15 things you miss about Singapore when you go overseas

Are you going overseas for the long weekend? While everyone and their mother has an abundance of grievances with our small country, no matter how idyllic the destination, there are always one or two things you miss about Singapore when you go on holiday.

15 things you miss about Singapore when you go overseas
15 things you miss about Singapore when you go overseas
11 Mar 2015

15 things you miss about Singapore when you go overseas

Are you going overseas for the long weekend? While everyone and their mother has an abundance of grievances with our small country, no matter how idyllic the destination, there are always one or two things you miss about Singapore when you go on holiday.

 

To celebrate our upcoming National Day (and to guilt-trip you all for ditching the country on her birthday – kidding!), here are the things we can only appreciate about Singapore when we’re away.

1. The ease of public transportation
1. The ease of public transportation
11 Mar 2015

1. The ease of public transportation

Yeah, yeah, we suffer 40-minute train faults now and again, but not all countries have trains that come every 4 minutes on a regular day. Not to mention that the cabins are clean, have access to 3G, and there are enough stations to explore most parts of town. Plus, number of breakdowns here is nowhere near as bad as it is in other countries. In cities where the trains are over a century old, we suffered mechanical errors on a near-daily basis. Either it would stop two or three times on our journey, or the conductor would make us get off at a completely random stop and reroute our journey because of track repairs.

 

If the train isn’t your cup of tea in Singapore, we have extensive bus system, an abundance of cabs, and even apps that will help you book a taxi. This isn’t the case in some other popular tourist destinations, where there aren’t even MRTs. (We’re looking at you, Los Angeles). Either you have to rent a car (have fun doing that without a license!) or blow precious vacation time riding on an overpriced train or a non-air-conditioned bus.

2. English-speaking locals and English menus
2. English-speaking locals and English menus
11 Mar 2015

2. English-speaking locals and English menus

One of the things we miss the most while on holiday is being able to read signs, ask for directions, and order from a menu without using Google Translate. Yeah, it’s an adventure to be out of your comfort zone, but going away helps us appreciate being able to communicate with just about anyone in our multi-lingual, English-speaking metropolis.

3. The abundance and availability of cheap and yummy food
3. The abundance and availability of cheap and yummy food
11 Mar 2015

3. The abundance and availability of cheap and yummy food

Midnight munchies strike again? No problem – a quick trip to the food court for $2.50 chai fan should do the trick! But outside of Singapore? In most places, we either have to drive 20 minutes for the nearest McDonald’s (inevitably the only thing open), or we have to throw down cash for room service.

 

4. Predictable weather
4. Predictable weather
11 Mar 2015

4. Predictable weather

It’s hot, hot, hot here. Or hot or rainy. Or hot and hazy. Whatever the case, we always miss the steady climate and lack of blizzards and typhoons (we can’t be the only ones whose flights were cancelled due to inclement weather). As much as we complain about the heat, it’s nice wearing an outfit that lasts the entire day, rather than having to tote along extra coats and scarves for nighttime drops in temperature.

5. Low crime rate
5. Low crime rate
11 Mar 2015

5. Low crime rate

Ah, the joys of walking around without fear of being mugged, molested, or propositioned for bribes. After about three days of hiding billfolds in our bras, we can appreciate how Singapore is so safe that people actually use their bags to “chop” seats.

6. Iced drinks
6. Iced drinks
11 Mar 2015

6. Iced drinks

While most places in America will happily serve you iced coffee, many establishments in Europe don’t even offer iced water – a necessity when you’re traveling in the peak of summer. And don’t even think about ordering an iced coffee for takeaway when you’re in Italy, where you are expected to sit down, relax, and sip hot coffee in the sweltering heat.

7. Air conditioning everywhere
7. Air conditioning everywhere
11 Mar 2015

7. Air conditioning everywhere

Go abroad for a few weeks during the summer and we can guarantee that you’ll return with a new appreciation for Singapore’s powerful, pervasive air conditioning. We have air conditioning in houses, in train stations, in buses, in restaurants, in convenience stores, and on all forms of public transportation. Prepare to fan yourself with brochures when you’re on holiday.

