Archive for December 2013

Happy Christmas 2013 and NY Greetings for 2014

Dear all,

This year’s Christmas post is going to focus on my new life in a new a country, something which was on the cards for a while, but only became reality at the beginning of 2013!

This year has been quite a strange year, full of a few ups and downs (then again that is like most years), but as we end 2013, we must consider how fortunate we are and how we must value our life and our love ones.

This time last year, I was getting ready for a new chapter in my life as I prepared for my new job and new life in Singapore. Whilst I had previously spent 6 months here, I w still a bit apprehensive, as I didn’t know when I would return back to the UK for holiday to see my family and friends. At the same time, I was excited upon what 2013 and the future was in store for me, and I wanted to grab this opportunity with both hands and make the most of it.

I started my new life sorting out the logistics of my move – which actually started in early December 2012, so as i started my one-way taxi journey to London Heathrow, I was actually pretty excited. By the time I arrived, I had already got myself booked into a hotel for a couple of weeks, with the aim to find my condominium apartment – the tough part, but with the help of an agent assigned from work, and my mum to support me, I finally managed to get a pretty nice place. It was based on Novena, about 10 minutes to the MRT, and was within my price range. similar to my service apartment in my 2011 secondment, my apartment was split-floor, with living quarters on the lower floor, and sleeping / washing quarters on the top floor.

I started work without much stress, and got straight into it, with a clear head and with the aim to focus on doing well, building upon the work relationships that I had developed during my previous secondment and more important have fun in the process. I started with a couple of strategic projects, one of which launched during the year – called Amex Express Checkout, and another one that continued to plod along. I also took onto 3 partners from a Partner Management relationship role. Three months in, I actually started to build great relationships with the Banks and internal teams. Then a massive shock to the system occurred, and the Company set upon a massive re-structuring and re-engineering exercise, which impacted the very division that I was located in. Luckily for me, I survived the cull, but a number of my friends and colleagues weren’t as lucky – both here in Singapore and the UK. It was a shock to the system, but a bit of a reality check. This once came very close, and the uncertainly stayed around us for a large period of 2013. What was scary was that if I was impacted, I had 3 months to then leave the Country and return back to the UK – which would have made my move the shortest period I would have every envisaged! Luckily, it didn’t come to this, so I managed to clear my mind and focus my mind back into the new team structure and with the new Partner responsibilities. But it was sad to see so many faces leave the organisation – both in Singapore but also in the UK – even people I joined the company with were also impacted 🙁 A real shock to the system indeed.

Anyway, I end the year at work surviving, but there was certainly several months of anxiety and uncertainty, and this caused me quite a bit of stress throughout the majority of the year.

On the life type of thing, well I tried to enjoy life whilst I was here…even amongst this period of uncertainty. I managed to visit my school friends in Taiwan, I did a trip to Tioman island (Malaysia), Krabi (Thailand), Penang (Malaysia) and joined a fun wedding in Langkawi too and finally a trip to Hong Kong for Christmas and NY.

I also socialised well, joining Internations expat group. This was a great way to network and get to know other expats in and around Singapore, and was actually quite good fun. I continued to attend a local pub quiz and also met a few good chums from that, in some cases getting to know some quite a bit too :). I continued to my cycling and fatal football, going weekly to both – but started to wane as I approached the last few months of 2013… I must get back into the routine to really get healthy again.

On the health side of things, I did suffer a worrying eye infection in July, which stressed me of big-time. It made my right eye very red, and blurred my vision. Very scary indeed! But after visiting the Mount Elizabeth Novena Eye Specialist, I took some strong meds and antibiotics and finally got rid of the infection. I just hope it never returns – the real annoyance is that they was no clear cause of the infection. Around this period Singapore suffered a period of Smog from Sumultra in Indonesia. This didn’t help with the eye infection recovery, but I managed to get a few days medical leave rather than walk outside in the smog! On a more positive note, I did a Biometrics Health Screening at work, and the resulting report was largely positive, my cholesterol, BMI and overall well-being was within the ranges, although I was mildly underweight (no real surprise)!!

