Hot Under The Collar

Keep calm and stay cool this hot month.

By Alywin Chew        31 May 2021

Some people might say that our hawker culture is Singapore’s most distinctive trait. Others might point to our proclivity to complain about anything under the sun.

I say Singapore’s defining trait is heat.

Yes, Singapore is hot AF – in more ways than one.

Let’s start with the oppressive heat. I know, we’ve had some days when we got to enjoy freakishly low temperatures that brought out all the drama queens in winter jackets, but I don’t think that any of you can argue that Singapore is just a tad too warm for comfort.

I don’t think anyone who has been to National Service would disagree. Being in combat gear is no joke. Being in combat gear and executing drills under the blazing sun is lagi no joke. Being in combat gear and stuck inside a sealed off armoured vehicle? You can practically claim that you’ve been to hell and back.

I don’t understand how so many of my friends have such vivid memories of their National Service days. I can barely remember much of what happened – I was dozing off half the time because of the stifling heat!

Besides the weather, we also pack quite a bit of heat in our cuisine. I mean, have you realised we have a different chilli to complement each of our most famous dishes?

Chicken rice has its own chilli. Nasi lemak has its own chilli. Laksa has its own chilli. And the list goes on. It’s amazing, really. We Singaporeans are truly the world’s most discerning chilli connoisseurs.

But as much as we love chilli, I don’t understand our current obsession with Sichuan mala dishes.  Unlike our delicate and tantalising Southeast Asian condiments, the Sichuan variety does nothing but turn you into a walking soggy fry.

Do you find walking around with your underwear drenched in mala-induced sweat enjoyable? I know it makes my bowels and I highly irritable.

Ah, and on to my next point – heated temperaments. I strongly believe that we Singaporeans are such a grumpy bunch because of the heat. After all, scientific research has proved that heat affects emotions and behaviours.

Just look at the way we drive. I think many of you would agree that we live in a first world country but have third world drivers. We are also angsty enough to want to shame these drivers on Facebook sites like Beh Chia Lor, Singapore Road Accident and!

What is the most common way we beat the heat? We turn the air-conditioning on.

Does that really help cool us down? Indeed, but only until we get the electricity bill.

That being said, Singaporeans do also have quite a bit of warmth in their hearts. The spate of charitable initiatives by ordinary people to help their peers affected by the pandemic has certainly been moving.

I recently read about the story of a couple, Mr Asanul Fariq Sani and his wife Mdm Norhasyimah Awaludi, who have turned their Tampines home into a free grocery store, giving away rice, Milo and even prayer garments.

Come on, this must surely warm the cockles of your heart.

Inspired by their kind actions, I decided to chalk up my karma points by being more helpful to those around me. One of the things I did was to help my cousin save some money.

“You know, you don’t actually need so many beauty products?” I asked.

“Of course I do. This crazy weather always gives me pimples,” she replied.

“Go natural. Just drink water. My acne problem was gone after I went to NS where I was forced to drink water all the time.”

“Don’t be silly. That doesn’t work.”

I then showed her a website to back my claim. It read, “Several studies have found that upping your intake of water may help keep your skin soft and smooth when used alongside skin care products.”

“Okay, fine. I’ll humour you. How much water did you drink back in NS?” she asked.

“One full water bottle, thrice a day!” I said.

“Uh huh. And what kind of skin products do you use?”

“Camouflage cream!”

LOL Mondays is an ongoing series of slice-of-life stories from freelance writer and NSman Alywin Chew. Look out for the humorous tales which will be posted every first Monday of the month, to help you drive away your Monday blues!

How did you stay cool during your NS days? Share your NS memories with us at!