Singapore and Australia

In the past couple of months I’ve had to do some foreign travel for work. On paper this sounds like a good deal: free flights, free accommodation and a daily allowance. Of course, the major problem with business travel is the fact that you have to actually do some work once you’ve reached your destination.

In March I went to Singapore to make a presentation and conduct “research” (I can say no more than that, because, err… the less I say about it the more mysterious it sounds). Unfortunately I didn’t finish work until 7pm most days, so there was little chance to take in the sights. I did manage to have a pint or seven the first night I arrived, which in hindsight was a very bad idea: I spent much of the next morning sneaking out of a meeting to spew-up in the bogs. Thankfully no one noticed, or if they did they did a very good job of pretending that nothing was awry.

So anyway, I liked Singapore. The food was very good, although I have been told to try the chilli crab next time I visit. I hope it’s boiled crab served with some kind of chilli sauce, and not a crustacean with a bad head cold. My hotel was opposite the world-famous Raffles hotel, and natually I had to go in for a Singapore Sling. Tradition dictates that you throw your peanut shells on the floor of the bar, which made the place look like a cow shed. To make matters worse, a fleet of ageing American cruise-ship tourists waddled in while I was there, and the very size of them only served to reinforce the cow shediness.

There was a brief lull in activity until a couple of weeks ago, when I went to Australia for more “research”. The schedule was a bit mental: two days in Melbourne, two days in Canberra, one day back in Melbourne and then one day in Sydney. I had forgotten that it was autumn in Australia, and it was a bit strange walking around in May and seeing the leaves falling off the trees, and it being -2 degrees in the mornings.

The wonderful thing about Australia was being able to understand what people were saying all of the time, being able to pick up a newspaper and know what’s going on, and simply being able to deal with everything in my own language. It was very easy to fall into conversation with complete strangers, which happens very rarely in Japan, well at least to me at any rate. I must exude an aura of unapproachability. I think it has something to do with my childhood – having to put on an “eff off!” face to dissuade the scallies from trying to nick my pocket money when I was hanging about Middlesbrough on Saturdays.

At any rate, Australia was good. I even managed to finish work early which gave time for a bit more of a wander around. This extra time was good in Melbourne, and would have been in Sydney if I didn’t have to wait at the airport for 2 hours for my suitcase to turn up, but sadly it was lost on Canberra.

With two days in Canberra, and my hotel being close to the centre, I decided to go for a wander to the parliament building. From my hotel room window it looked like a 20 minute walk at the most. However, after thirty minutes of walking in its general direction I had lost all sight of it, and hadn’t passed a single living soul. I decided to give up and head back after 40 minutes for fear that I might get beaten up by a gang of renegade kangaroos (there was a kangaroo cull on while I was there. Some of them had been going to the off-licence, buying 24-packs of Stella and beating up goths who where waiting for the bus home from sixth-form).

So, that’s all the travel news so far. I think I’ll be heading back to Australia at the end of the year, and Singapore again next year. In the meantime, here are some photos for your perusal:

Typical Singaporean weather

This is from a bar in Singapore. It pissed it down for the entire duration of my stay.

View from the office in Singapore

This is the view from the Singapore office (which, incidentally, is much better than the one I work in in Tokyo. Damn them!).

View from my hotel room in Singapore

This is the view from my hotel room at night. Raffles is in the bottom-left corner.

My hotel room in Singapore

Here’s my hotel room. No idea why they gave me a twin room. Still, good for dumping the old suitcase!

Singapore - death for drug traffickers!

“Death for drug traffickers under Singapore law” – ooh err missus!

Tram

This is Melbourne. Lots of trams in the city centre. I was convinced that I would get ploughed by one at some point. Didn’t happen. No one seemed to pay for tickets, so I didn’t either – when in Rome…

Melbourne

Down by the river side in Melbourne. Found lots of good bars and restaurants down here. All the staff were either British, Irish or American. Mind you, in London all the bar staff are either Aussies or Kiwis.

Melbourne's skyline

Melbourne’s skyline, as seen from the office (which once again was much better than my office in Tokyo. It’s a conspiracy!).

Victoria

This is somewhere in Victoria. Taken from the plane back to Melbourne from Canberra.

View from hotel room

This is the view from my hotel room in Canberra. The spiky thing in the distance is the parliament building. Doesn’t look too far away, does it?

Parliament building, from my hotel room

Close up of the parliament building. Apparently most of it is underground in case of war. Looks like a big hill with a kebab skewer on top if you ask me.

Hotel in Canberra (Exec. suite!)

I somehow managed to land an executive suite at no extra cost in Canberra. It was about the same size as our flat in Tokyo – class!

Hotel in Canberra

The bed was enormous as well.

Canberra nights

This is what I discovered when I went walking towards the parliament building in Canberra: absolutely nowt. The footpaths even disappeared after a while…

Canberra - the excitement never stops

… I did find a solitary signpost. Shame it was to nowhere in particular

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