Expat Life

From London to Singapore (Via Tennessee)

Well, hello there. Is anyone still here?



While I’d like to just pick up where I left off and pretend my absence here for the last 10 months didn’t happen, I don’t think it’s going to be that easy. I’m sure you have lots of questions. I do, too, not the least important of which is, Do people even blog anymore? Or are we all on youtube and snapchat now? Seeing as I haven’t blogged with any real consistency since early 2015, I’m a little out of the loop.

So, what happened? Well, life, I guess. We moved countries again (which I’ll get to in a minute) and I was bored with blogging (again), so I found like 99 other things to do with my time. But see, this thing happens when you’ve gotten used to writing about your life. You simply can’t stop, even if what you’re writing is technically only being written in your head. And it’s annoying. Really freaking annoying. When I made a conscious decision to stop blogging sometime last fall, my friend Romeo expressed concern about me not having an outlet to share my thoughts and experiences. And I was all, No, man, I got Instagram. I’m good. (Insert eye roll and side eye emoji.) It didn’t take me very long to understand what he meant. Publishing a well thought out blog post and slapping a picture up on Instagram for the bots and the follow-then-unfollow losers to have a heyday with are indeed NOT the same thing. I missed blogging, a lot.

In preparation for my return, I redesigned the site because the old one was outdated, and really, isn’t a blog redesign pretty much the same thing as getting a drastic haircut or a new wardrobe after a break-up? It’s what you do before you put yourself back on the market, so here I am, putting myself back out there. And man, do I have a lot to catch up on. With just under two years worth of travels still to blog about, I’m fairly certain I will never run out of content to share, but that also makes the question, where the heck do I start, far more complicated. At least for today, the only thing that makes sense is to start right where I left off – as we were leaving London.

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

We left London on one of the most monumental days in recent UK history – June 24. We woke up early in the morning to the shocking announcement that BREXIT had passed. We watched the news unfold as we quietly packed our things into our suitcases, and we cried as we watched David Cameron’s farewell speech live on TV. (Okay, that was just me.) As we loaded our suitcases into the cab, it started to rain, and as I watched the familiar streets of Chiswick disappear as we got onto the freeway, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sadness. The somber mood of everyone in London. So many things changing at once. The usual wistful feeling one gets when leaving behind somewhere they’ve called home. The freaking rain. It was like a closing sequence on a legitimately depressing movie.

Luckily, our moods picked up quite a lot once we got to the airport. For people who typically travel with two carry-on suitcases and a backpack, getting through the airport with three months worth of luggage was pretty comical. (Now I understand why those trolley things are so useful!) Instead of going straight from London to Singapore, we decided to make a pit-stop (although not at all in the right direction) in Tennessee first. If I ever mention doing this again, someone please remind me that it is absolutely insane to go to and from three drastically different time zones in 11 days. At the time, it seemed easier than moving to Singapore and then taking our annual trip back to the States afterwards. It wasn’t. I had jet lag for like two months. But at least it meant I got to fly one last time from London to Atlanta, which is one of my favorite routes to fly. (This is not a weird thing to say if you’re an expat or frequent traveler, I swear.)

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee) From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee) From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee) From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

We spent a little less than two weeks in Memphis and Nashville, seeing friends and family and doing the usual annual trip back home doctor appointments and dooms day supply gathering. I even got to see and hold my last remaining hen from our farm life days. (She was always my favorite, too, although I never told the others.)

In between our visit in 2015 and this one, my parents moved from Memphis to a beautiful area outside of Nashville. (They’ve since moved on to Amsterdam. I know, my family is weird. Moving is, like, our thing.) We spent a day exploring their new town and it is adorable. I’m not even going to pretend like I didn’t spend the whole time looking out for famous people, though. I mean, Justin Timberlake just bought land there. Tell me you wouldn’t be celeb-stalking, too.

