To enter the Singaporean border took a long time although there were not many people. To wait was okay. The Only real problem was it was too hot and humid for me.
After entering the border, it looked like to get out of Singapore was really hard because of the evening rush hour. It meant there must be big traffic in the morning as well. Many Malaysian worked in Singapore while living in Malaysia.
My first impression of Singapore was “Where am I? Is this Asia? I feel like I am in Europe.” The city was clean and well organized.
But there was no shoulder that I felt too dangerous to cycle next to cars. So I tried to cycle on pedestrian paths but it was not connected.
I got the local host letting me stay at their house. The population density in Singapore was high that I imagined the view at windows was blocked like South Korean Apartment in the city. But my host had a beautiful nature open view.
Singapore had extremely unique two kinds of real estate. 85% of people lived at a government apartment called HDB and the other one lived at a private apartment called Condo. People could buy the flat for US$100,000 to US$300,000 from HDB. It would take one to three years to apply and get the flat from HDB. Singaporean Condo was starting like from $1 million. Both of them were good but Condo had a swimming pool, tennis court, gym, and so on.
What good thing was that there was no property speculation as people only buy and sell from HDB. But I guessed rich people could do it because they could buy and sell condo individually. Most of the expensive property was the unit house for they had small land. When I was in Malaysia, local friend told me it was opposite in Malaysia because they had big land that usually apartment having all kinds of facilities like the swimming pool was more expensive.
Despite high density, the apartment was surrounded by green parks that it was really good to walk around.
This place was right in front of the bay and near the center. I was sure that this place would be Condo. I had seen many foreigners suddenly here than HDB apartments.
Time to time I hear local people saying “It’s very expensive” because the price for the restaurant and bar at the city center was made for foreigners who worked at the bank and international companies. There is the word “No Pain, No gain.” It means if ‘you’ work hard painfully, ‘you’ will gain what you want at the end. But someday I thought Pain and Gain go differently in Singapore. Pain is for Singaporean local people, and Gain is for foreigners living in Condo. Although I’ve never been to Hong Kong, I was thinking maybe it would be a bit similar because of the financial city?
To buy an individual car was a very difficult thing. People had to pay more than $ 50,000 to own a car for 10 years called COE. When the car was an expensive fancy one, they had to pay more COE. Also, the car itself was really expensive than in other countries. Then they had to pay other taxes. Petrol was expensive, too.
The population density of Singapore was number two in the world. (China was more like 23rd as they had a big land. South Korea was 13th.) Although it was the small land, there was Air Force training almost every day. I asked the local friends how they think about noise. They said air force is training to protect the country that they are okay with it. Singapore is a small country but they spend quite a lot money on army cause they could be surrounded by neighbor countries. All Singaporean men must go to the army. Many Singaporean men told me about their time at military service. I thought the most army stories I’ve heard were from South Korean and Singaporean men. I thought the reason was there were not many countries where all men must have military service.
In my experience, Israel guy didn’t want to talk about it. At the hostel in another country, other foreigners and I were drinking together. One guy made a joke at Israel guy like “So did you shoot at people?” and Israel guy was laughing at him but tried to change the subject. This guy was naughty that he kept joking “So which gun did you use for it?” and I could see Israel guy was trying hard to keep changing the subject.
There was a big park behind the apartment that it was good to have fresh air. Although it was a late night with only little people, I felt safe.
There was the shock I got from local girls one time. I was talking to local girls about how dangerous to walk in the night, but they said “Why dangerous?” I couldn’t believe why they don’t understand what I mean. So I had asked several Singaporean girls and they were literally not worried about being attacked by men in a dark area or late night. Singapore was the only country in the world that girls can go anywhere and anytime without fear!
Some local told me because it’s a small country that they can catch the criminal before crossing the border. But still, it was unbelievable. It must be heaven for girls here.
It was a really big park that someplace looked like even abandoned land. And there were many street dogs. Local guy stopped his car and started feeding dogs. He told me he didn’t want to call the government to catch them. If then, most of them would be put down. He said he already adopted one of the street dogs. But he cannot have more cause it’s hard. I asked him he had a chip on his dog as I heard the pet owner should register the dog and put a chip on it. But he told me “Nah.. no.. it’s okay.” I was a bit surprised as I expected the law was so strict that every Singaporean followed it. But he was more relaxed.
After talking to him, I was cycling to go back. Then I saw another car stopped and fed other dogs.
