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Monday, 6 July 2015

From Irish to Adopted-Aussie in Singapore!

So my life continued in Singapore much the same at it had started - working inhumane hours Monday to Friday and then spending the weekends traipsing around the city trying to see as much of it as possible. I felt the people in work were warming to me though; gradually getting used to the weird blonde white girl - I was even able to get a reply to my "Good Morning!" on the odd occasion :)

Get ready for lots of reading - I don't think I could have fit anything more in to my final month in Singapore if I tried!!

Weekend 5:

It was Easter time and the week before I had decided that I was going to go "home" to Melbourne for the long weekend. I needed the break, was missing Neilee and felt that it would give me a better attitude towards the remaining month if I split the Singapore stint in two. So I spent the fortune on the flights (which turned out to be even more expensive than I thought since I was looking at them as AUD and not the USD they were quoted in...fail!) and took the 8 hour flight home on the Thursday night. When I got to the desk they said the flight was two hours delayed and changed my seat and said I would be getting more leg room. I sat in a corner of the airport and waited half the night for the flight. I boarded the flight eventually and quickly realised I was put sitting with four screaming babies and their parents for the entire night-flight back. I quickly asked to be moved but was told the flight was full. Five hours into the flight I complained to the head stewardess who told me I had been moved to accommodate a couple who wanted to sit together. How I managed to not throttle her as I explained, through gritted teeth, that I was being punished for travelling alone was beyond me. Needless to say I got no sleep as I sat there thinking about screaming alongside the infants myself.

Arriving late morning, bleary eyed and ready to cry with exhaustion, I had to phone Neil to get him out of the cafe to find me, despite my having told him I was at the baggage collection ten minutes earlier. Men.
Going home to sleep for a couple of hours, it was Good Friday and so most things were closed, but we walked up and down Chapel Street and went for something to eat. I forgot how much I missed Melbourne for this! We spent the day lounging around since I was so tired and then walked into the city in the evening to get an ice-cream and back. It was good to be back and the nightmare flight was worth it!

Saturday we spent around Chapel St area again, checking out ideas for his tattoo that he wanted. Actually, let me talk about this some more... Neil has an impressive full sleeve tattoo on his right arm, from top to bottom; a scene of Heaven and Hell and the struggle from those in Hell trying to get out, with the Angels guarding the gates of Heaven. On his other arm, he has a single tattoo. Small and on his wrist, this is a tattoo of a fish. Yes, you read right, a fish. What's more, it's an upside-down fish, which looks as though some four-year-old drew it. Now this fish annoys the hell out of me. I cringe every time I see it. "Why would you get such a stupid tattoo?" you may ask? Well, imagine you're a boy on holidays with some mates. Now imagine you're blind drunk and one of your mates decides to grab a live fish from a hotel fish bowl and eat it. What would you do other than get a memorial tattoo to said-fish on your wrist? Upside down. Obviously. Two other mates got the same tattoo (matchy-matchy); one on his foot and one on his arse. I mean - how drunk do you need to be to think that something like this would be a good idea?! Men on their own can be stupid, together they are a liability. Anyway, "Billy the Fish" was finally getting covered up, and I was more than happy to assist in this process. Anything to stop having to see the upside-down bubbles staring at me every day.

Saturday night we went to the cinema.
Sunday we decided to do the 1000 Steps, so headed off in our sports gear; ready for action. The only time I had attempted this previously, was with my cousin Jennifer; who wouldn't even do it with me after we got over the hill and arrived at the starting point! I had to stop on numerous occasions to catch my breath or stop the burning in my legs. This time, if I stopped, I got left behind. Keep up Skittles! We made it to the top in one shot and then spent some more time walking some more trails through the forest. From here we went back to the car to have our pre-prepared rolls and drink while sitting on the edge of the boot of the car. It was fun to get out of the city and to do something that was out of our routine, as well as getting outdoors together. We went home and showered and changed before heading out to dinner. Picking "The Flame" on Chapel Street randomly, we made the fatal error of not "Urban Spooning" it. Never again. The service was terrible, the food was dry and only warm, they got my order wrong - you name it, it happened. I left a lovely review for them afterwards as a thank you. How I love Social Media.

