It’s my first time back in Singapore for at least 5 years and whilst change is apparent (fewer stray cats, more expats, lots more shiny buildings, Universal Studios in Singapore), many things haven’t changed and this essence of Singapore is what I love.
1. Unlike London, pigeons are in the minority and are replaced by the beautiful and cheeky Javan Myna. Not only do the Javan Myna look prettier with their bright yellow beaks, but they also squawk more prettily too.
2. There is a lot of respect for the older generation. People, young and old, look out for older people on the MRT and bus and are quick to give up their seats for them. The term ‘Auntie’ is often used as a sign of respect when talking to those who are older than they are.
3. A bowl of noodles costs approximately $3 SGD. In fact, most food in Singapore is pretty cheap thanks to the governments lower tax on essentials. Like food.
4. I know Singapore for its ‘Touch-Me-Not’ plant (also known as mimosa pudica, tickle me or sensitive plant) – a green leave with many fronds often found amongst the grass that closes when you touches it. Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s hard to resist seeing them in action. Mimosa pudica aren’t only found in Singapore, however.
5. Slimming and skincare is a huge industry. There are so many potions, treatments, pills, teas, milkshakes, gels, and more to keep you looking younger, thinner and more beautiful that there are dedicated sections in pharmacies devoted to slimming.
6. Whilst your Western hair has suddenly sprouted fuzz like an pubescent Ewok, the Singaporeans seem to have naturally frizz-free, sleek and shiny hair. It really is not fair.
7. The technology is fast-moving and impressive. You can get cards that fix to the car windscreen that automatically deduct car park costs when you leave. There are also some awesome interactive displays at places such as Bay of Gardens. BUT, there is still nothing to tell you when the next bus will be arriving.
8. The way people dress is very modest. Especially when it comes to boobs. I’ve seen short little shorts, and tiny skirts, but no plunging necklines. As one of my Singaporean friends suggested, perhaps it’s because most people have small boobs?!
9. It helps if you can speak a bit of Malay, Chinese or Cantonese. Whilst everyone can speak English, I’ve encountered the odd situation where it would have helped greatly had I just known how to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Or even ‘I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.’
10. ‘Are you married?’ and ‘When are you getting married.’ are unavoidable questions, especially amongst relatives. And they’ll usually ask twice, just to make sure they didn’t mishear you the first time.
Go visit. It’s a wonderful place.