T Nation

Singapore is Weird


#1

Just spent three weeks there, on business. A couple of observations:

  1. I am Israeli, but people kept referring to me as a “Mexican.” This was a consistent thing. I finally asked what the Hell were they talking about. Apparently, when Singapore obtained its independence, the IDF set up its military because no one else would help. To hide their identity (in part because Singapore is surrounded by Muslim nations), the military advisors were called Mexicans. This has crept into the patois of Singapore and Israelis are now “Mexicans,” at least in government circles.

  2. The women are extremely aggressive and forward. I’m a married guy and could not go down to the hotel bar for a drink without being accosted. I suppose this could be fun for someone who is not happily married and very religious, but the attention was wasted on me. Long story short, they are called “sarong girls.” They are well-educated, smart, and want a “Chanel,” – a Caucasian child, basically as a fashion accessory. Jews are OK for this purposes ever since the movie “the Social Network” about Facebook. Apparently, Zuckerberg’s wife is the ultimate role model.

  3. There are some OK gyms there. The “PIT” was my go-to, due to location. Slightly cross-fitty.

  4. They speak English, kind of. It’s like half California valley-girl and half about 30 other languages. Business and government speak Oxford English.

  5. They drive like shit. Worst I’ve ever seen, excepting pre-war Lebanon.

  6. Steroids are very illegal (as in, I believe it’s a death penalty crime), but all you have to do is tell a doctor you want to use them for bodybuilding, and they’ll happily give you a prescription. I was so spooked, I left my legit prescription test at home and just got a new one there.

  7. It’s very clean, fine the crap out of you for littering, but I could never find a trash can to save my life. I would put trash in my briefcase and throw it away in my hotel or the office.

  8. Don’t sit on a seat with a tissue on it. That’s how they save seats. I almost got in a fight over this.

  9. They are pretty rude and don’t open doors, say thank you, or the like.

  10. Men and women alike are fascinated by a full beard.

  11. They arrive very early and leave early. As in 30 minutes early. And leave concerts before they are over.


#2

Hey there! Singaporean living in Singapore, born and raised. I’m a little on the younger side(19) so I might not be as exposed but here are some of my thoughts/responses.

Can’t say I know what this is about but its common knowledge that our military was hugely influenced by the IDF. Some of the first batch of enlistees have told me about the IDF guys coming down to train them being extremely tough and resilient.

Pretty much. It’s not that widespread though. It really depends on the area you’re at. That and maybe you just come off as rich. Singaporeans tend to be fairly materialistic.

Dang, if I had known you were coming to Singapore, I would’ve recommended some gyms to you here. Generally speaking, gyms aren’t that nice here in Singapore as compared to most western countries. Among the population divided between Bodybuilding/Weightlifting/Powerlifting/Strongman/Crossfit. I would say most people are wannabe powerlifters.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “Singlish” right? It’s basically what we call our way of speaking english. Singaporean English, singlish for short. It’s mostly informal and it’s generally a mix of English/Mandarin/dialects. Personally, I would say that Singapore doesn’t really have much of an identity hence the lack of uniformity.

I did not know that. How so? We do have one of the hardest driving tests in the world as far as I know, consisting of a shit ton of classes/lessons etc. It costs over 1k and the fastest I’ve heard someone complete it is 6 months.

Officially speaking, it’s a death penalty crime but eh, no one ever gets sentenced for it. I was not aware you can just ask a doctor to give you a prescription though. Maybe it’s because you were a foreigner so they kinda give you special privileges?

Can’t say I’ve ever been caught littering, it’s not that common. Trash cans… Usually they can be found near lifts/escalators and every 5 minute walk across the main roads haha

Yup, it is ridiculous. We have localized terms for this such as “kiasu” and “kiasi”… They mean “scared lose” and “scared death”. I know, it’s kinda stupid.

Generally speaking, yeah. We’re a pretty cold country where the people aren’t friendly. I would say Singaporeans tend to need to warm up more than most people before they start seeming nice.

We don’t see too many of them around here. Most of us can’t grow full beards and for the most part they’re unpractical. That and I would say our culture with the whole mandatory national service has drilled the idea of being clean shaven (or at least mostly clean) into most men’s head.

Kiasu and kiasi. As mentioned above.


##This is solely my opinion and does not reflect upon all Singaporeans as a whole.


#3

You’d think that after shelling out so much for a car (something like a VW Golf would cost $120,000+) they’d at least learn to drive the thing.


#4

Eh maybe asians just can’t drive.


