Jan 30, 2013

First Impression of a Returned Traveller

We've been to Singapore before. About 13 years ago. This time, things are different. We have a toddler in tow. We'll be living on the West part of the island, far away from expat central. Singapore has doubled in population.

Over the past five years, I've visited Singapore a number of times. The first time, I expected things to be the same. It threw me. I would see a stretch of road with buildings and shops I recognized. Then, the next section would be completely unfamiliar. It was as if I was in a bad dream, where my internal expectations didn't match the external sensations. It left me disoriented and disappointed.

Singapore had always been, in my mind, clean, calm, a place Hong Kongers visited for some down time, or "detox" as the expat community used to say. That was not what I experienced in my visit a few years back. Singapore was busy, noisy, chaotic. Far from the organized quiet I anticipated.

So I knew, coming here again to start a new job, I had to set aside all my expectations and expect nothing. Or maybe everything. I would be an open book, with a blank page, willing to take it all in.

Being in a totally different area of the city helped a lot. We arrived here, to a serene campus full of beautiful trees and very little traffic. We walked around in the humidity and heat. These were all things welcome to the senses. Sure, there is still chaos downtown, but mostly we avoid that. Ah. Singapore. My first sling impression is not so very bad, lah.

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