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5 Bits of Distinctively Singaporean Culture


What do you think of when probed about our Singaporean culture? 

It’s amusing how the inner satirist in most of us would emerge in response to this, because we’d immediately think towards the generalized 3Ks (Kiasu, Kiasee, Kiabor, and sometimes Kia Zheng Fu) we have grown accustomed to in describing ourselves.

I do acknowledge that those 3Ks do constitute part of us, but it sometimes becomes almost kind of sad when it seems like there isn’t even anything positive we can gather to describe about our country.

Let’s face it, introducing our Singapore that 3Ks way to for instance an international friend we’ve just made is almost akin to introducing yourself as a no-life, irrationally competitive joker fixated on only the shallow pursuits of life. That we’re just 5.312 (data from 2012) million empty shells stripped off of any other interesting traits that may differentiate ourselves.

This kind of annoys me to some extent, because hey, there’re a million other things about us you can introduce to your international friends, alright? 


Like how our Singlish is a complex myriad of English + chapalang dialects. See, chapalang isn’t even a legit word, but you’d get if you’re truly Singaporean. Oh, and how our lah lor leh meh hor insinuate different meanings even though they’re just casual junk words cast with various intonations.

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Ordering Kopi

Or how ordering coffee at a kopitiam, food court or hawker centre may require you to be notoriously well-versed in the Kopi-tionary. Even born-and-bred Singaporeans like me may not even have mastered this completely. Honestly, the various concoctions differing in proportions of milk, sugar, water and coffee looks way more complex than customizing my drink at Starbucks.

b2ap3_thumbnail_altogether.jpgimage credits: The Little Drom Store

b2ap3_thumbnail_6a00d83451b52369e2015392b8321f970b-800wi.pngimage credits: Burpple

Hawker Culture in Singapore

And how eating is our national hobby, with our vibrant hawker culture we should pride ourselves on. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_soundsofsingapore_buay.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_pong.jpgimage credits: The Little Drom Store



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Our Chope Culture

And to prove my point about how seemingly uglyfied practices can be celebrated as glorious ways of being polite, we openly demonstrate our mutual respect for each other’s tissue papers and umbrellas in our Chope Culture. Although we typically put this whole Chope-ing thing in a bad light, if you think about it, it’s actually displaying graciousness and respect for each other in a way.

The only reason why we can do this is because no one’s going to be taking your valuables (if you put your bags or other stuff there, even) when we’re not at our tables. And not every other country can give you the assurance that your belongings are going to remain intact and not typhoon-ed off the tables from their lack of respect.

b2ap3_thumbnail_1017538_562590513782130_1213082911_n.pngimage credit: The Little Drom Store




What is it with queuing for something you don’t even know, just because you see a queue? This happens so often at hawker stalls, though it sometimes can be worth it. In the case of Tim Ho Wan maybe not.

The limits of our patience were further explored when one day, McDonalds decided that issuing limited edition Hello Kittys would be a good idea. And yes it was, for them! Later, even Minions became the new craze and the queues around the island started all over again. Yup we even have TSL listings about them. Read more about The Hello Kitty Craze and The Minion Craze. Alright, we may not be the only country in the world to exercise queueing as a sport, but you get it – we possess insurmountable amounts of patience.

b2ap3_thumbnail_9151911857_117b8f4f47_z.jpgImage Credit: Probably this guys’ facebook

Mmmm, just my two cents worth. I’m looking forward to the day where a fellow Singaporean doesn’t try to put our country down when describing it… I mean, I’m not exactly the patriotic sort, trust me on that, but I can never understand how rearing our ugly heads to a newly met acquaintance is even appealing in the least bit.

Very fun to talk about our country like it’s damn sad ah? Being Singaporean really not interesting at all meh? Even if it’s quite sad, make it sound like it’s unique or hapz even, can not?