This post was first written in 2015 in celebration of Singapore’s 50th birthday. With some years of more travelling and had the opportunity to live overseas, there are more things which I am grateful about living in Singapore hence this updated version. **updated 2019**
Sometimes I ponder, of all the 197 countries in the world, why am I born in such a tiny island call Singapore.
We flourished from a third to first world nation under 40 years and this is our proudest story to tell. I know I am fortunate to call this my home and is able to gain valuable travel experience (although not far and wide yet). These chances open my mind to a wider perspective and allow me to appreciate what I have and how often I take things for granted.
To commemorate 50 years of independence, here are my list of 50 things about Singapore that I have come to appreciate and take pride in.
1) Greeneries – Trees along the divider between the roads and all the grass patches, a city that earns the well-deserved title as Garden City.2) Clean city – I attribute our clean city to all the cleaners and sweepers who have help to keep Singapore a clean and litter-free.
3) Clean air – Our air quality is definite better than our neighbouring countries and it has always been something which we never take notice of… until the wind decided to blow the haze from Indonesia to us.
4) City landscape – It never fail to keep me in awe when nightfall and city lit up beautifully with the skyscraper as backdrop against the bustling city. #proudmoment.
5) Street lights – Hardly can you find a spot in Singapore that is dark, except for roads leading to cemeteries I guess. Street lights play an important role in Singapore so much so that quite often I see drivers driving without their headlights switch on at night.
6) Low-crime rate – Give me a peace mind no matter how late I return home and it encourages the bad habit in me to carry my bag wide open and unzipped that I am sure I am an easy target of pick-pocket, which brings me to the next point.
7) Ability to leave personal items unattended without worries – While eating in hawker centres, people conveniently leave their mobile phones and/or wallet on the table beside them and it seems like a safe thing to do here. When I went to a decent restaurant in Indonesia with my local friend, I was advised against leaving my mobile phone on the table because anything could happen, even in a restaurant I deemed safe.
8) Freedom to dress – Singaporeans are not known to have the world’s greatest fashion sense but I appreciate that I have the freedom to wear what I want. I do not have to worry if my outfit will receive lustful stares which will make me uncomfortable or disapproved looks.
9) Efficiency – It is because we are highly effective thus we tend to have more complains when we see a drop in efficiency. Living in such high-paced environment, when I travel overseas, I have to constantly remind myself to be more patient and lower my expectation of efficiency as different countries operate differently.
10) Smooth roads; no potholes – Workers working tirelessly maintaining our roads to ensure that we get smooth and less bumpy rides.
11) Proper pavements – Even though pavements are uneven but at least we have proper pavements which allow me to cover long distant of walking safely as I attempt to clock 10,000 steps daily.
12) Education – I am thankful that everyone get the opportunity to go to school and equip ourselves with knowledge.
13) Insignificant gender inequality – As compared to other countries, I see little gender inequality, except one being men having to undergo 2 years of National Service but we, women are exempted. In terms of opportunities in workforce or school is rather balance. I feel respected as a woman in Singapore.
14) Armed forces – Speaking of the 2 years of compulsory National Service, I honour and respect all these men who sacrifice 2 years of their youth to defend our country.
15) Racial harmony – See beyond the colour of our skins, we are all the same and Singlish is our common language.
16) Mass Rapid Train (MRT) system – Putting the recent major breakdown of our MRT network aside, after riding on London tube trains, I have come to appreciate that our trains are wider to allow more people on board each time and our trains have well-functioning air-conditioning 95% of the time.
17) Accessibility to most places – Established bus and train networks that could bring me to most part of Singapore efficiently.
18) Affordable public transport – Of course I complain about the increasing fares however comparing to other developed countries such as UK and Australia, our fares are definitely one of the lowest.
19) 3G/4G service underground – Comparing to the tubes in London where they receive zero network service underground, here in Singapore although network may not be excellent underground but it does help to kill some boredom with random social media scrolling and we are able to communicate with the ‘outside’ world if there is a train fault causing delay and to vent our frustrations.
20) Fast connectivity – We are a land of fast connection, I love how pages get loaded within seconds.
21) Accuracy on Google Map – Roads and directions as rather accurate on google map, it save me from looking lost and stupid in my home country and the bus/train directions are pretty useful too. I have been to certain cities where the google map is quite off and bus/trains directions are not updated at all.
22) HDB housing – Let’s put aside how frightfully public houses cost and how the ‘air space’ is getting smaller, I am thankful for the roof above my head, especially when I get to snuggle up in bed during a thunderstorm.
23) Access to clean water – Opening the tap is so convenient and we do not have to worry about drinking contaminated water.
24) Electricity comes by easily – When the sky turns dark, just with a flick on switch, we continue with our daily lives as if the sun never left until bed time.
25) Clean toilets – Locating a decent toilet is usually my main worry when I travel out of Singapore. Here, most malls have decent toilets, some are too pretty that we just need to take photos in!
26) Toilet papers in public toilets – It’s almost like a given. Never do I have to worry getting caught in situations that I am in the cubicle without toilet paper. Probably unless it is a coffeeshop or a super crowded toilet that the supply of toilet paper runs out.
27) Bilingual – English is the official language is that connects us with different races and the world while Chinese is my root which gives me the confident to conquer China one day.
28) Singlish – Uniquely Singapore mix of languages that warms my heart, especially when I hear them overseas.
