Here we go again, one last hoorah before retirement. Hubby and I are about to embark on one final adventure in a career that has taken us throughout South-East Asia and all around Australia. Last week we flew overseas to a neighbouring country to see where our next and final posting is most likely to be for the next three years. The new company wanted us both to have a look around the area before making the final decision to sign the contract. We have seen some incredible places during our working lifetime, yet nothing before had quite prepared me for this. I can certainly say that being married to Mr B, for 32 years has never been boring. Life has taken us on a wonderful journey of adventure and cultural learning.
His first Expat job took him away to Indonesia for the duration of my third pregnancy. He departed when we had two point three children, yes I was just at the end of my first trimester with Alex, when he was asked to head to Jakarta and the Sumatran jungle. We made the joint decision that it was better for the boys and I to stay in Australia at that time. Our other two boys were only 2 and 5 years old. Mr B finally managed to returned to us just days before Alex was born.
A year later, the Expat bug had nibbled his feet again and I found myself with seven weeks to pack up our house before hubby returned to help me move the family to Pattaya, Thailand for two years. That was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The boys experienced growing up immersed in a fascinating culture while attending school in a multicultural melting pot of diversity. I was fortunate to pick up work teaching at the same International School which broadened my skills and knowledge to a level of experience I could never have discovered back home. We made many wonderful life-long friends along the way and made precious memories that will forever be in my heart and soul.
Since then, work has taken Mr B in and out of Indonesia. We both learnt to speak Bahasa Indonesia, He, while immersed in the culture, myself, during two years of intensive night classes which helped qualify me to then teach Indonesian language. after also completing my Grad Cert in ESL/LOTE. In the years since our travels through South-East Asia and study of this unique culture that is on our doorstep, I have written a chapter book set in Bali full of adventure, history, culture and language. After many revisions, I hope to finally publish it this year.
We've also had the opportunity to work all over Australia including Perth, Karratha and most recently two fabulous years in Darwin. Living in the Top End of Australia was akin to being an Expat. The tropical climate made it feel like Thailand again. The transient population of workers that flew in and flew out, or had short term contracts combined with the influx of tourists during the dry season all added to the vibrant and welcoming nature of the destination. We embraced the life-style, the people and the cultural diversity once again.
As I write this, I find myself at the beginning of the latest chapter of our expat journey. This should be our final chapter before settling down on our beautiful little country property just outside Canberra. Where am I? As I look out of my hotel window I see a beautiful blue bay surrounded by lush green mountains. Immediately below me in the foreground I can see and hear the busy work of construction as a city prepares four lane highways, lays down pipework, and re-seals existing roads. Cranes and trucks beep as they reverse busily erecting apartments and business centres. It is a city of massive growth and excitement. The new convention centre is well on the way to completion in time for the APEC summit in November. There is a buzz in the air as people go about their day to day business in a constantly developing nation. Yet, at any time of day, the nationals are happy to stop, say hello and have a chat.
It is a tropical climate once again, they are nearing the end of their wet season. by April there will be minimal rain then it will be dry until the rains start to arrive again in October.
The only downside I can see so far is the fact that I am used to walking at least 5 Km every day. This will not be possible here. With my fair hair and white skin I tend to stand out in a crowd somewhat, making it not advisable to walk the streets alone during the day or night. There is an element of danger that an Expat must be aware of at all times. While the people we have met so far have been so friendly, there are those on the streets that will take advantage. After all, this is a developing country, wages are minimal, poverty is everywhere. The gap between those that have a lot and those that have very little is quite obvious. Everywhere we have been taken, shopping centres, restaurants, apartment complexes, business buildings and hotel, have all been heavily guarded by armed security and gates. Hopefully as the country develops this will diminish as economic growth brings prosperity to the region.
Have I given you any clue as to where I am? Do you think you know?
We fly home tomorrow, then it's a waiting game. We wait for work visas, medical reports and Mr B has to be accredited as a member of the IEPNG, all before we will be permitted to return. All being well, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea will become our new home for the next three years. While Mr B will spend most of the time here, I plan to fly in/out, sharing my time here and home in Canberra. This Nanna can't miss out on the first three years of my new little grandson's life.
It should be an interesting few years, full of cultural learning and diversity once again, all of which we embrace with open hearts and minds.
Have you ever experienced life as an Expat? If so, let me know where and your thoughts on the experience in the comment section below.
If not, if you could work in another country, which one would you choose and why?