The odd lifers are back! We took a break from blogging at the end of September in Thailand and headed to Batam, Indonesia for a couple of weeks to reevaluate our options. We knew we needed to head back to Singapore after 7 months of shuttling about South East Asia. What came out of this was nothing short of a miracle. More on that later!
As we review 2022, we would like to first thank our readers so much for reading, sharing and following our odd lives. Back in January 2018 we started this blog as a way to…
‘…connect with our inner selves and with the readers out here. We believe many new adventures await our little family and we hope to be able to capture those precious moments here…The dream has always been to be with our children, live the (penniless) life of an artist and stay-home parent. But I guess being a blogger & shoe designer (that actually earns bucks) isn’t that bad too haha!” (Our first post - 9th January 2018)
It is mind-blowing that 4 years later we REALLY did have a whole load of new adventures and many precious moments recorded here. Apart from the exciting travel bits, I think the blog best captured the paradoxes of our odd lives. We’ve had to contend with stability vs change as well as individuality vs conformity. These challenges have profound ramifications on our lives.
The first quarter
We started 2022 in a very very dark place. It was only two weeks ago that we interred my dad’s ashes at the columbarium. We trudged along as most people do after a couple of days of “compassionate leave”. It became more and more difficult to live life as per normal. We knew we had to make a choice if we wanted to give ourselves space and time to grieve.
That space and time is costly. We fought that perennial conflict between stability and change by drawing out spreadsheets, looking at our bank accounts and evaluated every possible option possible. In the end, we did something very odd. We did something that would attract frowns and shocked faces. We said goodbye to our home. On top of making sure our finances worked we had to choose between our individual needs and conforming to a societally accepted brand of being responsible. We held on to our car thinking we could just travel around Malaysia and Thailand for 3 months before making further plans.
The second quarter
For 3 months we shuttled between Singapore and Malaysia. It was safe, comfortable and familiar. Every single one of the 7000km was liberating. We caught up on sleep, time together and got into the rhythm of living off our tiny car boot. The Grand Tour rekindled my love for photography, writing and blogging. Debra picked up her pen and started drawing for pleasure again. It was so strange that the supposed instability brought so much solace and stability to our souls.
The third quarter
In classic odd lifer fashion, we decided to continue our grand tour. We said goodbye to our car and flew to Vietnam. We were now officially living out of two cabin sized suitcases, homeschooling, travelling and blogging. For 6 weeks we saw the most incredible mountains, experienced the craziest traffic and came out with the most ridiculous idea.
Debra and I wanted to publish our own books. We needed time and less moving about to get that done. For one month, we worked out the massively daunting process of putting our ideas on paper. We managed to get 'Ravi and Kitty’ out while we stayed put in KL for a month.
The fourth quarter
We had enough of the city and took a much needed breather in Phuket. This was where “The Aroma of his coffee” was completed. By this point we have travelled for more than 6 months. We were once again faced with the dilemma of choosing between some form of stability or the constant flux of roaming. In the couple of weeks in Batam, we reevaluated our lives. 7 months of travel, grieving and engaging our passions did tremendous things for us. We found that this life of growing with our kids, roaming and honing our craft is what brings us great joy. We scoured the internet for opportunities. How can we marry all of these and keep going?
Debra: “Why don’t you go back to school?”
Vincent: “Me? Back to school?!”
My first thought was “that doesn’t make any sense!”
On second thought, it made all the sense in our odd little world. A Master’s Degree would help me hone my craft. We will be able to continue roaming, homeschooling and growing with the kids. It would give us an opportunity to live abroad longer term and continuously do so after graduation. And so the odd life continues.
How do we sum up 2022?
Annus horribilis or mirabilis? I would say it is both!
Out of the deep sorrow, darkness and instability came miracles. We would never have expected ourselves to have these marvellous adventures and experiences. It is even more mind-blowing that in the midst of our grief, we produced books and art we would have never dared to dream of creating. If you told me in January that in December we would be heading to the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future, I would probably scoff. These precious things we acknowledge are ours to hold only by the grace of God.
What’s up ahead?
We should already be on our 14.5 hour flight to London when you read this. It is mind-blowing that this year, the Christmas songs about warm fires and cold weather will finally make sense.
The blog will continue to be an integral part of our lives. We will fill you in with our adventures in London very soon! We'll take our time and roam before heading to our long term abode near the University outside of London. We will continue to capture the precious moments and adventures of our odd lives. Hang around www.hirojack.com as we continue to share our stories, art and books with you!
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.
Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org