As of 2017, Singapore’s population is a whopping 5.8 million in such a small space. Out of those 5.8 million, thousands of born and bred Singaporeans are spread out all over the globe pursuing dreams and opportunities. I am one of those people.
The past year living in Qatar and travelling the globe at the same time opened my eyes to all the comforts and convenience Singapore provides, things I’ve taken for granted and missed now that I am all the way out here. Singaporeans back home may scrunch up their noses and scoff, but believe me majority of people living in Singapore has good things going for them.
RELIABLE TRANSPORT SYSTEM
Our MRT system may not be as comprehensive as Japan’s or as reliable as Hong Kong’s, but it still gets us from point A to point B. The fares are relatively cheap, and the cabins are air conditioned and clean. Though the occasional breakdowns and track faults during rush hour causes a lot of unhappiness among commuters, be thankful the trains are well maintained unlike those in London.
Buses are still my go-to public transport when I’m home. The SGBuses app is my best friend in determining how long I have to wait for the bus, and unlike 20 years ago where you’d have to consult a chart to see which fare button you’d have to press, everything is now convenient at the tap of your EZLINK card.
Taxis in Singapore are metered and strictly no haggling allowed. If you know the route, specify them to the taxi uncle so you wouldn’t get ‘ripped off’ paying the extra dollars for the extra long detour he had decided to take. The older taxi drivers know everything there is to know about Singapore roads; they know all the shortcuts and hidden gems and if you strike up some conversation with them, they may or may not divulge. Plus, it’s safe at any hours of the day. You don’t have to worry about being taken to some godforsaken part of town past midnight and get robbed.
In the recent years, Singapore’s hipster scene has been booming with the many, many contemporary cafes that had sprouted (and some died) all over the island. I wished there were as many contemporary, independent cafes I could hang out at while I was in school. Meals out weren’t just confined to malls; after-dinner hang outs could be at a cool bar or cafe a stone throw away.
I’ve been keeping up with what’s cool and on trend in Singapore, and am very, very jealous of all the things that are happening when I am not at home. The one thing I could experience this year was the iLight Marina Bay festival. I really enjoyed being surrounded by the Uncle Ring carnival-esque atmosphere with the nation’s Central Business District in the background, sampling the rather expensive food offerings from the more hipster and atas pasar malam stalls.
Come on, need I say more? Once while I was in the office, I was talking with a fellow Singaporean and Malaysian colleague about good places to eat in KL while the Serbian and South African colleagues listened in. A Korean colleague walked in and asked what were we talking so animatedly about. Another Malaysian colleague sitting three desks away who was eavesdropping on our conversation replied with a sigh, “When a Malaysian and Singaporean get together, all they talk about is food.” #truth
I miss the char kuay teow without fishcakes and extra cockles, hokkien mee with extra chilli, Mama’s Friday nasi lemak (because she usually cooks them on Friday), steam fish sessions at Al Azhar with the usuals followed by waffles or ice cream at Udders, or stuffing my face with Dim Sum. You’ll never, ever run out of places to eat in Singapore. So many new things to try, places to go… so little time.
And last, but the closest to my heart…..
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
When I first arrived in Qatar, I thought I was only going home a couple of times a year – four at most. My first time back in Singapore was after a good four months away, and immediately I was lured out of my hotel room by Citra and Joey who insisted to take me out to lunch. Since then, I try to come home whenever I can, making the most out of my staff benefits. The 8-hour commute from Doha to Singapore is like an every day bus ride for me.
The longest I spent back home after moving away was 18 days last October. Never will I get the chance for that same long leave again, and never will I ever want to stay that long. The longer you stay, the more you don’t want to leave again. Well, even going home for four days last month was the one thing I looked forward to all month and I was incredibly and hopelessly sad when it was over. Alas, as I always say: Girl’s gotta work.