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embarrassing misconceptions

8 Things Shared By Singaporeans That They Went An Embarrassingly Long Time Without Knowing

Embarrassing misconceptions shared by Singaporeans

Let’s face it – not all of us are geniuses like Einstein. Us common folk struggle with everyday things, like forgetting where we last placed our keys or miscalculating our lunch bill. Adding to the list are embarrassing misconceptions that some of us might’ve thought to be true, until we got called out. Yikes. Read on to see if you’ve had the same mix-up:

Note: Responses have been edited for clarity. Some names have been changed for anonymity.

1. Pickles are made from cucumbers


I’m not a fan of vegetables – I pick my greens out of my food, and detest eating salads. So, it’s no surprise that I’m not familiar with a particular elongated cylindrical veggie – pickles. I’ve always thought it to be a whole other vegetable, and not that appealing to put in my mouth.

It was only when my colleagues were having a debate about the taste of pickles that I found out the origin of this vegetable. Why do you guys hate it? It’s literally just small cucumbers that have been fermented in brine,” my colleague quipped. I froze, as no one else at the table seemed to express any shock at this revelation.

Thankfully, no one seemed to realise that I was the only one who had question marks all over my face. So now, whenever I spot a pickle in my burgers or on a cheeseboard, I’m reminded of the lunchtime conversation I had at work. Pickles aren’t a separate vegetable; they’re just a cutie version of cucumbers.

– Jamie, 25

2. Narwhals are real animals

Image credit: Our Breathing Planet via Flickr

Santa Claus, Tooth Fairies, dragons – these were creatures I was certain did not exist on Earth. But narwhals? I thought they were mythical animals that belonged in the imaginary realm, that they were kinda like unicorns. But boy was I wrong, and I found out as a 20-something year old during a card game with my friends.

Everyone had to list categories of things, and we had reached the prompt of “fictional things”. My friend went first, and shouted out “narwhal!” She earned an immediate roast from the group, while I quietly chuckled along. When the conversation shifted topics, I sneakily Googled “narwhal” on my phone – and learnt that these animals do indeed exist.

Turns out they’re a whale species typically found in Arctic waters. I blame my mistake on their long tusks protruding from their head.

– Taylor, 22

3. It’s called the “Sistine Chapel”, not the “Sixteen Chapel”

Sistine Chapel
Image credit: @benevans63 via Instagram

Us Singaporeans are known for our unique pronunciation of words. I mean, we even have a whole article on commonly mispronounced brand names. I grew up in a Mandarin-speaking family, so I never had much opportunity to practice English at home.

When I embarked on my European vacation with my best friend, we both agreed that the lovely Vatican City was a must-visit. More specifically, the Sistine Chapel. I would constantly gush to my BFF about the place, telling her that Michelangelo painted the entire ceiling, et cetera et cetera – like I was an expert of the place.

All through my chatter, she never once corrected my mispronunciation of the place. It was only when we got to the actual location, when I spoke to the tour guide, that I got rudely cut off by him. “It’s Sistine Chapel, darling, not Sixteen Chapel,” he remarked. Needless to say, I kept my mouth shut throughout the whole tour after.

– Nick, 27

4. Ang mo doesn’t literally translate to “white person”

Ang mo

An actual ang mo was the one who taught me what the term “ang mo” means. Hilarious and embarrassing, I know. This happened when my German friend visited Singapore for the first time, and I jumped at the opportunity to host him. After all, I was a proud Singaporean and we had many things to boast about.

So there I was, teaching him how to order coffee with less sugar at the coffee shop. I was also running through various Singlish words and phrases we commonly use, so he wouldn’t be left flabbergasted when locals spoke to him.

Lo and behold, when I told him that he might get referred to as an ang mo, AKA a white person, he gently corrected me. He had done his homework before the trip and learned that ang mo was Hokkien for “red head” – even though we always use ang mo to describe the typical Westerner who generally has blonde hair. Sheesh.

– Chen Kang, 36

5. Singapore is not actually on the equator 

 Singapore location

Let me preface this by saying that I studied History in school, not Geography. So all those things like tectonic plates, country locations, and atmospheric conditions – I ain’t no expert. All my life, I’ve known that Singapore was a hot country, not because we have lit clubs like Marquee, but because of our geographic location on the globe.

