Yes, we are quite unique – as identified by our tourism board once. Our physical beings and special habits stand out wherever we are. Here are 10 ways to spot a Singaporean overseas (so you can pretend you didn’t see them).
#1 THE ACCENT
Even though it goes without saying, I’m going to say it. This is the 100% guarantee plus chop, irrevocably unmistakeable indicator that you are in the presence of another Singaporean. Don’t paiseh lah, say hi!
#2 THEY ARE IN A CASUAL TOP, DENIM SHORTS/BERMS AND SLIPPERS
Regardless of the season or how fashion-savvy a city is, our staple outfits do not change. Even if it’s winter, you’ll likely see the girls in a denim-shorts-with-warm-leggings (most probably a Heattech piece from Uniqlo) combo – with boots. Because we don’t get to wear boots back home. And in summery weather, unless we are going hiking, the footwear of choice is good ol’ flip flops – they’re comfortable, airy and easy to slip in and out of. Singaporeans value practicality.
#3 COMPARING EVERYTHING TO BACK HOME
“Eh this one Singapore cheaper, don’t buy here.”
“Eh, this one Singapore don’t have, buy more.”
“Wah, here so hot, even hotter than Singapore.”
“Wah, here the weather so chilly, if only Singapore was like that.”
You get the drift.
#4 TAKING PICTURES TO POST ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM BEFORE THEY EAT
I heard a funny anecdote from an editor I used to work with. Her sister was in transit in an airport in America and was sitting in a cafe with her food in front of her. Like the responsible Singaporean she is, she took out her phone and snapped a picture. A gentleman next to her asked if she was from Singapore. Surprised, she asked, “How did you know?” And he laughed, “Only a Singaporean would take pictures of their food before they eat.”
Thanks, we’ll take it as a compliment – good things must share!
#5 THEY ARE BUYING BUBBLE TEA
It doesn’t matter if the bubble tea is way more expensive than in Singapore (though we will complain about it – see point 2), or if the chain already exists in our country. We love bubble tea and we need our fix.
#6 THEY ARE WONDERING ABOUT THE LACK OF CHILLI SAUCE
The sweet-salty zing of chilli sauce is so commonplace in our cuisine that the lack of it perplexes a Singaporean abroad. “Oh, they got no chilli sauce? So funny.” And if you see someone whip a bottle out from their bag, it’s almost a guarantee that they’re from the little red dot.
#7 THEY ARE ASKING FOR THE WI-FI PASSWORD
If you go into a restaurant, or a cafe, and you see a bunch of travellers on their phones – it’s likely that the place has free Wi-Fi. If you ever need the password, and can’t get the attention of the service staff, just ask the Singaporean – he or she would have already gotten it.
#8 THEY ARE IN A QUEUE FOR FOOD
We will apply the same logic we use for food vendors back home, to the cafes, restaurants and street food stalls we see when we travel: If there’s a long line – it must be good. Thankfully we’ve got lots of practice from back home so the extended wait for a reward at the end, is no big deal. We’ll just play with our phones meanwhile.
#9 THEY ARE DEEP IN THE MIDST OF A SALE
If there’s a big sale, the odds are there’s a bunch of Singaporeans rummaging in there. We cannot resist a good deal – whether at home or abroad. Long line for the cashier? No problem, someone will queue first while the rest keep shopping.
#10 THEY ARE EITHER SOLO, A COUPLE, OR A BIG GROUP OF MORE THAN 5 PEOPLE
There’s no in-between. I guess we’re really sociable people and when we plan a trip with our friends, we endeavour to make sure everyone can make it. If you find a trio or quartet, observe them – it’s likely that they’ll rejoin a bigger group at a later time.
Do you know of more ways you can identify a fellow citizen overseas? Share it in the comments!
About the writer:
Ruby Tan used to write for Her World, and is now a freelance writer with a dream to travel the world. She believes that the some of best things in life don’t have to be bought.
