Friday, June 20, 2008

Melbourne Musings

I like Melbourne, and the rest of the Victoria that I've been to.

In Melbourne:
1. You could walk through crowded streets and not get your shoulders brusied violently by people who just brush across rudely. And oh, they all walk on the left of the pavement!

2. People are friendly and warm. And when the chef asks you how the food was, they really, honestly do want to know. And they'll make conversation if they have the time.

3. The food! The food! The standard of restaurants there is mindbogglingly good. If Singapore calls itself the food capital of South East Asia, then Melbourne is more than worthy to call itself the food capital of Australia. Cheap, fresh produce galore. Milk. Oranges. Yoghurt (the yoghurt there is so awesome I ate it everyday). Beef. Cheese. Honey. All of which, I love to bits. For all that, I'd happily contend with expensive papayas and pineapples and watermelons and bad chicken rice.

4. Bicycling culture! Drivers overtake bicyclists safely. Bike lanes and proper cycling routes are literally everywhere. And cyclists are safe and well-behaved, unlike in Singapore where headlights are a rarity and most cyclists making a fool of themselves riding on the pavements, riding against traffic, ignoring traffic rules, etc. It's true. Victoria has half the number of cyclist deaths per million people as compared to Singapore.

5. At least 3 decent contemporary English language music radio channels. And they play music that's way closer to my taste than Singaporean radio. Especially Triple M. When was the last time you heard Foo Fighters and Ben Folds in addition to Coldplay interviews in Singapore?

6. It's easier to communicate with others, when there's only English to worry about. I admit it. My pathetic Mandarin and inexistent knowledge of other dialects, Malay and Tamil makes it difficult for me to understand the older people in my own country.

7. When you're in Melbourne you continually get the feeling that the government cares for its people. Scaffoldings at construction sites are securely constructed (prolly strict laws on that), public parks are artistically done and immaculately maintained, road signs actually tell you WHY you shouldn't be doing 70 in this 40 zone (sharp right bend ahead). And such signage could have had saved these 2 guys in Singapore. Rules are only meaningful to one if one understands why they are there.

8. Excellent labour laws. People get paid proper minimum wages so that they can actually afford basic accomodation. (In Singapore, we're seeing a trend where a humble room rental can cost more than the salary of many blue-collar workers.) And they can strike or make use of other industrial action as a proper negotiation tool. Sure, it might disrupt public services for a while, but surely you don't want a situation where workers are disgruntled and angry and unmotivated, with no way to negotiate for better work conditions. What if YOU are the Mcdonalds worker who's only paid $3.50/h? With Big Macs costing more than the hourly pay, surely they could - and should - pay the workers more fairly. But without any recourse for the workers, there's no incentive for the Goliath to treat the Davids decently.

9. Coffee drinking culture!

10. The usuals - free media (being able to read something other than 'oh everything is rosy in where we live, but strife is happening in other countries' every morning is something I appreciate), more reasonable work hours, a more relaxed pace of life.

Sure, it's not all pros. I know the property prices can be scary there (edited: I googled property prices in Melbourne, and all I got were Singaporean news articles stating it's worse over here). Public transportation isn't as well-connected. Eating out isn't cheap. Less Singaporean food. The locals there won't be as cordial to you just because of race. (Can't blame really, I'm prolly way more racist than them.) Jobs aren't easy to find.

Oh well, but really, it's about the soft warm factors like a lifestyle suited to your personality, rather than the hard cold factors like money eh? When a human's basic requirements such as food, rest and lodging are met, it's all about the soft warm factors to make one happy.

It seems Australia suits me more than Singapore. And not just me, but many people I know. And the government still wonders why so many Singaporeans are flocking abroad?


Pkchukiss said...

Yeah, life here is very stressful, especially the on the transportation system. The jackasses never fails to get on my nerves on the train everyday - and it's going to get worse from here, with all the encouragement to take public transport, as well as the liberal immigrant policy.

I also don't want to squeeze with 6 million other people on one small island.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the time I went for job interviews and got a job in Frankston (just off Mornington) But the Victoria State Medical Board refused to give me a license.

I visited a practice in Hastings also.

Melbourne is very very nice.

Anyway I'm done with medicine. Migrated to Canada and am now doing futures trading and property investments.

Medicine is too full of bull and red tape...nonsense....

kc said...

yup, the transportation system here really needs an urgent overhaul, but the gahmen is more interested in building castles in the sky with all that IR talk and sustainable city talk

sure, they're in it for the money - and i can empathise how being at the helm of a country makes one greedy - but bad traffic jams reduce productivity and makes a country pretty much unliveable.

no one wants to work in or visit a country where transportation facilities have been nuked back into the stone age.


heh hastings is one small quiet town that looks like a great idea to live in for a while - until one gets bored of it. i'm more of a big city person

an honourable decision indeed, we have only 1 life, not much pt experiencing just 1 kind of career!