15 May

Travel really does broaden the mind

By Ed Craig

Head of Enterprise & Innovation, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI)

The University of Edinburgh

Ed Craig

As an experienced traveller, and regular visitor to China, I have to admit some surprise following my introduction to Singapore. I had heard in advance of the City’s efficiency, and of course the heat and humidity, but what i did not expect was a serenity and strong feeling that all was good in the world.

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This was a real tonic to what has been a time of global change, concern, dread even, regarding Brexit and Trump, never mind the state of the environment. As a taxi drove me through spotless streets I noticed the aftermath of a recent serious car crash. “Or dear” I remarked to the driver, “looks bad”. He responded: “No I think it’s fine – look they are walking and smiling!” and sure enough, despite the wreckage of three cars littering the road, the people had an look of acceptance, even contentedness. I contrasted this to how UK drivers would have reacted, probably with a lot of finger-pointing and anger.

The events I attended, as the University launched its new Representative Office for Southeast Asia, were excellent and well-attended, and the positivity augers well for our future work in the region.

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Ed Craig (left) with colleagues

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The genuine friendliness I found in Singapore, blended with the quality of English spoken and inner-confidence of almost all the people I met was quite disarming. I am used to the urgency and vigour of Hong Kong, which can sometimes take the form of a “are you wasting my time?” mentality, while in mainland China I find social norms to be more abrupt and sometimes aggressive. I have been quite taken with Singapore as a location not to do business – but to form lasting partnerships.