After 3 weeks of backpacking across Myanmar and Thailand, it was time to settle into Singapore to kick off working in Asia-Pacific (APAC).
I must admit, arriving in Singapore was a bit of a burst of fresh air (????) after living the backpacker life and traveling from one place to the next every couple of days. I had a beautiful furnished apartment at One Shenton, an awesome high rise apartment building in the middle of the Downtown Core, and conveniently, right across the street from my office which was located in Asia Square.
Singapore is a magical little place, because it is at the epicenter of business in Asia, it’s English speaking, it has so many different cultures leading to a very wide variety of food & entertainment, and a very welcoming atmosphere. Nearly all of the people working here (at least working in my sphere of a large global company) are expats of some sort, and so the culture is very open and inviting as nearly everyone has their roots elsewhere and is looking to make connections. This was so evident to me right from the very beginning. On my first evening in Singapore, I walked around to find an ATM, and on my way, I passed a group of people practicing Acro-Yoga. I sat down to watch because it was so beautiful, and shortly was invited to join the beginner group for a lesson and play. This was such a wonderful experience! I got to try so many cool poses, flying in the air with people I’d only just met, and yet because of their friendliness and openness I immediately felt comfortable and at home. What a great way to start my 5 week stint in Singapore!
I was quite lucky to have a series of visitors come through during this short 5 week stay, and these welcome friendly faces definitely helped to make my time here even better. Whether it was fun, work, or family obligations (lol), I want to say a huge thank you to Katie, Jamie, Martijn, Will, and my Mom and Dad for being part of this great experience with me!
Honestly, I didn’t do all that much in Singapore while living there, besides work and have a home base. But that home base was crucial, it helped me to feel grounded in Asia and gave me a place to come back to after every weekend (or twice, week) of travel. It very quickly became ‘Home, sweet home’.
There were a few things I did do, however, which mainly focused around showing my visitors a good time in Singapore:
1. Ce La Vi: This is THE spot in Singapore for a good evening of drinks and light bites. It’s the lounge on top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, and it offers the best views of the whole Marina from the sky. I took every one of my guests here as it’s something you just can’t miss.
I took every guest to Ce La Vi, it’s a must!
2. Kinki bar: This is a great little rooftop bar on top of the Custom House right along the water’s edge overlooking the Marina. Perfect spot to view the light show.
View from Kinki for the light show
3. Level 33: I only came here once. It’s a brewery, but seriously, skip the beer, it was awful. The views are awesome though.
View from Level 33 during the light show
4. Walk around the Marina promenade: This is about a 3k circle around the whole Marina bay, and it’s a lovely stroll at night to view the light show from one of the benches or just enjoy the city lights. It’s also a great place to go running (you’ll see lots of runners going through here) if you can stand the heat and humidity. I attempted it twice, once around 10:30pm, and once around 6:30am. Both times it was still incredibly hot and I could barely manage 5k (~3 miles) before stopping from (heat) exhaustion (or just the fact that I’ve fallen out of running shape since being in Asia).
Early morning run view of the marina
5. Ladies night at The Exchange: This was an awesome happy hour that I attempted to hit up every Wednesday night I was in Singapore. It was at a bar right below our office in Asia Square, right across from my apartment. From 6-10pm it was free flowing Margaritas, beer, or Lychee Martinis (my fave!) for the ladies. Always ask for an extra lychee, yum!
The fam at Ladies Night at The Exchange
6. Lau Paw Sat Hawker Market & Satay Street: Experiencing a Hawker Market in Singapore is a must do, and I was fortunate enough to live right across from the best in town (best = nicest/most touristy/newly renovated but still quite local, cheap, and delicious). Hawker markets are a collection of small food stalls offering a huge variety of cuisines at very cheap prices. Most dishes ranged from $4-7 Singapore dollars (~$3-6 USD). Additionally, the street along the market shuts down every night at 7pm on the dot (seriously, I watched them roll out the carts and start setting up the tables and chairs as the clocked struck 7pm) to transform into ’Satay Street’ with about 10 Satay vendors setting up tables and serving delicious skewers of chicken, beef, and prawn. Pro tip: Grab a couple dishes inside, then head out and grab a table for some Satay, eating your inside finds as you wait for tasty skewers. Skip the chicken and beef and just order prawn with the peanut dipping sauce. So. Damn. Good.
Lau Paw Sat Satay Street
7. Acro Yoga: I only had the chance to do this once, on my very first day in Singapore, but I really wish I could have done it more. They meet up near Raffles place every Sunday and Thursday evening to “play”. If I come back to town, I’m going to make it a priority to join these meetups!
Practicing my Acro Yoga skills
I wish I’d had time to visit the Michelin Start rated Chicken & Rice Hawker stall in China town, but just ran out of days. It’s already at the top of the todo list for next time though.
On the work side of things, I had a lot of great opportunities to meet with clients, prospective clients, agencies, and interns while working in Singapore. I loved chatting with these different groups, learning more about working in Southeast Asia, and teaching them all about Google Analytics and our whole GA360 Suite. I especially liked talking with the Squared Data and Analytics group – a group of 25 recent college grads who were taking part in an 8 week intensive onsite learning program to grow their skillets in everything related to digital marketing. After this intensive, they get placed in large companies around Singapore as interns to use the new skills they’ve just learned. It’s a super cool program and I had the opportunity to guest lecture for them 3 times over the course of the program. My favorite lecture was about Optimization and A/B testing in which I ran a live A/B test to determine the best types of Thai Dried Mangoes in class (with the point being to teach good & bad test design) – it was super fun and tasty. They are all super smart and I know they’ll kill it in their internships.
A/B Testing dried mangos in the office
Saying goodbye to Singapore was actually quite tough – I loved my time there and truly felt at home and at ease. I was leaving the comfort of an English-speaking, multi-cultural, warm and welcoming place to head off to a month in Japan and China where I knew I’d be quite an outsider and language barriers would be tough. I was leaving a team that I’d worked with over the previous 5 weeks and was happy to see every morning at the office. And I was also leaving the apartment (home, sweet home) that I’d grown to love, to live out of a suitcase while moving from city to city, hotel to hotel, every few days. I knew this would be a tough transition, and I’ll tell you more about it in subsequent posts on Japan and China.
In short, I think I could live in Singapore (at least for a year or two) and really look forward to the next time I get to visit (or who knows.. move there!?)! I know it’s not goodbye for this lovely little City-State, but just an ‘until next time’!
View from Ce La Vi atop the Marina Bay Sands