In light of last week’s post- 6 Things I Miss About Korea, I figured this week I would share 6 things Singapore does better than Korea. Surprisingly, there are many- despite my absolute adoration for Korea as a country. Many of you know the special place Korea has in my heart, and I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been tough adjusting to life in Singapore. Nevertheless, there are still many things about Singapore that I would classify as “better” than Korea, often things I take for granted being here now. Time to take a moment to appreciate and give gratitude to these things.
1. Everyone Speaks English
Due to the school system in Singapore- everyone speaks English. It’s required from Elementary school that children have a “Mother Tongue” class, (whether that’s Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, etc.) as well as an English class. It’s funny because my students often ask me what my mother tongue is. When I tell them it’s English, their faces often fill with confusion. “But what other language, teacher?!” I will then proceed to tell them about French being a common first or second language in Canada, but that often brings more confused looks.
Being able to speak English everywhere has reclaimed a sense of independence that was difficult to attain in Korea. I can now call and make appointments on my own, go to the bank without someone there to translate, among many other things (although to be fully honest, I miss practising my basic Korean skills!)
2. Outdoor Eats & Drinks
Rooftops, patios, and terraces oh my! I never expected that when I put “Go to a rooftop bar” on my 18 for 2018 list, that I would have already been to approximately five, halfway through the year. Including the highest open-air rooftop bar in the world- pictured above. Singapore does outdoor eating and drinking very well, probably because it’s summer all year ’round. Everywhere you look, you are guaranteed to find outdoor seating, and luckily many of them are equipped with fans.
Hawker centres, Singapore’s equivalent of cheap street food, are simply big, open-air gazebos. Making it easy to “feel” like you are outdoors, while taking full advantage of the indoors (hello shade and fans!)
It’s pretty cool to be living in a place where you see people from all sorts of backgrounds coexisting peacefully (well, on the surface at least). Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street- all neighbourhoods within a four kilometre radius of one another, yet so different and distinct. The government also acknowledges many of the holidays and celebrations of each of the main cultures, resulting in quite a few public holidays! Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Ramadan, Christmas, just to name a few.
Compared to Korea, an extremely homogenous society, it’s a breath of fresh air.
4. Food Diversity
A multicultural population inevitably brings along a multitude of food options. Indian, Chinese, Malay, Thai, Vietnamese, Western, Mexican, and so on. Diverse, delicious, and all easily accessible. In Korea, it was a struggle to find authentic foreign food outside of the big cities like Seoul or Busan. Here, it is available at my fingertips!
5. Clean Streets
Did you know it’s actually illegal to spit on the streets in Singapore? Thank goodness for that! Singapore keeps it’s streets very clean, and not having to listen to people hork on the street, or witness people blatantly litter (also illegal), has been a welcome change, to say the least. (Although Singapore could definitely learn a thing or two from Korea’s meticulous recycling game- it’s basically non-existent here in Singapore.)
6. The Airport
Changi Airport makes the process of flying incredibly easy and less of a daunting task. Especially since I can use the automatic immigration due to my employment pass, I basically feel like James Bond every time I leave or come back to Singapore. No lines, no waiting, no immigration cards. I simply step in front of a mini glass gate, and first scan my passport. The glass gate then opens, and brings me in front of another glass gate- where I proceed to scan my thumb. Once successful, this second gate opens and I am in the clear! If you check your luggage, you can guarantee it’s already there at baggage claim waiting for you.
Thank you Changi Airport for making it so easy to leave your country, because given the size of Singapore, we all know it is more than necessary sometimes.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more posts from Lost & Local.