Since late October 2013, apart from spending March in Copenhagen, I have been living in Singapore. I am here to help and support my love Charlene and her mother, Charlene’s father sadly passed away on Oct 30th last year. After 5 months I can actually order food at the local hawker center (must be done in Singaporean English and loud!) and I am an expert at eating with chopsticks. It is time for the first of many stories from My Singapore Life.
We landed 26th of October and I had no idea what to expect. I had previously been to the award winning Changi airport 12-14 times but not anywhere else in Singapore. A country that is a city that is an island, that houses 5,5 million people on 700 square kilometers. Yes it’s crowded! 5,5 million people whose favourite hobby is eating and shopping. I mean, you can buy food at the traffic police station here. It boggles the mind and Singapore continues to surprise me.
Singapore is many things, there is a world of difference from downtown to the suburb where I live. Stand where Charlene is in the panorama above and spin 360 degrees and your mind boggles. Gravity defying buildings, bridges, constructions, hotels, casinos, restaurants, all of them built in record time and designed by the worlds-best. In places, Singapore is akin to being in some futuristic SciFi City, or being in the Avatar movie:
We do not however live in the Avatar SciFi downtown area, we live here:
Well, ok no, actually we live here, in Charlene’s mothers flat, in the Matrix:
This is Tampines. A suburb if you can call it that, only 20 km away from Marina Bay in the first image, but it is a different world out here. Neverending rows of government owned blocks of flat that are all identical apart from a large number printed on the building. It caused me much confusion the first week navigating this matrix, everything looks the same. As goes for all of Singapore, it is well maintained and spotless to the point of feeling like I am living in Legoland. An armada of workers keep everything clean, not a straw of grass is allowed to grow in the wrong spot. Often, it really does feel like living inside The Matrix. I am an alien agent in this Matrix though, there are no other tall blonde white Scandinavians anywhere out here, causing people to stop, stare, talk, do double takes or nearly fall of their bikes – a neverending source of fun for me every day.
There is much to like here in the Matrix. The public housing is nothing like public housing anywhere else in the world, the flats are very nice! Singapore is completely safe to walk, and you can walk anywhere due to the perfect city layout. Busses and trains go everywhere and are very cheap. The food is fantastic and very cheap, and you just wander down to your nearest hawker center (some are open 24 hours a day) and order a wonderful meal for 3-4 dollars. I am in love with Singaporean chicken rice, so much so that my name is now “hello 4 dollar” at the local hawker center – that story is for an upcoming tale.
Singapore sits one degree off Equator. It’s tropical. And hot. And humid. Hot. Sweaty. Did I mention humid? Then just as you thought it could not get more humid this happens:
If you have been to Singapore for a few days and seen maybe downtown, Clarke Quay and Marina Bay, you have only seen the small touristy part of this strange fascinating Matrix. Much more to come about my life in Singapore and Tampines, you’ll excuse me as it’s time for another serving of chicken rice (“hello 4 dollar”) with a sugar cane juice and another shower to at least cool down for about 2 minutes.
You forget to mention that nowhere else in the world (probably) do people who live in public housing also own half a million dollar ++ luxury European cars and all sorts of other accouterments that don’t normally come with public housing…
Have i told you about our shipping port? Oh, and our instant trees which are an international hit? 😉
Tell me about the award winning airport again please, and shipping port, oh and there was something about a road that could transform itself into a runway? 😉
Do the male species still get detained at the airport and get a forced haircut if their hair is below collar length? That used to happen back in the good old days.
You know I wouldn’t be surprised if this was still in effect! Long hair, cannot!
I have been to ‘Singas’ a few times and it is a fascinating place! I love walking around the old suburbs like Little India & Geylang which are in complete contrast to the financial district & Marina Bay. Singapore would keep a photographer busy for years!
Yes I really like those areas too, Tim.