My mother-in-law looked pale as she made her way to the arrival hall of Penang International Airport. She still didn’t feel very well but decided that she couldn’t bear to stay another day in bed. Also she didn’t like the idea of us leaving them alone in Singapore, so she mustered all the strength she had to journey on with us.
“The dinner at the restaurant was phwoar…horrible!” I shuddered at the thought of our dinner last night with some friends at an Asian restaurant nearby. “Don’t know how people can stomach that junk,” I said when my in-laws asked us how our dinner went over our weekly Sunday lunch.
“Really? But people like going there,” said my mother-in-law looking surprised. My in-laws’ idea of Asian food is limited to sushi, fried noodles and fried crispy duck over a steaming plate of rice with mixed vegetables on the side. “Can the food really be so bad?”
“Na klar. Wait till you come to Malaysia and I’ll show you the REAL deal,” I promised.
Yes, I loved my time as an expat in Singapore. Didn’t expect to like it but I did. There, I said it.
Such a statement of affection coming from a Malaysian who’d spent most of her twenties exploring obscure nooks around the world might elicit some shocked gasps and widened eyes from some of you. You loved it? How? Wasn’t it boring and a little too orderly? Turns out Singapore can be exciting, if only we dig a little deeper.
Just the other day in Kuala Lumpur, amidst the noise and delicious smells of tandoori chicken, I suggested to a friend who was looking for potential places to move to, “What about Singapore?” She made a face and said, “No freaking way.”
Indonesia is a beautiful country that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Like a drug, I keep coming back to explore her mystical far-flung corners. Mostly untouched by mass tourism and usually promising a great deal of adventure, Indonesia can be so much fun but there’s often a price to pay.
The price is, you can never rely on its transportation network.
Maybe the ferry leaves today, maybe it doesn’t–Depends, the locals shrug. Maybe you lucky.
Sometimes, it isn’t only inefficient, it’s also dangerous. If I survive this taxi ride from Tulehu port to Kota Ambon, I’ll call my dad and tell him that I love him. These thoughts race through my head each time I find myself in a taxi or a minivan in Indonesia.
And the planes? Don’t get me started. Here’s our recent flight comedy of sorts with Lion Air at Ambon and Makassar airports.
One morning, I’m flicking over one of the weekly shopping brochures. It is from a furniture store not too far away and a reasonable sized wardrobe caught my eyes. We’ve been looking for a wardrobe for a while now but due to our uncertainty over where we’ll be living in the future, we’ve been putting off the need to purchase one. But still, our makeshift wardrobes are now bursting at its seams. Out of sheer practicality, our situation is actually dire.
But my typical backpacker self thought instead: Do I need it? Would I die without it? Would my life change if I get one? Old habits die hard.
I’ve adopted this line of thinking for most of my time as a nomad. Buying large and expensive things fire off all sorts of cautionary alarms in me. What if I need to up and move again? What am I going to do with it? That’s why, up to this point in life, I’ve never had many possessions. And my need for a variety of clothes and accessories were minimal, so I never had to get a wardrobe. Ever.
The dense and sticky air filled our lungs as soon as we walked out of the sliding doors of KL International Airport. Chris, no longer used to the humidity, felt like he is hit by a ton of bricks.
It was still the middle of winter when we left Germany for Kuala Lumpur. Only fourteen hours ago, we were covered in scarves and three layers of clothes. We’d been dreaming about Malaysia’s tropical climate for a while now. I’d plodded through the snow-decked streets, daydreaming about the day when we would wear shorts and flip-flops.
The blissful warmth and sunshine that played out so wonderfully in my imagination was quickly erased by stark reality: the real 32°C deal was less pleasant than I thought.
Usually friends find it hard to keep up with my whereabouts when I was still clinging on tightly to my identity as a nomad. Texts and emails that start with, “Where are you now, Ying?” are not unusual. It was always fun,and privileged to say the least, to come up with a different answer each day. Yes, last week I was in Dubrovnik and today I’m in Ajaccio—life rocks as a traveller. Traipsing from places to places had defined me. While others had labels like “The Career Woman”, “The Fun One”, “The Doctor”, I was simply called “The Wanderer”. That suited me just fine.
But these days, my answer to the question above is less exotic. I’ve been answering ‘Germany’ for a better part of the year.
Yes, The Wanderer have been living in Germany for a year. And a little bit more. Apart from a handful of short road trips (I consider 2 days to 2 weeks short), I have been a true resident of the quiet Hermsdorf.