We had a great trip back home, but I pretty much spent the entire 11 days excited to get going on our new Singapore adventure. (Another reason why I probably shouldn’t schedule trips home in between moves in the future.) I mean, I’d only been wanting to move back to Southeast Asia for 20 years. Those 11 days felt like an eternity! Finally, on July 4th, it was time to go! (We had a really strange habit this summer of leaving countries on historically important days…)

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee) From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

So, up until the journey from Nashville to Singapore, I thought flying to Europe was long distance. I’ve changed my mind. Nashville to London feels like a domestic flight now that we’ve flown from North America to Asia. I flew this exact same route (US to Tokyo to Singapore) at least a dozen times as a kid, but if you’re over the age of 30, I don’t have to tell you that doing something as a kid feels entirely different when you do it as an adult. By the time we hit Tokyo, I was like, Seriously? 8 more hours? Let’s just move to Tokyo instead. I’ve since flown this route twice more and have learned some better ways of coping, but holy moly, that first time was killer!

We landed around 11pm, all having slept like babies on the last flight, just like we shouldn’t have, so we were wide awake at midnight when we arrived at our temporary apartment. Luckily, it was right smack in the middle of Singapore, so after we dropped our bags, we found a 24-hour market and went grocery shopping at one in the morning, as you do. The first thing we all noticed as we walked to the market was the heat. You guys, I hadn’t been warm for longer than two weeks at a time for the past three years at this point. I wanted to cry tears of joy at how hot and sweaty I was, but I was too dehydrated from the airplane ride.

When we made it back to the apartment with our groceries, Cory went to bed, but Lex and I were wired, like bouncing off the walls wired, so we had to leave the house. I can think of nowhere else in the world where it would be safe for two girls to wander unfamiliar streets* at 3am, but somehow in Singapore, it is. And so we walked all over the surrounding area, trying to get our bearings and eventually seeking out an open McDonald’s, because Sausage Biscuits. When the sun rose and we saw those bright blue skies and palm trees and it got even hotter, I almost cried again. I was in love already.

*My vague memories as a teen + zero sense of direction + many changes in 20 years = pretty much a completely unfamiliar city, especially in the dark.

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee) From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

The next few weeks were a blur of trying all the Asian foods, being awake at odd hours and sleeping during even odder ones, trying (unsuccessfully) to open a bank account, apartment-hunting, furniture-shopping, seeing my dad who came through two weeks after we got here (good timing, since we’d just run out of money; nothing like still asking your dad for money at 32!), setting up school stuff for Lex, and trying, when we could, to relax at our beautiful temporary apartment.

I will have a lot more to say about Singapore and our early feelings about it in a couple of months when I write about our first full year here, but for now, suffice it to say, there was a lot more culture shock this time around. (Singapore is very westernized, but not exactly London or Nashville-westernized.) And the majority of that culture shock hit us in the first few weeks after we arrived. I know it feels weird to leave you hanging on this point, but so much time has passed since those first few weeks that it would be difficult to accurately write about our initial impressions without also talking about everything that came after, so I’ll get back to you on this in July!

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee) From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

As expected, the biggest decision we had to make during our first few weeks here was where to live. Thankfully, this wasn’t quite as difficult a decision as it was for us in London. With Lexie’s school about as far north as you can go in Singapore without crossing over into Malaysia and Cory working down south, we pretty much had to position ourselves in the heart of the city to make it convenient for everyone. There were also things we had grown accustomed to in London that we didn’t want to give up when we moved here either, like being able to get by without a car and having markets and shops and things to do within walking distance, so living in the city afforded us that convenience as well. Plus, this was pretty much the only part of Singapore that still looked even remotely familiar to me, so nostalgia might have played a small part in us choosing to settle here, too. :)

After a very lengthy search in our chosen area and a couple of offers falling through, we finally found our permanent apartment in a high-rise condo and moved in the first week of August. Coming from our little 800 sq ft flat in London, our new 1200 sq ft place felt like a serious upgrade! It, however, did not come furnished like our flat in London, so in addition to unpacking all 50-something boxes (which were filled with about 75% packing paper), we also had an entire apartment’s worth of IKEA furniture to put together. We were living in chaos for about a week there, but it was a team effort and we got it all done. (Lexie was clearly thrilled about her job of flattening all the packing paper…ha!)

