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Week 8 & 9: Earning The Days

There's a scene towards the end of the movie Castaway where Tom Hanks is standing in a kitchen clicking a kitchen lighter on and off. He looks at the fire but doesn't say anything but you know he's thinking back to how hard he had to work every single time to start a fire when he was marooned on the island.

That's how it feels like here. Every day is not easy, every day feels earned. Not to say we don't have good or okay days, we definitely do but moving to a new country during lockdown really stretches you.

So this post is all about earnings those days.

A couple of major things have happened over the last couple of weeks. We're still in lockdown and they've extended it till the end of September. Daily case numbers are now consistently in the 1,000 range (200ish two weeks back).

The upside to that is that NSW is getting priority for the vaccines but we'll get to that later.

August is a major month in our calendar that rivals December (which has Christmas and New Year's) because it's Sarah's birthday month. Sarah absolutely loves her birthday so it's not just a one day celebration, it's an entire month of celebration just like the birth of Christ during Christmas season.

This is also officially the first year we're celebrating her birthday being away from family and friends. I think this is year eight of us celebrating her birthday and definitely the most challenging,. Typically the celebration back home is challenging but easy because friends are there, I know where to get stuff printed or made quite cheaply, and we have a home to host.

Here we had none of that. Plus we're in lockdown so Sarah and I are constantly within sight of the cosy one bedroom apartment so it was ridiculously difficult pulling everything together.

Thankfully everyone had the whole of last year to practice Zoom calls so we still managed to have a pretty decent celebration with friends and family through video calls. We even received cakes and other birthday deliveries sent to us throughout the month so that was fun.

Awesome ice cream cake from our SIL!

Plant babies from SG friends!

We also managed to find a staycation which by the way was damn near impossible to get because all the hotels are either shut during lockdown or only accepting essential travellers (i.e. Like I missed my flight so can I stay at this hotel). And you have to show proof that you're an essential traveller. So all hotels were struck off the list.

So I turn to Airbnb but because we're in lockdown, we can only travel 5km from where we live so that limits the number of Airbnbs we could consider. And the worst part about Airbnb is their cleaning and service fee which comes up to about the same price as the stay itself.

Next on the list were serviced apartments which were also difficult because of the 5km rule and normally serviced apartments are pretty functional so nothing too exciting. Despite all of that, we still managed to score a really good place that 1) Accepted leisure staycations; 2) Decent price; 3) Within 5KM radius; 4) Looks awesome.


All in all, it was a pretty successful birthday celebration. Stressful and probably the most difficult one yet but I think it's memorable enough especially since it's our first in Australia.

Earning those days indeed.

Because of how bad the cases are in Sydney (I think we're the worst hit Covid state right now), they've prioritised vaccination for us. Previously they made the AstraZeneca available to everyone. We could even go down to the pharmacy below our apartment blocks to get vaccinated but we said NO. Only because we preferred the Pfizer (Singaporean mentality).

Thankfully the government made announcement that our age group would be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine which previously was slated for an October timeframe but they've moved it forward to the last week of August.

So being the Singaporeans we are, the moment booking slots opened we were on it. I think Tuesday or Wednesday they opened bookings, we booked us in for our first dose on Sunday and Tuesday.

We staggered both our vaccinations after seeing almost everyone in Singapore get vaccinated just in case one of us has a bad reaction.

What a mess it was on Sunday with thousands of people flooding the mass vaccination centers, little social distancing, no temperature taking and the process took over two hours for Sarah to get vaccinated.

I'm only recalling her updates because I was having fast food somewhere nearby. I think it's times like this where you can really appreciate the Singapore government's mastery in getting these things done. The efficiency of getting a vaccine supply ahead of time and then distributing them crazy quick.

For reference, Singapore just hit 80% double dose. In Sydney, we've just crossed 65%+ single dose and 35%+ double dose. And Sydney is the most vaxxed state in Australia which means every other state has lower numbers than us.

Singapore 80% double dose. Sydney 65% single dose.


