Life in Singapore for the most part is amazing. Perfect? Almost! Often referred to as the expat utopia it is easy to see why with it’s tropical climate, clean city and easy to use public transport system, not to mention great food.
However, while I was recently speaking to a friend about what life was like here, it dawned on me that people may have had the notion that life was a beach here in Singapore.
As I explained more about what Singapore was like I realised that these were things I didn’t know myself before moving here. It’s these quirky little things I hope I don’t forget as they are the reminders that you are experiencing something new and very different from home.
My Singapore surprise list goes a bit like this:
1) Don’t jump in puddles!
It rains a lot in Singapore. Like almost every day. With all the towering skyscrappers decorating the city centre you’d be easily forgiven for forgetting that Singapore is a tropical country. And with that comes a tropical climate. One of 90% humidity and rain. I don’t really mind walking in the rain here as it is still warm, but one thing I wasn’t prepared for was stepping in warm puddles. There’s no other way to describe it other than, it feels like your stepping in a puddle of piss. Not that I’ve experienced that but this is what springs to mind every time I’m ankle deep in a puddle that separates me from the pavement. And there is that much water that you are wading through puddles to get to ‘drier’ land.
2) Lightning Capital
On the topic of rain, there are rather a lot of thunderstorms in Singapore. I later found that Singapore is known as a lightning capital in the world. Averaging around 168 lightning storms per year, thunderstorms are frequent! And they can be disruptive and dangerous. Read here for an article on The Strait Times on a recent lightning thunderstorm.
3) Old MacDonald had no farm in Singapore
There are no farms in Singapore? So where do they get their food from? Everywhere else. Singapore imports everything including all its produce. So the vegetables and fruits that you buy in the grocery store are from neighbouring countries like Thailand, Malaysia etc or for a more expensive taste, Australia. With the lack of farms and huge reliance on imported food, prices are high for the basics. However, there is growth in the ‘farm to table’ movement and more ‘farm to table’ restaurants are popping up in Singapore. I mean, after all, this is Singapore we are talking about. One of the most progressive, eco-friendly/forward-thinking cities I’ve lived in. So naturally, they would find a way for a sustainable food market. You can read more about the best ‘farm to table’ restaurants here.
4) Good beaches? Good luck!
Following from the lack of farms and the huge import industry is the big shipping industry that lines the shores of Singapore. So while it is an island that shares its waters with nearby Indonesia, the beaches here are far from beautiful or swimmable. Tankers and liners lie like sitting ducks waiting to dock on the shores thus littering any coastal view. And with that comes fairly contaminated waters. The only safe and nice place to swim is on man-made Sentosa island at the beaches and beach clubs there.
5) Geckos, monkeys and snakes oh my!
With a tropical country comes tropical creatures. The beautiful colourful birds and flora are a treat on the eyes. A lovely reminder that you are in paradise. However, every once in a while you may be reminded of some of the other occupants of the island. Geckos are a dime a dozen here in Singapore. While completely harmless, they can get a bit annoying with their clacking sound and pooping around the building. The monkeys are cute but don’t get too friendly as they will want (and fight you for )whatever is in your bag. And snakes… well although I have yet to see one (and don’t want to), I was faced with a situation of being close to seeing one. I was in the park with 16 little preschoolers for sports when I was notified by some locals that they had seen a snake earlier that morning. In the very area we were now playing in…. Thankfully, the snake did not show its face!
6) Great shopping…. if you’re tiny
Singapore is also known as a shopping haven. With an amazing range of brands available from around the world, you can find most things you desire here. Or so I thought… As a westerner, shopping can be rather difficult if not depressing to find something that fits you. The problem being that sizes are small, made for one type of figure and lack in variety or style. The good news- what you save on clothing you can spend on holidays where you might find better luck!
Singapore is still an amazing place to live and I loved every minute of it. This little list of surprises are some of the beauties of living away from home. I look back on these little things and truly miss my time there. But for those who are moving over there, pack a poncho and get a clothes shop in before you move!