Starting a Singapore Diary

I’ve now been in Singapore for about a year and a quarter. The end of 2014 is nearly upon us and it is traditionally a time to look back in anger/joy/indifference.

It also seems a good time to start this Singapore journal that I’ve been mentally narrating to myself for a while. It might have some therapeutic benefits…

So a brief recap on where I am and how I got here. I was living in London, met, moved in, married and multiplied (not necessarily in that order) with my wife who grew up in Singapore. This led to us semi-permanently relocating here. I now reside in Tampines, where a percentage of my wife’s family live.

Tampines is in the east end of Sing, without Pearly Kings and Queens, but I expect you can get jellied eels in some hawker centre. It’s an area, among others, known as the Heartlands. This means high density living in mostly HDB (Housing Development Board) blocks of flats. All these blocks, which contain hundreds of thousands of people are in relatively close proximity to the Tampines hub, which has the ubiquitous large air-conditioned malls for shopping, eating, watching movies etc, and a MRT station.

Not many foreigners live out here, and that’s not entirely surprising. But those that do tend to quite like it. I spent too much time here during my first few months, but now that I commute in and out of the central area, I find it ok. It’s basically the suburbs for Singaporean Chinese, Malay and Indian families. There’s not much to do other than shop. There is only one bar in Tampines, but you can buy beer in the hawker centers.

I’ll talk more about Tampines another time, for example about the Malay weddings and funerals that are held regularly in the void decks on the ground floor of the HDB blocks. Or the seemingly high number of domestic murders reported in the papers (generally Crime Passionel or family feuds over money). For now I’ll say that I find it dull but easy. People are more friendly and relaxed, the food prices are lower, and it’s a good place for young kids. It’s also what’s thought of as the ‘real’ Singapore, a relatively well-functioning multi-ethnic community rubbing along together.

Written on December 10, 2014