sabato 30 settembre 2017

The last couple of months

We are so behind in reporting our adventures that maybe easiest thing to do is bullet points and photos:

  • We had our first visitor in August. Teresa arrived just before National Day and made us feel like tourists again
  • We saw the fire works on the bay for Singapore 52nd birthday
  • Went to Siem Reap for a weekend: AWESOME place and AWESOME people.
  • We continue pushing our gastronomic boundaries by eating insects, flies and spiders. I had something stuck in my throat for a few days (or did I just imagine it?) but it was worth it.
  • It’s been an alcoholic August, cheers! With Dain visiting for one day, Davide for two, Andrea moving to Singapore and Dan doing handover with Marco we have been drinking all sort of spirits... (thank you Simon for having introduced us to Moscow Mule!)
  • We have been off to UK for about two weeks. It’s been a feast of food pretty much every day.
  • I wore my Burberry all the time, and jeans and sometimes socks. YAY! Small things that make me happy
  • We have spent quality time with family, friends and colleagues.
  • Weekend in Stavanger: autumn, graffiti and family delighted us!
  • And I have managed to send my citizenship application! Super-YAY!!! It’s been an adventure, but I made it :) and now I can only wait with my fingers and toes crossed that I will be invited to affirm my allegiance to the Queen.
  • Back to damp Singapore, I had to trade my straight hair for beautifully painted toes nails… I guess everything has a prize, so welcome back spots and shitty skin, but I will get you tanned ;)
  • I have found a sign that represents us perfectly! (It was not even mid-day.)

mercoledì 26 luglio 2017

The other side of the coin of an expat assignment--Brexshit

That I am very upset about Brexit is no secret.
But not everyone knows that it has happened at the worst time for me. I moved to Singapore just the month before the referendum. Marco and I watched incredulous, mad and heartbroken the results unfolding while the majority of the British population was enjoying a satisfying night sleep before waking up to an historical event.
Once the emotions eased and I was able to think logically, I realised that at the end of my expat assignment I could enter a totally new and maybe not so welcoming country, that I used to call home.
So, I decided to apply for the Permanent Residency. It was tricky, given the fact that all of my documents were in the UK. But with Marco’s help (and excellent organisational skills) I did it.
6 months later it was rejected. Our fault, we did not provide prove of employment. We were so busy in providing all sort of evidence that I missed one of the most important documents.
Clock is ticking, but what could I do?? Accept and move on.
I re-applied, providing this time an overwhelming amount of evidence. And I got it after only 3 months. Success.
I was so relieved! Until the day after, when the Government hinted to the possibility that EU citizen that already have PR, might need to re-apply with new (to be defined, or at least to be disclosed) application rules.
PR is not enough. Especially as it can be lost if more than 2 years are spent outside of the UK.
And guess what. I am living in Singapore with a two years contract. And my PR has been back dated to 2015.
So I decide I need to apply for British Citizenship in the UK. But I still live in Singapore, and I have exceeded the number of days I can be out of UK.
So I can apply and rely solely on HO discretion (risking to lose over 1000 pounds)
risk to lose the PR
end my expat assignment earlier.
I hate all of this from the bottom of my heart.
It makes me sick to even hear the word Brexit.
I just want it to go away.

lunedì 26 giugno 2017

Senso del gusto, addio

Oggi è festa a Singapore (fine del Ramadan) ma io lavoro perché in cambio prendo libero questo venerdì che viene, quando saremo già in Italia J
Grazie a Dio mancano solo 4 giorni alla partenza perché oggi abbiamo toccato il fondo, gastronomicamente parlando.
Lavoro da casa e Marco passa dal letto, al divano per mezza giornata prima di decidersi ad andare a nuotare. Poi ci va e mi lascia in pigiama seduta al tavolo della cucina al mio computer.
Torna, abbiamo fame e l’eco nel frigorifero.
Prepariamo cibo veloce, velocissimo. Cibo finto.
Cous Cous marocchino liofilizzato (con tutti gli ingredienti già dentro!) e tom yum noodles secchi al sapore di pesce, ma di pesce non si vede manco l’ombra.
Marco alla fine ha ancora voglia di qualcosa e affetta soppressata calabrese.
Papille gustative perdonateci, siamo stanchi e abbiamo bisogno di vacanza.

venerdì 16 giugno 2017

Our latest trip to Japan

Back to a ‘normal’ week in Singapore (see previous post).
Although to many it can seem exciting, travelling constantly is very tiring. Especially when it’s work related and after a day at work you need to go for dinner with colleagues and keep the conversation going…
I love Japan though.
And if trips to JTC are quite exhausting, I would go back now if I could, not to mention how I would love to live there!
Most of the days were sunny, not too hot and so perfect for walks at the weekend!!
We went to Yanaka on a Saturday to walk around houses from pre-WWII. It was very different from the rest of the city, an oasis of peace lost in time, with traditional tiny shops where the owners were cooking delicious rice crackers. Shrines in flowery gardens, the Japanese trees I love (and want in my garden when back home) and a very cool art shop. Ended up in Ueno park to see a lotus pond, that I could stare for hours, such was its charm…
The afternoon was sweet and it slowly dissolved in a not too busy Shimbashi area for dinner, in a Japanese/Spanish fusion restaurant.
That’s one more thing I love about Japan, there are so many fusion eateries! And so delicious!! I love the diversity and the experiments they do… even if it means eating pizza straight after some sushi while drinking red wine.
Something Italy is definitely not ready for.
On Sunday we took a train for a day trip to Kamakura. A lovely little city by the sea rich of temples and with the famous Daibutsu, massive Buddha.
The beach was crowded with Japanese families completely dressed and hiding from the sun in tents and desperate Westerners sucking up the sun while laying  on a very dirty beach, full of all what the tides have brought.
We strolled around, looked into the little, unique shops around, and bought cherry blossom shells.
Pure bliss!
There is something nostalgic about that country that touches my heart.
Lost in time but yet at the front of the most modern technologies.
So generous, hospitable and yet so traditional and inward facing. Definitely unique in its kind.

