(Or in other words, what I miss about Singapore).
#1: It’s the land of free wifi and affordable 4G network.
(Image credit here)
I know – I heard a lot of my friends gripe about how the telcos in Singapore have introduced new plans and scraped the older unlimited data-with-mobile plans.
I have had to learn to cope with a very low data limit for the longest time. Case in point: The Optus $60 plan gives 2.5GB data (recently increased cos it used to be a mere 2GB not too long ago). Singtel’s $62 plan gives 3GB. Singapore’s small size means that quite literally there are hardly any “dead areas”. Sure there might be, especially in high rise buildings – but this is solvable by simply walking to another spot. Over here in Sydney, my network switches to 3G – especially in less populated parts of the region.
#2: The land of the message.
(Image credit here)
I can’t speak for every Singaporean. But the ones I know (me included!) – we love our messaging. Whatsapp, SMSes, BBM (my old flame, no longer the case haha!) and we have long meaningful group chats and conversations over messaging. We embrace non-face-to-face communication, but then we also enjoy the physical meet-ups.
I can’t speak for every Australian. But the ones I have gotten to know… seem to dislike using SMSes or whatsapp or what not. In fact, they prefer face-to-face conversations, or talking on the phone, or (and this might seem ancient to Singaporeans)… leaving a voicemail.
I was so unfamiliar with the concept of listening to my voicemail that it took me ALMOST ONE MONTH before i accidentally discovered a voice mail left to me. By the pastor of the church i now attend over here in Sydney. The senior pastor himself. Leaving a voicemail on my phone. And I only chanced upon it when i happened to dial the voicemail for fun. I’m sorry for missing your call Pastor Phil. And, erm, thanks for the nice welcome message. I would have returned the missed call, but the number was smack in the middle of two call centre cold-calling me and I assumed the other number was also another similar one.
Don’t I get notification about a voice message?
Of course I do.
I ignored the SMS of course.
Cos who leaves a voice message? A lot of people, obviously. But I am slowly learning. Slowly.
But I stand corrected.
Still, you can take a girl out of Singapore, but you apparently can’t take the Singapore out of her.
#3: I miss Singapore’s efficiency.
Most of my experiences happen because I started on Missy Stella Australia, so I had to write and coordinate and explore a lot of options. One such option was to write in to a shopping centre about some possible space I could lease. I used the contact form on their website. And the reply came in about three months later. I replied back almost immediately, and there was white noise for another week, before she asked a question – that I had already addressed in my first contact with them. As of now, the email conversation has been buried in the sea of “difficult” questions, I reckon, seeing how I posed a tough question… and haven’t heard from them, oh, for about 2 months now.
Another contact I made excitedly assured me I would receive some information over email the next day after we had physically met over coffee. 5 months on, I am still waiting for that email. But after the meeting, after doing some number crunching, I decided to not go into that due to the high cost involved, so no biggie. Just that I wanted to nicely reject him when I got the email. But he probably spared me from that. Though how he knew this decision of mine is a surprise seeing I was pretty open during that meeting.
I posed a simple question to a new Aussie friend over FB messenger once. A question that I thought just needed a “yes” or “no” reply, and I messaged cos I was trying to put my baby to sleep and just thought about it on the spur of the moment. She asked to call me back. I told her it was inconvenient for me to answer. She told me to text her when I was done. I asked if she felt she needed to say MORE to me than a simple “yes/no” reply to my question… and she told me, it would be easier to answer me over the phone.
I have to bite my tongue. No being rude. Don’t be rude Sandra. She’s trying to be personal and nice.
But the time she spent typing all that out… she could have just replied me!
And she left it at that. For me to text her when I was free so she could reply me. Over the phone. Yes or no.
It is the Singaporean “kancheong-ness” (colloquial speak for hurriedness) in me. It must be.
While I appreciate the fact that there is space for us to breathe and enjoy… I must admit at the back of my mind, I am going… “HURRY UP WHY DONCHA?!?” when I order a cup of coffee and it takes 20 minutes to come – in the middle of an almost empty cafe.
But this ain’t a whinging post. Because Australia has also won me over in more ways than one.
People saying a chirpy ‘Thank You’ to the bus driver as they alight.
Cashiers asking “How ya doing?” and honestly wanting a reply.
Good chai lattes. Like seriously good.
And space. Oh so much space.
And yes, we’ve booked our air tickets back to Singapore for a much-needed breather (and back to the land of glorious hawker food) in December, we will be enjoying life in Sydney for a tad longer! ;)