The Formula One Grand Prix was another highlight, and I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle across the 3 days. I still am amazed how a City can transform into a race circuit, a brilliant show indeed.

Lastly, I was meant to have gone to Boracay in the Philippines in mid-November, but the Typhoon Haiyan struck right at the point we were scheduled to fly in, so the airline cancelled our flight, and we cancelled our holiday. I think this was the right call, seeing the effects reported in the news. I certainly did not want to add to the misery, and I felt valued to respect our lives more than the risk of flying into a natural disaster zone.

I ended celebrating my 10 years with Amex in November (officially I marked it on 1st September 2013). It still feels amazing (or should that be remarkable!) that I managed to enjoy a decade with Amex, after setting myself up for a couple of years tops (don’t they all say that?). I was really keen to get some experience and then start the commute to London, but that didn’t exactly go to plan did it. I ended up having quite a bit of fun at work, doing pretty well, got one promotion, but focused on the hunt for another promotion – which I still remain confident is on the cards. I am not sure how long I am going to remain, but let’s focus on the here and now and see what life brings to the table…especially if I am changing my priorities a bit (more focused on the life bit, rather than work…!!)

The year ended pretty well, work continued to be quite pressurised with one of my projects having some major issues, but I managed to work through them, and we finally saw the light at the need of the tunnel. I then was able to focus on my Christmas and NY break – which once again, deciding to visit my family in HK (with my mum who came out to visit). I was then set in my mind that I needed to focus on my holiday breaks in 2013, ranging from Vietnam, Laos, Burma/Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and of course, a return to the UK :). I better get cracking.

Lastly, I am still keen to settle down in 2014 and finally get around to starting a family, let’s see what happens…sometimes the best things come to those who wait, but I think I am best placed to really maximise this aspect in 2014 🙂

On that note, I wish you all well for the festive season, and I hope 2014 brings much joy and success for the future. Think of the best of the year, and stay close to those who love you… I will raise a Guinness to toast you all over the coming celebrations.

Stay safe and stay happy!!

Best wishes,

Aaron

Festive Holiday in Hong Kong

Similar to last year, we decided to visit Hong Kong for Christmas and New Year.

I know it won’t be a hot and sunny beach holiday, but actually it is good being around family, and to spend it in a nice place. It is also good to see how it compares with Singapore, having now spent a year here.

Hopefully, the festive break will be relaxing and fun – and hopefully we will have some fun in the process.

The flight out was uneventful, and I arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule – which is kinda strange for a low-cost carrier. I will return on Friday, 3rd January, just in time to start work again – yay I can’t wait 🙂

Christmas Doo – Number 2

Well I never say no to more food and drinks – and of course fun and laughter.

The PCS festive dinner was at 7 Adam, along Adams Road. I have not been to this area before, so it was good to go to another area for food. It was quite a nice place, very intimate, and posh looking inside, although we seemed to have booked out a large portion of the place. I felt bad for those who turned up seeing how much we took over the place.

Anyway, the food was pretty good – I went for the Trio of Peppers Sp with Croutons, Sundried Tomato and Chives, followed by Por Choy Pesto Cappellini. And for dessert, well I went for the Trio of Chocolate: Valhorna Chocolate Brownie drizzled with White Chocolate sauce and Chocolate Crumbs – all of which was yummy scrummy! And topped off with plenty of wine and then Whisky to end the night!