#5

Two things:

  1. Your “eh” reminds me – they say “lah” at the end of sentences, like Canadians say “eh.” For a bit, I thought “lah” meant “dude” or the like (I think because of the sing-songy-Californiaesque-accent made me think of surfers) , but then I heard it used as an interrogatory “Eh?!” Kind of an all-purpose space-filler.

  2. I think the driving problems are because no one practices driving courtesy. Wrong lane and need to get over? Well, fuck you, you should have known where you are going! It’s distinct from, say, Latin America, where no one follows anything resembling traffic laws, but will let you in, and more like Tel Aviv, where people are pissed and in a hurry (to be 30 minutes early). I was in the back of a Range Rover the entire time and didn’t drive myself, but was kind of shocked.


#6

Pretty much right on point. That and we basically have our own dictionary when it comes to filler words(and vulgarities). For example…
“what the fuck man” becomes “what the fuck sia”
“whoa” becomes "sia lah"


^bunch more singaporean slang

Oh definitely. It probably stems from the fact that most Singaporeans kinda tend to be self entitled ass holes. That and the whole lengthy process of getting a driving license. It causes some of us to have the whole “Fuck you, how the fuck did you even pass the driving test?” mentality. I’ve actually heard people say this so yeah…


#7

Thank you for your response. You do have an amazing country. I very much enjoyed my stay.

[quote]

Can’t say I know what this is about but its common knowledge that our military was hugely influenced by the IDF. [/quote]

About to me more so. Your government has a new fondness for the Israeli Tavor rifle and certain drones, both of which are an excellent choice.

Probably. It was the Four Seasons hotel, and their hotel bars attract gold diggers regardless of country, but this was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Jut for example, I am a watch guy, and without fail, someone would say “Oh that’s a XYZ, you had an ABC yesterday . . . lovely.”

[quote]
Dang, if I had known you were coming to Singapore, I would’ve recommended some gyms to you here. Generally speaking, gyms aren’t that nice here in Singapore as compared to most western countries. Among the population divided between Bodybuilding/Weightlifting/Powerlifting/Strongman/Crossfit. I would say most people are wannabe powerlifters. [/quote]

I’m coming back, so I will ask. This was a pretty unexpected trip.

[quote]
Trash cans… Usually they can be found near lifts/escalators and every 5 minute walk across the main roads haha [/quote]

In NYC, for comparison, there are two before you enter the subway. Given you can’t drink water on the subway, you’d think they’d have trashcans before you go down. Not so.

Every country has their way of doing this (usually a coat or something). But this was unclear as heck. Needs to be in guide books.


#8

I can name a few off the top of my head but it really depends on what you’re looking for. How do you train? You don’t have a training log so I can’t tell.


#9

I do non-crazy cross-fit, I think. Heavier on Olympic lifts and powerlifting moves. For religious reasons, I’d really prefer a sex-segregated gym, but I understand they don’t exist (or are gay, which is not what I am looking for).


#10

Well, I could host you at my school. I’m the captain of the strongman club there and it’s all guys. We have bumpers for the Olympic lifts and some tyres/Farmers/yoke. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if we had a guest.


#11

I work with alot of different Asians, in Cambodia if kill someone it is a 1200 fine, say your family raises money for you to get out, and first thing you do is get drunk and run over somebody and kill them, once again 1200 fine.
Unless person is of high social standing then they torture kill you, and one or more of family members is that families slave.


#12

I’d be honored! Thanks for the invite.


#13

#14

Don’t get me wrong, I’m superficially flattered, even if any reasonably-well-to-do Western male would suit their purposes.*

But I really am married and really do take an oath as Orthodox Jewish man to not so much as shake hands with a female not in my family if I can reasonably avoid it.

Weird, I fully admit. Probably over-the-top. But it’s a code that avoids a lot of trouble in life.

Also, I’m more than a piece of meat, damn it. (j/k)

  • I’d also say its truly the most bizarre behavior by women I’ve ever seen. It’s like pushy douches at a night club hitting on hot girl, where any hot girl would do. Complete role-reversal. And its a known phenomena, so much so that there is a wikipedia article about it:

It’s like the opposite of “yellow fever.”


#15

It’s kinda common to be honest, as much as no one wants to admit it, Singaporean society tend to look up to “white people”. Having a white husband is kinda like having a trophy wife of sorts if you get what I mean. I was going to post a link to that article but I felt it wasn’t necessary haha.


#16

I live in Taiwan and lots of those points apply here too.


#17

Aggressive lady-boys don’t count. Or is that Thailand?


#18

That’s Thailand all right.


#19

Yeah…that’s Thailand. Taiwan is like what you might have in your heard Japan is like, but more Chinese like Hong Kong. Roughly.


#20

Taiwan rocks!

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