CONCRETE ISLAND IN THE SUN
Not 40 years ago, the word “Singapore” didn’t mean very much to many people. Oft asked questions went something like, “Is it a part of China or Japan?” or “Do I need my shots before I visit?” or “Do they speak English over there?”
Today, Singapore is that little red dot in Southeast Asia where there still are jobs to be had and where multi-national companies set up their regional offices. It’s also one of the most expensive, if not THE most expensive, cities in the world. Its towering skyscrapers, high-density residential estates and über modern lifestyle habits make Singapore a sought-after holiday destination and global career pitstop.
But, rapid development has taken its toll on this once sleepy British colonial trading centre. Pig farms, kampungs (Malay for village) and even hillocks have been sacrificed for explosive population growth, competitive university rankings and F1 night racing.
Overpriced bananas, artisanal jams or goat’s milk might not be on the average grocery list; the limited range of locally grown produce doesn’t even constitute food security. But, it’s palpable what a trek out to the north of Singapore (just a stride away from Malaysia) does for the soul. It’s a firm reminder of what soil actually smells like.
More important, it tells us that not everything is “instant”.