As much as Singaporeans love to complain, we know when to count our blessings too. So before we sit back and enjoy the fire works come August 9, here are some reasons why we are immensely grateful to be Singaporean.
Thanks to our wonderful education system, most of us can converse comfortably in more than one language. Sometimes, even more than two, if you include random dialect phrases. This definitely aids our cause when we’re travelling around the region and especially when we need to bargain for our shopping.
2. Clean water (left)
Don’t take for granted the clean water you get from your taps. Not every country’s tap water is safe to drink and washing your face with Singapore’s tap water doesn’t make your skin breakout. Plus point? We don’t have to walk five hours in the hot sun just to get it. Image: Corbis
3. Changi Airport
Let’s face it, we’ve all been caught in flight delays or counter staff inefficiencies in every other airport all over the world, and we can’t stop complaining about how the staff go on breaks even when they see a whole crowd in front of them. The only reason we are so irate? We’re so used to breezing in and out of Changi Airport, still the world’s reigning best airport, and having garnered 370 awards, is the world’s most awarded airport. For good reason.
4. Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
The architecture is uniquely Singapore and the gigs are internationally renowned. We love how they’ve reshaped the local arts scene and given indie hipsters and the arty farty ones a place to hang out, all thanks to festivals like Mosaic and Baybeats.
We’re a garden city, but we’re also an island, so our proximity to beautiful beaches – Sentosa, East Coast, West Coast etc – means that we can pack our picnic baskets and sunscreen and head there any time we want without planning for a whole weekend trip!
6. Football is our national language
We live and breathe football. For most part, even the most uninitiated would be swayed to back one team or another when it’s World Cup season, during the Barclays Premier League and even during our Malaysia Cup heyday back in the 90s. Come 2012, let’s watch the nation band together as we re-enter the race for the prestigious cup.
7. Chilli crab (right)
The default answer from tourists when asked about THE local dish they simply have to try. Every visiting Korean band wants to taste it, while their Western counterparts are slightly fearful of it. Even locals can’t get enough of the flavourful dish; just check out the snaking long queues at the Melben outlets. Image: Red House Seafood
8. The weather
Yes it’s a tad humid, but it’s better than sub-zero temperatures or the dry, scorching sun. Our weather is perfect for picnics and beach outings. Really. Make plans and get yourself out and about. The sun will give you a much healthier and attractive glow than the light from your computer screen.
9. Local brand, Max.Tan
Whoever said local designers are boring will instantly change their minds after a peek at Max Tan’s designs. Clothes from his eponymous label are quirky, fresh and wearable. Max Tan first grabbed eyeballs at Amsterdam’s modefabriek fashion event in 2010 and continues to do Singapore proud with his fast-rising label in the fashion scene.
We can’t deny what makes us intrinsically Singaporean – our ability to spew ‘Lah’, ‘Leh’, ‘Lor’ with perfect ease. Our camaraderie is laudable, we bet even foreigners are jealous. Those unique, slightly off-tune additions of “ah”s, “can”s, “leh”s and “one”s at the end of sentences are something that no number of Speak Good English campaigns can get rid of and we will hate to lose. This National Day, be reminded of why we love our locally-inflected English lah.
11. Greenery everywhere
Trees line every road, every pathway and your neighbour probably has some plants lined up outside her home too. Retaining some of that kampung feel and resisting turning into a concrete jungle is something we will always be thankful for. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with only concrete slabs and glass facades, would you?
12. Campaign city (left)
Thanks to our multitude of campaigns, Singaporeans are a well-adjusted bunch. “GEMS” gave us exemplary service from the retail industry and the “Courtesy” campaign taught us all to say our “thank you”s and “please”s.
13. Friendly neighbours
Next door makcik‘s awesome chicken curry for dinner from time to time, being able to pop next door to borrow some salt when you’re out and cute little kids from next door greeting you with sweet smiles. What’s not to love about our neighbours?
Singapore’s really tiny; it takes no more than two hours to get from one point to another on public transport. Pick the nearest mall for an impromptu shopping spree or do a foodie journey by leaving the city centre for that off-the-track restaurant you’ve been itching to try.
