Strictly: Shoes

This post is basically about all the weird stuff I’ve noticed in Singapore since I arrived. I was going to write it yesterday, but I’m glad I didn’t because something really weird happened to me this morning!

1) Shoes:

As this post is titled ‘Strictly: Shoes’ I feel I should justify that by demonstrating how shoes are weird. Well, here goes. People in Singapore don’t wear shoes indoors at all. It isn’t uncommon to go to a condo and see shoe racks outside the front door, or piles of shoes littered across the front step. If you do manage to keep possession of your shoes when you pass the threshold expect to surrender them to some sort of cupboard or designated area almost immediately. The same also seems to go for business establishments, which is even more weird. At work I’m greeted by an overwhelming smell of feet as I enter the door and I have to spend all day walking around barefoot or in socks. Socks are obviously my personal preference but they don’t always go with my outfit.

2) Lighting:

Either I’m currently living in the unofficial lamp capital of Singapore or there are a ridiculous number of shops that sell lighting. I can’t even get to the supermarket without passing four of them, and its less than 5 minutes down the road. I’m not sure they entirely grasp the concept of supply and demand in the lighting industry… either that or Singaporeans love lamps and don’t care about the electricity bill.

3) Politeness is a ruse:

Before I came to Singapore I was under the impression that everyone was incredibly polite and nice, something I could totally get behind. I didn’t notice any overwhelming acts of kindness in my first few days but people here seem far less pushy and in a rush than back at home. However, over the weekend Teacher Amber gave me the lowdown on some local customs and it turns out that politeness is a lie. People just walk slowly because it’s so hot here they’re trying to minimise sweating. I also presumed that order was the name of the game on the MRT. There are passive aggressive lines painted on the platforms at each station telling you where to wait to board the train, and where to let others alight. Like the typical Brit I am I’ve been following these religiously, queuing patiently to get onto the train. Again, Teacher Amber shattered the myth and warned me that people are ruthless about boarding the train and nabbing a seat. And it’s true, yesterday I saw a woman practically take out a baby in a pram to get onto the train first.

These are just to trick you into thinking that people are patient and polite… and to guilt trip you into waiting your turn.

4) That weird thing that happened…

So, this morning I was going to the train station and, while crossing an overpass, I was stopped by some guy. I presumed that he wanted to ask the way to somewhere, or the time, something normal and regular. I could not have been more wrong. This guy stopped me to ask if I wanted to be his friend and, when I realised that he wasn’t just going to let me give him the usual excuse of “can’t stop and chat, I’m late” I relented and gave him a seldom used e-mail address of mine. Because obviously the thing that people normally do in Singapore is stop randos, who look particularly sweaty and dishevelled, on the street and try and befriend them. It was deeply and profoundly odd.

Leah Out X

Update: I’ve now received a concerned e-mail from my mother about this post, warning me not to become someones drug mule. It’s ok mum, he really didn’t seem like the drug baron type, and I have no intention of replying to his e-mail (which he did actually send)… I’m not that in need of friends!

End Note: I’m thinking of starting an alternative Singaporean fashion blog where I document the adverse effects the weather is having on me. Example: “today I was wearing the ‘middle of a thunderstorm, sweaty and dishevelled’ line from the January collection.” I smell a hit. 


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