Opinion

4 Fads Singaporeans Have Spent Tons of Time and Money on in the Last Decade

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Joanne Poh

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When fads take hold in Singapore, they have the tendency to spiral out of control. The island is so densely populated that just 0.01% of the population can cause insane queues and massive jams. In addition, there’s just something in our psychological makeup that seems to make us susceptible to fads.

People genuinely don’t mind queuing hours just to get their hands on worthless Hello Kitty stuffed toys. Here are four fads that have gripped the nation in the last decade.

 

Hipster cafes

Despite the fact that cafe culture has never really had a place in Singapore (unless you count Starbucks and Coffee Bean as beacons of coffee culture), hipster cafes exploded onto the scene a few years ago, and now everybody is a coffee aficionado or a brunch fiend.

The popularity of hipster cafes can partly be attributed to the popularity of social media (otherwise how do you explain the fact that people spend more time taking selfies than actually sipping their coffee), and partly to the fact that mindful relaxation is finally overtaking frenzied shopping as Singaporeans’ past-time of choice—well, if you consider queuing to enter an already overcrowded cafe that’s as noisy as a fish market relaxing.

A offshoot of the hipster cafe fad is the cat cafe craze that has resulted in scores of inexperienced wannabe entrepreneurs kidnapping poor cats when they have no idea how to look after than and then having the furries die on them.

Cost: Don’t expect to pay kopitiam prices. Coffees at hipster cafes cost anywhere between $4 and $7.

 

Korean wave

Nobody in Singapore cares about Robert Pattinson (who?). That’s because everybody from secondary school students to middle aged aunties is obsessed with Kpop and K-dramas. It’s been a good 10 years since the Korean wave hit Singapore, and it shows no signs of abating.

Not only are Singaporeans flocking to Korea for their holidays, honeymoons and even wedding photoshoots, scores of independent clothing shops now stock products from Korea rather than Thailand or China. Korean language classes are crowded with Kpop fans and housewives, and many Korean restaurants do a roaring trade.

Cost: A meal at a casual Korean eatery in Tanjong Pagar or Upper Bukit Timah will set you back $15 to $25, while you can go on a week-long holiday to Seoul for under $1,000 if you travel budget-style.

 

Zillions of food fads

Singaporeans’ lives seem to revolve around queuing for the latest food fad. This just keeps happening over and over again in an endless cycle. From the bubble tea craze in the early 2000s to Roti Boy and Beard Papa a few years back, we’ve now progressed to froyo, bingsu and, most recently, Taiwanese milk tea.

Most of the time, these food products don’t even taste that great. I mean, bubble tea is nice and all (if you like ingesting the equivalent of a years’ supply of sugar, that is), but is it really worth standing in line for when it tastes no better than a can of Coke or a carton of juice at 7/11?

Cost: Most food fads are limited to snacks and beverages which cost just a few dollars. The real killer is the amount of time you spend queuing for the stuff, especially at the start when the fad is as its height and copycats haven’t yet sprung up all over the island.

 

Pokemon Go

The park beside your block might have been deserted for the last 20 years, but it’s now packed with people, sitting silently sight by side in the middle of the night, bathed in the eery green glow of their screens.

While Singapore isn’t the only place in the world to have been hit by Pokemon Go fever, the fact that it’s so darned crowded here really accentuates things. It’s quite ridiculous how packed certain areas earmarked as being Pokemon-heavy have become.

Cost: While Pokemon Go is free, many businesses are placing lures and dangling discounts to encourage trainers to spend money on their premises. So the next time you decide to flash your Jigglypuff in order to claim that 1% discount or spend $15 on a beer so you can cash in on the bar’s lures, ask yourself how much the game is costing you.

Have you fallen prey to any of the above fads? Tell us which is your favourite in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.