My Last Singapore Blog Post – the Time Has Come to Say I ….

The time has come to say I ♥ Singapore!

Well the time has finally arrived, today’s the final day and week and month in Singapore as I prepare for my return back to the UK – and back to my role in the Amex-Brighton office.  Would be great to see everyone again and get back to my previous routine.

What can I say to summarise my work experience here in Singapore – words that I can only thing of are: amazing, fantastic, thrilling, challenging, humourous (at times), hot, humid, warm, great chums, fun company, exciting and love!

The last work-week (w/c 12th December) was incredibly busy, with events on every day and evening – ranging from a festive Christmas lunch, a Tatler Food Fair, Korean BBQ Leaving Dinner, Leaving Doo Dai Tai Fung lunch, my own leaving event and the Team Christmas Dinner. 

The last week of my Singapore presence involved a holiday in Koh Samui – which was very relaxing, getting to know a special someone when I returned for my last couple of days in Singapore, before I left for my long flight back to the UK. 

I am going to miss a fair number of friends that I got to know throughout the past 6 months – they are all a great bunch of people, very sincere, very respectful and helped me throughout my time, and of course, there is a special someone too that I met most recently.  I am hopeful that I am able to come back at some point in 2012 – I can see why so many people love singapore, I certainly do!

So, this will be my last ever Singapore Adventure blog entry – it has been an amazing 6 months of hard work, fun and enjoyment – but all good things have to come to an end at some point. 

May I lastly take this opportunity to wish all of my family, friends and readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2012!

Happy New Year 2012

Happy New Year 2012

This is Aaron Brigatti and I am signing off from the Singapore Adventures blog…

Posted in Global Rotation Programme | Tagged , |

Koh Samui Thailand Holiday – Dec 2011

Whilst I was in SE Asia, I decided to celebrate the Christmas festive break on a sunny Thai beach – so was recommended to give Koh Samui a go.  It’s generally known for it’s full moon parties, but I wasn’t really up for loads of parties, but just to relax and reflect over the past 6 months of my Singapore work assignment – and what the future holds for me.

The past couple of weeks have been an amazing adventure for me outside of work, and this also gave me time to think through how I would need to deal with this when I return to the UK. 

I decided to book up about a few weeks ago, and booked my flight on Bangkok Airways – which surprisingly flies between Singapore and Koh Samui directly (brilliant), and then looked up at various comparison sights on accommodation options.  I knew I could stay at cheap and cheerful hostel type of places, but I also wanted to stay somewhere more comfortable – so went for a resort type of place at Lamai Beach.

I found Samui Tonngad Resort on the comparison websites, and it seemed pretty nice.  The facilities and location seemed to meet my needs – and it wasn’t too expensive.  In fact, I managed to negotiated a 6 nights + 1 night free discount for my booking – haha!  Anyway, I duly booked it up and looked forward to the break. The American breakfast was very tasty, but I made a request for a Thai Breakfast on the second day, and continued to have this for the rest of the trip – as it was actually very tasty – Chicken or Pork in a soup with Rice – with herbs flavouring.

The resort was actually between the infamous Chaweng and Lamai beaches (closer to Lamai Town / Beach) and was a very tranquil with an almost private beach – which was perfect for my needs.  The only drawback was that the resort was extending the Villa buildings, and this meant that there was a lot of construction on part of the resort area – which was slightly off-putting, but I didn’t let it get to me.  The thing that really was a bit annoying was the weather – it was sunny on the first day, overcast on the second and third days, raining on the next two and sunny on the last day – always the way!  Haha!

But I enjoyed the resort and the beach / pool side areas – and the food at the resort – in most cases, there wasn’t a lot of people around, so almost felt like it was a private pool or beach just for me – haha!

