My week in Singapore quirks.

Each week is full of Singapore quirks but this week there were a few notable…quirks.

  1. Poppy Seeds: So while I was doing my online bagel ordering, I had a hankering for a poppy seed bagel. After an extensive search, I came up short. It turns out poppy seeds are illegal in Singapore. “What are you in jail for?” “oh, I was eating a poppy seed bagel on the train”. It has come to my attention that there is a huge niche for poppy seed flavoured chewing gum in Singapore.
  2. Censorship: I have mentioned the sometimes ridiculous censorship before but there was another amazing example yesterday. The protagonist on the TV show I was watching (I can’t recall the name) mentioned the word “penis” (which was muted out), but then in the very next sentence he mentioned the word “vagina” (which was NOT muted out).  Am I to believe that vaginas exist but penises do not? This may explain Singapore’s negative birth rate.
  3. iTunes: Last week Singapore got iTunes which is only 10 years later than the rest of the world (I should clarify, iTunes was available before but you could only get apps. No music and no movies).  How is it possible for the country with the highest number of iPhone owners (per capita) to only get iTunes now?
  4. Landlords: So I googled my landlord the other day and it turns out he is in jail for corruption (or someone with the same name). I don’t like our chances of getting our bond back.

 

fin

Things I saw in the first hour in New Zealand which I have not seen in 18 months of Singapore (worlds longest blog title)

20120528-134845.jpg

Ok, first of all sorry about the lack of blogs. Totally my bad.

A couple of weeks ago we went back to New Zealand and there were a whole lot of things (that I saw in my first hour) that I had not seen in my time in Singapore. I am not saying they don’t exist in Singapore I am just saying I have not seen them.

1. Used cars for sale: Cars are mad expensive in Singapore and because of this there is not much of a used car market. If you can afford the crazy taxes on cars (100,000 plus) you can afford to buy a new car. New Zealand has terrible public transport so vehicle ownership is almost a necessity. On the way in from the airport we passed a number of used car lots. The cheapest car I saw was $1999 (and it looked pretty good). Singapore may have the highest number of iPhones per capita but NZ has the highest number of cars.

2. Fresh milk: Truth be told, I did not notice this at the time, someone pointed it out once I was back. Singapore milk is all (a very large proportion) made from powdered milk. When i got back someone showed me the label “made from fresh milk”. This freaked me out (although once again I had not actually noticed) as I had grown up on a dairy farm (this is not strictly true… but we did have a pet cow once. We had to give here away, she kept jumping the fence). I had not had powdered milk my whole life, and now suddenly this is (practically) my only option (but once again I had not actually noticed).

3. A Rainbow: There is a saying that New Zealand can experience four seasons in one day and along those lines Singapore has two seasons. Sunny or thunderstorm. So you would think rainbows are a common occurrence in Singapore. Not so, for me at least. I am the reverse of the double rainbow guy (zero rainbows). Anyway I saw a rainbow just after we landed as we were taxiing to the terminal.

4. Campervans New Zealand loves campervans (motor homes). Can’t go anywhere without seeing them.

5. Banter This is not something you actually see, but more of a pleasant experience. I am not the most out going guy, but I do love me some banter with my cafe staff. It’s weird, there is nothing I am scared of more, than awkward small talk, but when it comes to no-pressure cafe staff banter situations, there is nothing I love more. Cafe staff banter in Singapore is minimal to non existent, so I had to get my fix in New Zealand

fin

*this blog was written on my iPad whilst on the train (I deserve some mad props for that)

Pumped Up Lists

Source

 

Next week we are heading back to New Zealand for a brief holiday and there are a few things I am pumped up about doing. So here goes:

  1. Seeing the fams (and friends)
  2. Driving a car: It has been over 18 months since I have driven a car. I hope I still got it. What makes this interesting is the give way rules have changed since we were last in New Zealand. It is really hard to explain, but imagine the opposite of natural giving way intuition at an intersection and that was what the give way laws used to be. Now it has changed to be the same as the rest of the world (who drive on the left hand side of the road). Having a car is so good. If I want to go somewhere I can get in a car and drive. It doesn’t matter what time the bus is coming, it doesn’t matter if I can find a taxi and it doesn’t matter if there is a thunderstorm… I wont need an umbrella.
  3. Graduating with a Masters degree: This is a big deal to me. I have never been to a graduation ceremony whether it was my own or someone else’s. For whatever reason I have never been, now is my chance to be the centre of attention (with 1,000 other graduands). I imagine it will be quite boring, but hay, I get to wear a tassel on my cap.
  4. Go to the beach: Admittedly winter is approaching swiftly in the southern hemisphere, however even in winter a quiet beach with the cool (read icy) water  lapping at your feat can be enjoyed. It is a phenomenal feeling to have a beach all to yourself (without all the tankers, oil refineries and ports).
  5. Watch some uncensored TV: This is a topic dear to my heart, please forgive me if I get emotional. All TV in Singapore is chopped up by the Censorship Board (even cable TV). A lot of shows don’t make sense here, an important scene was cut or the punch line was removed. If I was a TV producer/director/actor/boom microphone holder I would be extremely offended if after spending weeks and weeks making a single episode someone mix, cut up and destroyed it. TV is also an art form, each word and action is carefully thought out. I understand that not all shows are appropriate for everyone. People can think for themselves and heed the reviewers warning, there is no need for a censor to deem what is appropriate, it should be up to the individual (or their parents).  Parental locks can be utilised so that parents can stop their children watching inappropriate material. The funny thing is a show will still have an R18 warning after everything has been cut from it leaving a very lame TV show. What is interesting it that gore/blood/violence does not seem to be censored. Anyway I am looking forward to watching some unaltered TV (if time permits). Here are a few of my favourite censoring’s:
  • A condom packet blurred out (possibly due to the negative birthrate in Singapore)
  • Whole episodes from a series missing. Vanished, never to see the light of day.
  • Muting out a word in the wrong context. For example muting out “bang” when it was not referring to sex.
  • Showing a massive pool of blood (and possibly brain) on the news, where someone had just fallen to their death (there was no “warning these images may disturb”)
  • A woman wearing a mini skirt was blurred from mid thigh to lower back.

