So as almost all my blogs entries start of, let me just say SORRY. This one is a real BIG SORRY. I had such big plans for this trip. This trip was already packed with a lot of emotion for me. For those who don't know, I decided to take off some time to travel a few years back. This was supposed to only have been for a few months. Now MANY years later, I have decided I MUST return back to a day to day challenge beyond the call of travel and odd projects from time to time. Great timing, might I add. When I started these travels, my timing was amazing almost down to the day of the dot.com crash. But now that I have decided to do something full-time, I've chosen the year of the global meltdown. At least it starts with President Obama, so who knows maybe my knack for timing isn't totally off yet. Any start that leads off with George Bush leaving can't be all bad.
So in this Pre-Christmas trip to Singapore and Japan, I wanted to shower you with day to day updates filled with pictures, thoughts about all I have seen and done, as well as catch up with all my friends doing all theses things we keep pushing off. AND drum-roll please... Zip, Nada, Nothing. Nothing pretty much went to plan. Now of course I did have a great time with my friends, but most nights, we rarely got beyond the hotel. The reasons are plenty but excuses few and the vast majority of the blame mine.
But I will leave more about this for posts to come. I will still do my recap of all my travels. I promised myself I would write all my thoughts about this amazing chance down before they fade into the background hum of normal life. What I can tell you is my trip was somewhat Groundhog Day, the film.The funny part is I'm still very much in the loop. So as I told one of my travel friends, I have no doubt there is a do-over ahead before there is some closure.
Before you wipe your deep tears of sadness aside for me (sure!) let me say this trip did include some really great simple moments. One thing that come easy to mind is catching up with all of my hotel friends. Because I have sometime stayed as long as four to five weeks a visit, the hotel becomes like a second home and many of the staff have become good friends. If you notice from the picture of my home away from home in Singapore there appears to be something at the top. In a classic blunder this was meant to be a rotating restaurant, but when they built it, they forgot to have a place for a kitchen. Would love to have been there for that discovery. So the kitchen had to be put into the gear shaft, making it one of the smallest and weirdest kitchens I have seen.You have to take a hydraulic elevator between the two tiny kitchens. If I was a chef there, I would go postal after about a day. This also meant the restaurant doesn't spin, which is probably just as well. One of the universal truths of travel I learned is nothing good comes from places that spin.
I also spent a great deal of time in the gym. This is a must do not only to stay in shape but to allow for some really killer meals. Just one Julien meal and it's at least 2 days of 3 plus hour workouts to undo the damage. So this photo is from the Willy Wonka elevators looking down onto the pool and gym. Is it just me that thinks the pool look like a Super Mario mushroom? The gym actually sucks in the hotel. It must have been designed by the guy who planned the rotating restaurant. But my trainer has taught me how to make the best of any gym now. Here's a shot from pool level. Normally I love to swim to keep in shape, but not in this mushroom pool. If you notice how shiny it looks from above. This is because it has a polished bottom. The result is a Jame's Bond villain like device. Think of the laser scene from Goldfinger. I swam for only 15 minutes when I realized there were small red potatoes and corn floating around me as I cooked. So only night swimming is safe. Not good as early mornings are for sleeping and nights are for good meals and cocktails.
Speaking of a good cocktail after a hard workout brings me to one of the nice moments of the trip. My friend Maria joined me several times to workout in the gym. It's been a while since I have had someone else to workout with aside from my personal trainer. It does help pass the time quicker and give you extra motivation. I was quite proud of her one day, when she ended up doing the full three hour workout with me including weights, cardio, and abs. We were motivated to stick to the workout by the giant sheets of rain water falling for hours on end. We would have been drenched trying to return to the hotel. This rain diet may catch on. Maria was less happy that night when her legs deciding to go home several hours sooner than her, but after a few painful days she forgave me.
So during our last workout before leaving the weather was so perfect, but we were good and did our time in the gym. On the way out we took the time to sit at the pool. The weather was the most amazing I have seen in Singapore. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and yet there was an almost cool breeze. I have this concept of the perfect moment, where the universe aligns all the elements to give you a rare moment of perfection. These moments are so special and subtle they can often be missed, luckily this one wasn't. Most people reward their workouts with a hydrating energy drink. When at home, I'm the same, but as I'm traveling I'm going for the Olympic plan. As you can see, a couple of glasses of Veuve Cliquot beats the Gatorade any day. Remember the crazy diet Michael Phelps was on, I'm pretty sure he does the same when in hard training.
So all this working out ensured that several great meals could be enjoyed. I already had told you about one of my meals at Julien Bompard at Ascott Raffles Place. But during that meal I wasn't able to take pictures. On this second meal, I made sure I could share the dishes with you. My dinner companions for this meal was my friend Byron, who was a bit grumpy this trip, but being this way is his muse. The other companion was the aptly named Pink Lady. She's the polar opposite of grumpy. As an ex-pat living in Singapore who works around the world on opening spas and other efforts, she endless interesting and rather pink in color and personality. As we were sitting at the Chef's counter, Chef Julien was part of the dining party too. Finally we have Chef Jason & crew working hard right behind him, perfect.
Below is the menu from that day. You can click on any pic to enlarge. Enjoy and be jealous.
December 15 2008 - Chef's Degustation Ala-minute Menu
Amuse Bouche- Bruchetta of tomato & Eberico Ham served with Champagne Devaux Cuvee Brut
Tapas- served with Chateau la Nerthe 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape, France
Mains - served with Azelia 1998 Borola, Italy
Desserts- Continuing with the Azelia 1998 Borola, Italy
Coffee Lavazza or Dammann Tea with Petit Fours
So, SORRY AGAIN. No pictures of Christmas lights and countless other things missed. Like I said, this trip is in serious need of a do over. Do you think the Singapore Tourism board would keep the Christmas lights up till my next visit if I asked nicely? Oh well. Guess I will have to make it up next year.
One last thing, there are no Japan pictures either. Sigh. That's because there was no Japan. The exchange rate was getting so bad and the fact both myself and Byron were under the weather, we had no choice but to throw Japan under the bus. Truly sad. Missing the Four Seasons beautiful gym with a natural spring water onsen bath to soothe all those dings, both physical and spiritual. A couple of rare bottles of Suntory Whiskey held under my account. The best Kobe beef Shabu Shabu to make my friend Byron happy and some of the best sakes and sushi for me, all of it very missed. Here is a Christmas picture I took in downtown Tokyo last year. I'm very proud of this shot, as I did it all on the fly. The electronic sign with the big tree builds that image from the bottom up and only holds the full image for a couple seconds. So I had to time it perfect to have the tree fully lit just as the Coca Cola truck came into frame. Enjoy. Sadly the luck of getting this image didn't hold true this year. But overall, I'm still in the 1% lucky club to have had any travel and time with my friends. So I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday and let's hope that real luck returns to all of us next year.