Dear Madam Vice President Kamala Harris,
Welcome to Singapore and, as at publishing time, goodbye and Godspeed. We really wished you could have stayed a day or two longer. While you were here, we couldn’t help but feel a little salty that you didn’t have to serve SHN in a hotel for two weeks, eating glorified airplane food—but no matter. You came, you ate (at least we hope you did), and you got an Orchid named after you, like many other dignified guests did.
State visits (while full of pomp and ceremony) may seem quite dry and boring. But worry not because there’s much to experience on the little red dot. To get to the heart of Singapore, you’ve got to do as the locals do. So, we thought we would suggest an alternative itinerary should you be open to drop by again, or you could pass this on to President Joe Biden, if he is keen to visit, too. Our doors are always open.
Might we suggest a visit to your American friends in Woodlands? There’s a little enclave of your people who live in estates which kind of look like your suburbs. It’s strange, but they’re the best houses to ransack while trick or treating. The Singapore American School starts their bus service around 6:30 AM—so you’ll have a short window to choke down some kaya toast & kopi before your one-time experiential shift as the proverbial Bus Auntie for the day. We’re sure the kids will be thrilled to get buckled in by Kamala Harris.
But, seriously. One of the issues we’ve faced in Singapore since the pandemic started, is the chasm between the locals and the foreigners. By visiting this insular community of your own nationals, you’ll see why integration has been thorny. Since your administration is big on taxing the rich, perhaps you can report back to the PM with some fiscal measures to lower the income inequality.
One of the highlights of visiting Singapore is the cuisine. We’re famous for our diverse, adventurous palates. After disinfecting the school bus, hop in your motorcade to secure some Kway Chap at Lucky Star Eating House. It’s an acquired taste for breakfast: for $3.50 you’ll get a steaming bowl of intestines, fish cake, pig’s skin, braised egg, and pig stomach.
Cybersecurity has been a talking point during your time here—and there’s an urgent matter for you to experience. While you’re scoffing the intestines, download Carousell and try to book a Sinovac appointment. For authenticity, you’ve got to haggle with the seller. Don’t say who you are, go incognito. Low ball the seller immediately then ask your local chaperone to translate some of the insults. You’ll be less scared of your election meddlers once you experience the wrath of an enterprising Ah Beng.
Rent a tandem bicycle with Josephine Teo and ride through ECP. She’s an excellent back pedaller.
The next stop is a quick visit to Changi Prison, where you’ll meet Benjamin Glynn—the spirited foreigner who refused to wear a mask, then had a conspiracist outburst in court during his sentencing. Yes, it’s actually against the law to eschew a mask in Singapore. We’ve heard you’re having some… uh… compliance issues with your citizens in regards to COVID measures. He might inspire your cabinet to take a harder stance.
It seems that yourself and President Biden are avid, contemplative walkers. Hop on the ferry and take a purposeful strut down the Chek Jawa Boardwalk in Pulau Ubin. To understand how far Singapore has come, view an earlier version of our country in the wetlands. Urbanization in the United States has been hit or miss—one thing we’re pretty good at in Singapore, is urban planning. Check out the balance we’ve struck between living alongside the natural world and constructing a first-class metropolis. Of course, we’re not perfect, but the contrast between Singapore and Pulau Ubin is awe inspiring nonetheless.
Understandably, you might feel homesick. Luckily, we have America’s finest cultural export in Singapore—McDonald’s. It’s a shame you’re not visiting while they’re serving Prosperity Twister Fries, but we’re constantly adding our local flavors to your Western delicacies. Order up the Hainanese Chicken Burger and finish with the Brown Sugar Milk Tea McFlurry.
Speaking of exports, might you wish to address the nation on the merits and demerits of culture wars? It’s been tossed back and forth in parliament for a while now, but we can’t seem to reach a consensus. Conversations about social justice and accountability seem to have gone one way or the other in the United States. Your insight on how this phenomenon has informed legislation, or puts pressure on the powers-that-be is invaluable. Perhaps you can make your address on Instagram Live, moderated by @wakeupsingapore, of course.
After all that MSG, you probably want to burn off some calories. Take a hike through Clementi Forest and marvel at the rich texture of our natural landscape. This is how Singapore is supposed to look. During the pandemic, we rediscovered this untouched slice of wildlife. In fact, some of us have wandered too far within it. We certainly don’t want to lose it now that we’ve found it again. Do relay that to your hosts.
What’s better than dinner and a show? We’re happy to arrange a private monologue from Steven Lim, live from a pivoted KTV establishment of your choosing. Soak up his daring performance art on a nice leather couch, and we’ll bring you whatever you’d like from the hawker. Perhaps you’ll offer him a Fulbright scholarship to a performing arts school in the United States? Much appreciated.
To make a real splash with the locals, we’ll finish the day with a trip on the MRT, where you’re free to announce that you are either 1. A sovereign citizen or 2. An alumnus of Hwa Chong. Getting STOMPed is an esteemed rite of passage.
If you’re bored of staying in the fancy confines of Shangri-La’s and Hilton’s, surrounded by room service on demand, might we suggest a one night stay somewhere kitschy, authentic, and wholesome? To scratch that itch, we’ve arranged a Super Queen (for a Super Queen, yas) room at Singapore’s premiere residence—Fragrance Hotel. Your minders may have mentioned that Hotel 81 is ubiquitous with a certain clientele seeking the warm pleasures of a lady for around two hours or so. Pay them no mind. Things are different now. The pandemic, understandably, has caused a dent in that industry, so you’ll probably see more of overseas guests serving SHN upon arrival to the country.
Cover picture credit: Reuters