Singapore Second Impression

I am at Orchard Hotel at Singapore, on the famous Orchard road.

This is my “second impression” of Singapore – the first impression was about 10 years ago.

1. Singapore is far from China. I was surprised that there is no time difference after 5 hours’ of flight. Then with the help of a map, I figured out that it is at the same longitude with Kunming in China, only moved to 1 degree north near the equation. That was my major mistake, since I always thought Singapore is somewhere very west.

2. I read the autobiography of its formal prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. The development of Singapore is very unique, and not replicable.

3. Singapore is small. Xiamen is maybe one of the small cities that is like Singapore – It is also on an island. Singapore’s surface is 710.2 sq km, and Xiamen, is 1,565 sq km, about twice the size. Singapore has about 4 million people, while, in China, there are 39 cities with urban population more than 4 million. If we count the rural populations under those cities, the list can be longer (the 30th largest cities in total population, Tangshan, has 7 million people). So, it again reminds me to put things into perspective, and don’t simply transplant rules in Singapore to China.

4. Having said that, I found there are many great ideas and learning from the experience of Singapore, like the greenization effort, and using English as a comprise for all the people there.

5. Singapore airport is still the best airport, and they are trying harder. I was selected as a participant in their usability test. Two college age girls followed me to tour the airport, and asked interview questions to me about how to improve the airport.

6. The people I met, mainly in airport, and hotels, are very friendly. They speak different languages. The reception who looks like Chinese does not speak Chinese at all. They are from Philippines. The FAQ in my mind was, what language the person is speaking in. Lerry even got confused when waiter speak Chinese to him: “Which language she was using?”

7. I was completely blew away 10 years ago on Orchard road. Now, with more big shops like the new LV flagship store, I just don’t feel more excited than Huaihai Road, and Nanjing West Road. Singapore is great, but I am growing up, and my standard changes.

8. Thanks Prof. Tan for the great arrangement, and picking us at the airport. I felt very welcomed, and taken good care of. Looking forward to talking with about 300 students in National University of Singapore tomorrow.

5 thoughts on “Singapore Second Impression

  1. VickyWoo

    I tell you ah, do not miss “chicken rice” & “black pep crab” wid local “Tiger beer”! Newly opened ION in Orchard Road is a nice shopping place to go. If you have time, enjoy 10SGD (~50RMB) golf in Orchid country club located at #1 Orchid Club Road. S’pore is all bout “eating, shopping and complaining!” ==> Hope you have a good time in S’pore, and just complain about Sing English if it confuse you!

  2. Will

    Singapore is very interesting and has drastically changed in 10 years. Basically due to its small size and relative population Singapore has achieved “First World Status” in Asia a few years ago with UN data and per-capita income almost matching western countries ($30-50k USD/year) and 1 SGD = 0.749615 USD as of a few hours ago trading. The demographics are very interesting as well:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Singapore

    With 74% ethnically Chinese, 13% Malays, 9% Indians and 3% others as of 2009. English is the language that unites them all and is required in education in addition to their “heritage” language (Chinese, Malay, Hindi, etc, etc.). So you can as a former British colony Singapore is a English speaking country with a high proficiency in Mandarin and a few others as well. Singapore’s development is very hard to duplicate in other countries except maybe China’s Hong Kong SAR (former British colony) and Taiwan due to limited land-size and population. China’s own development will take decades to reach something like Singapore’s mainly due to its HUGE land-size and population. Actually in development, the less a population a country has, the more educated, the faster it reaches towards that goal. There’s actually a scientific inverse correlation between human development/developed status and birth-rates. (As people tend to get more educated/developed there’s less births which is kind of logical with human development.) I really hope we have a future world with human equality of development versus overpopulation and resources but that’s another topic for another day. Yeah Singlish is interesting, I never got the hang of it (as a Chinese-American). Anyways enjoy Singapore! ;-)

  3. Claudia Frias

    Hope you have a great time and your talk inspires many ppl, as you are full of good thoughts and experience…

  4. Xiao Xin

    Inspiring talk at NUS today.

    Hope you enjoy your stay in Singapore.

    Do let me know if you drop by Singapore again in the future. We can always organize dinner gathering just like what you had with Stanford CEO. =)

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