Monday already and it was time to go home. We decided to go for a jog in the morning - again something that we had never done together and it was good to get outdoors early in the morning to kick-start the day. I hadn't run in about 6 months and Neil is obviously a lot quicker than my zimmer-frame-shuffling speed. We did 7km and I was really happy to have not died in the process. Success! I still needed to get a dress for my sister's wedding and my Work-wife Jess wanted me to pick up a couple of things from her Mam's house and bring (take?!) them back to her in Singapore. Popping into her Mam's house, I was immediately part of the family and Lina had me just about invited for dinner! We chatted for a bit and I picked up the bits for Jess before promising her I would look after her daughter and then we headed off to Chadstone Shopping Centre to find something to wear that wasn't $1000 or a size 0; as with everything in Singapore! I found something and then it was time to go. I had a great weekend and really thought we made the most of the short time I had at home, plus doing things that were not our average choices; it was great!
Another 8 hour flight, I got back to my tiny box-apartment for midnight and it was back to work the next day!

Weekend 6:


Poor Jess was sick all week with a bug and so we decided to lay pretty low this weekend. Her new flatmate had given her tickets to the Music Run, so we decided to go and walk it. In the roasting heat it's hard to imagine how others were running it, when I was melting just waiting to cross the start-line! A well organised event, with every kilometre of the five with different types of music: Rock, Pop, Hip-Hop etc. So we set off in our pink to Sentosa Island and took part in the event for the day. The Race Pack included a T-shirt, an iPhone holder for your arm and the most prized possession - a Selfie Stick! My God I was in Heaven!!! We went around the course I took Selfie after Selfie of us at the various different stages...my life was now complete :) I could possibly have to bin it upon my return to Melbourne if I didn't want to be "bin-bagged" by my boyfriend however...! We had some people randomly ask us if they could take photos of us with them, but being used to this by now; we pretty much had it down to a fine art at this stage! Such a random thing and quite an invasion on personal privacy, but so normal for them to do. It's funny seeing as though they're so polite and aware of the fact in other ways. On the MRT home I was on my own and a Spanish family sat beside me. Assuming the blonde girl didn't understand what they were saying, they began to talk about how I must have come second in a race with my silver medal. One of the boys was telling the other to ask me about the race and what it was called. The shock on their faces when I replied in Spanish before leaving the train made my evening. And they wonder why I'm paranoid when I can't understand what's being said. Be careful people...

Sunday afternoon we went to try the Singaporean delicacy of Chilli Crab. We checked out the Lonely Planet and headed to Momma Kong's, which was great! Delish albeit messy trying to do it yourself - but this was half the fun! The rest of the day was spent shopping for shoes for the dress I had bought in Chadstone. Silver strappy sandals - you would think this wouldn't be such a difficult task. But after hours of trawling through shops, we gave up and went home. These people didn't do silver, everything was gold.


Weekend 7:

This weekend started with more food, of course. This time Chris decided to show me where to get the best dumplings in Singapore, so we headed to Din Tai Fung where he showed me how to master the art of eating them with chilli, soy sauce and vinegar. Doesn't sound the best, but it was actually lovely! He was also teaching us a bit of the Chinese he had learnt...however, I don't think I'd be relying on him to get me past ordering a beer...

We sat and chatted about how crazy it was that my time here was coming to an end. In what seemed like AGES in one way seemed like only yesterday in another. Kind of a bitter-sweet feeling - I was enjoying the weekends but the work weeks were so long and the culture so different to what I was used to.

