Hello from Singapore! I’ve been here for about a week now and although I’m still living out of a hotel I really like it here! First impressions of the city are: Clean, Efficient, and HOT!!! The adjustment has not been very hard at all so far (minus the weather), hopefully that won’t change when I move into my own place. It also seems like there is a lot to do here, almost every weekend there is something new going on. This week the mid-autumn festival is going on and next weekend is the Singapore Grand Prix.
The city/country is very modern and urban; high rises everywhere because they can only build up! The place is littered with American and foreign brands catering to the large number of expats from all over the world here. I know that most major cities around the world have similar brands due to globalization but when I say littered I mean everywhere you look you can see American brands you normally wouldn’t think would be here like Borders book stores, California Pizza Kitchen and Carl Jr. I mean, there isn’t even a Carls Jr in Seattle!
Singapore is a very multicultural city, the official languages are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil (a south Indian language). I’m also learning that “Singlish” a combination between English and local Singapoean terms is pretty much an unofficial language but there is a big campaign by the government to try to get people to speak “correct” English. The people are extremely friendly and since everyone speaks great English getting around is no problem at all. The subway system (MRT – Mass Rapid Transit) is great – clean, efficient and fast and it’s not overly complicated either like the bigger cities in London and Paris so that hasn’t been a problem to figure out. I also love the fact that there is a whole world underground with shopping and dining shopping. It’s like a maze between the MRT stations with plenty to see and do to distract you from getting to your destination!
FOOD is a big part of Singaporean lives. Not only are all the traditional cuisines of Singaporean, Malay, Indian and Chinese available but also most major international cuisines (American, Spanish, French, Greek, Indonesian) and fusion (Indo-Chinese, Malaysian/Singaporean, Portugese/Singaporean) are also available. There is SO much food here it’s going to take me a while to try everything! Usually most of people eat at hawker centers or food courts where delicious meals at GOOD sized portions (not American style portions) are around $2-5. Bakeries are abundant too, both traditional Asian bakeries and more Western style bakeries usually in malls with a huge variety of sweets. The place has so much international food and American food that it’s literally not a problem if you don’t want to eat Asian food…ever!
There are funny things I’ve noticed here too. Like at work, certain elevators only go to odd floors and certain elevators only go to even floors and certain elevators go to all floors! I don’t get it, why can’t they all just go to every floor?! Also, I forgot that most Asian countries do not have voicemail on cell phones! It’s all about the SMS here so you don’t keep playing phone tag!
More to come!