Tuesday, April 22, 2008

5 things that has changed in Singapore since I left.

Honestly, I've not been away from Singapore long but there are a couple of things that hit me the moment I step out of the plane cabin.

I groaned when I heard the captain announcing the 'local' temperature when we were touching down on the island state that I call home.

"The local temperature is 31 degrees celsius and we are having a sunny afternoon ahead of us..."

Gosh, it was 10C when I boarded the plane at Heathrow. I was still in the midst of shedding off my outerwear when heatwave engulfed us as we alighted the plane.

I wasn't exactly in the right state of mind to admire the newly constructed Changi Terminal 3 and was instead grumbling about the aircon being spoilt. In fact, the typical air conditioning in Singapore is set at 22C-24C. London's max temperature during the summer of 2007 was 27C!

I began to regret not bring more clothes along as they began to soak through with sweat.

The very next day, a thunderstorm hit Singapore. It's a little known fact that Singapore is the world most lightning prone country. It's not uncommon to have people struck by lightning while playing football in the fields.

Probably that's why Singapore finds it difficult to get into the World Cup.

Orchard Road
Some changes that I've noticed in these busy shopping stretch that Singaporeans and tourists frequent.

The routes up to the surface from Orchard MRT has yet changed again. Took me some time to get my bearings straight.

To be honest, I find the architecture of Orchard Turn, which is the upcoming shopping mall at the prime spot along Orchard road, quite distasteful. It looks abit like the Chinese Olympics stadium with its outer 'wrapping' facade. But then again, the real thing might look better than the picture that's now on displayed at the site.

I've been warned that the costs of living has shot up the past year. But I was still surprised at the extent. In fact, prices of luxury and branded items are comparable to that found in London!

As for the prices of food, it's definitely not as cheap as when I left the isle a year ago. Even the local ba chor mee stall has increase its price from S$2.50 to S$3.50 (by whopping 40%!).

The cab fare is monstrous now although still way below that of London's cab. However, we still couldn't get cabs during peak hour. So does that mean that it's still not expensive enough to dampen the demand?

Singapore has defintely become more crowded. with a population density of 6,369.2/km² (4.68 million souls squeezed into a 704.0 km² piece of rock), it's 4th densest city (considered as such due to its relatively small size) in the world. I cannot imagine living in the top three densest city.

But then again, London (inclusive of Greater London) has a population density of 5000/km². Perhaps it just that Singaporeans tend to congregate at certain places (Orchard road, Vivo City, Suntec City, Raffles Place - during work, and all cinemas after dark).

There's really a need for urban planners to shift the entertainment centres away from the City area...

Now, this is a sensitive topic as it affects cities all round the world.

The effect of immigration and influx of foreign workers is amplified in Singapore due to its small size. I see service positions being filled by Chinese (from PRC) and Filipinos everywhere I go, more so than when I left Singapore a year back. Don't get me wrong, the Chinese and Filipinos provide excellent service most of the time.

The official stance is that such positions aren't attractive to the locals due to their low pay. But then again, if the pay is artificially suppressed by the introduction of foreign (and cheaper) labour, what do one expect the locals to do then?

I recalled being unable to find an employment as an engineer when I graduated a couple of years back because a foreigner was willing to take up the same position for a mere 1.2k. That wouldn't even pay for my tuition loans much less support my parents...

Anyway, with the upcoming Integrated Resort(s), the first ever F1 city night race and Youth Olympics, Singapore is going to be more 'happenning' in the next few years.

I look forward to my next visit to my island home.

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QuaChee said...

heya nice share here - yes, there are many changes of late. in fact, one more, singapore is opening up even more - becoming a bigger playground with f1 and the flyer being opened recently.

btw ive read in the press in malaysia that singapore is getting crowded because of the aim to increase population to 5.5m.

im sure the govt is fixing something to it? :)

C K said...

Speaking of which, I think the target is nearer to 6.5m.

Not sure what the govt is doing to ease the crowding. Building highrise HDB in Pulau Ubin perhaps? Then we'll have Ubin Lorong 1, Lonrong 2 and so on... :p

QuaChee said...

golly.. leave ubin alone! haha.

anyway it was first targeted 6.5, but later reduced to 5.5 after as the overcrowding problem arose :)

C K said...

