The MICA – my favourite building in Singapore. Photo: Orange Foam Finger
1. Singapore is nicknamed Fine City because everything is illegal here. 16 strokes of the cane for graffiti, the death penalty for drugs, $500 for peeing in public. To test the theory, Sheida and I conducted a scientific experiment: we jaywalked while chewing gum and holding hands (all of which are criminal offenses in Singapore). The result: a few raised eyebrows, but otherwise nothing. Like I said, rules only apply to other people.
2. Being a white guy affords me certain privileges in this city. I can walk up to any apartment complex no matter what time of day or night, and the security will buzz me right in, no questions asked. Conclusion: Danny Ocean would have a field day here.
3. The kinds of spicy food we get in our home countries (if we’re from New Zealand, Australia, England, the States or pretty much anywhere else non-Eastern) cannot be compared to the kinds of spicy food they have here. Tom Yum soup, ordered from your average Singaporean food court, will make your mouth bleed. Tread lightly.
4. ‘Lah’ is the Singlish equivalent of New Zealand’s ‘aye’, America’s ‘right’ and England’s ‘innit’. Cool lah?
5. McDonald’s delivers here. Poolside. And they have a McSpicy burger which is like KFC’s Zinger but way better, plus they serve my favourite frosted cinnamon treat, Cinnabon. (Only the McDonald’s equivalent – Cinnamon Melts.) It’s no wonder the condominium-living expats are all so fricken tubby.
6. KTV bars are karaoke establishments dotted on just about every corner in this city, but singing ain’t the only thing on offer. Those girls in tiny black dresses are the real commodity, many of whom have come over from mainland China via agents who promise them legitimate work and fair rates of pay. Once they arrive they have no choice but to do as they’re told for no other reason than to pay back the huge debts owed to the middlemen. Sociologically speaking, that is the very definition of a self-perpetuating problem (not to mention a travesty of human rights).
7. Restaurant workers touting their menus to potential diners are breaking the law, yet they do it constantly. My advice to help stamp out the problem: perform a citizen’s arrest whenever you see it going down. That’ll learn them.
8. Free flow is not some kind of new-aged trance music, it’s the name given to happy hour here in Singapore whereby guests pay a set fee (about $20) and then get a no-holds-barred, all-you-can-drink pass for the allotted time period (usually about two and a half hours). By contrast, alcohol is next level expensive at all other times. Go figure.
9. Surrender is the best store in town. Go there.
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