We were in Singapore mainly for one reason. As we had both been there before it wasn’t really for tourist time although we did manage to fit some of that in too. We were there for my exams. That’s right, almost 10 years after leaving school, I am still doing exams.
I’m an Accountant and working on my chartership, I can take exams almost anywhere in the world and doing so will let me help my clients more and do more for them. If they had a centre in Bangkok I would have taken them there but I had a choice of Yangon and Singapore. With friends in Singapore, I decided on there.
Singapore hasn’t changed much from my time there in 2010. It’s clean, expensive and English-speaking.
In the UK I take my exams in a small church in central Coventry, there is maybe 100 people max in the church hall. It is quiet and cosy. In Singapore, the exam centre is in a place called the Singapore Expo. A massive, massive exhibition centre with several halls and restaurants, conference facilities, shops and its own MRT station.
I had been using the MRT on and off in Singapore but the journey to the Expo on exam day was nightmarish. I was comfortable, confident(ish) and relaxed. Then I got on the train and more and more would-be accountant got on until it was jam-packed. The unnerving thing about this was that they all had books out, or notes, or notebooks – frantically revising or reciting rhymes they had made up. If I understood Malay, I might have tried to remember one as my relaxed state left me somewhere between Eunos and Tanah Merah.
There are 3 things I like about the Singapore Mass Rapid Transport (MRT)
1. That is it always on time
2. The name Mass Rapid Transport
3. That when you stop at a platform, a lady says “Happy Happy”
Causing amusement every time, these two words seem to make everything better. Like she is saying “Hey, thanks for riding this train, you’re rad, stay extra happy happy for your journey ahead you wonderful person you”
Listening to this at the following stops brought me back from the depths of exam panic and I smiled to myself.
Content to remain in blissful happy happy ignorance all was well. Until I realised no one else was taking her advice but me. Surely they can’t be immune to the Happy Happy charm.
Being in an academic state of mind I accepted that in reality there is likely another reason for the phrase. Also given that either side of the phrase were words spoken in a language foreign to me but likely local to Singapore, meant that it was likely Malay for the phrase previously spoken over the speaker in English, which was to be careful and to mind the gap coming off the train.
You can also get phone signal on the MRT and Wifi at some points which is ace. My research led to the clearly more sensible discovery that the words were actually “Hati Hati” and were part of a phrase that loosely translates to “be very careful” relating to the care required when exiting the train and it’s sometimes gaping crevice know as only as “the gap”.
So there we have it. “Happy Happy” on the Singapore MRT. Sad but informative and to be fair, really quite obvious and we probably all knew it already deep down. “Happy Happy” is actually “Hati Hati” and we must all be careful when navigating “the gap”.