A couple weeks ago (March 26, to be exact) marked my 2-year anniversary in Singapore. It’s telling that the date came and went and I barely noticed — life here has become so comfortable that our life before (in Sydney and particularly NYC) seems much longer than two years off in the past.
If nothing else, anniversaries are a good time for stock-taking. The other day as I was commuting home on a crowded bus (definitely the lowpoint of pretty much any day) I realized that, in spite of the fact Singapore bus-riding etiquette (or lack thereof) drives me crazy, I’m overall as happy with my life as I’ve ever been. Of course if my life were a TV show or movie it would mean that everything is about to fall apart, so let’s hope that’s not the case!
Things to love about life:
- Our neighborhood, Joo Chiat. I love the colorful shophouses. I love all the 24-hour food stalls. I love that when I walk Avon in the morning or at night, shopkeepers and neighbors alike greet both of us by name. I love that there aren’t any high-rise condos or HDBs within at least a 5-block radius, making for ample sunlight and quiet streets (and a totally unique experience for Singapore). The hubs and I worried slightly when we moved out here a year ago that it might feel too far from the action of the CBD and that the commute might be too much of a pain, but thankfully neither has been the case (so long as the 33 bus is relatively on-time in the morning!).
- Having a dog. I’ve always been a dog lover, but I can totally believe all those studies that show having a dog makes you happier and healthier. Waking up to walk Avon every morning is such a nice way to start the day, and I can’t wait to get home every night because I know he’ll be there ready to give me kisses, big tail wags, and even hugs (yes, he’s tall enough now that he can put his paws of my shoulder to give me a hug!). Perhaps this makes me a lame homebody, but pretty much my perfect night consists of watching TV on the couch with the hubs while Avon is curled up at our feet, rising only sporadically to play a game of tug-of-war or fetch.
- Work (and traveling for work). I wouldn’t say I love work every moment of every day (seriously, are there people who do? I’d obviously prefer to spend my days hanging out at home with my husband and dog), but I feel very lucky to work with great people in an exciting environment that’s constantly growing and changing. So much of my work now has to do with catering to the exploding population of travelers in China, and it’s so cool to feel a part of what seems like an important global shift.The two things I love most about my job are 1) Getting to write about some of the best resorts in the world and 2) Communicating on a daily basis with colleagues in China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, Europe and North America. The world is seriously such a small and tight-knit place now!
In February I traveled to Shanghai for a company meeting, and just loved getting to both explore a fascinatingly dynamic city and hear about what life is like for my colleagues there. I was happy to come back to Singapore’s balmy weather after five days of heavy coats and hats, though!
- Running. A box filled with participation medals seems to indicate that I’ve competed in over 20 races since I kicked off with the Shape Run in July 2011. As a former competitive athlete, I’ve found running races to be the best way to keep myself training and in shape, because there’s always another goal to reach and another race to look forward to. One of many reasons Singapore seems to agree with me is that me knees hurt far less in this warm weather than they do when I run at home (or when I ran in Australia even). Through races I have seen nearly every corner of Singapore, from Changi Prison, to Jurong Lake/Chinese Garden, to the Zoo Safari to Tampines Bike Park, not to mention key landmarks like Macritchie Park and Gardens by the Bay.
Personal highlights have been second place finishes at last year’s SPCA Fun Run and the North Face 15k, as well as a third place finish (despite a nagging knee injury that prevented me from training and ultimately required surgery) at my beloved Angkor Wat 10k this past December.
I never ran track or cross-country in high school, and I would love to train with a track club but just can’t seem to make it work due to work hours and locations. All the same, I have made some wonderful friends here through running, and that has been the best running by-product of all. Now if only our condo would upgrade its treadmills…
- Friends. As has been the case since we arrived in Sydney four years ago, I miss my friends from home terribly. I’ve known many of them for more than half my life now, and wish that I could see them all in person more than once a year (or even once every few years). But given how long I’ve now been gone, I’ve come to realize that the mark of a wonderful friendship is its ability to withstand time and distance. I mean, duh, but it’s been really cool learning that lesson firsthand.
I’ve also been lucky to make so many wonderful friends during the course of our time abroad. From former colleagues in Australia, to co-workers across Asia, to friends here from more than a dozen different countries, I have met so many cool people with such fascinating backgrounds that are so different from my own. Sometimes it makes me embrace my Boston roots (how I miss watching our sports teams live, eating lobster rolls and drinking Dunkin’s iced coffee!). But it also makes me think about how far I’ve come from homogenous (if also safe and beautiful) Hingham.
- And more travel. In two weeks I will fly to Kathmandu, where I’ll be meeting my best friend (flying in from Boston!) to do a 10-day trek across Nepal. I never thought I would visit Nepal, but then again I never thought I would live just 4.5 hours away from it by air.
Few things make me happier than thinking about all the incredible things I’ve been able to experience while living in and traveling from Singapore: singing karaoke with friends in Tokyo, watching a baseball game in Japan, eating Xiao Long Bao and duck tongues with friends in China, reading to school kids in Cambodia and teaching them how to play Jenga, trekking through abandoned temples in Bali, tossing yu sheng and meeting a python to celebrate the year of the snake at a friend’s Chinese New Year party here in Singapore…the list goes on and on.
I think a life well-lived is one filled with meaningful relationships and experiences, whatever “meaningful” means for you. Life here has afforded me so many of both, and I feel so very, very lucky to be living it.