It’s been nine years since I last visited our neighbour Singapore and the only thing I could remember from my last visit was the vast differences in cleanliness between these two countries.
Following my recent trip to Singapore, I came back with fresher memories along with six things that wow-ed me when I was strolling the streets and hanging out with friends on this tiny but bustling city island.
1. MRT speed slower than expected
Singapore’s public transport is well-known for its convenience and punctuality, so I expected it to be swift and always on time.
While most of the trains came very frequently and some buses were just slightly 2 to 5 minutes late, the slow speed of the trains was something out of my expectations.
From the city centre to areas slightly beyond the outskirts such as Boon Lay, it would take up to 40 minutes to arrive.
Thus, it requires a lot of early planning before your visit to ensure your schedule can cope with all the places you intend to visit.
2. Escalators on speedrun?
While the MRT’s speed requires patience, the opposite is true for the escalators, where its slightly above-average speed requires you to have balancing skills and leg strength, so much so that I nearly tripped several times.
Aside from that, some escalators are rather lengthy and I liked the fact that they have a few running simultaneously to avoid congestion at peak hours.
3. Multilingual MRT announcement
Just like Malaysia, Singapore is a multi-racial country, and this is reflected in their public transport announcements, especially at MRT stations.
Besides the typical English announcements, some stations come with Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, and even Tamil versions. #SatuSingapore?
4. Wild creatures everywhere
Although Malaysia does have its share of wild animals roaming about in the kampungs, rarely do you see them in the city.
For Singapore however, it seems to be a common sight, where I saw hens scuttling with chicks at a park along with a few roosters.
I also discovered plenty of wild mushrooms by the roadside which looked like portobello mushrooms, albeit with a lighter colour. But, I didn’t dare to pick it to eat as I was afraid it was poisonous.
5. Age is just a number
During my visit, I was surprised to see scores of senior citizens making effort to live a healthy lifestyle, where they would take every opportunity to get their bodies moving.
You can easily spot them doing so on public transport, the streets and parks even when it’s late at night.
However, what surprised me was that many senior citizens who are well beyond retirement age work as dish collectors, e-hailing drivers, and security guards in MRT stations, etc.
While most of them seem to be happy for being able to pass the time while contributing to society, some can be pretty fierce if you unintentionally do something that annoys them.
6. Mamaks are (not) the same
Although Singapore and Malaysia both have Mamaks serving hungry customers well into the night, there still exist key differences in terms of the dishes’ names. For example, “roti tisu” is called “prata tisu” while “roti telur” is “prata telur“.
As for the price, it’s relatively higher in Singapore even if you don’t mentally convert it to Ringgit. A plain prata costs almost S$2 (RM6.55) while a murtabak (which was rather big in size) costs S$9 (RM29.48).
For Maggi goreng lovers, be warned that Singapore’s version is actually paired with tomato sauce and might be a visual shock for your eyes. Taste-wise, I felt that it was pretty good (with and without the tomato sauce). I also heard that they have red-coloured Maggi goreng didn’t get to try it.
Not sure if it’s just the shop I went to, but they used lemon instead of Calamansi lime for their TEH’O limau ais and limau ais.
All in all, I believe there are still many remarkable differences between Singapore and Malaysia although we share a lot in common due to similar cultural backgrounds. Yet, these differences won’t stop me from crossing the Causeway for another visit.
What shocked you the most when you visited Singapore? Comment below!
Disclaimer: This is an independent review by WeirdKaya.
Cover image by WeirdKaya