Thursday, June 16, 2005

SG Sitrep 08.

Have booked in the flight to Perth. Have no idea how I am going to afford to pay for it yet, though. Probably put it on the credit card. Ticket has not been issued yet, so I have not actually had the courage to "pull the trigger".. but the bullet is very much in the chamber.


It occurs to me (and amuses me) that I am doing the exact opposite of what nature intended.

Animals all over the globe annually migrate from colder climates to escape harsh winters, in search of warmer climates. Yet I am planning to migrate from a warm, humid and perpetually 30 plus degree Celsius summer tropical island to a cold, low-humidity and sodden freezing winter of single-digit Celsius.

Okay, so anything above zero is technically not freezing. That job assignment that had me stuck for day after day in that climate-controlled data centre of 18 degrees Celcius was the most miserable physical work conditions I have ever endured in Singapore. And I detest winter in London. Even winter in Hong Kong makes me miserable. I doubt winter in Australia is going to make me a happy camper.

And case anybody missed the point: I am a tropical warm-weather animal.


All I can say is lacking is in you.
And believe me not, it follows you wherever u go.
It is u bro. Not the system.
- Anonymous comments, on entry Emigration Essay.

I am still young and will try to do something for my generation,
running away now may seem like the easy way out
but I guess I have to do something.
Jack Chen comments, on entry Emigration Essay.

Geographical change is not the answer to life’s problems.
The secret, is some sort of self-transformation.
lupiloop comments, on entry Deer in the Headlights.

You know, one of the biggest realisations people make when they move out of a country is that it's not the country that was the problem, it's themselves. Or rather, that moving away doesn't solve anything. Nor should it make a difference.
AF quoted, in entry Counsel of Two.

So are these folks right?
Am I just running away from my problems?
Would a geographical relocation make no difference ultimately?

I have no freaking clue. Ask me again in a couple of years.

At this point, I just have two thoughts on this aspect of the issue. Ideas that I have read about or had converstions or thought about in the past that for some reason have stuck in my mind.

We travel for not so much for the answers we seek in our lives, but more to learn to ask better questions.
I have not made much progress in my life in Singapore. Or definitely at least not as much as I would have been satisfied with. So perhaps it is time to stop trying to find answers to the same old tired questions, and learn to reframe better goals in life?

And so when is travel to "find yourself" an appropriate response? And when is travel no more than mere escapism from reality?

[ I last asked myself this question close to a decade ago towards the end of my university days. When many of my more privileged peers were looking at going on long holidays to distant exotic locations to "find themselves". I started work the day immediately after my last exam paper. ]

It depends on what you are more afraid of.
You know you are just running away from reality when you are more afraid of what you are running from, than what you are running to. And sometimes, like in my current case, where I am heading to is a whole lot more terrifying than the point where I am starting from.

I am not going to pretend I have any authoritative answers. So ask me again in a couple years.


Blogger the virgin undergrad said...

dude, u might wanna purchase the tickets for the non-peak periods for a cheaper rate. u see, the winter break for WA unis generally start somewhere in late june to early july and ends generally around late july to early august. so if u u could get ur hands on a ticket somewhere in sept, u could conceivably avoid the bottleneck of singapore student exodus from perth and from singapore back to perth.

June 16, 2005 1:14 AM  
Anonymous PB said...

Not all of the problems are in the system, and not all of them are in us. Some of them are separate, and many of them are related.

That said, I suspect that for many 'quitters', many of our personal problems have been strongly encouraged by the specific nature of Singapore. And even were it possible to correct the problems 'in' us, the new us would find it almost impossible to find expression in Singapore. That's what it means for social and political space to be limited.

So leaving itself doesn't solve all the problems. But it gives any solutions we might find a fair, fighting chance. In Singapore they would die at birth.

That's been my reluctant conclusion.

- A fellow "quitter."

June 16, 2005 5:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the fourth quote you mentioned - the "AF quoted, in entry Counsel of Two". Well tell him to go live in Iraq, Afghanistan or maybe somewhere near like say the Philippines.
Yes it's true some of the people who leave have their own problems but there are a lot of cases wherein it's the system itself which is causing the problem.

