I’ve Been Living in Singapore for 4 Years and Would Like to Share 10 Things That Surprise Me Every Day

I’ve Been Living in Singapore for 4 Years and Would Like to Share 10 Things That Surprise Me Every Day

Hi everyone! My name is
Vasilisa and I am from Belarus. This is the fourth year I have been living and
studying in Singapore. The country is not that big — there are 5.8 million
people living on the territory of 247 square miles. In the 1960s, it was a poor
and corrupted country but the country’s current prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew
managed to perform an economic miracle and turned Singapore into one of the
most successful countries in the world.
Especially for Bright Side
readers, I am going to tell you about some surprising things a person can find
when visiting Singapore.
I’ve Been Living in Singapore
for 4 Years and Would Like to Share 10 Things That Surprise Me Every Day

1. Singapore is a country of

Strict laws and high penalties
helped turn Singapore into the country it is now. The country is even called
the “fine city” in jest.
You are not allowed to smoke,
litter or even eat in unauthorized places. For example, one can’t have a snack
on public transport. If you litter twice, you’ll get a signboard that reads, “I
have littered” and you’ll have to clean streets all weekend. Drivers are fined
for not fastening their seatbelts and can be imprisoned for speeding.
People are also fined for
saying filthy words in public places or even for leaving an unflushed toilet.
They say some elevators have detectors that will block the lift until the
police come if someone decides to defecate there.
Additionally, it is forbidden
to connect to somebody else’s Wi-Fi — this action is considered as hacking.
Until recent times, there was even a law that prohibited walking naked in your
own flat. What if the neighbors could see you?
Some criminal actions are punishable
by beating with sticks. But the most severe punishment is connected with using
and distributing drugs. This action, as well as murder, is punishable with the
death penalty.
2. It’s very safe here.
Due to its strict judicial
system and legislation, Singapore is considered to be one of the safest
countries in the world. The crime level is very low here and most imprisoners
are road rule breakers. There are many cameras in the city watching the order
of things and there are almost no policemen. You can safely walk in the city
both during the day and at night.
3. People lead a healthy
lifestyle in Singapore.
I’ve Been Living in Singapore
for 4 Years and Would Like to Share 10 Things That Surprise Me Every Day
© lion_fish / medium 
This is a small stadium not
far from my home.
The authorities of the country
try to make people accustomed to a healthy lifestyle. And they partially do it
with the help of limitations and bans. For example, hookahs, electronic
cigarettes, and snuff are forbidden here. One can’t buy alcohol after 10:30 PM,
while cigarette companies print scary pictures on cigarette packaging. But
these aren’t the only ways Singapore promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Almost all yards near houses
have exercise machines and treadmills — people can train for free there. Also,
there are many athletic complexes where Singaporean people have yoga and
pilates lessons. Various exercises are held both in yards near homes and in
malls. For example, every Thursday near my home there is a free Zumba lesson.
If you live in a building of a higher ranking, then there will likely be a gym
and a swimming pool present. Also, for elderly people, they create special
clubs where apart from visiting sports events for free, people in their golden
age can simply spend time together and walk in the park.
Also, much attention is paid
to healthy eating. Many products in shops are labeled with stickers that say,
“Healthy Choice” — it’s the food that has less sugar, more fiber, no trans fat,
etc. They even have special campaigns where if you buy more products with this
sticker, you can register them in a special application and get points.
Various marathons promoting a
healthy lifestyle are held in the country. For example, the marathon for
slimming gives an opportunity to win prizes if you show a good result after
losing weight; another one is a step marathon which allows people to take part
in a lottery of prizes if they take 1,000 steps daily. And, of course, there
are numerous running marathons in Singapore both for kids and adults.
Together with the high level
of medical services and high social responsibility, these conditions give good
results. According to one source, in 2017, the average life expectancy in
Singapore was 83 years.
4. An unusual person named Mr.
Toilet lives in Singapore.
I’ve Been Living in Singapore
for 4 Years and Would Like to Share 10 Things That Surprise Me Every Day
Jack Sim and me
There is a person with an
unusual profession living in Singapore — his name is Jack Sim and he is known
as Mister Toilet. Jack manages the World Organization of Toilets and he even
made up a holiday called The Day of Toilets in 2001. If you ever want to
celebrate it, it’s the 19th of November.
This organization does many
good things: it educates about proper hygiene and promotes the creation and
maintenance of a normal sanitary society. The idea is to take care of people’s
health because unsanitary conditions and water pollution affect it negatively.
This organization has done great work in India where, as we know, the hygiene
culture is at a very low level.
I had the honor of meeting
Jack personally and I must say, he has a real talent for motivating people
(he’s even better than Schwarzenegger), even if it’s about something unusual
like sanitary hygiene. He said that he had built many business projects but at
the age of 50, he realized that this life was not eternal and he wanted to do
something really useful for this world — that’s how he started this
5. Do you see tissues? It’s
I’ve Been Living in Singapore
for 4 Years and Would Like to Share 10 Things That Surprise Me Every Day
© depositphotos.com 
There is a word “chope” in the
Malay language that means “stamp”. And in modern Singlish (the local dialect
which is a mixture of Singapore and English languages) this means, “to reserve
a seat in a food court with the help of tissues or other objects”. This may
sound funny, but it is really true!
In Singapore, you can reserve
(or stamp) your table at a restaurant by simply putting a pack of tissues, an
umbrella, a ticket, a plastic bag, a bottle — or just about any of your