I’m not sure how this misconception came about, but I’ve always assumed Singapore was right smack on the equator. It might’ve been something I came across on TV or a remark my peers have made. Either way, I learned the truth when I watched a YouTube documentary at home – we’re close to the equator, just 1.5 degrees north of it, but not actually on it.

There was no public embarrassment there, as I was alone in my room. But it did make me question my knowledge of other things I had deemed as sure facts. Is the sky really blue? Are there stars or perhaps, those were aliens’ eyes winking at us? Does gravity actually keep us grounded to Earth?

– Amanda, 29

6. It’s Lee Hsien Loong, not Lee Hsien Long

Lee Hsien Loong
Image adapted from:
@leehsienloong via Instagram

It’s hard to talk about Singapore without mentioning PM Lee. But here’s the thing, we always refer to him as PM Lee, and not his full name. At least, that’s my excuse.

I was a young’un in primary school when I got called out for my incorrect spelling of our Prime Minister. I can’t remember why I was summoned to the board, but I had to write out PM Lee’s full name. Baby me confidently wrote out “Lee. Hsien. Long” and sauntered back to my seat. I think we can imagine the uproar this caused.

My teacher hurriedly corrected my spelling – probably because she was afraid my classmates might think this was the actual spelling of PM Lee’s name. Guess not all words are phonetically spelt.

– Syah, 19

7. Singapore Sling is an alcoholic drink, not a game or ride

Singapore Sling
This was what I thought Singapore Sling referred to. 

I’m a 32-year-old who leads an alcohol-free lifestyle. I occasionally join my friends at bars, but my usual order would always be a Coke or Sprite.

I was on a flight to Australia when I overheard the passenger next to me ordering a Singapore Sling. I immediately gave him a look of judgment – why is he asking for some kind of slingshot game on the plane? In my head, I had linked “Singapore Sling” to the giant catapult ride in Clarke Quay. The names were similar; the attraction is called Slingshot Singapore.

Surprise, surprise. The cabin crew brought over a reddish drink for him. I couldn’t turn to Google for answers as I was still mid-flight. So I sheepishly asked him about the drink, and discovered that the Singapore Sling was a gin-based beverage that’s pretty iconic. Did I order 1 for myself to try? Nah. But at least I had an alcoholic order I could have at bars, if I ever felt like having a tipple.

– Sherilyn, 32

8. Using 2 condoms at once does not mean double the safety

Image credit: iStock

We’ve all been educated to always use protection during sexual intercourse. Naturally, I had assumed that the more condoms I used, the safer I would be. Maybe this was the kiasu Singaporean in me speaking, but I decided to double up on the condoms for my first “rodeo” with my girlfriend.

Almost immediately, I felt super weird. I decided to do a quick search on Google to see if this was truly safer. And thank goodness I did because I was so, so wrong. Double-wrapping actually leads to increased friction, which might lead to both condoms tearing and being rendered useless. The more you know!

– Wei Xiang, 25

Silly misconceptions we’ve had growing up

So, how many of these misconceptions did you have? Or did you learn something new? No shame there, since not all of us are prodigies.

Admittedly, some misconceptions might lead to more serious consequences. For example, some might avoid using condoms during sex as they claim it’s less pleasurable and uncomfortable. However, the lack of protection can lead to the spread of STDs or unplanned pregnancies.

Image adapted from: Durex

This is where Durex condoms come into play – Durex has an extensive range of condoms, including textured or extra lubricated ones to suit your preferences. These also come in various sizes so you won’t have to worry about the condom slipping off during sex.

Additionally, Durex condoms are sold conveniently, islandwide. If you’d like to stock up, take advantage of the promotion happening from now till 31st July 2024, where you can get 20% off Durex condoms when you shop at FairPrice and Unity, both in-store and online. This applies to the Durex basic range, excluding the Extra Safe, Comfort, Close Fit, and Love & Together series.

Don’t let a simple misconception, such as condoms making sex worse or that double-wrapping is better, lead to a mishap. Durex condoms are sold at various local supermarkets, so you can easily secure condoms and have safe sex. And for our shyer folks who’d rather avoid shopping in-store, the promotion also applies to online purchases so you can easily cart out when needed.

Find out more about Durex condoms

This post was brought to you by Durex.
Cover image adapted from: Our Breathing Planet via Flickr, iStock