Singaporeans Unfriendly?

I was at the hawker centre by myself, with a craving for Hainanese Chicken Rice. I got myself a plate, and then a glass of Sugar Cane juice. Seeing an empty seat at a table, I asked the two women sitting there if I could join them. They smiled and said yes.

I couldn't help but hear that they were chatting in Tagalog. I recognised the language because we used to have a Filippino helper when I was a kid. I asked if they were from the Philippines (they excitedly said "Yes") and I then ventured a guess that they were sisters. (I noticed that they seemed really close). Indeed they were siblings.

We continued the conversation through lunch, and I learnt that the younger of the sisters was in Singapore to see her sister who works here as a domestic helper. The older sister has been in Singapore for 10 years, and loves it here. She said currently only needs to help take care of a young child and a cat, and thus had time to take her visiting sister around. We chatted about how it is relatively cheap to dine out in Singapore, unlike in the Philippines where dining out is considered a luxury.

They finished their food sooner than I did, and had to leave to run some errands. As they stood up to say goodbye, the older sister turned to me and said: "It was nice talking to you. You're very friendly." And as I smiled an acknowledgement, she added: "Not many Singaporeans are like you."

I was left mulling over what she said. I must admit that I've often been told that I'm friendly. It is not difficult for me to talk to strangers, especially when it is not in a work setting. I find enjoyment in getting to know people and find conversations with random strangers often quite enlightening. Roboman would say that I'm sometimes just a chatterbox.

Are we really unfriendly as a nation? I know there have been discussions about this before, and found THIS.

Are Singaporeans unfriendly to you?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting link you posted here. Got some contradictions of the topic Singaporean's decorum. See the comparison, most of them opted for the negative side.
So, the winner goes to : Singaporeans unfriendly?

Tjioe

Arielle said...

well i'm glad you could add a positive time to their experiences with singaporeans

imp said...

hell yes. Singaporeans r bloody unfriendly and rude. it's the minority who are friendly and NOT rude.

but it doesn't mean non-singaporeans r friendly. i want to slap some of those in my estate.

~tif;fany* said...

there are black sheeps among us.

prolly its not being 'unfriendly' but 'minding their own business' instead??

corsage said...

tjioe: It does seem like it from most forums I've seen! But I'm certain there are different pockets of experiences that I'll like to hear about.

arielle: I'm glad I did, yes, but I'm going to be so conscious now when I next speak with a stranger!

imp: You brought up an important point about relativity. We could be rude to some visitors but very friendly to others, often views that are coloured by their experiences elsewhere.

tiff: Yes, I've heard that point of view before! That Singaporeans like to "mind their own business" and let others mind theirs. So if the other party feels the same way, there's no problem, but if the other party prefers interaction, then we'd be perceived as being unfriendly I suppose.

myeisha-l said...

I find that generally they are less friendly. Strangers hardly smile or acknowledge each other; very little eye contacts. Even if there is, there's the tendency to avoid it. I'd usually smile if i have eye contact with someone and more often than not it's not reciprocated. After awhile i do find myself less motivated in being friendly. I was really impressed with the americans when i was there. I had such pleasant experience and found myself being more friendly too.

corsage said...

myeisha: Yes I agree with you that Americans smile and most are comfortable making small talk with strangers. They seem more outwardly friendly compared to Singaporeans and even say, the British. New Zealanders are a friendly lot too for sure. I've even heard stories of people taking the initiative to offer help. I would think that Singaporeans are generally more reserved.

AlasMyDear said...

well i've certainly met many more unfiendly sporeans than friendly ones!

strangely enough the older folk generally look friendlier, and will smile and nod at you if you smile first. the younger peeps mostly look like they want to slap me, or give me weird looks. what's with that?

shouldn't be a surprise to you, you know - you really are ultra friendly. and you can mix with every and anyone it seems - a rare gift!

corsage said...

alasmydear: Oh, I've not considered the old versus young thing. I'm going to start observing that. Actually I've not quite thought myself as friendly until 2 things happened: 1. "Define Me" in Facebook came on and Friendly came up tops for me, and 2. Roboman calls me "Friendly face"

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on this one!!

thatexpatguy said...

I'm an expat living in Singapore for a little over a year, and my experience here with the locals has been, by far, negative. And that's coming from my experience in living in 4 different countries.
I live here because my employers wanted to send me to their branch here, and my subsistence depends on it. However given the chance, I'd move out at the first opportunity.
I find it that most rude Singaporeans are those of the Chinese descent. All my local friends are Malays or others, and I have no qualms about them.

Anonymous said...

I think unfriendly in here means lack of courtesy and don't want to bother all the way talking to stranger....probably because they grow up in a very competitive world that they see everybody as their contenders

Anonymous said...

I am an expat from New Zealand and I can definitely agree that Singaporeans seem in general unfriendly.
I agree with the other person who said they find the older people more friendly. I find the women far less friendly than the males.
They appear quite catty in a way - look you up and down and laugh at you. Quick to criticise another female if they can.

I even had a recruitment agency phone me today and when i explained I had found a job already and they asked what I was doing she laughed (as the company name didn't sound like some fancy pancy name) and then asked if it was some sort of cafe after I had already explained it was office management position. Then she was quick to get off the phone.

And then being told I'm too big and fat at stores is even ruder! I am a size 14 at home considered a normal size - I could do with losing some kgs but don't deserve to be mocked and called fat and big like some sort of freak!!

I do not see myself making any friends here at all :( and yet I am a very friendly and talkative person. Feel like there is no point trying anymore