belongings on it. That’s it! No one will occupy this spot because they know it
is already occupied.
Of course, if you have simply
forgotten your tissues or an umbrella on the table, the staff will likely take
them away after a couple of hours. Or not! People will keep meeting, eating,
and saying goodbye, and those lonely tissues will still be lying on the table
like an indestructible monument to a Singaporean “chope”.
6. A car is a luxury.
Firstly, taking into account
all the duties and registration fees, taxes, and other various payments, the
purchase of a car in Singapore ends up costing an arm and a leg — approximately
$100,000 (and that’s on the low end). Additionally, there are many toll roads,
toll tunnels, and paid parking lots which also become quite expensive. This
harsh method helps the small country to fight traffic jams and air pollution.
At the same time, public
transportation is developed very well here. Well-equipped buses, trains,
metros, monorails and bicycle paths are all made for people’s comfort. There
are various promo campaigns held in the sphere of public transport such as free
entries to the subway till 7:45 AM (only in the downtown area), cheap night
buses and more.
7. It’s very hot and at the
same time, cold in Singapore.
Singapore has an eternal
summer — the air temperature rarely goes below 85°F. That’s why if you are
going to visit this country, remember to take sunscreen and a hat, otherwise,
you might end up having a heat stroke.
But local shop owners, metro
and bus workers, as well as office clerks miss the cold very much and set their
air conditioning at 60°F. Air conditioners are everywhere and you can imagine
the temperature differences a person has to endure going inside and outside all
day. Frankly speaking, I still haven’t got used to this and that’s why I always
carry a sweater with me.
8. A little about local styles
Generally, Singapore
residents’ clothing style looks more European — they also like brand names and
cool styles. But there is one thing to note — due to the hot climate, the most
comfortable shoes are flip-flops. That’s why you can come to most restaurants
wearing these simple shoes. If some event requires a dress code, they will
always make an announcement that flip-flops are forbidden at the event.
Men can’t come to the office
in shorts and restaurants can also prohibit such attire. Also, there is an old
Chinese tradition that tells people not to cut their nails. In the past, this
was an indication of being an unskilled worker. Unfortunately, nowadays, you
can meet many people wearing this kind of “manicure”. Frankly speaking, it
looks so-so.
9. Most families have
Many local families have their
own housekeepers. These women come from the Philipines, Indonesia, and Sri
Lanka to earn money. They usually live in a flat owned by the family they work
for and very often it’s the only way for them to earn money. Their room most
often looks like a tiny closet without windows. These housekeepers do all the
house chores and look after the owners’ children, having only one day off per
week and one vacation every 2 years. Of course, not all hosts are so strict
with their housekeepers and in some families, the conditions are different.
All the money they earn is
sent home. Usually, it consists of 500-600 Singapore dollars per month (400-500
USD). Apart from salary expenses, the hosts also pay fines and spend money for
the housekeeper’s food.
10. It’s a really futuristic
city, and it’s simply beautiful.
The city authorities decided
that there would be no stone jungles in Singapore. That’s why 30% of the city
is covered with greenery. There are many parks, botanical gardens and a
national park here — one can easily see many flower pots both in malls and on
the streets. Plants and trees can be seen everywhere — on the roads, on
pedestrian crosses and building roofs. They pay much attention to the
environment, education, and the quality of medical care in Singapore. The
government is trying to apply all the latest technologies such as special
sensors to provide its residents with maximum comfort.
The easiest way to come here
is for school, as I did. At first, Singapore was nice to me but it felt a bit
distant. After some time, I got used to this country and I really love it now.
Singapore is like a hub of talents, a bridge between the worlds. I came here
from Belarus and now, thanks to the education I got here, I can move to any
place in this world. Yes, the city is full of comforts but I had to trade in a
bit of my freedom. It’s each person’s choice to decide whether they want to
live in this country or not.
Bonus: what you should see in
I’ve Been Living in Singapore
for 4 Years and Would Like to Share 10 Things That Surprise Me Every Day
If you are going to visit
Singapore, keep in mind that it’s monsoon season from November till February.
Usually, the rains start and finish quickly but they bring a long-awaited
evening coolness. Generally, you can come here at any season — it’s always
sunny and warm here!
What you should do in this
See the famous hotel Marina
Bay Sands with a swimming pool on its roof. Rooms in the hotel are quite
expensive and the swimming pool is always overcrowded due to its popularity;
hence, I would not recommend to stay at this hotel nor visit the pool. However,
there is a nice bar on the roof called Ce La Vi — the entrance fee will be the
same as the entrance fee to the observation deck but you’ll receive a free
beverage from the pub. If you are a girl and it’s Wednesday, you can get the
privileges of the so-called Lady’s Night — a day when the entrance is free.
This promo exists in many city pubs.
Go for a night safari and
visit the zoo.
Have a ride on one of the
biggest Ferris wheels in the world.
Visit Chinatown and Little
India and their local restaurants and shops.
Go shopping on Orchard Road.
I’ve Been Living in Singapore
for 4 Years and Would Like to Share 10 Things That Surprise Me Every Day
Places you can visit for free:
Gardens by the Bay
Haw Par Villa Park
Buddha Tooth relic temple and
An open-air concert on
Esplanade stage
Botanic Gardens (sometimes
they give free concerts and free tours.)
The Chinese garden
Sentosa Island (if you don’t
go by monorail, walk from VivoCity mall to Sentosa Boardwalk.)
The fountain show, “Spectra”
at Marina Bay
Theme festivals
Concerts featuring the
symphonic orchestra
Walking tours in Chinatown and
Little India
Have you ever been to
Singapore? Would you like to visit? Please tell us your thoughts in the

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.