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This is an article written by the Collective Works Engagement Team to share our knowledge of the Singapore Market.
January 30, 2018

8 Things That Make Singapore Unique

Singapore! A mishmash city of eastern and western culture with a diverse range of architecture, language and food — creating a distinctive culture hardly replicated anywhere else in the world.

Aside from the well-known fact that Singapore stands among the cleanest and safest cities in the world and the second best passport in the world (according to passportindex.org), the Lion City still has a few surprises in store for first-time visitors to learn and discover.

Having lived here for a year and a half (and counting), these are the 8 most interesting aspects of Singapore culture I have found during my stay.

1.  Singlish (three different languages jammed into one – and it still makes sense)

singlish.jpg

Read: http://www.aussiepete.com/2008/05/singlish-language-guide-for-foreigners.html 

Singaporeans do not like wasting time. They are always straight to the point, which is particularly evident in their spoken, abberviated English. Take for instance, instead of saying “this has no relevance”, they would say “no link lah”. As most Singaporeans are at least bilingual (English and Malay/Tamil/Mandarin), Singaporeans love to mix up their known languages to create the unique Singapore slang. One could also identify a Singaporean by their usage of “lah” “leh” or “lor” when speaking.

 

2.  Seat Reservations, the Singaporean Way

chope.jpg

Read: https://undertheangsanatree.blogspot.sg/2017/04/putting-packets-of-tissue-to-chope-seats.html

The unspoken hawker center rule. Before you queue at your favourite stall, remember to reserve a seat first. Are you dining alone? No problem! As long as you have a business card, tissue or umbrella, you can leave it on the table and people understand that the corresponding seat is reserved. You can even use your personal ID or cellphone to reserve your seat, another testament to how safe this city can be (watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KUj20y-Q0g).

 

3.  Ice Cream… Sandwich?

ice_cream_sandwich.jpg

Read: https://www.thedailymeal.com/eat/singaporean-ice-cream-sandwich-most-amazing-thing-we-ve-ever-seen

Mention ice cream and you'd typically picture it in a waffle cone or cup. Well, Singaporeans enjoy having theirs served between a slice of bread. Not just any bread though, pink and green 'rainbow' bread is the usual combo for the ice cream sandwich. The most exciting part about it is the ice cream flavours that you just won’t find anywhere else. While there are the standard chocolate and vanilla, the adventurous can try out sweet corn, yam, red bean and of course… the durian flavor. These decadence are the perfect way to beat the sweltering tropical heat; how can something that sounds so wrong taste so good?

 

4.  Spice up your life!

condiments.jpgRead: https://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/02/only-in-singapore-10-things-that-make-the-city-state-unique.html?slide=10

From hot sauce, chilli sauce, chilli oil, belacan, red cut chilli and jalapenos, name the spice and you will find it in most hawker centres in Singapore. Does your dish taste bland? Not to worry, there will always be sauces in the condiment stand for your liking. This is perfect for people like me, who enjoy a spicy kick out of their food.

 

5.  Multiple Public Holidays

holidays.jpg

Singapore observes various holidays of different cultures. Give and receive gifts between friends and family over Christmas, watch the fireworks over the Marina on New Year’s Eve and party the night away in Sentosa. Wave the Singaporean flag on National Day, decorate your houses with lights during Deepavali and exchange red packets over Chinese New Year. These are just some of the highlights during the multiple holidays of the culturally diverse Singapore.

 

6.  Durian Durian – Hungry Like A (Singaporean) Wolf

durian.jpg

Singaporeans love their durians, so much so the Esplanade theatres were designed after the fruit. Though a lot of foreigners (including me) dislike the smell of this fruit, Singaporeans just adore it. You can buy this unique fruit everywhere including supermarkets and local street vendors, however you will never see it on public transport as it banned due to the pungent smell it emits when cut open!

 

7.  Hawker Centres

hawker.jpg

Open air? Check! Cheap? Check! Great food? Check! What more can you ask for? Located in almost every corner in Singapore, hawker centres are food hubs with stalls serving food from cuisines around the world, from healthy salad options to the greasiest burgers to the tastiest laksas. Most hawker centers have it all including traditional Singaporean dishes like chicken rice, chilli crab and hokkien mee.

Can't decide where to eat? Just look for the hawker center with the longest queue and be prepared to wait for up to 30 minutes for an awesome dish reflecting Singapore’s diverse culinary culture.

 

8.  The Singapore Breakfast

kaya_toast.jpg

Tired of bacon and eggs? Try out Singapore’s national breakfast - toasted bread filled with butter and kaya (coconut) jam, served with half-boiled eggs and a dash of soy sauce along with a cup of kopi (local coffee). It's the perfect way to start your busy day and the combination somehow works and tastes great.

These are just a few things that make Singapore a very unique country. Be sure to make your next visit a genuinely Singapore experience!

Also read: The Best Places to Stay in Singapore

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alain is the membership consultant for Collective Works, responsible for finding, educating, verifying and onboarding potential coworking members. He believes that exemplary customer service is the most important key to having a great coworking space 

A Chinese born in the Philippines and living in Singapore since 2016, Alain is constantly looking for new experiences and new people to share it with. Having a background in commercial and residential real estate, he is always looking for the next big thing in the market. He spends his free time improving his Mandarin, doing volunteer work and playing board games.

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