Oh, I got vaxxed yesterday as well but because mine was on a weekday I was in and out in like 30 minutes. Plus my vax center was in a lovely park. Plus there was a coffee stand outside the observation area which I got a free hot chocolate for being a good Sydneysider.

The only downside to this is that our second dose is in late October. I think they're trying to spread their supply to maximise first dose to as many people as possible. Would love to complain about that but single dose is better than no dose.

Earning those days.

The next major thing that's happening for us is moving into a new apartment. So the apartment comes unfurnished which means we have to get everything from scratch:

Bed, bed frame, TV, tv console, sofa, dining table, dining chairs, study table, study chair, lamps, cushions, floor mats.

Thankfully Sarah is a master deal hunter. Like seriously good. More on that later.

This is what our new place looks like. It sits on the sixth floor of the condo which is a transit level so there's a nice open garden space. Which also explains why we have a good sized backyard.

It does feel like this apartment was God sent because we've been doing house viewings for a couple of weeks now. And they've either been too small, too expensive, too far from train stations, tiny rooms, no supermarkets nearby. We even reached a point where we questioned if our criteria was realistic. One big requirement was that the house should have no carpet flooring which is extremely rare in Sydney for some reason. Like why does every house need to be carpeted?

So we randomly came across this one which was just across from our current 2B block. And it's super strange that this unit had been on the market for a few weeks and it's not been snapped up. And it's not even a rent issue because it's definitely on the cheaper side. So shoutout to God for this awesome space and sorry You have to keep bailing us out of difficult situations.

This has been a lot of our days just the two of us moving furniture on our little trolley which we named "Trolley". The image above is one of those bed in a box companies. That king bed weighs 60KG so it was like moving my own body weight.

Note to self that if I do kill anyone and need to move that body, it must be lighter than 60kg because moving this bed was extremely difficult.

Sarah also found this upcycled chest of drawers. Facebook Marketplace is a massive deal here and crazy prices. Like $50 for a dining set + four chairs. Or $20 for two lamps that would easily cost $50 to $70 each.

So everyday it's been hunting deals off Facebook marketplace, pick up using "Trolley", and moving them up to our new apartment.

Our car looks like this most days

"Trolley" in action

Thankfully we're both enjoying the process (and opportunity) to set up another space completely from scratch. Sarah loves scoring good deals and I love going to random places in Sydney to pick them up.

It's also an opportunity for us to try out new decorative styles such as this Samsung Serif which I semi-splurged on (No regrets). Look it up, it looks awesome online and is even more awesome in real life.

This is roughly where we're at. Almost everything in this photo was hunted down by Sarah for dirt cheap.

Other than getting our place furnished, we've been spending a lot of time bringing the house up to a liveable condition. Since it's been vacant for a few weeks, it's definitely not the cleanest space we've been to so the house has gone through several rounds of mopping, scrubbing, and deep cleaning.

I shudder just thinking of the layer of dirt under this washing machine. It was like a carpet.

All things considered, we're in great shape. We're both very excited to move over in the next couple of days and we already have most of our stuff in the new space.

Was it a ton of work? Yes. Was the cleaning horrible? Yes. Was it worth it?

$400 worth of things for $100. Proof of Sarah's good deal hunting.

200% yes. Today also marks the start of Spring and timely that we're moving into a new space at the start of a new season. Thanks to this new place, we have a lot to look forward to and should keep us occupied during the remainder of lockdown.

Setting up our new place definitely made the days feel earned. We're both exhausted most days from cleaning, looking up deals, or moving stuff but it feels damn good to see everything come together.

I've learnt that days earned aren't necessarily a bad thing. The challenges really highlight the different roles we each play and complement each other in this relationship. It's also a reminder that both of us together can take on difficult challenges. And more importantly, that we moved here to experience living and this is it.

We will always have Tiong Bahru and Singapore life to continue when we eventually return home but this is something we'll have for just a short time and I'm excited and thankful to have that opportunity.

So here's to more days earned and living life together.

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