And being in the IT line too who was once unemployed for 5 months I can sympathize with you. The IT job market in Singapore is in the pits and sometimes it's not the applicants fault. Too many companies are relying on agencies who will squeeze you (like offering you 2k per month for a job that requires more than 5 years experience) etc.

To me - don't listen to these people. They are probably just like the last PM when he gave the infamous 'quitters' speech. It's easy to give the speech if you have no problems, are rich, are powerful etc.

June 16, 2005 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Oikono said...

Over the years, I have changed from being naive to being selfish. Should I stay and rail against the government in the faint hope of creating change, or leave to find my own personal happiness?

I used to think change is possible. But experience has shown otherwise. Significant change here will always be top-down. Hence, I justify my selfishness by telling myself that Singaporeans do NOT want change. They are happy in their own matrix and I should not inflict suffering on them by disturbing their 'reality'.

That said, the problem IS you. YOU chose to probe into the dark side. YOU chose not to live blissfully in government propaganda. YOU chose to have government unapproved dreams. Now YOU pay the price.

YOU could have chose to stop thinking before it was too late.

June 16, 2005 8:52 AM  
Blogger sway said...

I wish I'd read you earlier. You're a pretty phenomenal writer.

I've been in Australia for 8 and a half years and I can't stay any longer because I only take a 50pt course.

I find it quite cruel when I've grown up here and I only have a rather...abstract construct of what it means to be Singaporean. but soon, come end August, I will begin my life as a fake.

I'll be reading your blog heaps, especially since you have many many of the same (immigration) issues that have. Sort of.

June 16, 2005 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Brr, I remember those -18 C temperature with a wind chill of -30 C in the US midwest days with such fond memories.

You probably know this but just get a good winter wear, a brand like Colombia, and you will do fine, even in those temps.

June 16, 2005 11:06 AM  
Blogger Patricea Chow said...

Sometimes we get so preoccupied with our location in life that we forget our purpose of living.

Travelling puts some perspective into our extremely selfish and materialistic views.

Travelling also sometimes shows us that life isn't necessarily greener on the otherside of the fence, and opens our eyes to how other individuals have adapted to the limiting social, economic or political conditions that exist in their daily lives.

I enjoy travel because it reminds how insignificant and miniscule my life is as compared to the universe and nature that exists around me. When that happens, even the fact that whether I have enough in my CPF for my retirement becomes something of a trivial worry.

And to further expand on oikono's comment that 'Singaporeans do NOT want change', I think this rings true for majority of the population on earth. Only because people are afraid of change. They are terrified of doing something differently or unknown as they have become too used and feeling too safe in their current enclosure.

June 16, 2005 12:51 PM  
Blogger Wenjie said...

Some wise words :

When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.
- Francois de La Rochefoucauld

June 16, 2005 3:34 PM  
Anonymous jt said...

It takes alot of courage to move out of the comfort zone.
You will only continue to see a small world if you choose to stay in this small & well-controlled island.
Go forth, be brave, try new things.
And when you die, you can then say "At least I tried."

June 16, 2005 5:00 PM  
Anonymous lupiloop said...

"When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.
- Francois de La Rochefoucauld"

He's not seeking tranquility at all. He's seeking to live outside of the Plan, and yet, he has not found his concrete Dream until a self transformation takes place.

June 16, 2005 5:57 PM  
Blogger C said...

Well considering we're all products of our environment, geographical change does make a difference. Or travel & discovery wouldn't be the rites of passage that they are.

You can look at it negatively or positively, how much is gained from change does depend on the individual. But at the end of the day, if you wanted the chance and gave it to yourself, why not?

You'll never be the wiser until you try.

When are you coming?

June 16, 2005 7:53 PM  
Blogger the virgin undergrad said...

KOP -re: ur question on the uber amazonian's blog:

yup, i'm sharing with 2 other housemates and i'm paying 125 for my share. the entire place's 325. u had it good for college during ur time (which i prolly presume is not that long ago)- i would have to pay 252 p/w if i were to stay on in college.
oh btw, with regards to housing in perth, it's a good idea to come down in dec or late nov cos' that's when the uni sem ends, and since most contracts run for a yr, it's usually then where there's a surplus in the supply over the demand for acomodation so u'll get a much better rate. my frens who din get a house over summer had to pay almost $60 p/w more than what i'm paying now, for a much older house. in the long run, that saves a pretty significant sum of money.

