There are certain times of the year, living in an expat community, when the entire camp seems to empty out. Christmas is one of those times, along with Hari Raya (almost a week’s worth of public holidays), and summer. For the past two Christmas holidays we have remained in Brunei – last year because we had booked a skiing holiday in January (plus I was pregnant and still very morning sick – I didn’t do any skiing either), and this year because my husband has used all of his holidays up. About a week before the schools break up the exodus begins, reaching a peak as the schools finish and then there is a final emptying out the weekend before Christmas.
It suddenly becomes very quiet. The clubs started ending their activities at the beginning of December, we had a frantic time meeting friends (many of whom are teachers) before they went away, and now there is nothing much in my calendar until January. With just myself and the baby in the house during the week, the days can get a little repetitive if I’m not careful.
Being quiet does have it’s advantages: those few who remain behind tend to build up a sense of camaraderie, and it can be a great opportunity to get to know someone you haven’t had chance to see much of – when you bump into them in the empty camp you have the free time to invite them out for a coffee; the swimming pool is lovely and peaceful – a great time to take my son for his first few sessions; you can get all the things done that you just haven’t had time to do, kind of like a spring clean; and sometimes it’s just nice to have some time to yourself, without feeling as though you’re missing out or should be doing something else. Because sooner rather than later it will all be over, everyone will come flooding back and the activities will start back up. Before we know it summer will be here!