This is a guest post from the awesome David Press-Dawson (Check out his Instagram here), who I met in Singapore for three brief days. We had an awesome time, and he has an awesome passion for the minuscule country. With that in mind I asked if he wanted to write a guest post, and he delivered in a big way. This is a fantastic post that does a great job of explaining the city to anyone who has never been there. Enjoy!
“I met Sam while I was managing a small hostel in Singapore. We became friends after a short conversation and toast. I can’t be totally sure, but I think Sam ate six pieces of peanut butter toast during our initial talk. The man likes his toast.”
I will start this by saying, I am not impartial, nor am I going to be my cold logical self. I’m biased as f–k. I love Singapore. I love Singapore so much I have visited it three times over the last three years, totaling six months of actual time spent in the country. I have chosen to be in Singapore over the nearby countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, and Laos. I am not saying you should not visit those other countries, nor am I saying Singapore is better than those countries, but I am saying Singapore is amazing and worth your time and money.
Singapore, a White man’s door to Asia
Asia is a vast and unknown place for most people, especially White people. Most people can summon a few stereotypical things about Asia, but that’s about it. You might hear about the dog eating in South Korea, or the used panty machines in Japan, or the squat toilets of China, and you might think to yourself, “I don’t want anything to do with that!”
I wouldn’t blame you. Culture shock is a thing. If you want to visit Asia, but you do not want to encounter the oddities of Asia, then Singapore should be your pick. Singapore was a colony of Great Britain for a little over one hundred twenty years. They still embrace the Queen there and her language.
This is a huge boon to any prospective visitor. You can easily talk to any one if you are lost or read the street signs when trying to find that elusive Hawker stall (more on this later). You can also find some of the best malls in the world, if shopping is your thing. Singapore strives to be modern. You can find Western toilets, clean, drinkable tap water (something no other South East Asian country can claim), and a public transit system that is unparalleled in Asia. And if you want to say you tried a squat toilet, the five-star Marina Bay Sands luxury hotel and casino has them in the mall portion, just sayin’.
Singapore, a Safe Place
Upon arriving to Singapore you must sign a card that says, “The penalty for drug smuggling is death.” Maybe not those words exactly, but “death” is definitely on there. Although Asia is generally a safe place. There are some places that are a little less than perfect. Not so in Singapore. You can rest easy knowing that your stuff is safe in the hotel room. That your backpack won’t be slashed open. No one is going to be messing with you. Day or night, the streets of Singapore are clean and safe. Here, rules are king and the fines are high. I told guests at the hostel there is no grey zone, only black and white. Basically, just do not act like an asshat and you are gold.
Singapore, Get Fat or Die Trying
Whenever I start talking about Singapore’s food, I lose control. I can’t stop praising it. It evokes a childlike enthusiasm in me. Sam wrote an article about Malaysia and said the food was excellent, BUT unsafe (he got food poisoning three times). That will not happen in Singapore. They are the only Asian country that has banned street food entirely. Instead, they brought all the street vendors inside. They are located in massive, government-run, open-air buildings called, food centres or “hawker centres”, colloquially. In these bustling food temples you can find everything you could want and many things you didn’t know you needed in your life.
Singapore’s financial success has made it a hub for immigration. You can find Indian, British, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Indonesian, and even Western stuff like salads inside an average food centre. Singaporean food is closely tied to Malaysian given that they were one country for many decades. The native food is amazing. For many, it will resemble Chinese food, but amped to eleven. The cost of such amazing food? Somewhere between two and five dollars per meal.
Yes, you can eat even cheaper in Thailand or Indonesia, but the food standards are nonexistent and you can pretty much only eat Thai food in Thailand or Indonesian food in Indonesia, but in Singapore you can get great quality food from everywhere throughout Asia. Lastly, if you ever feel like splashing out you can find great restaurants in Singapore as well. The Michelin Guide(a ranking service of the World’s Best Restaurants) has many places in Singapore that it has bestowed with its recommendations and awards.
Singapore, the Ugly Bits
Okay, so there is a lot of stuff to love about Singapore, I said I’m biased, right? But you should be aware of a few things that might make it harder to smile about. It is hot. Singapore is pretty much located on the equator on the planet. Meaning, the climate is tropical (think ninety degrees Fahrenheit with ninety percent humidity). Every day the weather report will read “tropical storms”, but in reality the rain comes in about once a day for about thirty minutes. When it does rain, prepare yourself. Let’s just say, bring an umbrella.
Another thing is that it is not exactly cheap (for Asia). Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia are cheaper places to visit. Like really cheap. But if you come at Singapore thinking it is a Westernized place, like London or Paris, it is a bargain. Using taxis, the subway (MRT) or the bus system is very cheap and extremely reliable, also air conditioned. You will pay more than other spots in Asia, but you will get more as well.
Singapore, a Place to Love
So that is my pitch. Singapore is a place that offers unparalleled delights. I am not joking when I say the food is good. If you like food, you will love Singapore. If you like history, Singapore has a many first-rate museums and a botanic garden straight out of Victorian England. If you like architecture, Singapore has buildings that look like they were imported from the future. If you like shopping, Singapore has malls that outclass any mall in America or Europe. If you are a crazy person and love hot weather, Singapore has it in spades. Pretty much everything about Singapore is fun for a rollicking. And as they say, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!”
Thanks David! Be sure to check out his Instagram for awesome pictures of food from across the planet.