One of the (many) perks of living in a new country is getting to know it intimately and in your own terms. Traveling, on the other hand, can sometimes be a one-night stand where you don’t have enough time to undo an experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. How long does it take until you know a place?

Ever since I moved to Singapore from the Philippines people have curiously asked me same kinds of questions like “Isn’t Singapore boring?” or “Will I go to jail for chewing bubble gum?”

While every place has its stereotypes, uprooting oneself and moving is like taking your long-distance relationship with a country to the next level: accepting and understanding each other --- faults and all. The funny thing about migrating is explaining on behalf of a country that isn’t even your first home.

Singapore, which is dubbed as both the most emotionless country and best place for expats in 2012, can’t be that bad, right? Based on my experience living here, below are 5 things you thought you knew about Singapore.

Brokeback in Singapore hawker cheap food

Broke-back in Singapore

Compared to its South East Asian relatives, Singapore is that wealthy auntie with a high standard of living. As a first world country, both locals and foreigners pay the price for the convenience of Orchard road, manicured streets and efficient MRT’s. A taxi fare may be equivalent to a full course meal back where you’re from.(Warning: Do not convert.)

Broke back in Singapore laksa

Tip:What you splurge on shopping, you can save on affordable 3-dollar chicken rice or duck noodle meal at a hawker stall. Singapore is cheap where I believe it matters most--- food! Here cheap is never synonymous to bad tasting food.

Broke Back in Singapore - Hawker cheap food

Saving never tasted so good.

While a nightlife in Singapore can be expensive, if you’re resourceful it doesn’t have to be. Once you arrive in Singapore, hoard. Buy a bottle at the Duty Free in Changi Airport and bring it to the bridge of Clarke Quay for a chill one-of-a-kind drinking session.

Dying of boredom m- Zouk Out Calvin Harris

Dying of Boredom

There is more to Singapore than shopping at Orchard road. In fact it’s a global hub bursting at the seams with free talks, networking opportunities, foodie tripping, first-class art exhibits and awesome music festivals and concerts.

Dying of Boredom lego exhibit 2photo

Take for example Creative Mornings, a free monthly breakfast series of inspiring Ted-like talks, Lego exhibit at ArtScience Museum, or ZoukOut and Laneway with big acts like Calvin Harris and Gotye. Or instagram to your tummy’s desire with the wide range of novel places to have brunch. Singapore is not boring if you make an effort to not be bored.

Soul-less Singapore -Creative Mornings

Tip: Check out Meetup.com, TheList, CityNomads, TimeOut Singapore, Sistic for event listings.

Soul less Singapore - China Town Chinese New Year

Soul-less Singapore

It’s easy to mistake Singapore as only a man-made city with an industrial skyline, a consumer appetite and technological aesthetic. Where is the arts and creativity?

Soul less Singapore China Town Chines New Year 2

But for a developed country, the culture thrives in being cosmopolitan.Its bite-sized multiculturalism where eating briyani from India or nasi lemak from Malaysia is part of your every day menu and not saved for special occasions. You don’t have to travel far to experience celebrating Hindu or Chinese holidays.

Soul less Singapore - Ramadan Market in Geylang

Tip: Walk down to China Town or Little India during Chinese New Year, Hari Raya or when you want a gastronomical excursion.

Strictly singapore - Taxi Cab

Strictly Singapore

Singapore is strict but in a way that makes every day life easier. No, you will not go to jail for chewing gum (only selling and importing it) and yes you can smoke a cigarette in the streets (only if you throw the butt away properly afterwards.) A plus for partyphiles and travelers is being able to pass out in the cab ride home without fear of being raped or mugged. Sometimes it’s a relief to enjoy a place without policemen lingering around.

Tip: If you can adhere to the rules in Singapore, like using the pedestrian lane for example, why not do the same in your own country.

Size Matters 3

(Small) Size Matters

Singapore is a small country with a great backyard for travelers. What it makes up for size is accessibility as an Asian hub and commuter city with good urban planning. While there’s only space for one city, you can easily plan a trip to Malaysia and Indonesia,which are just a bus and ferry ride away!

Size matters 2

Tip: If you need to escape the city for a while, consider taking a trip down to Malaysia on the weekends for a cheap change of scenery. Use gothere.sg to find the best route to your next destination in Singapore.

Have we made you change the way you see Singapore? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

*All photos were provided by the author.

About the author:

Rica was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and raised in the Philippines as a 'foreign filipina.' Currently she's scribbling from Singapore, where she's starting to discover the world as a twenty-something year old expat, multicultural explorer and global story teller. She wears many hats --- preferably a fedora, blogger, writer and aspiring social queen. She takes her cue from Dr. Seuss' book "Oh, the places you'll go" --- with heart, determination and openness. It inspires her writing, ambition and traveling. Check out more of her stories here.

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5 Responses so far.

  1. "Singapore is not boring if you make an effort to not be bored" - i agree... no place can be as perceived as it is if we chose not to see or feel it that way... nice post' refreshing =)

  2. rica says:

    Hey Jherson, thanks! Need to make an effort to see what a place can offer first. It's like molding yourself based on place :)

  3. planning a trip to Singapore this August! I never really thought of the place as boring! But will I go to jail for blowing a big bubble gum in public? :/

  4. Paula O says:

    Singapore is a City-state that is never boring! :-)

  5. Eve says:

    I've lived/worked in Singapore for 9 months. And totally agree on the bit where you said "do not convert". That is totally true. If you're earning in Sgd then there's really no point. And it's so true that food, toiletries, household supplies can be very cheap. SDG1 for 3 boxes of tissues - the same brand costs 5 times than that back home!

    And the entertainment. All the things you get. Shakespeare in the park, exhibition, concerts! Didn't Santana just had one? (Which I missed!) My hair doesn't smell like smoke after going to clubs!

    I still come back every so often. So many things to do!

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