Monday, December 1, 2014

Settling into life in Singapore...

Returning to Asia, to my roots is not as easy as I originally thought.  Being born in Malaysia and studied my primary school here, I thought it should be quite a breeze adjusting to the culture.

But, I guess I've been living away for so long and settling into life here has been quite an awakening.  It's totally different if you are just on holiday, or transiting through for a few nights on route to Australia or back to Europe.

So, here are a list of things I've noticed:

1.  It's so humid here.  I'm soaking wet in sweat just after coming out from the shower.  I find it best to switch on the air conditioning, have a shower and come back to the room to get changed.  Then, you'll still be nice and cool when you leave the house instead of pouring with sweat and needing another shower straight after!

2.  Being of Chinese appearance and not being able to converse probably in Mandarin, I've had old ladies frowned at me asking me if I'm a Japanese and if not, why can't I speak Mandarin.  hmm.. I'll usually retort that I'm not local =P  I've then learnt to just nod and smile and let them speak.  It's hard to ignore them as I tend to frequent hawkers centre or food courts where you need to share your table.  So, note me nodding continuously throughout my meal and smiling.. and uttering 'Shi' (yes).  Thankfully, I'm slowly picking off some cobwebs from my Mandarin language box stored in my head.  By the end of the meal, sometimes I can string 3 - 4 words in Mandarin to them and wave 'Zaijian" (bye) at them.

3.  The elderly which we should always refer to as uncles and aunties.. I find the uncles a lot nicer and more patient than the aunties.  The uncles are less likely to judge and will happily speak to me in English.  But keep in mind, if they can't speak English, they are definitely from mainland China not Singaporeans...

4.  I find a lot of locals speak Hokkien, which can be a fun especially at the Hawker's stalls! =)  They always seem so pleased when I start ordering in Hokkien.  Made their day and mine too! Cue me looking so proud!

4.  The locals seem to dislike anything from mainland China and anyone from China for that matter.  Overhearing an aunty speaking haughtily to her own friend who was pointing excitedly at some food from the hawker's stall.  "Those are China.  Don't eat lah.  You don't know what they put in there!"  Ouch!  Some truth in it!  but.. hmm.. I think she forgot that we are all originally from China...  But seriously, Chinese brand of anything has a bad reputation.  There's so many food contamination of such and the locals prefer to support their local people instead of supporting the mainland Chinese who are very aggressive in their approach

5.  Queuing.. Hmm.. What queue, seriously.. It's non existence here! I've had one too many times while I wait patiently for the guy in front of me at the counter while some aunty or uncle or worst, someone younger than me, just swooped in and straight to the counter making their request.. err.. helllo???  I miss the Swedish ticket system!  A bit tedious but so damn orderly!!

6.  The term "Ang Mo" - how some expat wives get all in arms about it.  To me, being born in Malaysia and being hokkien, I grew up with that term.  It actually means red (ang) hair (moh) and referred to caucasian in general.  There's no other term to describe caucasians unfortunately, and some finds it offensive as the term in cantonese, "gwei lo" translate into ghost person/chap.  But seriously, these are not meant to be of an offence, so, don't get angry if you hear that term

7.  Buses are a good way to travel, there's single or double decker, air conditioning and there's always a seat no matter when I catch the bus (it helps if it's during off peak hour ;) )  It's a cheap way to travel too!  There's hardly any caucasians on them which surprised me a bit.... I guess they prefer the MRT or.. cabs!  Seriously, you should really catch one here.  I find the time difference between catching the MRT and buses are just 5 minutes at the most and you get to view the city from the top of the double decker!  I guess it's easier for me as I'm usually alone, with no kids and in no hurry to get to one place

8.  How clean the streets are..  No matter where I am or what time of the day it is.. The streets are seriously clean.. even alleyways!!!

9.  Pretty sad sight.  I think Singapore is the only city I've been to where the elderly are still working to their bones..  Stockholm, the elderly will be out having fika, or walking their miniature dogs. Here...  It's work work work till they all collapse.  Seriously.. hard manual labour, clearing dirty cups and dishes from hawkers centres, driving trucks and unloading heavy boxes.. My heart seriously gave out when I see them.  I still can't get over it..

Anyway, here are some photos I took on Sunday, where it was a tad cloudy... just around Clark Quay...

How clean is this alleyway... The air conditioning units are a laugh though..  It's hot here.. but.. hmm...

Someone drying their laundry out on the streets =P

Clark Quay

A bunch of kids waving hello from the boat!

Pretty cloudy day.. but hey.. it's still pretty! =)
Till next time!