Monday 26 September 2016

Divas and Drags

Winesday was the last day of indulgence as I've decided it's about time I got back to exercising again.

A girl from work is on the netball team with the Singapore Cricket Club, and on Thursday she invited a couple of us to play in a friendly match against Standard Chartered. I took a netball to the nose in the first few minutes. I dropped the ball. I ran the wrong way. ...Generally got the feeling that netball and I were never meant to be. It was good fun though so I think I'm going to join the slightly more casual club which is going to be running after work for staff - will be a good opportunity to get to know some of my 399 colleagues as well!

Continuing in the same vain this weekend; I took part (and lost) my first ever competitive dragon boat race! Every year all the different international dragon boat teams enter into 'Divas' where the ladies race and the men put on a drag show - all to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. The Gaelics entered two ladies teams.. and came last in both heats... but the boys did us SO proud and won the whole drag show with their outstanding Bhangra performance.

After the drag show,kegs of beer, food and a DJ were all delivered to the riverside where we celebrated alongside all the different international teams.

It was such a good day and we met heaps of cool people. I would recommend dragon boating to anyone who is moving to Singapore as you get to have fun, meet people and keep fit at the same time (as long as you don't drink too many San Miguel's afterwards...)

The Divas

The Drags

It was also Phil's birthday this weekend so we spent a lazy Sunday eating, lying on the beach, and wandering around the S.E.A Aquarium on Sentosa Island. The aquarium was the best I've been to - huge tanks with saw fish, sharks, manta rays and lots of other fish we are hoping to see on our next dive trip.

S.E.A Aquarium
S.E.A Aquarium

S.E.A Aquarium

We had some Japanese food in the evening and went for drinks at a Japanese speak-easy in Outram called D.Bespoke. They make bespoke cocktails based on taste preferences, the decór is beautiful and they sit you in these gorgeous armchairs along the bar. We will have to go back soon!

D.Bespoke and the birthday boy

Friday 23 September 2016

Singapore's First Wine Tasting Lab

On Wednesday Phil and I popped into 75cl's tasting lab to do what we do best, and drink some wine!

Nuzzled away in Bukit Merah, 75cl's tasting lab is a split-level, airy space filled floor to ceiling with bottles of wine, wine, more wine and spirits.


There were 56 wines to taste on our visit, each costing between $2-$4 SGD for a 30ml measure.

The staff gave us both a smart card when we arrived; so all we had to do was slot the card into the machine, choose our wine, press the button and fill our glass. A pretty nifty concept and meant we could go at our own pace and choose jwhichever wine we wanted throughout the evening.
Here's my new favourite:

My new favourite wine
NZ, Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir

75cl also have an online shop with over 1600 different wines and spirits available to buy at wholesale price. They've opened this new tasting lab for those of us who want to try before we buy - perfect for wine novices like me who want to build their repertoire.

So the moral of the story is: next time you're in Cold Storage and about to buy a bottle for 50 bucks; put it back and go for 75cl instead. You can try before you buy and save money at the same time. Can't go wrong. 

Happy Winesday!

Monday 19 September 2016

I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva

It was the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend and it was INSANE. 

On Friday night one of Phil's colleagues had wangled a hotel room on the 35th floor of the Swiss Hotel overlooking the track. We drunk the minibar dry and got very over-excited by everything happening 300ft below us.

View from 35th floor of the Swiss Hotel
View from 35th floor 

View from 35th floor of the Swiss Hotel

Once we had polished off a couple of bottles of the bubbly stuff we walked to the Padang and to see Kylie Minogue perform. I don't think I'll ever understand the appeal with Kylie but Phil went cray over her which was rather entertaining!

On Saturday evening (after a day of hungover Dragon Boat training) we saw Bastille and Queen who were both flipping fantastic. I absolutely love Bastille, but Queen was a whole other level of brilliance. I was floating around in ecstasy for most of the evening. In fact, I'd go as far as to say I was a bit like a tiger defying the laws of gravity...

Ahh. I just loved it. Adam Lambert and Brian May are the BEES KNEES.

