Originally from China, Shi Ying is an assistant housekeeping supervisor at a serviced apartment in Clarke Quay. We spoke to her about why she loves her job and some of her experiences over the years.
Where do you work and how long have you worked there?
I work for Far East Hospitality at Village Residence Clarke Quay. I’ve been in the housekeeping department for the last eight years. I did think about transferring to a hotel to try a new environment, but I decided to stay because I value my friendships with long-stay guests here.
Do you have an example of how guests have become your friends?
Yes, there was once a newly married Indian couple here, and over the course of their stay, I developed a close friendship with them. As newlyweds adjusting in a foreign country, the couple had disagreements and I provided a listening ear for the wife who didn’t have any friends or family in Singapore. Our friendship blossomed and we continued to keep in touch after they moved back to India.
During their most recent return visit, I even had the opportunity to meet their newborn baby. I’d been kept updated regularly of the little one’s adventures back home. It feels like I’m watching my own child grow up.
Have you had any interesting encounters with guests?
Yes; one example is a family of four from Syria – a couple and their two daughters who stayed for two months in one of the serviced apartments. The daughters were very shy when I first met them; they would hide behind their mother. So, I started to joke with them and would occasionally buy them sweets and hairclips. Gradually, they opened up and we got really close.
As the mother and I couldn’t communicate very well, we had to rely on body language but that was also fun at the same time! I remember being asked to sit at the dining table as she served me some of the desserts she had made. While I was eating, she took the new sheets from my housekeeping cart and changed the bed herself. I asked her to let me do it, as it was my job! She insisted I kept her daughters company instead!
The girls would also wait for me to come along every morning to say “Hi” which was very endearing.
Have you met anyone famous?
I once met a famous Chinese-born Taiwanese singer. She was very friendly. I even managed to get a personalised autograph from her. As we both speak the same language we bonded and we were able to communicate without barriers. I told her she looked younger and slimmer compared to what I’d seen on television!
What’s the oddest thing you’ve found after someone checked out?
A set of dentures. The guest had left them in the drawer beside his bed. The front desk contacted the guest but he said he had another set to spare so he didn’t need them posted back.
What gives you the passion to come to work every day?
All the guests are like family to me.
Do you stay in touch with other guests after they’ve checked out?
Yes, in fact, I just received a text today! A guest from Denmark who stayed with us previously is back in Singapore for a work trip and would like to have dinner together.
Finally, what do you love most about your job?
My job brings me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and I get to meet different people from all over the world. I like to come up with new ways to interact with the guests, as everyone is different. I really feel delighted when I clean up a messy serviced apartment and have it transformed into a neat and tidy home again.
Village Residence Clarke Quay is a serviced residence managed by Far East Hospitality. Located close to the city and the Clarke Quay entertainment and shopping precinct, it’s in an ideal location for long or short serviced apartment stays for business and leisure travellers. The cultural-rich Chinatown is also a short walking distance away for adventurous guests who want to live like a local.
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