I have been living in the Merlion City for a year now.
In the beginning, it’s as if I were living in a dream, in a perfect world. I have seen it through the eyes of a tourist, a worker and a devoted admirer, aware of its flaws but fascinated by its beauty.
There are trees and plants everywhere. The sidewalks and the streets are all clean. People abide by strict rules and live neatly in their own worlds. They communicate in their own languages with their free minds. But amidst all these, I think of them as a facade revolving life more on physical and material things.
Everyone knows that the this developed island is congested and stiffing with immigrants and foreign workers. Work is so much the demand. In the name of excellence and world-class standard, working for progress and money is like a pressure cooker without an outlet.
Only God knows when it will explode. There is so much to do in so little time that caring and reaching out to others personally is almost next to impossible. People pause for coffee or tea only to stimulate the weary mind and get it over to work again.
Moving on, here are my answers to three BIG questions people mostly ask me.
Question # 1: What are the things you will miss about Singapore?
Answer: I think these are the ONLY five:
1. Comfortable public transport
Avoiding cabs is a good rule of thumb, if you don’t want to pay unnecessarily. If you’re using a smart phone with GPS on, you’re surest you won’t get lost. Use your legs, walk and take the MRT or bus whenever possible. Here, interesting finds can be located in almost every corner so walking, quite literally, gives you better chances to explore.
Everything I needed is just a stone throw away. The transport system is so efficient. Pedestrians are guided with traffic lights with countdown timers and maps in bus stops and train stations. Small piece of advice, though: learn how to use the maps and your GPS well.
The last thing you want to have is “I don’t know” for an answer. Yes, many times I’ve been on the road (Redhill, Chinatown, Aljunied, Orchard, Punggol, City Hall, Bugis and Raffles Place are all I can remember now) feeling lost. I asked locals who man stores and stalls, thinking that they should be most familiarized with the nearby territory of their work area. But alas, all of them have replied “I don’t know” or “不知道” then pointing to others (or coach me to the wrong direction) 100% of the time. Aigoo.
2. Clean and filtered water
When you get thirsty, take advantage of the clean and filtered water from the faucet. You can go to any public toilet and drink from there. A bottled water from any convenience store is expensive (at least to me). Water from hawkers also mostly requires some payment.
3. Being safe
Security is undoubtedly the best attribute about this place. Here you can you take a stroll down the streets in the wee hours of the morning without worrying about being mugged or drugged. Also, there are no earthquakes (yet), forest fires, landslides and volcanic eruptions.
4. Free copies of newspaper
I take MyPaper and Today every day to work. I don’t mind if I can’t get unpublished contents that are censored. I just want something to read. Hey, at least I’m informed of some news after all.
5. Workmates and church mates
If I were to go to Singapore again in the future, the reason is definitely not to rekindle the stressful moments, tour around for the attractions or the food but to visit the people I’ve made friends with. These are real people who cared for me who had always given me strength and support.
Question#2: What’s the best Singaporean dish?
Answer: There’s a lot of tasty treats. But as a pescetarian, I can only recommend dishes which are safe for me that I know. Local Singaporean dishes to try are: seafood char kway teow, carrot cake (not exactly carrot but radish), chili crab, fried prawn noodles, sambal stingray, laksa, oyster omelet, fish soup or congee and fish head curry. Don’t go to fancy restaurants. Eat on the cheap. Dine in at hawker areas.
Question#3: Where’s the best place in Singapore?
Answer: To me, it’s our house. Haha. Apart from it, I like hanging out in Orchard even though I don’t shop there. This is just because it’s near to our house and I could hear many people talking in Filipino making me feel like I’m home (in the Philippines).
Also, it’s nice to watch people of different races walk and converse there. Sometimes I just sit and observe how they act, joke, share, get mad, smile, frown, laugh, conclude…in restaurants, in the malls and even outside in the street. I watch them, appreciating the beauty of life and all His creations. I’m just fascinated with the whole thing. I feel the pulse, settle in to the pace.