Though Singapore celebrated its 50th year of independence in 2015, the country has wasted no time organising its next tribute. The Singapore Bicentennial, which is being recognised at events, exhibits and festivals throughout 2019, commemorates the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, who established Singapore as a trading post for the British East India Company.
新加坡在2015年才庆祝了独立建国50周年，随后又毫不犹豫地开始筹备下一次庆典，即新加坡开埠200周年。2019年全年将会有一系列的活动项目、展览和节庆，以纪念英国史丹福·莱佛士爵士（Sir Stamford Raffles）登陆马来半岛南端这个小岛200周年。200年前莱佛士爵士将这个小岛设为英国东印度公司的一个贸易站。
Unlike the celebrations surrounding the SG50, however, the Bicentennial is being marked as a time of commemoration. British colonisation of the island nation has long been a contentious issue, and many locals are unhappy that the date is being marked at all. However, the Bicentennial Office says it’s aiming to provide citizens with an opportunity to reflect on a colonial past that stretches even further back – 700 years in total – and on the values that have shaped the modern-day nation.
Those values – openness, multiculturalism and self-determination, as named by the Bicentennial Office – are exactly what many residents love about living here. “Singapore is a country with an identity of its own. Diversity in ethnicity and religion meld seamlessly in social interaction and in the food and landmarks,” said Singaporean LG Han, who is chef-owner at Michelin-starred Labyrinth. “In spite of this diversity, Singaporeans all share a commonality and trait in the way we speak, the values we share and acceptance of people from all walks of life.”
Despite Singapore’s cultural diversity, the country remains in an evolving conversation around sexuality. Singapore still recognises a rule inherited from British colonial rule banning gay sex, though it has frequently been challenged in court – with new trial proceedings to begin in 2019 after India abolished a similar colonial rule, according to The New York Times. Same-sex relationships are not legally recognised in Singapore, nor can a same-sex couple legally adopt a child, but activists continue to bring awareness and change during events like the annual Pink Dot rally, named after the mixing of the red and white colours of the Singapore flag and the push toward inclusivity for all.
Why do people love it?
The mix of cultures here allows newcomers, especially Westerners, to adjust quickly. “It's a great gateway to Asia, both physically, as a fantastic hub for other travel spots in the region like Bali and Boracay, but also culturally,” said American Alexandra Feig, who has lived in Singapore for three years and writes the travel blog A Maiden Voyager. “Singapore has deep ties to the West, with a lot of British influence in particular. Walking around the town you will see Buddhist temples next to more British-style shophouses, and in local hawker centres you'll have stalls serving [Hainanese] chicken rice next to nasi goreng [Indonesian-style fried rice] and Western cuisine like hamburgers.”
新加坡的多元文化让新移民、特别是西方人能够迅速适应这里的生活。 “新加坡在地理位置上，是通往亚洲的枢纽通道，是前往像印尼巴厘岛、菲律宾长滩岛等旅游胜地的绝佳中转站。而且在文化上也是如此，”在新加坡生活了三年的美国人亚历山德拉·费格（Alexandra Feig）如是说。 她是旅游博客“少女航海家”（A Maiden Voyager）的博主。她说，“新加坡与西方有很深渊源，英国在此的影响力尤其大。在城中漫步，你会看到佛教寺庙与英式风格突出的商铺相邻。在当地的小吃市集，你会看到供应海南鸡饭的摊位紧邻印度尼西亚风味的炒饭和卖汉堡包之类的西式餐厅。”
Don’t make the mistake of confusing hawker-centre fare for just any street food, though, warns Canadian Jordan Bishop, who lives part time in Singapore and is the editor of How I Travel. “Two of Singapore's food stalls now have Michelin stars,” he said. Those stalls, Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, were the first of their kind to be recognised with the honour in 2016.
不要误认为新加坡小吃市集的食物就是普通的街头食品。“我如何旅行”（How I Travel）的主编、部分时间住在新加坡的加拿大人乔丹·毕晓普（Jordan Bishop）提醒说， “新加坡的两个小吃档都有米其林星。”他说这两个摊位，“了凡香港油鸡饭面”（Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle）和“大华猪肉粿条面”（Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle），是这类小食店首次在2016年获此殊荣。
With new restaurants and bars opening weekly, Singapore has no shortage of diverse cuisine reflecting its trading port past, including Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan, German, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, French and American.
The multiculturalism doesn’t stop at the food. Locals even have their own lingo that reflects this melting pot. Though not recognised by the government (which recently even actively discouraged its use), Singlish – a creole mix of English, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, Malay and Tamil – is commonly used in social situations like ordering coffee or gossiping with friends.
What’s it like living there?
