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Happy Birthday Singapore!

August 9, 2010

To all those Singaporeans out there, Happy National Day!! =)

After being on the road for almost one month, the question of Singaporean identity came to mind multiple times (especially during conversations with other travelers).

To the Vietnamese, I look like one of them (most Vietnamese have Chinese heritages), yet I dress, walk and talk like one of the western tourist. To the Westerners, I’m kinda not really Asian, nor am I white (or black). Many western travelers also describe Singapore as an European city within Asia. To me, Singapore is sorta Western infra-structurally and moralistically Asian (read: historical and political structure of Singapore for more info). This was especially highlighted to me when I was in New York City, and the city scape felt almost like home; yet when I’m in the villages of Vietnam, my traditional Chinese upbringing aided my understanding of how things works.

I guess being Singaporean is a complicated concept, especially so for a young country of 45 years, one that has gone from a post-war third world climate to a first world city in rocket speed.

What do you think about Singapore and/or being Singaporean?


Sorry for having left the blog quiet for a week. Things have been crazy since I sent my mom home, in-between my time in Dalat and Hoi An. There was heavy rain, a flood, blackouts, visited my students in Hue, saw one of them in the hospital, visited a good number of Vietnamese friends from last year, met loads of new friends, went parasailing+sand surfing+controlled a motorbike for the first time, did a number of tours, hopped on many long bus rides, got extorted money by street kids, met my feverish/bed-ridden best-friend in Saigon, spent many hours with a cute little attention seeking 4 year old, just to make a few events.

Will definitely backlog my adventures though. So stay tune for my next blog, as I spend time in a part of Vietnam that’s really close to my heart, before moving down South again.

JustJesz in Hue, Vietnam

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Walter permalink
    August 14, 2010 23:22

    I’ve been lucky that when I visited Singapore in 2007, there were so many nice people and almost everyone spoke English, plus it is very modern and clean. So for an American Born Chinese such as myself, it was very comfortable and I felt like I fit in well.

    I think Singapore women are the best (well, I guess I need to avoid the ones who are set on the 5 C’s and those which are Ah Lian)! Even one of my Taiwan friends (a woman) said the same thing – she says what makes Singaporean women attractive is because they are very Westernized.

    I don’t think Singapore is too “westernized” – I think the way it is modern and the number of people who speak English (as well as the signs being in English) makes it unique. I would definitely like to try having a Singapore girlfriend too. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also don’t think “Singlish” necessarily makes a person seem stupid; if not for Singlish, I would not have learned that “sotong” is Malay for octopus/ squid, so I think it’s a bit educational too. To me, I consider it to be the native slang of Singapore. Asians who speak English fluently remind me of my fellow American Born Chinese. ๐Ÿ™‚ My experience in Singapore was very nice overall and I felt very welcomed .

    • August 24, 2010 15:15

      Thanks Walter for the compliments of Singapore =)
      I think you’ve an Asian obsession, why not head over to Asia? LOLz~

      It’s interesting to hear the perspectives of foreigners regarding Singapore. Yours is definitely a unique take, as you’re both Asian and Westernized in your upbringing.

      I think many Americans are intrigued by Singlish though, and there’s a strong commercial value in the Arts scene that has been well tapped by Singaporean artists for a while now, both in the east and west coast. There’s a Singaporean play (Ah Kua Show) in the New York City International Fringe Festival right now, and some ongoing American-Singapore co-production that explores Singlish and the Singaporean culture (Swingapore).

      Do check them out if you’re keen!

      • Walter permalink
        August 25, 2010 15:14

        Hi Jesz,

        Asian obsession? ๐Ÿ™‚ Believe it or not, the small city where I grew up, my family was the only Chinese family in town. So for the most part from Kindergarten through high school, it was just myself and my sister representing people of Asian decent – there would be an occasional exchange student, but that’s about it. So I am catching up on Asian exposure. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I was expecting Singapore to be similar to Hong Kong; that’s what a few of my friends and family members told me before I got there. They told me, “It’s a lot like Hong Kong, but greener” and I’d like it because “almost everyone speaks English”. Plus since I do behave (ie. I flush the public toilets), I “won’t have to worry about the fines, etc…”. Overall, I thought Singapore is even cleaner than Japan and I really appreciated that.

        As you mentioned when you visited NYC, you felt at home and the same was when I visit Singapore – I felt accepted and comfortable. A few Singaporeans even helped me organize my itinerary, so I wouldn’t be going back and forth (ie. from Jurong to Changi and then back to Jurong on the same day). Kind of funny, but since I had tried to get over to Singapore beginning in 2000 (and finally getting there in 2007), I had plenty of time to follow the news including accidents such as the The Nicoll Highway collapse and the RSS Courageous plus the SARS epidemic. That impressed many Singaporeans – one once told he thought that the only thing Americans knew about Singapore was the caning of Michael Fay. Also finding out that Julia Nickson, Sun Yanzi, and Fann Wong are Singaporeans, make me more interested in visiting.

        Singapore’s a very nice place to visit and I hope to make it over there again someday and meet some more of my cyber friends/ penpals – you included. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. August 26, 2010 15:01

    Wow, that’s a really nice compliment for Singapore ๐Ÿ™‚
    I think it’s lovely you’re being attracted to your Asian roots.
    Looking forward to your move here!

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