15. The MRT
With so many new train stops — and even more to come — it’s a breeze getting around Singapore. The remaining 12 stops on the Circle line open on October 8 and we can’t wait to cut down on our traveling time.
16. Zouk (right)
The go-to place for drinks and some serious head-banging since your dad’s “disco” days but the cool factor is still there; 20-years-old, six-time “Best Nightspot Experience” recipient from the Singapore Tourism Board, and still bringing in the crowds. Props to our all-time favourite club for keeping up with the times.
17. Wi-Fi connectivity
Face it, we’re an island-full of Internet addicts. So, of course we love those free public Wi-Fi services. While we’re always complaining about the quality of the Internet connection, we’re still loving the fact that it’s free.
18. The price of technology
We are paying the same amount per month for broadband, cable TV (millions of channels) and home phone line as what you would pay for just broadband alone in Australia. Not only do we get cheap tech access, we can also get the latest, greatest tech at bargain prices too, compared to Australia, the UK and Europe, it’s damn cheap. And, on top of the great prices, we get the latest tech gear pretty much as soon as major markets like the US and Japan. We’re definitely not complaining.
19. The Singapore Zoological Gardens
Spend up to a whole day at this huge open-concept zoo and there will still be more to see. The upcoming River Safari will give Singaporeans more reasons to visit the zoo again. Opening in 2012, this section will be home to pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, and 500 other animal species.
20. The public libraries
It’s so convenient to return and borrow books; these can dropped off at any of Singapore’s 25 public libraries. Plus, the catalogue is huge and frequently updated with non-fiction titles, your fave new chick lit or the novels of the newest Man Booker Prize shortlist. On blazing afternoons, these clean and well-maintained libraries are also comfortable respites.
21. Clean air
We might not have completely blue skies but at least the air in Singapore is clean. When you step out, you don’t have to use a wet wipe to wipe off a layer of dirt 15 minutes later.
22. Babarella Posh Beckham (or other derivatives) (left)
No one has been quite the talk around town like Babarella has. Everyone wants to meet her, speak like her and hang out with her. We applaud the ever-talented Michelle Chong for producing one of the most hilarious national icons.
23. Orchard Road
Our famous shopping street is one stop meets all. Everything from our $2 store Daiso, to high-street to luxury it’s all there. Everything you need, even groceries are all within walking distance.
24. Hawker Food
Even if Michelin-starred restaurants started popping up all around Singapore, we’ll never be able to give up our hawker food. Totally craving Chomp Chomp’s Hokkien Mee and Changi Village’s Nasi Lemak now. Only if I had time to queue.
25. Great Singapore Sale
What shopaholic can resist this? Even tourists pick this season to come to Singapore to shop. Once a year, we rally our credit cards and charge straight at the great deals.
Whoever said Singapore was boring? We have new malls and new restaurants popping up all the time. Seek and you shall find.
27. Milo Dinosaur
Most countries have Milo. But only in Singapore, we have the Milo Dinosaur – a cup of ice-cold Milo topped off with extra spoonfuls of undissolved powdered Milo. Goes great with prata supper.
28.Safe to take walks at night
We have no national curfews where we have to be all in our houses by 7pm. We usually go for supper and you can even shop at Mustafa at 2am without worrying that you’re going to get gunned down. Peace.
29. 24-hour eateries (right)
There’s no understating how much Singaporeans love their food. At local 24-hour food outlets, diners get a full meal, and at a cheap price too. Whether its zi-char fare or just some pratas to go with your teh-si peng, you’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to late-night bites. Image: FoodGossip
30. Excellent signage, you’ll never get lost
We never appreciate our detailed signage more than when we are overseas. Dorothy would have found the Wizard of Oz a lot quicker if she had just followed our green and white signboards instead of that yellow brick road.
31. Religious tolerance
Considering that we’re such a small island, it’s heartening to find a church/mosque/temple in every neighbourhood, sometimes situated all in a row too!
32. Everything is compulsory
Voting is compulsory. Education is compulsory. National Service is compulsory. We’re one of the most prepared nations on many fronts because we don’t believe in leaving much to chance.
Indulgence on an island. Beautiful beaches, chill-out haunts by the pool, spas, resorts and even a theme park. Sentosa is your one-stop island for all your relaxing and entertainment needs.