Queen Finalé

Sunday was race day and before everything kicked off, Phil and I headed over to The Regent Four Seasons Hotel for a bottomless brunch at their Manhattan Bar with some new pals. I have had bottomless brunches in London loads of times with friends, so thought I knew what to expect, but boy was I wrong.

We had unlimited cocktails, wine and beer for four hours, along with some of the most delicious food I have had in Singapore. There was a whole room full of spices, spirits and mixers to make your own cocktail if desired. There was also a whole room dedicated to Baked Alaska desserts. A seafood station with oysters, lobster, clams, prawns and crab. A steak counter with the juiciest and most tender steak with all the condiments and melted cheese. A delicatessen counter with cheese, bread, smoked salmon, cold meats. A dessert counter with loads of little hand-made french patisserie and cakes, along with a whole shelf of cronuts and cookies. 

I don't really believe in heaven, but if I did... 

Cocktail room
Cocktail Room
Brunch gang
Brunch gang

We left brunch and wondered around the Bay a bit before the race started. I thought I'd had my fill of great music for the weekend, but these geniuses were playing at the Esplanade...

Our seats were on the Bayfront Grandstand - reasonably priced and a really good vantage point as we got to see the cars accelerating on the straight and then breaking to go around the corner. I thought about how bruised and battered I was from the Go Karting I did a couple of weekends ago... then I think about how the likes of Jensen Button must feel after a two hour slog around the track!

Singapore Grand Prix

Singapore Grand Prix

This weekend was one of the best I've had in Singapore. Filled with great food, drink, music, sport and of course, great company. What a weekend.

It is safe to say...

I am a fan

Monday 12 September 2016

Diving in Tioman

Day 1 - morning
After a 5 hour bus ride and a 3 hour ferry ride we arrived on Tioman island, Malaysia at 4am.

I'm writing this on the boat at 9am, after only 3 hours sleep. I feel half dead but am so excited for diving this weekend!

Day 1 - evening
We just got back from our first day of diving. Four dives today around Paya Bakau, Renggis and Genting; the last one being a night dive! The night dive was actually a bit spooky as I couldn't see anything other than where my torch was pointing.. Had some issues with my mask being a bit steamy on that one too which didn't help!

Earlier in the day we did a bit of peak performance buoyancy, drift diving and fish spotting. We spotted a 1.5m black tipped reef shark which was awesome! 

The only slight issue today was that there are 8 people in our group, four of which hate sticking to formation and kicked me in the face a few times.

Off to bed now, another early start and 5 more dives tomorrow!

Day 2 - evening
Such an amazing day! Went to some incredible dive sites (La Bas, Malang and Soyak) where the reef looked like someone had come along and turned the saturation up on everything. We saw loads of blue spotted ray, giant moray eels, barracuda, angel fish, clown fish, bat fish, bumpheaded fish, cornets, file fish, trigger fish and best of all - a 1.5m hawksbill turtle. It took my breath away... which isn't the best situation to be in at the bottom of the ocean. 

We also did some basic navigation; practising using a dive compass and dive computer. I've learnt to maintain perfect buoyancy upside down now too which is fun, especially when looking around all the nooks and crannies of the reef.

Bed now. 6.30am start tomorrow for our final 2 dives.

Day 3 - afternoon 
I'm on the coach on the way back to Singapore. We did two dives this morning: the Sipidan Wreck and another leisure dive at Renggis. The wreck was cool, we went down to 25m and swam around fish spotting, although it was pretty murky down there - maybe 2 metres visibility max.

It's been a great weekend and Phil and I are now qualified Advanced Open Water divers - hurrah! Someone was telling us about a war ship wreck in the Philippines where you can see the bomb craters and dive down through them into the ship! I think that's out next dive trip sorted already!!

Scuba Diving

Thursday 8 September 2016

Loving the Lights of Singapore

I had my first taste of Wednesday ladies night this week with a couple of girls from work. We went to the martini bar at the Grand Hyatt Hotel where we had lychee, berry, ginger, basil, mint, citrus and espresso martinis all half price, followed by a bottle of champagne courtesy of some guys in the bar. It was a good night. The drinks were delicious and the beef sliders were so good we ordered 4 each.

