Ask a Local – Feature #2 Singapore

MAD Ask a Local Series - Singapore


MAD Ask a Local Series - Singapore

John (in yellow) socialising with his friends over a meal at a typical hawker centre in Singapore.

John Koh is an IT Manager in Singapore.

He loves his job, family, friends and his city/state of Singapore. He is always excited about socialising over food, but that is a Singaporean trait I realised from my very first visit there.

John takes on “Ask a Local in 10” and shares his thoughts on Singapore.


Describe Singapore in 5 words.

Clean, green, corrupt-free, melting-pot, sunshine!

What’s the best thing about living there?

Singapore is relatively crime free. I don’t have to worry about violence even if I had to walk a normal street after midnight. Plus you don’t need to worry about food for you can find food stalls opened 24hours the whole year round!

What your favourite time of year in Singapore for you? Why?

Between January and February…that’s when Chinese New Year festivities are usually on. There’s a buzz going on and lots of sales! Also there are some foods that you can only get during this time of the year. It is a special time, we all celebrate, especially in Chinatown.

Is there one place you think visitors shouldn’t miss seeing?

I think there are lots of places visitors should not miss, not just one but it depends on what interests them. If they want to see the skyline, they should not miss the night scenes especially on top of Marina Bay Sands. Then there is Chinatown, cultural arts performances at the Esplanade, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple which has its own museum and thousands of Buddha figurines, Little India with its spice and exotic foods, Botanical Gardens and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve for the nature lovers, Boat Quay, Zoo and Night Safari, Arab Street with its alternative boutiques and informal restaurants which is a great place to chill out. Singapore is such a small country with so much to offer, choosing one place is clearly difficult for me.

What’s your favourite local dish?

Laksa without a doubt. It is a spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan cuisine – a fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisine. I prefer the Singapore version as the Penang version is sourish. I highly recommend it to anyone who have not tasted it yet.

Do you have a favourite local place to eat or drink you would share with visitors?

Makansutra at Esplanade – the place has excellent local food even though it may cost a bit more than the local hawker centres. It is a good place to chill out too especially with the seaview and wonderful skyline scenery at night. Three thumbs up for this one in my opinion!

How about a favourite local coffee/tea shop?

I would have to say Killiney Kopitiam. They make great coffee and teas at good prices and their steamed bread kaya/butter buns are to die for during breakfast! :)

What three local words do you think every visitor should know?

  • Alamak is a Malay term which translates to “What?” or “Oh my goodness!”
  • Makan is another Malay word we use all the time. It really means “to eat.”
  • Don’t Play Play means “don’t try to be funny .”

Why should someone visit Singapore?

All of the above plus we welcome foreigners and we speak English! :)

What advice would you give someone visiting Singapore?

Don’t be afraid to ask if you are lost…we may look serious but we open up quite easily when approached!

I don’t know about you but I now I’m in the mood for Laksa thanks to John. Read more on Singapore here at YourSingapore.