I had a discussion with my friends a few weeks ago on where we would call our home. It was interesting that people had different opinions to the word ‘home’. Some do not view it as just a physical house or where your family and loved ones live but more of the place where you have emotional attachment to. For example, a friend of mine, a Singaporean, who lives and works in Singapore, has chosen to call Indonesia her home because she has a special affinity for its culture, people and food. When it was my turn to answer this question, I answered ‘Singapore’ unhesitatingly.
In my view, a home is where you long to go back after sometime away from the place. It may be this feeling of missing your own bed when you sleep in another bed elsewhere. Or it’s the craving of food when you travel overseas. After all, I have lived in the little red dot for the past 10 years. I have, to some extent, imbibed the Singapore elements as part of my life. And I always miss Singapore whenever I go on holidays. Here are the top aspects of Singapore that make it a very place I fall in love with.
Booming drinking and dining scene
I still remember the time I moved to Singapore 10 years ago. My impression of the food here was, underwhelming, to say the least. Coming from Thailand where local street food is yummy and cheap, I find the food in hawker centers here generally bland despite the mouthwatering look and the dining scene lackluster. Maybe, it was partly because I needed some time to adjust my palate too.
Fast-forwarding to 10 years later, Singapore’s drinking and dining scene is better than ever. Local food has been improved and reimagined in many creative ways. My favorite local dishes include Bak Chor Mee (minced meat noodle), chicken rice, prawn noodle and Bak Kut Teh (pork rib soup). In addition to local food, there’s also a great variety of international cuisine on offer, thanks to the growing community of foreigners here. Most importantly, it’s the Singaporeans’ love of eating, which has shaped the F&B industry to what it is today. The fact that Singaporeans travel a lot also helps to widen their view on food and open up many options for those missing their dining experience abroad.
Safety and cleanliness
Singapore is very famous for the safety and cleanliness. However, I feel that this aspect is just a part of life here that people do take for granted. For instance, it is only clear to me that Singapore excels at being a clean and safe place when I travel abroad. I rarely notice garbage on the streets here. I also feel comfortable going out alone at night because of the low crime rate. This is not the case when I travel overseas though.
Efficient and affordable public transport
I know that there are a lot of complaints on the recent MRT breakdowns or the frequency of certain buses. I think it’s nice to address certain issues or problems so that the operators like SMRT or the government like LTA can improve. However, we should not just complain but also commend them when they do a great job. Trust me, Singapore’s public transport is much better than a lot of other developed countries’. To illustrate, when I traveled in England for a week, I encountered several train breakdowns. In addition, some train stations did not operate on weekends. My journey by public transport in England was such a chore and I started to miss the MRT and buses in Singapore.
Better yet, public transport here is quite affordable considering the average income. Look at the rate of the BTS (or sky train) in Bangkok for example. BTS ticket price is on the same level as the MRT. In my view, BTS is a very expensive mode of transport because the average income in Thailand is lower than Singapore’s.
I love Changi. There are so many great things about this airport that can extend to a full post of praises but I reckon that may bore a lot of you. First of all, Changi is not just an airport. I know a lot of students who use Changi as a place to study. Some people even go there to dine at the eateries. That’s because the airport prices are not hiked up like in many others around the world. Second, Changi has clean and abundant toilets. I cannot recall any single time I had to wait for toilets at Changi. And if all are occupied, just walk a bit further and you will surely find an empty one within few minutes.
Third, the immigration process at the airport is so efficient. Usually, there are not very long queues at the immigration counter. If unfortunately the queues are long, the staff tend to open up all the lines and the queues generally move fast. You can finish the clearance process and walk to the gate within half an hour. This level of efficiency at Changi kind of spoiled me. Once I almost missed my flight at Suvarnabhumi Airport because the queue at the security check was very long and it moved very slowly.
Lastly, the airport has a lot of things for you to kill your time from various gardens, movie theater, shops, video games or even a swimming pool. The upcoming Terminal 4, which just opened its doors on Monday for public will also become the next Singapore attraction by itself.
English and Singlish
One of the reasons Singapore has attracted a lot of foreigners to move here is that English is one of the official languages. I used to take some Mandarin courses because most people would talk to me in Mandarin. However, English is so common and widely spoken that I rarely use my Mandarin. As a result, it has not improved much ever since. English also helps the businesses flourish internationally and creates an open and welcoming society for foreigners.
Another unique aspect of English in Singapore is Singlish. I know a lot of friends who can speak in standard (and proper) English when they talk to foreigners. They will switch to Singlish in an instance they converse with their local friends. Singlish helps them communicate using less words while conveying the same message. Of course, I sometimes use Singlish with my kaki. Shiok ah!
High Quality of Life
Above all, I truly enjoy living in Singapore. According to the 11th Annual Quality of Life Survey by Monocle, Singapore is ranked No. 21 in the world. It’s the only city in Southeast Asia that makes it to the list. Singapore is still behind Japanese cities and Hong Kong on this poll. However, I am certain that Singapore is on the right path in terms of improving quality of life. After all, the country excels at long term planning and has an endearing spirit of unity.
Singapore is turning 52 tomorrow. I wish the country a bright future and great prosperity. Happy birthday, Singapore!