What I miss most about Singapore

TL;DR – Things to be thankful for.

Having lived away from home in both developed and developing countries for the past 7 years, I’ve realised how fortunate I am to have been born and raised in a country like Singapore. I am definitely thankful for the fact that Singapore is one of the safest and cleanest countries in the world. Yeah, although I may or may not be satisfied with everything in Singapore, but I’ve learnt that it’s definitely a give-and-take.

1. The Food

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This would definitely have to be number 1 on my list. After growing up eating our local dishes, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s probably no other dish that can fill the spot of our Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice or Hokkien Mee in my heart. I mean, even the best Pad Thai in Bangkok or most exquisite Omakase dining experience in Tokyo may not be able to do so either. The plethora of local dishes available in Singapore just blows my mind –  cause’ it’s not just made up of a single cuisine but with four main ones (Chinese, Indian, Malay, Eurasian) and including many other sub-cultures (Peranakan, Cantonese, Teochew etc)! It is also a well-known fact among Singaporeans that our favourite national pastime is eating!

2. Late-night food places

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Another thing I’m definitely thankful for would be the wide availability of food after 11pm. What do you do when there are days that you’re up late studying, working or partying and your stomach just screams out for food, but you have absolutely nothing edible left in the fridge? You head out to your nearest 24-hour eating place or prata place for a quick bite of course! In one place that I’ve lived in, most of the shops closed early and it resulted in me having to deal with a growling stomach till morning. No McDonalds delivery too! *GASP*

3. English Food Menus

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I struggled a bit living in Thailand because it didn’t help that the Thais assumed that I was one of them just because I looked Asian. At local street food stalls, it is the norm for the locals to write down their orders in Thai and to pass the slip of paper to the staff. There was a non-touristy food court that I ended up going to for dinner one evening and I was faced with two problems when the food stall vendor walked pass my table, placed a pen and note-pad down and left.

Problem #1: I couldn’t write in Thai.
Problem #2: The entire menu was written in Thai with no pictures.

I struggled trying to google translate the dish because my 3G connection was slow and I attempted to ‘sketch’ or trace the word out in Thai. I succeeded eventually, but my handwriting looked like a kindergarten kid’s.

4. Stable Electricity

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This is something that I think some of us underestimate and assume that it “should” be functioning properly. In one country, I had to deal with constant power outages every single time it rained heavily or stormed as the power lines were built above ground. There was one time the power outage lasted for about 5 days straight; every evening I had to try to navigate around my room and do things mostly in the dark with the occasional light from my phone’s torch. My laptop battery died. My phone battery was dying. The air-con and fan didn’t work.

5. Stable running water

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Imagine walking over to the laundry shop one day and having to hear this from the lady as you enter her shop carrying a basket filled with a week’s worth of clothes to wash.

Lady: Sorry, shop closed today.
Me: Huh, why?
Lady: No water today. Come back tomorrow.
Me: ?????

In some countries, it just happens.

6. Good Transport System

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I know that some people are probably rolling their eyes at this point, but believe me when I say that we have a GREAT public transport system in Singapore as compared to many other countries. Yes, granted that there are occasional issues like fare hikes and breakdowns… but it definitely beats being stuck at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere, waiting for hours and not knowing if the bus would actually turn up. And definitely way better than not being able to get back home, just because there’s no proper public transport (no trains, no taxis, no buses) in that particular area.

7. Street Lights

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I have never been so thankful for street lights before especially after driving on a mountain in pitch-black darkness on a cold, foggy night. It was no fun at all and extremely dangerous. It’s amazing how big a difference these humble street lights can make.

8. Dustbins

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Something that I’ve gotten used to while living in Singapore is the availability of dustbins whenever I needed to throw away trash. I realised while living overseas that we were extremely well taken care of in Singapore with dustbins placed along walkways and on almost every street corner for our convenience. I remember one time while overseas, I had to carry the trash in my bag for quite a long while just because I couldn’t find a bin anywhere.  

9. Well-paved sidewalks

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The sidewalks are generally well-paved in Singapore and I’m so thankful for that.  There’s also adequate space for pedestrians to walk on and a safe distance away from the road.

Country A: Tripped and fell in a random hole because of badly paved sidewalks.

Country B: Sidewalks? What sidewalks?

10. Clear Street Signs

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I found it hilarious when I was trying to meet up with a Thai friend in Chiang Mai and I wanted to know where to meet her.

Me: Hey, where are we meeting?
Friend: Let’s meet outside the restaurant on the corner near the Starbucks in the city.
Me: On which street?
Friend: I don’t know… there’s no sign.
Me: How do you know how to get there then?!
Friend: I’m Thai. I just know.
Me: !!!

Or having a street sign point towards a street that leads to nowhere.



Author: Mel Tan

Food & Travel Writer. I eat, dream & breathe food. Passionate about the South East Asian Cuisine & Culture.


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