All countries had the same problem. If you call the government to collect them, most of them would be put down. Some people said although some of the dogs would be put down, it’s better not to have street dogs. But some people said let them just live as much as they can on the street.
I saw even wild pig in the park.
There were so many good Singaporean food that I made the video of it
My host brought me to the city center by motorbike.
Singapore had a different kind of foreign workers. Some of them were high class and some of them were lower class.
In 2013, the Indian guy was hit and killed by a Singaporean bus driver. It made Indian people angry that there was a big riot. The bus was overturned and burned. 18 people were injured and 27 people were arrested. Some news said it happened because those foreign workers were too tired of their low income and bad working condition. Singapore government announced it was happened because of alcohol. They made the new law about drinking in the public.
When I traveled to Dubai, Malaysia, and Singapore, I could see foreign workers who got too little money and I thought it was unfair. (In the capital of Malaysia, there were many foreign workers from Nepal and so on). I was working as a foreign worker in Canada as well. If I make only $300 while Canadian earn $3,000, I would be so angry. But some people living in Dubai, Malaysia, and Singapore didn’t agree with me. They said they paid foreign workers better money as foreign workers couldn’t make this amount of money at their home.
My Singaporean host suggested to ask them directly. Usually, when I am curious, I don’t hesitate, but ask directly. But this was too difficult to ask for too private questions. My host helped me that he started talking first and then when we all felt comfortable, I started to ask serious questions about how much they make and how they think about it.
Surprisingly they were satisfied their life. They made $600~$800 which was a lot better than Dubai’s worker though. Some engineers made more than $2,000. While talking to them, I found a real problem. They had to pay $20,000 to $30,000 to their country’s local agencies for getting jobs with working permits. Singaporean company had to pay Levy to hire those people. I felt that the money those foreign workers should get was deducted from the employment agency and Levy.
I was wondering what kind of answer would be if I asked the same question to Indian workers in Canada, “If you earn $700 while Canadian get $3,000 at the same job, it would be okay because still, it’s a lot better money than your home town?”
It’s expensive to eat in the city center. But around the government apartment, it’s so cheap. The rice with three different dishes was only $2 to $3.
I was worried before coming to Singapore about how I would survive. But actually there was a way to live with little money.
Singapore was famous for its strict law. But actually I found people here were the same as other countries that they just crossed in the middle of the road, too. The police didn’t control jaywalking, spitting and so on. There were special government workers who catch those kinds of people. Sometimes people who was against the public law had to wear a jacket and picking up garbage as the penalty.
Literally we all human is the same that wherever I go, I see similar things. There were people put the shared bike on the bridge and people put garbage on the basket. It’s normal scenery in any country, but it looked special in Singapore as I didn’t expect it.
Those teenagers didn’t care about other people. They didn’t give me enough space to pass that I had to be careful. If I hit them, it’s my fault, not them. That’s the benefit of a teenager all over the world.
I got many contacts from Singapore. One of my videos, cycling over 60,000 km, went viral and it was popular in Singapore more.
Some local people invited me to their house and I had very special Singaporean cuisine.
My host had a friend working at BBC that they recommended me to have the interview. Thank to them, I got a chance to be on BBC so easily. I realized that studios for BBC World News were only in three countries, Washington D.C, the U.S, London, the UK, and Singapore.
A long time ago, I had a live interview in Egypt but it was on small cable. So it was for the first time to be on a big broadcast.
After the interview, the staff at BBC sent me the video of the interview but he told me I must not upload the interview online. Thankfully(?) there was no interview video on YouTube and I cannot upload as I had to follow their policy. I mumbled one time, but except that it was alright. Believe me 🙂
The interview was in the early morning that I had to go to by taxi. But there was breaking news about Donald Trump that my interview was kept delayed.
There was one thing I got so touched. When I was preparing on the stage, the anchor, Rico Hizon from Philippines, was talking to the main office. They told him to make my interview as short as he can. But Rico was angry at them and told “She was waiting from early morning! I won’t cut!” As he said, our interview was fully covered. Breaking news must be more important than someone’s personal travel. But he was caring for me as the human that I was really moved and thankful. He has worked for over 17 years at BBC World News.
I made the vlog of having the interview at BBC
Another thing I realized was that Shimano Cycling World was only in Singapore. When international companies looked for the place to build their company abroad, they usually chose Singapore just like Shimano and BBC. Now I could understand why Singaporeans were so proud of their countries.
