Tag Archive for Christmas

Christmas 2014 and New Years 2015

Well they say that if you blink you miss it, and this has certainly been the case of 2014, as it has certainly flown by. It has been a bit of a topsy turvy year – quite a bit of highs, but a couple of low moments.

The highlight has to be the bits outside of work, both my continued adventures in and around South East Asia (holiday), and the personal scene (romance). I’ve been fortunate to visit the UK in March this year – visiting my family, friends and ex-colleagues – and it was a great trip… I also decided to do a holiday in Phuket to relax and enjoy a bit of ‘me’ time, I went to Kota Kinabalu with a work colleague – which was quite enjoyable indeed, went to Hanoi on business, enjoyed an amazing adventure with some great friends to Myanmar (Burma) which was something I definitely wanted to do whilst I was in the region, a Bali holiday and then a final trip to Sri Lanka. Wow! What an adventure it has been. But the highlight has to be making the acquaintance with a special lady here in Singapore – she is one amazing lady, a great smile, a great character, great humour, great companion and a great body. This happened in late May 2014, and we have spent some enjoyable weeks and months since then with each other…I really wanted a great companion that I can chat too, have some similar interests and tastes, and more importantly share life’s adventure with…we went to the Bali together and then did a group=trip to Sri Lanka holiday together with 2 others.

The work side of things is pretty much same ol’, same ol’, it has been a bit challenging because of the projects and partnerships that I am leading – I’ve definitely got to really reflect on some of the issues that I directly or indirectly faced during a project – and observed how people dealt with these…I’ve definitely seen some interesting approaches, and personally some which I would say I am not that comfortable with – I have had to provide timely feedback a few times. I am still pushing for my new promotion, and feel that this is getting more tricky here in Singapore, especially when many opportunities dried up over the past few months…but lets see what 2015 has in store – there is always the opportunity to look outside, as I’ve now been in Amex over 11 years now (wow!).

It has been great to see my family twice, when I was in the UK, and around November/December, as both of my parents had the opportunity to visit me in Singapore. This was great fun, and I am so happy to have been able to spend some time with both of them. I am hopeful that I am able to visit the UK again in 2015, so fingers crossed it happens 🙂

I really want to focus on the fun bit next year, and maximise the adventure whilst I continue to broaden my horizons during my Singapore adventure. The future is new, the future is unknown, the future is what you make of it – so lets make it even better than before!

Christmas Day Lunch with Mum at Da Luca

For Christmas Day this year, and to enjoy the time with my mum who was returning back to the UK on Boxing Day, we booked up a table at Da Luca Italian Restaurant – in Novena.

It is still a little surreal to enjoy Christmas in the tropics, but we knew we were in for a good meal. It wasn’t massively busy, but we had a nice meal of Beef Carpaccio, Pizza and a Mixed Salad which we shared – certainly different from the Christmas Turkey and the trimmings – but delicious all the same.

It was great to spend it with my mum, rather than eating on my own, so I am glad I was able to spend it with her, and to ensure she had a relaxing trip back (on a full stomach).

Da Luca Italian Restaurant
1 Goldhill Plaza #01-19/21
Goldhill Plaza
Singapore
309012
Tel: +65 6258 4846
URL: http://www.daluca.com.sg

The Mad Hatter Christmas Party (12th Dec 2014)

It is towards year-end, so it is always customary to enjoy a festive party with the work colleagues.  This year, the team planned a party at Una Restaurant at One Rochester.  It was a bit of a way out from the MBFC office.  Luckily for me, it is not that far to my ‘other home’ – so it was easy to get home after the party (unless there is an after party – which is very unlikely in the current set-up).

The theme was ‘Mad Hatter’ (remember the Disney movie – “Alice in Wonderland”?) – well it basically meant HATS HATS and HATS.  With the customary theme comes the challenge of trying to locate something appropriate for the Party… Last year, I tuxed up, and won the “best dressed man at the party” – but this year, I thought I just go with the flow and dress modestly…haha! 🙂  I decided to go with a cheapish hat, and managed to get a red top hat from a shop that had lot of glitter (yikes) – at least it had a Christmas-y feel!!

Also part of the celebrations was the classic ‘Secret Santa’ – the person I picked opted with the easy option of selecting what they wanted…hmmm…spoils the fun a bit, don’t you think.  I always go with the ‘anything’ option, to see how creative the gift-bearer is.  So anyway, my option wanted a Gift card – so I decided to buy them a $30 Robinson gift card.  That will do – quick and easy, as I hate trying to find some suitable – very difficult indeed, when you don’t really know the person.

The buffet food was actually very tasty, the wine was nice, and the service very attentive – I really enjoyed the place, and it turned out to be quite a nice party.  The only downer is that is it should be a party – e.g. people should be letting their hair down, having fun, and partying hard…but here the ones I’ve been too, is that people just eat, drink, do their stuff and then leave.  And when I say ‘leave’ – I mean the party ends around 9-9.30pm – hmmm…isn’t that meant to be the start of the party.  Anyway, I opted to go with the group, as I wasn’t aware of any of the folks I know were interested in staying or going somewhere else, but managed to join a colleague and we went into town to continue drinking and having more fun elsewhere.

Una at One Rochester
1 Rochester Park
Singapore 139212
Tel: +65 6773 0070
URL: http://www.una.sg

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

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

Secret Santa – What to Buy?

As part of the division’s festive dinner and gathering event, we were taken to Halia Restaurant within the Singapore Botanic Gardens complex – as part of this, we had a Secret Santa festive challenge, which required us to pick a name out of the hat, and purchase an item of no more than S$30 for the person we had selected.

I wanted to get the person (a lady) I selected something different, most people would opt for a Body Shop or Scented candles type of gift, so I decided to with a ‘puzzle’ idea. Also, it is a bit of a gamble, as I don’t know the likes or dislikes, but that’s part of the fun. I found a place in Velocity Shopping Mall in Novena, my nearest shopping mall, and it was called ‘Perfect Fit‘ and the selection was pretty interesting – although the price varied widely, so I tried to keep the cost close to the S$20-25 range. I got one that was priced around S$27 and it was one of a black and white image of NY City, so as Amex had it’s HQ building there, I thought it was related to work (just about).

Anyway, I think she liked it, but at the very least, will provide some fun to put it together… Okay perfects for an hour or two 🙂

More Holiday’s Planned

Well having come back from the wedding and my extended holiday in Langkawi, I knew I had to book some more holiday’s. I already have a self-made long weekend trip to Penang in early September so that’s a start.

I also am planning a trip to Boracay in Philippines with a few work colleagues and friends, and also looking to do another trip to Taiwan again. I also need to schedule a trip back to the UK to catch-up with my friends and family – and I think if I can work it out, I could do a part-holiday, part-work in the Brighton office, as one option to minimise the utilisation of my 2013 holiday leave. I then need to see what I want to do around Christmas – I was thinking of working towards the end, and do the odd day off, but maybe I could visit Hong Kong over Christmas again. We’ll see.

I better get cracking with the scheduling – as they say, work never finishes, so unless I get my finger out, none of the above will ‘happen’!!

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