Passionately curious

An enriched life is one that embraces adventure and curiosity.

I was 41 days old when I travelled on a plane for the first time. Is that when the seed for my wanderlust was planted? You might say that.

Born in multicultural and multilingual Singapore, my upbringing not only shaped who I’m but also triggered my interest in cultural heritage from an early age.

My parents love travelling and took me with them on their journeys throughout all of Asia. It was not surprising that they both became expats. My father worked in the media industry in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. My mother studied fashion design and worked as a tour guide in Tokyo. During my school holidays, I spent weeks with them and experienced everyday life in China and Japan.

This unique experience gave me a better understanding of the world and taught me to keep an open mind. I’ve a bucket full of curiosity and love trying out new things.

Off to the Netherlands

Having read many children’s books set around the world, I was intrigued by what it would be like to live in western culture. My wish came true when I immigrated to the Netherlands with my mother. What a switch – from the vibrant global city of Singapore to the small, rural town of Goes.

Fortunately, I hardly had any culture shock. Within a year, I spoke Dutch and savoured typical hearty Dutch food like haring, Dutch pea soup and stroopwafel. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the Zeeland landscape and Dutch holidays such as Sinterklaas and Queen’s Day (now King’s Day).

A backpack well-stocked with experiences

When it came time to choose a career path, I decided to work for multinational companies in the financial and energy industries. What better way to learn about other customs and traditions than from colleagues with different cultural backgrounds? I had so many fascinating conversations about cultural etiquette and differences – napping at work in Japan, no cappuccino after a meal in Italy and having business meetings in a sauna in Finland to name a few.

Growing up in both eastern and western cultures has provided me with valuable insights when it comes to bridging cultural gaps. After years of socialising with people from diverse backgrounds, making expatriates arriving in Rotterdam feel at ease comes naturally to me. Working across cultures for the past 20 years has been a truly enriching experience.

A couple of years ago I set out to create a simpler, slower and more intentional life for myself. Having a slow living mindset has definitely made my life more meaningful. It helps me to make conscious choices and prioritise what’s important for me. Slow travel, stremming from the slow living movement, has had such a positive impact on my last few trips. Not only do I return home rested and revitalised – no jam-packed travel itineraries – I truly get to know the people, culture and the nature of each destination better.

As an expat buddy and travel designer, I’m fortunate to be able to draw upon my experiences and the knowledge to help my clients. Working together, we’ll bring your relocation and travel plans into reality.

What makes me the perfect support?

So you’re going to become an expat and move to the Netherlands on your own, or you’re planning your dream holiday to America, Canada, Japan or Singapore. Being curious will lead you into unknown territory and provide a chance to explore something new, discover different possibilities and gain strength, experience and wisdom. How exciting!

At the same time, planning an international relocation or a trip can be a daunting and overwhelming task. If only you could focus solely on the pleasant parts of your plans and not let stress steal your joy. That’s where I come in.

As a Cross Cultural Kid (“banana”), I’ve experienced first-hand how important it’s to make a transition as smooth as possible.

When expats have difficulty adjusting to their host country, this directly impacts their well-being, productivity and engagement at work. Without proper support, it’ll be more taxing for a newly arrived expat to cope with daily challenges in a new environment whilst starting a new job at the same time.

Generally, extensive support is strongly needed during the initial phase of the relocation. However, questions continue to come up, or expat blues kick in before you’ve a local support system in place. As it will take at least half a year to feel settled in your new life, I can provide ongoing support to ensure that you transition from expat living to foreign local.

As an expat from the UK I knew little about Rotterdam, such as good areas to rent and those to avoid. Within a short period of time Ling had identified a number of good properties that matched my needs. She attended a house viewing with me and communicated with the landlord on my behalf, which really eased the process a lot. I'm now happily residing in a family house and I couldn't have done it without Ling's help.

Scott Petrie

Planning a road trip, especially to a region that’s completely new to you, takes a lot of time and effort. When you’ve 101 things to do, spending hours on travel research leaves you confused and exhausted. There is too much information and too many choices. Sure, creating a Pinterest board full of gorgeous travel photos is fun, but when you start trying to figure out the actual logistics, it hits you – travel planning is so much work!

I know that feeling all too well. Let me help you simplify the process to get the most out of your travel planning and maximise the value of your trip. As your destination specialist, I provide you with curated experiences to create the perfect adventure based on your interests. You’ll travel to places not only on your wish list, but also to places you might not have even known about, and participate in activities that you never imagined you would enjoy.

Having me as your travel designer, you’ll feel confident and relaxed, knowing that I care as much about your trip as you do.

Ling really made the difference in developing a well-though-out plan that revolved around my interests. I had an amazing and hassle-free experience. If you’re looking for full-service trip planning with loads of personal attention, where every single aspect is curated perfectly, you need to work with Ling.

Petra Oudshoorn

Expat

You’re going to love working with me when you want:

  • help with arranging practical matters (e.g. housing, insurances)
  • help with understanding the Dutch (customs, behavior, habits)
  • help with building your support network
  • buddy support during the transitional period
  • peace of mind

Traveller

You’re going to love working with me when you want:

  • a curated slow travel plan that suits your needs and desires
  • to immerse yourself in local culture and connect with nature
  • to support local communities when travelling
  • to feel inspired, enriched and well-rested after your journey

Memorable moments

Each time I travel, I gain a fresh perspective on life. And that’s what I strive to create for my clients. I re-live those priceless, special memories each time I think about the trips I’ve taken. When I close my eyes, I can almost…

  • taste the delicious Fried Hokkien Prawn Mie from the food stall in Singapore.
  • smell the incense burning in the Senso-ji temple in Tokyo.
  • hear the roar of the Colorado River as it rushes alongside the Grand Canyon.
  • see the ever-impressive Canadian Rocky Mountains looming up ahead of me for the first time.
  • feel small and insignificant in the rugged volcanic landscape of Iceland.

Of the many callings in the world, the invitation to the adventure of an awakened and full life is the most exhilarating.

John O'Donohue

Everything starts with a spark

For me, everything comes together in the work I do now. After a 20-year career as a project manager in the financial and energy sector, I decided to step on the path to living my life the ikigai way.

International and intercultural experiences have shaped my life in so many meaningful ways. It’s my absolute pleasure to share them with you, along with my creativity, enthusiasm and knowledge. Whether it’s as your expat buddy, your travel designer, or both. I’m all set to start you off on the right track for a memorable experience.

Ready to discover the world through a new lens and rediscovering yourself in the process?

Forests, the lungs of the earth

Forests contain the overwhelming majority of life on Earth, including a staggering 80% of the planet’s terrestrial species. We depend on forests for our survival but tend to take forests for granted. To help things get better for woodlands, planting new trees is good. Saving existing and mature forests is better and a crucial part of our planet’s long-term health.

Travelling is an essential part of my life. The trips I’ve taken, have helped to shape me into the person I’m today. As a huge supporter of sustainable tourism and nature conservation I want to do my part in protecting the planet while still seeing the world.

Besides travelling more environmentally conscious, I offset my carbon footprint through forest conservation. For each trip booked and for each expat guided I donate Euro 15 to The Forest Project. I can’t wait to adopt a plot of forest in the Netherlands by the end of 2021. Every tree counts. Together we contribute to a better climate, more biodiversity and better living conditions.