A couple of days I had to walk towards Lamai Town to change some money, and by the nearest Bangkok Bank there was a Irish Pub called Mulligans Pub, which I went to a couple of times. It was quite nice. I went there for an evening meal, and then returned for Christmas Lunch – very festive I know – but the closest I could get to a Christmas Turkey with all of the Trimmings – and for 690BHT (about £14 / S$28) – so not too bad at all :)

I also found another restaurant – called Flower Paradise Restaurant, which was priced very reasonably, located a couple of hundred metres from the resort. It was a nice place, run by a Swiss gentlemen and his wife. The setting was very enjoyable, a fair number of what appeared to be locals were here, and the food was very good – and not expensive at all.

On the second day, I decided to go for a Tour around the Island – these was called an ‘Amazing Sightseeing and Safari Tour’ – at 1,850BHT. However, as I purchased it from my resort, they actually gave me a 150BHT discount, so I only paid 1,700BHT (around £35 / S$70). Not bad at all methinks!

We visited the Big Buddha at the north of the island…

We then back southwards to the Grandfather (Hin Ta) and Grandmother (Hin Yai) natural rock formation.

We then went to Namuang Safari Park where we would spend the next few hours enjoying an Elephant Trek and see various animal shows. I am not that keen on some of the animal shows, as feel this is a very artificial setting, but I guess it is still ‘enjoyable’ to see the various animals: Monkey, Crocodiles, Snakes, Birds etc.

The elephant show:

The crocodile show:

The snake show:

The Tiger and Tiger Cub Photo:

The Elephant Trek:

We left the Safari Tour and went back to the Jeep, which drove us to the Namuang Waterfall 2 - where you can swim 80 metres high-up (the highest waterfall in Koh Samui Island). Very enjoyable and refreshing indeed.

We then continued our trek …

Where we then arrived at the Buddha Magic Garden (aka Secret Garden) – a bit of a story telling scene – but very enjoyable set-up.

The jeep then took us to the Mummified Monk (Wat Kunaram) shrine – very weird and interesting to see in any case.

We then returned back to the resort – we did pass a Tesco Lotus store – made me feel at home seeing a very familiar UK brand :) I walk around during the afternoon and noted a few interesting sights and images which I took photos of…

I think it was a great little break from Singapore, and a great way to chill and relax before my long flight back to the UK.  Hopefully the tan won’t make my UK friends jealous or envious in anyway!! :)

Posted in Asian Food, Drinks, Food, Holiday, Koh Samui Holiday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Merry Christmas and Festive Greetings 2011

Festive greetings to one and all as we celebrate another festive season in what became a very turbulent year.

As we reach another Christmas, we reflect on what we have done or achieved over the past year, how we have treated and been around those who love us and how we reflect on what the next year will bring for us all.

For me it has been quite a weird year starting with a 12 day business trip to facilitate Project Managing training, at the end of January in Saudi Arabia. I was both quite excited and nervous about.  This was definitely something that was on my mind this time last year as we edged into 2011 as we were preparing for the trip in November and December 2010.  I was actually looking forward to it…

I also knew I was reflecting on my next chapter of my career path – having been with Amex for over 7 years by the end of 2011 – 6 years in my current role and team.  But I remained very nervous to change with such a uncertain future in the UK and the Euro-land.  I decided to hold tight but hoped I would be able to adapt or try something different and when I reviewed and applied for a six month temporary assignment (under the Global Rotation Programme (GRP)) in either Sydney or Singapore – I thought that this could be the answer.  

I went on holiday in April to visit an university friend in Tampa, Florida, and before long I received the positive news that I was waiting for on my blackberry – I was offered the opportunity to go to Singapore for 6 months as part of the GRP work assignment.  I was over the moon as I always wanted to try working in an Asian Country before, but never found the opportunity to do so – nor did I find the right role for me.

I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare so I had to move fast.  When I returned back to the UK after my holiday, I started the groundwork, preparing the paperwork and also started to schedule the many good-byes / leaving drinks that I had to have.  Well it was likely that I wouldn’t see many of my close friends before the year end.  The start date was 1st July – so not that long to do a LOT of things.

