The Strategic Retreat

Struggle in The Lion City: Weather

singapore flyer and gardens by the bay pedestrians

Upon further further reflection I realize now that I should have just written about the ‘illusion of meritocracy‘, the ‘culture of consumerism‘ and the ‘me first mindset‘. I could have written those up over 3 days and have been done with it. That’s why I have this website though, to make mistakes and work on my writing skills. Well, it’s too late now, the process has already begun and I still have natural causes to present. Yesterday I addressed Singapore’s lack of control over needed resources due to its location; resulting in a lack of food, water, air and freedom. Today I will be focusing on the weather.

Singapore is hot as balls. By that I mean, it’s a degree or two below body temperature and overly humid.

monks garden by the bay singapore

Weather

The location of Singapore, near the equator, ensures that it has a certain type of weather. That type of weather is; terrible. Terrible and constant. It sucks, all the time. There are hotter places in the world but there are no major cities where it’s both hotter and more humid. To put it into perspective, I found Bangkok to be cool and breezy by comparison. Singapore’s weather is nearly always between 26C(79F) and 35C(95F). When it’s at the lower end, during night and early mornings, the humidity is near 100%. As the temperature increases the humidity lowers but never to a tolerable level, maybe to 80% if you get lucky. It is like this every day of the year.

There are no seasons, although at times it is a bit rainier than others. This results in Singaporeans not thinking in seasonal divisions. This reality changes the perception of time itself. Each day is the same, there is no winter to prepare for or summer to look forward to. There is only an endless purgatory, where the past day blends into the present ad infinitum. The only clues as to the current month are found in decorations outside of malls and which holiday’s kitsch is being hawked at Cold Storage.

The weather shapes reality in Singapore, it changes the culture, commercializing it. Being outside for lengths of time is uncomfortable but so is being inside without air conditioning. Keeping a typical apartment cooled with 24/7 air-conditioning cost more than yesterday’s quoted National Service salary. It’s either not worth it or not possible for most. Lifestyles must be changed to face the reality of Singapore’s weather, the environment can only be changed so much and for so many.

dragonboaters in the shade by marina bay sands

Singaporeans have a habit of staying away from their homes and also staying away from the outside. All that is left is work and shopping. Singaporeans work some of the longest hours in the world. When not at work they are often found in air-conditioned malls, having cultivated a hobby of shopping which is partially a hobby of being in a cool building. Simple and cheap activities are more difficult in Singapore than the U.S.; picnics aren’t common, neither is hiking.

It’s not just that the heat and humidity bring the misery of themselves, it’s that the conditions the weather fosters brings additional strife. The weather makes it difficult to be outside, to congregate, to be spontaneous. A constant need for shelter is limiting financially as well as socially. It keeps people from discussing and exploring. It keeps people spending. Almost nothing is free in Singapore; the simplest of leisure activities will have a cost, as escaping the outside invariably has a price tag.

Simple pleasures bring less joy when it’s Singapore out. Those that can afford to mitigate the discomfort do so, almost instinctively. This causes a sharp demarcation between economic classes. Those who can pay to enjoy the inside will assuredly do so. The ability to escape the heat creates a real separation between the poor and the middle to upper class. It’s not just social or cultural; the weather, and the avoidance of it, divides people in a manner distinctive from that of self-selection. Regardless of one’s want to exclude or include, it comes down to basic human comfort and the ability to pay for that level of luxury. Singapore demands a segregation of the unairconditioned.

men outside in chinatown singapore

Between the location and the weather, Singapore is basically Cool Hand Luke after he pissed off The Captain and got sent to The Box. It’s hot, it’s humid, you can’t leave, somebody else determines when and if you get food or water, and the jackass next door is blowing smoke in your face.

About Jeff Penman

Jeff was born in the back of a War Game Store on the day the first Star Trek movie came out, to a computer programmer mother and a father who wrote the story for Dragon's Lair. Jeff has an MBA and a penchant for sticking his nose here it doesn't belong.