Monthly Archives: July 2012

Familiar face in an unfamiliar place

Last weekend I decided to meet up with a co-worker and friend of mine Cari, who is in of all places Hong Kong.  She is there on the Waggener Edstrom global exchange program, working from that office for 2 weeks, like I am in Singapore.

I knew it was going to be a whirlwind trip, as there is so much to see in that city, and I only had a few days to see it.  Taking off Thursday evening for a long weekend, I landed in Hong Kong about 8 pm.  Cari was nice enough to meet this fish out of water at the Hong Kong Central subway station and off we went.  First stop, food as we were both hungry and it was getting late.  The only thing open was a Korean BBQ joint, where you actually grill your own meat on the grill built into the table.  Turned out not to be a bad meal at all, but I would have eaten anything at that point.

Hot pot dinner

The next day I worked from the Hong Kong office along with Cari.  It was fun to meet the employees from that office, join some meetings and very informative training sessions and go out for a great lunch of Japanese food.  I had a soba noodle dish with beef and broth, it was a delicious lunch.  Best of all I did not get made fun of for my poor chop stick skills!

That night Cari and I met up with some ex-Pat friends she met while in Hong Kong for some hot pot.  Hot pot is not something I have ever seen or heard of before, basically these restaurants have large tables with a burner in the middle along with a large pot of water, hence the name hot pot.  This pot is divided down the middle allowing for different seasoned waters in each side, one spicey the other not. You get a piece of paper to order from, which you select what types of meats and vegtables you want, and they had eveything you could imaging to choose from and more.  We started out with some basic shrimp, beef and chicken options, but grew more and more adventurous.  We tried goose intestine, tripe (cow stomach), and after a few beers we even ordered chicken testicles!  Wow, I still cannot belive we ate those things, but had to try it, why not when am I going to be here again right?

Cari and I waiting for the laser light show in Hong Kong

Saturday we decided to to the sight seeing thing, and take in as much as possible.  We went out and saw:

That made for a 12+ hour day being out sight seeing, which was a long but exciting day.

Finally Sunday we raced down to ride the tram up to the peak.  This tram is basically a cable-fed trolly system that rides up a railroad track up a very steep hill to the peak overlooking the city.  The views up there were out of this world, such an awesome sight and it was a fun experience getting there too.  From there we rode a tram through town, which is a double decker electric trolley and a fun mode of transportation.

Sunday afternoon it was time to leave Hong Kong and head back to Singapore to get back to my final week of global exchange.  Everyone in both Hong Kong and Singapore have been so nice and accomidating, but it sure was nice to see Cari and have a familiar person to travel and see the sites with.

Thank you Cari for being such a good travel buddy, you rock!

I ride subways for fun

Today I realized I had not ridden the infamous subway system yet here in Singapore.  I say infamous because everyone talks about how clean, and efficient this subway system is here.  Perhaps I need to revisit the definition of infamous, but I digress.  So after work, I decided to take the Subway, to the National Museum of Singapore.  I wanted to check this museum out; because when I travel to far off places museums are one of my favorite ways to learn more about the culture I am visiting.  The museum was okay, but as weird as it sounds the subway was more exciting to see.

National Museum of Singapore

So far I had mainly been getting around on foot, taxi or by bus, which are all very popular ways to get around Singapore.  Taxis are absolutely everywhere, and are cheap modes of transportation with most rides costing somewhere between $5 and $10 SGD.  But the anticipation was killing me, and it was time to jump on the subway I have been hearing about.  So off I went, down the Clarke Quay escalator to board this bad boy.  First thing I notice is all the marble floors which are stunning, and the long air conditioned corridors.  The place is packed with people, but things run efficiently and effortlessly with no chaos to speak of.

Look at those shiny floors!

Once I purchase my ticket, I take one more escalator down to the boarding platform.  I expect large pits where the subway rolls down the tracks like you see in London, but not here in Singapore.  Instead you see long walls with several sliding doors keeping you from crossing the train’s path.  There are signs all-over telling you what time the next train is coming, and which train is heading in which direction, so for a newbie like me it was pretty easy to figure out.  With a whooshing sound, I know that my train is approaching, and sure enough it rolls in and all the sliding doors open.  Off I go, fulfilling my need for a subway ride in Singapore.

Boarding the subway

Looking around, I swear you could eat off of the floors.  If I spilled my chicken and rice dish on those floors, I would say the 10 second rule would apply, they are that clean.  The subways cars are practically spotless, and you do not see any graffiti or tagging anywhere which is amazing.  All in all, it was really cool to see a system set up that gets so many people around so efficiently and pleasantly.