1st give away on the list is wait (im) patiently till they speak or for the better description, “open their mouth lah…!!! -????????????????- LoL.????
I think it’s “a trio or quartet”, or it refers to a group of 3… or one of a set of 4 quadruplets.
Hi ZM, thanks for that! You’re right – I have amended this .
1) they complain to get something done or something in return … Example Singaporean .,, why is it taking so long to serve my food .. You all forget ar? ..
2) always in a rush …. Rush for everything … Example , people will enjoy a nice coffee with a book .. Singaporean … Come faster drink … I still want to go shopping
3) Wah toliet also must pay money ( complain toliet must pay money
4) Wah why the food so salty and oily ( Singaporean actually our food and mostly very healthy compare to other Asia country
5) take a lot of photo oversea but if you ask them .. What is the history or stories about each place .. They will not know
seriously…”u dont say ?!?” ….this post need alot of improvement…
Apparently this is not 100% fool proof as I always meet people with similar accent Especially Malaysians. Its hard to tell between Singaporean and Malaysian as both of them have almost the same accent. All these 10 measures can be applied to Malaysians as well.
When you are in a place where you kinda are looking for more people to share a passenger van with transport around the place (eg more people sharing it’s cheaper) , if U happened to bump into a singaporean and share the transport with them. When it comes to paying for it, they will calculate everything to dollars and cents and return you.
Haha, this post made my day. As a Singaporean living alone abroad, I must say it is always nice to bump into someone from home. Points 1, 3, 4, 7 and 8 resonate particularly with me. Couldn’t help but laugh along in silent agreement. Thanks, Ruby.
Food – Wah , this one singapore don’t have , definitely must try, if nice, must ta pow bring back hotel later can eat.
iPhone accessories – at a shop – you will see them saying the same thing. And if it’s rare or not available in singapore , they would definitely say : let’s buy a few , go back can sell to others,
Ehh, Malaysians and Japanese also take photos of their food before they eat.
This post should be renamed “How to Spot East-Asians in Western Countries” because most of these points don’t only apply to Singaporeans.
Some of the points can use to describe Malaysian too, like 3,4 and 7. We Malaysian takes photo before eat, it’s all because everyone is too into social media, everyone wants to share new cafes & restaurants.
U forgot to add: when u see someone smoking outside the shopping malls or along the side of the streets, they are pretty much singaporean.
Next will be someone holding on the garbage in their hand or placed inside their bag to look for rubbish bin, say hi to them, they definitely will be our fellow country mates.
“They are either solo, couple or big group” ?!?
How about adding one more? They are either a man or a woman!
they’ll be the ones in singlets, shorts & flipflops at the hotel’s breakfast buffet looking like they just rolled out of bed. bedhead hair and puffy eyes par for the course.
UHM….not much difference from other asians. But I should say the most distinctive of all is just the “accent”. Other than that, the rest is the same among almost all asians.
We were in Macau last week and when I spotted a long line outside a stall I was pretty sure it must be Singaporeans, on the flight back home people had packets of cookies from the No 1 place to take home.
Finding dustbin, if don’t have, will keep it till reach hotel or toilet to throw rubbish in overseas… Strangely enough, not applicable back in Singapore…
Go anywhere even with discount must ask for tourist discount also~
Only the first point is correct. The rest can be applied to any typical Asian tourist
As a ah Beng Singaporean. We’ll start speaking hokkien and talking about which army unit we from.
I was born in Singapore living in America since 1982. Everything is true, could be applied to Americans as well, the flip flops, shorts, smoking outside, pictures of food etc…etc… Personally I never take pictures of my food, but my sister in Singapore does and many of my American friends.
Oh how stereotypical
Saf related aparrel
Carrying a National Library Board book. This happened to me for real. I went overseas and saw somebody carrying a book from NLB about the country.
I actually think most of these points can be applied to any nationality. The closest I think might be more specific to Singaporeans is #3 but even then only just.