In my alternate Parallel World without COVID-19

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Today is Day 70, since I’ve returned from New Zealand (yes, I’m still whining) and over the past few days, I had a look at the To-do list which I’ve compiled back in Dec 2019, in preparation of coming home early as I had some issues with my visa extension back then. It was a list to kind of comfort me in case I really had to leave New Zealand early.

Well, now that I’m back in Singapore, the list has deemed to be kind of useless as COVID-19 has stalled most of my could-be plans. I couldn’t even call them plans as there were just mere thoughts in my head. Sighs. This is a random post and I just thought perhaps by penning these thoughts somewhere, I could move on with my life better. Things will never be the same and I (and perhaps everyone else) should not expect things to be normal. There’s no normal anymore. Everything that has happened, and will happen will be unprecedented (Yes, this is the word of the year).

Unprecedented: adjective never done or known before

In my alternate parallel world which would never exist, I was supposed to be able to go for 1 or perhaps 2 more trips before I start on my full-time job search.

Travel

Plan A was to drop by Melbourne on my way back. It would kind of be like a stopover and I’ll spend a decent amount of money cafe hopping and soaking in the vibes of the city. I kind of know people there so things wouldn’t be bad even if I was alone. I’ve never been to Melbourne and I would have visited the Great Ocean Road (and compared it to the west coast of New Zealand). It would make me miss New Zealand, but it would also make me appreciate the time I had there. However, I would most likely be on travel fatigue as I had been traveling non-stop since February. The pace of the trip would be slow and the pace of city life would slowly adjust me back to the pace of life in Singapore.

Plan B. Assuming my friend had received a particular job offer (from Hong Kong), we were supposed to go for a trip to Fiji or some islands, before we both go home for good. Sadly, her potential job dropped the hiring (after 2 rounds of interview) as the industry was heavily affected by COVID-19. There wasn’t anything left to celebrate PLUS the travel restrictions were increasing exponentially in the month of March and travel planning would have been a terrible choice.

Plan C. As I paid for my return ticket home, instead of redeeming my miles, I still had enough miles to redeem a one-way ticket to Germany. I had thoughts of spending 2 weeks in Singapore and then fly off to Germany for about a month or so, figuring out if I could make a living via the nomad lifestyle and spend some time in Europe traveling. I haven’t been back since my grad trip in 2012 and there are a lot of places on my list to visit (especially Switzerland). Europe, shelved, till I have no idea when.

Plan D. There were plans of going for a trip sometime in April/May – as there were a lot of public holidays which could be extended to ‘long weekends’. Let’s count how many we have ‘missed’ during these 70 days. (10 April – Good Friday; 1 May – Labour Day; 7 May – Vesak Day; 25 May – Hari Raya Puasa observed). That’s 36% of public holidays (we only have 11 in my country) wasted because of COVID-19. If things could perhaps be a little better, can I go for a ski trip to Korea or Japan this winter? I need to make more utility of my snow jacket and ski pants. Pretty Please.

Social Life

That’s it for ‘vacations’, now let’s move on to the ‘live events’ that had been cancelled or postponed. Not mine, but the long list of weddings from my dear friends. There were invitations for attending 2 weddings in May and 4 more in June. I think I have 3 more across the year but seems like most of them are going to be postponed till.. God knows when. All large scale events are postponed indefinitely. Good for my very shallow pockets, but it’s still a sooner or later thing. Hopefully, I’ll have an income by the time I have to wrap these red packets..

I’m not lying but it is true that I’ve drifted from a couple of my friends since I have not met them for.. a year (or more). I don’t know if its me or them, but I haven’t been doing much video calls since NZ, and even now. Somehow, my friends and I do not find comfort in looking at faces through screens. I’ve always been a texter my life and I guess maybe that’s why not many people bother to arrange video calls with me. I also do have friends who I only have conversations after we meet up face to face. We don’t text or catch up on a day-to-day basis but when we meet, the conversations can go on.. forever. This pandemic is killing my social life. But of course, we all have to adapt to the situation(s) right? Let’s see if adapting comes first or fading relationships wins. How many more months must this go on for?

