Singapore was never in my bucket list before. I told myself that the city-state didn’t have anything that I liked; after all, I thought, who wants to live in a regimented place where one wrong move and you’d get publicly whipped? No sir, not me!
It turned out that I didn’t know what I was talking about. When I went to Singapore in October to attend a seminar, I found out that everything I thought I knew about that country was far from the truth. By the time I left one week later, I realized then that I absolutely loved Singapore. I had never thought of living outside the Philippines before (by choice), but after staying in the Lion City for a week, I knew that if I had a choice on where to live, I would definitely want to be there.
Here are just a few reasons why I love Singapore.
You don’t have to endure security guards poking sticks into your bag every time you enter the MRT station, malls, banks, or any building in the city. Arriving in Singapore that rainy October morning, I couldn’t believe the feeling of freedom of walking in and out the buildings without being accosted by men in uniforms who derive their power from their wooden sticks and shiny badges.
My readers from developed countries probably can’t relate to this indignity. Here in the Philippines, every time you enter a building—from malls and business institutions, to banks, train stations, and offices—a security guard with a wooden stick would demand that you open your bags and all the pockets therein so that they can take a look at what’s inside.
I have no problem with security measures, per se, if I knew that these guards can really do their job and are not just pretending to do so. All too often, the gesture is empty; they probably can’t recognize a b-o-m-b even if it jumped from the bag and bit their noses. This is what happened to an SM branch; a student brought a g-u-n inside the mall and shot another student—all these despite the “stringent” measures of checking the bag of everyone who entered.
I’m especially feeling strongly about this matter now after experiencing the same thing from our office in Manila. Can you imagine leaving your office everyday and being told by the guard to open your bag so he can check what’s inside? And this is in full view of many people who don’t have to go through the same thing, only because they go to school there and they’re not renting an office space! It’s the height of stupidity, to say the least.
I love the food! Being a foodie, I also enjoyed Singapore a lot. There are so many varieties available, and when it’s almost closing time, the discounts are amazing. Even the fruits are cheap; I bought several packs daily when I was there.
You can see gardens and green spaces everywhere. My cousins who live and work in Singapore said that every residential building has a corresponding park. It was so refreshing to see big tracts of land with nothing on it but trees and grass, and some even have small, man-made lakes. Who said that nature has to go when a place becomes urbanized? He probably hasn’t been to Singapore yet.
You can walk around with a backpack not worrying about pickpockets slashing your bag. Yes, Singapore is really a safe city. I walked around there with my cellphone and wallet in the pocket of my backpack without constantly worrying about it being stolen. Locals say that the only place where there’re a lot of pickpocket incidents is in front of Lucky Plaza. I’m not entirely sure about its veracity (and I really hope it’s not true), but it’s still sad to hear of that impression. Lucky Plaza is where most Filipinos congregate and where most Filipino stores can be found.
It’s very easy to go around; public transportation in Singapore is really top class! Indeed, it’s very easy to go around; transportation to and from the hotels in Singapore is fast and easy, and if you have an EZ link card, it’s also cheap. Of course it does get a bit crowded during peak hours, but you never have to worry about some random guy rubbing himself on you. They’re too scared of the judicial system, and with good reason too.
There’s tissue paper in every public toilet and it’s always clean. Yes, I know it’s a bit shallow, but here in the Philippines (and in other Asian countries I’ve been to as well), you can only find free tissue paper in hotels and in some restaurants. Put a roll of tissue anywhere, and it will probably be gone in less than an hour, taken home by an intrepid citizen wanting a freebie.
There are no floods! I guess the city’s sewer system is just great. In all the years that my cousins had been living there, they could remember only one time when Orchard Road flooded, and even then, the water was drained the next morning and new plants were put in. Talk about an efficient government system!
The shopping’s also great. I’m certainly not a shopaholic, so the rows of luxury brands along Orchard Road didn’t appeal to me. What I liked was walking around in Bugis Street, where I bought two wonderful shirts for only 10SGD (around PhP300) and a little black dress for the same price.
After my weeklong trip to Singapore, I proceeded to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the difference really struck me hard. I only stayed there for one day, so I don’t know if I would learn to love it as much as I did Singapore. Even if I would, I doubt if I’d want to live there though; I also like Thailand and Vietnam, but I have no intention of living there myself.
How about you? Have you been to Singapore? What do you love about the Lion City?