Singapore Retrospective

I am two days into my new adventure in Hong Kong. I have mixed emotions about this move. Certainly this city has a lot of promise. But I had hit a comfortable spot in Singapore. Great apartment, good work, wonderful girlfriend, so-so social life. Then all of the sudden I am in Hong Kong looking at apartments literally half the size of my Singapore place. And I know no one here. This may be tough.

These initial challenges have given me time to reflect on Singapore and its characteristics, whether charming or annoying. Here is what is top of mind:

  1. The service in Singapore sucks.  I remember my first night in town asking the staff at Fraser Suites what I should do with my toiletries, since there was zero shelf space in the bathroom.  It contained only a shower, a pedestal sink, and a toilet (with a round top).  I rhetorically asked, “should I put my toothbrush on the floor?”  They shrugged and said “yes”.  This I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-your-happiness attitude pervades the Singapore service industry.
  2. The girls in Singapore are beautiful and the weather drives them to dress in ways too provocative to easily describe.  In my last couple weeks I saw one girl wearing a translucent dress and another wearing shorts no thicker than a belt.  Both the bottom and top of her ass were visible.
  3. The legends of Singapore safety are 100% true.  Anywhere on the island at any time of the day you can relax.  Taxi drivers and restaurant staff will never intentionally rip you off.  In fact, they will go to great lengths to return money and goods incorrectly left with them.
  4. Singapore is boring.  People told me that when I arrived but its newness entertained me for about 18 months.  If I did not travel constantly I might have exhausted the scene in half a year.  In 48 hours I have stumbled on more stuff in Hong Kong than in 30 months in Singapore.
  5. I love gum and missed it in Singapore.  I’ve been on a frenzy of gum chewing that will square off my jaw like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s before the new year.
  6. I love the heat and loved Singapore’s weather.  Sure, you cannot walk a block in a suit without sweating through it.  But if you can just come to terms with a sweaty brow then every day of your life you can wear sandals and a t-shirt and feel relaxing warmth that demands the company of a cool beverage.
  7. The Singapore Changi airport is the most efficient, convenient airport in the world.  I have heard Hong Kong’s airport is nice, too.  But it is further from Hong Kong island than Changi is from the CBD.

More to come as I recall it.


Good Service, Bad Service

A common topic of discussion on which I have written before is the strange and disappointing nature of customer service in Singapore.  Examples abound.  But let me just give one mini-example to set the stage.

To get a Singapore driver’s license I had to register for classes online.  The webpage registration failed.  But not before the charges were deducted from my checking account.  When I called the support number they told me I would have to go to the main office to ask for a refund.  The office is 30 minutes away by cab and much longer by public transportation.  I do not have a car (as my pursuit of a license makes obvious).

Despite my requests, my pleas, and ultimately my screaming, they had no better way for me to get my money back.  They said there was not even a phone at the office that could help with a refund.  They screw up, I lose 90 minutes of my work day.  End of story.

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