Receiving Guests in Singapore

(and some thoughts about the art of hospitality)

Francis Laleman
11 min readOct 23, 2023


Marina Bay Sands, seen from the Esplanade — image by flaleman, 2022

The art of receiving guests from abroad is a very special kind of thing that nobody really ever gets good at.

Where I have lived and worked

I’ve tried for years, no, for decades. Sharing with guests not just the pleasures and fun of the places where I have lived and worked. But the deeper layers. Unraveling with them the fabric of societies and ecosystems, in imaginary journeys through time, laying bare the warp and weft and whats and hows, and building imaginary models for possibilities and futures.

India, mainly. Sri Lanka, Nepal. The Gulf, the Middle East. Beirut, Damascus. England, Scotland, Wales. Bruges and Antwerp in Belgium. And now: Singapore.

Airport expectations

Killing time in airport arrival halls. Going up for yet another cup of coffee, staring at arrival screens, where flights that have landed and have been processed disappear, and the rows move upward, all except that one line, yours, that keeps saying late.

The central vista at Shiseido Forest Valley, Changi Airport Terminal One (2019), an extravaganza by Moshe Safdie — photo by flaleman, 2022

Finally the guests arrive. From behind the glass doors, you see them approach, with less than swiftness leaning down on the handle bars of their loaden trolleys. Always: they brought too much. They look tired and befuddled, and impatient, but excited also, and thrilled — for they enter a version of the world unknown to them and now it’s up to you and your craftiness to gently facilitate their relationship with an altogether bewildering environment, and hopefully, the start of their love affair with a world that you consider yours, while they are seeing it as alien and weird and altogether not like home.

I’ve had love affairs with all the places where I have stayed for more than one day.

Everything is different

Nothing is the same. The world at their homebase in Europe was crisp and fresh and sometimes downright chilly, the skies either…



Francis Laleman

a husband, father, painter, writer, educationist, designer, facilitator. author of “Resourceful Exformation” (a book on facilitation) available from Amazon.