During this period, my work was keeping me very stressed, with a launch date that kept on being pushed back as I tries to keep my arms around the whole project (it was a lot tougher than it seemed – as things kept delving very fast throughout the project).  Anyway, I had to transition this project as the launch date moved in the second half of 2011.

Luckily I had my family and a family friend to help me when I was away.  So this let me focus on the work as I flew out to Singapore to start my assignment.

It was quite interesting to do something quite different, but the skill-set of being a PM came in very handy – organising, time management, effective leadership, relationship management etc.  So it is right to say that you do develop core skills which are inter-changeable to other roles or functions :)

I always wanted to make the most of the outside of work aspect, but started late.  It was only after my university friend visited in late September that I took my finger out and started organising side-trips.  I think this was partly due to a business trip to KL in Malaysia in early August, which was very enjoyable (although very hard work), and because of a potential trip to Manilla in the Philippines, I didn’t want to book anything up too early (the latter never materialised in the end).  So after enjoying the Formula One Grand Prix – an amazing experience and very enjoyable – especially with a good mate!  We then went to Kuching in East Malaysia/Borneo. I also visited Cambodia (Phnom Pehn and Siem Reap) and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Melaka/Melacca, and lastly here in Koh Samui on the east side of Thailand!

Looking back this has been a great experience and a great way to end 2011, but I do want to come back and work longer in the Asia region (hopefully in Singapore) but back into Project Management.  I cannot directly control these types of opportunities but I hope it does work out – as I’ve certainly enjoyed the experience and me some truly great friends.  

Let’s see what 2012 has in store for me, and I hope you survived 2011 with all of the challenges it threw at you and us!  2012 sounds like it could be even more challenging so hopefully we are all up for it!   I know that a wedding in Florida, a Fatboy Slim concert and the London Olympics is scheduled – so I definitely need to plan around these :)

I hope you have a great festive season and I hope to see you all during 2012.

Merry Christmas 2011 - Happy New Year 2012

Merry Christmas 2011 - Happy New Year 2012

Take care and god bless!

Posted in Friends, Global Rotation Programme, Holiday | Tagged , , , |

Christmas Party 2011

We had our 2011 Christmas Dinner at Suburbia Restaurant on Sentosa Island – it was a nice place and a nice location to relax with our colleagues.

The food was simply delicious – a great variety of Western and Asian cuisines and a good catch-up with the great chums that I got to know over the past 5 months or so.  Everyone looked so relaxed and it was a great setting indeed.

I haven’t really spent a lot of time on Sentosa island, and it certainly feels different from the main part of Singapore.  More importantly, it feels more different than when I last visited here in 2001/2002 – when it was still being developed.  Universal Studio’s didn’t exist, the Casino didn’t exist, most of the resort was still being planned / designed – so it was a sparce island, but seeing what has been done really makes it feel surreal.  Even the various transportation system didn’t exist at the time – you had to take the cable car across or bus (there was a Sentosa Monorail, which terminated in 2005 to make-way for the new Sentosa Express service).  Now the Sentosa Express goes via Vivo City (next to HarbourFront MRT) to the Sensosa Island and to various parts of the Island for only S$3.  The island seems to be split up into zones – which in reality splits up the ‘old’ part and the ‘newer’ part of the resorts on the island.  The only thing to note is that the tolls for Taxi’s are quite expensive, so we decided to leave before the last Sentosa Express MRT to the mainland.

What a great evening, nice setting and very relaxing.  Very honoured to have been part of this! 

Suburbia Restaurant
30 Allanbrooke Road
Singapore 099983
Tel: +65 6376 5938

Posted in Drinks, Food, General | Tagged , , , , |

Leaving Doo in and Around Marina Bay (16th Dec 2011)

Yay, it is my final day in the office, but the time is come to celebrate with a big ol’ customary Leaving Event in Marina Bay (okay probably better if I say “around” the Bay and not “in” (luckily) – though it was a bit wet with a torrential downpour an hour before the event started – but I had faith it would dry out, and it did – phew!).

