Tuesday, February 24, 2004

A Sling Through Singapore

I've been home from Germany since early December of 2003, but now I find myself on the traveling trail yet again. But instead of Europe or The Middle East, I now am exploring the Asian city-state nation of Singapore.

I couldn't really shake the international bug since arriving back in the States, and even before I completed my assignment in Germany, I was already working the back-channels to try and set up my next true career aspiration: To live and work in Asia for an extended period of time.

Long story short, I have won managerial support to take on a position based in Singapore. That is the only agreement that is finalized, whereas the vast array of details that make up this position: 1) length of stay, 2) detailed job description, and 3) amount of corporate relocation assistance is still to be worked out. So while everyone is scratching their heads trying to figure things out, I decided to take the bull by the horns and start formulating cost scenarios first-hand, using real variables obtained in-country in Singapore itself.

When I heard that there was a regional strategic planning session taking place in Singapore, I decided to invite myself along so that I could meet my potential new co-workers and management, as well as scout out the area for housing and cost of living information.

I have found Singapore to exceed my expectation in all regards. It is easily the most beautiful city in Asia that I have ever seen. I knew it was going to be clean and orderly, but the wonderful mix of modern architecture along with exquisitely maintained green spaces makes this city feel more serene and park-like than the break-neck mentality and traffic choked characteristics of its peers.

After discovering Singapore's beauty, I was then blown away by the culinary delights that await at every turn. Singapore is a spicy food lovers dream. Being a true cosmopolitan city, Singapore is able to bring together cuisines from its major cultural and ethnic influences, such as Malay, Indian, and Chinese. In just two days I have sampled delectables from each of these regions with tantalizing results.

Apartment hunting has gone pretty well so far in Singapore, thanks to my local contacts who took my personal criteria and built an intense viewing schedule that would satisfy my needs. I have a few favorites picked out already. Now it is time to roll up the cost information and see if budgets will work out. Strong negotiation will surely be called into service to make my plans come to life as I would like, but I got this far by proding and aggitating, so I am not going to stop now.

Last night, I met a person for the first time after a few inquiring emails. She was a friend-of-a-friend who had been living in Singapore since October and was on a year-long assignment as a consultant on a large software integration project. My friend thought she would be great to educate me on adapting to life in Singapore as an Amercan Ex-Pat. My friend was correct in his assumption, as Debbra told and showed me the ins and outs. We dined on Chillie Crabs at a famous Singaporean seafood restaurant near Boat Quay. Then we took a walk along the Singapore River which is sparkling clean and beautifully illuminated at night. We stopped in at the famous Raffles Hotel which was the birthplace of the most famous drink to ever emerge from this city: The Singapore Sling. It was very fruity, super sweet, and very colorful. The words Frilly Froo Froo came to mind, but then again...that is exactly how I like them. No umbrella however, as I know that will disappoint certain numbers of my friends back home.

Today, I left the Hyatt Hotel and moved into the Beaufort Hotel on Sentosa Island. This is the location where the regional strategy sessions will be taking place over the next two days. It also is home to one of the most lavish and relaxing resorts in Southeast Asia. The Sentosa Resort is a mixture of tropical paradise and deep soothing spa. The facilities are amazing plus it contains its own Botanical Spa that can relax the paint right off any stressed out wall. I think I may endulge in a massage myself before the week is up. Don't want all those spa delights to go to waste now do I?