On April Fool’s Day, it was my 20th anniversary of arriving in Singapore, and it is a bit of a laugh as we were only coming for two years!
I bet you’ve heard that one before… but how easy it is to forget how things have changed in that time.
In 1998, if we wanted to go to Orchard or the CBD we had to buy a “ticket” at the petrol station to stick on the front windscreen. These changed colour daily so you couldn’t put yesterday’s one on again. There were little “rondavels” dotted about town (there was one in front of where the Marriott is now), and in each one sat several inspectors. They made a note of anyone who didn’t have the right certificate, and you got sent a fine in the post. Can you imagine that happening now?!
Going to Sentosa was a real mission; you had to take the ferry or the cable car. There were a couple of large attap umbrellas on the beach for shelter, but you had to take pretty much everything with you unless you could afford to go to one of the two or three hotels there. Trying to get on the last ferry was a bun-fight – great fun when you had a double buggy and tired sandy toddlers…
Most good restaurants were in hotels and they were inside and in air-con; it was really difficult to find anything alfresco. Robinsons at Centrepoint was the main shopping hub. There was a temporary playground/carnival that was set up around Christmas, on a grassy area where ION is now. And, of course, there was no MBS and no road linking the Suntec area to it. We watched the building edge up with no idea what it was going to be or that it would become such an icon of Singapore. Back then it was all still about the Merlion!
May is our favourite issue because it features lovely black-and-white homes, and the message from one of the residents we interviewed emphasises the importance of making a home for yourself wherever you are physically, not just biding time before the next move. In the context of how many expats end up staying here way longer than they initially thought, it’s a very relevant message.
We wanted to see how the demographics of our readers had changed over the past decade, so we are revealing the results of our 2008 Reader Survey again in conjunction with our new survey, to do a direct comparison. We do hope you’ll help because we think the results will be very interesting! We’ll be sharing them in June. You could win a couple of great Banyan Tree stays too (see page 30).
Enjoy the issue!