Air Stewardess Living In Dubai

I used to be one of those who hated living in Singapore, wished I wasn’t born a Singaporean, and couldn’t wait to ‘gtfo of Singapore’.

So that I did.

My chance came when I got the job to work for Emirates as a cabin crew; I moved to Dubai, where I had to be based. And after living in Dubai and seeing Singapore through the eyes of my ex-colleagues, who came from all around the world, I realised how much I’d taken her for granted.

Sure, Singapore has her flaws: the absurdly high costs of living, and our ridiculous obsession with the paper chase are just some of it.

But having deeper conversations with my ex-colleagues made me see how ignorant my perspective was; all I could see were Singapore’s flaws while I was blind to the flaws of other countries I thought so highly of.

So from one Singaporean to another, here are the things I hope we never take for granted.

How green Singapore is

Our urban landscape was probably the biggest thing I took for granted, and the first thing I realised.

As someone who grew up in a city with a plethora of trees and green shrubbery everywhere, green spaces became a ‘norm’. I never appreciated the beauty of our city until I lived in Dubai, where greenery was replaced by sand and skyscrapers. Nature, where art thou.

Every time another cabin crew found out I was from Singapore, the one thing they always said was, “OMG, your country is beautiful! I love how green it is!” It made me feel both proud and slightly ashamed that I never appreciated it.

How convenient Singapore is

Yes, I know our trains have been screwing up the past few years, but you cannot deny how accessible our public transport system is.

I love how, no matter where I am in Singapore, I can easily walk to the closest train station or bus stop, with the exception of industrial estates. In Dubai, that’s only possible in a few areas such as downtown or the Marina. So I’d often have to take a cab everywhere; pricey I know, but it truly was that inconvenient.

Also, I’d likely never have to worry about being stranded because of strikes by our train/bus drivers in Singapore. In the UK, rail strikes are common. Once, in London Gatwick, I had to stay in the hotel for the entire layover because of it. That happened again on a Manchester layover.

How honest Singaporeans are

Can you imagine if our local telcos cheated us of our money every. single. month? It’d be highly unlikely. But in Dubai, the telcos have the tendency to do that, especially to cabin crew; they know it’s easier for them to get away with slamming roaming charges on us because we travel all the time.

I also believe majority of Singaporeans are honest folks; lost wallets and phones tend to find their way back to their owners.

But this is hardly the case in other parts of the world—UK, Europe, America, etc. My friend got his backpack stolen in London. And I once got mugged in Barcelona when I only slung my satchel behind me for less than 30 seconds. True story.

How efficient Singapore is

I need to commend how well-designed our roads are. It’s something I never realised.

One of the biggest things I was very annoyed by in Dubai was how terribly they planned their roads. Each time I missed a turn, I had to add 10 to 15 minutes of driving time to make a huge round back.

Worse still, taxi drivers in Dubai do that very often; fuel is cheap in Dubai but taxi fares are similar, if not more expensive, to Singapore’s. So go figure.

How warm Singapore is

I don’t mean this literally, but figuratively. You know how most of our coffee shop/food court aunties and uncles call us ‘ah girl/boy’ when they want to take our order? I really missed that. That colloquial form of acknowledgement has a sense of warmth compared to “Yes miss, what would you like to order?”

Also, Singaporeans are generally more helpful if you need help on the streets—something I felt Dubai and some parts of Europe were lacking in.

Other reasons to love Singapore

With all that said, I know that Singapore isn’t perfect.

For example, our astronomical car prices thanks to the COE, not forgetting its evil twin—ERP; I’m annoyed by it too, especially, when I can buy a second hand Volkswagen Beetle in Dubai for just SGD$3,000.

But, I completely understand why it’s necessary. Singapore is small, and I wouldn’t want to have traffic like Jakarta’s or Manila’s; it’s a colossal waste of time to be stuck in a jam for hours. So no thank you.

Just as no human being is perfect, no country is perfect either.

So aside from those points I‘ve mentioned above, also remember how gorgeous our skyline is at night (it’s one of the prettiest in the world), how amazing our food scene is (so much variety and value for money) and how awesome our passport is (yes I know Japan edged us out of the no.1 spot, but we’re probably gonna get it back again knowing how kiasu we are).

So with that, here’s to chilli crab, nasi lemak, Singlish, and the best airport in the world! No place else feels more like home. Happy 53rd Birthday, Singapore!