By SGN | 1 Feb 2021
On a hot summer’s day in May of 2017, Ghib Ojisan had a fateful encounter with his then girlfriend (now wife), a Singaporean, during a backpacking trip to the city. “If I hadn’t met her then, I’d probably never thought of moving here in the first place,” Ghib tells us.
As a full-time YouTuber with over 184,000 subscribers at the time of writing, Ghib is no stranger to Singapore. His daily vlogs about his life with his newfound family and friends in the city garners thousands of views and he is steadily rising the charts of Singapore’s YouTube scene.
In this tell-all video, Ghib shares about how he went from being a globe trekker to finding a place he can call home with his wife in Singapore.
From the Land of The Rising Sun to Sunny Island Singapore
When he first arrived in Singapore in 2019, Ghib found a job as a digital marketing executive in a local firm.
“I had never worked outside of Japan, so I wasn’t sure if I could bond well with my colleagues or adapt to Singapore’s work culture. But in the end, there were absolutely zero problems. Most of my colleagues were very friendly and relaxed,” he says.
Compared to Japan, Ghib finds Singapore’s working environment a lot more relaxed. It was common for colleagues to arrive late on occasion or take longer lunch hours. As long as the job was completed well, nobody would bat an eyelid even if they had left work right on time – a practice frowned upon on Japan, where junior employees are expected to leave only after their managers have, which is often late. Most Singaporean colleagues were also comfortable with having a more friendly relationship with the boss.
In contrast to the Japanese, Ghib finds that Singaporeans are naturally more straightforward. This took some getting used to for Ghib.
“In Japan, most of the people care a lot what others think about them and will try really hard not to hurt each other’s feelings. That is why the Japanese tend to be not as straightforward. But in Singapore, it’s almost the opposite. I learnt overtime that most Singaporeans do not have intentions of hurting others.”
“They are just straightforward and there is no negativity to that,” he shares.
Just for laughs – Ghib puts on a little skit that highlights the #relatable difference in working culture between Japan and Singapore.
While holding down a full-time role, Ghib was also posting his guitar covers and travel vlogs on YouTube and has garnered a strong Japanese following. After six months with the firm, Ghib made the decision to follow his passion and pursue YouTube as a full-time career. This decision would later see him rising the ranks as a prominent figure in the local YouTube scene.
Singapore’s efficiency as a state, Ghib tells us, had helped him ease into transitioning to becoming a full-time YouTuber, with most paperwork procedures – including visa applications and applying to incorporate a company – being done online.
He also tells us that the city’s advanced social media marketing industry helped him to gain stability as a full-time vlogger as he’d receive many media-invites and inquiries from companies seeking to collaborate each week. Take for example: Ghib had a fun crossover vlog with local media firm TheSmartLocal, where he tries Genki Sushi for the first time and followed the life of a media professional in Singapore!
No Stranger to Singlish – How to Live Like a Local
When Ghib first arrived, he observed that many Singaporeans tend to speak an informal English language at a faster pace and peppered their conversations with slips of Chinese and Malay words. He later found out that it was Singlish (or Colloquial Singaporean English) is a creole language that is unique to Singapore.
“Thanks to my Singaporean family, I noticed myself eventually using Singlish in everyday conversation. I started picking up the easier ones like ‘can’ and ‘makan’ (Malay for ‘to eat’) and now use them almost every day,” he enthuses. “My two favourite Singlish phrases to use are ‘can lah!’ and ‘can meh?’ as they’re easy to use and help to make me feel like I’m a local!”
Ghib says that the best way to learn more about Singapore is to hang out with the locals.
“Go to a random hawker centre and join the queue of a famous stall. Afterwards you can have some kopi at a local kopitiam. Most locals are shy – they don’t initiate conversation. But don’t be afraid, start a conversation and at the end of the day, you will become good friends!” he says.
For Japanese expats making the move to Singapore, Ghib shares that having a broader mindset and learning to accept and embrace diversity can help to ease the relocation process. He further explains that Japan is made up of a homogeneous society with people having similar backgrounds and values but in Singapore, everyone comes from different backgrounds and cultural identities – and this is something that Japanese expats will have to get used to. “You have to learn how to work through the differences and embrace it,” he says.
Interested in learning more about what it’s like to live and work here? Whether you’re just curious, looking for a friend or already ready to move, connect to our North East Asia Regional Director Koi Foong through LinkedIn or email and he’ll be happy to chat.
The Ghib Ojisan Way to Experience Singapore!
Did you know that Singapore’s hawker culture was recently inscribed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage? Visiting hawker centres is Ghib’s favourite way to try authentic Singaporean food – he especially loves to visit Bedok 85, Old Airport Road and Chinatown Complex.
Experience Singapore the Ghib Ojisan-approved way! Pro-tip before you start on this journey: come with an empty stomach!
In the morning, head to a local kopitiam for a good cup of local coffee! Ghib’s go-to dish to order are nasi lemak (coconut and pandan leaf infused rice served with sambal, fried anchovies, toasted peanuts and cucumber), bak chor mee (minced pork noodles), or a kaya toast set if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
Feeling peckish in the afternoon? Ghib recommends checking out a hawker centre (a larger heartland kopitiam) for a meal. Don’t forget to order some sugarcane juice to quench your thirst!
After a filling lunch, explore Chinatown’s nooks and crannies – you can find traditional Chinese medical halls and even cafes selling traditional dessert (Ghib suggests popping by a place with aircon to beat the sunny island’s afternoon sun)!
Late night eats
As the sun starts to set, pop by a local hawker centre again and you’d be surprised at what late night eats you can get – satay (skewered barbeque meat, pictured above), oyster omelette and barbeque chicken wings are some great night-time finds perfect for a group setting! Looking for an activity post-dinner? Ghib recommends checking out for prawn fishing spots nearby – simply rent a rod and fish for prawns which you can opt to barbeque on the spot (talk about fresh!).
Join us and meet others like Ghib.
Ghib Ojisan is a Japanese travel vlogger living in Singapore, who documents his day-to-day adventures with newfound friends and family in the sunny city. He first came to Singapore in May 2017 as a backpacker and has since settled down with his wife here. Check out Ghib Ojisan’s YouTube channel and website nekkyo-singapore.com and follow him on Instagram at @Ghibli_Ojisan to discover how it’s like to live, play and eat in Singapore.