So I have returned to Singapore for another week after trooping about SE Asia, China and Taiwan for three weeks in between.
This time in Singapore, I didn’t come having to love it and find the positives in everything… and the cracks in Singapore FOR ME started to appear…
I don’t like to talk down countries because their culture way of life is unique and different to me and mine and if I don’t like then that is my problem viewing it from my white-Australian perspective and not being able to assimilate. It is not the country’s problem for being the way it is… Geez this is almost sounding like dropping a girlfriend!
So first of all I love Singapore for:
- It’s gorgeous people – polite, friendly and very conscious of other peoples’ feelings and concerns – completely unselfish which I wish I had more of…
- The food IS amazing – take your pick as to which favourite you want from each region of the world and cheeeeeap
- An incredible mish-mash of cultures that seem to get along productively and respectfully, at least on the surface – a myriad of ethnicities sharing a very small space
- The novelty of an Asian city being clean, not clogged with polluting traffic, graffiti free, infrastructure including footpaths and English abundant (lazy me)
Now time to sink the boot in a little…
This is also a country that with my limited impressions and observations:
- Lacks any creativity, innovation and ‘fun’
- Scare mongering to presume everyone and everything is bad and to be protective all the time – ie. live under constant fear and threat – see the stupid branch sign and the obscene terrorist poster, there are many more, everywhere!
To take this in one example… not sure if this is me, a shy boy or a society that suspects everyone is a raping terrorist but I was at the traffic lights waiting for the walk dude to go green, as you do when in Singapore. I noticed he had a magnifying glass so I asked are you a scientist or a spy (comic genius I must add on a spur of the moment comment!). The boy looked at me in absolute fear and uncomfortably waited for the light to go green and took off as fast as possible. Again this could just be a shy kid but I honestly believe that it is the society around him that gave him this reaction. My observation.
- The conservatism is a bit scary – wonderful to live in a safe low-crime, low-danger place but what is the point when you live with constant reminders that everything is waiting to jump you at any corner? Don’t take risks for failure or that might end in fun or success like they have never known before – and this is different to the Asian ‘save-face’ attitude I know from other countries
- In general there is no chance you will get anything from anyone without it being remembered or needing reciprocation at some time in the future (big exception the people who have housed and helped me while in Singapore!!!)
- Generally Singaporeans seem quite naïve, one because of the education system – which I think gives them VERY little experiential or student-centred learning approaches, but more in a ‘the world is a big dark and scary place where bad things happen’ as opposed to celebrating difference, diversity and acceptance
- Classic quote I heard a young aunt to her little 3-ish year old nephew ‘that’s not the correct way to play’ as he was playing with another little girl around play equipment – not going up the slide the wrong way maybe not playing correctly but – A. there is no correct way to play and B. if there is a 3 year old is going to be the expert!
- It is a very judgmental society that looks upon anything different as a threat, bad or dirty
- This is a very consumerist culture. How much do you earn? Why volunteer? Why don’t you want to own a house? Same in my own country but here it is to another level with no alternative examples for them to be exposed to – there is a path and you must follow…
I’m really sorry to say these things aboutSingaporebut it feels like the happiness scale is at one of the lowest points any place could get. The wonderful beautiful and progressive Singaporeans I have met are all overworked, undervalued, completely misunderstood, unaccepted and frustrated. These are the people however who are vital to their country and are dedicated to it, relish the positives, give to their community and probably have more fun as they aren’t as locked into the car-house-things box.
Needed to get that off my chest and let the left side run wild for a while…
All in all I have adored spending an extended time here and learnt a lot from the people and my long walks around the place. I usually say I could live in almost all places but as much as I can follow the positives of this great place it is not somewhere I can put my swag for any length of time (literally!).
While I love cultures that love the simple things in life it is one of the most complex in the biz but it does the job for the people who live here and they are of no harm to each other, because they are too scared of each other, but the old ‘the best things in life aren’t things’ has a loooong way to go here.
Seeya next timeSingapore(and thank to the amazing people who cared, shared and hosted me – I owe you!).