Back in the cold and cosy Netherlands. While I’m slowly recovering from my reversed culture shock – I can testify now: it’s a thing – it’s time to make up the balance, my closing post for this chapter of my life.
Wow, what an amazing, challenging, and wonderful 8 months it has been. I don’t even know where to start on what it has brought me, on so many different levels: personally, academically, culturally… My final few weeks continued to be an exponential learning curve. Right up until the final few hours at the university, I was busy finishing up my experiments – it was totally worth it!
Regarding the results, I cannot share any details (yet), but the preliminary results are looking promising!
In my final weekend I had a wonderful goodbye night with my initial welcome committee out of which grew some wonderful friendships over the months (thanks ladies!). The day before my last, I also had a wonderful goodbye dinner with my colleagues, and by the time I actually finished my research, my housemate from Utrecht had arrived. We had a cosy Philippino style goodbye dinner from the family I shared my apartment with, and after one chaotic day of packing up my life into a suitcase and two bags (again), it was time to take off for the final trip of my Asia chapter: off to Vietnam & the Philippines!
It was the perfect ending of this crazy period. Despite one small dent when both of us got food poisoning – think a 10 hour train ride through Vietnam while emptying on all sides in the awesome toilets they provide (but hey! I had to experience it once before leaving, right?) – it was the ideal way to slowly destress before really leaving South East Asia behind, for at least a while ;-).
VIETNAM AND THE PHILIPPINES
Vietnam brought us some amazing culture and nature with the two highlights of a surprisingly luxury and exclusive cruise through Halong Bay and an unforgettable, totally unreal experience exploring some thousand year old, huge caves in the middle of the Vietnam jungle on an overnight trekking. It was almost impossible to capture on camera, but I’ll let the pictures do the talking anyway.
Next and final stop was to relax and dive. And that’s what we did in Moalboal, Cebu, the Philippines. The diving was truly amazing. See for yourself:
After 9 amazing dives and some good food and cocktails, it was time to pack up one last time. We flew back to Singapore where I had one day left to pick up my luggage and say bye to some friends. We ended the day and my trip in the best way to say goodbye to the city: on top of the Marina Bay Sands with an awesome cocktail and the best view ever before heading to the airport to fly back to the Netherlands.
By now, I’ve settled in Utrecht again and had some time to adjust and ease back into Dutch life again. I’m loving eating my Dutch stampots again and catching up with friends and family, but I’ve been cold, cold, freezing cold(!) since my return.
Singapore, you forever cherished a little place in my heart and I will miss you. I already do. Your heat and sweatiness (who’d have thought?), your endless skyscrapers (everything in the Netherlands is so teeny-tiny compared to you..), your cleanliness and order, your spotless public transport, your rooftops, your amazing nature reservoirs and parks in the middle of the city, your smoke-free NUS campus (yes- it exists and it works!), your hawker centres full of the most amazing dishes from every Indian cuisine, your Singlish (again, who’d have thought), and all your lovely uncles and aunties. Not to mention, your amazing surroundings.
Having said that, it’s really great to be back as well. At the moment I’m finishing up my report and some final small things in order to officially graduate from my masters degree. And then, it’s time for a new chapter, a new challenge.
I don’t have anything concrete to share with you on that end yet, which is exciting and scary at the same time. It’s like that free fall in a rollercoaster: you know you should be enjoying it and you are – it’s the start of all the fun, it’s why you got in in the first place, voluntarily! – but at the same time your guts are almost spilling out of your mouth and you’re not quite sure what the ride is gonna bring you, but you jumped in full of enthusiasm and you know that when you get out, you probably want to go again.
That’s it for the Singapore Chapter folks! Thank you all for following, checking in with me, and being involved. I’ll keep you updated on any new adventures.