From here Jess and I decided to go to do the Night Zoo - so off we went in a taxi to find it. What an experience! I would thoroughly recommend it, even if I was scared within an inch of my life at times. It's night-time (obviously; given the fact it's called the Night Zoo) and once the last show ends about 9:30pm, all the kids go home. I think we might have come across about 8 people in total the whole night - so you literally get the sense that it's you, the animals (that are mostly kept behind flimsy looking wire) and the night sky. The lions are roaring in the background, the hyenas are laughing and the leaves in the bushes beside you are rustling. Now, for someone who is scared of pretty much anything, this was quite a traumatic experience! At one stage we were taking photos of a hyena which was about 10 metres away from us, over a bit of a river. There was no fence separating the scavenger from us, no wall of glass keeping us from being eaten. The hyena is pacing up and down and sees us taking a photo. He charges around to us and stands straight across the gap from us, staring at us in a "you will be my next meal" kind of look. Jess and I can't even look away and I couldn't even hold the phone still to take the photo as the intensity of his stare had me frozen to the spot. Suddenly he fakes a charge towards us and faster than Usain Bolt, we were out of there; not stopping to look back and see if he was behind us. I can still hear it laughing now...
Another time we are walking down the dark path near the Lion enclosure, listening to it call out into the night and there's nobody around.
It's the weirdest feeling; like there is literally only you in the middle of the zoo. We made a pact; be quicker than the slowest person. It doesn't matter if you're not first, just don't be last. The people who come last get eaten.
Many of the enclosures are open, with the animals roaming freely. We're looking into the various enclosures trying to find the animals or make out what they are, when all of a sudden there's a noise from the bushes on our left. The two of us scream loudly and clutch at each other; both trying to jump into each other's arms. Pure terror ensued, until we hear the wheels on the road and we realise it's the little shuttle train that brings everyone around the enclosure. All cool, we knew that. Move on, nothing to see here people...
We come to a door where we blindly enter, wondering what's inside. We walk inside and can't really see anything, so continue to walk down the path leading the way though the enclosure. It's not until we're a good 10 metres into the enclosure til we realise it's full of bats, which then start flying all around us and swooping in front of the path we need to walk though. Jess and I are stuck standing in the middle of a cage for a good few minutes, where there are black shadows ducking and diving all around us. Putting my hands over my head and covering my neck and ears (I have no idea why??), I face my body towards where I'm meant to be going, close my eyes and just power-walk through the mayhem, with Jess following quickly behind. I could feel them flying beside me as I bulldozed my way through. We couldn't get to the door quick enough!
At midnight the zoo was closing, so we got an ice-cream and sat outside eating it until our taxis came. What a great way to spend the night - although I probably permanently damaged my heart in the process...

Next day Jess was having a House-Warming Party. I went on the hunt again for silver shoes for Bhany's wedding but no luck. I headed into every shop in Singapore but there was nothing. Accepting defeat, I went to Jess's new apartment where her flatmate Andrew was celebrating his birthday as well as the House-Warming.
The 6ft 7in Chris turns up and causes quite a stir amongst all the Asian party members, while also impressing them with the cheese he brought to the party and his knowledge of dairy in general (he's a Dairy Commodity Trader). The three of us "whiteys" hung out on the balcony outside, chatting for most of the night. We had one guy join us late in the party - he was an older American guy, who looked as though he had just taken a dip in the pool he was sweating that much. He proceeded to talk to us about Singapore and what he had done. The conversation was uncomfortable with his eccentricity, but we smiled and entertained him as we chatted. He was telling us about what we should do in Singapore and mentioned the bike riding around Pulau Ubin Island, where I told him Jess and I would be doing that next weekend. He promptly invited himself along and said that he'd get our numbers to discuss the logistics; leaving me with my mouth open, unusually stuck for words. I just kept thinking; I met you five minutes ago, Chris is caning you about the American measurement system and I'm not even sure if you're meant to be at this party! Needless to say I gave Jess the look of "Don't you dare give him our numbers", and we were good. Chris and I made our excuses about 9:30pm and left Jess to play Karaoke until 5am the next morning.

During the week I got the news I have been waiting for since the day I arrived in Australia. After 3 years and 3 months I was officially made a Permanent Resident of The Land Down Under. To try and explain this to someone who isn't in need of a visa is very difficult. I have never experienced having to have a visa when I lived in France or Spain obviously, and the only other times I needed one was for travelling or for a holiday; so it was a matter of a simple stamp in the passport. I remember landing in Melbourne on January 10th 2012 and wondering how long I was going to be there. I was wondering what life had in store for me in this strange land and how sad I was to have left home. I was worrying about not getting a job, worrying about not liking life here, worrying about not getting a visa if I did like it there. It was a long and expensive process; one where you feel like you're being held back from many things for not being a Permanent Resident; such a medical assistance and job opportunities. The fear of "what if I lose my job and have to leave?" is forever over your head alongside the feeling of work having a hold over you because they're sponsoring you and you can't leave - whether they put this on you or not. And so, eventually; after much drama, Ciara Louise Sweeney became a Permanent Resident of Australia on April 22nd 2015! I received the confirmation email in work and couldn't make our exactly what they were saying as it never actually said anything about becoming a Permanent Resident. It said something about going from 186 Visa through Temporary Transition Stream and my mind was racing so fast that I couldn't read it properly! I printed the page off and ran around the office looking for an Aussie. I found Chris and threw the paper on his desk saying "Read it and tell me I got it!". He read through it slowly and I could barely contain myself with fear and excitement! He confirmed what I hoped to be true and congratulated me on the huge achievement -  I was DYING to share the news with everyone, but nobody there on my team really knew what a struggle it was, or how important it was to me, so I ran around the office looking for Aussies to share my news with! It was so much more than a visa, it was an acknowledgement of how hard I had worked and a sign of how far I had come. It was freedom.
I am free. I am actually free. Free to choose what to do with my life and fight without fear. I have turned another corner and I can't wait to continue to fight hard to see what's around the next one!

