If ignorance were a crime, I believe I’d be in federal prison. I’m now about three weeks old in Singapore and one week in HeuLab, and I don’t know anything yet about the Singaporean government and politics since I haven’t got the chance to read their news or watched TV regarding some raging current events in this country.
The least I could do [was and] is observe people (and “eavesdrop” or listen to them talk when I don’t really mean to) and things I find just different from my normal sphere of cognition. Here are my top five interesting findings on living in Singapore:
1. The Ubiquitous Smartphones
Unlike in the Philippines, almost everyone here is a smartphone user. Passengers of trains and buses play games, applications or music using their iPhone, Samsung, LG or Motorala touch-screen phones while waiting for their next stop.
This roots to the fact that StarHub, Singtel and M1 all offer competitive mobile broadband plans with maximum speed for wireless Internet connection with an iPhone. They can also get discounts for other phone brands with their lines. Click here for an example. The site shows outdated listings, yet those still are pretty much what the the three major telecommunication companies cover.
Also, because of Singapore’s minuscule size, it has the infrastructure to support island-wide 3.5G mobile and wireless Internet access. Sadly, most connections require a password, even for public WiFi, so I could not connect now that I’m still using a simple prepaid SIM card with no data plan.
2. The Unique Language
Singaporeans speak English so bewildering that I’m always putting on my best ears and work my brain only to frazzle myself in understanding this complex language. It’s called Singlish, their so-called unofficial “first language.” Before, I thought that it’s just a combination of English and some Chinese words plus “leh,” “meh,” “ah” or “lah” in the end. But I was wrong.
Singlish is the creole of choice for citizens cobbled together from various linguistic backgrounds including Queen’s English, Bahasa Melayu, Tamil, dialects such as Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Bengali, Punjabi and a smattering of European, Indic and Sinitic languages. Whoa, what an exhaustion of sorts! I was told by my work mates to transform my rather slang English accent to Singlish so that locals can better understand me, but I’m afraid I’d just sound sillier.
3. The Friendly Environment
Singapore just happens to be the safest place in the world at present. I have walked in deserted streets so many times at night and not felt in the least bit unsafe. I can just put out my wallet to pay or phone to make a call or send an SMS without the fear of the possibility of being robbed. I can go into malls without having to open my bags for the painstaking inspections of whether or not I’m carrying a terrorists’ weapon for destruction, killing or drugs. I can be anyone without the fear of being judged, because we’re mostly from different nations, anyway.
4. The Weird Weather
Rains and Singapore are like a twin brother. Lying in the tropical zone, the country is always moist and faces heavy rainfall; the rain in Singapore usually comes shortly but intensively. In some consecutive days, rain comes lightly for about two hours from 4PM. So I have to make sure that I have my umbrella in my bag to shield myself from getting drenched and sick.
5. The Hawkers
I just noticed that competition in the food market for specialties and offerings (in hawkers and in most food centers) does not exist. It’s a free enterprise! Each diner in a “kopi tiam” has its own type of food which is different from the rest, whereas in other countries I know of, what Diner A sells is most likely similar to what Diner B, C and D has. Only one stall sells beverages; other food vendors don’t sell drinks. There’s a stall for vegetarian meals, one for Indian food, one for Malay’s, another for Chinese, Singaporean, mixed, seafood, pancakes, bread, etc.—you know what I mean.
In other news, the earthquake in Japan yesterday is quite frightening. Is the world about to end? No worries. This is a place where natural disasters do not occur, for the most part. Owing to the geographic location, Singapore is sheltered from most of the natural disasters that afflict neighboring countries. There was never a storm here, my aunt said, “only strong rains and lightning striking with no prior notice.”
Here, on the other hand, are my top five recent updates about work:
- I will be claiming my employment pass on Tuesday from EPSC.
- I have presented my first corporate deck to our internal team two times.
- I have gotten to know my team mates both in the project I’m managing and the business sales team, and also the developers’ team and other admin in the office which I’m not part of.
- I am now more familiar with our products, solutions and services, and I’m growing wonder and enthusiasm in them.
- I am beginning to feel proud of joining of this company and holding this project and position.
Hasta la vista.