This is my 6th day since arriving in Singapore to catch up with my family, or 2 hours left to mark the start of my journey as I wait anxiously for the Bus to Thailand. Initially, Singapore wasn’t a destination that was part of my so called worldly discovery, having lived here for over 10 years as a kid, and where my family still resides for close to 30 years – it’s my home away from home and I didn’t expect to learn anything from this country that I didn’t already know. Well, I was wrong. Times have changed, and Singapore continues to amaze me.
I happened to be invited to a beach party at Siloso Beach in Sentosa (an artificial island, think of it like the palm island of Dubai stuffed with theme parks + Vegas), and it was one of those rave parties on the beach where girls wore bikinis without actual access to the beach. Instead, the venue sprayed luminescent paint all over the crowd and lit them up with UV lights making them illuminate like the Na’vis from Avatar. It was a spectacular event, with lights, music, alcohol, girls, and even better as I was given free VIP tickets by a friend who knew one of the organisers.
So a friend and I sat outside with a 6 pack as we waited for the organiser to take us in. We see rows and rows of young, hip, sexy girls and boys, many schoolies drunk off their faces marching into the gate aggressively like they’re about to enter war with alcohol, all while looking like they were having the best time of their lives.
Then as soon as I got in, I suddenly felt overwhelmed, a little turned off by the sheer scale of the event and the fact that these kind of parties happen on a weekly basis apparently. It’s so common yet so epic. I was a little culture shocked to be honest. The atmosphere was filled with modern technology, with fluorescent lightslights beaming into the sky with EDM pumping energy endlessly into a sea of sweaty shiny dancing avatars, creampied from top to bottom with paint spraying out of gigantic fire hoses. At one point they looked like they were being possessed by some sort of demonic light god… Next minute, I turn my head and I see my friend making out with a random girl covered in paint. What on earth is this place? It sure doesn’t seem like the Singapore that I used to know.
Don’t get me wrong though, I was having a blast at the sheltered VIP sector, drinking heaps of alcohol, dancing and shaking my asalatos all night surrounded by sexy slim girls in their bikinis. But I just couldn’t get over the fact that everything looked so artificial, where people marched in like robots soullessly onto an artificial beach with artificial colours and artificial music. This party was one of those nights that made me feel amazed at how far Singapore had come in just over a decade. The pace of Singapore’s growth is not just fast, it’s exponential.
I feel nervously excited for what the future holds for Singapore, excited because I can’t wait to see how much more crazier it becomes, but nervous because I feel Singapore is starting to lose it’s soul. Did you know that Singapore’s GDP per capita is one of the highest in the world, and the nation has one the highest percentage of Millionaires in the world, and at the same time Singaporeans are also one of the unhappiest people in the world?
Similar studies all point to the same conclusion, and I was shocked, because I know I wasn’t unhappy living here as a kid, it was quite the opposite. But then I realised – I’m not a Singaporean. I only just lived here.
While growing up I remember hearing lots of complaints from my local Singaporean friends about the government and the PAP, blah blah blah, Things that I chose to ignore as it never applied to me, and I hated politics (I still do), but now I realise that their suffering is partly due to people like me – the expats who are quickly taking over their role, their workforce, their economy, their culture, and perhaps their happiness too.
How can you feel happy when you are only just getting by but at the same time you see others in your country earning millions and living the high life? There are many people in Singapore who are struggling to get by, but at the same time the country has a nick name – “the playground for the rich”.
A glass of beer costed me $18 last night, when I can get a bigger, better, fresher beer in Australia for $7, while still being paid twice as much. A fresh grad from Britain double’s the salary of my local Singaporean friend even though he’s been working for years, regardless of work ethics or performance. You’d probably have to be ten times more effective just to be ‘treated’ on par with an expat, who by the way accounts for 30-40% of the population.
Personally I felt like this beach party was a good representation of the current state of Singapore. Dazzling and amazing with shiny lights and VIP treatment, but in the expense of liberty, consciousness, and nationhood. I think the people here knows it, just that they can’t do much about it. I don’t know what Singapore will become by the time I return, but as the saying goes – “the best way to predict the future, is to create it”
My bus to Thailand leaves in an hour, take care Singapore! 🙂