Today started with an early meeting with the American ‘conqueror the whole world’ counterparts. It was an entertaining and interesting meeting. Definitely the best meeting I have attended so far since we have been here. Our President started the meeting with “Let’s get married before we share any secrets” as his opening salvo. It was hard to keep a straight face. I think they did get the message though that we aren’t simply going to share and get nothing in return. Still not positive it will lead anywhere but at least we have made our feelings clear.
The meeting was over breakfast but they didn’t really have much breakfast available in the meeting room so I went afterwards and had a proper breakfast. Unfortunately no new fruits today. #disappointed
I did managed to have another fresh squeezed juice though at least mid-morning when I had an informal meeting with Themba (our President). Their fresh fruit juices are really very good. I think we must get a good juicer at home. Helen also complains that it is a mission to clean. Not sure that should matter as we have 3 built in washers that can be instructed to clean it.
We had an afternoon ‘Presidents’ meeting from 12:30pm through to 5pm. It is definitely the best formal meeting of the programme but then that isn’t hard to make that standard given how poor some of the other meetings have been. There were a few good presentations and discussions including one by Themba. There was also a lengthy discussion on the future of that particular meeting.
At 5:30pm Themba and I agreed to meet to go to Sim Lim City. We were told it was close by and we could walk which we then did. The problem in Singapore is that you cannot jaywalk at all and at numerous places we could not find a way to cross the road. You then have to double back and go under the road using sub-ways. What looked like a short walk turned into a 40 minute walk. The closer we got to Sim Lim City the busier it got as well. Sim Lim City is a 6 floor electronic shopping mall. My sons would call it heaven. Anything you could want electronic is found here. Few items are price marked though which means you end up negotiating on anything you want. And they come up with ridiculous negotiation techniques. I got a good price negotiated on a camera (for Helen) and then when I said ok I want to buy it the price went up by GST and also a credit card fee. It was still a good price and so I said OK get me one and then suddenly the guy was trying to sell me a lens as well. When I rejected the lens purchase he suddenly didn’t have stock and he said no one else would as well. We did check with other stores who all said they had stock but they were at least $100 more than him. In the end I could get the camera at the same price or even better from the US rather.
By this stage Themba and I were hungry and so we set out to find a place to eat. We walked through the local food court (which is ridiculously cheap) but I think Themba was put off by the Pig’s Organ Soup. So we headed on to find a proper restaurant. The Actuarial Society pays us for the time we are here (a daily allowance) and so we figured we could afford a nicer restaurant. On route to finding a better place we passed a few juice stalls and bought a freshly squeezed juice for R8 (less than $1). A tenth of the hotel price and just as nice.
We eventually found a Japanese Yakatori restaurant. Themba was still skeptical but I persuaded him it would be fine. It turned out better than fine. It turned out to be really good. Anytime someone arrives or leaves they shouted out and so it was a constant noise of shouting ‘Hello’ or ‘Goodbye’ all with Japanese accents. They were also quite sophisticated in that you did the ordering yourself onto an iPad. Just select the next dish you want and confirm it and they bring it to your table. You could enter one at a time or multiple at same time. Very clever and worked really well. We expected that it was going to be quite expensive because we ordered quite a lot in the end (13 items) but the whole bill including drinks and tip only came to R480 ($45) for the 2 of us. It was a great experience.
We didn’t make the mistake of trying to walk back to the hotel but rather took a taxi which took us about 4 minutes versus the 40 minute walk to get there (the fare being Singapore$ 7.71 – very accurate cab fare meters!). We nipped into the mall next to the hotel (it is a big fancy mall with all the brands Michael likes – Hugo Boss, Polo, Armani etc) and found a Danish Ice Cream shop and got our deserts from there. Now it is 9:30pm and I am feeling quite tired after walking in the heat and humidity and probably will head to bed shortly.