13 Jul Singapore: Culture Heaven
I’m always impressed by how clean Singapore is. It’s not clean because everything is brand new, but because of the culture around how people treat messiness. All the streets are constantly being swept, floors are mopped, and dining tables are cleared and cleaned very frequently. In the MRT’s, it doesn’t matter if one subway station is years older than another, all the ones I’ve been to have been completely spotless. In the nightclubs, there’s a huge cleaning staff that sweeps up after closing times and after they’re done, the place is so clean that you could hardly believe that just half an hour ago thousands of partygoers were there in attendance. Even in the building where I work at, which has aged considerable throughout the years, has maintained a clean working environment in the office. In the manufacturing area, where metals are being handled and getting your hands dirty is inevitable, everyone makes sure to clean themselves up before they leave. I expected the cleanliness of the country before I came, but it’s still amazing once you experience it firsthand.
Another thing I experienced but never really expected is how friendly everyone is. It surprised me the most that so far I have never met any locals (or tourists) who were rude or even unpleasant to me. It’s almost Japan-like politeness. In the subways, people step aside to let passengers come out. Food workers offer to take your trays once you’re done. People are eager to help you whether it’s directions when you’re lost or recommendations to certain shops or restaurants when you’re feeling indecisive on where to go. Everyone here is treated with utmost respect.
In addition, there are many locals I’ve met that are so open to talk. I never left an Uber ride without getting to know a little about the driver. I know many of them that have been born and raised here and sometimes on longer rides I get a share of their life experiences in Singapore. On one occasion, I was searching for a place to get a haircut. I went through many locations and passed by so many lavish salons that were probably way too pricey before stumbling into a very discrete barbershop called The Rabbit’s Whiskers. The cozy shop gave a vintage yet classic atmosphere, like an old barbershop from the 70s. The barber who eventually cut my hair there was an assistant, but he was much older and has been cutting hair for over 20 years. Barbershops, he said, are becoming rare now in Singapore and so has the art of cutting men’s hair, as not many guys are interested in training to become barbers anymore. The style of cutting hair at a barber is different than at a salon’s as even he could tell that my last haircut was from a salon just by looking. He stated that he would eventually be leaving to open up a new Japanese barbershop with his friend elsewhere in the country.
Singapore may be small, but you have people there from many different backgrounds that are willing to tell their story. You hear what they’ve gone through and experienced in the past and suddenly the country doesn’t seem so small anymore.