Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Must-Knows for Singapore Tourists!

Why, hello there. It's been awhile, and guess where I am?

I'm currently inside the fourteenth floor of an office building in Singapore! Have a cup of hot Teh-O (Malay for the Singaporean tea) and a small box of oreo swirl cake on my desk beside my laptop as I type away.

I knew I wanted to come to Singapore in the future for work (well, not so sure about it now). Halfway through the school year of 2015/16 (around January 2016) an opportunity popped up- our university had some third-party connections that provided us with unpaid internships (we also had to pay for the program which included housing, travel activities, and some support abroad). After doing some research, I decided to conduct a finance internship in Singapore as I've heard that Singapore is quite like Canada as it's multicultural, and I've heard it's a very safe and clean country. Singapore is also known or being a finance hub, which fitted my career well. I conducted an interview with the program and voila! Tomorrow is my last day with this program. There were a lot of misses in the program, but I can say that I learned a lot and I don't regret coming over to another country to travel.

Singaporean Locals & the culture
I have to say that Singapore definitely has some really beautiful views whether in the day or night. Loads of multiculturalism here- the main ethnic groups here are Chinese, Indian, and Malay people, however, you see many different people who live here as well! The Singaporeans do speak "Singlish"- it's a mix of English with Malay, Tamil, Mandarin, and other local dialects in Singapore. I don't think I can ever learn Singlish- I'll have to learn all these languages!!
All in all, I do think that Singapore has great cultural diversity, similar to Canada, and the people are pretty nice and I feel that I can also easily feel personal with the local people, especially the elders, especially in the hawker centres.

Efficiency and the MRT system
Next thing I need to comment on is the MRT system and how things usually work in Singapore. I have to say, from the moment I arrived in Singapore, I can feel that the country is very organized and that systems run very efficiently. There are people sweeping leaves from the sidewalk everyday, trimming the plants surrounding roads and sidewalks, and businesses seem to wash their doorsteps and front porch daily! I really like the MRT system here as it's pretty efficient and easy to follow. They tell you approximately when the next train comes (usually within the next 5 minutes), and diagrams or intercoms to inform the next stop and where the trains are heading.

"Hawker Centres" and Food Courts
If you go to the right places, you can find some good and cheap food. There are hawker centres and food courts easily found throughout Singapore. As you can see, there are many different vendors located side-by-side within this centre for people to purchase food. There are many benches and tables located throughout the centre as well. I'm getting a bit too used to leaving my food on the table right after I finish as each hawker centre and food court usually has at least one or two people who come around to clean the dishes and tables. The cheapest I've seen some dishes go are approximately S$3 to S$3.50. The funny thing here is that I tend to feel hungry pretty easily in Singapore. I reckon that is because the dish sizes and servings are just enough to last you for around an hour or two before you start to feel hungry again. Or that could just be me, haha.

Ques, Ordering food, & upsizing
It's a little funny, but my Singaporean friends (I met them when they came on an exchange to my university to study) informed me that Singaporeans love a long line-up. That just implies there's good food here, or something popular or interesting they should not be missing out- whatever that is, they will not mind standing in line for (sometimes even if they have no idea what they're lining up for)! They tend to call "line-ups" ques, and the process of lining up is "queuing". Furthermore, to "upsize" a dish is to make it a larger portion!
Some pretty famous and popular dishes in Singapore include:

  • chicken rice
  • laksa (a type of noodle soup)
  • kaya toast (kaya is a type of jam- it is sweet and well-known here)
  • bak kuh teh (ribs and soup!)
There are many different asian cuisines almost everywhere in Singapore. Western cuisines and other culture cuisines can be found, but most of them are restaurants or within the malls (unless we're talking about fast-food restaurants like McDonald's and Burger King), and are usually on the pricier end.

All in all, Singapore is a pretty small country and there is only so much that one can do. There are definitely a whole lot of malls down the streets. After this experience, I can only guarantee that in the future, I want to either travel with friends or family, or travel to meet more friends or family! After all, I feel that travelling is a chance for one to get to know yourself better while encountering and learning about new cultures and broadening your mindset. On another level, it's not where you travel to, but who you travel with! It's a little annoying when people gush that I'm lucky to be in Singapore for a month, but in reality I'm often alone and there is only so much I can do in this small country. I cannot wait for my next stop in the Philippines! ^_^ More on that soon! I also can't wait to write up a blog post about my future plans and how travelling is taking a part of my life!

Keep up-to-date for Part 2- locations to visit in Singapore, and part 3 for working in Singapore!

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