Well, I can’t be totally upset about this. I did have 5 days of freedom (after my self-isolation and before the start of Circuit Breaker). I met (and have meals outside) with a total of 5 people. I had dim sum in town, explored a new shopping mall, ate mala xiangguo at the coffee shop, and visited this hawker center to eat BBQ chicken wings and oyster egg. I also had sushi and my favourite brand of Bubble Tea during that 5 days but it also came with an expensive lesson where I got a traffic fine plus suffered food poisoning/stomach flu for the first week of the lockdown. My mum went a little paranoid and insisted I visited the doctor even though all the symptoms I had were an obvious case of stomach upset (and not COVID-19) but oh wells, that medical bill was painful.

The sad thing was that I also had to cancel meeting plans with friends, because of the abrupt announcement of Circuit Breaker which started since April 7. It definitely sucks to make plans and then have it unfulfilled. If only I didn’t make those plans, I would have felt a little better.

You know what I really miss? Watching movies in theaters and going for KTV sessions T_T

Outdoor Exploration

I was such an outdoor person when I was in NZ. I’m not saying that I’m sporty or whatsoever but basically I just like.. to get out of the house. Now that I look back, I think I spent less than 10% of my off days stuck at home. Whether it was buying groceries, going out for coffee, walking tracks or just visiting a friend’s place, I just.. refuse to stay at home (in NZ). The weather was not humid and I could walk for hours without complaining. I was attempting to recreate this outdoor life in Singapore. I had thoughts of re-visiting the southern islands, going to Pulau Ubin and also complete the Matrichie Treetop Walk which I’ve not yet attempted. I thought that I could keep up and maintain the active lifestyle here in Singapore but.. none of these could be done (at least for the past 71 days). Although we can still get out of the house for our daily exercise, I find wearing mask super annoying and I don’t like to run (or do vigorous exercise) so I do feel like I am in not position to take off my mask. I know it may sound like excuses to you but.. I’ve been leading a lazy and sedentary lifestyle. Give me back my outdoors and I’ll find less excuses to have a life.

Unemployment Life

My unemployment life wouldn’t have felt that sad if COVID-19 did not happen. There are times that I enjoy the time and freedom to explore new things that I always wanted but never had time for (like coding, analytics and trying to make money from the internet), but there are also times where I question myself how much longer this ‘gap’ in my resume would last. In my alternate life in the parallel universe, I was planning to give myself 3 months to be picky in my Job Search. This meant that I would not apply to anything and everything. There were certain industries which were my preferred choices and some industries were on my strike off list. Sighs. The job market is so bad right now that I think that there are so much more people in desperate need for a job, compared to myself.

Someone did tell me that I’m not as worse off compared to the people who had been retrenched or misplaced due to the dynamics of this weird functioning economy. That’s because I didn’t have a job to begin with, thus I did not lose anything. I had been on voluntary unemployment for the past year and was just unfortunate that I had to be job searching at the wrong timing. However, those people who have lost their jobs because they were in the wrong industry and the wrong timing (hospitality, events, tourism, retail), they were probably shocked at the sudden changes and the impact to their life would have been a lot greater than mine. As much as I feel bad about myself, I’m.. not that bad after all. At least I do not have rent or mortgage to pay which makes me kind of less desperate in this area.

When I first came back from NZ, I was aggressively applying for part-time jobs because I just wanted to get out of the house and earning something is still better than earning nothing. One month into the search, I did not get much replies and I gradually realised that I could have spent my free time more meaningful – like learning the things that I now had the time for. I don’t know how long this enthusiasm would last but I just hope I feel more positive in this area as learning is a long-term investment.

Oh, and in my alternate life, I would have been driving GrabHitch to earn some keep. Sadly, the demand for rides has fallen significantly since most of the population is working from home. There goes another income bubble. Pop.

Food

I have a list of >20 food to eat in my list but I think I’ve only strike off about 8 so far. I know that takeaways are still available but some food just needs to be eaten fresh. Like salmon sashimi, like korean stew, korean BBQ and hotpot. I also miss drinking drinks the moment you buy them. With the compulsory wearing of mask, we can no longer eat and drink in public. I will have to deal with diluted icy drinks, not very hot food and it kind of sucks =( I haven’t drunk draft beer in ages or have a proper cup of latte with latte art. There are so many things I miss but all I can do is whine and pray for this to be over.

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Thanks for reading my rant. Times are hard and we are all just trying to keep our sanity right? Hopefully, there wouldn’t be a need for me to write a Part 2 for this series.

Stay Safe and Stay Sane; wherever you are.

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