Many people make fun of me when I say that I am Singaporean. From using randomly adding “lah” to every sentence to asking me “is this illegal?” with everything they do, here is a list of 10 signs you are in Singapore. It is more than just illegal chewing gun and capital punishment.
Sometimes I forget how interestingly ridiculous Singapore is, until I return to my homeland. It might be easy to forget how expensive Singapore is at first, but when you see the advertised beer prices on the streets, you wake up from dreaming. The shock is not about how expensive Singapore is, rather, the culture and way of life. I have to admit that I get a culture shock occasionally. (Ps: Singapore is the 3rd most expensive place to drink a beer in the world)
You ask people out to party with free alcohol and they say no because they prefer to work instead
As you know, Wednesday is my favourite day of the week. Free unlimited alcohol, attractive people and rooftop views amongst skyscrapers. Can the middle of the week get any better? Apparently yes, for most of my friends.
Wednesday is the day to party in Singapore because it is ladies night and you have free drinks. But, it is impossible to ask any of my friends out. They are (almost always) busy with work and school. Literally, they prefer to be working instead of partying with free drinks.
The funny thing is that if I asked the same group of people to meet for a project on Wednesday night, they will be all for it. But to meet on a Wednesday night to party. “Lisa, are you insane? That is ridiculous. I need to work.” Well ok, sorry I don’t know I live in Germany 2.0.
2. You say that $100 for clothes is expensive and they reply with “expensive?”
This is perhaps one of the funniest moments in 2017 so far. I was speaking with a couple and we chatted about clothes. I said that in the country, the clothes are quite expensive, about $100 a piece. The expression on their face next was surprising.
They looked at me quizzically, “expensive?”
I looked back at them and go, “expensive to that country”. And they heaved a sigh of relief. I forgot that it is totally normal to spend $100 on random clothes.
3. You have to walk further to take the lift or escalators instead of walking the stairs.
Before I begin, guilty as charged. I have never realized this until I met with my non-Singaporean friends in Singapore. I would walk extra to take the lift or escalators instead of the stairs. And they always get really annoyed because it just seems ridiculous.
Well, in my opinion, walking a little to take the lift or escalators help to conserve energy and I can use my energy to work. (Refer to point #1) Also, I may or may not have complained to my friends when I am in Europe. The old buildings in Paris or Milan or Switzerland simply do not have lifts. I have to carry my stuff up and down with the stairs. That alone seems ridiculous. In Singapore, you have baby escalators for 5 steps of stairs.
4. People spend $500,000 on a powerful car (>280km/h) to drive on roads with speed limit of 50-90km/h
Germans like to complain to me about how Singapore is such a weird country with fast cars and low-speed limits. Well, I totally understand that. In Germany, the motorway goes at a minimum speed of 120 km/h. And the maximum speed limit in Singapore is 90 km/h. And on main roads, it is just 50 km/h. Sasha asked me if the engines of fast cars are even the real engines because they are way too powerful for the tiny roads in Singapore.
5. The thing that distracts you from concentrating on work is the sound of a Ferrari 458 engine driving pass
An ultimate first world problem, this is a reason why I don’t like being in downtown in Singapore. Despite the crazy price tags in cars, there are still lots of fast and powerful cars in Singapore. And they are not exactly very silent. It is common to see a handful of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royce and Bentleys on the road in a single day. And of all the places I have trevelled, I don’t think that there is a country with more supercars on the road. Perhaps Qatar, but that’s a whole new level.
Also, literally a Ferrari just drove past and it cannot emphasise this point even better.
6. You complain when your phone says that internet is 3G. 4G is the minimum criteria.
Another thing I took for granted in Singapore: the fastest internet speed in the world. My phone almost never shows 3G because the country is well covered with 4G high-speed internet. In fact, our WiFi is mainly 5G. Spoilt, I know.
Yet, even with such amazing internet speeds, you can still hear complains from people. Having your phone is switched to 3G in a mall or train is just frustrating. It is crazy because, in Germany, you only have limited 4G data every month. Then it is switched to the slowest mobile internet I have ever experienced. In Paris & London, there is absolutely no internet on the metro. And well, in Vietnam, the internet is still delivered by cables underwater. Sometimes, the entire country has no internet.
I honestly have no idea why Singaporeans are complaining so much.
7. It is common to hear sentences with a mix of languages with broken language sentence structure
Common languages include English, Mandarin, Tamil, Malay, Cantonese, Hokkien/Teochew and other Mandarin dialects. Try understanding this sentence:
“Dey (Tamil), ni bu yao (Mandarin) goondu (Tamil) leh (hokkien), you (English) simi sai (hokkien) also ke yi (Mandarin). Macam (Malay) sheep, anyhow follow one (Singlish). Damn jialat (Hokkien) can(Singlish)?“
Translation: Hey, don’t be silly and agree with everything. It is akin to being a sheep and following the shepherd blindly. This is a very serious issue.
Perhaps I could say that Singlish is a dialect of English used by Singaporeans. It consists of so many languages, but it is actually quite beautiful on its own. However, sometimes it gets too mixed that even I do not understand. It is good because there is an urban legend in Singapore. The US tried to spy on our Air Force by listening to our conversation. And after listening to a conversation, both US personnel looked at each other, “they speak English right?”
You can find more examples of Singlish from the National University of Singapore.
8. The word “Can” is pronounced in 101 ways, and carries 101 different meaning. It is also used for everything.
Can is perhaps the most common word used in Singapore. It is so common that every non-Asian friend will use “can” to make fun of Singaporeans. (The Asians will attempt at Singlish and add “lah” to every end of the sentence.)
“Can can” is a common reply from local food vendors to emphasise yes. “Canooooooooot” is a common rejection. It also has a lot of meanings when mixed with other words. You can find more on a Quora trend, which the picture is from too. Sometimes I wonder if non-Singaporeans can ever understand it. My guess is canoooooooooooot.
9. You see people leaving the iPhones and MacBooks around, to reserve a seat on the table while they go about ordering their food.
Perhaps this is one of the best things about Singapore. It is so safe and wealthy that no one cares about your outdated iPhone 6s or Macbook. In Starbucks, cafes and university campus, you see these gadgets lying around. But that is not the worse. In food courts and hawker centres, you also see phones lying around on tables. It is a sign to show that the seat is reserved.
In the animal kingdom, the animals pee to show dominance. In Singapore, they lay out their phones and laptops. Surprisingly it works! It is also common to see money, wallet and phones hanging in people’s pockets or bag pockets.
10. Free and clean toilets
The last thing that I really love about Singapore is the free and clean toilets. And the fact that they are everywhere! You can find toilets in malls and you can find malls everywhere in Singapore. There are also toilets in the hotels and even the ones in the train are clean and nice to use!
I hate the fact that you have to spend 50 euro-cents just for a toilet in Europe and they are not even clean. Or in countries like Malaysia, China, Indonesia, where the toilet is literally a hole in the ground. Although I might dislike the fact that we have new malls popping up every few months in Singapore, I am thankful for the fact that there are free and clean toilets everywhere!
What other signs tell you that you are in Singapore? Do comment and let us know!
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.