June 16, 2005 10:06 PM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...


Social and political space is a secondary reason for my relocation. The primary is economic.

No decent paying job means no income. No income means no money. No money means no food. And starving to death is generally accepted to be a bad thing.

Okay. So I exaggerate. However Singapore can be a harsh place for those who have fallen off the endorsed economic bandwagon.


Be gentle on AF. AF is an old friend who has my interests at heart. And actually I kind of like metro Manila and find it quite livable if you are willing to make the required personal security adjustments.

The IT market in Singapore is still growing. The question is what wage levels serfs are prepared to accept given the low barrier to entry of importing cheap foreign labour. Given the high cost of living in Singapore, it is going to get a lot harder to afford a decent life here with the falling wages.


YOU could have chose to stop thinking before it was too late.

Exactly. See the very first few posts, in particular my second post In the Beginning. It was more like I was not paying attention during indoctrination.


Thank you for the generous compliment. And yes, my writing tends to be more concerned with phenomena rather than with hypotheses. I would rather document the way things are, than they way they should be.

If you keep true to who you are, you will not be a fake (no matter your geographical location). Then again, that could be the exact receipe to be ostracised - given our standardised society.


I jest about freezing my ass off when D. suggests visiting exotic (frozen) locations. I like eating popsicles, not becoming a popsicle.

patricea chow:

..whether I have enough in my CPF for my retirement becomes something of a trivial worry.

Do not even get me started on that one. I could go on for hours about how the CPF system has been perverted and broken as a retirement fund.


Thank you for the encouragement.

wenjie, lupiloop:

I remember one of CS Lewis' essays advocating that we should focus on the first things first. That if we focus on what is most important (The Dream?) - everything else is secondary.

What caught my attention was his comment of: What if we do not know what comes first? The first order of business would then be to find out..


When are you coming?

In the fullness of time. You can expect me when you see me.

[ Sorry about the smart-alecky reply but I have been saving that line just waiting to use it for a while now. Heh. ]


Thank you for the timing information for airfares and rentals. I will take note of it.

I may have have given you the wrong impression. I have never studied in Australia. The hostel was refering to the backpacker type places which offer tiny cells and minimal facilities. See earlier post Datapoints Perth 03 where it was mentioned.

June 17, 2005 7:53 AM  
Blogger Beach-yi said...

ABout the Hostels, I think the YHA ones are comfortably good and at a relatively good price.

Atleast my experiences with the one I stayed in Melbourne led me to think that I wouldn't mind staying there for an extended period of time.

June 17, 2005 6:56 PM  
Blogger C said...

And here i was thinking "i'll see you when i see you"

tsk ;)

June 17, 2005 6:58 PM  
Anonymous lupiloop said...

Ah.... u have the material for a writer my fren. If australia doesn't squeeze that out of u, come to afrika.

June 17, 2005 8:25 PM  
Blogger kachuaz said...

piangz. coming to perth in winter? abit the boring ah..

personally getting back to SG, woahh! shiok.

camping or sightseeing?

June 17, 2005 10:24 PM  
Blogger Killjoy said...

Good luck. :) Stop wondering "wat ifs" and go. If it doesn't work out.. at least you tried.

But its going to work out.

June 18, 2005 1:45 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...


it takes a lot of courage to do what you're doing.

just do it... like the last comment, doing it and *touch wood* fail is better than not doing it at all.

June 18, 2005 4:43 AM  
Blogger The Screwy Skeptic said...

I see traveling as a way to open yourself to new societies and new perspectives, not as escapism.

And count yourself lucky. Australian winters are nothing compared to -4F (-20 Celsius) Chicago winters.

June 21, 2005 11:46 AM  
Blogger Anthony said...


I can safely say that there -will- be problems faced in -any- country. I leave you with the thought of self-transformation that can ONLY be carried out when you're alone miles away from family.

You truly learn what kind of stuff you're made of.

Of course it takes a certain kind of mentality to even relish this. That I admit.

June 23, 2005 10:41 AM  

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