And I was the centre of a few laughs towards – including my infamous Charles Siew sketch which seemed to have resonated so well with my colleagues 🙂

What a night! Plenty of laughter throughout…

7 Adam Restaurant
7 Adam Park
Singapore
289926
Tel: +65 6467 0777
URL: http://www.7adam.com
Email: enquiries@7adam.com

Final Air Conditioning Service for 2013

Well today was the final service of my apartment’s two air conditioning units for 2013. It cost S$180 for the four services, S$45 for each service. That isn’t too bad at all – although I was told that it was pretty cut-throat in the air conditioning service trade, and the cost cutting comes with a price – eg poor servicing, or lack of proper care to the units.

I don’t really care that much, as just want them serviced for the records, and if there is a problem, I can call the landlord’s agent to sort it out 🙂

Anyway, another 3 more month’s and I need to sign up to another annual contract – hopefully it will still be S$180 🙂

Another work from home day at least – haha!

PS I needed that WFH day, I was a bit hung over after last night’s intrepid drinking adventures 🙂

Robinson’s Voucher Redemption (16th Dec 2014)

Buying Myself Presents

Buying Myself Presents

Well there is nothing like a free lunch – and I do tend to agree with most offers I receive or review.

After opening a Robinson co-brand credit card account with OCBC, I received a set of vouchers for Robinson vouchers – but these ranged from $50 if you spend $200, $30 if you spend $150 or $10 if you spend $100.  These are quite annoying offers, but yes it is a marketing engagement and spend activation campaign – so I shouldn’t be surprised – but it is still very annoying and vouchers like this are in my opinion rubbish.

Most vouchers in the UK, you usually get the voucher free or get a free gift card or similar – this way, you are still ‘buying’ from the shop, and you are likely to spend more than the face value of the vouchers – unlike in Singapore, where they expect you to spend a ridiculous amount to get a small amount off.  Hmmm…

Either way, I was keen to use them, rather than lose them!  So decided to go with my mum to see what I can buy, I decided to replace my wallet and also a Fahenheit 32 eau de toilette – spending just over $200 and get the $50 off.  Not that bad, I guess.

Messy Night – Hungover Again

Whose idea to drink that much – oh that’s right, we set our own destiny…that means it was my fault – haha!

Anyway, it started with a few drinks at Blarney’s at Marina Bay Sail, where I met up with a friend and a couple of work colleagues. After an couple of hours or so, we decided to grab some food…well one must eat. We headed off to Raffles Bistro just around the corner, as the weather was still pretty horrid (raining), and it was under cover! After some great food, and a couple bottles of wine, we then decided to for another drinks at Harry’s at the Sail. This is turning into a mini-bar crawl @ the Sail :). Haha!

We then continued to drink ourselves silly, and finally decided to call it a day – having reached about 11.30pm…the worse thing is that I had mixed all types of drinks (the number one sin of drinking): Guinness stout, Red wine, Rum and Coke, Sambuca and Whiskey Soda – and yes it was a horrid affair as the following morning confirmed :). Ouch!!!

Boulevard Red Dot – Maxwell Road

A colleague from work invited me to drinks at a Maxwell Road with his friends, and I happily obliged – hard to say ‘no’ to a drink! After a bus rides and walk, we arrived at around 715pm, and settled in for a few drinks and some finger food. I was expecting to stay for a couple of drinks and then make my exit, but after several drinks, we turned to shots (yikes) and lots of silly talk and jokes.

Before we realised it, our bill was quite long and it was coming to 1130pm…bang goes the early night idea. Alas, never say no to a fun night with some great folks!

Luckily it is getting towards Christmas, so any excuse to drink more, is a good one – haha!!

Here’s to tomorrow…just hope my head is in one piece 🙂

Boulevard Restrobar
28 Maxwell Road #01-03
Red Dot Traffic Building
Singapore 069120
Tel: +65 6327 4338
URL: http://www.boulevard.com.sg

Comedy Club Night @ 22 Dempsey

One of the financial advisors that I had been discussing investment services with, contacted me to say that he had a number of free tickets for a comedy night – they amounted to 3 pairs (6 tickets), and I couldn’t say no to this. I invited a couple of colleagues and their partners from work, but I only had 5 people (including me) who accepted the challenge – a shame, but alas, even free is not enough to entice people sometimes!

