Despite having completed my 1-year-10-month stint in the army nearly 5 years ago, I remember the unfathomable joy I felt on my first book-out like it was yesterday. Although most book-outs only last a weekend (unless you always kena confinement), you can bet your smart-4-wearing butt that those two days will go by faster than me opening the Shopee app on 11.11.
In no particular order, here are 5 things you can look forward to during your book-out weekend.
The food. Oh heavens, the food.
Okay, I lied about this being in no particular order because food is the number one thing I looked forward to when booking out. After weeks of overcooked vegetables and boiled chicken drumsticks, your taste buds will be begging you for mercy, mercy.
And so, like any self-respecting 19-year-old, I headed to the nearest KFC and ordered a Zinger Double Down (remember those?), and let me tell you, it was pure happiness smooshed between two slabs of greasy fried chicken. Ahhh, good times.
Whatever your first book-out meal is, make sure it’s a memorable one - you’ll want to remember it fondly five years down the road. Eventually, you’ll start to realize that you’ll have a specific craving every book-out weekend, so be sure to get your food fix while out in the civilian world.
Seeing bae (if applicable)
If you have one, good for you. If not, max out your Tinder swipes before lights out so you can get one ASAP. Just kidding. But seriously, being able to see bae in person is great if you have one.
For my (crest)fallen brothers who don’t have a significant other, don’t worry, I know how shag it is to see your section mates’ girlfriends picking them up at the interchange while you travel home, forever alone.
I got you though. There’s a KFC nearby at Whitesands where you can drown your sorrows in fried chicken.
Showering with hot water
Heck, I might just take showering, period.
In BMT, everyone in the company has admin time at the same time, which means the showers are the hottest in-demand room in the building. That leaves you with about 5-10 minutes of shower time before lights out, so you’ll be in and out of there faster than your platoon sergeant shouts at you to knock it down.
And if your company is one of those companies that, ahem, places less emphasis on welfare, you might be looking at a 2-minute shower before your platoon mate starts banging on the shower doors.
Spending time with your family
One thing I learnt during my time in NS is that, usually, you will miss your family more than they miss you. Sad but true, this stems from the fact that your family can go about their usual lives while you are doing push-ups in Full Battle Order (as the faces of your loved ones flash before your eyes).
However, the simple things in life are often the sweetest. During your book-out, you’ll want things to be just like they used to before NS. Enjoy Mom’s home-cooked food, argue with your siblings, and listen to your parents ask persistently: "So what you going to do after NS ah?"
These are small things you might have taken for granted, but you’ll certainly look forward to every Friday as you line up to board the ferry back to the mainland.
Your super comfortable bed (and aircon)
Sometimes during your book-out weekend, you’ll wake up on a Sunday morning and get that uneasy feeling like, "is this the real life?’. You check your surroundings and realise you’re not in camp and don’t have to fall in, letting out a huge sigh of sweet relief. That’s how surreal it is sleeping in your own bed after a week in an army bunk with 15 other guys.
Being in an aircon environment, especially during BMT, is rarer than a fully-charged power bank at the end of confinement week (because everyone is swiping on Tinder), so sleeping with the A/C turned on in your room during your book-out is like floating on a cloud.
Cherish those two nights a week like they will be your last.
Sweet, sweet freedom
At the end of the day, book-outs are meant to be cherished. No one’s going to tekan you for these two days, so make sure you relax, rejuvenate, and recover so that you’ll be ready for training once you head back to camp. Spend time with your loved ones and use your freedom to catch up on your hobbies and interests.
And although it might sound like being in camp is torture, you’d be surprised by how much you’ll miss camp after you ORD. But until then, keep looking forward to booking out.
Stay strong, soldier!
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