Singapore is just a stone’s throw from Malaysia. From KL, it’s 45 minutes away by flight, 4 hours by car, 5-6 hours by bus. But once you cross the border from Johor either via the perennially congested Causeway or the newer but less used Second Link, despite many similarities in the two countries, you *will* know you are in Singapore.
These are just 10 ways (out of hundreds!) that can help you determine when you’ve already crossed the Malaysia-Singapore border:-
- The speed limit in the freeway is only 90km/hr. It seems such a shame to see shiny expensive cars with powerful engines driving at snail’s pace in the highways. Speed cameras are everywhere and speeding fines are steep, so no one dares to overspeed…until these very same Singaporean cars cross the border into Johor and feel the exhilaration of driving at the 120km/hr allowable limit. As expected, many of these cars go beyond the speed limit. Even if they get caught, I suppose RM300 doesn’t cause quite a dent in the Singaporean’s pockets, considering that RM300 is only about S$130, hardly exorbitant by Singaporean standards. But I digress. Moving on…
- Road signs start to get perplexing. PIE. ECP. AYE. (Pan Island Expressway. East Coast Parkway. Ayer Rajah Expressway. Respectively, of course.)
- High-rise condominiums sprout like skyscrapers everywhere. Singapore has very little land, so housing developers have little option for expansion other than building higher and higher.
- Very few people speak Malay. With the Singaporean population comprising mainly of Chinese (75% to be exact), most of them hardly speak any Malay. It’s a huge contrast to most Chinese Malaysians who can carry on a pretty decent conversation in Malay. Even the 14% Malay population living in Singapore are more likely to speak English than Malay.
- Escalators move at a much faster rate — proof that pace of life in Singapore is much faster than Malaysia! [NB: A good friend of mine told me that even hair seems to fall off at a more rapid rate in Singapore. She’s not sure if it’s because of the water, the weather, or the stress.]
- Bus stations are equipped with signboards that indicate the times of arrival of various buses, e.g. 8:12, 8:15, 8:18. And more surprisingly, the buses arrive as per the stated times. As they say on that now defunct Ripley’s show, “Believe…or not!”
- The Walk/Don’t Walk signs feature skinnier images. Perhaps a subliminal message from the Singaporean government to promote a healthier lifestyle?
- In lieu of the Petronas Twin Towers, you’ll see this massive durian-like building instead.
Image from Cokeworld Citizen
- Pork is sold openly everywhere. In Malaysia, most eating establishments are halal or, at the very least, pork-free. Pork is normally found in Chinese restaurants or stalls only. Not in Singapore — you’ll see it in food courts, restaurants, malls, everywhere!
- You’ll see couples showing…uh…more physical contact openly in the MRT. With Malaysia being predominantly a Muslim country, such public display of affection is not something that you normally see in Malaysia’s LRTs or elsewhere.