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Fresh off the boat: New expats on moving to Singapore

NAME: Alistair Edwards
AGE: 46
JOB: Football coach and TV pundit. Former Singapore ‘Dream Team’ striker


Hi Alistair. When did you move back to Singapore?
I’m actually just here for a couple of months working; I live in Coogee, a seaside suburb of Perth.

Ah. You’re not really Fresh Off The Boat material I’m afraid…
Well I used to live here between 1990 and 1993. And I’ve just got off the bum-boat from Pulau Ubin. Does that count?

That’ll do. What was Pulau Ubin like?
Back in the early 90s I was here as a professional footballer, so I tended to be in the more glitzy areas. I lived in the Park Royal hotel for several months and then swanky condos in Serangoon Gardens and Newton Circus, and I never ventured to places like this. I hired a bike and rode around the island for a few hours. The wetlands area was special, as was visiting what in essence is the last kampung village in Singapore.

What old haunts have you been back to?
Always Little India for the food. I took the former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean and he said it was the best Indian food he had ever had.

How has that area changed from 20 years ago?
It’s a lot more modern and aircon has replaced fans in many eateries, although the Mustafa Centre has pretty much the same feel about it. I took my two youngest kids (Christian, 14 and Aidan, 12) there and they were amazed how big it was and that you could buy practically anything you wanted 24 hours a day!

And what about Changi Village?
This place is a national treasure. The Changi Point Boardwalk and coastal walk are so tranquil and the whole place for me represents what is special about Singapore.

Do you get stuck into the local food?
The hawker centre here is magnificent and the long queue at the Mizzy Corner lemak stall is well worth joining. I’d also highly recommend the Nasi Biryani at Dil’b and the chicken rice at Tiong Bahru Boneless Hainanese Chicken. The makan (food) is sedap (delicious).

Very impressed with your Malay, you don’t strike us as the typical ex footballer…
Ha ha. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that so many people have such vivid memories of our Malaysia Cup heyday of the early 1990’s when massive crowds would come to watch at the National Stadium. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not stopped by Singaporeans wanting a chat about the ‘good old days’. Brilliant.

Fast forward 20 years and what’s the best thing about ‘new’ Singapore?
As you can tell, I quite like the ‘old’ traditional Singapore. The city centre has exploded with even more shopping malls and there seems to be so many more spectacular hotels and mega resorts. Marina Bay Sands and the Fullerton have to be two of the most incredible hotels on the planet.

We can sense a ‘but’…
Look, Orchard Road, Sentosa and the mega malls are great, but as long as places like Changi Village, Pulau Ubin and the Bukit Timah nature reserve are preserved I’ll be happy.