It has been over four years since I last visited Singapore. That's why I was very pleased when I had the opportunity to visit again a couple of weeks ago for work.
And, my - how it has changed!
Sure, most of it felt familiar. Still very similar to the time when the husband and I first lived and worked there. But, there are definitely a lot of changes since we left 11 years ago.
Regardless of the changes (and the down sides - like traffic, long queues, etc) - I know that Singapore will always hold a special place in my heart. And, these are just some of the reasons to love this amazing country:
1. The Food. Oh, THE FOOD!
Whether dining in nice, posh restaurants or in busy hawker centres or in food courts - I absolutely love eating in Singapore. I love the variety. And yes, the fact that I can go out with just $10 in my wallet and still have a delicious feast.
And apparently, my indulgence showed. One of the first things that the hubby said when he picked me up from the airport 9 days later was: "It looks like you've gained weight!"
And, he was right. In fact, I couldn't buy a really nice dress I liked towards the end of my trip because the dress felt a bit tighter than it should be. Youch.
2. Having a cool office to go to.
Whilst I am Adelaide-based, the teams I work with through my company, Vervely, are actually based in Singapore. So, it was really nice to get the opportunity to visit the office (finally). And, yes, I must admit, my jaw dropped a little when I saw the set-up at the Microsoft regional HQ in Singapore.
3. Meeting (and working alongside) said teams from the cool office.
We talk regularly via Lync, Skype, and email. But, some of them, I've only seen a few times. And, a number of them, I've finally met in person for the first time during this trip. There were also team mates coming from all over the Asia Pacific region (about 16 countries represented), so that was really cool too. It was such a hectic workweek, but it was great. And yes, at least I also got the chance to have some fun, relaxed times with some of them over drinks, lunch, and/or dinner. So much fun!
4. Meeting new people.
One of the main reasons for my Singapore trip between 8-16 February was to attend Microsoft's Tech4Good event, with about 50 participants from 16 countries, from 19 nonprofit organisations from the Asia Pacific region. This is the third Tech4Good event, and the second one that I attended (the first one was in Colombo, Sri Lanka, back in 2011). I really enjoy these events because of the ideas shared and the new people I get to meet. Very inspiring.
Apart from people I've met through work, I also had the opportunity to meet some new people through my friends. That was great too.
5. Seeing good friends!
Didn't get the chance to take photos of everyone I managed to catch up with, but I definitely loved the opportunity to see some good friends that we've had for some time now. While we kept in touch by email, phone, and/or Facebook over the years, nothing beats the face-to-face catch-ups. Also, special gratitude goes to our friends Dennis and Jane, who hosted me in their home for a couple of nights at the weekend. And, to everyone else who showed much love and generosity.
In this pic below, I managed to catch-up with one of my long-time blogging buddies, Jean from Wee Stories. Jean and I have known each other through blogging for around 13 or 14 years, but we've only seen each other face-to-face a couple of times. It was great to talk about parenting, families, education, work, blogging in general, and the blogging scene in Singapore.
6. The Shopping! Of course.
There's no doubt about it - one of my favourite things to do in Singapore is shopping. I can't help it. All those malls! And the clothes actually fit me (unless I overeat then my size doesn't really feel like my size). I didn't get the time to do a lot of shopping in this trip, due to work commitments. But, I still managed to put a bit of a dent on my credit card.
Some of my favourite new finds from this trip: Zara and Charles & Keith.
7. The amazing sights!
Although I didn't get to do a lot of sightseeing this time around (would've loved to visit the new Universal Studios, amongst other places), I still got to see a few new things. Like the new Marina Bay area. The laser/light show was quite cool.
8. The colourful cultures and celebrations.
Depending on what time of the year you visit, Singapore can be quite a colourful place. I've forgotten what it was like there during Chinese New Year, so it was great to see it again this time around. Amazing displays everywhere - lights, lanterns, sculptures, art installations...
It was definitely a trip that makes me wish I can return to Singapore again some time soon.
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.