aseem to change faster. I arrived here as a single man with a backpack containing a few trinkets. Now I am married to a wonderful woman (not taking any chance here, grin), and we have a healthy baby girl of two months. We now see life through new eyes, those of a child and parent. Everything happens for the best. We have put our travel adventures on the hold, but we will leave soon with baby onboard.
On a personal basis, I must say that I’ve been infected by the overwhelming electronic consumption that overtakes most Singaporeans. When arriving, I merely had a USB flash drive along with an old hard drive. Now see what my bags would contain if I were to go back to Canada quickly.
-Singapore my 2 year list of Electronic over buying
|1x MacBook pro 15″||1 x iPhone4||1 x iPad 3|
|camera Sony Nex-5N||Diablo 3||World of Warcraft battle chest|
|Patriot Box Office Media Player||Disciple (game)||GT240 Nvidia 1GB,|
|40″ Sharp Aquaos LCD TV||500 GB Iomega||Camera video Mino HD|
|Asus EEEPC 1000H||hard drive internal 1TB||Sony DSC-W350 camera|
|Ultimate ear 200 vi||speakers Sonic Gear,||Windows 7 home pretium|
|USB 16 GB Sandisk Fit,||i3 3GHZ processor||Gygabyte motherboard|
|Epson photo TX-W720WD||Canon printer||webcam Logitech|
|16 GB RAM||Trendnet 658brp Router||Tamron EOS 70-300mm lens|
|Kipon EOS-NEX||Samsung 2 door fridge||a nd many more|
I’m sure that I’ve forgot some things, and I have spared you the myriad of baby supplies, that despite an exhaustive list do not cost too much. Thank you to my expatriates and online classified site Craigslist, a good place on the web where my wife likes to shop for bargains, such as a luxury baby stroller for $300 dollars instead of $2,000 dollars and an electric breastfeeding pump for $200 dollars instead of $950 dollars. If you want to get everything at its usual selling price , then you might have to lose your pants or shirt over it.
Here are my observations, although not too serious; it’s a list to make you smile and discover this society’s twisted ways and our own twisted ways as well. These ideas will shock you without any exhaustive study. They will also entertain and make you smile.
The things we can see or observe in Singapore
I) Singapore is a very green city country. There are lots of vegetation and green spaces. The government takes care of its magnificent trees along the streets, highways, and its many gardens.
I) With a population of 5.4 million people in 2010, Singapore used 41.2 billion kWh of electricity. This is more than double that of Nigeria, which has a population of 170 million. So Singaporeans have used 30 times more electricity than their African congeners. I bet they do not sleep with the air conditioner running. Here it is hot outside, especially around noon. We rarely stand more than twenty minutes in direct sunlight. Offices, trains, buses, cars, and shopping malls feel like a refrigerator. I’m sure than the Singapore industry, the service sector, and tourism sector are much more energy hungry than Nigeria.
I) The people are so friendly (I say with a big smile) and work non-stop, as evidenced by how some will snuggle on your shoulder to rest on the bus and train. Sometimes this includes guys with very hairy arms as well.
I) Reusable bags are just beginning to make their appearance. Most of the time when you see someone with a reusable bag at the grocery store, they are white foreigners. For an old continent, major Asian cities are really behind on recycling. Green solutions and energy savings are nonexistent or very limited. In Singapore, there’s no official recycling, existing only in tourist areas for the sake of appearance. In everyday life we throw everything in the garbage. I bet a bunch of money that in 5 years when the government decides that it is “hot” to recycle, they will become the greenest country of all Asia.
I) The roads belongs to the rich and richer. For example, an entry level Honda is $70,000 dollars. Then you have to add (COV) a license costing tens of thousands of dollars just for the right to drive on the roads. A small car like the Honda Fit or Honda Civic costs more than $125,000 dollars after all the costs and expenses. It should include a road tax of between $600 dollars for a small compact car to $3,000 dollars for a sporty one. In addition, don’t forget the parking and electronic tolls. A workday in town without gasoline is more than $20 dollars for short distances. All this is due to government policies that control constantly growing traffic. To regulate by taxing it is not the best solution, but the rich pay with smile, while the poorest tighten their budget or are resigned to follow the rules.
