Have you ever wondered what it’s like to pick up and move across the world? We asked just that to community member and blogger Lindsey, who’s moved from Georgia to South Korea to Singapore — and done it all in style! Her awesome travel tips and sightseeing suggestions have us wishing we could whisk away to explore Singapore for ourselves. Check out our Q&A below, and read more from Lindsey over at The Belted Pear!
What have you learned from living abroad?
I’ve learned to always say yes to adventure. That’s why you went abroad, right? When someone invites you do something – and they will! – just say yes. I’ve learned how to make kimchi (I hate kimchi), participated in a Salsa competition (I don’t really know how to actually Salsa), gotten butt-naked in a room of women at a traditional spa (officially addicted now), and sat down at countless tables full of friendly strangers (which has lead into some of the best nights of my life!). I have felt so awkward, unsure, and self-conscious in all of these experiences. But having a good sense of humor and not taking yourself seriously goes so far. I try to laugh off the awkwardness and just enjoy the ride.
When you first moved to Singapore, how did you go about finding your way around and discovering what the country has to offer?
For this American girl, double-decker buses are too much fun! Some weekends, I’ll jump on any random bus, climb to the top level, and just take in the scenery. I also rely on word of mouth for new information — locals and seasoned expats are full of valuable information. I also follow many Singaporeans’ blogs and Instagram accounts.
Where are some of your favorite places to spend time, eat, and shop in Singapore?
Puala Ubin (Bike Island). This little, quaint island is on the East Coast, where only about 100 people live. You can rent bikes for $10 a day and ride around the whole island. Most of the trip you’ll only see lush jungle and maybe the occasional snake or wild boar. The little village at the dock and the little houses tucked in the forest give visitors a glimpse of what Singapore was sixty years ago.
Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa Island might just be the chillest and most luxe, relaxing place in Singapore for me. I like to grab a two-person lounge beach chair, order a few drinks, and just settle in. And when I get hot, I have my choice of dipping into the swanky pool or the ocean! Not to mention, their burgers might literally be the best burgers I’ve ever had.
Little India – I cannot stress enough how much I love this area of town! You can smell incense, marigolds, and spices walking down the streets, while catchy Bollywood music blares from the shops. The colors are so bright here – on the buildings and the women’s clothing. The mint-coriander chutney is my ultimate favorite at Delhi Restaurant. You can go shopping for beautiful souvenirs at the Little India Arcade, and I always go to Mustafa’s to moon over the saris.
Surprisingly, Singapore has countryside! Bollywood Veggies is a charming, welcoming restaurant located on a twelve-acre farm. Visitors can take a short tour around one end of the farm and then sit down to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor! We usually get the Warrior Vegetarian platter so we can have a little bit of everything — the potato curry and the fried moringa are my favorite!
You haven’t seen Singapore until you’ve eaten at a hawker center (outdoor food court). There is great debate about which is the best hawker (Glutton Bay, Maxwell, and Newton Circus are popular ones). However, I’d suggest going to a non-touristy one. Walk around any neighborhood, and underneath the large apartment complexes you’ll be sure to find one. Nasi goreng, laksa, and roti prata are some of my favorite dishes, and I’m obsessed with the lime juice and milk tea. Here’s a little tip! Before you order your food, reserve your table with a little packet of Kleenex.
Haw Par Villa – I love this place so much! It’s a huge, crazy, colorful park filled with sculptures depicting scenes from Chinese mythology. You might come for the cultural experience, but you stay for the weather-worn mermaids, pig men, and spider seductresses.
Arab Street is a great mix of “trendy” and “traditional”. Each cafe-lined street offers a great view of the Sultan Mosque, although I think Derwish Turkish Restaurant has the best. They also have delicious kabobs! We like to go at sunset when you can hear the call to prayer and see the sun hit the top of the mosque. This area is also great for poking around all the adorable, vintage-inspired clothing shops.
Your blog is very much about your personal style, but you mentioned in a recent post that you’d rather spend money on traveling than clothes. How do you balance having a unique, varied personal style with saving for travel?
I’m not gonna lie — it’s a constant struggle! Usually, a month before a trip, I go on “shopping diets” where I try to not buy anything that’s not mandatory. I also tend to only buy things that are on sale or thrifted. I also try to regularly schedule clothing swaps with my friends. And I typically only spend my fun money on traveling and clothing. Otherwise, I dye my own hair, I do my own nails, I don’t buy a lot of makeup or hair products, and I don’t really buy many purses or shoes.
Do you have any advice for someone living abroad for the first time?
Be patient. Just keep trying and allow yourself to fail once in a while. No amount of research or preparation is going to prepare you for the confusion of navigating through a new culture and that’s okay. You’ll figure it out.
Also, keep yourself healthy. When your routine is disrupted, it’s easy to let that one fall by the wayside. Once I was able to figure out an exercise routine that worked for me, I felt more in control of my day-to-day life.
Keeping yourself mentally healthy is just as important. What I’ve observed is that the most well-adjusted people who live abroad keep busy doing things that make them feel accomplished and happy. For me, that’s always been my blog! Also, stay in touch with loved ones but minimize social media usage. “FOMO” can turn into homesickness if you let it.
Is there anything else you think readers and potential travelers would like to know about Singapore?
Always pack sunglasses, an umbrella and a cardigan in your bag. The weather can change at a drop of a hat, but I’ll guarantee it will be always be hot and humid – until you step inside. Then it’s freezing!
+Thanks for sharing your adventures with us, Lindsey! Your turn, readers — if you could move anywhere in the world, where would it be?