34. Ice cream uncles (left)
Nothing beats the heat better than a stick of Potong red bean ice cream bought from under the huge umbrella of an ice cream cart. Or watching the ice cream uncle wedge a block of your favourite ice cream between two pieces of wafer or a slice of sweet bread, as you lick your lips in sweet anticipation. Image: Foundinasia.com
35. Duck Tours
What better way to learn about the history and tourist attractions in Singapore than on a “duck” that moves both on land and in the water? Not only do you enjoy both a land tour and river cruise without having to disembark, the quacking whistle makes the entire ride that much more fun.
36. Underpasses connecting malls
You know you’ve got it good when you can easily traipse from one shopping centre to the other along the main shopping belt of Singapore without having to see the sun or get wet from the rain. From Tangs to Wisma Atria, Wheelock Place and Ion Orchard, even shopaholic vampires will love it here.
37. Garlic chili sauce
Who can forget the cries of agony that reverberated around Singapore when McDonalds announced that they were going to remove Garlic Chili from the menu? We thank the fast food gods for bringing it back, because no other McDonalds in the world has this awesome chili sauce.
38. Fixed seats in the cinema
Imagine what cinema going life would be like if cinemas in Singapore didn’t practice fixed seating like in the US. Long queues outside the cinema for the latest blockbusters or entering a cinema to find out you have to be seated apart from your friends. It would surely take the shine out of movie-going wouldn’t it?
39. More holidays for all
What’s great about our multi-cultural society is that when one race celebrates an occasion, think Chinese New Year, everyone else gets a holiday – that we technically shouldn’t be getting – as well.
40. Acronyms (right)
HDB, PIE, CTE, COV, NRIC, EP, PR, ERP, NDP, PAP, SG … See how much quicker it is to say than Housing Development Board, Pan-Island Expressway, Central Expressway, Cost Over Value, National Registration Identity Card, Employment Pass, Permanent Resident, Electronic Road Pricing, National Day Parade, People’s Action Party, Singapore!
41. Staying at home with parents
Tell our Western counterparts we’re still living with our parents at the grand old age of 21 and they’ll laugh and refuse to believe you. True story. Nevertheless, staying with our parents until we get married is the best thing since sliced bread. No rent to pay, no dodgy landlords to deal with, returning home to a lively house instead of an empty one and best of all, no crass roommates to deal with (well except for your annoying brother). Shouldn’t we be the ones laughing?
42. Carrot cake
Anywhere else in the world, carrot cake means that crumbly raisin and walnut cake with icing on top. Right here in Singapore, carrot cake – or chai tau kway – means that egg-y, tasty “black” or “white” breakfast item that comes with morsels of chai poh and fried to a crisp. Lip-smackingly good.
43. Escalators everywhere (left)
The overabundance of escalators in Singapore deserves more recognition than it gets right now, and this is most notably true in MRT stations. Not all the subway stations around the world (yes, we mean you New York and Tokyo) have escalators, which can be your worst nightmare, especially after a long day at work when you doubt you can even move from your seat, let alone climb two flights of stairs. Image: Getty
44. Auntie & Uncle
It’s so much more polite to be able to call older people “Auntie” or “Uncle” rather than M’am or Sir, or “Hey you!”. Mind you, it’s maybe not so great when the yummy mummy in the lift tells her kid to say hello to the nice “Auntie” and you realise she means you!
45. HDB Flats
Who needs a condo? Our HDB flats are close to everything – shops, transport, 7-11 – and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Despite the fact that there’s lots of complaining about waiting to get one and not being able to afford the COV, government housing in Singapore is better than in most developed nations where you have to buy privately, rent dumps if you’re working class or live in slums if you’re poor.
46. “Foreign Talent”
Who says having too much foreign talent is a bad thing? We know we’re not complaining when we bump into that cute blonde guy at the sandwich shop at lunch everyday. Let’s just say they bring a refreshing change of scenery.
- 24-hour eateries
- changi airport
- clean air
- clean water
- duck tours
- for sale
- friendly neighbours
- hawker food
- HDB flats
- milo dinosau
- Orchard Road
- public libraries
- singapore brands
- Singapore zoo
- teh-si peng
- we love