#1867 The facts of life – Singapore edition

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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  1. almazemily says

    Who knew Singapore was so interesting! I must go there. I love the fact that all of those tiny things are illegal! So fun.

  2. Saintchanel says

    I love ‘lah.’ It has a certain insouciance that ‘eh’ etc lacks.

    Also, Cinnabon. Mmmmmmm. My favourite airport treat. Flew into a small rage once, upon discovering Chicago (I think?) airport didn’t have a Cinnabon.

  3. Rebeccah says

    Good, good times


    (For some reason, and I’m not joking, since watching your dance party the capital G on the first Good is strobing!)

  4. kitty says

    Illegal but not enforced. I used to live there when I was a kid. I chewed gum and jaywalked. You are in a way allowed to chew gum but it’s spitting it out and putting it in random places that is frowned upon therefore sales of it are banned. Did you know that homosexual acts are illegal in singapore as well?
    It’s a very don’t ask, don’t tell kind of place.

    Like peeing in the elevator, it’s not the physical act itself, it’s just trying to keep the place clean. Same idea with gum, don’t you love all the black spots on the ground in the city. Yuck.

    And tell sheida that he’s got another follower! My sister and I read his blog and reminise our childhoood!

  5. Rebeccah says

    SG saw you while I was looking at your blog. She yelled out “Uncle I”! Then insisted on watching your dance party and dancing along about a hundred times.
    I’m sure you can hear her voice in your head saying “again”!

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