Guest Post By Tommy Birn: Singapore For Absolute Beginners

Singapore, Jamie Chan, Blogger, Leica, Photographer

Singapore at twilight

We have our first guest post on No Foreign Lands today by Tommy Birn!
Tommy contacted me after his visit to Singapore where he had a lovely time and asked if he could do a guest post while I supplied the images. Hear what he has to say about our tiny island/ state/ country and the places you must not miss while in Singapore! All images by No Foreign Lands!


Singapore for Absolute Beginners

Visiting a foreign country for the first time can be an incredible experience. Getting to understand a different culture, learn local traditions, see amazing sights and sample new cuisine is all part of the experience. You may even come across cultural quirks that are unique to anything you have witnessed before.

This guide to the Lion City will offer you an insider’s view of the country, so you can experience it like a true local would. From little-known locations to tips on how to think and act like a local, let this guide help you explore Singapore in the best way possible.


Get Used to the Language Quirks

Lo Hei, Jamie Chan Leica, Singapore blogger

I assure you, the language of food is universal!

Whenever you visit another country, you will find that people have their own way of speaking, no matter what the official language is. Whether it’s a unique local dialect, different slang terms or other cultural quirks, it can help if you know what to expect.

In Singapore, it’s not uncommon to come across a multitude of languages in just one sentence, since the nation has such a diverse culture and ethnic mix. Don’t be surprised if you hear English with a bit of Malay, Mandarin and Tamil mixed in, along with a few other local dialects. This English-based creole is referred to as Singlish.

You may notice that those speaking Singlish will often end their sentence with “one” – this is simply a way of closing a statement, so don’t get confused. Other local quirks include addressing a stranger as “aunty” or “uncle” as a form of respect or endearment, rather than because they are related to you, and those in the service industry using “boss” rather than “sir” or “ma’am.” Don’t call just anyone aunty or uncle, however, as it can be used to infer the addressee’s age and you wouldn’t want to cause offense.


Sample The Incredible Street Food

Duck rice, singapore, jamie chan, blogger

Tissue paper to chope (reserve) space, incredible food; you can’t get more Singaporean than that!

Singapore is well known for having some of the world’s most delicious street food, so your visit can’t be complete without trying some of the best the country has to offer. Head on over to the hawker center and try some of the exotic local cuisines, from savory noodle dishes to spicy curries, it’s all there for you to taste.


Visit the World’s First Night Zoo

Great owl, singapore zoo, Jamie Chan

Come be friends with me!

If you’re visiting Singapore, then you don’t want to miss the Night Safari. It’s one of the most fascinating places you can visit at night time, featuring more than 2,500 nocturnal animals of over 130 different species. Keep a look out for leopards, the majestic Gir lion, giant flying squirrels and more in this truly unique experience.

Take your time and enjoy the four interlinked walking trails, as well as the 40-minute tramline, which gives you an excellent overview of the main attractions with running audio commentary. If you are planning a visit, try and book it for a weekday if possible, as the weekends are always busier.


Check Out the Hipster Scene

Haji Lane, Jamie Chan, Photographer, Leica, Singapore

Haji Lane is another hipster place with shophouses to visit!

If you’re more of a creative type, then you may be interested in visiting the country’s hot new hipster neighborhood. Tiong Bahru is the place to go if you’re looking for cool restaurants, shops, or bars, offering you a unique urban experience in an Art Deco enclave.

This multicultural city is one of the few low-rise areas in a place filled with dizzying skyscrapers. Not only will you find quaint shop-houses, but you’ll also be able to enjoy a more traditional side of Singapore in one of the many heritage-rich locales. Check out local hot-spot Tiong Bahru Bakery for some mouth-watering pastries or head over to the market for some lor mee and chwee kueh.


Visit the Tiger Balm Gardens

Tiger Balm Gardens, better known as Haw Par Villa, provides a fascinating journey into Chinese folklore and mythology with the use of over 1000 statues and 150 dioramas. The park was built by brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boom Par, creators of the famous Tiger Balm ointment, back in 1937.

While it’s well known for its gruesome depictions of the 10 Courts of Hell, it does also offer scenes of other Chinese legends including Madame White Snake and Journey to the West. Since its opening, quite a bit has changed, and the park now offers a guided tour. Admission to this quirky and slightly kitsch locale is free, so makes for a great day out if you’re on a bit of a budget.

singerpore flyer, jamie chan, leica, travel photography

The Singapore Flyer

And there is Tommy’s beginners guide to the little red dot.
If you would like to do a guest post on the blog do get in touch with me; have a good week!

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