My friend Jim recently wrote about his trip to Singapore, and he noted that he rarely if ever heard police sirens. Which got me thinking about the things that are common in the US (or at least in my part of the US) that I just don’t run into here in Singapore.
I’m sure this list is FAR from comprehensive, but it would include
- Sirens–In the US I heard police sirens, ambulance sirens, fire truck sirens on a regular basis.
- Power/Phone lines–I’ve been told by those in the know that Singapore put them underground years ago…but it still surprises me to not see them.
- Fire Hydrants–am I blind or does Singapore not have them? The driving manual has rules about how close you can park to one, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one. What do they look like?
- Tow Trucks–If you park illegally in the US (or forget about alternate side of street parking *cough*) you may be towed. You then have to go to the impound lot, and pay a fine to get your car back. Does towing just not happen in Singapore?
- Parking Tickets–I see illegally parked cars on my street (we live on a dead end road across from a lot of late-night dining) ALL THE TIME. I never see anyone ticketed. I have called the LTA. They don’t care. I find it hard to believe Singapore would ignore a potential cash cow like parking tickets–Boston and NYC make a ton of revenue off this–they even have designated police units whose only job is to give out parking tickets.
- Parking Meters–I assume this is because the majority of parking is in lots/car parks where you pay, but in the US when you park on the street, you have to pay a meter.
- Children’s Playgrounds–Many condos and HDB’s have their own play grounds, but you don’t see giant children’s playgrounds in the middle of a random park or neighborhood in Singapore the way you do in the US. In the US, it works as a central gathering place, somewhere to make friends (for kids and parents!), and a way to escape your home. In Singapore, there are plenty of indoor play grounds, but not much that encourages being outside. Obviously one of the reasons for this is that searing equatorial sun + metal playground equipment = burns. I suppose wooden structures wouldn’t hold up to the tropical heat/humidity very well (not that I”m terribly knowledgeable about such things). But I kind of miss walking E to a local playground and randomly meeting people.
- Pollen–A benefit (to my nose’s way of thinking) is that given the climate, things are just sort of constantly in bloom. In my part of the US, there is a very definite “blooming” season. If you park your car outside, you can be greeted by a fine coat of yellow pollen covering your car on some mornings in the spring.
- Old Cars–I love seeing a gorgeous classic car. But in Singapore, if it’s older than 10 years, it’s got to go. I’m curious–can car afficianados get special permits that allow them to have “classic” cars for an extra extra extra premium?
Edited to add…
- Bumper stickers–I almost never see bumper stickers on personal cars (as opposed to cabs). I wonder if it’s the cost of a car here (new Honda Accord–try close to 100k SGD or about double US sticker price)? In the US people often put bumper stickers on their cars as a way to show off personality, or to show political affiliation. You see a lot of pro/anti-abortion bumper stickers. For a long time I had a bumper sticker to the effect of “Back off…I’m allergic to Republicans.”
- Kids consignment stores–In the US there are several chains I regularly shop at to buy E nice clothes (Gap, Gymboree, Janie and Jack, even a Lily Pullitzer dress) for like 10-20% of what I’d pay for them in the store. You see used high end purse stores here (Chanel, Gucci, Prada, LV) and used book stores, but there aren’t a ton of other consignment stores that I’ve noticed. I can’t address clothing since none of the clothes in Singapore fit me anyway.
What else have you seen/heard or not seen/heard here that has surprised you?