And finally a special birthday shout out to orangefoamfinger’s number 1 reader and frequent Singapore visitor Mathew Guns Wallace.

fin

 

Singapore Sights Video

A video epitomising my life right now: Singapore sights with a New Zealand music backing track

Safety Tourism to Malaysia

;

Recently Malaysia has been ranked as the safest country in South East Asia and Singaporeans are up in arms over the ranking. Singaporeans are very proud of the low crime rate of their country and they have been pipped by their big brother (fyi New Zealand was ranked second in the world behind Iceland). I think Singapore’s extremely large military budget may have let them down on this one.

Mrs orangefoamfinger had to go to Kuala Lumpur for work and I could not let up this opportunity to visit the safest country in South East Asia. The trip was brief so I only managed to visit three key locations:

The Petronas Towers;

Batu Caves; and

Chinatown.

You may think to yourself why go to Chinatown in KL when you have a Chinatown on your doorstep in Singapore. Well, the simple answer is: the whole point of Chinatowns (for me personally) is to get fake goods and illegal fireworks and unfortunately (for me) Singapore’s Chinatown has neither of these tasty forbidden fruits.

There are two rules I adhere to when purchasing fake goods:

1. Only purchase fake goods that you look like you can afford the real versions of; or

2. The fake goods have to look very fake and there is comedic value to them.

I made my three purchases adhering to rules. First up, I went for a Casio watch instead of a Rolex. My self described style is homeless-man chic and there is no way I look like I can afford a Rolex. I then went for a Linsanity basketball singlet that looked like a seven year old had screen printed . For my last purchase I went for a LA Raiders cap with very crooked label stitching. The three purchases came to a total of $15 (I am a bargaining machine).

All in all felt very safe in Malaysia and came away with some sweet Chinatown purchases.

fin

;

The Ultimate One Hour Tour of Singapore

A few weeks ago my good buddy Rab came to Singapore…but only for one hour. Rab has been living in Sweden and I hadn’t seen in for three or so years. We had a lot of catching up to do so it was not an opportunity I could let up. Now how were we going to make this work with our limited time constraints?

First of all how was I going to get into the transit area of Changi airport? Simple, either have to get a job at the airport or buy a air ticket.

One return ticket to Kuala Lumpur please. Interesting side note: Singapore to KL is the most frequently flown international route in the world (or so I thought, google says it’s Taiwan – Hong Kong). Anyway, I managed to buy a return flight to KL on airasia.com for a grand total of zero dollars before tax ($26 after tax). The brief meet up was starting to take shape.

I was waiting for Rab when he disembarked off the plane. Time for a power tour of Singapore.

First stop, the indoor butterfly garden. So much serenity amongst the hustle and bustle of the airport.

Next stop, a traditional Singapore kopi (coffee) and at only 90 cents such a cheap pick me up to power on with the tour.

Inter-terminal train.

Final stop, roof top swimming pool. I asked some guy from the junior Australian swim team to take a photo of Rab and I (he was super dark I didn’t ask to get a photo of him).

Inter-terminal train.

Then the tour was over, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

I think I did a pretty good job at a general (shallow) tour of Singapore. Gardens, pools and kopi shops.

fin

This is what happens when you ask an Australian swimmer to take your photo

Back to (driving) School

Some things are easy in Singapore (like maintaining a year round tan) and some things are difficult (like getting on a bus without getting shoulder barged by a Chinese granny). Getting a drivers license in Singapore definitely falls into the difficult basket.

A buddy and I recently decided to get our motorcycle licenses (for the purposes of my mothers mental health I will from here on refer to it as a scooter license). In most countries obtaining your license is a simple three step process. You have the learner license, then some sort of restricted license and then you get your full license. But in Singapore it is much more complex, in fact it is so complex the whole process is illustrated by a rather complex flow diagram (so complex).

We are currently in the very early stages of the process. So far we have attended four compulsory theory lessons, which happen to be at 8 am on a Saturday morning (in Woodlands I might add, which is practically in Malaysia). Singapore is big on tutored learning, there is no concept of self taught knowledge (maybe there is a concept of it, but it is not common). I heard an interesting anecdote the other day: some tiger moms are hiring tutors for their kids to help out on the homework that the elite tutors have given them (tutors for the tutor homework for their primary school subjects). The beginnings of a very vicious tutor cycle.

The only thing that got me up at 7 am on a Saturday was the awesome formula one outfits the tutors wear. So good.

Next up we have to sit three practice theory tests at the driving center to make us eligible to sit the real theory test. Once we pass that we are now eligible to sit the theory test with the traffic police. Following this, we have seven practical lessons on the “scooter”. Then it is back for more theory lessons. I am super confused.

fin

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.