Same Same… but Different?

Singaporeans in China edition.


Have you ever wondered how easy it is for us Singaporeans to be reminded of home while overseas? Beyond the precious food items that we bring over, rare sightings of the Merlion at a neighbourhood mall, or the practices that never leave us, even going about our daily routine could evoke fond memories of the times spent with loved ones.

Here are some of our Singaporean friends in China, paired with those back home in a similar scenario, or doing the same activity!

Billy Lim (China) and Lee Toh Min (Singapore)

Billy, a general manager who’s been in Shenzhen for slightly over a year, and Toh Min, who works in a real estate company in Singapore, has been friends for around six years. When Billy is back in Singapore, they “meet up and makan at cool places, like Dempsey Hill, Keppel and Sentosa”.


Billy (left) at Green City in Qingdao and Toh Min (right) at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore


Billy: “When I’m away, the three things I miss most about Singapore are the important 3Fs: Family, Friends and Food. My message to Toh Min: Good health always!”


Asfalilah Binti Talib (China), Zulfa and Deena (Singapore)

Asfalilah has been working as a school administrator in Shanghai since January 2013. Her family – including her two daughters, Zulfa and Deena – live and work in Singapore.



Asfalilah (left) outside her apartment in Shanghai and
 younger daughter Deena (right) in Singapore


Asfalilah: “Love my second home – especially the winter season and the work balance – but miss my family, and the food back in Singapore.” 

Asfalilah (left) cooking at her home in Shanghai and
elder daughter Zulfa (right) cooking at home in Singapore

Asfalilah: “To my daughters: I miss you and hope to cook your favourite food for you one day.” 

Edmund Tan (China) and Hakim (Singapore)

Edmund, the general manager of a boutique gym, has been in Shanghai for 7 months. He met Hakim, a fellow fitness professional, while working together in Singapore and have been friends for a year. They share similar interests and exercise routines, and would “spend quite a bit of time working out together”.

Edmund (left) at a hotel gym in Shanghai and Hakim (right) at a gym in Singapore

Edmund: “I love that Shanghai city is so vibrant and there's so much to see here. But, I really miss Singapore’s coffee shop kopi (it’s so hard to get through Mondays without it!). While I enjoy the convenience of various delivery services to my doorstep in Shanghai, as a fitness professional, one issue I notice here is that people are not moving enough. We have 24-hour supermarkets in Singapore, so this helps us get off our chairs, walk over and carry the groceries home. Even just that bit of activity can help us spend a few more years with our loved ones. From a Singaporean in China to Singaporeans back home – we have to be willing to learn from other nationalities and appreciate what we have in Singapore.”


Isabel Kwek (China) and Jovina Goh (Singapore)

Isabel, a general manager of a foreign real estate company, has been based in Beijing for over seven years. Both she and her niece, Jovina, who’s still schooling, enjoy cycling.


Isabel (left) cycling in Beijing and Jovina (right) cycling in Singapore


Isabel: “There is a lot I miss about Singapore: my family and church friends; blue skies and good quality air; the beach; and local comfort food, especially durians and supper food stalls that are readily available 24/7.”

Lilly Wong (China) and Grace Wang (Singapore)

Lilly, a freelancer in Shanghai, got to know Grace, wife of fellow Singaporean Thomas Tan, when she was in Shanghai a few years ago. Most recently, the friends got together to organise a ‘CNY Ang Bao project’, where they distributed goodie bags and red packets to old folks in Chinatown, Toa Payoh and Jalan Besar. This is their way of contributing back home even though they are far away!


Lilly (left) at a shopping mall in China and Grace (right) at a shopping mall in Singapore


Yi Teng (China) and Cheryl Sim (Singapore)

Yi Teng, a community coordinator at an international school in Shanghai, and Cheryl, an occupational therapist in Singapore, have been friends for 17 years since their schooling days.

Yi Teng (left) at a supermarket in China and Cheryl (right) at a supermarket in Singapore


Yi Teng: “Supermarkets in Shanghai and Singapore are both organised and have great discounts during festivals! It’s not easy to find Singapore brands in China, which is why I bring loads of Singaporean food back after my visits back home. What I miss about Singapore? Definitely the people, friends and hawker food. My message to Cheryl: Though we are thousand of miles apart, you know I’m always here for you!”

Saishreyas Sundarajoo (China) and Evelyn (Singapore)

Saishreyas, who’s studying medicine at Wuhan University, has been in Wuhan for five years.

Saishreyas (left) outside Wuhan University and Evelyn (right) outside NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in Singapore


Saishreyas: “Coming from a small country like Singapore where space is as rare as a double shooting star, I was quite amazed by the infrastructure and the sheer hugeness of everything in China. This led me to take the road less travelled and immerse myself in a completely different culture and environment. It’s been quite rewarding – I’ve made a lot of friends and learned a lot of things that I might not have, had I gone to any part of the world. What I miss about Singapore? Maggi goreng, iced Milo, and of course, my family and friends.”


If you’re a Singaporean in China, we look forward to bringing a BIGGER slice of home to you, come 13 April 2019! At this year’s Singapore Day in Century Park, Shanghai, enjoy exciting exhibits, captivating concerts, fabulous food, the coolest company – while speaking Singlish as much as you want. Shiok ah!

Register for Singapore Day 2019 and you will also be in the running for a lucky draw to win a pair of return Singapore Airlines tickets from China to Singapore. Don’t wait already lah – register here today!


Read the stories of Singaporeans living overseas.