Shopaholics, but no gum chewing?!?! Sounds like paradise: the mall without trashy, squealing, overgrown cheerleaders. We're jealous, jtjuvenile. —SparkNotes editors
The little red dot. The “fine” city. Singapore is a diamond-shaped island in Southeast Asia that boasts an astonishingly claustrophobic area of 710.2 sq km. If you want to check out Singapore on the world map, you’ll be sadly disappointed. On the map, the city is represented by a microscopic splotch of black ink. Yes, it’s that small.
Before I continue, I want to clear things up: Singapore is NOT a part of China. I was stunned when I heard that people think Singapore was like Hong Kong or Taiwan. Singapore used to be a British colony, but gained independence from British rule in the end. Yes, the British had a bad habit of pinching islands all over the world and claiming them as their own. *Shakes head sorrowfully*
This itsy bitsy island nurtures many wonderful (and not so wonderful) traits:
Fines: When tourists come to Singapore, their reaction is usually, “Singapore is a fine city, indeed.” But beware, the word “fine” is used to mean both "pleasant" and "penalty." Singapore is a pleasant city. Singapore is one of the safest, most organized, and cleanest countries in the world. But it is also famous for leveling hefty fines for minor infractions of the law, such as littering or jaywalking. Anytime I think about dropping my candy wrapper inconspicuously onto the floor, or dashing across the street instead of traipsing down the road in search of the nearest zebra crossing, my pocket yells “ouch” at the thought of a thousand dollar fine. Not kidding.
A tropical climate: Singapore is a cheery 85+ degrees on average. Coupled with the insanely humid weather, you find yourself sweating bullets and showering AT LEAST twice a day. I’m sucking ice cubes as I type.
Chewing gum is banned: Yes, I can hear your indignant gasp. In an effort to maintain the country’s sparkling clean state, selling gum in Singapore is a breach of the law. That’s why I’ve yet to discover gum stuck onto the sole of my shoe, or experience the misfortune of pressing an elevator button embellished with a wad of gum.
...and so are bikinis: as Singapore is a very religious country. KIDDING! No, Singapore has no national religion. As long as you don’t slander the government or foment discord between the different races, pretty much anything goes. Oh, but don't go parading your naked butt on the streets. You have to wear a scrap of cloth, at least. Sorry, but that also means there’s no nude beaches. Go to a tanning booth instead. Or flaunt your assets somewhere else, like Europe.
Singlish: This slang is a trademark of all native Singaporeans. Used for communication purposes, Singlish is the brand of English that locals speak, which is English mixed with ingredients like Chinese, Malay, Hokkien, and Cantonese. For the benefit of the exasperated/annoyed/befuddled expatriate, Singaporeans are willing to switch to proper English. English is the most widely spoken language in Singapore.
One side effect of living in Singapore for a few years is that many expatriates find themselves speaking Singlish unconsciously. Warning signs include phrasing sentences in a weird way or, worse, tacking "la" or "lorh" (pronounced law) to the end of their sentences.
An example of a conversation conducted by one Singaporean to another for the benefit of your curiosity:
Susan: John is such a blur sotong (sotong = squid). You need to help him la! ("La" is used to emphasize impatience, exuberance, or some kind of significant emotion.)
Tim: No need to help him la, he’ll figure out the way for himself. If he’s lost, so what? He has a map, can one la. (note weird phrasing)
Susan: *Sighs* OK. If he’s lost, I’ll tell him to call you lorh. (same meaning as "la")
Web censorship: The Playboy website is banned in Singapore. If you enter the Playboy web URL, no naked girls or racy pictures or Playboy bunny images comes up. You’ll find yourself staring, mouth agape, frantically scrambling…at the fat white computer screen with 7 scarily creepy words: The site you requested is not accessible.
Now that I’ve finished describing the distinguishing traits of Singapore, I shall proceed to narrate the riveting lifestyle that Singaporeans lead. The National Sport of all Singaporeans is SHOP, SHOP, and SHOP 'til you drop. Dotted all over the country are malls that sell everything and anything (except gum, of course). In a country so teeny that it takes only an hour to drive from east to west, anyone can reach a mall in ten minutes.
However, shopping is still ranked second to the all-Singaporean-favorite hobby of EATING/PIGGING OUT/GAINING CALORIES. There is nothing a Singaporean loves better than glorious, mouth-watering delicacies straight from heaven, and price is not an issue. It's a common sight to see a horde of Singaporeans lining up in front of a noodle stall waiting patiently/greedily for an early morning snack before work. For your information, the average waiting time at said noodle stall is 35 minutes, sometimes longer.
To sum it up, this is what living in Singapore is like: shopping + eating + abiding by laws + showering thrice a day + trying to decipher Singlish. If ever you need a dose of muggy, sticky sunshine that’s guaranteed to make you perspire (unless you have no sweat glands) to rejuvenate your frostbitten skin + itchy, crimson mosquito bites to garnish your limbs + opportunities to shop and splurge your hard earned cash + chance to curb your litterbug habit by getting a taste of the law, you know what to do: BEG YOUR PARENTS TO BRING YOU TO SINGAPORE.
Would you like to visit Singapore?
Related post: What it's like to Live in...
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