I got a chance to have the talk at Shimano Cycling World. There were limited free tickets and it was sold just after a few hours that I was surprised.
I was wondering why I was so popular here than other countries. I guessed because it was the safest country. So in their eyes, I, who has the same skin color as them, looked crazy adventurer. For them, to travel the world would be difficult because they had to leave the safest place. Maybe the bravest traveler would be a Singaporean traveler (Especially Singaporean solo female traveler!) as they need more courage than us who are used to seeing all the bad news every day.
I showed them what my bag had inside. The big yellow bag was for camping stuff. I had always wished for small and light gears. It was like the people loving cars dreamed to have a sports car that I always dreamed to have the lightest and smallest tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pads, and winter jacket. But it seemed I would finish my trip without making my dream real.
My Malaysian friend came as well. TLC, guy wearing red shoes on the left front became my friend after it that we met quite often.
After a group photo, there was time to take the picture individually. Sometimes when I cycle in other countries, people asked me to take the picture together since to see people cycling the world was not common. But this was literally special experience that so many people were waiting to take the picture with me. I felt I was a Hollywood star.
There were some people left that we went to have dinner together.
TLC came by bicycle that we cycled around after dinner. We had a snack and he cycled to my place together. By the way, TLC was his short name. Some Singaporean used a short name like that. It was really confusing to remember actually.
After having the talk, I went cycling tour in Singapore.
I didn’t need to hurry as the distance was not too long.
There was a little island that it was a perfect place to hang out. There was a sign of warning sand fly. But I ignored with thinking ‘Come on. it’s a clean developed country that why do I have to scare’. I enjoyed my time at the beach. But soon, the sign was right that I was beaten. So I left quickly.
Singapore was such a mysterious place that there were so many empty places although it was a high-density country. Singapore surprised me a lot. They always showed me things I couldn’t imagine about their country before.
The way to the airport
The airport was a bit far from the city
The beautiful sky near the airport
Local people had to register for setting up a tent with a kiosk machine and people could do camping at only specific places, which was free. One of the friends registered for me and gave me a receipt.
I was worried about it that I asked her “If someone checked my id, what to do?”. She said “Tell the worker ‘My friend went home cause she forgot something.’ then call me. I will run to you.”
There were several tents as well.
At night, some of the friends visited me and we drank and ate together. It was a really fun night at camping. What a new experience!
The next morning, the sunrise was really beautiful. But soon it was hot and humid. Singapore was the most humid place in Southeast Asia in my experience. There was a shower place in the park. But it was meaningless that I swore as soon as I turned off the water.
At the beach, I saw workers picking up garbage. I was guessing maybe they were foreign workers. Singapore was known for its clean country. I thought there were two reasons. One was strict law and the second was the cheap foreign workers cleaning the street and beach.
Just before leaving the park, I witnessed something. Singapore was known for the high fine against spitting. But I saw and heard some guy spitting with big noise in the park. In China, spitting was a really common thing but I really didn’t like to see and hear. However, Singapore was really except that I was happy to see it. It was more satisfying than seeing people doing jaywalking or throwing garbage. It just showed that no one was perfect in the world.
There was a movie, Crazy Rich Asians at cinema when I traveled. I watched it and it was hilarious. Actually I really liked the movie because just the scenery in the movie was so familiar. And this place was in the movie too.
Kids playing at the park
Singapore was really hot that I swore a lot. Usually, when I traveled to hot countries, people gave me advice “Hey Jin! Drink water lot!”. I was a good girl that I followed their advice that I drank so much water at the city center.
I finished the Singapore cycling tour in two days. One of the people who attended my talk invited me to their house. His name was BTL that I had dinner with BTL’s family together. At the next day, I went on a bicycle again to go to Indonesia.
I didn’t have a plan to visit Indonesia. I saw the island just next to Singapore on the map. And that island was Indonesia that it was possible to go by ferry. At the dinner after my talk, there was an Indonesian girl living on that island. She recommended me to visit her island.
So I would hang around for a few days there. Then I returned to Singapore and leave all my stuff at BTL’s house. Then I will go to Malaysia for scuba diving for two weeks. Then I come back to Singapore and finally leave to New Zealand. I usually didn’t have many plans, but this time it was a bit organized.
After having lunch at the park, I went to the harbor to catch the ferry toward Indonesia.