For a very small island, Singapore sure does not disappoint when it comes to entertainment, food and culture. The buzzing city is filled with Singaporeans, Expatriates and Tourists from all over the world and with that, comes a vibrant mix of cuisines, languages and personalities. For a country I had only ever thought of as a stop over destination, Singapore has now quickly become one of my favourite places in the world.
The first reason is of course the incredible food. In Singapore, you can eat food from all over Asia, in the one place! Hawkers Markets like the famous La Pau Sat, are filled to the brim with Indian food, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, and Singaporean foods. You name it, it will be there. You can have a lot of fun trying foods from all over Asia, in a bustling marketplace, drinking cold Tiger beer or fresh juices. If you manage to get to one of these markets, please try the Satay cooked by being fanned over coals, it will change your perspective on satay for the rest of your life!
Singapore is one degree north of the Equator, so this means that the heat is out of this world. Air-conditioning is everywhere, however I quite enjoy the tropical humidity when walking about and then the huge afternoon storms like Niagara Falls. There is plenty of greenery in this well engineered island, with the government aiming to have a park within a 10-minute walk from every home in their sustainable development plans. Despite the urbanisation all around, lush green botanical gardens and parks soften this city, making it a truly beautiful space.
Culturally, Singapore may look like a Western society when you see brands like Uber and McDonalds and hear English being spoken everywhere. However, Singapore like any country has got an incredible history, with both inspirational aspects and dark memories. I learnt a lot about this on my first visit to Singapore back in July 2016, when the reason of my visit was for a UOW Business Study Tour. Here we had a fantastic guide Stephanie, who has been living in Singapore for over 20 years and had a lot to share with us. Aside from Stephanie’s knowledge she shared with us on Singapore’s history, business and trade life and Singaporean culture, Steph gave us the heads up to visit the National Museum of Singapore that has a brilliant timeline of the country, with guided English tours running everyday. Due to timing, I did not get to get to see this exhibit until my second visit in October 2016 when I visited with my partner Jon. You find out that Singapore has gone through some very dark times with the Japanese occupation, moving through to the constant back of fourth of the country being tied to Malaysia, to the countries independence and modernity of the country with very clever social engineering. If you have an hour in Singapore, check this exhibit out with a tour guide, it will be well worth your time.
There are many things that interested me about Singaporean society, such as the overwhelming statistic that 91% of residents owned their homes. Public Housing is prominent throughout Singapore, but not as we in Australia may know it. The government own a lot of the residential buildings and encourage/make available the property to purchase for the average income earner, which is an incredible feat to have so many people owning their homes. A further thing that shocked me was the large portion of elderly people working in hospitality roles due to the absence of a pension system. It is a culture that traditionally, younger generations will look after their elderly family. However, you may find a 70-year-old hobbling over collecting your bowl after your meal, because if they don’t have any family, they will continue to work right throughout their lives. On a side note, a pension system is now in place, but it doesn’t help a lot of the current elderly society. Of course no country is perfect and even with the social systems in place, there are still issues. However, overall Singapore is a nation to be rivalled and is extremely interesting to learn about it’s successes over the years.
There is no shortage of things to do either. Shopping, eating out, Broadway shows, beaches, hikes, theme parks, architectural feats, gardens, museums, markets… You really cannot get board in Singapore. I have now spent 10 busy days total there and still have things I would like to see and do and of course EAT! I will now try to always turn Singapore into a short stay if passing through, or even make it a destination on it’s own, with Scoot flights from Sydney as cheap as $139, which is cheaper than a domestic flight! The heat, the food, the shops, the entertainment, the culture, it is well worth a visit. If you have been to Singapore, shoot me a message or comment below and please let me know of your experience!