or how to achieve success one bumbling effort at a time.
Greeting from the future.(well 12 hrs in the future at least)
Things in Singapore (S’pore) are moving along quite nicely. It’s hard to believe it’s only been 6 days since we landed. In that time we have:
1) Signed a short term lease for 4 months at a place called the El Centro. It’s got 2 bedrooms, no furniture, and a pool. It’s in our price range, and close to a metro that is really good for Paul and I so that’s all we need right now. We’ll be exploring the areas to see where we want to be
2) Rented short term furniture. A bed, a sofa, and a coffee table (yes, that’s it). Surreal experience (the first of many) is that the first place we visited was located about a 45 min metro ride (MRT) in the “burbs”, upon arrival, we discover that the building is in a large office like building, but inside is open parking garage set up, except that’s the “office space” it’s hard to describe, but instead of an elevator lobby like we know, with hallways, lights, and carpet leading to the tenants on each floor, the elevator puts you out at each floor into a parking level, you walk past cars, with industrial lighting, and concrete ceiling, and the “tenants” are set off the sides. One area was just a fenced in place storing woks, another had stacks of tile, one bay had a HUGE red and gold temple to a Buddha, and at the end of the row, was a furniture showroom, you pass thru a door and on the other side was a furniture showroom like any you would find in the states….but it was in garage.
3) We now have cellphones, iPhone 4s with S’pore numbers. we got a deal from the store we visited. Also, we may have gotten them sooner than we should have been allowed. It seems all of S’pore is very specific about having your work permit, which paul and I do not have in hand yet. what we do have is a letter of approval from the ministry of manpower website (MOM). Paul got his first so we stopped by this one store at a mall near out hotel, and the girl was able to help us out and give a ‘special’ on the rate. yay! I got my letter the next day, stopped by a different store and the girl would not do anything without the actual employment pass, and when i asked if there was a ‘special’ she said no. We went back to the same store Paul used later that day, and once again they helped out and I received my phone and the special. Fingers crossed.
4) We now have bank accounts. it’s hard to put down a deposit for an apartment with out a bank account to pull money from. You can’t get a bank account unless you have a local address. Thru luck, pluck, and looking like hapless Americans we found a very nice group of people at Standard Charter who helped us set up bank accounts. Upon attempt to wire transfer money from USA accounts, we learned that we were supposed to set up a wire transfer agreement in advance. Said form cannot be completed over the phone, or via fax/email. How nice. Luckily you can get cash advances via credit card (after you call them to let them know that you are in another country, there is no fraud taking place, please remove the hold on your card) SO, I ‘buy’ money in cash on my credit card, deposit it into our S’pore account, Paul transfers the amount to me, and I pay the credit card company. We can only hope that in our attempts to set up this new life, we have not embarked on an international money laundering operation.
5) The cat received his quarantine slot (YAY! Mittenz!) and has a busy week coming up. He’s off to the vet this week, on a plane on the 22nd, stop over at the kitty hotel in Amsterdam, then arrival on the 25th of this month. 10 days in kitty solitary, then El Centro here he comes.
6) We now have EZ link cards for the metro (just like a local!) which making using the bus and MRT much easier.
7) Paul has a full week of training ahead, including a trip to Hong Kong in about 3 weeks to meet with a higher up.
8) Lastly, life at the Mandarin is sublime. the staff is AMAZING. they all know us at the three meal restaurant. We only received two weeks at the hotel, but it includes free food at the three meal a day restaurant, each day as we approach we receive “good morning Mr. L, Mr. M, welcome back” we usually are quite full from breakfast (Indian, dim sum, pastries, ham, cheese, waffles) so we skip lunch, today we stopped by for a very light snack and they had an amazing spread for sunday buffet. we only ordered appetizers to tide us over, but they sent over prawn crackers, some foie gras for paul (there’s a foie gras station on Sundays) and two mojotios. They are all so friendly, it’s amazing. We try to be productive in the morning, then catch some pool time (and a little time at the gym) in the afternoon. the rain storms arrive around 3ish, the last two have had big lighting to go with them. It’s crazy humid, the whole city is connected via underground shopping malls that rival anything I would think possible. We cannot figure out how all the stores and cafes stay open, and where the money is coming from.
There are aspects here that are very familiar and then there are things that are like home, but just different enough that you notice and go “huh. that’s different” all part of the adventure, exactly what we signed up for.