Coming back to Singapore the first difference you notice is the customs officers. In Japan they are very earnest, carefully directing you on which line to sign on, this box to check on so on. In Singapore, well, they say hello, stamp your book and then mouth in a low voice the traditional Singaporean "Tenk kyu" and call for the next person in line.
Tsk, Singapore customer service still has a long way to go.
But I guess it can't be helped - I'm certainly happy to be back, not least because of the food back here. No matter how cheap Japanese food is, it's done with an attention to detail which Singaporeans just don't display. But if Japanese food is professional, Singaporean food is personal.
It's odd but you know the frowning dessert aunties at food courts? In some way their frowns feel more personal than impeccable Japanese service.
I'm only back in Singapore for two more weeks so it's going to be back to no-calls-on-the-train Japan soon. In the meantime I'm going to eat as much Lao ban Tau Huey as possible and shop because prices are generally cheaper here. One small hope and something that I really think Singapore should learn from the Japanese on.
Can the customs officer on the Singapore side be a bit more polite please?
Austin also maintains a personal blog at zjakira.tumblr.com where he writes about his life in Japan