Things you don’t see/hear in Singapore

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?

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12 Responses to Things you don’t see/hear in Singapore

  1. Nancy says:

    Interesting! I wonder if the hydrants are also underground, with hose connections to water lines kind of like how a central vacuum has hookups.
    I like how you need to explain the US way to non-US’ers. I’m so ethnocentric!

    • Crystal says:

      entirely possible! Singapore does a really good job of streamlining/maintaining that fairly disneyesque facade for which they’re famous (and I don’t mean that as a dig at all).

  2. Maria says:

    In addition to not hearing sirens, you never see police officers (except the Ghurkas at the international schools.) I didn’t even notice until my first home leave, when I was shocked at how many police cars I saw. As to the parking tickets, I can tell you from bitter experience that they do exist. 😦

    • Crystal says:

      The few times I *have* seen police officers, it unnerves me to see them carrying M-16s.

      I wish they’d ticket some of the cars cluttering up my street.

  3. bookjunkie says:

    This was a really interesting post.

    Our hydrants are quite tiny so they are easy to miss I guess.

    Never experienced pollen but am sure I would have allergies as I am already allergic to dust in Singapore.

    And I think singaporeans are kiasu….they try to avoid getting ticketed. But i have seen people ticketed and doing a major sprint to their cars to negotiate with the parking attendant.

    I was a bit afraid when I went aboard and started hearing sirens. To us when we hear sirens it means trouble – a huge fire or something like that. I guess it’s a good thing we hardly get this due to the low crime 🙂

    I have seen antique cars on the road, but they usually look so new. Totally repainted and driven by a rich youngster.

    • Crystal says:

      I also realized no one here really does bumper stickers, and definitely not the politically charged ones we see at home!

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  5. Flora says:

    Fire hydrants exist; Stan and Joe pee on them all the time. 😉

    A few people in my complex have classic cars (original Mini Coopers, a VW bug from the 60’s, etc). I wonder what the registration policy is in regards to old cars, too. I miss seeing classic cars! Maybe that’s just an American thing?

    • Crystal says:

      What do the fire hydrants look like? I’m kind of dying to know.

      Very few of my cars would have street legal here…my first real car was a 17 year old piece of junk Toyota Tercel hatchback…I used to joke it was old enough to have a license to drive itself around. The air and the radio were broken, and if you wanted to turn left you had to gently press the turn switch or it would make this horrible buzzing sound. I loved that car. It was actually the perfect car to own in NYC…I once found it with the door open and otherwise untouched…I guess the car thief took one look at it and realized that they’d be laughed out of the chop shop for showing up with that. I was so sad when the heat broke in the middle of January (heat…not so optional in the northeast in January) and I had to buy another car.

  6. kierstenS says:

    The first thing that shocked me about Singapore was the absence of graffiti! (and other forms of street art in general)

    • Crystal says:

      I agree, but I notice it more when I go home and the sight of graffiti is shocking to me.

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