Don’t leave home without it: Tissue Packets Edition


Several times since living over here I’ve found myself being saved by the humble tissue packet—an invention that I’ve come to regard as ingenious. Absolutely necessary if you live in or visit Singapore. “But it’s just tissues,” you may say. Wrong. Besides your usual snot rag, these little portable packets have a myriad of uses. Let me count the ways…  

1. Choping
For many of you, (for most, if not all) you won’t be familiar with this term. To chope or “reserve” a table is the only way you’re going to be able to eat a good cheap meal at a Hawker Center around here. The practice of choping follows: If you see an open table, reserve your spot with your, wait for it… tissue packet, and proceed to the food stall to order your food. By placing your tissue packet in the spot on the table, it’s a universal sign that this seat is taken. Don’t try to leave an article of clothing or a newspaper or any other item to reserve your seat, though. You’ll come back to an occupied table with your belonging pushed aside. I’ve grown quite fond of this system.  

Place your tissue packet down to chope your seat


2.Non-existent napkins at restaurants
Food Courts, Hawker Stalls, even some fine-dining restaurants don’t have napkins available for their patrons. So odd especially considering one of Singapore’s most famous dishes is Chili Crab- the messiest food to eat known to man (okay, its tied with baby-back ribs). Chili Crab is basically the largest crustacean you have ever seen in your life- bigger than King Crab in the states—covered in spicy chili rub and sauce. And you eat it with your hands, left only with a little petri dish of warm water and half a baby lime to clean off (the water becomes dirtier than your hands half-way in). But, since you come prepared, you whip out your tissue packet and “look Ma, clean hands.” Once again, the tissue saves the day.  

3.The heat here makes you sweat like Iced Tea in August
Ten minutes outside, nay, five minutes outside and you feel the sweat beads starting to form around your hairline. Then they make their way down to your nose and cheeks and before you know it your neck not to mention every other part of your body is dewy and sticky.  This happens during daily activities, mostly waiting for the bus or while on your way to the next building where the A.C. will be your saving grace. But during this period, to soak up the perspiration and clean yourself up before you head into work or a public space, your portable tissue packet can be your best friend. Just blot away the sweat and you’re good to go.  

4. Public restrooms aren’t well stocked
There are many casual outdoor dining places in countries lying on or near the equator that serve cheap and scrumptious local food. But it seems their focus is strictly on the food and service and not on other parts of a dining experience. During a recent trip to Malaysia, we stopped at an outside restaurant for dinner and before I headed to the bathroom, my friend suggested I take my tissue packet with me. He’s lived over here for a considerable amount of time and knows what types of places warrant bringing your own toilet tissue to the restroom. Needless to say, I’m glad I had my Kleenex packet on me. There are public restrooms all over this island and I’m just saying, it doesn’t hurt to have good old Kleenex with ya at all times.  

So you see, the old boring hankie is a hot commodity over here. But one that you’ll never run out of with stores stocking them to the brim and people on the streets selling them in bulk for as little as $1 Sing a bundle.  

I’m sure I’ll come across other ways in which these handy dandy tissue packets will surprise me yet again over the next three months, so I’m  off to stock up.


One Response to “Don’t leave home without it: Tissue Packets Edition”

  1. 1 Lauren

    Hahaha you have me cracking up over here!! Thats hilarious that the universal sign for “this seat is saved” is putting a tissue packet on it.

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