Safety First

Ah Singapore, the land of contrast.  Ancient and Modern.  East and West.  Tradition and Innovation.  Along those lines, some laws are followed without question and without exception, and some laws are flat-out ignored.  Not ignored like “Oops did I just accidentally roll that stop sign?” But IGNORED, like “What stop sign? I’ve never heard of a stop sign. What is this ‘stop sign’ of which you speak?”  To illustrate: You could stand on a deserted street corner in the scorching hot sun until you are a puddle on the ground before you would ever think to cross a street when the red hand is up. You could go into labor while in the taxi queue and by golly, you will squat in your place and moan quietly until it’s your turn. (True story! Oh god no- not one of us! But still true!) These are rules that everyone knows are just followed. But then you get to some things— things that seem REALLY IMPORTANT to some of us– and it’s like the Wild West out here. 

How To Deter Thieves

For those who have yet to experience first-hand this aspect of Singaporean culture, it’s actually hard to believe.  But it has happened to us so many times– a backpack left on a train car, a purse left in a shopping cart, a cell phone left in a taxi (!)– and every time, we go back later to find our belongings, all patiently waiting for us, untouched.  We credit Singaporean kindness, though the possibility that it has something to do with the digustingness of our belongings has crossed our minds.

Market Music

We know, we know. We complain about grocery stores in Singapore a lot– mostly the fact that we walk through them bleeding from the eyes at the cost of everything. BUT. One aspect of Singapore grocery shopping deserves our endless praise and enthusiasm, and that is the musical selection.  We’re not sure if they made the playlists in the 80s, and then just never looked back, or if they’ve done studies and figured out that 80s music makes grumpy expat wives less so. Whatever it is, it works. Time after time…

Turning Japanese

One of our favourite places in the whole of Singapore, this wonderful country which is steeped in history, culture and heritage, is Daiso – the Japanese $2 shop.  In selected malls island-wide, a whole world of crazy awaits. If you want socks for your dog, or “sleeping gloves” for your own manly paws,  little things to put on your fingers so you can hygienically pick your nose, or plastic moulds to turn your boiled eggs into a child’s play thing, Daiso’s your man. It’s total paradise for anyone with some time to kill, $2 burning a hole in their pocket, and a puerile  sense of humour.  Even if you are half Japanese yourself. 

Positively Awful

Regular readers will know how we love to mock anything we deem ridiculous; to date our attentions have been focused on Asia (yes, we’re looking at *you*, Japanese disposable underwear). So you can imagine our joy when we stumbled across a product which not only set our mockery levels soaring, but came from the good old US of A. (And no, it has nothing to do with Donald Trump, who obviously takes gold in the Mocking Olympics) Behold: The Panty Liner Of Positivity…

No such thing as a free lunch. But there’s almost free…

Singapore hawker centres are more than just an outdoor food court, more than a gathering of street food vendors.  They are, first and foremost, a beloved part of the Singaporean culture, and it seems every local is religiously loyal to a particular stall in a particular hawker centre (information that they may or may not share with outsiders).  To eat in a hawker centre for the first time is to experience Singapore in its purest form:  It is always hot, you are always sweaty, you are surrounded by an overwhelming number of nationalities, hawking their overwhelmingly varied foods, all of which are overwhelmingly fragrant. (Have we mentioned overwhelming?)  Almost every sign is actually in English, and yet you still can’t quite figure out where to stand, what to order, or how to do so.  There are construction workers sitting alongside men in business suits; groups of teenagers and awkward first dates and huge families with more generations than seems possible.  There are social mores and rules, which someone might explain to you– in a shout if you’ve pissed them off, or more often with the patient eye roll one might give a toddler who keeps putting his shoes on the wrong feet.  But in the end, after a huge meal that cost less than your morning latte (often washed down with several icy Tiger beers), even the most clueless of expats finds there is a lot to love about the hawker centre.