“We feel really safe with each other”

Cathy Philipp from New Zealand & Tam (Australia), Vicki (Australia), Tania (UK), Jenny (Australia), Franca (Australia)

Below left: Tania Raynsford, Jenny Ross, Tam Hewson, Vicki Dourios, Cathy Philipp and Franca Pupillo

“Tam, Tania, Vicki and I met at an ANZA Ladies Night event in February 2019. We just all really clicked, so we swapped numbers. Tam invited Jenny and Franca joined us shortly
after that.

My life as an expat in Singapore has been greatly enriched by our friendship because we have shared so many fun times together: ANZA day and night walks, boot camps, dancing, looking for crocodiles in Sungei Buloh, meals and drinks in and out, spa days, boat trips – the list goes on!

We are very different people in some ways, but we all share a similar sense of humour and similar values. Franca, Jenny and I are naturally quieter, while Vicki and Tam are more extroverted. Tania keeps everyone very well organised, and we all have strong opinions which makes for interesting chats!

We also feel really safe with each other which is important, especially when you live away from home. We can say anything and share whatever’s going on for us, knowing that we’ve got each other’s backs. We’ve all been through our ups and downs in Singapore, especially during Covid. For example, when my mother died and I was stuck in a quarantine hotel in New Zealand for two weeks, Zoom (with wine!) calls, texts and phone calls from these lovelies saved my sanity and brought us closer. As restrictions slowly eased we started a Friday lunch tradition where we would go to one another’s houses for lunch that often lasted until 9 or 10pm! We themed the lunches to keep them interesting: 70s party, Irish, Greek, Autumn, Blue, and so on. We’d wear themed outfits, and prepare themed food and decorations to keep our spirits up.

I think friendships as an expat can develop at a quicker pace because practically no-one has extended family or long-term friends here. You instantly have this fact in common. The downside to being able to form such strong relationships is that people move on, which is heartbreaking, but then you have friends for life spread across the world, which is a great thing in itself.

Tam and I, as the only ones in the group left in Singapore, still catch up regularly. We all have a WhatsApp group which we use regularly to chat and post photos, stupid jokes and memes, and we catch up by Zoom when we can make the time zones work.

I want to thank my beautiful friends for coming into my life and for making my time on this little red dot so much more enjoyable. Thank you for all the laughter, support, tears, colourful (and sometimes indignant) conversations, and fabulous experiences together. You are all so incredibly special to me and I love you to bits.”

“We will be mates for life”

Jock Hughson from Australia & Peter Missingham from New Zealand

From left: Raoul Berthillon, Peter Missingham, Jock Hughson and Steve Davidson

“Pete and I met in Singapore at the same time as a few other blokes of about the same age, pretty soon after I arrived on the island four and a half years ago. We all loved ANZA Cycling and riding and travelling with our bikes for races in the region or further overseas. When the pandemic hit soon after we met, we all kept each other sane with a lot of bike rides, often followed by a few convivial ales!

Many of the blokes including Pete left during Covid but the friendships have endured. We still enjoy catching up in various parts of the world to have a ride and a beer. We stay in touch on a chat named ‘Castros Cigar Club’! Pete and the other mates I’ve made through ANZA will be mates forever; having that strong social connection with cycling made life interesting in Singapore.”