29) Garden by the Bay – One of the places I love about our garden city, the remarkable light show transporting me to Avatar and back, a place I highly recommend to everyone.
30) Rich history – Discovery were made around City Hall where archeologists found worthy artefacts which can be trace back to 1300. Maybe Singapore’s past before Sir Stamford Raffles was just as glory as we are today.
31) Botanical Garden – The first and newly crowned UNESCO heritage site in Singapore. This is a significant boost to us for being a garden city to be on the renown list.
32) Hawker Centres – Where they keep the stomach filled with affordable and tasty local food.
33) Use tissues to chope seats – The unspoken rule which we mutually respect and abide to, probably too strange for the foreigners to comprehend.
34) Food – Chilli crab, char kway teow , ba chor mee, prawn noodles, chicken rice, laksa, bah kut teh, chai tow kway and many more. I could go on and on and on with all the mouth-watering local delights.
35) Faith in AVA – Toxic food are frequently in the news, especially in China and Taiwan but I never have to worry about consuming toxic imported food in Singapore because I trust the professional and ethics of the AVA officers who are on their toes to keep everyone safe.
36) Free visits to museums – In other countries, locals get discounted rate when visiting attraction sites and once, Singapore Zoo souvenir shop attempted to sell my friends and I a photograph we took at an exorbitant price. I questioned if there was discount for Singaporeans but sadly there was none. Free entry for Singaporeans are implemented to most of the museums here since May 2013 and I made good use of my local privilege to visit some of them.
37) Pink Dot event – Successful event year after year celebrating LGBT community. There is still a long way to go for Singapore to become a liberal country where LGBT are accepted widely and socially, however these are the small little steps to give encouragement and support to the community right here. We are not a country of close-minded people. 😀
38) Valuable passport – Rank #4 with 143 visa-free countries to travel to in the latest reading, I am grateful that I am not subjected to stares and suspicious look from custom officers. The ability to travel wide and far as well as the ease of applying visas is important for a restless explorer like me.
39) Favourable exchange rate – Less for more is always a sweet deal.
40) Changi airport – As much as I do not want to come home from foreign lands most of the time, it is always comforting returning to Changi airport where familiarity resound. Somewhere in my heart, I know this is home.
41) Aviation Hub – Singapore has direct flights to most part of the world, a well-connected city which makes travelling so much easier and less time-consuming.
42) Free from natural disasters – While it was saddening to hear all those natural disasters happening around the world, I am thankful that Nature is merciful to this tiny island.
43) Well-known despite the size. – Ever though we are just a tiny dot on the map that it probably look like a dirt stain, we are able to compete on international stage alongside with big giants and whenever I spoke to travellers or locals overseas, they know exactly where Singapore is which often make me proud to represent this outstanding country.
44) Low-corruption country – Integrity and ethics. It still bewilder me how people can getaway with corruptions in other countries.
45) Low personal income tax – Pegging this to Scandinavian countries high income tax, I should learn to be thankful when I pay for my income tax annually.
46) CPF – CPF is a double-edged sword in my opinion but let’s look at it with a positive angle, we rely on ourselves when we grow old not burdening the society to keep us alive. (Although I still think it is ridiculous that we have to pay off high housing loans with CPF because we know it is just a number game.)
47) Pre-General Elections benefits – Suddenly money drop from the sky and I wonder if the government is returning some of my money that they have been taking from me all these years. I begin to ponder if it is some form of legal bribe but who cares. Take first and decide later….. (then of course the government begin to increase all the prices again after election to take back what they ‘loan’ me.)
48) Democracy – Having said the above and claiming my rightful share of benefits, I still have the freedom to vote for any political parties contesting in my constituency base on who I think have done their job or who could be a better fit for the job as we progress into the future.
49) Prime Minister who keeps up with time – Prime Minister Lee being the head of the country probably have 1001 tasks, among them is being responsible to us the stakeholders, strengthening relationships with other countries and strategising moves for Singapore’s future. I appreciate that he takes the effort to engage and connect with the younger generations through social media no matter how busy he is. In turn, we begin to see the life of a PM and find a connection with him.
50) Unity of Singaporeans – We are not the affectionate sort of people but once again, I see the unity of Singaporeans during the mourning week of Mr LKY. It seems that he unites Singaporeans together and I could feel the Singapore spirit that I thought was lost forever. It make me prouder than ever to know that I have these people alongside with me to write the future of Singapore.
**Updated in 2019**
51) Humidity – It is something we love and hate. Humidity is so high in Singapore that it makes us trickle in perspiration just being under the sun for 10 minutes. However, this humidity is also our saving grace! Saving grace against dry and flaky skin. I do not have the habit of slapping on moisturiser because I would end up feeling like a slippery snake or something.
52) Safe street – I know I can walk down the street alone at 2am in the morning completely at ease is something that I do not experience just anywhere else.
53) Continueous nation building – Almost everything in this city is well thought out and carefully planned ahead of time. From buildings, to train stations even to our population. There is a master and concept plan in Singapore to ensure that we are able to keep abreast with time as we continue to celebrate more successes and more years of independence.
54) Weekend of festivals and activities – Singapore may be small but we are not boring for sure. There are a lot of festivals and activities that is happening in Singapore all year round. From the F1 race that happens in September to iLight festival and Night festival among many others!
Singapore may not be perfect but every country also have their good points and flaws. What is more important is to count the blessings instead.
Happy birthday my homeland and may we bring Singapore to greater height together.