Weekend 8

And so, just before the weekend this happened: I go to the gym every morning at the same time before work. The last four or five times there's been this Aussie guy in there, who is super awkward. He is always trying to talk to me, asking if I need to use this machine or those weights or whatever it is he’s using at the time. I usually just smile blankly once and avoid his attempts of trying to catch my eye to start conversation by blaring music into my ears through my headphones. 
This particular morning he was there again. I managed to avoid him (the “gym” is a TINY room by the way) til he was leaving, when he pretty much jumped in front of me and mouthed “Have a good one!” and waved as he left. Yea…see ya.
About five minutes later I’m coming to the end of my workout and he walks by the gym, showered and changed already. That was fast. It is at this point that I must point out there’s absolutely no reason to walk by the gym as there’s nothing but a brick wall on the other side of it. Weird. So I’m gathering my things a couple of minutes later (which is a long time for him to stand at a wall) when he opens the door to the gym and shouts “SORRY-TO-DISTURB-YOUR-WORKOUT-BUT-ARE-YOU-HERE-ON-YOUR-OWN?”. I get a fright and just mumble yes before he blurts out “Yea-Me-too-I’m-going-stir-crazy-in-here-Have-you-found-any-bars?”. I manage to get “No…but I” out of my mouth before he interrupts and says “OK-do-you-want-to-come-with-me-to-one-We-can-try-find-one-together-If-you-want-to-No-pressure-It’s-up-to-you-Whatever-you-want-Anyway-I’ll-find-you-here-in-the-gym-to-organize-the-details-See-ya!” and walked out.
There was no breath taken in the flurry of words that left his mouth and he was long gone before I managed to process what he had actually said. My mouth was still open from the “I” in the sentence I was saying before he had cut me off.
That was the last time I went to the gym, and I spent the last few days in the apartment complex hiding from him! Only me. This would LITERALLY only happen to me.


I FINALLY manage to find a pair of shoes for Bhany's wedding - spending an absolute FORTUNE on them and a matching bag in Kurk Geiger. The shop assistant smiles at me when I tell him I have been looking for weeks, saying "Darling, you're in Singapore now; we don't do silver - only gold". They might as well have been made from pure gold the amount I paid for them!!!

So I finish up my last week in work and get ready to hand everything over to the girl who has come back from Maternity Leave. I'm laughing to myself as I train her up on something I have only been doing two months; but I'm surprising myself on how I seem to know what I'm talking about!
After work I head to Clarke Quay with the IT crew where we spend a few hours chatting and getting to know one another. These people are lovely - it's sad that I'm only getting to know them properly now! From here I head across the water to Timbre and meet Lynnette and Rosalyn who have invited me to go out with them for drinks. We watch a band called "Goodfellas", who are REALLY GOOD, and we're joined by some people from the Sugar team (we're Grain and Oilseeds) and we spend the night chatting together. It was a great night, and it made me sad to think I was leaving! The girls thanked me for all my hard work and surprised me with appreciation they had for all that I'd done. I honestly didn't feel like I'd been helping out that much, but they assured me that I'd done a great job and the fact they didn't need to monitor me was such a help. It made me laugh when Ros told me that I was easy to talk to "despite being white" or when she told me that the other girl had said how I was good at teaching and I should have been a teacher - something that everyone tells me and something my Mother would say "I told you to be a Primary School Teacher, but you wouldn't listen!". They were surprised that I spoke to Senior Management the same way that I spoke to them, showing me that they still had the hierarchical attitude in the office. I learnt more about girls in that one night than in two months working with them.