I) Despite its exorbitant cost, a Mercedes or Audi is not a luxury car in Singapore. The Rolls Royce, Bugatti or a Lamborghini is a true luxury car. It’s far from the luxury cars of the rest of Southeast Asia, a simple Honda less than five years old.
I) This is the only city where I’ve seen Apprentice drivers with a red triangle on their beginner BMW or new Jaguar.
I) We often notice two friends or perhaps a couple dining on the same side of the table. When I see that, I am surprised that there’s no drama there, but it’s still weird. This is probably because it’s more convenient to show or share the screen of their iPhone or iPad.
I) I smile when seeing people queuing to go to a restaurant, going to the ATM, or waiting to change the cellular service plan for their new iPhone. It’s close to becoming a popular social activity, where friends come queuing with relatives for pure solidarity. Unlike in America or elsewhere in Asia, if people are waiting in line, surely it is for something worthwhile. (That’s the popular belief.)
I) Lets talk about quality food and exceptional variety. The “food courts” or the traditional “Coffee Shop” outlets are neighborhood restaurants located near public buildings or in “shopping malls.” They offer a variety of delicacies from all Asian culinary horizons, and they are all offered at the popular price of 5$ a meal. The Japanese, Korean, Chinese of all eras and regions, Indonesian, Indian, Malaysian, Thai cuisine, and more are all represented. Despite their strict rules of cleanliness, you’re welcome to sit outside in the middle of skyscrapers to drink a few beers and enjoy a BBQ party with happy Singaporeans and travelers from around the world.
I) In Singapore, “pig organ or halals” are good keywords to attract customers to a restaurant.
I) Singapore has yet another record, the largest number of shopping malls for a country of its size. There are nearly a hundred, including 22 on the main shopping street. Orchard Road, in the beginning of the century, was a luxurious fruit orchard. The first commercial store arrived there in the 1960s, only to become a shopper’s paradise today. It is now a place of excessive consumption. We find there the glamour and luxury of brands such as Gucci, Armani, Mont Blanc and more.
I) Singaporeans love to shop, chasing red tag sales and electronics fairs. They also like to be a member of anything, whether that is a restaurant, a shop, or a car wash.
I) A good Singaporean card game is composed of at least three credit cards, a variety of membership cards, and several smart cards in order to eat, pay for parking, or pay for electronic road tolls.
I) We see guys with custom cars obtained at great expense, a pink bike with a Hello Kitty theme, or a blue car with Smurfs. Everything is possible, however, not always in the greatest of taste (in my opinion).
I) There are many girls who look more masculine than the average local men. They follow the fashion of “hipster geek,” wearing large glasses and short pants that are too short. It’s not the most testosterone filled country that I’ve ever seen. I see a lot more butch girls whom I respect more now because of a fear they may beat me.
I) I see people, the most bizarre people I’ve ever seen. There are also beautiful people, but this is rare, and I don’t know if there is an explanation for this. We understood immediately that there was no discrimination. The criterion of beauty is not a factor that will help you enter the country. There is no doubt than the universal criteria of immigration, a nice money stack in the bank, will be universally more efficient.
I) Some Advice, don’t get excited too fast. Always face people before they tell you, “that girl is quite cute.” You might have an unpleasant surprise.
I) School uniforms make students look like hospital patients. Even the local hospital staff has nicer colored outfits.
I) Singapore is the only Southeast Asia country where international conventions and standards are applied naturally, but we can still see some surprising things.
I) Toddlers are not buckles up and can end up hitting the windshield of a car, a sudden braking action and kaboom!
I) Young children are found waiting for their parents in the car of an indoor parking lot, with the key in the ignition. Although it’s nice to keep them cool, is this really wise and safe? (I will admit, that was an isolated case.)
I) Bikers with a $ 25,000 dollar BMW wearing $2 dollar “Made in Taiwan” thongs on their the feet.
I) People without uniforms or weapons fill up automated teller machines (ATM) with money, or the empty train smart card recharge machines of thousand dollars without an escort, uniform, or weapon. I guess this is a safe country!
I) I watch someone crossing the street while listening to a soap opera on his iPad, while also talking on the phone. This is nothing to be surprised at since the chip implant directly into the brain is not available yet.