I'm glad I'm getting to know some colleagues my own age at work. One of the girls I went out with is part of a netball club, so in an effort to try some more new things, I've signed myself up to play a match in a couple of weeks time. Not sure I remember any of the rules which doesn't bode too well...I'd best get practising!

Another night after work Phil and I went to Din Tai Fung and gorged on pretty much all the dumplings. I can't rate Din Tai Fung highly enough. It's super cheap, delicious and you'll never be far from a branch as there about 20 of them across the island. 

We were eating at the MBS branch, and as luck would have it, just as we rolled out of the restaurant the MBS light show began. We've seen the show from almost every angle, but hadn't gotten around to seeing it the best way - sitting on the deck in front of the fountains. Light was projected onto the water from the fountains which told a story of childhood, love and family life, whilst music played from speakers either side. It was kind of mesmerising. At the end of the display everyone gave a huge round of applause... and this is something that happens every single evening in Singapore.

MBS Light Show
MBS Light Show 

After the light show we walked over to Supertree Grove and watched the Garden Rhapsody. I hadn't seen this before either and, once again, I was completely blown away by how beautiful it was. My parents are visiting early next year and I can't wait to show them - they're going to love it. 

Garden Rhapsody
Garden Rhapsody

It's the mid-autumn festival at the moment and in celebration, the Gardens by the Bay have been decorated with lanterns of all shapes and sizes. So after the Garden Rhapsody we wandered around looking at them all - here are some of my favourites:

Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival

Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival

Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival

Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival

The mid-autumn festival also means it is time for Moon Cakes! If you  haven't tried them or don't know what I'm talking about, then fear not - you are not missing out (although I should caveat that by saying that some people really do love them, I'm just not one of those people!). If you don't now what they are, Moon Cakes are pastry, filled with red bean or lotus paste, with an egg yolk in the middle. They're dense, fatty, sweet and salty, and at the moment they can be found absolutely everywhere in Singapore. 

Moon Cake
Moon Cake
Phil and I are diving off the Malaysian island of Tioman this weekend to make the most of the Singapore public holiday. I can't wait! We did our Open Water course in Thailand in May, so are now progressing to get our Advanced Open Water qualification. We need to show proficiency in underwater navigation and deep diving, as well as peak performance buoyancy, fish ID, drift, night and wreck diving. Eek!! 

Sunday 4 September 2016

Eat, drink, repeat.

Phil's brother was in town for one night last week so we went for a drink at Cé La Vi at the top of Marina Bay Sands Hotel, followed by another delicious dinner at Level 33.

Cé La Vi is very average and overpriced. Level 33 on the other hand is ace! I had the tenderloin steak followed by something chocolatey which were both out of this world.

Something chocolatey

Even though I've been to Level 33 before, I was still in complete awe of the views across the city. I mean, just look at this...

The view from Level 33
The view from Level 33

I've really settled into my job now and getting to know some of the other ladies in the team which is good. At the end of the long week, Phil and I went out with my colleague and her husband; starting at the Tippling Club on Tanjong Pagar road, then heading to Meat Liquor for some deep fried goodness. 

The Tippling Club is quite a trendy place. They had scent sticks marked with different cocktails; some of which smelt incredible (like Campfire or Forest), and others (like Grass and Leather)...not so much. 

The Tippling Club cocktail
Marshmallow milk, campfire,
burnt syrup, ash & gin

The Tippling Club cocktail
Salted caramel, citrus
& rum

We finished up the week meeting up with a mate for a Sunday roast at LoKal, then filled our bellies with cupcakes at Plain Vanilla Bakery in Tiong Bahru. It was nice meeting up with someone English for some proper English grub. We have planned to go for another brunch with him and his pals in two weeks when the Grand Prix is on... we are planning to go all-out with a proper Singapore brunch: free flow champagne and all-you-an eat buffet at the top of one of the hotels. 

I feel like I am eating my way around the island...!