Really? Well, at least they have some good sense...

I think Ubin is a serious option because the islanders are slowly being 'incorporated' into the HDBs in the main island.

SheR. said...

With the number of people leaving the country (like you, your wife and me), Singapore has a serious problem keeping their own people without being overcrowded by foreign "talents" from Myanmar, Bangladesh, Philippines, China and India to name a few.
Seems like we are not becoming cosmopolitan like NY or Ldn but a gigantic Asia!

trench said...

I think these changes are in every part of the globe. Not just singapore!

themuxicbox said...

Hi ya~ Well, immigration is one of the problems that is bringing in more problems I guess. I do feel the pace of change is too fast. So much that there isn't time to notice and deal with new problems coming up.

eastcoastlife said...

Only 7 days in Singapore? Why so rush?

The costs of living is getting higher and higher, I already feeling the squeeze, imagine how the less fortunate folks feel.

And it's true the younger foreign workers are paid lesser wages than locals. They pay rents of S$150 and have not much debts unlike Singaporeans who have loans on HDB flats, children's school fees, take care of old parents, bills for electricity, phone, taxes......

C K said...

Ultimately, Singaporeans who has left the country doesn't really contribute in terms of taxes (the most tangible measurement).

But I think that the govt should look into retaining its people more than getting in foreign talents. At the end of the day, the real stakeholders are its citizens...

Interesting isn't it? It's like a big merry go round. The huge movement of people globally. :)

No choice, we couldn't get enough leave and there was an offer for SQ so we basically jumped on it.

Being a rational adult, the lowering of wages will make Singapore a more attractive place to set up businesses. But I cannot help feel that the locals are somewhat shortchanged in the proces..

Then again, as 'trench' was saying, it's a global issue really...

Dutchie said...

ck, is Margret Drive ur old neighbourhood ?

Yep, Sg's weather is hot, hot hot !Even the summer in Europe is cooler. Good thing I could peeled off my warm attire n put on a light summer dress b4 I stepped off the airplane - smart girl, rite ? Hehe

Prices when out eating or shopping is a shocker as well. My hubby is saying that it's not worth going there to shop anymore .. sigh ..

Even my family is less co-hesive - everyone is always rushing somewhere else ..

Sg n everything in it is definitely changing ...

C K said...

Eh? How did you know that I used to hang out at Magaret Drive? I miss the chicken rice at the hawker centre... I heard that the place has since closed down.

I don't know but we were still gorging ourselves when we touched down in Singapore. Even though it's getting more expensive, it can never compared to London's prices.

I've since grown used to the temperature over here in London... I think I'm done for.

Dutchie said...

ck, u mentioned chicken rice at Margaret Drive lor :) I grew up nearby there leh, so just wonders if we share kind-of the same kampong lah ?

Compared to prices in Holland, makan in Sg is still affordable. Places like Secret Recipes n Thai Express which serves Nouveau Cuisine r yummy but rather pricey. One cant keep forking out S$ 80,00 dinners (as a treat to my host) every day of the week !

Btw, do u ever cross over to JB for DVD n CD's ?

C K said...

Hey, fancy hearing from someone from the same 'kampong'! I used to live right next to Mei Chin Secondary School, which is around 10min walk from Magaret Drive.

Anyway, after being used to London's food prices, we really splurge when we return to S'pore for a visit. It's really disgusting at how we gorge ourselves...

Dutchie said...

Mei Chin ? Not familiar leh.

I used to live next to Cresent girl's Secondary School. 3 of my siblings lives in Bishan now, so that's my hangout when I visit Sg.

So true abt splurging - eat for revenge my friends would say - haha.

C K said...

Cresent Girls? Hmm... that sounds like near but I cannot exactly place my finger on where it is...

Haha, eating for revenge ("chi bao chou") fits the bill just fine!

Dutchie said...

Cresent Girl's is tucked in the midst of a residential neighbourhood. U can see it from Grace Assembly Church, which is opposite the Min. of Education (if they hv not changed their venue).

Is Mei Chin near Commonwealth Ave or Tanglin Halt ?

C K said...

Haha... I think we should start emailing each other instead! You can reach me at singaporeaninlondon@yahoo.com. Looking forward to hear from you.

Anyway, Mei Chin is just down Meiling Road from Queenstown Sports Stadium.