It has been 5 months since I left Singapore, and i thought I would miss it more. But frankly, I’m really glad I didn’t rush to go back during the covid call backs because this physical and mental space that I have from loved ones and familiar faces is exactly what I need.
So, even though I think about family everyday, especially my aging grandparents, and I miss them dearly, I’m sticking it out and traveling around the world for as long as I can. Until.
Until what? Until I suddenly have a lightbulb moment and think “okay that’s my life’s purpose”? Until I run out of money? Until I find a new place I wanna live and settle down in?
Who. Knows. The answer is “I don’t know.” but this is also why I’m writing my thoughts down. Because I’m painfully aware that even if you have a job, or you already have kids, or you are about to get married…. Many people still have no clue as to what they want in life. Or what they’re doing, really.
At least for me, I feel as though this question became a default search in my search engine. “what can I use my life for?”
When I left Singapore, it was meant to be for 6 or 7 weeks. I was going through a weird phase in my life involving an ex husband and his current fiancee. Sounds messy? It was 10 times messier than you can imagine. But also quite funny how everything panned out considering everything. Maybe I’ll open up about it in time to come, not the deets but more on divorcing and how people don’t talk enough about it but long story short…..
I left Singapore furiously trying to numb the pain from a pending divorce and found myself in Mexico.
My first week in Mexico, I struggled to get out of bed in the mornings. My good friend Tim, had to drag me out on my first night, tell me to my face “it’s going to get better, Mexico is going to heal you” and you know what! He was so right and more. Him and Carlo shared their room with me in Mexico City, fed me, drank with me, danced with me, and showed me around the city for a few days until I was ready to leave on my own.
The first city I went to sólo, was Guanajuato. I planned to stay 3 nights, and booked a quaint room in an airbnb. It was quiet, peaceful, about 25 mins walking distance from town centre, and everything I needed. I allowed myself time to mope around and cry, call my friends and family for comfort. But when it was time to go out and explore, I put on some music, sang along to the songs, put on some make up and off I went. I walked down the streets and alley ways, got lost and found great eateries and bakeries. I took a funicular to the highest viewpoint and sat for 4 hours just reading, writing, smiling to tourists and letting my mind sit.
Guanajuato was a great start to the trip and it showed me how my mornings could start out horribly wrong. But also how in just a few hours and a good walk later, my afternoons would turn out to be amazing and drastically different. That’s how I went through the first few weeks of my pain. I pushed through it. It was so much easier to stay in Singapore, hide in bed and watch soppy movies all day. But I took a flight to Mexico instead, stared the pain in its face, and said “Im not afraid of you”. The one thing I was determined to do was NOT go around the pain but THROUGH it. And I’m so, proud of myself for that. I’m sorry it took 5 months for me to realise I shouldn’t be shy about this fact. I’m so proud of myself for dragging my ass to Mexico.
It was also in this time, that my friends and family really stood by me to give me the mental and emotional support I needed. I never knew how a call could sound so warm, that I could feel a hug through their voice and in those moments, feel comforted. While i was transiting alone in airports and feeling like “wtf am I doing i can’t do this maybe I should cut the trip short” my friends and family stayed up late on their phones for 2 hours giving me pep talks. “Jane I’m telling you, you’re so strong, you can DO THIS. U GO OUT THERE AND SMASH THIS TRIP” “Jane I promise you, in just a week you’re going to feel better, just breathe”. I’m also absolutely thankful to have parents like my mum and dad. Most parents would have lost their minds with a kid like me. But my parents instead, said “if we could fly out to find you, we would be on this adventure with you 100%”. Without my troop, I would have already lost the first battle.
Later on while I moved around in Mexico, I met so many amazing travellers and got thrown into a fast track management program but one that was for the job of Life. I met an a Australian who has been traveling around the world for 12 years , and finally found home in Mexico where she runs a cafe in a hostel and cuts hair for people just for fun. I met countless of others who decided that their home countries just wasn’t exciting and liberating enough for them to explore their talents. For some, it was also because their home countries weren’t safe and stable like Singapore. To them, the world provided opportunities for business, an endless source of inspiration, people to connect with, and THAT idea connected with me.
So I told my mum that I was delaying my return to Singapore, and booked flights to Berlin, Paris and the UK. My plan was… No plan really. I had a few friends in these places I knew I could stay with. And my search was and is really, just for inspiration and new experiences.
Covid later on, took the decision making burden out of my hands. Instead of going to Spain for a workaway, I ended up finding one in the UK. Workaway is a platform where travellers can stay with hosts (for free) for short or long periods of time depending on the job. We do 5 hours of work a day for 5 days a week in exchange for that accommodation (and most times at least 1 meal a day) and get 2 days off. The idea is that a cultural exchange takes place while both parties benefit mutually. The type of hosts varies from farm owners, to hostels, and can also be people building their own houses or running their own resorts.
Anyway, the idea of doing a workaway wasn’t really daunting at all. But I guess I want to start sharing my travel experiences since my friends and family have been telling me to. Ive also realized that it’s absurb to some singaporeans that I’m doing this.
The idea of an NUS graduate, with a good head on her shoulders, choosing not to get a job or an advancement in a career… But instead, traipse around the world with little to no plan of how to “save for a future” is absolutely ridiculous. Rebonkulous. Strange. Bewildering. Confusing.
Well, this is me now, inviting you into my world of strangeness. So that anyone who’s interest I’ve piqued can either live vicariously through me, want to show their kids how not to be me, or be inspired to start their own journeys, however small or big they are.
I’m currently in Leicester, living in a house that’s 150 years old. There are altogether 9 of us humans, 3 dogs, 3 puppies, 4 fowls, 100 odd pigeons, 2 pigs, 1 horse and wild foxes and badgers that come and go. With quite a bit of land to take care of, and some restoration work to do in the house, I’ll be here for a few months, and will share whatever I think of that might be interesting or cool.
I’m 28, coming out of a marriage, haven’t got alot of savings. Before I left Singapore, all I had on my CV was 3 years of working in an insurance company, 2 years of doing various part time jobs such as teaching kids how to swim, bartending, giving tuition, and working in a hostel. Am I making a mistake by abandoning prospects of finding a good and “stable” job? Who knows. Will I heed the advice of my relatives and stick to a 9 to 5 even though I wouldn’t like it, just so I can build up my CPF? Absolutely not.
People ask if I know what I want to do in life. Yes…. I have an idea of what would be a dream goal. I don’t know the steps to it, and also, if I ever will get there. But I do know that for now, my path lies outside of Singapore.
So there……as my JC friends nicely put it, I guess for the foreseeable future, Jane will be a Jypsy. A wandering traveller, in search of something. Come along on the journey if you’d like a bit of story telling. I’ll be as authentic as I can, and share with you the good and the bad. Adiós for now. Stay strange in these strange times.