Singapore, Qantas and Indian Food, Oh My!

Greetings from Singapore, where I arrived just over 12 hours ago after a long night not sleeping very well on a Qantas flight due for Sydney. This was entirely the fault of me, who did not remember to bring my travel pillow (that U-shaped thing that goes around your neck and works amazingly well) because of the fact that I was packing from my new place, where most of my things are not. Said pillow was at the old flat. An additional thing that did not make the trip, most frustratingly, was the mobile phone charger for my American phone. It’s back at the old flat also, I know exactly where it is. So I had to, yet again, head off on my first day in a foreign city in search of a mobile phone store to find an appropriate charger. Admittedly, I did not have a second charger for this phone, nor did I have one for the UK (just an American one with an adaptor, since it is my American phone) so it was not an entirely huge waste of money or time (unlike the trip last month in which I bought my umpteenth USB-to-iPod/iPhone adaptor, when I have a drawer full of them).

First things first, I love Singapore. I love that it costs only S$1.90 to get from the airport to the center of town if you know the awesomeness that is the Singapore subway system. I love that there are three different chain restaurants devoted to coffee and toast on my way from my hotel to the convention center. (And admittedly, I love that I have stayed in this hotel before, for a conference in the same convention center, such that I know my way around. This is true in Boston as well, and I admit that I prefer these conferences when I get to be in “familiar” surroundings compared with the stress of going somewhere new and needing to start over.) I love the convergence of cultures here, and the huge variety of food available. I had a local speciality kaya toast for breakfast, Chinese food for lunch and Indian food for dinner, and I have a bag of Aussie snacks (cheese Twisties) in my hotel room. After having been in China a few months ago, I’m feeling much more interested in the local food, and much more bold in trying it on my own, so today on my explorations I found both a Taiwanese restaurant (perhaps of the same chain I visited with my sister in China?) and a hot pot place that I have to try (although I might stick with vegetables…). This year I doubt I’ll repeat my performance from my last trip to Singapore, where I obsessively hung out in a local (i.e. close to the hotel) restaurant with an Italian/Aussie-ish vibe. So far I have not been able to ascertain whether said restaurant still exists, as it was boarded up today–but also much of Singapore was, given the Sunday-ness.

I’m happy to be here, because it’s fun to come back to a place that you’ve visited before. I find this is true the more I travel: I’m happiest to return to Boston, Orlando, Munich, Singapore, the places that I’ve been to on three or more occasions, because these places start to feel like a home-away-from-home. If you are going to have my life, and live out of a suitcase and spend no more than three weeks at “home” at any given time (which is my new calculation for how silly 2010 has been for me–I think this is true and shows how dumb I’ve been!) you should at least enjoy the places where you are spending your time.

The work starts tomorrow, and I should probably have been prepping today instead of dining out and napping, so the next few days will certainly be interesting. I have meetings and talks to give flat out for the next four days, at which point I hit a flight back to the UK at midnight Thursday and have meetings in the UK office planned for Friday. The weekend can not come soon enough…

Flying Qantas to get here made me both happy and sad. I love flying on Qantas, but it was the first time that I had flown with them to get to someplace that was not Australia. So I indulged in my minor Aussie obsession while travelling, reading about interesting Australian art exhibits in the in-plane magazine and listening to the best of modern Aussie music on the headphones on the trip, but I knew full well that I would not quite make it far enough on this trip to actually get to the sunburnt country itself. I don’t know when I’ll be back to visit Australia either, which made for a sad moment or two in transit. Last time I was in Singapore, I was heading to Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney for an adventure of a lifetime (aside from the previous adventure of a lifetime, when I had been there six months earlier).

Travels are funny, that way. This blog makes for a great record of these trips, and when I look back at the archives from my visit to Singapore (and then Australia) a year and a month ago, I have mixed feelings. I’m glad I did what I did then, and on this trip I’m sort of glad that I’m going home to England after a mere four nights in Singapore. Especially with the new flat to settle in to, my wanderlust is perhaps damped a bit at the moment. There are many places I’d like to see, in Asia, Australia, and beyond, but on this trip my overwhelming feeling is one of a desire for home, and in this funny case home is my new flat in the UK, not something in the US at all. Confusing, yet comforting, that my existence has settled down a bit to be based in one country only. The confusing part comes because that home is in England, which is not what I would have expected five years ago.

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