As the days and hours tick closer to enlistment I caught myself by surprise with the sudden thought that I will be missing my little boy, who for many years now, has been anything but little (physically). And again today, I caught myself with tears running down my cheeks as I drove through town when hearing that boys have said that the hardest part of the day of enlistment is when everyone lines up to say goodbye to their families (oh gosh, I am tearing again). 😢
I have been treating it as a ‘prolonged holiday camp’ stay (yes, delusional) as we get items from spare toilet paper (not the entire pack – just one roll!) to wet wipes (great when there’s no time to bathe or to remove jungle paint), batteries, fabric freshener and Dettol (a sprinkle in the wash to get ride of any nasties from other laundry) packed away for his ‘overseas’ trip to Pulau Tekong. The island that’s home to the enlisted young men is oddly very close to Johor – hence the reference to a ‘holiday camp – in fact we once visited the Iskandar region to tour a housing development which we were eying and realized we were overlooking Pulau Tekong !
The Beach Road ‘army market’ is THE place to go. The shop owners are so clued in, they not only have a list of what each recruit receives but also what they should pack on the day of enlistment and give sound advice (“now listen to Aunty, don’t play with the rifle when they give you … Drink plenty of water … Bring a small black torch in case you need to go toilet at night… Lights out is 10 o’clock and you must sleep early… ).
Not sure if we paid extra for the advice, but it was S$80 for a spare T-shirt, PT singlet, PT shorts, (smart boy wanted to do that to be sure of the right size to get when the kit is handed out) spare socks, ziplock bags in super large sizes for uniforms, black tape (and instructions from aunty on where the tape could be used and why), prickly heat powder, soap, jungle paint and a bunch of other stuff including insect repellent cream (Do Not put onto skin, just dab it on the clothes, it is strong stuff and will cause skin to react).
While doing some research I also came across this site that sold the NS Care Pack that had all the essentials and a guide (!!) for just under $80.
Apart from the NS portal and MINDEF there are bunch of other places to get information, such as this young man’s blog.
Guess my young man was also reading stuff on the internet about what to pack, so he has requisitioned detergent (save those little sample packs that come with magazines or at the stores. If not, head to Little India or areas where the foreign workers frequent and you might just find those little packs), the last few drops of Febreeze and 6 black plastic hangers.
The mobile phone power packs (yes plural) have been requisitioned too, as wall plugs won’t be allowed, to take care of the no-camera phone smartphone (bought online). Everything has gone into a backpack when he does the ‘check-in’.
I have persuaded him to pack a little bottle of home-made bed bug repellent to treat his bunk and cupboard.
The essential oil blend is made up of Eucalyptus oil (5 drops), Cinnamon oil (3 drops), Frankincense (3 drops) and Basil (3 drops). This is a more ‘masculine’ blend with the woody notes. Replace the Basil with Lavender which is a great insect repellent that smells great too!
After leaving to blend to stand for at least a day, dilute with alcohol (10-25ml). After at least a day, add the mixture to a small (50ml) bottle of distilled water.
Finally, parents, don’t forget to bring a small towel when heading off to Pulau Tekong – to wipe any tears.