Unlike in many other big cities, residents rarely worry about theft or violence. With one of the lowest crime rates in the world, even petty street crime is viewed as “a waste of time” said 11-year resident Bino Chua, who blogs at I Wander. “You can leave your car unlocked, your purse unattended,” said American Alison Ozawa Sanders, who has lived here for five years and is the co-author of The Expats’ Guide to Singapore. “As a woman, I can go out at night in any neighbourhood and not worry about my personal safety ever. As a parent, I don't have the feeling that if I take my eyes off my kids for two seconds they're going to be kidnapped.”
与许多其他大城市不同，新加坡居民很少担心盗窃或暴力犯罪。居住了11年的Bino Chua在“我的漫游”（I Wander）博客上写道，新加坡是全世界上犯罪率最低的几个地方之一，街头的小偷小摸甚至被视为“浪费时间”不值得做的事。已经在这里生活了5年的美国人、“新加坡外籍人士指南”的合著者艾莉森·小泽·桑德斯（Alison Ozawa Sanders）说，“你可以不用锁车，留下钱包无人看管地走开。作为女人，我可以在任何社区晚上外出，不用担心自己的人身安全。作为父母，我也不会有如果我把视线从孩子身上移开两秒中，我的孩子就会被绑架的感觉。”
Singapore is also very clean and convenient to get around, with very few traffic jams, in part due to government restrictions on cars and the high price of vehicles here. “Some people say it’s sterile and boring, but personally I think that’s just a product of the safety and convenience here,” said Chua. “I’d take this over having to worry everyday about the possibility of getting mugged.”
The city centre has a career-focused vibe and people move at a fast pace, but it’s easy to escape the hustle when needed. “From my apartment, I could walk for about 25 minutes and find myself in dense jungle forests, and it's an extremely rewarding destination for birdwatching,” said American Daniel Burnham, Asia flight search expert at Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Singapore has beautiful national parks and a significant amount of wildlife, given its size and density.”
市中心充满着以职业为重的氛围，人们行色匆匆。 但在有需要的时候，逃离闹市喧嚣也不难。供职于斯科特廉价机票服务（Scott's Cheap Flights）的亚洲航班搜索专家美国人丹尼尔·伯纳姆（Daniel Burnham）说，“我从公寓出发步行约25分钟，就能身处茂密的热带森林，这个森林也是一个非常值得一去的观鸟地。虽然国土面积小而人口密度很大，但新加坡却拥有美丽的国家公园和丰富的野生动物。”
Since the island is relatively small, residents also recommend taking advantage of world-renowned Changi Airport and low airfares. “Whenever I started to feel restless it was easy to hop on a plane and get out of town,” Burnham said.
What else do I need to know?
Located just one degree north of the equator, Singapore has a year-round hot climate that takes adjusting to, say expats. “One has to get used to sweating all the time. And your hair will never look the same as it did ‘back home’,” said Ozawa Sanders. Frigid air conditioning inside buildings is also a ‘necessary evil’, Burnham added.
Singapore is also notoriously the world’s most expensive place to live according a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, with sky-high rents of around S$1,885 for a studio apartment, even away from the city centre, according to cost comparison site Expatistan.com, and new car prices running typically north of S$100,000.
Still, seasoned residents say that those numbers don’t always reflect reality. “Many visitors and expats tend to conflate life in Singapore with what you see in movies like Crazy Rich Asians or wealthy expats on relocation packages,” Burnham said. “The cost of living in Singapore isn't necessarily in the stratosphere if you live a local lifestyle. We made common-sense budgeting choices, like subletting a [public housing] HDB flat, cooking for ourselves and taking public transit. Our expenses were far less than they would have been living in the United States.” The country also has one of the lowest tax rates in the world, capping out at 22%.
尽管如此，经验丰富的居民表示，这些数字并不总能反映现实。伯纳姆说， “许多游客和外国人倾向于将新加坡的生活与你在电影中看到的东西，比如《疯狂亚洲富豪》（Crazy Rich Asians）或享受房屋津贴的有钱外派人士混为一谈。如果你选择当地的生活方式，新加坡的生活成本并不一定高耸入云。我们制定了符合常理的预算方案，例如转租属于公共住房的组屋，自己做饭和乘坐公共交通。我们的开支远低于在美国的生活费用。” 这个国家的税率也是全世界最低税率之一，限制在22％以内。
All in all, Singapore shines best when residents make the extra effort to venture outside the sometimes-homogenous urban centre, where malls and identical apartments can seem to stretch on for miles in the larger residential neighbourhoods and commercial streets.
“There's a lot of urban diversity if you go looking for it,” Burnham said. “Hidden amid pockets of 21st-Century development, the outskirts of Singapore reveal acres of farmland, crumbling cemeteries, fishing villages and colonial outposts.”