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Fresh off the boat: Newbie Sam Neale on hawker food and top night spots in Singapore

Name: Sam Neale

Age: 27

Job: Financial Controller

When did you move to Singapore?

February, I feel very much like a newbie.

Reminiscing about the cold 

Why?
My wife was offered an amazing job here, so I clung on to her coattails. Thankfully, my employer found me a spot in their Singapore team so everything worked out perfectly.  It’s a great chance to experience something different.

Had you spent much time in Singapore before moving here permanently?
My only experience of Asia as a whole was a pre-planned week’s holiday to see friends in Singapore last November, but the holiday turned into a job interview with the CFO of Asia! Then, one day later, my wife decided to pop into her company’s Singapore office to get some work done! Not quite what we had in mind when we booked it…

Where do you live?
We spent the first few months living with some friends in Holland Village – which is a great spot – then we moved into a new condo in Novena.

Why that area?
It was the condo as opposed to Novena itself. Nothing in Singapore is ever too far away, so having a nice place to live is paramount compared to being on a particular road or in a certain area.  Also, having two MRT stations close by is important as both me and my wife work in the CBD.

What do you like most about the condo?
The fact that it’s a duplex. I love walking upstairs to bed. Also, with the condo being a new build, we’ve been treated to lots of little gadgets by the developer.  A wine-chiller and coffee machine built into the wall in my living room is my hangover yin and yang.

Do you get stuck into the local Hawker food?
Definitely. My office is very close to Golden Shoe at Market Street, but I still go with my local friend as I’m not brave enough to choose on my own!  And you can’t beat chicken rice and curry sauce after a night out – perfect!

What’s your favourite place for a night out?
At the weekend I seem to end up in Boat Quay or Club Street, but I prefer a few drinks off the beaten track. For easy dinners and good, reasonably priced food, you can’t beat Arab Street. Blue Jazz is always a good bar to have a drink with friends, and Chijmes feels like you’re a million miles away from the skyscrapers of the CBD.

Joined any clubs or societies yet?
A football team called British Hotspurs. I went to watch initially, and was staggered to see 15 robust Brits running around in an illuminous pink kit! It looked more like a really bad cheerleader audition. However, they’re a really good bunch of guys and have definitely helped me and my wife settle in Singapore.

What has been the biggest culture shock about moving to Asia?
The general friendliness of the people, which is an eye-opener when you come from London! From the guy in the Seven Eleven to the taxi driver in the morning, everyone is extremely welcoming and refreshingly polite.

What do you miss most about home?
I miss feeling cold. I can’t believe I’m saying that when I come from a country that has a three-day summer!

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