There are some holidays Singapore does fantastically: Chinese New Year, for example; Diwali; National Gin Day*. Others – such as Christmas, and Easter – not so much. (It’s too hot, the Christmas trees die and the chocolate eggs melt.) And then there’s Halloween – which is done brilliantly, but only on a date convenient to the general population. If you’re lucky, this will coincide with October 31st; otherwise – well, good luck finding an occasion to wear that ugly witch’s hat you just bought in Cold Storage.
(*Ok, maybe that’s one we’ve started. But we’re confident it’s going to catch on. We just need to settle on a day. Because just ONE DAY out of 365? Tricky.)
It’s a funny thing about fashion in Singapore: Polyester is King. It is in everything. Which is awful because you always feel a tiny bit like you should be wearing a blond Afro wig and heading to a horrible ’70s theme party, until you realize: Polyester doesn’t crease, and it doesn’t mildew. Suddenly, it makes sense why it is impossible to find clothes here that aren’t, at least a little, made of polyester. And suddenly, a little ’70s style doesn’t seem like such a horrible thing.
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.
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.
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…
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.