Having gone to the Komedia Club in Brighton several times, I always wanted to find out if the was a version of this in Singapore, and I’ve just learnt that they do. There were 3 keys acts – Paco Erhard (Germany), Gina Yashere (UK), Emo Philips (US). Even the MC was pretty hilarious. The first act, Paco was very good, and a good stating act. Whilst Gina was always going to be very funny, I have seen her at the Hammersmith Apollo TV programme before, although I must add that some of her jokes were repeats, but still got the crowd going. The last one, Emo, was a total let down, he tried so hard, but I just didn’t quite get the guy or his humour, but 2 out of 3 acts was good going for a comedy event!!

But the food and drinks were just perfect :). From 7.30pm (8.30pm show start) to 11.30pm – wow…3 hours of humour….I had such a stitch by laughing soooo much. We even managed to get Gina’s autographs having purchased a recording of one of her US shows on DVD…such. A funny lady.

I must sign up and see whether it is worth doing this again soon, maybe with my own lady company next time too – we’ll see!! 🙂

The Comedy Club Asia
8 Eu Tong Sen Street, #18-85
Singapore
059818
Email: info@thecomedyclub.asia
URL: http://www.thecomedyclub.asia
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheComedyClubAsia

Christmas Doo – Number 1

The division that we report into had settled for a Christmas Doo at Halia Restaurant in Botanic Gardens – it is quite a bit of a trek to get too, but it was quite a nice venue. We pretty much had booked out the private dining part of the restaurant, with other guests having to settle for the other main part of the restaurant.

We brought our Secret Santa and put them under the tree – as soon we arrived at the restaurant. The food was very tasty, ranging from Western, Chinese, Indian and Asian Fusion – but very tasty indeed.

Whilst any doos in Singapore are usually just smart-casual, I do like the opportunity to ‘dress up’ – so as I had brought my DJ (Tux) with me when I came across, I thought it would be a good opportunity to actually wear it for a change. So after work, I got changed and actually got a fair number of surprised looks from the people in the office – many admired the look and fashion sense, and gave me a nice compliment.

Upon arriving, there was the customary division head speech, and it actually started with admiring my formal ware and that of a the lady – so we both won a customary box of chocolates for the best dress female and male of the night – haha, you see it is all worth while in the end 🙂

The rest of the night continued with lots of good food, chats, laughter and a prize draw. Like previously years, it does seem to come to an abrupt end as soon as the meal finishes, as the coach arrived to pick us up (for those wanting to leave – which I a fair number opted for). We then arrived back at City Hall and did the MRT route home – and this was just 9.30pm. It is quite weird that Christmas Doos finish before midnight, but alas that’s the Asian way of life…!!

Onwards to the next one, later on in December 🙂

Halia Restaurant @ SBG
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore, 259569
Tel: +65 8444 1148
URL: http://www.thehalia.com

Mum Arrives for her Holiday

I have been looking at flights to the UK for Christmas for a few months, but they were ridiculously high (almost £1000+), so I decided to opt for a holiday closer to Singapore. Last year, I spent it in Hong Kong, and my mum suggested that we do the same. Whilst it is a good location, I didn’t want to pressure my cousin who we stay at, but we opted to go with this based on the short timelines we had to sort it out.

With work being manically busy (no really change there) I didn’t have that much time to arrange it, but we booked the flights (from Tiger Airlines) which cost around S$300 each (~£150), and we tried it find a way of enjoying the visit.

Maybe next year I will spend more time to book the holiday back to the UK (possibly when BA or Singapore Airlines have a sale on), but I think we will settle with a HK Christmas and NY break this time around. Maybe we can squeeze a trip to Macau, but let’s see what happens 🙂

© 2012-2017 Aaron Brigatti - Brigatti Online   ® All Rights Reserved.