There are a lot of people who have been asking about Singapore, requesting photos, inquiring about the culture, cuisine, nightlife, etc. We figured the best way we could convey this information would be through an online blog, rather than detailing the culture to every person individually. For photos, there is always Facebook, which will always have pictures we post as well. Theresa and I will update this blog as often as we can, not only to keep people informed and provide a perspective on the city, but to maintain a sort of online journal/record of the places we have visited. The observations so far are based on our limited interaction that we have had, but will obviously change as we get adjusted to the city and culture. Feel free to comment and post feedback!
So far it has been an eventful month and a half. I arrived on May 2nd and Theresa on May 25th. Adjusting to the culture has been an easier transition than I anticipated. Much to the misconception of nearly every one that I know, Singapore is a highly developed and bustling city full of just about every amenity you would have back in the States. The primary language is English which is spoken in business and education with all street signs, advertisements, television, etc. almost exclusively in English. Nearly every permanent resident speaks a native tongue which usually is some dialect of Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, or Malay. Singlish is also very abundant among informal conversations and from the uneducated as far as I can tell.
The food has been an adventure, sometimes ordering food not knowing exactly what you are getting. Driving also takes some getting used to (driving on the left with the steering wheel on the right). Drivers here are very aggressive and sometimes just reckless (taxi and bus drivers). Theresa still refuses to get behind the wheel. Another adjustment was the cost of living (food, clothes, daily necessities). All of this is very expensive, with some products double what it would cost back home. Alcohol is very expensive as well. We recently came across a 30 pack of beer (uncommon here) for S$60, which I thought was a bargain. A six-pack of Corona will cost around S$22, which comes out to around $17 after the conversion. A beer at a bar typically costs around S$14 dollars apiece, so going out is not cheap!
Another interesting experience is shopping in general. Anything you need to buy or do, just go to the local mall which has everything. Doing anything from buying groceries, clothes, going to the pharmacy, working out, getting a haircut, dry cleaning - it is all found in the mall. A lot of this has to do with real estate prices and the limited land space available. Singapore is a vertical city, which can generally only expand up, and not out due to the limited land resources and constraints. Therefore, it is typically too uneconomical to open a stand-along shop/store due to this high cost, which is why nearly everything is located in some type of shared development.
With limited land to develop, nearly everyone in Singapore lives in some type of condo/apartment building. Stand alone houses are not too common and are very expensive, depending on which part of the island you are on. Real Estate in general is extremely expensive. Singapore has an abundance of government subsidized housing which is nicer than what is typically found in most big cities. The helps prevent the emergence of "slums or ghettos" which the gov't tries to prevent. In general, the city is very vibrant and beautiful, with very modern skyscrapers and a definite island feel. We will post more as we begin to venture out.