I) The population is very heterogeneous, harmonious, and pretty tolerant. People with skin color from light to dark, various religions such as Catholic, Buddhists, Taoists, and Muslims, people who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay, Tamil, Filipino, and English (and I’ll stop there) all living side by side with one another. There are too many different varieties to name them all. This is undoubtedly one of the only places in the world where you can see Asians dancing to country music or a Buddhist festival in a marquee in front of a mosque.
I) On the other hand there are less desirable effects of all this diversity, such as halal, chicken bacon, or ham made of chicken or pig organs soup. No it can not escape me! In the midst of all this fat, I’d sell my soul for a slice of bacon.
I) The Korean, Japanese, and Singaporeans have parents who are willing to pay more than $1,000 dollars per month for extra school classes for their children under 4 years of age. For example, you may see a specialized nursery, golf course, or computer.
I) Singapore has its posers, those who like to show off their accessories plugged in public. I have seen hundreds of people with guitar cases, but I’ve never heard one played. I hope all those cases don’t contain machine guns! I saw many hipsters with their skateboards on the train, but I have seen only young children with toy skateboards riding on the street. There are many expensive rally cars and mountain bikes, but no mountains, countrysides, or trails.
I) People like to relax and meet in fast food restaurants. They may spend much of their day in a Macdonald’s. Here it’s a bit crowded in regard to the available space. Everyone lives in expensive apartment with a big family or roommates. Students have access to their own quiet place with free wireless Internet access. In America, the restaurants generally do everything to make people leave quickly in order to accommodate new customers. This includes decorating with garish colors and uncomfortable plastic seats. Oh, I forgot it is also a good place to flirt and showoff all of one’s electronics gadgets, and in particular the famous apple.
I) Sometimes it smells like smoke, but don’t worry there’s no fire. This is because of special religious rites among its largely Taoist population. They burn cardboard iPods or any kind of objects in a public fire pit, an offering to the dead for ghost festival.
I) Changi Airport is a true 4 star hotel; you can swim in the pool, charge your mobile phone, play video games on playstation or even visit the small botanical garden. It is a true air megalopolis. More than 45 million passengers per year pass through its many terminals. It’s 9 times the population of Singapore (check out www.changiairport.com).
I) Napoleon complex or the “Short Mans Syndrome” is that little man that blows his lungs to the maximum in order to compensate for his small stature. This social handicap can be seen in the attitude of the government and its media. It is normal to have a good self-esteem, but when we boast of our achievements every day it becomes unhealthy. No need to tell the rest of the world, they will recognize our success without having to tell anyone. (Probably the remains of British colonialism.)
I) This complex is also reflected in its architecture, showing off and accumulating records in constant competition with China and the emirates.
I) At the moment, The Flyer is the largest observation wheel in the world; however, the Great Dubai Wheel, The Beijing Great Wheel, and New York all promise to become even higher. (Check out www.singaporeflyer.com/)
I) IFly Singapore is the largest wind tunnel (freefall simulator) in the world offering a skydiving experience indoors. (Check out http://www.iflysingapore.com/)
I) The Marina Bay Sands is a luxury hotel with 2561 rooms and a Casino as the main attraction. It was developed by the people of the Las Vegas Sands. They won the prize for the most expensive standalone casino in the world with an 8 billion dollar bill. These casinos get more benefits than all the casinos in Las Vegas, and Asians are big players.
I) The Marina Bay Skypark offers the world highest outside infinity pool.
(Check out www.marinabaysands.com / Sands SkyPark-)
I) Gardens by the Bay, is the new super attraction of downtown Singapore on Marina Bay Sands. This a mega-project of techno botanic gardens with some 50 meters of super solar trees and domed climate control.
(Check out www.gardensbythebay.com.sg)
I) The Night Safari is also the first of its kind in the world, a 40-hectare park of nocturnal animals in the wild.
(Check out www.nightsafari.com.sg/)
I) Crossing the entire country is not a difficult journey; you can walk it in a day, or take the train to the end of the line in less than an hour.
I) Singapore uses a variety of acronyms for naming its highways, locations, and departments, such as MOM for the ministry of manpower or PIE which stands for Pen Island Expressway.
