Tagging along on my husbands business trip is a great way to travel and catch up with friends around the world... this time I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney.
On these tag-along trips I don't actually see a lot of my husband, he usually has meetings from breakfast at 8am working right through the day often having business dinners too.
If you are not comfortable travelling, eating dinners and sightseeing alone then tagging onto a business trip probably isn't for you....
Luckily, I still have great friends in Singapore so it was nice to be able to see them and spend some quality time with them. I also have some fabulous friends in Melbourne and co-incidentally this trip my travel buddy was also going to be visiting Sydney so it was a very social 2 weeks with lots of eating and drinking.
To the amusement of most of my friends Hubby and I don't actually fly together. He flies direct as time is precious to him. I get the best deal I can and usually do a connecting flight as they are cheaper. Often I fly British Airways as I am a gold card holder and get preferential treatment, extra baggage allowance and can book seats in advance at no charge... Also their premium economy offer is a nice compromise between economy and business.
This trip I actually did a mix of Qatar Air and Qantas. Qatar Air offered a very good price on a business flight to Singapore, returning from Sydney, and the Qantas bits in the middle I managed to use my British Airways avios points for. Both airlines are part of the One World partnership so I also collected more avios points and tier points.
I had been hearing some great things about the skincare brand SK11 and I bought some products on a recent trip to Japan and so I thought I would treat myself to a nice facial at the SK11 salon in Millennia Walk in Singapore. not only did my skin look fabulous afterwards but I floated out of the salon feeling totally relaxed. It was the perfect way to spend a few hours out of the heat and humidity that I hated when we lived in Singapore.
When you go back to visit a place that you have lived in (or maybe just a place you have visited many times before) there isn't really the need to race around sightseeing so on this trip I booked up spa treatments, foot massages, and went for a mani-pedi weekly.
A hi-light of the Singapore trip was getting to taste the new menu at Cé La Vie restaurant at Marina Bay Sands. A good friend works for the company - based in Hong Kong and was in Singapore to meet with the chef and see how their new menu was working out. He invited me to lunch and we got to taste some AMAZING food.... pictures below.
There is not a single thing that I ate that I would not recommend. The flavours and combinations were truly delicious.
The restaurant is on top of the Marina Bay Sands complex with amazing views over Singapore and is a great destination for visitors to the little island. There is a outdoor bar where you can also order food, but the indoor restaurant - with air-conditioning is my suggestion, maybe having pre dinner cocktails or champagne outside to enjoy the view.
After Singapore my husband flew for meetings in Brisbane and I flew to Melbourne where I spent a few days with a girlfriend before he arrived for more meetings. My friend and I used to work together when we both lived in London many moons ago. We aim to see each other at least once a year often in NYC or London if I don't get to Melbourne. We had a very relaxing few days, hanging out at the hotel spa, doing a little shopping the the sales and enjoying some of the fabulous Melbourne restaurants. I have written a few Trip Advisor reviews for some of the places we visited, but Lucy Liu stands out in my memory. The Asian fusion food was excellent, tapas sized plates for sharing, great atmosphere and good staff.
I really enjoy Melbourne, The free trams around the city centre are a great help to tourists. The city centre is quite compact and the restaurant and bar scene is fabulous... much better than Sydney in my opinion, but maybe I am biased as I have lots of friends to go out with when I am there.....
Our time in Sydney was quite short. My husband only had 2 days of meetings and so we were only there for 3 nights. The weather wasn't great so that was just as well.
I did a lot of walking as we were staying centrally, visiting the Opera House for a performance and the National Museum for a photography exhibition. There was one day when it rained a lot and so I was only too happy to take refuge by the roof top pool of the hotel.
A friend who I have taken a few city breaks with was also in Sydney at the same time and so one afternoon we got to meet up and enjoy some fish and oysters at Watsons Bay... luckily the sun came out for that afternoon.
This was one of those parts of the trip where I only saw my husband when he got into bed in the evening and in the morning when he left for breakfast.... but it wasn't too bad as the best bit of the trip was yet to come. I had managed to convince hubby to add on a week of holiday time and we flew out of Sydney for a week in the Cook islands..... we got to spend 6 whole days in paradise, with no business meetings to interrupt us. More on that trip in the next post...
Generally I would avoid restaurants in shopping centres like the plague as I have had some dreadful culinary experiences in them, but in Singapore that rule doesn't really apply. Here the restaurants benefit from the fact that most people in Singapore spend a HUGE amount of time enjoying the air conditioning in the shopping centres......and so the range of cuisines in the centres along Orchard Road is quite staggering.
I was introduced to Tonkichi by a friend when we still lived in Singapore and I went back many times, so on this trip I was pleased that it was still there and as good as ever.The decor is typical of an tonkatsu restaurant in Japan. Nothing swanky, as you can see from the photos here, but why distract from the food ?
The Sapporo was served chilled to about 2 degrees above frozen...... but after a long day in the heat of Singapore the speed by which it was served and the temperature were both welcomed.Both my husband and I had Katsu Don, which is one of my favourite Japanese dishes. It was delicious. It was as good as and Katsu dish I have had in Japan. I would of liked the sauce to be a bit thicker and a bit more flavour, but that is just because I am VERY picky !!