Till soon my beloved Land of the Rising Sun.



giovedì 15 giugno 2017

Die Slowly

Another day at work, another lunch in a local canteen and another ‘death in small dose’ as Pablo Neruda would say…
EVERY day I go for lunch with my colleagues I get a comment about me eating. EVERY SINGLE DAY.
It’s usually about me eating fast. I promise you, anyone would be fast compared to people that eat one noodle or rice grain at a time.
It can also be about me being hungry (we eat the same amount, and I am not particularly fat..), or how expensive my meal is (5 Singaporean dollars compared to the 3 they spend).
Every single day a bit of me dies. Every single day I wish I did not have to endure this. I wish I was not the different one, but I am. And even when I don’t want to notice it, it’s highlighted to me.
Whilst for many lunch is a break, for me it’s very much a meeting, part of my job.
I don’t want to sound negative, because it is not all bad, but the same comment every day is really hard to bear. It always has. What can I say, I am a sensitive soul.
Today we also talked about dishwashers, and the fact that is not common in Singapore. So young colleagues setting up a new house are not going to buy one because they don’t believe in it.
At my comment “You don’t have to believe in it, it’s not a religion” I had weird faces looking at me, mostly lost. So I am the weirdo that misses having a dishwasher.
Fucking yeah.

martedì 30 maggio 2017

Thailand and the Chinese tourists

In order to have something to look forward to at the end of our Florentine week, the husband has very sweetly booked a short break in Phuket, yay! He knows how to spoil me :D
Tired, absolutely unprepared but excited we make our way to Thailand on a Wednesday morning.
All goes well and we are welcomed in this beautiful hotel in the south of the island by its own beach, we check in and relax! Marco falls asleep pretty much instantly (admittedly we got up at 5 in the morning) and I do my challenging exercises (that I am more and more sure won’t improve my look but just damage my back..).
An hour later we hit the beach, looking forward to our break by the seaside 😃
There is no loungers on the beach, we are given towels and a plastic mat, which is ok, we are soooo thrilled to be there. Half an hour later I am deep asleep on the mat, covered in sweat like a mermaid (well, this is how I like to picture myself 😜).
The sky is cloudy, but I don't care and I go for a swim (or dip, however you want to picture it) in a darkening but still inviting sea.
It’s all good; we decide we don't need to take too much in, let’s take it easy and tomorrow, first thing in the morning we come down to the beach and we go a bit further down where you can rent loungers for the equivalent of 5 pounds a day, for 2!
In the evening we go to the hotel restaurant for Thai food, delicious even though not very traditional. Satisfied and happy to have booked a day to James Bond island we go to bed just when it starts raining.
The morning after is raining, consistently and heavily, through breakfast (which is by the way AMAZING), through lunch and all afternoon.
Nonstop. Until the day after.
We try not to get too much affected by it, we stay by the bar of the hotel overlooking the sea (people more desperate than us are actually swimming), we read, relax, sweat. The humidity is unbearable. It bring us all sort of creatures, geckos, flying ants, and massive flies are everywhere and don’t hesitate to get close to us even though we are sweating out all the DEET we are covered in.
The day after a bus comes to pick us up for the tour, yay!
We go to a pier to get a speed boat. It is still raining but we find a very entertaining distraction: Chinese Tourists.
And possibly the classiest in the whole world. They occupy an area with sofas and chairs just behind us, and without any consideration of being in public they sit in all sort of positions.
We start taking selfies of us in order to capture their poses in the background. 
(PLEASE try not to look at me, just focus on the people behind us!)

Here we go, the day has brightened!
The speedboat comes and I am sitting right under the hole in the tent above, it’s raining at speed on my head. I hate when it rains on my head. I can’t even describe how much I hate it. I 
By the time we get close to JB island, the rain easies and we are able to enjoy the scenery and dry up a bit.
No words to describe the natural beauty. It’s breath taking!
Too many tourists though. Too many selfie sticks, groups, children and vendors.
It is actually a bit sad that the ability of seeing places has been lost, I am as culpable as everybody else. Everything is watched and experienced through a phone or a camera in the best case.
The selfie poses are hilarious, from the Russian lady with a perfect body (aaarrghh!) and a flower in her head (fake boobs though), to the Chinese fat woman in a nonsense pose with arm sleeves.

This is not only reason for laugh with incredulity, it is all good experience, learning and a more open mind.
We are ecstatic. We loved the James Bond island and we cannot wait to go back and explore more of Thailand. Phi Phi island is on my list, as well as Krabi, Bangkok and the rest of the country.
Back at the hotel after the killing exercises (supposed to eventually give me the body of a 20 years old) we go for a swim at twilight, the sky is patched with dark clouds, but with some clear spots too, the lights of the hotel are illuminating the palm trees and the beyond green vegetation. Pure bliss. (I am also learning to enjoy everything, without getting to obsessed about the lack of sun, which usually is the main thing I want).
The day after is cloudy, humid like hell and miserable. We spend the day by the pool and dip into the sea just before we go and pack our bags.
The sun comes out, just when we enter a taxi to the airport.