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7 Ways to spot a Singaporean traveller

Singaporeans are known to be world travellers but how do you spot a Singaporean in the crowd?


As Singaporeans, we tend to carry our traits or Singaporean-isms wherever we go, like our identity card or ‘badge of honour’.

The following are just a few of the characteristics that make us conspicuous.

1. We snap photos of everything

Singaporeans stop every few metres to snap photos on their compact digi-cams or DSLRs. It’s also mandatory to take a selfie with anything nice in the background. Our definition of “nice” here is pretty broad.

Popular settings include the Eiffel Tower, a restaurant signboard, a different-looking sky or sea waves that we don’t see back home. In selfies that aren’t so great, you can barely see anything in the background.

Our propensity for being trigger happy can probably only be rivalled by Japanese tourists. Have you ever seen them take a selfie with a traffic light?

Shopping for bargains is top of the list for Singaporean travellers
Shopping for bargains is top of the list for Singaporean travellers

2. Pro bargain hunting

By bargain hunting, we don’t simply mean being on the hunt for huge sales and discounts. The term “fixed price” doesn’t quite exist in our dictionary. A true Singaporean would have mastered the skill of bargaining or haggling, and there is no better place to use that talent than at the expansive markets we find abroad.

We bargain to get a good price and to avoid getting ripped off. However, I suspect that some Singaporeans actually enjoy the haggling and arguing more than satiating their appetite for shopping.

However, do control yourself. Sometimes, this can backfire when sellers refuse to budge, or get so annoyed that they chase you away.

3. Eating & shopping are priority

Eating and shopping appear to be more interesting to Singaporeans than exotic cultural experiences. The wonders of the ancient world can wait if Prada is just down the road.

After all, we need all this stuff to look better or cooler or to make our friends and colleagues “jelly” [jealous].

Apart from bulging suitcases, the other sign of a good and fruitful trip is when you develop a slight (or greater) bulge at your tummy. Eating tends be a highlight of a Singaporean’s vacation, especially if we find it hard or expensive to get such food back at home.

Well, isn’t eating local cuisine part of the cultural experience as well?

Websites can give you tips on best places to eat
Websites can give you tips on best places to eat

4. We are perpetually on the lookout for Wi-Fi

Singaporeans are uber-(and over-)connected. Every aspect must be logged and blogged, or photographed and uploaded and shared on social media. (Our friends need to know!)

Most of us have also become social media addicts of varying degrees, and we’d probably feel more than a bit uneasy if we don’t log in to Facebook or Twitter for more than 12 hours, to check what’s going on back home or in our social-verse.

Nevertheless, data roaming is far too expensive for the average Singaporean. Thus, we can forever be spotted with phone in hand, checking for free Wi-Fi.

5. “Why laddat one?”

Yes, the easiest way to identify a Singaporean is by the way he or she speaks! This is one tell-tale sign.

As Singaporeans, we are usually unembarrassed by the way we speak, even though others may consider it broken English. After all, language is meant to make communication easier, right? Even being in other English-speaking countries, from the UK to the US of A, doesn’t necessarily mean we need to speak “the Queen’s English”.

Overheard Singlish phrases include: “Why laddat one?”, “Wah, got sale leh!”, “OK, lah…” and “Abaden?”

6. Freebie Nation

If there’s one thing that makes some Singaporeans embarrassed about other Singaporeans, it’s their penchant for freebies, giveaways or almost-free souvenirs. It may be harmless to take free stuff but being naive or obsessed with free stuff can cause problems.

Singaporeans have been known to be suckers to people [especially in Europe] who give ‘free’ things such as birdseed, only to turn around a moment later and demand an exorbitant fee. Don’t be conned!

Some extreme Singaporeans have been known to “kope” (nick) larger items from hotel rooms such as bathroom towels, bathrobes, leather file binders, and so on. Please, don’t embarrass us and yourself!

7. We can be careless & complacent

Coming from a mostly safe and sanitized home country, Singaporeans tend to be complacent, naïve or plain foolish. Many Singaporeans like to leave personal belongings such as phones or bags lying around, or glam up their dressing while on holiday. Some of us may have been watching too many Hollywood movies.

In Singapore, we may use our belongings to “chope“ (save) our seats. But do that in many places overseas, and you shouldn’t expect your belongings to still be there when you return.

We are also unfamilliar with the amazing skills and deceptive cons of the pickpockets overseas, and we really need to be on the alert at all times. Please be wary of anyone shoving something in your face (whether a map or something to buy), squeezing close to you on the metro train, brushing against you, or even tailing you for a distance.

The complacency or naivety of a Singaporean can sometimes stretch quite far. In any case, when you travel, please be a savvy Singaporean and not a silly one.

The easiest way to level-up on that? Google for travel tips and glean more knowledge on the country you’re visiting! Now, that’s very Singaporean too.

By Lim Wan Ling