Singapore: catching up with old friends

The morning I left Kuala Lumpur I had one last stroll around the centre of the city with the motive of having once last delicious  chicken rice dish at a Chinese food stall.  Suitably stuffed I boarded the bus bound for Singapore.  The buses that ply this route are probably the best buses I have been on; this one in particular had its own three-speed-in-seat-massage and I think I paid around £6 for the 5 hour journey!

Magnus and Lizzie Roe, who I knew from my days at KPMG in Manchester, had again offered me their spare bed in their swanky Singapore condo which I readily snapped up 🙂

Best bus seats ever? Built-in massage function makes them strong contenders:

I arrived early evening in Singapore and as Magnus was at the pub with some colleagues enjoying Friday night post-work beers I headed straight to his work and stowed my bag in his office. It felt strange being in the financial centre which in many ways is similar to Canary Wharf where I used to work.  Everybody was dressed in suits and smart clothes, and so I drew quite a few funny looks in my shorts, flip flops, backpack and long shaggy beach-bum hair; a far detachment from 9 months earlier when I would have blended right in.

Magnus sneaked me passed the security barriers in his office and I changed into my smartest (still-not-that-smart) shirt,  jeans and trainers in the plush Barclays Capital loos.  We moved on to the pub and he introduced me to some friends.  We talked quite a lot about work-based subjects over several pints and I was soon back in Canary Wharf on a Friday night a year ago.  Quite a few drinks later and spending way more that I should have I was back at Magnus’s condo and my bag was still at his office halfway across town!

The next morning, as we had to pick up my bag, we took the opportunity to have a quick tour of the downtown area which is all high-rise, ultra-modern and clean.   Despite the high prices in general, Singapore has managed to retain the cheap food-courts of Malaysia so we enjoyed some Chinese food before embarking on a mini-tour.  I was impressed with Singapore and if I ever got back on the corporate bandwagon it would definitely be an option for a short-term stint.

Behind me lies Marina Bay and in the background the iconic Marina Bay hotel with exclusive casino and club at the top.  The lip on the far left is an infinity pool that looks out over the ledge. Unfortunately members only 😦

Panorama view of the Bay:

Financial centre. It’s like a humid version of Canary Wharf:

That avo we enjoyed a dip in the condo pool and then the Roe’s conjured up a delicious stir-fry followed by cherry pie and cream.

The next day was Magnus’s friend’s birthday and he had decided it was going to be held at a swish Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant, and the theme was bright colours.  Luckily my limited wardrobe had  some bright yellow and blue shorts, a bright orange shirt and red socks.  Magnus meanwhile opted for bright blue trou, an orange polo shirt (which coincidently was his stag-do shirt) and a curly bright blue wig.  On arrival to the 5 star hotel, which housed the restaurant, we felt rather ridiculous and when the rest of the guests showed up wearing dashes of pastel colours here and there we felt like proper wallies.

Nevertheless when the courses started coming and the sake was flowing we relaxed into it and had a really fun afternoon.  The Teppanyaki was delicious and it was quite a spectacle seeing the skilled chefs doing their thing right in front of you.

Magnus and Lizzie Roe, great hosts.  Unfortunately by this stage the wig had been removed and I didn’t capture his bright blue trou:

Haaaaiii:

The chef wrote this in salt. In reverse. Upside-down:

My flight was later that evening at 7.30pm and despite it already being 3.30pm I was convinced to drive half an hour in the opposite direction to the airport, to Sentosa beach resort (a favourite Sunday afternoon hang-out place for Singapore’s high society ;)).  At the beach, vodka and red bull was flowing and soon everyone was trying to convince me to not bother with my flight, and just get one the next day!  Even though they offered to chip in for a new ticket I eventually decided that I should attempt to catch the flight as Magnus and Lizzie had work the next day.  Unfortunately this decision wasn’t made until 5.45pm, about an hour and 45 minutes before my flight taking off!  Hastily saying goodbye and thanks to Magnus I raced off and jumped into a taxi explaining my predicament.  Luckily the Sunday evening traffic was light and I was back at Magnus’s flat within 25 minutes at which point I raced upstairs bundled my stuff into my bag and legged it back to the taxi, dropping Magnus’s key in his post-box.  The cabbie was a real trooper and raced me to the airport and when he realised I was a couple of dollars short of the total fare he said it was OK and to hurry-up.  So again I raced to the check-in counter and with literally a couple of minutes to spare before the desk closed I was checked into my flight to the Philippines.  A little bit tipsy  and very relieved I stepped onto the plane.

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