Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why Singapore rules OK compared to the UK

I just came back from a 3 week visit to the UK. I have to admit I didn't really expect much to have changed post riots although I did get a few strange "be safe comments".

The first few days were full of novelty and nostalgia. I didn't mind layering up and being cosy in the height of summer, the grey windy days with the wind and rain blowing in my face, the slight grumpiness of people.

But after exactly four days the novelty firmly wore off and the stark reality started to hit. I started wondering why everyone looked like they had faces like slapped arses. Was it really the pathetic excuse for a summer? Maybe it was the bad feeling lingering on from the riots or recent murders?  Perhaps the fact that people had been told they were heading for an age of austerity to last 10 years?

Whatever it was I was starting to miss Singapore already. Yes it was great to see family and friends but I felt like an alien in my own country, floating around like a ghost getting more and more disturbed and negative about the things I saw.  And I couldn't help constantly drawing comparisons between my two homes.

These were just some of the things knocking about in my head...

No.1: In the UK summer is not summer. In August try wearing a vest, long sleeved top and cardi, jeans and boots and you'll be just grand. The rain is drizzly and thrown in your face by the wind. It changes your whole posture as you brace against it. And once the novelty wears off it sucks. In it's place stands misery guts.
In Sing, we might not have any seasons but at least that means you know what you're getting. You know what to wear and know that at least when it rains it will be relatively fast and furious and still warm rather than a painful, drawn out affair with no end in sight. And more importantly that it won't be all too long before you see that fabulous mood enhancer - the sun - again. 

No.2 : When I was in the UK in the space of 10 minutes someone pretty much puked right in front of me in broad day light followed by someone pulling down their pants and taking a crap in the street in full view. At first I thought he was just another flasher to add to my list. But no he was taking a dump. Perhaps a produce of "Care in the Community" or just someone doing it for s@$%s and giggles. Pun intended.

In Sing, you will probably never leave a night at Zouk without someone puking up right in front of you, but at least by that time you are probably also pretty squiffy which lessens the pain of seeing the vomit almost land on your shoe.  I've only seen someone who looked like they already crapped themselves in Singapore, given away by their poo stained trousers. At least they had the decency to do the deed out of my sight.

No.3 : In the UK, a taxi to the airport cost me somewhere in the region of $80. It's a long drive from nearly everywhere - for me about an hour if you're lucky, and usually you get the most grumpy person ever taking you there. You feel like you shouldn't even be in their taxi and should probably just jump out then and there. Well it seems that sometimes you DON'T get what you pay for.
In Sing, joyously a taxi to the airport is a quick (yes I know it's much smaller here) and painless procedure which in peak hours will cost you around $20 from where I live. Generally the taxi drivers are jolly or mute. Occasionally mad but that makes for great entertainment. I've never felt like they are secretly wishing to stick voodoo dolls into me in any case.  

No.4:  There is nothing like the great British media. It seems to rule the country a lot more than the government does. I furiously devoured all the newspapers and supplements I could but after 3 weeks I realised it had made me totally neurotic about everything from fashion, diet, cancer, accidentally setting fire to things and starting a forest fire as a consequence, whether I was going to get stabbed at random and if I had enough erotic capital whatever the hell that is anyway. My head hurt.  A bit like this.
Sometimes I bless the fact that media in Singapore is controlled in the way that it is here. Life is less scary and you have less panic attacs as a result. The saying ignorance is bliss rings very true here.  And the truth is always out there should you wish to seek it - it's just not being rammed down your throat 24/7.

No. 5: Most people get on the plane to go on holiday. The Brits seem to get on a plane with the sole purpose of getting drunk and farting. You beastly people next to me on my leg out to Dubai know who you are. It's a flight not a zoo and being a night time flight most of us are trying to kip you know! I hope you had a really bad hangover when you landed. 
Well Singapore might be a sub-tropical island but thankfully most people here seem to be able to avoid the temptation to act like animals from the jungle when they get on a plane to go somewhere. Thank goodness for that!

No.6: I can't stand it when people moan on about not being able to understand Singlish. In the UK, I can't understand people for all the swear words coming out of their mouths. I know I'd much rather hearing here Lah, Wah, and What on the end of every sentence than F*£%, S*"% and C&£%.
    Now just in case you weren't sure, and before you get your knickers in a twist, I hope you realise that this is all said with my tongue wedged firmly into my cheek. Right that's my rant over with then.


    Kuen said...

    You just made me smile :)

    Ms Demeanour said...