I) Singaporeans use Singlish, a local slang used between friends and social contacts with an unofficial flange humor.
Here are some phrases that can be heard in Singlish:
Can Lah: it can be done
Can not lah: It cannot be done
Dat one oreddy finish: That one HAS already finished
Ang mo: term for Caucasians
Makan: food or eat
I) Public transport is very efficient; going to work is not very expensive at only around $20 dollars per week. Overall this is good, but at rush hour the buses and trains are full. People insist on entering by pushing and trying to enter the bus or train first to have a greater chance for a seat. Despite seats reserved for the elderly and pregnant women, only a few people are courteous and give their seat up to others.
I) One message, one big media group in all languages
Media Corp owns 90% of newspapers, radio, television, and other communication channels in English, Malay, Tamoul, and Chinese. There’s no satellite TV, and foreign Internet TV access is not granted easily. Officials say it’s mostly a copyright issue, but I doubt that. Singapore is more a democracy on paper than it is in reality. For a country as connected as Singapore, it’s difficult to imagine that access to information to the rest of the world is not widely open.
I) I was also amazed that you can’t buy e-books online at Amazon.com. Also, you cannot have access to iPhone or iPad applications at the Singapore App Store. They refuse to allow us to download it from the United States store. In a country where one out of every two folks has an Apple product, it’s quite astonishing. However, we can buy e-books online through two new websites owned by a large corporation, one local telecommunications company and the only media company in the country. Shame!
I) Sunday is gay; in the books, Singapore is not officially a pink destination, but when you open your eyes and you know the underground, you quickly realize that the gay scene and especially the lesbian scene are very active. There are even parties every month for Selected insiders.
I) A lesbian couple kissing with pride on the train. Do not rejoice too quickly, as this often not the most beautiful.
I) Social housing or HDB are not frowned upon.
I) When we talk about social housing, we often imagine poverty, crime, and social problems, but not here. Public housing is more than acceptable, with 80% percent of the population living in this type of housing. Private homes with land are overpriced. It’s impossible to find a bungalow below $2 million. Singapore stands out with the highest ratio of millionaires with 8.5 percent of its population. The country must offer a good package to its wealthiest citizens in order to have as many good customers as possible.
I) Despite its small area of 710 km, there are 22 golf courses. A response to the demand of this sport practiced by only 2 percent of his population. The majority are private golf clubs. I bet that the price for memberships may be credited as one more record for Singapore. With 8% of the population being Millionaires, there are only 25% who can afford to be members.
Things you’ll never seen Singapore
II) Politeness first. Here it’s everyone for themselves, especially with strangers; this is despite a government courtesy awareness campaign (Check out http://kindness.sg/). The message has still not spread with much efficiency. Something unpleasant about the residents of this country is their lack of courtesy. Local thinking called “Kiasu” or the fear of not succeeding, tends to have people applying the policy of me first. This is not only tolerated but also encouraged. Courtesy, it starts with ourselves and at home. This thought comes from the doctrine that to survive in a competitive mode, you should be number one. The government does not leave a place for humility; it should apply to itself before educating its people. This is a striking difference compared with the rest of Asia’s Buddhist teaching of humility and having respect for others.
II) A Singaporean apologizes after we had been rushed, it happens, but not often.
II) Good customer service is hard to find, even though they try to sell you most anything. It’s always the best product, but I suggest you do your research before buying; it is a wise practice if you expect to save your money.
II) A Singaporean who does not like electronic gadgets? A Singaporean without an iPod, an iPhone, a “smartphone,” or a camera is a Singaporean that is 6 feet underground. The fact that Singapore has the highest percentage of mobile users in the world is fantastic for the telecommunications industry, but it can make life unpleasant. Again many people don’t know that it is impolite to speak loudly over their handset in a public area.
II) View ads about chips or fast food chains at every commercial break. Here, there is more real estate advertising about condominium projects than just about anything else. It sells luxury and views of the sea, but in the end it’s just a tank or river channel.
II) A heterosexual couple kissing languidly in public or on the train.
II) A road with land but absent a building. Here they build the train and stations ten years ahead of time.
