Another blog, another update from Asia. This time, I will present the 5 essential things you have to know before you head out for the wonderful city (state) of Singapore. I have gathered all my knowledge through several sources and my own experiences into this brutally honest list.
Singapore equals sweat galore
Something that people warned me about before heading to South-East-Asia was the climate and how different it is from what I am used to in the Netherlands or Belgium.
To begin with, in Singapore, they don't really have seasons because there is the same climate all year round. The temperature varies between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius and humidity level often reaches 80 percent. This is apparently due to the fact that Singapore is so close to the equator, which means that there are the same conditions all year round with an almost perfect 12 hours of sun to boot.
The only catch is rainy season. If you thought it couldn’t get better when you already have a constant humidity level of a Turkish bath, think again! Monsoon season (rain season) lasts from around the end of summer until the beginning of the new year. This basically means sporadic heavy rain falls for a couple of months. Fortunately, they do not last long, which means that most of the time you will be basking in the sun.
Butter chicken and garlic naan
When I think about a typically Singaporean scene, the famous hawker centers come straight to mind. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, they are pretty much big, open canteens with different food stalls the offer cuisines from all over Asia. It's one of the obvious reasons why Singapore is known to be a culture hub.
Now, to get to the most important portion of this section: what to get when you are in Singapore? Well, some of my personal favorites are the following: Laksa (a curry-noodle soup in which you can put ingredients of choice), butter chicken and garlic naan (chicken in a creamy tomato sauce accompanied by Indian flatbread and garlic), hot stone bibimbap (a Korean meal which literally means “mixed rice” or “mixed meal”, served in a hot stone bowl) or a classic chicken rice (pretty much self-explanatory yet the most classic Singaporean meal out there).
Malls in Singapore? E-ve-ry-where.
Attentive readers will remember that I previously mentioned the nice, yet sometimes physically challenging, climate Singapore has. Due to this phenomenon, the city-state offers the opportunity to refresh yourself with some cool AC in pretty much any public building.
My guess is that the prominent consumption culture and the climate have resulted in shopping malls popping up everywhere in the city. I'm not talking about small shopping centers. I'm talking about full-blown malls with several stories and endless hallways. Basically, any shopper’s paradise. Some malls, however, will be dedicated to one specific type of goods as for example the Bras Basah Complex which is known for selling books, art supplies, and other crafty products. In other malls, such as the famous Marina Bay Sands mall, you will be able to primarily find luxury items with price tags that will make any sleep-deprived, 20-year old student uncontrollably sweat despite the AC. Whatever you are looking for, some mall in Singapore will most certainly have it.
If you feel like setting your inner-traveler free, Singapore is just what you need. Given its central position in Southeast Asia and huge international airport, you can be in a different country in no time. Want to go to Thailand for the weekend? 80 euros and 3 hours later you could be lying on the beaches of Phuket. Want to unwind and scooter around on one of the many beautiful Indonesian islands? No problem! Two hours, a few bucks, and a ferry ride later and you’re all set.
Although Singapore might not be the cheapest city-state to have as home base, it is definitely worth it due to the incredible travel opportunities and many destinations available. Not even to mention the incredible Instagram shots you will be able to take in the matter of a few weeks.
I have never witnessed a city in which I could actually eat on the floor if I wanted to. Every single pavement, street or public area, for that matter, is of an extreme cleanliness. Not a single cigarette bud or chewing gum can be found. Given that it’s not usual for big cities to be defined as clean, you can imagine the shock I had when I discovered Singapore.
Another element that I had never encountered in a big city before is the incredible feeling of safety. I can, for example, walk anywhere in Singapore at any given point of the day, whether it be in the afternoon or in the middle of the night, and not fear that something bad to happen to me.
You may wonder now, “What makes Singapore so different from any other big city?”. Well, I can easily answer this: their laws and the way people respect and comply to these laws. On the one hand, people might be restricted in the sense that they cannot just smoke cigarettes wherever they want, but only in designated areas. On the other hand, this results in little to no cigarette buds in the city. As for anything in life, if you want to make it work, you pay a certain price for it.
Can you simply not get enough about Singapore or Asia for that matter? Make sure to read my first story about my adventure in Singapore and stay updated on any new stories on the College Life Magazine.