I have just returned from a work trip to Singapore, where I had the opportunity to indulge in an afternoon of sight-seeing before my early morning flight the following day. Usually when faced with limited time in a new city, I prefer to walk around the
city, rather than follow the beaten tracks that are normally recommended for tourists. I have found that more often than not, this way usually affords me a deeper insight into the city from a local perspective, which is a far more flavourful experience than those derived from pre-designed tourist tours.
Besides buying the mandatory fridge magnet about what a ‘fine’ city it is (a mock take on how fines are imposed for numerous and varied breaches of behaviour/ etiquette), and
admiring the delights of China Town, all bedecked in anticipation for the Chinese New Year; ‘Year of the Rooster’ on the 28th of January 2017 (Gong Xi Fa Cai! to all who celebrate!), I also had the opportunity to walk to Little India off Serangoon Road
via the Arab Quarter in Kampong Glam (housing ‘Arab Street’; aka Singapore’s coolest street).
The trek also took me through the delightfully phonetically-pronounced ‘Boogie’ (aka Bugis) Street, which is today a bustling labyrinth of little stalls plying all sorts of tourist and local fare – a far cry from it’s days of infamy hosting flamboyantly-dressed trans women. Suffice to say that my walk around the city was truly enjoyable, capped off with the ultimate delicious meal, the mouthwatering and utterly delectable ‘Chilli Crab‘ which I ate with gloves as per local tradition!
Ultimately, one of the things that stood out most for me, being as interested in languages as I am, was the very unique language of ‘Singlish‘ which is spoken by the locals. Although the official languages of Singapore are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, I caught snippets of Singlish being spoken both by vendors at shops, as well as locals chatting amongst themselves at bus stops and walking around the roads. I found Singlish to be a fascinating amalgamation of a number of languages; however, despite Singlish’s gaining popularity, its usage is frowned upon by officials and a certain members of the Singaporean populace.
Besides a number of websites cataloging the various nuances of the language, such as Aussie Pete’s, Just Landed and good ol’ Wikipedia, I include here some examples – please bear in mind that ‘my Singlish not powerful’ (translation: my Singlish is not good) and so I’ve had to source the phrases from another website:
On the whole, I loved Singapore and look forward to my next visit. I hope you enjoyed this post, lah!
Saneeya Qureshi © 2017