For the most part, I love where we live, both the area and our apartment. It’s a little noisier than I’d like and we do still escape to the more remote parts of Singapore on weekends when we can so that we’re not always in crowds everywhere we go, but it felt like home pretty quickly and still does now. Plus, we have one heck of a view from this high up…

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

And also, we get thunderstorms again! Possibly an odd thing to care so deeply about, but I felt seriously cheated by the low ratio of rainy days in London that also came with thunderstorms. Coming from the southern US where really good thunderstorms are a regular occurrence, I found London’s perpetual light rains sort of, well, boring. I am very pleased to report that Singapore does not disappoint in the thunderstorm department. We have had some wild ones; one so crazy that, despite remembering otherwise, I found myself frantically googling does Singapore get tornadoes as I watched the sky outside my window turn an unhealthy shade of green. (FYI – Singapore doesn’t get tornadoes.) We have both north and south facing windows in our apartment, so no matter which direction the storm is coming from, we always get to watch it roll in, which is one of my most favorite things about the view from our apartment.

From London To Singapore (Via Tennessee)

Speaking of weather, during our first month in our new place, we got to experience a phenomenon that was just beginning to occur every year when I lived here the first time – the dreaded Singapore haze. It smells and feels just as bad as it looks, and I hear we didn’t even have it as bad last year as it usually gets. (Something to look forward to this year, then?) The haze in Singapore comes and goes over the course of a couple months during the burning season in Indonesia. (Not going to get into the political issues surrounding this, but if you want to know more, this is a good article.) Some days are worse than others, with everyone tracking the haze levels on their apps before leaving the house every morning. Like rain in London, haze in Singapore is all anyone ever talks about during burning season.

Every day of our first few weeks and months in Singapore, it felt like we were seeing or learning something new. That’s always been my favorite part about moving – it’s hard to beat the early excitement and newness of living somewhere unknown. If it weren’t for the more practical parts of moving being such a burden, I’d probably keep moving somewhere new every year just to keep that feeling going all the time, but then again, maybe not. There’s also something to be said for developing a routine and gaining confidence and comfortable-ness in a place, and that takes a lot longer than a few months, or even a year, to achieve.

I’m going to close with a thank you for reading this incredibly long post. They won’t all be this long, I promise! I’m very excited to be getting back into blogging and hopefully I’ll be able to stay consistent with it this time. If you’d like to receive regular updates, you can subscribe via Bloglovin’ or sign up for my monthly newsletter via the sign-up form in my side-bar.

Also, at some point during my blogging hiatus, my blog’s Facebook page was deleted and I’ve had to create a new one. If you were following there before or would like to now, please like The Wanderblogger on Facebook again. No, really. Please do. My one other liker is getting lonely over there. :)

Share this post:

  • Miwa
    May 12, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    You’re back to blogging!! I’ve really missed reading your posts and seeing all of your beautiful pictures. Can’t wait to see all that you’ve got to share. I’ve contemplated blogging again a countless number of times (and I have so many pictures I’d want to share) but I haven’t made that final leap back yet. It’s been like a two-year blank for me so who knows if I ever really will start again! Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy reading up on your adventures :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 12, 2017 at 9:56 PM

      It would make me incredibly happy if you returned to blogging! I know how daunting it seems because I feel the exact same way about picking it up again, but it’s also been one of the best decisions I’ve made lately. I’ve missed writing so much. If you do start writing again, please let me know. Your blog was always one of my favorites and I’d love to read your stories and see your photos in larger-than-instagram size!

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    May 4, 2017 at 7:40 AM

    Glad to see you living in this space again!! I was floored that we had the great minds to revive our blogs on the same day!! ;) Yours is still prettier though! Taking photos has gone a bit by the wayside for me. We’ll see what happens with that!!

