I’ve had some trouble formulating my impressions of Singapore into a cohesive narrative. You’re probably thinking ‘what’s new?’, I know, but I’ve had such a hard time putting together an article that reads from top to bottom that I have decided to present my impressions of Singapore in fragments. The way that we experience a place is not as a neatly tied up package, so I actually think that this might be a more interesting and honest way of presenting my time in Singapore. Here goes nothin’…
Singaporean people are super friendly
I am the kind of person who keeps himself to himself. When I read other travel blogs from solo travelers who describe how they are always surrounded by people when they travel and always have a buddy to go to a museum with or have a drink with, I feel a little perplexed because that is not my experience at all. I spend most of my time by myself even in the friendliest of places – not that I mind that, I’m a pretty solitary person. But in Singapore, a big city where I expected people to be too busy or stand off-ish to hang out with me, I ended up having the most social experience of my whole trip. Local people and local expats really bent over backwards to make me feel welcome and show me their city, and consequently I had a brilliant time.
Drinks are super expensive
I am a drinker. A proper booze-hound. If I don’t have a beer with dinner then I feel incomplete. But oh my goodness, booze is proper expensive in Singapore – more expensive than London, which I didn’t think was possible. A small bottle of beer will set you back $10 as standard, so if you want to get your booze on, you better have an open wallet with plenty of cash inside. If you are boozey like me, I recommend that you get your pre-drink on at a hawker centre where both food and booze is reasonably priced.
It’s not that expensive if you don’t booze
Singapore has earned a reputation of being an extremely expensive city. Yes, the booze is expensive. And of course you are going to spend a lot of money if you choose to spend a day somewhere like Universal Studios. But for daily backpacking expenses, travelling in Singapore was actually extremely do-able. Hawker food centres are everywhere in the city, where you can purchase cheap and tasty meals – which I did on several occasions. Transport is also very inexpensive, and travelling via the city’s efficient train system and bus network is a complete pleasure. At ten quid for a great hostel bed, I didn’t even have to spend masses on accommodation. Singapore doesn’t have to eat up your backpacker budget at all.
Cheap bakery food, innit.
Everything is big; everything is clean
Singapore is a city with the purpose of accommodating lots of people, and lots of cars. Because of this, it’s a very ‘big’ feeling city. Where I come from, London, the roads were not built for cars and many of the buildings were not built for 21st century living, and it has a much smaller feel as a result. I was really taken aback by the sheer scale of the buildings, how wide the roads are, and how much space there is to walk on the pavements. And after seven months of travelling in southeast Asia, walking on any pavement instead of the middle of the road was a very welcome experience. Plus, I didn’t see one piece of litter on the floor thanks to the exorbitant fines for littering. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Singapore is heaven.
The big city.
It works as a multi-cultural city (ish)
There is a lot of opportunity in Singapore, and as a result, many people from all over the world choose to live in this city. It is not unusual to see Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Westerners together on the streets or eating at a hawker food centre. Divisions of religion and race seem to mean very little to the people of Singapore, but having said that…
One size fits all
Yes, there is a diversity of races and religions in Singapore, but is this truly diversity if the people think in the same ways? Don’t get me wrong, I met a load of interesting and lovely people in Singapore who think in broad ways and are open to suggestion, but generally speaking, I did find that Singapore suffered from having a monoculture. If you want to go shopping in Singapore then you go to a massive shopping centre and nowhere else. When I told a Singaporean guy about a very nice independent clothes shop that I bought something from, he was genuinely taken aback and told me that he would only shop somewhere “that he could trust” like H&M. In short, I found that there was a lack of resistance from people that has resulted in a lack of diversity. I guess the Singaporean people have happy lives, and that’s great, but the lack of rebellion made me want to be a public nuisance and start flashing people on the street.
There’s a shop in Singapore called Wanko, fyi.
And those are a few of my impressions of Singapore. Have you visited Singapore? What did you make of it?