The Rose Tinted Glasses

I waited three years to write this.

Anyone who read my earliest posts would not fail to notice my enthusiasm of moving to Perth. To be honest, I didn't realise it shone through that way until I started receiving emails from people who told me my content was a source of contagion that planted poisonous seeds in minds. Once the mind was tainted with the uncertainty that the well was indeed the only paradise, cracks began to surface in our ideal reality. I had been there, so I knew.

Similarly, a new environment could be warped reality in the early years. Due to my aging mind, I could not remember who told me that but what he said remained steadfast in my mind since. In a new environment, our five sense tingles twice as strong. Every difference in the new environment is picked up with unerring exactitude. I could still remember the first time I woke up to in a cold wet Spring morning in Perth. It felt like I had woken to a dream. When I meant dream, I didn't mean it in the sense it was all things perfect but how unreal it felt, as if I was still exploring a realistic realm in my sleep. The crow cawed ominously and soulfully, way louder than the crows back in Singapore. I made my way outside Joanna's house and got a few whiffs of the most amazing air. I was shrouded with a cloudless clear blue sky, without a single building breaking the scene. I took a few moments to figure out why I felt so unaccustomed to my environment.  Nothing moved. That was the key. No walking humans, no cars past by. Other than birds well hidden in the trees giving a odd chirp now and then, it felt like I was looking at a picture.

I like the place. So the next move was to figure out a way to survive here as long as I could. To me, that was how simple the idea of migration was to me. No complication equations, balances or researches. So the wiseman told me, the rose-tinted glasses will fade within three years. It would be then I will begin to smell the decay of society like the previous one I came from. Perhaps by then, I will even conclude home is still the better place for me. I can see the wisdom in his claim in the people that I met, mostly Singaporeans who moved to Perth for four years or longer, moaning ceremoniously how Australia isn't as good as before.

I don't need to stay here for four or six years to find out which is a better place for me. I'm dense but not that dense. Moreover, I reminded myself that Singapore has been changing as rapidly as Perth while I was away. Sure, the respective changes in both countries can flip poles and it's worth keeping eyes open. Else it would be both foolish and irrelevant to compare the Australia of today to Singapore of the distant past. Our first sports millionaire Fandi Ahmad found that out the hard way but was smart enough to decide to move elsewhere to relive his kampong days. Meanwhile, many of our overseas Singaporeans began to wonder if their previous cushy government job many years ago is worth a big trip back. Interestingly, for all the moaning, very few of them are brave enough to return home. Why not, since the streets are laced with gold and untold riches and cheap maids await us? I'll just leave this here for you to think about it.

Recently Chris the scrap metal man turned up to collect our bins. He shook my hands warmly and told me how bad things were at the current state. Apparently that was the "worst Australia in 39 years." On my way back I thought over what Chris said, which was kind of in sync with what the other old fart Singaporeans were harping about. In fact, I found myself telling some newbie migrant that Perth was "better" when I moved here three years ago and spotted a hint of what-the-hell-this-old-fart-is-harping-about, this-is-good look on their faces. It was obvious enough to me that since times are never going to get better, whichever year we make the move will always be the best year. Of course, our best year will never compare to the best of the older farts but like I said, it is meaningless compare two different realities and time zones.

Back to the wise guy and his fading rose tinted glasses theory. There is definitely some truth in it. I could see myself telling myself occasionally how I felt like replacing Goldilocks with a Honda CRV and how the place I am living is too small. I also explore the place less. It takes a while for appreciation to fade into contentment then taking things for granted and eventually discontentment. It is too easy to fall into the trap of forgetting I am easily living a life better than 90% of the world population, worst year in Australia for 39 years or otherwise. I don't have to go into details what I am having here. It is amazing as it can be, for the relatively low price I am willing to pay at the moment. At the moment, the glass remains as rosy as before as I bid my time for bigger things to come. I'll do another round of reflection in another 3 years perhaps.


  1. Nice blog!!!! Rose tinted glasses does make you feel like you've living in a dream.

    I wasn't so enthusiastic about moving to Perth maybe because I didn't own such a pair of glasses.

  2. It's good that you sound optimistic even though this is the worst ever year for Australia. It was pretty good 6 years ago. I do not regret making the move to Perth as it's an excellent lifetime experience living in the "Ang-Mo" country. In the end, I started to appreciate things that we had in Singapore.
    Good luck to you!

  3. If rose tinted glasses make you feel like you are living in dream, would blinkers make you think like you are not living in a nightmare?

  4. Please don't forget to finish off your Singapore Revisited Logs 5.10, 5.11, 5.13, 5.14, and 5.15.

  5. Hello there,

    Hopefully I'm not an "old fart", but I did have a chat with you a while ago. Anyway, after 10 years in Melbourne I've returned to Singapore.

    Yes, you know you've become a local when you start complaining about Australia. Just to share, in Melbourne and Sydney conditions have deterioriated greatly in the past 5 years, the influx of PRC money has pushed everything up. Huge social issues, Islamism (e.g. recent Sydney hostage crisis).

    The carefree, relaxed lifestyle you describe in this blog is slowly fading away over there.

    Perth is still holding out, partly due to its isolated location and small-town culture, but the tradeoff is dependence on the resource industry.

    I think most posters will be amused, but I returned because I'm not confident the Australian government can solve the current issues. The "old farts" grumble because they can see the contrast. Those around during the Howard years know there was a real "can-do" Aussie spirit back then. These days projected deficits are touching 100 billion and there is no real plan.

    I think that because it is a more "classist" society, one's perception of Singapore will depend on one's circumstances. Anyway I've planned my career so I don't directly compete with foreigners (in fact companies now treat me as an FT), so work life isn't too bad here. And to be honest, the stressful work environment aside, life seems pretty good for the majority of middle-class Singaporeans too, judging from the crowds at Din Tai Fung over the weekend.

    I think Donald Kwok's comments are very true, after 10 years in Australia I definitely appreciate a lot more things about Singapore now. The funny thing is that I come into contact with a lot of expat Aussies who chose to come over (since we are head office for Asia-Pac) and it's interesting seeing the other side of things.

    Wishing you all the best, hope you will continue to monitor the current situation and leave all options open.

    Cheers Melbourne

  6. "So the wiseman told me, the rose-tinted glasses will fade within three years."
    "Back to the wise guy and his fading rose tinted glasses theory."

    I can tell you why the rose tint fades from your glasses with the passage of time, it is because you quickly forget all the negative memories and experiences, you forgot all the reasons why you left SG in the first place. I have seen this first hand and have also experienced it first hand.

  7. I beg to differ

    Australia was quite bad for years in 1990s, property prices barely increase for many years, until late 1990s.

    I even recalled there is a big hole in the ground for 6 years where the world square is in CBD Sydney near china town undeveloped