    Ahhhh but now you have to tell me which bit made you smile THE MOST!

    Kuen said...

    Every bit!! I like it when people speak well of Singapore cos it shows i'm not the one who think this country is still worth living in.

    Ms Demeanour said...

    Definitely! For all the grumblings I hear there are so many wonderful things about Singapore I could wax lyrical about them all day. You have to be grateful for what you have after all. :)

    Stacee said...

    Well there's a saying that the grass is always greener on the other side. I have many personal friends who've moved to Europe and the UK and are never coming back because they much prefer it there.

    Most Singaporeans would move out if they had the chance, and most who move out never want to come back, they are happier where they are.

    Speak Good Singlish Movement said...

    Steady poon pee pee lah you! We like what you say a lot! :D

    Angel said...

    Thanks for the praises, Ms Demeanour. But I suppose you like it here as there are similarities between Singers and the UK :) As compared to other nationalities.

    As to the comment by Stacee: "Most Singaporeans would move out if they had the chance, and most who move out never want to come back, they are happier where they are"

    Sure, but Singaporeans seemingly have this habit of PRETENDING to be the native of those Western countries. They absolutely CANNOT wait to get rid of the red passport. AND if and when they are victims of random *RACIST ACTS*, they'd pretend as if nothing happens. WOULD NEVER ADMIT to these as it'd only make them lose face.

    I certainly know what I'm talking about, lassie ;)

    Ms Demeanour said...

    Hi Stacee, I think what you say about the grass being greener on the other side is very true. :) I also think the happiest you can be depends on where you are. And what works for me doesn't necesserily work for the next person. It's a very personal thing isn't it? Also you tend to have a very different view of where you have grown up versus where you have moved to. So for a Singaporean London might seem insanely exciting but for me, because I'm so used to all those insanely exciting things, I can't see them anymore.

    Ms Demeanour said...

    Hi Speak Good Singlish Movement - glad you like! The feeling must be mutual because in fact I would super love to do a blog post on you! How can I contact you direct? :)

    Ms Demeanour said...

    Hi Angel, I guess what I love about Singapore is that yes there are similarities but also so many differences as well. In fact to be honest the similarities are - when you get down under the surface of things - quite few in my opinion, but just enough to feel comfortable, and the differences enough to make life interesting. So I guess it's a good balance.

    It's funny what you say about some Singaporean's pretending to be natives of Western countries as from a Western point of view it is a bit surreal when you arrive in Singapore because you have this interesting East/West mix but your perception changes over time. But I wonder what you are getting at is they some Singaporeans act like natives of Western countries and perhaps even feel like one until they really experience what it is to be a native there?

    Speak Good Singlish Movement said...

    Send you friend request liao! :D

    Stacee said...

    I'm glad you understand what I was trying to say, Ms D. The most recent election results in Singapore reflect the growing resentment of the local people (the ruling party's lowest since independence).

    We can love the food and places and culture in our country, but many times the system is what makes us want to leave.

    Ms Demeanour said...

    Hi Stacee, sure I get it because I feel the same about the UK, because every country has its own set of issues. But it depends on what someone has grown up with. Really when we move country, we are swapping one set of issues for another. So guess it's a case of whether someone sticks with the "better the devil you know" attitude or explores a life elsewhere, in the hope that the issues there sits better with them than those of their home country.

    PAUL said...

    Hi,im paul, loved youre piece about whats going on in your head!! Im living in the uk at the moment i can see exactly where you are coming from.Daily non discripts loitering on every street corner swilling down the kestrel super,having to side step the dog shite on the pavement,oh what a joy this place is!!Thats just for starters.I WANT TO LEAVE!!!!

    Ms Demeanour said...

    Hi Paul - I feel for you! All I can say is one thing: Get thee to Singapore! There's no shite on the streets here - so clean in comparison to Blighty you can practically lick them! Perhaps it's time to start formulating your exit strategy?

    Paul said...

    Hi my strategy already underway lah!! how long have you been in this heaven of Chinese quisine ?actually my wife is Singaporean, but she's there, and I'm stuck here in the land that time forgot!!! Thanks to bureaucracy and red tape,and an immigration service that doesnt know it's head from it's arse!!! Sorry!

    Ms Demeanour said...

    Paul - Aiyah! So you're desperate to come back then needless to say! Ah the beauty of red tape. Not. I've been here for almost 2 years and know how fun all that malarky can be. I hope there's an end in sight?