Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Malaysian in Singapore: Episode 2

Yes yes, if you are counting, Episode 1 was a previous post on my initial impressions of Singapore.

Employment pass was approved in 5 days (now, THAT'S efficiency for you). Apparently MOM likes me. Noooo, not my mom, but Singapore's MOM - Ministry of Manpower (don't even get me started on how the term is politically incorrect. What's wrong with Ministry of Labor, right?). Had to rush back to start work at H&K on Beach Road. Haven't really explored much of the area around there but it's pretty neat, walking distance from City Hall MRT (Suntec City) and Bugis MRT (note to self: check out cool shops at Bugis Junction) and there are a billion things to eat around the area, there goes my resolution to lose weight. Sigh. Speaking of weight, Singapore women are surprisingly tiny. And I'm not even referring to their weight -- besides the fact that most of them are waaaaay below healthy weight, they're small people. Here I was, on my first day at work and wearing my 3-inch BCBG pumps and I'm literally towering over everyone in the elevator. Yeah, towering. I could see over everybody's heads and this included two men. Weird, huh? And seriously, I'm considered short among most of my friends. Even my sis is taller than me. Ish.

Of maids and family-friendly malls
I also found out today, from my first shopping venture on Orchard Road, that I can't jaywalk for nuts. So, my trick these days is to follow the crowd and chances are, on a Sunday, there will be throngs of Filipino and Indonesian maids jaywalking. Oh, to the uninitiated -- Singaporeans have thing about maids. Not that Malaysians don't have maids, but I feel that more Singaporeans here have maids than cars, it's no longer a want, it's a need. As for my stand on live-in maids and help -- I don't believe in it. I'm fine hiring someone to come clean your house once a week and sending laundry to the cleaners but a live-in maid? Come on! So here's the deal -- this is how a typical Singaporean household looks like: 2 young working parents (typically under 40), with 2 kids (typically one that's below 7 and another toddler) and 1-2 Filipino or Indonesian maids (the former is more expensive, speaks English and doesn't eat spicy food). I'm not kidding. Take a walk in any mall in Singapore and you'll see this curious parade of parent, parent carrying toddler and a maid holding on to a 7-year-old in one hand and pushing the stroller in the other. Especially in family-friendly malls - again, I'm NOT kidding. There are malls in Singapore that are specifically known to be family and kid-friendly, complete with indoor playgrounds and highchairs and plastic cutlery for the kids. Check out Forum or Paragon -- both malls. If you ask, that spells SCARY. Paragon's decent though, some interesting shops, ProjectShop Cafe has yummy banana caramel pie for tea. Mmmm...back to my discussion on maids on Orchard Road. Most maids are given a day off on Sunday and they swamp Orchard Road, especially Lucky Plaza. You can't miss them, find a group of dolled up, tan ladies, happily chatting away and usually in groups -- they fill almost every inch of stairs and sitting areas outside of the mall, catching up on the latest gossip. It makes a very interesting photo -- I'll post one up one of these days.

And it's official. I cannot stand the heat. I hate being sweaty and stinky, especially at freakin 8:30 in the morning! Commuting is a pain in the ass. I have to take a bus that takes 20-25 minutes to get to Orchard MRT, where I hop off at City Hall MRT after 5 mins and walk for about 15 mins to reach Shaw Tower. And btw, can anyone explain to me why Raffles Hotel's driveway is made of loose gravel? When it rains, it's disgusting. Speaking of raining - it rains almost every day in Singapore and I have yet to find an adorable umbrella. Wonder if S$29 is too much to pay for a FCUK brolli?

On a personal note, my first week at H&K was interesting. Basically pulverized my feet (need to find a good pedicurist) on the first day in my aforementioned 3-inch pumps coz I walked all the way to Suntec City to get my medical examination done for my employment pass. Finding the clinic was insane, no idea how they get any business tucked away in a faraway corner of the mall. Had to schmooze like my life depended on it the second day of work -- got home only around 12:30 am and wanted to lie in bed forever. The rest of the week was just spent figuring out who's who and what's what and desperately trying to not look lost. I need PEETS.



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