 

8. 3G and wi-fi everywhere
8. 3G and wi-fi everywhere
11 Mar 2015

8. 3G and wi-fi everywhere

Speaking of things that are everywhere, it’s surprisingly easy to find free wi-fi here in Singapore. Need Google Maps? No problem – just step into the nearest Starbucks or indie café and you’ll be logged on in a jiffy. And those cheap 3-day data plans you can buy at the convenience store? A total godsend for tourists – and a total disappointment for us when we realise that 3G access is not always as easy as buying a card and changing a chip.

9. The improbability of getting food poisoning just by eating street food
9. The improbability of getting food poisoning just by eating street food
11 Mar 2015

9. The improbability of getting food poisoning just by eating street food

Given the number of times we’ve gotten indigestion from eating dodgy street delicacies overseas, we can only conclude that we’ve been spoiled by Singapore’s delicious, yet surprisingly bacteria-free offerings of deep-fried hawker food. Whether it’s at a pasar malam, at a food court, or in a dimly-lit coffee shop, even the dodgiest-looking local offerings will be good to even the most delicate stomachs.  

10. Changi Airport
10. Changi Airport
11 Mar 2015

10. Changi Airport

You’ve probably found a few of the items on this list so far to be a little overrated. Predictable weather? Hey, at least San Diego is predictably 25 degrees and breezy year-round. English-speaking locals? What do you call London? Efficient trains? Tokyo’s are even faster than ours. But if there’s one thing that totally lives up to its reputation, it’s Singapore’s Changi Airport. There is no way in the world you won’t miss our airport after a few weeks abroad. It’s clean, quiet, efficient, and offers tons of luxurious amenities. The food? A+. The abundance of couches for sleeping? Unheard of anywhere else. You’ll never have to worry about missing your transfer flight due to long security queues, nor will you have to waste time running back and forth thanks to erratic gate changes.

 

11. Decently spicy food
11. Decently spicy food
11 Mar 2015

11. Decently spicy food

There’s a reason Singaporeans carry a bottle of chili sauce overseas, because for all their merits, all the jalapenos and peppers overseas can’t pack a punch like our spices do. Maybe it’s the hint of ginger, or maybe it’s the shallots, but it only takes three days abroad for us to start hankering for food that makes our eyes water.

12. Cheap and strong coffee on every corner
12. Cheap and strong coffee on every corner
11 Mar 2015

12. Cheap and strong coffee on every corner

Sure, the artisanal coffee overseas is to die for, but don’t tell us that you haven’t missed picking up an 80-cent cup of takeaway kopi on your travels abroad. Some places only offer expensive, Starbucks-style coffee. Others have nary a café in sight. And as much as we enjoy a hearty flat white or a cheap, all-powerful cup of Vietnamese coffee, there’s a comfort in tasting the sweet concoctions from our regular kopitiams.

 13. Clean toilets everywhere
13. Clean toilets everywhere
11 Mar 2015

13. Clean toilets everywhere

It can be surprisingly hard to find toilets overseas, especially clean ones. And free ones! Gone are the days when you could walk into any old Starbucks for the restroom – in some European countries, you not only have to buy a drink, but you have to use a unique password on your receipt to even access the toilet. Here at least, there’s always a shopping centre or an MRT in walking distance for when nature calls.

14. Almost everything is within walking distance
14. Almost everything is within walking distance
11 Mar 2015

14. Almost everything is within walking distance

Speaking of walking distance – how awesome is it that you can get just about anything you need here just by strolling down a couple of blocks? No matter where you are, you’re never too far from a mamakshop, a 7-Eleven, an ATM, a clinic, or even a 24-hour NTUC. Yes, we appreciate the sprawling vistas overseas, but it’s not half as fun when we realise late at night that the closest pharmacy would require 45 minutes of walking.

15. Convenient, clean and affordable healthcare
15. Convenient, clean and affordable healthcare
11 Mar 2015

15. Convenient, clean and affordable healthcare

At the risk of sounding a little morbid, Singapore is a relatively convenient place to get injured, as hospital costs are quite low compared to some other first-world countries. That is, you can check into A&E for food poisoning without racking up thousands of dollars in fees. You can walk into clinics without making an appointment, pick up over-the-counter remedies at the cluster of pharmacies just 10 minutes away, and you can trust that all surgical tools have been sterilised.  

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