : Day 4

My mother guilt about the Missies having to change schools rushed to the fore this morning.  What if they didn’t make friends? What if we had ruined their lives with this little jaunt to the Far East?  What if..what if…what if….

My what if’s came to nought.  Both girls settled into their new classes incredibly easily and were eager to head back for more the next day.

And me? I left the school with 2 phone numbers and talk of a playdate for the Little Missy. 🙂

O Week : Day 3

Today is a public holiday in Singapore.  It’s Vesak Day, a Buddhist celebration which commemorates the birth and enlightenment of Buddha and his entry into Nirvana.

I didn’t see any celebrations that I could link with Vesak Day in this part of Singapore, but I am living temporarily in the shopping mecca that is Orchard Road.  (Does anybody NEED this many shops???)

Kind of gets the message across as to what happens if you trespass, doesn't it?

As it was a public holiday it  conveniently freed us from having to organise stuff, so we headed out for a walk to Fort Canning Park.  The fort sits on a hill and it’s been an important part of this island since at least the 1300’s, with a Malay King believed to have been buried there.  In more recent times it was used by The British as their headquarters and where they watched out to sea during World War II for invaders.  Great plan, except the invaders came from Malaysia to the north.

It’s now parklands and a function centre and well worth the climb up a few sets of stairs.  We wandered around checking out the various plants and paid particular attention to the Spice Garden.  I’ve never seen pepper, cocoa, and cinnamon trees/plants before.

Who knew there were squirrels in Singapore? Not I!

We went out early, which I think is essential for any physical activity to Singapore.  We also stuck to the shade which helped enormously, as did the huge quantities of water I drank.

O Week : Day 2

Today was a good day.  The sheer exhaustion that both the other adult in this family and I felt yesterday lifted, and the Missies were much more rested, too.

Which is excellent, because yesterday I felt like I’d been hit by a bus.

Not much to report.  The Ministry of Manpower were efficient and organised.  There was lots of stamping, stapling and typing.  We had our thumbprints taken and get our ‘proper’ passes next week.

Efficient.

There was a 90 minute wait at the bank to open an account, but this is Singapore and there are more than enough shops to help you pass the time.  Our bank account was set up with no dramas and we were issued ATM cards immediately.

Efficient.

Swapped my Australian prepaid mobile SIM card for a Singaporean one, which took all of 30 seconds to arrange.

Efficient.

I even managed to read a bit of a novel before bed, something that hasn’t happened for a few weeks, as my reading ability deserts me as my stress levels rise.

So my stress levels must be falling, which is always a good thing!

O Week : Day 1

In Australia the first week of the new university year is called Orientation week, which for as long as I can recall has been shortened to “O Week”.  It was originally designed – as its name suggests – to help new students to find their way around, but has evolved into a drunken celebration of freedom as 18 year olds experience their first taste of life outside of the school system.

Being our first week in Singapore we are in a serviced apartment while the rental house we picked is having a few things fixed (and why the vagaries of the Singapore leasing system work themselves out), and we are using the time to orient ourselves to this new country.  Sadly (or happily), there will be no drunken scavenger hunt through the streets dressed as a superhero as the universities do in O Week.

Yesterday (Sunday), was our first full day as Singapore residents, although we were all still on Melbourne time which is 2 hours ahead.  The kids got up at 7am and we muttered at them to find something quiet to do while we got more sleep.  They reappeared just under an hour later and my mobile phone was telling me it was 8am so I offered to take the kids to breakfast while hub slept.  I had a quick shower, dressed and when I made it out to the lounge room I noticed through the window it was pitch dark.

It was 8am in Melbourne, not Singapore.

Our missions for the day was to test out the train system.  Despite having been in Singapore quite a few times between us we had never used public transport, but for the first few weeks until we sought out the school bus I need to use public transport to get the girls to and from school.  Hub will also catch the train to work everyday.

Our first stop was to buy an EZ Link card, which is kind of like a debit card which you load up with credit.  The card can be used for all manner of things – trains, buses, taxis, parking, shopping.  When entering and exiting an MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) station all you do is wave the card over the scanner and the cost of the trip is deducted from the card.

Not sure why the Victorian State Government didn’t adopt this system over the woeful Myki ticketing system they chose.

The stations are clean and there is no danger of people falling on the tracks as there is a glass wall to stop that.  The longest we waited for a train was 4 minutes.  There aren’t an abundance of seats on the trains but there are lots of poles and straps to hang onto.  The Little Missy took to sitting on the floor, which in many countries could put at risk of all manner of diseases, but not in Singapore!  At 3 different times people offered their seats to her.  You don’t get that in Melbourne (or insert most other places), even if you’re visibly pregnant.

The next job was to take a trip to a Singaporean supermarket.  We are staying within spitting distance of Orchard Road (not that we would spit, mind) so we went to the nearest Cold Storage which probably is not the most authentic Singaporean shopping experience but our feet were sore and we just needed food.  Quickly.

Cold Storage is similar to Australian supermarkets, a lot smaller but the ‘vibe of the thing’ was the same.  The biggest difference that I noticed is that the price of fruit/vegies/meat/anything was given per 100 grams.  Luckily I was pretty darn terrific at my 10 Times Tables back in the day!

And – gratuitous brag alert – we bought a bunch of bananas for $1.90  kilo. It’s been months since I had a banana.  In Australia, thanks to the wrath Mother Nature meted out to Queensland, bananas have been hovering around the $13 a kilo mark for months making the humble narna something of a status symbol in school lunch boxes.

OK, it was pretty much the only thing that was cheaper in the whole produce section, but still……

(Day 2 of O Week sees us trying to open a bank account and visiting the Ministry of Manpower where I will try not to think of Jamie Durie……)