Just like any other post on Facebook or Instagram, everyone is free to express their own views, thoughts and opinions. However, one has to understand that one’s two cents worth may not be accepted by everyone else. Clearly, when travel blogger, A Girl and A Bald Traveller, complained about Singaporeans being conformists, Instagram whores, and culturally ignorant, the nation did not take it so well. The original blog post has since been removed by the author, but we managed to retrieve a copy of it which you can read here.
TL;DR: Unlike himself, the writer thinks Singaporeans aren’t well-travelled enough; we only visit mainstream places because we think ‘visiting India or Bangladesh means possibly getting raped’ and ‘everyone in Africa has aids’. Singaporeans are not as sophisticated or culturally diverse as the writer because we choose to visit ‘typical’ Instagrammable places like Niagara falls and Eiffel Tower, and only because it’s popular on Instagram.
When Singaporeans heard the news of our passport being one of the most powerful, we “lord it around on Facebook groups congratulating each other how lucky we are that our passport is so impressive”. And yet “how many Singaporeans have made use of their ‘powerful passport’ to visit any of these 180 countries?”
While the duo has visited various African and European countries, Singaporeans wield our Singapore passport like an average mortal swings the Thor hammer – a useless weapon in our hands. So why do we still deserve to celebrate our passport?
Having A Powerful Passport
The Singapore passport represents something bigger than travelling. Our visa-free escapades don’t just enable us to see the world, but also the world to see us – our passport boasts the nation’s progress and political stability, which are definitely worth celebrating. It is the ability to whip this little red book out in a duty-free shop and command some form of respect simply because we are Singaporeans.
According to the duo, those who visit Bangkok and Johor aren’t maximising the passport’s full power because everyone else can easily access these places. Do you know that China grants visa-free travel for ordinary passports to very limited countries including Singapore? Or that Bangkok has an electronic immigration system exclusive to Hong Kong and Singapore passport holders? These are but a few perks that come with having a powerful passport. Perks that ‘mainstream people’ like me can actually enjoy.
The power of Singapore’s passport is ever-present within Asia, yet because countries in Asia are considered mainstream and easily accessible to The Girl and A Bald Traveller, they have declared those to be of a lesser travelling experience.
I still stand by those Asian states and countries. Bangkok, JB, Malacca, and Perth are still my go-to places for a quick getaway because of the sense of familiarity I get even while in a foreign place. I fall into the ‘typical Singaporean’ template that The Girl and A Bald Traveller has thoughtfully conjured, except it is not my fear of ‘black’ people or of possible death that deters me from visiting Africa, India, or any lesser-known places mentioned by them. The ‘boring places’ I go to offer what I look for in my holiday and the exotic ones don’t.
A ticket out of Singapore has always been a chance for me to run from responsibilities and recharge. I’ve been on holidays that left me feeling more drained than rested. The tedious research, booking of flight transfers, packed schedules, and navigating around a foreign place stresses me out more than work itself. So, escaping into somewhere more familiar (or mainstream) is exactly what I need.
Prostituting Ourselves To Instagram
If travelling was about Instagram, wouldn’t a popular feed be filled with pictures of places less travelled? Wouldn’t those posted on the duo’s site, photos of ‘rare’ and ‘unique’ places, garner more likes than a photo with Taiwan’s floating lanterns?
“Simply put. If it’s not “Insta-worthy”,
it’s not “Singa-worthy”.”
Instagram isn’t just a platform to show off a lifestyle, it is also an informational platform. Before I visit a café, I check out their Instagram location tag to see their food, how the café environment is like, and what everyone else would recommend. It is an unbiased and collective opinion on the place. Before travelling to Taiwan, Bangkok, or JB, Instagram and Facebook help me get a rough idea of what I would like to eat, see, do, and even how to get there because of the photos and captions I see.
Simply put. If it’s not insta-worthy, it’s not as easy to research on.
An exotic country like Belarus and Ukraine will be a whole new experience to me, but getting there and planning my itinerary is not as easy as it is for the ‘boring countries’. Understanding their roads and deciding on my choice of transport is not as simple, especially for someone who is constantly getting lost even in Singapore.
The travel blogger has also admitted that most of the available resources for exotic travel are from sites owned by foreigners. Their blog can offer some help though (if you aren’t put off by the writing style).
Of course, I’d like to see the places that have been named in the article one day. As pointed out by the duo, I do agree that travelling and exploring a lesser-known place is a lot more inspiring. But at the moment, I’m not interested in investing brain juice on a vacation that is supposed to help me unwind.
Living in Singapore is like a rat race – work is exhausting, school is stressful. Maybe just like me, most Singaporeans choose the ‘mainstream countries’ for vacations simply because it is easier to plan for and less stressful to visit.
If you can get past the triggering sarcasm and backhanded insults, The Girl and A Bald Traveler actually brought up really good points. And if you can ignore his arrogant remarks and sweeping statements, you might even find their blog a useful point of reference for those exotic countries you might visit in the future.
But I’ll just stick to my ‘Instagram-worthy places’ for now.
(Header Image Source: @eesonsnaps)