I started my recent sojourn in South East Asia in Singapore with my companion from Switzerland.
A few years ago I had a full time office of The Percy Institute of International Protocol based there. The Singapore of the early 21st century was a very different place to the vibrant hub that it is today. While it was “busy” Singapore was also subdued. There were regular “Good Manners Weeks ”... in all fairness, it was fairly dull.
The Percy Institute Singapore staff
Today the “vibe” is different. The most marked change for me was in the superb customer service which was on full display not only in the shops but also at the Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore hotel. Previously I had instructed on corporate and front of house manners for the Raffles Hotel group and their standards were, and remain, high. So it was really enjoyable to have great service at another hotel group.
Not only was our room upgraded to a Marina Bay view without request but the personal service offered by one of the front desk assistants when we wanted to rebook at the end of our Indonesian sojourn included a hand written note of welcome in our upgraded room, with a beautiful bowl of fruit.
And the food in Singapore was wonderful. Near the hotel, right on the water, was a hawkers food market with the ambience of large, communal tables, filled with chattering people from all walks of life and continents enjoying simple, hastily cooked kway teow, chilli crab, and Tiger beer.
It was great to enjoy Singapore before our time in Bali and Flores. However, my cultural compass was to become confused by the contradictions of bustling city life….and the humble, and simple fishing villages I was soon to encounter.