“… in Singapore you will get equal misery or equal prosperity as the case may be regardless of whether you are black or brown or yellow or any of the shades in between.” - Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015), Former Prime Minister of Singapore.
Singapore is a multi-racial country, having 4 different races consisting of Malay, Indian, Chinese and Eurasian. Being independent for 51 years, Singapore managed to keep the peace between all of the races and harmonising them as one instead of separated entities.
Malay is the national language of Singapore but fret not, every Singaporean speak fluent English. School and offices enforce the use of English, and students have been learningEnglish ever since they could walk! This was definitely one of the many reasons to why Singapore is not divided, because everyone speaks the Common Tongue.
Having different races means having different cultures and traditions. Some may say that Singapore is a concrete jungle, there aren’t many traditions and cultures but you would be surprised by the history we tried to keep alive!
Well, being diverse in Asian cultures and Western modernity, it’s not that hard to adapt and blend in. You will end up making friends from different races as Singapore has a population of slightly over 5.6 million and still growing rapidly. Once you get comfortable, you will soon learn the Singapore English, called “Singlish”. Very interesting to start to learning this language, so with that, I hope you adapt well in Singapore and have a lot of funs lah!
The Malay Community is second largest, estimated as of 2016. There’s a place called Joo Chiat Complex, Tanjong Katong Complex and the infamous Halal wet-market named Geylang Serai. This places are filled with the history of Malay Singaporeans, ranging from traditional clothes to the best Malay food, traditional or even fusion-wise.
Vast majority of them are Islam. Of course, they do celebrate Ramadhan and Eid Mubarak. During the period of fasting, it would be recommended to not eat/drink in front of the Malay Muslims. There will be a bazaar that is held annually on the month of Ramadan which we will cover soon.
Now, moving on to the Chinese. Singapore Chinese make up most of the population. There are different languages to the Chinese Community, ranging from the usual Mandarin to even Hokkien and many other dialects. Make your way to Chinatown and you will be overwhelmed by the temples around, different Chinese food and of course, the history itself. Having to sell from dried medicine or herbal drinks to their traditional costumes called “Cheongsam”, they have whatever you need and want. The Chinese have different religions, from Buddhism to Taoism.
You may see some offerings on the pavements, be sure to not knock them down or step on them. If you happen to do, just apologise and walk off. And then, here comes the Chinese Lunar New Year. If you’re invited to someone’s house for a feast during this period, bring two oranges for exchanges with the house owner and a lot of money. Gambling is totally recommended!
And then, there are the Indians. I have to admit, I love their food. Head down to Little India and you will a vast range of things, food, clothes and history too. The Tekka Market is a famous market and eatery. Providing amazing curries and “roti’s” at reasonable prices! Of if you’re feeling famished, try their “Biryani’s”. Celebrating Deepavali, the Indians sure know how to make a hell of a festival. During this periods, go and check the light beings hanged on the street lamppost. And if you’re looking for whatever you need, Mustafa Shopping Centre for any goods and groceries. They have everything you need and want, although it gets tiring to walk as it’s 2 buildings as well as up to 3-4 storeys high!