10 (more) Good & Bad things about Singapore

The Bad

1. Mobile-addicted zombies invasion

Asian in general are known for their appetite in technology and gaming. Singaporeans are the most well-off and can afford the latest smartphones and other socially-isolating gadgets. The result sometimes is that public places (MRTs corridors and trains, especially) look like they are crowded with lifeless bodies.

Singapore has been recently ranked as the most emotionless nation on earth.
Whether this is an objective assessment or not, the overall mobile addiction is not going to help…

 2. Recycling, what? 

Singapore is a very clean city, on its surface at least. Many european I know in the city-state are actually very shocked by the lack of recycling policies in place. At home, I guess that less than 5% people recycle anything. There are rubish chutes in most appartments and what is dropped down there probably has sports vegetal waste, but also plastic and glass, all at ones. I feel really sorry for the people who have to sort this dirty, inconsiderate mess. Or maybe it’s not being sorted at all and dumped somewhere no one wants to know or care about.

In low-rise residential areas, you can see “yellow” recycling bins, alongside regular one. Sounds like a progress, but you just can’t believe it when you see that these bins are emptied undistinctively in the same garbage trucks. 

Last but not least, due to the environmentally-nasty takeaway habit in Singapore (not exclusive to Singapore though, most of Asia is affected), the amount of trash generated is insane.

You can get take-away in virtually any restaurant, and even some stalls in foodcourts will serve you in disposable plastic ware while you are eating on the spot… Sure, it is faster to clear a table and there is no foodware cleaning but this is really nonsensical, especially in these times of climate change and environmental awareness.

Except making you pay a couple cents more, no one seems to actively tell citizens that all this disposable foodware is dramatic for the environment, and probably in their health too.


3. Hyper-competition, a.k.a “Kiasuism”

This is mostly affecting singaporeans themselves as they enter a highly competitive society from the youngest age. Pupils have to undergo tests in the local school system at the youngest age. People will walk in front of you nastily while you are queuing, just to get in first (in subway, buses, etc…)

kiasu‘ is a word from the Hokkien dialect which means ‘fear of losing’. This mentality is what has defined the country and influenced a whole generation of Singaporeans.

While meritocracy in important, and one could argue that this prevents mediocrity to settle in, this mentality has also pervaded in the society systems and in many instances, it creates many collateral damages and stress for the population.

In a system where failure is not tolerated, there is also less room for trial-and-error iteration, risk-taking and innovative mindsets.

Do not forget to feed your kids with essence of chicken (??), it will make them smarter too 🙂

4.  Car prices…

Unless you are millionaire, or benefit from a great expat package from a MNC, it is super hard to own a car in Singapore. Buying a car now requires a down payment of 40 to 50 per cent of the car purchase price in cash, including relevant taxes and the COE.
At the end of the day, many cars will cost you double or triple the price you would pay in Europe or USA.

5. Table reservation at public food tables

All newcomers to Singapore wonder why so many objects are left behind on tables at foodcourts, until they realize that it is the singaporean way to reserve oneself a seat…
Particularly annoying when the place is already packed, that you have been served your food and that many empty seats are theoretically available…

If I have been served, and therefore ready to eat before you, why shouldn’t I be able to seat before you?

6. Cockroaches, ants & lizards (cicak)

Nasty kitchen intruder (dead version)

The nasty fuckers are everywhere, however clean the city might be…
Regular fumigation in the city just can’t eradicate these guys, who enjoy the profusion of leftovers and warm, humid climate.
Usually, I know many northern western expats that find lizards cute and let them live (probably because we were in awe at the rare sight of lizards as kids…), while singapore just consider them as pest, just like cockroaches.
One thing is for sure, lizards will shit on your walls regardless of your liking of their race. BUT, it is also found that lizards eat cockroaches, so choice is yours…

My advice: do not leave food in open containers outside of closed cupboards… 


7. Aircon overdose

Aah, Aahh, Aaaaaaahhh  TTCHHAAA!!!!!

