Writer Humphreys’ return to S’pore inspires new book
Like an ex- lover, writer Neil Humphreys returned last year to rekindle his relationship with this tiny island.
Now, he has a new book to show for it.
Aptly titled Return To A Sexy Island, the 277-page read is a travel guide with humorous commentary and reflections running throughout.
It hit the shelves on June 18.
Having lived the past five years in Australia, the 37-year-old Brit says he was lured back to Singapore and inspired to write yet another book on her because of the “sexy changes” she has gone through.
Before he left Singapore in 2006, Humphreys wrote Final Notes From A Great Island, which he calls his “farewell love letter” to the country.
He didn’t plan on coming back.
But reading international reports on the nation ignited “bouts of jealousy”, he jokes.
“I was dying a slow death in suburban hell while reading about Newsweek and Time magazines calling Singapore the Switzerland of Asia. The Monte Carlo of Asia.”
He was then living in the Melbourne suburb of Geelong.
“One of the days, I whipped out an old map of Singapore, which I used in 2006, then googled for a current map of the country.
“It was completely different – like an old girlfriend receiving a complete makeover,” he says.
Responding to a tug to witness the transformation, he returned last year to troop around the island for six to seven months.
The research became fodder for the book’s content, which documents his impressions and encounters at “new” spots, including Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands.
The sexiest geographical change the island has undergone is the number of nature hang-outs that have sprung up in recent years, says the father of a four-year-old daughter.
The Southern Ridges, Bishan Park and Sengkang Riverside Park are his favourites.
He has also noticed a mindset change among the locals.
He says: “During a visit to the Bukit Brown cemetery, I met all these young, keen, enthusiastic volunteers who were trying to preserve a piece of history.
“They were angry, young people who wanted a stake and a say in their own society. I think that’s wonderful.”
Besides writing books, Humphreys also contributes regularly to this newspaper as a sports and humour columnist.
The new book, which is his sixth on Singapore and one of the eight he has to his name, is not the only reason he is now based here.
“I’ll be here tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, I hope.
“I’m not shy to say that I love Singapore with all my heart.
“I also moved back because I wanted my daughter to live in a multi-cultural environment.
“Her Mandarin is already better than mine,” he says with a chuckle.