II) Affordable liquor and wine. Here alcohol is taxed to the maximum. A 40-ounce bottle of vodka Absolut at the airport’s “Duty Free” shop costs $24 dollars, while in a grocery store, it will cost you up to $80 dollars. A six pack of beer is $15 dollars.
II) Whether the smell of marijuana, or someone offered you drugs, there is a zero tolerance, imposing the death penalty for traffickers. Mainly, this is for hard drugs. This is not the place for smoking weed. (Cambodia is more liberal on this topic.)
II) A Singaporean with good eyes. We can assume that 65% of people wear glasses or contact lenses. Studies show that 34% percent of children aged 7 to 9 years wearing glasses versus 7% for the U.S.
II) A film or pornographic magazine. Pornography is illegal, but my friend who has amateur webcam sites in Canada confirms to me that he is doing good business with Singaporeans. I bet that its customers are not those who are poor and working in fast food restaurants.
II) A Singaporean electrician or carpenter. Most of the technical jobs, along with small unskilled jobs, are left to foreigners. Of the 5.26 million inhabitants in Singapore, there are 1.46 million non-residents, with 14% being domestic or caregivers. (Check out) http://www.population.sg/resources/population-composition/ #. UIzkc2lrZY5
II) Singapore, who is afraid of elevators? Unlike me, many residents like to use the elevator.
II) Old classic cars. In Singapore you do not see cars more than 10 years old. We must then get rid of them because the government does not want to renew the car’s license. A car more than a decade old is it a car with an expensive collector license. The cars also come in exported from overseas. So, you need a huge budget to own one.
II) Walls full of graffiti or garbage abandoned at the end of the street. Unfortunately this includes any form of street art unsupervised by the government. In 2010, a Swiss national named Oliver Fricker was condemned to be caned and given five months in prison, this after being found guilty of making graffiti in Singapore. More recently, in 2012, a street artist was arrested for vandalism. He had pasted stickers on some traffic lights (it was not very harmful). Too bad for the police that it was original and artistic, because she had so much public support she was released on bail.
read the story http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303296604577450074145994972.html
People who spit or throw papers on the street live in fear of a hefty fine. You can see a bit of random waste outside. I guess they hide it well before throwing their trash.
II) Someone chewing gum or buy.
You can chew gum in Singapore; however, you can’t buy it. You can walk with it and chew, but you cannot traffic or sell it. The fines are high if you are caught. It all started when the train was paralyzed by someone who had stuck some gum on the side of the train doors.
II) Hippie bohemian artists in the “Holland Village,” instead of hipsters or yuppies, come to show their possession of a new BMW.
II) Non-standard buildings or not well-matched or well planned, but all are calculated. Public housing is made up of large blocks and gathered near each other with dull colors and no personality.
II) The country side. Forget hiking, there are indeed a few farms in an area called Lim Chu Kang. It is about 18 km2. It is a predominantly rural area consisting primarily of farms stays, farms, cottages, and the wetland Reserve Sungei Buloh. Today the farms of Lim Chu Kang are made for modern intensive farms designed to optimize the use of limited agricultural land in Singapore.
II) Poorly maintained toilets
he toilets are taken seriously. The Singapore toilet Association wants its public toilets so clean than you can eat it off them. To do this, they patrol the island to eradicate dirty places and spread the gospel of good toilet etiquette. The mission seems like a waste.
II) Privacy: There are no official figures on the number of security cameras that are on the island, but if we add up the cameras on all buses, trains, subway stations, streets, and traffic lights, it makes a whole bunch. Already in 2008, there were about 350 cameras in such public places as Boat Quay, Little India, and Geylang resting solely and not going down. The government plans to install cameras in the sensitive areas of its 10,000 HDB public housing towers.
Singapore is a country with strict rules and various fines, a bit stuck and not very olé olé, but not excessive, uncompromising and “Redneck.”
It is a country super secure and well organized, and despite its young age, traditions and protocols are numerous and very important in its government and its people. This is a country where the surprises parties are well organized, and your often back home early and remember everything. If we’re lucky you’ll get lost in a rich warp zone, ‘Mario Bros’ style, and you’ll wake without a penny on the marble floor of a 5 star hotel.
This post is also available in: French