Outdoor Aircon unit

This is how I sound after a couple of days being back in Singapore. The air-con being on and powerful everywhere, I cannot help but getting a cold when I get back to the island.
At home, in the MRT, at the office, in the malls, the theaters, you just can’t avoid the cooling and sometimes freezing effect.
Don’t get me wrong, I probably couldn’t live in Singapore without air-con, but the average setting is unreasonably cold (at a hotel i went to lately, it was set to a default 16 degrees Celsius!!).

8. Friendships

I have been living in Singapore 3 years, and although the city is rather welcoming to foreigners on the paper, it is hard to really integrate with the population properly. And I say this while my level of integration probably ranks quite high amongst the other expat I know (having a local girlfriend, a local contract and colleagues, playing sport in local team, being a fearless foodie and having learnt a bit of Malay, but not Mandarin, I have to say).
This seems confirm by recent polls, in which Singapore has dropped to the 3rd place when it comes to the expats’ favorite countries to live in.

9. Lack of personal sense of responsability and ownership of decisions

Without being too political, I believe that Singaporeans are not so creative in general. Yes, it is true that if you take Singapore as a whole you get a very modern mix of components for the city life. However, if you look at the details, you will see many things that are not unique to Singapore and have been imported from elsewhere. Singaporeans are very good trend watchers and benchmarkers, and they are fast to replicate modern success recipes from abroad, but I find them they are less creative when it comes to inventing their own.

My personal guess is that it has to do with the citizens’ kiasuism, because if you are afraid to lose, well, many times you won’t even bother trying…

To be an innovator and creative in general, you have to be willing to take risks, disclose more of your personality, and navigate complex thought processes where no “point” has to be made on the spot, all the while not being afraid to be considered irrelevant.

Many times over, I have been involved in business processes where creativity was expected and could have moved things forward faster for both companies benefits, but I got frustrated by the lack of creative input from my business contacts. I could sense that ideas were lying underneath but no one was willing to shoot them out.

Another issue is that people do crazy things in order not to be responsible for anything. One example of that, as Singaporeans admit it themselves, many hold the government responsible for many aspects of life, and are not keen to take charge of a specific subject and try to make a difference. This is quite paradoxical in a country where free economy rules.

10. Having to leave Singapore

OK, I have been a bit hard on Singapore in the above, because the worst thing about here is probably to have to leave the place!
Read the following with you need more reasons…

The Good

1. Badass equatorial storms

Why do I like stormy weather? Well, it cools down the insanely hot Singapore, and give a good excuse to stay home to relax or work. And of course, it is always fascinating. Singapore is actually one of the most thunderstruck place in the world! 186 times per yer, on average.

Some dudes really don’t give a shit though, like this guy from my condo.

[googlemaps https://www.youtube.com/embed/AlX9Q43kmIw” width=”640″>

2. Rooftop bars

or Singapore as the perfect jetsetters place (for dummies?).
There must be easily more than 30 restaurants or bars nestled on rooftops throughout the city. While it sounds like nothing special to many, the good thing about it is that, in Singapore, you can enjoy them all year round, you’ll never be cold. Although it can be slightly breezy at times, you will still be sweating your a$$ off.

For a handsome 360 view, I suggest Prelude, on 3 Fullerton Road
For the best clubbing and jaw-dropping, 1-Altitude and Ku De Ta (on top of Marina Bay Sands Hotel) should be your destination.
My other personal favorite is Loof  which sports delicious, creative food to share (although bit pricey, but hey it’s Singapore), and has a varied music program.
You can also check Screening Room and Kinki, which are nice but very crowded and noisy most of the time.

You can find these nice spots and other in my Google Maps with the Best Spots In Singapore


3. Tropical Fruits

Hmmm, what could be more refreshing and vitaminated than a freshly squeezed tropical fruit. To me, it’s both one of the best assets of Singapore foodcourts, and also the best way to get your 5-a-day fix. Street food do not otherwise comprise many veggies, so if having a balanced nutrition is important for you, you should go for the delicious tropical fruits available in Singapore.

