Cheap and good hawker food, efficient public transport and being able to walk the streets safely at night — these are common things in Singapore that we are thankful for, but it takes living overseas for awhile to discover some of the more unusual things only Singaporeans would miss when away from home.
1. The consistently hot and humid tropical weather
For all the complaints about our hot and wetter weather — one minute it’s blazing hot sun and the next torrential tropical downpours — the general predictability of 25-32 degrees Celsius temperature with the occasional downpour all year round is surprisingly comforting. Having actual seasons is overrated — winter is gloomy, less fluffy snowflakes and more slippery ice patches and much less amazing when you have to put on three layers of clothing just to go outside.
2. Being able to break into Singlish without judgement
“Eh bro, this place ho jiak boh? Queue so long, must be got standard right?”
Kit Chan’s “This is home” rings through your head fondly as you hear the distinctly Singaporean accent cut through a sea of unintelligible foreign languages.
It’s like having your own secret code — there’s something so satisfying about not having to explain the nuances of ‘lah’ and ‘meh’ to people who inherently understand, and don’t question the existence of any actual English in that sentence.
3. Slippers are acceptable footwear in public
Slippers, flip-flops, thongs (snigger). Whatever you call them, you can wear this flimsy rubber footwear just about anywhere in Singapore (that doesn’t have a strict dress code) sans judgement. In most other countries, slippers are strictly for the beach or your backpacker showers. Some call us sloppy dressers; we like to think of it as just being practical in our kind of weather.
4. Dustbins Everywhere
You don’t realise just how prolific the dustbin is in Singapore until you’ve been overseas and had to stash dirty food wrappers in your purse because there just don’t seem to be any trash receptacles in the vicinity whatsoever, and ‘clean and green’ is too well-ingrained in your psyche for you to start littering.
5. Not having to hold your bags while eating
Don’t even think about leaving your iPhone on the table for just a second when you are in some cities overseas, because one minute it’s there, the next minute it might be on its way to China to create another Brother Orange celebrity.
Singaporeans probably could afford to be more vigilant, but there’s a nice feeling about trusting the people around you not to take your things.
6. Flowers along our expressways
The ECP is a beautiful expressway to drive along when the flowers are in riotous bloom, especially when foreign dignitaries are about to descend upon Singapore for major international conferences — it’s a great welcome to the famous Garden City. You don’t realise how much you miss the bougainvillea lining our overhead bridges and roads until you’re faced with dreary or graffiti-ed expressway walls in other cities, nary a shrub in sight.
7. Being half an hour away from most things when you’re running late
Overslept your morning alarm? Hop into a cab and you can get from Jurong to Changi in about half an hour if traffic isn’t too bad. It generally takes around an hour on average, even by public transport, to get to most corners of Singapore. The convenience of being in a rather small country is more apparent when you have to go to a neighbouring town a few hours’ drive away just to get your administrative work settled.
Singaporean readers – what do you miss about home when you travel overseas?
Cover Photo of Singapore Skyline from Flickr by Mike Behnken