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 4, 2017 at 6:11 PM

      Well, it’s a little harder to take photos when you’re not traveling as much and living back in the States. You’ll find a groove with your photography again, I’m sure! I’m so happy you’re back, too. Feels good still having friends in the blog world. :)

  • Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
    May 3, 2017 at 1:25 PM

    Welcome back!!!!!!!

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 3, 2017 at 5:44 PM

      Thanks so much, Ashley! I have missed writing and this community SO much!

  • Melanie Fontaine
    May 3, 2017 at 3:19 AM

    You have no idea how excited I am that you’ve decided to start blogging again! I can’t wait to hear more about what you have been up to in the past few months! :) And please don’t apologize for long posts – you’re a great writer and I’m pretty sure you could write about any topic under the sun and I would enjoy it! :) Also, thank you so much for your mail; I’m going to respond soon!
    P.S. With your parents now living in Amsterdam, is there a chance of you traveling there anytime soon? Just saying, that it’s not so far from where I live and that I could easily make it there, especially since it’s one of my favorite cities in Europe… ;)

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 3, 2017 at 5:44 PM

      Thanks for the many kind compliments. That means so much to me. :)

      I know we’ll for sure be visiting them while they are living there, but I’m not sure when! It won’t be this year, but maybe next? I would LOVE to see you, so I’ll definitely let you know when we’ve got firm plans to visit. (This is when I wish I still lived in London b/c traveling to Amsterdam could practically be a day trip from there!)

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    May 3, 2017 at 1:28 AM

    I love that you’re back! Can’t wait to see what you’re up to! Xx

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 3, 2017 at 5:41 PM

      Thanks, lady! I can’t wait to share more than just little squares and a caption about everything! :) xx

      P.S. See you soon!

  • Alyson Tart
    May 2, 2017 at 4:18 AM

    You made it back to blogging! I keep thinking on it and am working on a page re-design, so perhaps I will too :) But if not, I’m glad I can follow along on your adventures!

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 2, 2017 at 8:13 PM

      It definitely helps motivate me to blog when I actually like the way my blog looks. :) I’m excited to see what you do with yours!!

  • Jacintha | Urban Pixxels
    May 2, 2017 at 4:16 AM

    So glad to have you back :-)! And can’t wait to catch up in person soon.

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 2, 2017 at 8:05 PM

      Me, too! What dates will you be in Singapore? I need to get them in my calendar!

  • Romeo
    May 2, 2017 at 12:52 AM

    So nice to see full sized pictures and an honest description as opposed to a short “here’s…” Glad you decided to write again. That said, I think you’ve created more questions here. I guess you’ll get around to it. As for the Sausage Biscuit vs. McMuffin, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 2, 2017 at 8:05 PM

      We can agree to disagree, but I’m still going to be right. ;)

  • Autumn @ The Spirited Violet
    May 1, 2017 at 12:58 PM

    Welcome back to blogging!! :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 2, 2017 at 8:05 PM

      Thank you so much! It’s good to be back!

  • Amy | Waves + Roots
    May 1, 2017 at 7:17 AM

    Oh, I’m so happy you’re back to blogging! The new site looks fantastic :) Don’t get me wrong, I love instagram (although less and less so lately with all the bots and other craziness, ugh) but a big part of me will always prefer a nice lengthy blog post with lots of big photos ;) Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures in SE Asia!

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 2, 2017 at 8:12 PM

      Thanks so much! I’m loving this new design so much, too! :) Instagram used to be my favorite, but it’s not the place it was 1-2 years ago. I miss it!

  • Lisa Michele Burns
    May 1, 2017 at 5:49 AM

    So exciting to have you back in the blogging realm! I love your photos from your trip home and am SO happy to got to see your favourite chicken once more :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 2, 2017 at 8:08 PM

      That was the best! I miss having pets so much. Our landlord doesn’t allow dogs, but I didn’t ask about chickens…