Anyway, I had booked up the Nueva Cuba Bar and Restaurant at Customs House, with a bar tab behind the bar, ordered some finger food and acknowledged that Happy Hour would stop at 7pm sharp, so ensured we had plenty of time to enjoy it – we probably could have started the event at 4pm – haha! :)   The invite went out, I gave plenty of notice, about 4 weeks in some cases, and everything was set for a wicked event. 

Event sponsored by Citibank (if only) - and I mustn't forget picturing my Vacuum Flask for a volunteer event the previous week :)

Event sponsored by Citibank (if only) - and I mustn't forget picturing my Vacuum Flask for a volunteer event the previous week :)

I also sent out my formal farewell note to the my team’s JAPA Division and the open invite went out with this.  It was great to see sooo many people pop by or grab me as I went around my farewell errands – it is such a great bunch of people, great team, great spirits and I will surely miss each and every one of them! 

But at least I have managed to celebrate the past 6 months hard work and adventures with a great send off.  They were brilliant to buy me a “I ♥ Singapore” T-Shirt, which I wore with pride for the event and after-party!  They even wrote very cute messages on it – haha!  I will definitely treasure this and put it in a frame – hehe!

After the drinks there was about 10 of us left, so we went up to Kinki’s for more drinks and dancing, to meet-up with one of the group’s mates who was up there.  A nice quaint Japanese club that overlooks Marina Bay and the MBS complex!  A group of us decided to then venture to Avalon, and we managed to get in free – courtesy of another of the group members – thanks mate!  I love Avalon – great place, great fun!

Anyway, I will stop waffling now, and simply end this post with the various photos taken throughout the night – to signify how fun the event was!  AMAZING NIGHT!

Thanks to EVERYONE who turned up or passed on their greetings to me throughout the day – you are all special people, a lot of you have turned into friends and will certainly remain as friends after I leave.  Great people, made my 6 months here soooo pleasureable, and actually made it VERY difficult to want to leave.  We’ll see what happens.

Posted in Drinks, Food, Friends, Global Rotation Programme, Marina Bay | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Orchard Parksuites Christmas Cake Gift

What a nice treat when I came home on Thursday, 15th December, when I noticed that the management company of my apartment at Orchard Parksuites gave the guests a nice Christmas cake gift.

Merry Christmas 2011 and Happy New Year 2012

Merry Christmas 2011 and Happy New Year 2012

It looks very tasty indeed. I know these cakes are very rich (and healthy right? :) ), so decided to take it home back to the UK – then I can nibble on it throughout the next couple of weeks – haha!

Posted in Food, General | Tagged , , , , , |

SMRT Failures – Three Times in as Many Days

For my London and UK friends, this might feel like Déjà vu, but for us in Singapore there are usually very rare incidents, but in 3 days in a week – it is also becoming like a pattern here in Singapore too now! The most recent being today!

Although I was unaffected by the first outage on the Yellow Circle Line, apparently about 1,400 Circle Line commuters were affected by delays in train services due to a communication network problem during the peak hour on Wednesday morning. I was on the second one, but luckily not as bad as some commuters.

SMRT Evening Rush-Hour Disruption - North-South Line (Thurs 15th Dec)

SMRT Evening Rush-Hour Disruption - North-South Line (Thurs 15th Dec)

But the one experienced on Thursday did impact me! In the evening rush hour on Thursday this week, an estimated 127,000 commuters were affected by the breakdown that saw parts of the Red North-South line closed during the peak-hour traffic due to a fault on a power rail – about 40 metres of the rail was damaged.

Several trains were stuck in tunnels, and with air conditioning being shut down due to the lack of power, the ventilation must have been very poor down there. I am just lucky that I didn’t get trapped inside a train at the time of the power failure – yikes!

