This month, I boldly went where no one in my family has ever been before. Singapore. It was a trade mission organised by Enterprise Nation which took a delegation of company directors to various locations in the fabulous city of Singapore.
The city was striking. To go so far across the world, a fourteen hour flight and land practically on the other side of the world for me was quite daunting. When I arrived into an efficient, exciting and spotless city that alone should have been exciting enough.
First Class Treatment!
I arrived at Gatwick. We were met at the airport by managers at the Singapore Airlines lounge and treated to some first class champagne and canapés! What a way to start our trip. It was a long and tiring flight, but I had already met with some of the delegates on board and my anxiety about travelling so far had subsided a little.
Helped along by the wonderful hospitality of the airline stewards and a glass or two of something strong.
*Some preferential treatment & Rainy Singapore!
Arriving in Singapore it was grey and Rainy. Had I really left Manchester? After a quick freshen up, we went to our first destination, Muru-D. This was an incubating space with support for startups. We were told how many app and tech startup companies were up and coming in this city and how much sheer investment went into their support.
We explored the large and varied food markets for some excellent street cuisine. Next, we were bustled along to the KPMG offices, where I am sure our hosts got the short straw. We were truly flagging by this stage, having been up for so long. Listening to concise information on tax was a little more than most of us were able to process, but we had more coffee and soldiered on. That evening we had dinner, a drink or two and an early one.
Laska for breakfast
The next morning our hotel presented us with a delightful array of asian cuisines. Laska for breakfast? I had two bowlfuls! Then, after looking at the cool innov8 space for startups, we had a few more stops. What I loved about this day was the fun afternoon we spent with Iris Worldwide. A big brand Agency. I have written more about that here. We were treated to another champagne reception by a large law firm, and then for anyone who wanted, Margaret Manning from Adelphi Digital kindly treated us to Chilli Crab. A Singaporean must have! It’s the first time I ate crab and it was delicious.
*You Gotta Try The Chilli Crab
On our final day we listened to people who had made their life in Singapore work. Notably Margaret Manning from Adephi, our kind hostess from the evening before, and someone i aspire to be more like. Starting just like me, she is nown running her creative Agency in six asian nations. It blew me away.
After a couple more stops, I enjoyed a gorgeous seafood lunch overlooking the river, with my new found associates and then I spent a wonderful afternoon with one of the missionaries enjoying a stroll around the botanical gardens and a cocktail or two at the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, vowing I would return with my husband and take that view in again.
The Amazing Botanical Gardens
Singapore is truly remarkable. Aiming to be the first Smart City in South East Asia, its a great starting point for anyone who wants to explore trade in the far east. Why do we say this? Primarily the first spoken language is English. I don’t want to come off like an entitled English person, but I had travelled so far. I had my ‘work in every country’ plug adaptor with me. When I got into the hotel and went to plug it in, the plugs were.. English. Also, they drive on the left side of the road, which everyone knows is the right side to drive on.
The city itself is really small. A couple of days there and you recognise the buildings and know where you are going. Noteworthy to see are the incredible Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Botanical Gardens.
So, Singapore may not have given me a great deal in the way of business opportunity on this particular occasion, but it definitely enriched my life and I don’t think I have seen the back of it.