I left yesterday morning at 7am from my home in Cape Town and arrived today at 12:40pm (i.e. 6:40am) in Singapore. Very close to 24 hours of travel and if you include the time to get through passport control and the taxi ride to the hotel then it was over 24 hours.
I am attending the International Actuarial Association meetings in Singapore and they last until Sunday and then I have 2 days working for Gen Re before I head home again. As I said above, I left at 7am to catch a flight to Johannesburg and then to Hong Kong and then from Hong Kong to Singapore. If you know anything about Asia geography (and those of you who don’t are now googling a map of SE Asia), Hong Kong is actually about 2500 kms past Singapore so you might be asking why not simply fly to Singapore directly (which you can actually do out of Cape Town). Two reasons actually – first the airfare on Cathay Pacific was 60% of what it would have cost on Singapore Airlines (go figure – fly more and pay 60% less) and then I also offered to do some presentations for the Gen Re offices while I am here and that included a client presentation in HK.
The flights over were all on time departing and either landed early or on time as well. Asian efficiency in operation. The service you get on Cathay Pacific is very good. They ‘hover’ and just when you want something and look up to ask them they are standing there as if they had anticipate you were about to ask for something. It is just over a 12 hour flight from Jhb to HK and so after having lunch and watching Fast and Furious 6 (and the way it ended means 7 must be on it’s way now too), I thought I should try and get some sleep as it was already 9pm in HK at that point (though only 3pm in SA). I did manage to sleep for about 3 hours and then was wide awake. So I started watching a TV series (BBC production) called Luther (police detective). Recommended by one scoundrel of a nephew but it seems he has good taste in TV drama because I ended up watching the first 4 episodes of Season 1. By this stage it was about 10pm in SA and I reckoned I should try and get some more sleep again and managed to squeeze in about an hour before they turned the lights on to serve breakfast (it was midnight – who wants breakfast at midnight?!). My only other compliant about Cathay Pacific was that when they served the lunch they only poured about 2 mouthfuls of wine into a big glass and they weren’t quick to top it up – maybe I look like a drunkard (though the guy next to me definitely did and he was knocking back the G&Ts).
I had about an hour to kill in HK after doing the usual transfer through security and so quickly nipped into the Cathay lounge for some more breakfast fruit (they have great fruit in Asia) and to download my emails. Then it was onto the flight from HK to Singapore which was uneventful and landed at 12:40pm and I managed to watch another movie ‘Now you see me’ on that flight. Passport control was a breeze and I was at the hotel by 1:20pm. I am staying at the Pan Pacific Hotel (http://www.panpacific.com/en/singapore/Overview.html) It is a nice hotel (5-star and all) but not as nice as I would have expected it to be having stayed at other 5-star hotels in Asia previously. I am on the 15th floor of about 38 floors. The most impressive thing about the hotel room is that the shower has 4 nozzles (see pic)!
I had my first meeting this afternoon from 2-5pm. Given I only arrived at 1:20pm it didn’t give me much time to shower and change but I made it down with 5 minutes to spare. The meeting was tedious. No boring. No mind-numbingly boring. No tiresome. No humdrum. No dull. No actually all of them together. I reckon if I was chairing it the meeting would have been completed in about 30 minutes. It was basically a meeting sharing information which I already knew and everyone agreeing what they already knew and saying it numerous times in different ways. With the jet lag, the only reason I didn’t fall asleep was because the room aircon was on 10 degrees Celcius (though might have been Fahrenheit it was so cold in there).
This evening the South Africans had a dinner together at the Fullerton Hotel (http://www.fullertonhotel.com/default-en.html) which is an iconic Singapore Hotel. We opted for the buffet was given how expensive the cheapest wine was (R1000/$100 per bottle for the cheapest wine), was very good value. There was a full Japanese buffet including sushi and sashmi (eat as much you like), a full seafood bar (prawns, scallops, mussels, crab, smoked salmon, oysters), dim sum, buffets meats (chicken, duck & pork), crab cooked about another dozen ways, fish cooked about 3-4 ways etc. There was also a full desert selection including about 10 different ways of doing chocolate (including a chocolate fountain), ice cream, creme brulee, apple tarts (that looked like chocolate to me) etc. We all ended up having 4 courses.
We elected to walk back to the hotel (about a 20 minute walk) but even though it was 10pm, the temperature was unaltered at about 30 degrees Celsius. Lovely view of the harbour an city as we walked back and I probably lost about a kilogram on the walk back as well. It was a good way to get back though to the hotel and quite a pleasant way to finish the day/evening.
Now I am off to bed and hoping for a good night’s sleep as I have a breakfast meeting at 7:30am tomorrow.