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Things I Greatly Miss About Singapore
Now that I even have moved on to a different destination and restarting in my hometown, I made an inventory of things I actually and greatly miss about Singapore. Singapore was home far away from home for five years, my source of income, taught me about happiness and courage and gave me a blanket of protection from harsh situations.
Garden in a city, city in a garden
Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew launched a tree-planting campaign in 1963. It was his vision to cultivate greenery and soften the harshness of the metropolis. As the country continues to urbanize, it is moving towards becoming a City in a Garden. The trees and the plants are sourced from the country’s nature reserves and botanic gardens.
Singapore sits on the earth’s equator and has tropical weather all year round. The humidity here can dry your laundry in a matter of hours. But thanks to the lush greens and the giant trees that looked like giant broccoli, the weather can be bearably cooler than what you normally would expect.
HDB stands for the housing development board, responsible for the towering residential buildings, housing about 80 percent of Singapore’s population. These housing estates are self-sustainable, each with its own community, schools, supermarkets, hawker centers, health clinics, and sports and recreational facilities.
Singapore’s network of city train and bus form part of the most impressive commuting system I have ever seen in most of my travels. Save for some hiccups on MRT breakdowns which an alternative option is already prepared to make the disruptions as minor as possible, the train stations are super clean, roomy, plus you are sure to always end up in some shopping mall when you alight.
Moreover, they have hundreds of apps that you can set up on your mobile device to keep track of bus timings and routes.
It’s a fine city
Singapore prides itself as one of the cleanest and greenest countries in the world. In the 1960s, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew introduced strict anti-litter laws, which are still in force today. A first offense for littering here will cost you SGD 1000.00 and repeat offenses can skyrocket up to SGD 5000.00!
There is also a fine for chewing gum, that my friend, can cost you SGD 100.00. Be careful where you relieve yourself because here peeing in the lift can cost you up to SGD 500.00 and for failing to flush the lavatory after doing your thing? SGD 100.00.
I don’t do kidding when it comes to Singapore’s strict laws because the end result is a clean and green island state. Singapore is really serious when it comes to implementing its laws.
When paying for your food at the counter, you can always say “Can take away?” Means, can I have this order to go?
“Can!” means yes you can! Say it like you’re enthusiastically happy about it and you’re on your way to sounding more like the locals.
In Singapore, the word “can” is already a complete sentence by itself. It means that whatever your questions are, the answer is yes.
The same thing for its negative form, “cannot”. It simply means no can do. No way.
Looking for cheap delicious authentic Singapore flavor? Head on to the nearest hawker center that you can find in every HDB estate. Hawker centers are the melting pot of the food culture of Singapore. Singapore is a colorful mixture of different cultures and this is further evidenced by a wide variety of food prepared and sold in all hawker centers.
Taste the hot steaming pork ribs soup locally called as Bak-Kuh-Teh or enjoy a bowl of steaming laksa the cheapest way possible in hawker centers. While downing your bowl of laksa, you can enjoy hawker center movie scenes of elders enjoying a bucket of beers with their cigarettes, the long queue for the Hainanese chicken rice, the hanging pork skin and the Peking duck, the aunties and the uncles changing light stories in that shouting tone even though they’re seated right next to each other.
It is the best way to embrace the Singapore culture and at the same time go on a foodie trip.
Great Singapore Sale (GSS)
Happening around the months of June and July and sometimes some shops extending it up to August, the GSS is a much-awaited annual event for shopaholics. This is the time to take advantage of deals, steals and great discounts even on famous branded items. Singapore is also a shopping hub and may western brands have also made their mark here.
This event is participated in by all shophouses, malls, restaurants and even concert events are held to entertain the shoppers along Orchard Road. The four-letter word “S-A-L-E” is my favorite word and shopping is one of my favorite sport, the months of June and July is the splurging month for me to purchase new travel gear. I was able to score a North Face raincoat unbelievably at 70% off!
Singapore internet connection is the world’s fastest internet connection, according to Akamai Technologies on its report released Dec 2015. Even the average household here subscribes to fiber broadband offered by leading internet service providers.
When staying in Singapore, purchasing the prepaid SIM with a bundled data plan for several days is the best way to stay connected with loved ones abroad. Yup, the internet connection is fast too. Super.
Formula 1 Night Race
The Formula 1 Grand Prix in Singapore is one of the most exciting and much-awaited events of the year. The only night race event in the world happens here every last weekend of September. The street race backdrop is the cityscape and the Marina Bay circuit. There is also a major concert held on the race day. I was able to catch a Katy Perry concert in one of the races held in the previous years.
Every year, the months nearing the September race, you will see barricades put up for the street race and there’s a sudden influx of tourists competing for space in the metro and the buses. The streets of Singapore come alive like a happy fiesta leading to the race weekend, and when Monday comes, everything and everyone is back to normal like nothing exciting happened. Well except for the advance booking emails I get for the next year’s race.
Singapore’s Changi airport has always been topping the list of world’s best airports for 4 straight years since 2013. This is the seventh time in 16 years that the airport has picked up the title at the World Airport Awards. The airport was also awarded Best Airport for Leisure Amenities.
When on a layover in Singapore, you can relax in its butterfly garden, rooftop pools, movie theater, massage chairs, lounge in its spacious lounge area, dine in its more than 120 restaurants and cafes, connect to its free and reliable wifi and your kids can also enjoy its art corner. Truly you wouldn’t mind being on a long layover here in Changi.
One thing I really love in Changi Airport is the potable water fountain everywhere and even inside the boarding gates. I hope more airport authorities in other countries provide this feature in their airports too. All you need is your water bottle, empty it before going through the security check, and then refill once inside the gates while waiting for your boarding time. I save up on money and the environment for not buying bottled water.