Tag Archives: #expatlife

It’s Good To Be Back

2018 on old taipa rooftop

It’s been 5 weeks since I moved from Zurich back to Macao…

My toes rejoice. Finally they are out in the open again as socks have become a distant memory. My senses pick up exotic scents finding their way into our living room from the Chinese and Korean restaurant kitchens downstairs. In our own kitchen, I’m becoming reacquainted with surprise visits from cockroaches, the size of small birds. Writing my second book on our couch, I listen to a soundtrack still oddly familiar. Loud Cantonese speaking voices shouting into cell phones, the sound of our next-door neighbour hawking and spitting in regular intervals, and the loud “Euuuuwwwwwww Euuuuwwwwww” of my favorite bird. I’ve never laid eyes on it, but it already Euuuuwwwwww’d to me when I lived on Kuredu Island in the Maldives. Now, here it is again, somewhere in the rustling, gnarly trees across the street, transporting me back home to another part of Asia and to memories of time well spent.

Then there is the ocean. Cafe-Latte-brown here in Macao. But only an hour away, in Hong Kong, it sparkles in myriad shades of blue. And then, there is the rain. The heavy, tropical kind, plummeting from the sky with such vigor, it makes it hard to distinguish individual droplets. When the clouds have exhausted themselves, the air is still thick with micro-droplets, the streets are steaming, and gutters are gurgling madly… whilst frogs and toads of all sizes hop along to after-rain parties somewhere in the bushes. I breathe deeply, smiling to myself. It’s good to be back.

New Beginnings

macau seen from ferry

Even though I have done it so often and relish the excitement of new beginnings, relocating is always difficult for me. This time around it’s more difficult than ever before. Over the last months, I’ve been maniacally busy tackling the bureaucracy on my side of the world for my wife and I. There was no time to think.

Now, with everything done, there is way too much time to think. I’ve arrived at my new home with ample time to rest and relax. Instead of being able to enjoy the moment, I rather feel lost and like tumbling down a pitch-black, miles-long rabbit hole. 

I know, I just got here. I need to trust the process and things will fall into place… but, my mind on worrier-speed is wondering, “What now?”

Over the last 3 years, I’ve built up a career as motivational speaker in Switzerland and parts of Europe. It was a role I grew into with all my heart. It felt good being there at the front, building bridges, promoting understanding, and sharing inspiring stories. Maybe my relocation will temporarily or permanently end this part of my author journey… Does it matter? Or will one door close while other doors and windows will open?

Life is an unpredictable adventure. I know and love that aspect of our existence. Yet, at the same time, I long for guarantees I know will never be forthcoming. So I find myself over-thinking and over-worrying here on my couch in the steaminess of Southeast Asia… with an exhausted head full of hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

Then, there is coming home to my beloved partner after 8 months of being apart. Getting to know each other anew. Trying hard to give her space while at the same time almost bursting with neediness. Finding growth and change, admiring who she has become, who she is still becoming… and aiming to realign our paths so there will continue to be room for our independence and personal development as well as for holding each others’ hands while ambling along life’s paths together. I am thinking of skipping ropes, dancing in the rain, running through puddles, and finding butterflies along wildly overgrown roads. Then, there is gazing into the distance together, knowing no matter how apocalyptic that sky might look at times, we can brave anything as long as we have each other.

I am taking deep breaths. Confused, scared, hoping, dreaming, and mostly feeling like a little boy in need of that loving hand reaching out… to envelop me in a warm embrace and tell me that – no matter what – things will be ok, because home is right here where my heart is. Home is here, where I belong.

Fast-Flowing River

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Most mornings over the last 3 years, my work days began like this: I would get up, have a strong coffee, then stumble out the door and walk down the hill from our house to this place, where I would be greeted with a beautiful view of the river Limmat. I would then proceed to walk along this stream for an hour towards the office at the center of town. I would breathe deeply, inhaling the refreshing scent of fast-flowing water, marvelling at lounging lizards, elegant grey herons, clumsy ducklings, bright green trees, and wildflower patches buzzing with bees. As always, being close to water made all the difference. Not a bad commute at all and the greatest possible start to a productive, cheerful day!

Thin Mattress With a View

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Time has been racing like a bullet train this month. Dissolving the rest of our household… cancelling all kinds of things like cable, phone, etc. etc. etc. … and multiple breakfasts, brunches, lunches, and dinners with friends and colleagues to catch up one more time before the big move.
Now, I am sitting in front of our large windows, enjoying the view over Zurich, the lake, and the Alps just one more time.
This also marks the end of three weeks sleeping on this rather thin and uncomfortable foam mattress. My bones and joints are looking forward to spending the next four nights on a friend’s couch. Just one more week of organization and goodbyes… then I’ll be off to join my family in Macao (and I’ll probably collapse on the bed and sleep for a month).

Home Is Where The Heart Is

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Last weekend, I visited the town I grew up in. It’s an idyllic place as you can see. Well, the old part of town is. The surrounding suburbs, on the other hand, are rather drab and depressing. Over the years, I am amazed to find I am never homesick. I miss nothing about this place, this community. Even though I made good memories here as well, they do not connect me with the geographical location, but rather with the people. And the two people who were most important to me – my grandma and my dad – are no longer there.

It’s amazing how this little town of 40’000 souls hasn’t changed at all during the last 25 years. All buildings and shops are still where they always were. The atmosphere is the same, the scents, the air, and the gossiping ladies who populate the benches and give all outsiders a thorough once-over. Even the plants in the park seem to be at precisely the same spot, in exactly the same size, sporting the same array of colors.

I only stayed one day, yet, like being caught in a vise, with every passing hour invisible walls seemed to steadily close in around me. When I was able to drive away in the evening, I breathed a deep sigh of relief, heading onwards, singing along with John Denver playing on the radio while passing through meandering valleys, wine yards, and forests, dreaming of wide open spaces, change, and new horizons.

Halfway Around The World

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Everything has come to a halt here during the last two months as I have prepared to send our cats halfway around the planet. All vaccinations and paperwork have been taken care of, three cargo boxes are at the ready, stuffed with an old blanket I’ve slept on for a month so I can travel with them in scent at least. The little pet house Fellini is peeking out of has become a favorite sleeping spot over the last few weeks. Now we’ll put one of these houses in each cat’s box and hopefully this will make them all feel a bit more safe. Last but not least, just now, I’ve administered some oily drops called “Well-Being Spot-On” which are supposed to give them a fuzzy feeling of “all’s well in the world”.
Now the time has come and, in two hours, Fellini, Nacho, and Pushka will be picked up and brought to Zurich airport. They’ll travel the first leg of their journey with Swiss (very fancy). Then, once they’ve arrived in Hong Kong, they’ll have to wait a day until the next morning to board a ferry to Macau.
Currently, they are all sleeping on their favorite cat tree, unawares of what will happen today. My whole heart will go with them. I’ll miss those little guys like crazy. Hopefully, they’ll recover fast from their long journey. It’ll surely help that Hanna’s loving and open arms will be waiting for them on the other side.

Blast from the Past

2007 dave and liam

Ahhh, this was 2007. I just received this picture a few days ago from my good friend Valerie, whose birthday we were celebrating that day. What a wonderful blast from the past. We all lived together on Kuredu Island in the Maldives, spending most of our time in the Indian Ocean either guiding or teaching scuba divers. I learned a lot then. About living closely together with a whole bunch of other people and accepting them just as they are… about life… about staying calm in emergencies… about enjoying the moment… about being there for each other no matter what… and about every little critter underneath those turquoise waves. These are friends and life lessons I will cherish forever.