I have been trying to go see as many sites as I can while I am here and there has been a lot to take in.  I went out to drinks with my co-workers one night, went to lunch with others on multiple occasions and have loved every minute of it.  Such a great group of people, and what a great place to visit.

Tonight, I take off for the weekend to visit Hong Kong, where I meet up with A Chick Named Carl.  I am sure there will be lots of adventures to be had.  Stay tuned…

They only come out at night

I’ve seen a lot in a couple of great days here in Singapore.  I am glad I came a little ahead of starting work, so that I can get acclimated to the time change, and see some sights.  The jet lag did not hit me too bad, but I do keep waking up at weird hours wide awake ready to start the day at 4 am or whatever.  I am sure that will subside quickly.

One of my favorite things about Singapore is the Clarke Quay area along the Singapore River.  It seems to be a boarded up town during the day, but as soon at the sun goes down, the temperatures cool, and everyone hits up all the restaurants, bars and shops.  Both dinners I have had there were quite good, especially the Indian food I had the first night.  Every restaurant seems to have outdoor seating right along the river, which is a wonderful spot where you can feel the cool breeze blow.

Tour Boat trolling up the Singapore River

There is so much going on along the river at night, it is great for photographs.  From the tour boats trolling up the river, the adventure seekers screaming as they prepare for launch in the reverse bungy catapult, to the fireworks shooting off of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the background, I was working on filling up my memory card quickly.

Amazing view from the Singapore Flyer

Yesterday I got up at out the door early to catch one of the many double decker tour buses in the area.  These tour buses are a cool idea because they make frequent stops in all the tourist locations I wanted to explore.  You can jump off at any stop and catch the next bus at whatever stop you want, and they run every 20 minutes.  Some of the sights I saw while jumping on and off the bus were Little India, Botanic Gardens, Orchard Road, and the Singapore Flyer.  I walked through Little India, and that was an amazing experience for this American.  Also, I took the ride on the Singapore Flyer, which gave some amazing views.  I definitely want to go back at night for another ride, but a daytime ride did not dissapoint.

Tomorrow I start work at Waggener Edstrom here in the Singapore Office.  Really looking forward to that experience.

This isn’t Kansas anymore

Wow, okay so that was a really long flight.  Just when you think your butt cannot sit any longer, you look at your watch and you only have 6 more hours to go!  But I do not mean to complain, I am super excited to be here.  It really makes you realize how big this world is, and how far away Singapore is from the sprawling metropolis of Portland, Oregon.

Taking the Singapore River boat tour

On the other hand, the world, really is a small place.  When I was boarding my flight in Tokyo bound for Singapore I was in my seat, starting to flip through my Singapore guidebook, looking like a total tourist.  The guy sitting next to me asked me if it was my first time visiting Singapore, and I nodded.  I asked his what his story was and he said he lived in Singapore.  A little further into the conversation we started talking about how I was coming down to Singapore for work, and that I worked for Waggener Edstrom.  His eyes got huge, and it turns out he used to work there, and I know this guy through past projects we have worked on.  So weird, but it was sure nice to chat with someone familiar and get their advice on what to do and see in the area.  Shows that you can never have too many connections, as you never know when paths will cross.

Today I amazingly woke up bright and early, my first day in Singapore.  I decided to get a jump on the heat and get outside and start walking around to see what kind of trouble I could find.  I started walking along the Singapore River which my hotel sits on and decided to take a boat tour which it looks like every tourist flocks too, but it was a great way to get my bearings and see how this place is laid out.  It is a beautiful place, take a look at this panorama to see for yourself.

Singapore River View

After the great boat tour, I decided to hit up a Hawker Stand in China Town and get a taste for the chicken and rice dish that Singapore is so known for.  That was a hustling place with so many people scrambling to their favorite food stand.  Lunch was pretty good and I will be back to try out other dishes before I leave.

Chicken and Rice dish at Maxwell Road Hawker Center

Alright, time to go hit up the pool.

Singapore Bound

Right now I am sitting in PDX ready to catch my flight to Singapore of all places. I am lucky enough to have been selected for this journey by my employer, and it has been months, heck years in the making. When I first started at Waggener Edstrom 3 years ago I learned about this global exchange program and have applied for it every single year with great hopes of maybe, just maybe being selected.

Ready for takeoff

Well folks, this year my work aspirations came true and I am still pinching myself! I so look forward to meeting my work colleagues in both Singapore and Hong Kong and brace myself for all the upcoming eye-opening and mind-blowing experiences that I am in for.

Stay tuned for lots of incriminating photos of my journey.