The Thursday column is primarily about other countries that I’m interested in, but it would be remiss to overlook Singapore, which is also a travel destination, and is particularly popular for expatriates to live in. After all, most of us speak English as our first language, which already places us higher than other parts of Asia. The only other Asian country I can think of with a good command of English is Hong Kong, but they belong to China now (so I really must stop calling them a country) and I expect Chinese regulations are still a lot more stringent than Singaporean ones when it comes to business. Maybe.
I believe I never really knew what foreigners think of the Singaporean accent. We poke fun at the Hong Konger accent very often (at least, Singaporeans do) but what do they think of us? Are we so boring that our accent isn’t even noteworthy? I haven’t encountered a situation where a foreigner didn’t understand our accent yet, so all should be well on that front.
In any case, while I’m on the subject of Singapore and Hong Kong, I found a useful and beautiful website to guide expats on living in these 2 countries. Expat Living Singapore has articles on a variety of aspects of Singapore, organised into categories like “Kids”, “Homes”, “Wine & Dine” etcetera. In each category there are also sub-categories. Under Kids, there are things like “Mums & Babies”, “Tweens & Teens” etcetera. It’s quite comprehensive and useful to know. It lists the top infectious diseases to watch out for in Singapore, showcases the homes of some expats, and of course recipes for cooking with Singaporean ingredients. I envy expats reading this thing! I bet there’re loads of things in there that I don’t know myself.
The website is just http://www.expatliving.sg.
I think, though, that 1 big thing to note when in Singapore (which I’m unsure if the website really covers) is that it’s almost always a waste of time asking locals for directions — especially the younger ones. Older people are alright, but a youngster will just look back at you with glazed eyes even when your destination is right in front of him. Singaporeans just rely too much on Google Maps to bother remembering where anything is in the vicinity, and are pretty much also a bunch of not-alert and not-curious people. So if you want to go anywhere, always consult a map or Google Maps before asking people. Unless you want to ask them to help you check Google Maps, which they will gladly do.
Sometimes reading these articles reminds me of things I take for granted too. The medical article, for instance, says Singapore is packed and therefore colds and flus spread easily, and also that Singapore being a warm and humid country ensures viruses stay active and infectious for longer than colder climates. And I start wondering whether Singaporeans do fall sick more often than people in temperate climates in that case. I’ve heard many people mention such, that viruses survive better in our happy sunny climate (really, everything thrives in this kind of climate, even fruits) and indeed, there’re many diseases that occur only in tropical countries. However, there’re many Singaporeans who have never fallen ill for most of their lives, so maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds?
Either way, be sure to take care of your health when you’re coming to Singapore, and consider spending a year or 2 here. We’ve commonly been named one of the best countries to live in anyway, and especially so in Asia!