SMRT Saturday Morning Disruption - North-South Line (Sat 17th Dec)

SMRT Saturday Morning Disruption - North-South Line (Sat 17th Dec)

I only got news of this when we finished our hot-desk Thursday Korean dinner and we tried to go home from Tanjong Pagar MRT (Green East-West line) only to get as far on the Outram Park MRT.

I then decided to go to Dhoby Ghaut MRT from the operational Purple North-East line and then decided to walk up along Orchard Road to my apartment. Luckily it wasn’t raining, but there was tons of people around and the roads were very congested!

And today, after waking up, I heard news of yet another issue, this time down from Orchard MRT station - oh dear, heads will definitely roll very soon due to these failings!

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , |

Daebak Korean BBQ Leaving Dinner – Hot Deskers

We attempted to schedule a Korean BBQ night a couple of weeks back, but with the downpour that day, and people working late, we decided to postpone, so what better way than re-scheduling during my last week in the office – where the event transitioned into a leaving dinner – hehe!

A group of us from the hot-desks joined in for a night of fun, fun, fun (well okay apart from the damn MRT issues which we luckily avoided (initially)). So Pearly, Alisha, Chloe, Jean, Amarnath, Calvin, Shyamendren (and Neha in Absentee) and I walked to Amoy Street, where we had booked a side-table at Daebak Korean Restaurant – for a fantastic Korean BBQ meal! Yum yum!

Pearly and Chloe kindly did the ordering and arranged the booking (thanks both!) – and we simply enjoyed a fantastic night, fun company, great food, plenty of laughs and lots of chatting – what a wonderful night, what great chums, great friends indeedy – thanks to you all – you are really special people!

Onto the leaving drinks on Friday then :) Haha!

PS: this is the forth day in the row of drinkies, foodies, and recovering…haha! Boy this is going to be a hard work!!! Hehe!

Dae Bak Korean BBQ Restaurant
98 Amoy Street
Tel: +65 6226 0450

Posted in Asian Food, Drinks, Food, Friends | Tagged , , , , , |

Farewell Drinks at Harry’s Marina Bay Link

As we few colleagues from work were going on holiday on Friday evening or not available, I decided to schedule a impromptu drinkie session at Harry’s – as we need any excuse, hey?

A group of us went down, grabbed a table and then relaxed – not difficult when people are going on holiday – haha! What a nice way to raise a glass to my colleagues, whom I started to get to know, and had a lot of laughs during the past months!

My colleagues relaxing with a beer (or two!)

My colleagues relaxing with a beer (or two!)

So without further ado … Chin-Chin, Salute, Cheers, Sláinte, Cin Cin, Gan bei!!!!

Posted in Drinks | Tagged , , , |

Dinner with The Carrick’s during their Singapore Visit

A work colleague and his wife was passing through Singapore onwards to Australia for their holiday’s, so we decided to grab a beer or two and catch-up, having not seen each other for over 6 months now :)

So what better way then dropping by to Harry’s in Boat Quay after work, and opening up some Tiger Beer :)   The hustle and bustle along Boat Quay made it a very relaxing setting :)

Relaxing at Harry's Boat Quay!

Relaxing at Harry's Boat Quay!

We were joined by a few of my friends from the Singapore office, and we decided to make a night of it. We went for a stroll down Circular Road at along the waterfront to Jumbo Restaurant, which is a very nice seafood restaurant that seems to have a few establishments across Singapore.

It is the first time I been here, but I did notice the one at East Coast Park before, which according to the Jumbo website was their first restaurant established in 1987.

So we ordered the food (well Asanka did), we ordered the Tiger Beer jugs and had fun – wearing our customary aprons to mark the occassion :)   Hehe!

The food was absolutely delicious – chilli crab, black bean crab, steamed fish and vegetables, as you can see from the photos below :)

A very relaxing and enjoyable evening with great chums and great food (and drinks!) :)

Jumbo Restaurant
Riverside Point
30 Merchant Road
#01-01/02 Riverside Point
Singapore 058282
Tel: +65 6532 3435

Posted in Asian Food, Drinks, Food, Friends | Tagged , |