Allow me to start at the very beginning, because it’s a very good place to start. With a competition about describing our hometowns, it’s only expected of participants to give a little history on the place. But seeing that you probably don’t care, and that this information will not help you in your life whatsoever, I’m going to keep it brief.
So, basically, this dude called Sang Nila Utama came onto my little plot of land in the late 13th century, saw a tiger, thought it was a lion, and named this dot “Singapura”, which translates to “Lion City”.
Fast-forward a couple of centuries in 1819, a British dude by the name of Sir Stamford Raffles came here, said “yo, Britain wants another colony. You’re our colony now.”
“K,” went the locals.
123 years later, dudes from Japan sailed by, hungry for more colonies during the dreadful times of World War II, and said “hi, if you don’t mind, this is our colony now.”
The British said “Ha! You think you can breach our defences? Dream on! This fort is impenetrable!”
Then the Japanese came in and totally penetrated their fort. They kicked the British out, and all went well until USA said “Get out or we nuke you.”
“No lol” said the Japanese.
“Boom!” on Hiroshima. “Boom!” again on Nagasaki.
“You know what? We suddenly remembered that we left the stove on back in Japan,” said the Japanese as they left Singapore.
The British came back and ruled Singapore for a while. They did a really bad job, so much so that the locals chimed in and said “screw you, you suck at ruling. Let us rule ourselves now.”
With limited natural resources, Singapore merged with Malaya in 1963 to form Malaysia to survive, and then broke up 2 years later, just like any other normal relationship.
Afterwards, Singapore declared independence on 9 August, 1965, with this legend named Lee Kuan Yew taking the wheel of progress. From a small, defenceless “country”, it became a thriving, developed nation (still small tho).
Okay, history’s done. Two years of mandatory History education in Singapore condensed into 300 words. Man, I am good. So, uh, I guess I’ll start with the country as it is in the present.
Singapore is pretty different from all the other countries. Firstly, it’s so small that I’m pretty sure it can’t even constitute as a “city”. You can see it on the world map, you just have to squint real, real hard. I would’ve titled this essay “The Little Red Dot”, but that’s the trademarked name of a newspaper here, so that explains the half-baked title.
Next thing you’ll notice here is that there’s a metric tonne of greenery. Singapore is also nicknamed “Garden City”, and for good reason too. It’s pretty much impossible to find an open space in Singapore that does not contain flora of some sort. From the sturdy brown barks of trees bearing clouds of green leaves, to multi-coloured patches of flowers housing vampiric insects, the greenery here is top-notch. Littered all around the nation are gardens and parks. They could be as humble as neighbourhood parks that sprout a common shade of green, or atas, expensive gardens like the Gardens by the Bay, bearing foliage so thick that not even Superman can see through!
The plants are cool and all, but if you ever visit Singapore, you’re bound to hear the locals whine and complain about the weather. It’s hot here in Singapore, incredibly hot. On your usual sunny day, if you drop an egg on the road and wait 15 minutes, you’ll have yourself an omelette! Some people look forward to the summer. We, Singaporeans? No no, it’s summer here every single moment of the year. It feels like a human barbeque. A common-ish game played by schoolchildren is putting their hands on metal railings and the winner is the last one whose hand remains on the railing. I’ve played that a lot of times before. It’s pretty fun, but it does nothing to help me ignore the fact that I’m being roasted like a turkey on Thanksgiving 24/7/365.
I’m pretty sure that’s about as far as I can go in describing Singapore without invading your mind with specific sights that only locals will find familiar. Life in Singapore gets boring sometimes, but it’s nice to be surrounded by experiences we know all too well. Some might even say it feels safe, to hear the bike horns of Karang Gunis as they hunt like rabid wolves for your newspapers, to sit in the mosquito-ridden seats of Hawker centres and buy food from whichever race, to post angry rants on blogs about the Mass Rapid Transport train breaking down, all that is really a uniquely Singaporean experience that no words can do justice describing. I could name-drop a bunch of neighbourhoods in Singapore whose language that they originated from is unknown to me, a local, and tell you all about it! All these are smalls parts of Singapore that make up the sum, and I, being your normal Singaporean, chose complaining about the heat to be a big part of Singapore and dedicated an entire paragraph to.
Sure, our world is small, and a lot of people still think Singapore is a city in China, but coming from someone who lives there personally, I love it. Yeah, I could do with a little less melting in the thousand degree heat like some archaeologist in Indiana Jones, but whatever part of my hometown, good or bad, big or small, beautiful or annoying, it’s still something that makes Singapore Singapore. No place is perfect, but Singapore is pretty darn close. It’ll always be my little red d- I mean, my dot. Please don’t sue me, Straits Times.