My 2nd full day in Singapore and I think I am in love with this place already. The climate is perfect. It is warm and tropical and a wee bit humid, this means plants thrive here. I am always blown away by tropical flora and fauna (yeh, yeh, I like the environment, f*ck me right?!). Here you wake up and walk outside to a chorus of birds singing my welcome. They’re happy to be alive and they want me to be as well!
Singapore is a very multicultural place. On the MRT (the train system) from the airport to my hotel, I sat with Chinese, Malays, Indians, Filipinos, Sri Lankans and the odd whitey as well. The thing that astounds me most is that they are all unified by one thing:
Open Toed Leather Sandals
I totes get it though, open toed sandals offer exceptional airflow and podiatric ventilation, as such, there is no requirement for pesky socks. I am happy to report that I have yet to come across any Scandinavians or Germans committing this heinous faux pas. The open toed sandal is the precursor to my beloved Crocs, something that I acknowledge and am grateful for.
On a more serious note though. At first glance there appears to be huge sums of wealth flowing through this country, however on closer investigation and many chats with different locals and cab drivers, there seems to be an undercurrent of unrest. Some common themes include disillusionment with the lack of opportunities for locals. Particular concern has been raised by various people about the talent drain occuring in Singapore. Many leave to study overseas, which is usually a great thing, but the sad thing is many never return here. This together with the government’s efforts to increase the population via fiscal incentives seems to dumbfound the locals – a one off lump sum of $6,000 to give birth, but providing no avenues or opportunities to raise that very child. It all sounds a little too similar to Australia’s bogan baby bonus to me.
The locals here are generally lovely, most people are salt-of-the-earth types, either trying to scratch a living or desperately seeking another, better, life. The people here have been exceptionally friendly, all that I have encountered have been happy to assist where they can. I am particularly impressed by the cab drivers here. It is a weird feeling because most cabbies are older ethnic Chinese Singaporean men, so although they are providing me a taxi service, I naturally respect them as elders, like uncles (It’s a little East Asian thing called Filial Piety).
Today I had one of those unique experiences that proves we are very social beings and our unsatiable cravings for human interaction. I got into a cab and asked the driver to take me to a ‘good, local’ place to eat. Along the way we chatted about my background and his background. He has 3 sons. 2 are in IT and work for Apple Computers in the US, his other son is about to complete his degree in civil engineering. I could tell this humble cabby was so very proud of his children’s achievements. I suppose this pride is also generally reflected in the greater population here. For this man’s pride is Singapore’s pride. Just over 50 years ago, Singapore was a shitty Malay village with little resources and surrounded by a heavily communist-influenced Malaya. Seemingly insurmountable odds were heaped up against this little island, but we all know what Singapore is today… and its definitely not the arrogant asshole I was expecting before my arrival!
I ended up having brunch with this cabby, and although we didn’t talk about anything too significant, it was still a heartwarming experience and definitely a highlight of this visit.
Post Script. I was fricken tired when I typed this up, so apologies for shitty grammar and whatever else you might be secretly criticising my for!
Post Post Script. Anyone also think of ‘Don’t Mess with the Zohan‘ ?!