Meeting Albert

"Meeting Albert" will be my most important post so far in this new year. Who is Albert and why is he important? You see, we meet many people along the course of our lives. There are some who may have such a profound influence over your life that you can ever imagine. Such a person doesn't have to be a mentor or a friend. In fact, the person who made me, one of the most ordinary, unsavvy Singaporean on the street, to do the unthinkable - moving out of Singapore to live in a faraway strange land, was somebody I had never met. He was all but a mere a name on the internet. Till today, I don't know his real name. I will never do. He is of course, the Knight of Pentacles, the author of Singapore Serf. KOP was the inspiration that planted the first seed of possibility of exploring life outside the 9-5 (or 9-9 in my case) of Singapore in my mind on a nasty Winter night in 2007. To me, he is the legend. All he did was to pen words but those words changed my life forever.

I would not say KOP was the full driving force behind my migration story. A person, an experience, a tale, a quote or just an idea can serve as the last straw on the camel's back, the milligram that tip the balance or the last micro Newton that reverse the moment. 

I am not certain if Albert's living story will influence me enough to make another gargantuan turn in my life. What it did so far was to remind me that the vision in my mind was not an illusion but a realistic possibility. What makes it scary is not that his reality is within my horizon, separated by just a wide ditch that can be negotiated by building a bridge. It is not about the ambiguity beyond that limited view I can peer from where I stand. The terrifying part does not even come from the colossal effort to build that bridge - but from crossing it. For it may be a route of no return, as it represents a lifetime of devotion to a personal definition of life, like a man choosing to walk a path of seclusion as a monk for the rest of his life.

Coincidentally, like KOP, Albert blogged as well. All three of us blogged about our lives in Perth. What is noteworthy from our respective accounts is the contrast of our lifestyles in Perth, which anneal my claim that Australia (or anywhere outside Singapore in fact) offers you a diversity of options to live your life differently if we dare to try should the (arguably) smooth sailing cushy lifestyle in Singapore isn't quite your cup of tea. The vexing part is you will need to do it to know it but there will not be any warranty cards that comes along nor any return-policy whatsoever. Behind that mysterious veil of fog at the far and beyond, an attempt to walk through it is both jeopardous and thrilling. That thrill.... How do I explain that? That sensation is what reminded me that there is a distinction between me and a walking zombie or a creaky cog in the flawless machine. The thrill is worth the peril, for that is how life is worth living for.

Albert may very well be the only Singaporean (or among the rare few) living 70 km Northeast from the City of Perth. At least, he told us he was the only Asian in his entire town. There was his remarkable den on the hill, remarkably built based on sustainability concepts on a 4 acres piece of land. How does 4 acres measures up? "Toa Payoh Stadium," came Albert's simple reply. We can drive across the sleepy town of Bakers Hill multiple times but no one will ever imagine a Singaporean living among a modest population of 1100 over 80 km² (that's 1/10 of Singapore's land area) How the heck did Albert end up living in a remote place on a big piece of land (Singaporean standard)? I guessed, by not knowing any Singaporean when in his early days. For a frightened migrant, after receiving the typical 101 lessons from your fellow countrymen, you'll simply end up living in Canningvale. You would think that Singaporeans that manage to convince themselves to leave Singapore would be more open minded. Most often than not, they simply relive their Singapore life v1.10 in Perth. Thus, meeting Albert was a fresh breath of mint.

Although he might appear nonchalant with the project he was undertaking, it was obvious to me he oozed passion. It takes a man to understand a man. From a woman's point of view, the obsessions of a man seemed totally useless, such as manga, figurines, toys and computer games (in my case) but this is a sign of man who is unlikely to give up his passion once it gets into his radar because of his obsessive nature. As if years of being fixated with silly hobbies were training preparation for taking up a quest so tremendously challenging that only the most obsessive kind will persist through it. I told Jo this type of project requires a generation worth of work to complete. A lifetime of commitment.

Through the final months of 2014, I had stopped blogging because I felt restless and lost, as if there was nothing left to say. Like how Captain S put it, roads were traveled, fruits were plucked and tough cars were muddied, what's there left to tell you? Living on an acreage is another thing altogether. One of the first songs I sang to myself when I did my first deliveries was "Home on the range."

Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Oh these lyrics were too bloody good. Even if I could afford an acreage, there isn't a chance in hell I can get a roaming buffalo with a couple of deer and antelope darting around behind the bush. I would be lucky not to get a swear word from a bogan on bike, let alone encouragement. I'll get a clear blue sky alright, and Summer flies. Close enough. Such dangerous thoughts are enough to stir up little bouts of hateful excitement somewhere inside.

So dangerous, so dangerous.


  1. I don't mind living on the acreage myself but I realised that keeping a property is harder work than most SG can cope with, and therefore I am quite happy to drop in on friends hobby farms or staying in b&bs in the countryside which is more economical and practical for a city folk like myself

  2. Living in the rural is NOT impractical. Let's not start that all over again.

  3. Am i an inspiration with my satki black vios too???

    - Your satki friend, Yoda

    1. Definitely. That's why I will never attempt to drive one until I reach your level of satkiness

  4. If you do take the plunge, I think Albany will grow up very differently.

  5. Hi asingaporeanson. Love reading your blogs as well that of neurotic ramblers. My family of 4 is seriously considering a migration plan to Oz. Would be be glad if we can take this offline. My email: Hope to hear from you soon.

    1. ok tell me when you are coming to Perth. I'll meet you for lunch.