I find it hard to read the Singaporeans. In Western culture it's easier to tell if someone likes you from their facial expressions or how interested they are in you by their body language. In Asian culture it's much harder as they're either all up in your face wanting to hold your hand or take random photos with you or they're cold, guarded and standoffish even though they like you. In this case I had one guy getting my number and chatting away to me all night; and I couldn't tell if it was because I was different or because he wanted something out of it. In the end, when we were leaving, he offered to share a taxi with me, but I was rescued by Lynnette who said they would take me home. I still don't know if it was a "lucky escape" or not!
Saturday comes and we decide to head to Pulau Ubin island - WITHOUT the American from last week; thankfully. Jess and I get the MRT, then a taxi to the port, then a boat to the island and we rent a couple of bikes (still equipped with the bubble-wrap they came in) and we headed off. The obvious choice of bicycle were the ones with the baskets - hipster and all as we are...obvs. The owner of the shop had a pitch - pretty bikes for pretty young girls. He had me with "young".

So we head off on our orange and blue bikes, with Jess's bike making an awful rubbing sound the entire way - since her bubble wrap was rubbing against the wheel and the mudguard, and my brakes screaming every time I pulled them; safe to say everyone could hear us coming anyway. Most of the trek was flat enough and easy to cycle. It was a very humid day and the sweat was pouring out of us after a few minutes; with our having to get off and push on a number of occasions, if the hill was too steep!

At one stage we get to a hill and stop. I'm slightly ahead of Jess, balancing the bike while trying to put my phone in the Selfie-stick holder when Jess says she's really hot. I agree nonchalantly, saying "yea, it's roasting, isn't it? We'll stop for a sec", but not really paying much attention. It's only when she says "Ciara, I think I'm going to faint" and I turn around to see her white as a sheet and staring blankly at me that my my voice changes and I order to "SIT DOWN". Dropping my phone and other contents into the bike basket and running over to my little wilting Wog I can see she's in a pool of sweat and sitting on the ground, getting eaten by ants and literally on the edge of passing out. She just about stays with us, but isn't all with it for a while, so we sit there for a while, drinking water in the shade and gathering up the energy to go again. 

We decide to turn around and go downhill for a bit and then take it easy pedaling our way around the island until Jess is back to normal again. Apart from the impromptu medical incident it was a great day doing something totally different! We did lots of cycling, saw wild pigs and some lovely scenery, and then ended with some local cuisine and some coconut as we watched a thunder storm come in again. We quickly caught the boat back before the full extent of the storm hit while we were on the water, but I wasn't so lucky getting off the MRT. I had no jacket or umbrella, or even anything with sleeves, but then again you don't need any of these things in the 95% humidity in Singapore. I walked home in the hot rain, getting strange looks at the people taking shelter under bridges or in the buildings; but seeing as though I didn't have an hour to kill, I decided to tick another thing off the list and get caught in the storm. 



Home to get quickly showered and changed and head out for dinner, choosing "The Beast", where we got lucky and managed to get a free table outside. Spent the evening chatting and reminiscing over the last two months in Singapore, the fun times and how we couldn't believe it was over.

Next morning I was packed and I checked out of my tiny apartment (still keeping an eye out for Mr. Gym guy in case he was following me). It was the beginning of the end of it all. Dropping my bags off at The Marina Bay Sands Hotel (like the celebrity that I am...), I headed into the city to join Jess. Brekkie in "Wild Honey" after a wait of about an hour; but it didn't disappoint. We stayed here out of the rain for a number of hours, laughing at others who ordered teeny portions to share and took hours eating them or staring in pure envy at the ROCKS on some of the women's ring fingers. There's no doubt that this place has money.

It's at this point that I decide to end the five month drought of no alcohol and have a couple of drinks to celebrate my getting Permanent Residency as well as my last night in Singapore. Jess was beyond excited, so we grabbed some bottles of wine and nibbles and headed to check into the most expensive hotel around. Not too sure if you're supposed to bring your own wine with you when you're staying in a $500-700 a night room??
When you look at the Marina Bay Sands (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Bay_Sands), you can't help but be impressed. OK, it may be tacky, but building a ship on top of three skyscrapers is still impressive nonetheless. At an extortionate amount per night, I decided my last night would be here and asked Jess to come too. We checked in and had the bags taken up to our room on the 44th floor. This place is impressive; HUGE bathroom (more on that later), massive bed, city views - I was glad of my decision to spend the money for the experience. We get changed and head up to the main attraction of the hotel - the Infinity Pool - and it's every bit of "WOW" they say it is. We timed it beautifully; getting two lounge chairs on the edge of the pool and just as the sun was going down. It's a funny sight to see - everyone in the pool with their iPads, iPhones, cameras and GoPros. Probably the only pool in the world where nobody swims in it, with everyone being super careful to not splash any water about...well, apart from one weirdo who took the time to start doing laps of the pool (fully equipped with goggles and swimming cap!). Someone please tell her that's not the idea of this pool?!