I guess Japanese food isn't on most tourists list of things to eat during a tip to Sinagpore, but if you are over Laksa, chili crab and Rendang and find yourself in Takashimaya seeking refuge from the heat, then I would definitely suggest a lunch break in Tonkichi. If you live in Singapore or visit regularly, then there are no excuses. Give this place a try. They also have great set lunch bento boxes…
Tonkichi - Takashimaya #04-24, 391 Orchard Road Ngee Ann City, Singapore +61 6735 7522 Website
The downside of the great price was that I was that all my flights were separate and I was flying,
Zurich - London - Singapore- Sydney - Melbourne - Sydney - Auckland - Sydney - Singapore - London - Zurich....
whereas my husband flew....
Zurich - Singapore - Melbourne - Auckland - Singapore - Zurich.
As most of you know, I am not phased by unknown airports or travelling alone so I loaded up my iBooks, grabbed my bag and off I went.
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I got to walk around the airports in-between flights, and after arriving in Sydney I had a nice shower in the lounge and changed clothes before the short hop to Melbourne. That made a huge difference to how I felt when I arrived.
I got my return to Sydney organised with a stopover in Singapore on the way home. It was a great price and the leg out was business class, so I knew I would arrive at least having had a good sleep on the BA flat bed. The ticket was only 300 Swiss Francs more than Prem Ecc so I jumped on that fare.
As things worked out I was also lucky enough to get a nice upgrade to business class on the return, proving that loyalty really does pay.
So again my husband had to travel for his job and if there is something most people know about me its that I'm not the type of person to sit at home alone for 3 weeks, so I jumped quickly on www.BA.com and got myself some flights. My husband flies direct and in Business Class and the cost of his tickets is way more than I am prepared to spend on myself so I've become pretty good at working out the best flight combinations for the price.
I've been to Sydney and Melbourne several times before so this trip was all about catching up with friends. I met up with an old college friend, a friend I used to work with, a friend from expat days in Singapore and also some new friends from Zurich who were there by coincidence. We tried out lots of great restaurants, and of course the Sydney Fish Market. I had such an amazing time.
The weather was perfect for being in the city and I got to take some lovely long walks and indulge in some retail therapy too.
New Zealand was a new adventure for me as I have never been before. We stayed in Auckland and at the weekend hired a car to drive along the coast and visit Hobbiton, where The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were filmed. I also took advantage of my husband's busy work scheduled and took a quick flight to Wellington for an overnight visit to another college friend.
Singapore was a nice 3 night stopover on the return home. For me the hi-light was catching up with friends from when we used to live here, and of course the food. Staying in a great hotel in the CBD with a lovely pool didn't hurt either.
I'm in the process of writing a few blog posts about the cities, restaurants, hotels and various airline lounges I have come across, so if you are interested, watch this space this space.
Having moved house 5 times in the last 8 years I think I’ve gotten quite good at the whole packing malarky. My friends are usually blown away by my level of organisation and even the professional packers that come and do the actual wrapping and boxing are impressed. And I really have to say the key for me is in the run up to the actual date.… I don’t work well in chaos and to the annoyance of all those around me I am just very well organised.
Everything has its place and I can probably find most things in my house with my eyes closed…… scary but true.
We have used different companies to do the actual packing and shipping every time. Not through choice, simply some companies have a better representation in certain countries and have local offices etc. Sterling Relocation took us from London to Hong Kong, Crown Relocations took us from SIN to USA and then from USA to CH and Asian Tigers took us from HK to SIN and also a move within SIN. We have had excellent service from all the companies we have used.
Unfortunately all relocation companies are only as good as the person who actually physically wraps the items and often this job is sub-contracted out anyway. I would highly suggest getting professionals in to do this job. Its expensive if you have to pay yourself, and make sure you tell them this when you get a quote - but what price can you put on sanity ??
When it comes to packing and moving I am usually one step ahead of lots of people, simply because I am quite organised to start with, that aside here is my bullet point list of how to cope with the minimum amount of stress when the actual packing and loading the lorry day arrives…
When putting together the boxes list it is also helpful to write descriptions on the actual paper shipping list of what is inside each box. When we moved to Switzerland I had the floor plan of the flat and I enlarged it and printed it out. I was able to write on the plan the numbers of the boxes that needed to go in every room. (see photo) Once you get boxes up flights of stairs you don’t want to have to take them back down again. Get it right the first time. As I had good thorough lists I was able to take my time and do this properly in advance of the unpacking day and everything went very smoothly. The people who arrived to unpack had a bit of a giggle at my instructions but it saved LOADS of time and dramas in the long run and when they left they admitted I had a great system. They thought I was bossy and controlling but I was the one laughing because after 4 days I had completely unpacked a 3 bed house, everything had a home and I was able to have friends over for dinner that weekend.
Last but not least... Have a bottle of bubbles and a few champagne glasses 'borrowed' from a local bar or restaurant to say good bye when everything has been packed and the day is over. I would also book a last night (or even 2) in a local hotel. Just in case there are any last minute hitches. Its easier than being on a plane and realising you didn't do a final meter reading or you forgot to disconnect the internet service !!
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