I am not sure how long has it been. Perhaps 26 or 27 years ago as I was very small when going in to Singapore. Considering that this is the modern Singapore, I can say that this is my first time in Singapore as an adult. Although my experience was brief, but I shall say that several things can be pointed out.
As Malaysians, what do we always heard about Singapore? Efficiency, wealth, higher status, etc. Practically just like what Indonesians or Bangladeshi thought of living in Kuala Lumpur as well. For someone with tight budget like me when I attended the AFA event last week, I chose to have my nights in Johor Bahru instead of some hotel in Singapore. Basically my daily traveling was by car from hotel to Larkin station (RM 5 for whole day), bus ride from Larkin to Kranji MRT station near Woodlands (RM 2.10 from JB or SGD 1.50 from SG) and then from Kranji MRT to Esplanade (later I chose to drop off at City Hall for single line train, SGD 2.50). Depends on timing, everything can be around 1 hour and 45 minutes or up to more than 3 hours.
Trains in Singapore are easiest to get. On time although fully packed at peak hours. Since riding from the north of Singapore to the south where Suntec City Convention Center situated was about an hour, it can be tiring to my legs when I had to stand all the way long. The worst time I had was on Friday evening as I went back to JB as I had no sitting at all while at immigration, the queue was long. As well as queuing for the buses after the each immigration on both Singapore and Malaysia. Of course no sitting. At first, I was wondering why there were people walking through the causeway as it’s over 1 km long. But the volume of vehicles that wanted to pass through the checkpoints including buses that made them doing so as the waiting can be very long. It’s faster to walk across the causeway rather than waiting the buses plus getting to get a seat in the bus is like almost to none if you’re not kiasu.
Kiasu is the word that I really want to expose very much. Despite having these advanced world living, some of them can still be very selfish. Cutting queues kinda common either on road or even when waiting for trains. A few can be very stubborn enough not to give seats for the elderly or pregnant women. While I did see generous people around, this kinda of mentality still lingering among the people. Which is why I relate this to Malaysians if we do have these advanced world living available, all will be useless if we have this kind of kiasu thinking. At one moment where we had to queue very long for a train, some women simply climb down the stairs while cutting in front of me and then a woman made the ‘I did nothing wrong’ face when I stared at them. And when the train came, all were like rushing for the train without acknowledging that we have to give way first to the people alighting it. My friend and I actually yelling, “Give way!” although not many heed it. But a few actually joined us. While we didn’t manage to ride that train, it’s only 2 minutes waiting for the next train. Guess what? It wasn’t as crowded as the earlier train.
Another thing that I want to say about Singapore is cleanliness. For a country that made early diplomatic relationship with Israel, I can say that they actually followed quite a lot of methods in managing a good looking and clean country from the latter (Israel is cleaner though). From what I see, it’s actually hard to find a trash can outside an area of a building. Usually being placed inside the building. This way, we won’t see the street being tainted with a view of a trash can being full and unattended unlike in Kuala Lumpur for example. Plus, it’s kinda lessen the burden on the municipal while putting huge sum of fine for building owners if they do wrong. Also, there wasn’t a toilet on MRT station, at least on the line that I was using. Kranji MRT station didn’t have one. So do Esplanade, Dhoby Ghaut and City Hall. While stations nearby city center kinda easier to have other buildings to provide them, separated station like Kranji kinda hard to find. Perhaps the racing track nearby has it. Imagine that I have to hold stuffs up until I reached Malaysia.
The reason why I am comparing Israel and Singapore was because of the immigration checkpoint. Crash barriers, guard outposts near the causeway, armed personnel, etc. except for mine fields. Of course that you can say any checkpoint may have that. Perhaps something happened before or Singapore just following protocols. But the Malaysian side wasn’t that heavily fortified. It makes Singapore look like really doesn’t want people to come over there. On a bizarre moment when I was on the way to the checkpoint by a car, I saw a shirtless man only with short pants. The queuing was long which made me think it doesn’t fare better than using public transportation (except that the immigration checkpoint was a little bit easier). That shirtless guy was like resting under the tree while singing some Chinese song. Suddenly he came to me (since I lowered the car window) and asked me whether Malaysia has police to capture him. Insane guy. Probably some hobo who got issues with police and wanted to ran away to Malaysia. Raised up the car windows after the guy approached me second time when he bloody asked the same question.
Funny that I experienced these despite being there only for 4 days. I’ve always heard the foods are good. Sure, some of them. But when thinking that I could get RM 1~2 Nasi Lemak in JB, seeing the cheapest Nasi Lemak in Singapore at SGD 2.50 is really amusing. Drinks choices are abundant though and I liked them. Rather than Yeo’s infested drinks in Malaysia. Freaking monopolizer Yeo’s. The only time I had lunch in Singapore was at Four Fingers. Korean fried chikinz which is not even Singaporean food. Great combo of 3 chicken drumsticks at SGD 10. Isn’t that like RM 26? I knew that it sounds absurd if I try to compare Ringgit Malaysia and Singaporean Dollars but considering that Johor Bahru is just over there, that SGD 10 could get more than 3 pieces of chicken.
It seems that I wrote a lot about Singapore. But I can say the same for Kuala Lumpur. The fact that we may get advanced technology whatever, if the mentality is still kiasu, it’s still be a sad social community.