Wednesday, July 09, 2008

#223: Saunapore, Singlish, and Good Food

I just wanted to share my first impressions (which might as well be wrong) of my first couple of days in Singapore.

It is Saunapore, not Singapore. So far it has been about +30 during the day (+25 at night) with about 90% humidity, which is extremely humid for people coming from the dry Central Asian region. I have to take shower 3-4 times a day. But glory to whoever invented the air conditioner, which are omnipresent (buses, elevators, classrooms, malls, etc). But the good side of humidity is that I don't have to use moisterizers here unlike in Bishkek.

People here don't speak English as good as I expected. Singaporeans speak English with strong Chinese, Indian, Malay accents. Just imagine Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Georgians, Armenians, etc. who speak Russian with strong accents living on an island. But in family, among friends, or street people speak their own languages (Mandarin, Tamil, Malay,) with lots of English words. All four languages are official in Singapore, which means that all the signes are duplicated in four languages. This also means that people speak Singlish (Singaporean English) with their specific accents and words from their own languages. They add meaningless "lah" to the end of ALL sentences. I am afraid that my English will deteriorate if I continue listening and trying to understand Singlish. Hopefully, I will be saved by professors once the actual classes start in August (I am taking math and economics classes right now).

Food is excellent here. It is the paradise of very delicious and relatively cheep cuisine with Chinese, Indian, Malay, and various other SE Asian flavors. Since a bunch of us are staying in one area, we found a 24/7 food court with excellent halal Thai (Halal!), Chinese (from different provinces), Malay, Indian, Korean and other food. I have been trying different dishes for every meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and I have not been disappointed or had problems. You have to love spicy food though, but you can ask for less spicy version of dishes which negates the whole point of eating local food.

As for the cleanliness of the Singapore, yes it is clean, but not as clean as people say. Singaporeans, as people everyone, throw trash on the ground, but their system of fines and efficient cleaning system keeps the how city, especially downtown, very clean. The place where we live (20 min on a bus from the central Singapore) has trash (one paper cup here and there) on the lawns and streets. But, don't get me wrong, it is much more clean than Bishkek.

Second impressions (that might prove the first impressions wrong) will come soon.


Anonymous said...

Кто-то из давно проживающих в Сингапуре сказал, что сезонов тут много: лето ясное, лето с дымкой, лето облачное, лето с тучами, лето с громом...
...более точного описания я не слышала...

Aibek D. said...

Aza, salam.
Davay, rasskazyvay o svoix vpechetleniyax o Singe.

Vot, kstati, pochitay interview Go Chok Tong'a -

Anonymous said...

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Uda4i vam i krepkogo zdorovia! Jdu fotografii!!!

tictoc said...

I think it's strange how rigid the Russian language is, for a language that is used over such a vast distance. Perhaps it's a legacy of Soviet communism and its focus on Moscow's control/dominance. Native English speakers are much more flexible in their understanding of spoken English and can usually accomodate a pretty wide range of different accents. This might be because of the regional differences in pronunciation and the lack of a "Moscow" to enforce uniformity. It just seems like English has more built-in "flexibility" than Russian. And, there isn't the disdain for accents that there seems to be in the Russian-speaking world.

I had a Russian tutor in Bishkek that spent our first 3 sessions doing mostly alphabet pronunciation drills. She didn't want to stop until I could pronounce letters without any accent at all. As far as she was concerned, being able to communicate wasn't as important as pronunciation without an accent (or rather with the correct Moscow accent). At the end of every session, I wanted to shoot myself, so I found a different tutor.

Exposure to "Singlish" might be good for you -- it could "train" you ear to be more "flexible".