So, we spent the next couple of hours watching the sun go down over Singapore and watching how the scenery changes from day to night. This city is definitely unique - possibly lacking in life, but full of beauty, amazing architecture and impressive views. You could literally just sit watching it all night.


Many photos and selfies later, we left to get ready' for the night ahead. Hair, makeup, heels - the one night in the two months that I've put this effort in! I can't explain how futile it is to bother when it's so humid the makeup just drips off your face and your hair just goes limp within three minutes of being outside!

We head to a secret restaurant and Jess treats me to some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted! We have a couple of cocktails and decide to look for another bar to continue as it's still only 11pm. The bar tender finds it hard to think of anywhere that would be open on a Sunday night (see what I mean about lacking in life?!), but gives us a couple of options; all that turn out to be closed. As we're walking, we can hear music, so we heading that direction and soon find ourselves in a very male-dominant and tacky Gay Bar. Ordering two vodka-soda-water-and-limes I pay for them and when walking away with drinks in hand the barman tells us there's a promotion on; doubles for the price of one. Thanking him but saying "no thanks", he tells me that he's already given them to us. Oh. Thanks for giving us the option then?!
It was like drinking actual paint stripper. A small glass full to the brim with very cheap turpentine or something that was meant to sterilise medical equipment, I was struggling to drink it and in the end had to leave half of it as it was burning my throat! We stayed for about an hour, listening to Britney and Madonna and then called it a night as I couldn't drink any more of the poison and we had work the next day. Back to the hotel to go to bed. We re-pack and get ourselves organised for the next morning and we go to bed; not exactly the rock-and-roll image I had imagined of us falling in the door smashed; but I had a good night and was probably getting a bit too old for all of that sort of thing...
4am comes and I wake up feeling like I'm about to die. I know what's coming, so I head quietly into the 5-star bathroom and redecorate the toilet with the day's food and drink. I'm sick til I have nothing left to bring up, so I brush my teeth and take a look at myself in the huge mirror covering the length of the wall. White as a sheet and with eyeliner running down my face I start laughing at myself: 32 years old and getting sick from drink in the most expensive hotel I will ever find myself in throughout my life. I surprise even myself with how classy I can be sometimes.
Sneaking back to bed, I get in trying not to disturb Jess. No need; 10 minutes later Jess gets up and goes through the same routine as I had gone through just previously. She comes back to bed and when I ask her if she's OK she says "I've just been sick". I laughed and told her so had I and we both laugh at how mature and refined we were before going back to sleep.

Checking out late the next morning the two of us head into work clutching to life itself. I cannot even think about the eight hour flight I have to do later that evening. We get some breakfast and manage to make it to lunchtime before heading out for food and then I spend the final couple of hours saying my goodbyes to everyone. Both Jess and Ollie walk me downstairs to get a taxi and in a flash I'm on my way to the airport and heading home. I had mixed feelings about going - mostly because it had taken me the full two months to get used to everything here and to feel settled. Just as I was beginning to come round to the way they did things (apart from still not being able to get over the fact they still HANG people on a weekly basis!), I was leaving.


So, although I was happy to be done with the work side of things, I was sad to be leaving the new experiences, the new friends and my Work-Wife Jess; without whom I would have never been able to make it through the stint. Such a sweetheart, a funny girl with so much sparkle; I love her to bits and am so grateful she was there with me. I decided to leave a particular "nice" story out of my blog; but this will be one I will laugh about forever Jess!!
So I hand in my TEM pass and leave Singapore behind, feeling as though I gave it my all and had no regrets. We had done everything we could find time to do in the Lonely Planet and now it was time to go back "home", where I left Irish and am going back Adopted-Aussie! :)

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