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Singapore Swing – Imperatives, to obey or ignore?

February 7, 2009

Ask a Singaporean about the list of rules their country have and they will probably sigh, smile, and explain to you the reasoning behind it – in their very matter of fact Singaporean style.

It’s all about perception and understanding. Rules are everywhere, not just in Singapore – and you have choices, either you obey them or you don’t.

I found that wherever I went there was more than enough signage, well used with imperatives, guiding citizens and visitors. Perhaps it’s because after 6 months of reading Korean, I was now reading English, and enjoying it. After sometime, I realised that reading these signs were taking the fun out of my day, because I was constantly reminding myself not to spit, chew gum, loiter, or jaywalk (extremely difficult). At the same time the vigilant metro was also reminding me that eating or drinking was not allowed in the station or on the train.

While I was busy trying to obey everything around me, like a good tourist, I was also being reminded about other things.

by Cate

by Cate

Even in Chinatown where its Chinese ancestry was properly less orderly than orderly, imperatives were in full force.

by Cate

by Cate

Jaywalking has historically been a problem in Singapore, spelling it out in black and white should have controlled the situation right?

by Cate

by Cate

Not so. On occasion I saw people who I would normally label as being older and wiser – boldly jaywalking.  There  I was, walking the extra metres to the crossing (in the heat) like a good law abiding person. No Brownie points earned here.

by Cate

by Cate

So I guess there is a certain moral here, going back to that famous cliche: when in Rome…. It all comes back to understanding the rules, knowing when to obey and when to ignore them. Why use an overbridge when it’s much easier – and faster – to cross the road.

What do you think I did after watching people jaywalk?

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. Bear permalink
    February 7, 2009 6:27 pm

    With all those warnings — I wonder about the fines. Do you know what the consequences might be?

    • February 8, 2009 12:20 am

      Fines I think. $300 – 400 for eating in the metro, but I think jaywalking is higher around $800 – $1000.

  2. Bear permalink
    February 8, 2009 1:39 am


  3. sunflowerluv permalink
    February 8, 2009 6:28 pm

    very cool post!!! love the jaywalking thingie.
    so you actually jaywalked acting like a local 🙂

  4. February 8, 2009 9:23 pm

    These are the details that make travel so memorable! Great post! -Looking forward to the next…

  5. February 8, 2009 11:20 pm

    It’s like you say Cate – a choice.

    …obey the posted law or not. To me it speaks to larger notion of – what do we do when no one is looking?

    Great observation – and choice – for your post. 🙂

  6. February 10, 2009 1:47 am

    Sunflowerluv – yes and I drank water on the train – absentmindedly of course.

    Heather – thanks, it was one of the first things I noticed about the country. There are even no sitting signs too.

    Sharon – that’s right. I think its good to see these jaywalkers, as there is a stereotype image that Singapore and its people are very rule obsessed.

  7. February 12, 2009 3:06 pm

    Hi Cate! I love your post so hilarious and entertaining! Thanks for bringing Singapore to us. I can’t wait to read more. So are you coming back to Singapore? 😀

    • February 14, 2009 8:56 am

      What do you think I could write about your country that would be just as entertaining?
      Any hints?

  8. February 16, 2009 2:13 pm

    Sure you can write about my country and we always welcome a good laugh.
    Lemme think… it will probably be about how we love going to the malls. We have the biggest mall in Asia and I think no other country in Asia or the world, visit the mall as much as we do. 😀

    • February 17, 2009 10:42 am

      Gigi – yes I have heard about the Super duper mall in Manilla right? Just how many shops does it have?

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