This is Home by Rebecca Toh in Ang Mo Kio

Most Singaporeans (about 80% of us) live in blocks of Housing Development Board flats, a type of public housing provided by our government. Last year I started a photo project to document the corridors of our flats. I thought it would reflect a lot about our national character and who we are as a people. Because the corridors are such a mundane part of our lives in Singapore, it’s not something that we give much thought to. I used to travel a lot and disliked being in Singapore because I found little beauty in it. But after years of being a tourist in someone else’s country, I began to appreciate the little things that make Singapore so unique. Including, of course, its charming little corridors.

Name:Rebecca Toh
Occupation:

Photographer

Preoccupation:

Reading books, wondering about the afterlife, philosophy, changing the world for the better, health and wellness, good design, and architecture.

Tell us about Singapore:

Singapore is a tiny city-state who has only been independent since 1965. We are young, perfectionistic, modern, ambitious, worldly and free; a melting pot of contradictions actually, which makes Singapore a rather interesting place to live.

A perfect day?

Any day when the weather is good (and by “good” I mean when it’s not horrendously hot and humid).

What is the best thing about Singapore?

Safety. Singapore is one of the safest places in the world. Living here I feel as if I am insulated from all the dangers of the world, from the murders and the robberies and the tornadoes and the earthquakes that haunt and ravage other places on earth.

What is the worst?

Singapore can be uninspiring sometimes. We need more ground-up creativity, and not just in the form of a bunch of similar-looking coffee shops and pop-up stores.

What would be surprising about Singapore to an outsider?

That we are so free. Outsiders often have the impression that we’re a repressed and oppressed group of people. The truth is most of us do whatever we want to do and no one’s really there to stop us! We aren’t tied down by traditions and, because we’re a multi-racial society, we are quite used to embracing the differences of our fellow Singaporeans. You can be gay, straight, an office worker, an entrepreneur, married, single – generally no one really cares!

If Singapore was a person who would it be?

Lee Kuan Yew, our former Prime Minister.

Who are three of your favorite artists?

Tokuhiko Kise (furniture designer), Tadao Ando (architect), and Steve McCurry (photographer).

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Comments
  • http://www.rachael-hyde.com Rachael Hyde

    I appreciate your photography and seeing the beauty in something so common to Singapore. Also, the old townhouses by Chinatown are so uniquely Singapore, one of the best characteristics.

    However, as someone who too grew up in Singapore (but now attending university in Austin), I question your statement that Singaporeans are “free”. Yes, I do appreciate the fact I grew up here for its safety and accessibility, but to say Singaporeans are free would be not true. Many Singaporeans are tied down in their nine to six workplaces; they have the highest percentage of people in one country who own a smart phone (a proven fact as no one seems to look up from their game of Candy Crush). I’m sure Singaporeans are not as constrained as many outsiders would think, and I appreciate the variety of cultures we do have, but we are far from free like you say.

local_lens_icons

Name:Rebecca Toh

City:Singapore

Favorite place to eat:

Kilo

Favorite place to drink:

Real Food

Favorite shop:

Books Actually, Bloesem Creative Space

Local Tip:

Live at one of the Airbnb listings in the suburbs of Singapore instead of the city center. Some are priced like a hostel but come with condominium facilities such as a pool and a gym – totally worth it! This allows you to experience Singapore from the inside out!

Must Do:

Visit our Housing Development Board flats and experience the daily lives of Singapore’s heartlanders.