I recommand you to try mangosteen and mangoes (my two favourites), but also durian, longans, rambutans, pineapple, snake fruit, melons, …


 4. Safety

It’s when I come back to France (especially Paris), that I realise how comfortable it is to be able to leave your wallet and phone by your side on an outdoor dining table.
It’s the kind of thing you can let you do in Singapore, where there does not seem to be as many pickpockets as anywhere else in the world.
Maybe it has to do with Singapore’s severe penal judgements, or maybe people are just less theft-minded.

One night, a friend had forgotten its ph
one on a bar table. He came back to the bar 3 hours later and the phone was still there, with people mentioning that previous customers had let them known that the phone was not even theirs, with the instruction to leave it on the table…

Warning though: as it is often said in Singapore: “low crime doesn’t mean no crime”… There are even some apps out there to report crimes.

5. Singaporean Breakfast

A creamy, strong coffee.
2 soft boiled eggs to mix with soy sauce and a white/black pepper mix (I also add salt)
2 toasts with Kaya (a sort of coconut jam)
About S$ 3 at any food court. What better way to start the day?

Instead of kaya, you can also indulge in peanut butter, thick floss, ham & cheese in some places.

And since you are in a foodcourt, you can also start your day with heavier options like chicken rice, nasi lemak, mee rebus, curries, etc…
I’m a big fan of the two all-day breakfast chains that are Toastbox and Ya Kun Kaya Toast

6. Funny signs

Besides touristic T-shirts claiming that Singapore is a “fine city”, there are quite many signs that will attract your attention and make you giggle…. Quick selection:


7. Sports & Green living

Singapore might not have a lot of space, but you will probably notice that there are trees everywhere, which contribute to pollution reduction and make the city super-livable!
Many people run and you will find activities and challenges all year round, in and around Singapore.In Singapore:
Try one of the activities offered at East Coast Park
Walk in MacRitchie Nature Reserve, Labrador Park or Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
Outside of Singapore:
If you have not enough with what’s on offer here, you can always hitch a low cost flight and…
– climb a volcano in Indonesia,
– or the highest mountain in South-East Asia, the Gunung Kinabalu in Sabah

– trail the jungles of Borneo,
– pay an underwater visit to the marvels of tropical seawaters…


8.  Multiculturalism

I just love this. Yet communities are not always so mixed, and sometimes misunderstanding each other, you cannot help but notice that racial harmony is there. It was not always the case, and in fact, it is a key pillar of the national identity nowadays to embrace the different cultures.
For example: the facts that there are 4 national languages (english, mandarin, malay and tamil) and national holidays that cater to the important moments of each population’s religious and cultural heritage, is a good testimony to the city-state multiculturalism.


9. Beach parties!

If you have heard of the infamous Full Moon party of Thailand’s Koh Phangan, be aware that you can have some crazy parties on the beach in Singapore too! Happening mostly in Sentosa, the resort  / entertainment island at the southern tip of Singapore, some nights can be really wild!


Besides the yearly ZoukOut electronic music festival that gathers thousands, you can also dance to the morning at Tanjong Beach Club’s quarterly full moon party, but also at clubs like Mambo, Azzura, Wavehouse, Costes, and for NYE on the whole Siloso beach at Siloso Beach Party, and probably more opportunities to come!

10. …All that is to come

People who return to Singapore, even after a year only, are usually in shock with regards to how fast the city is changing…
New land is created on see and extend the playground.
New towers and condominium grow off the ground like mushrooms.
New restaurants, bars and entertainment destinations are opened.
New airline destination take you to remotely exotic south east asian destination.
New cultural events are created, concepts imported, and the city incorporates international influences into its already cosmopolitant urban mix.
New pedestrian streets will be created and entire neighborhoods will be created from scratch, and you can be sure it will integrate the best in class architecture, food, and atmosphere.

Warning: good times ahead 🙂


Photo credit: http://facialcanvas.wordpress.com/

Thanks for reading! So tell me: if you leave in Singapore, do you agree with the above?
What are the things you love or hate about Sin City?  Feel free to drop a comment below!

If you are not from here, what makes you excited? What do you want to know?
You can also check my map of the best spots in Singapore!

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