Saturday, June 7, 2008

Almost done in Singapore

I'm sorry for not posting more regularly while I've been here in Singapore -- I've been busy much of the time, and haven't had much chance to catch up on things. But it is now Saturday evening here (Saturday morning back home), and I have some time to share what's been going on.

I mentioned having gone to Sentosa, and posted a couple of pictures from there. On Thursday I was able to catch the ferry to Bintan, Indonesia, and go to a resort there and get in some snorkeling. I remembered to bring my waterproof camera, though unfortunately I was only able to get 200 film, so the pictures came out a little less clear than I had hoped. But I got to see some types of fish in the South China Sea that previously I have only been able to see in fishtanks, and that was a lot of fun. I also had some unexpected free time, because the morning snorkeling trip was canceled due to lack of people for it, so hmmm... what to do? I know! Get a 2 1/2 hour massage in a tropical resort, with the birds and the sea breeze and the warm air... THAT was an excellent idea.

Indonesia also helped out on my quest to fill up all the pages in my passport before it expires, in that it is the first place I have gone where I had to purchase a visa, and it filled up one entire page, so thanks for that, Indonesian Immigrasi!

I've been doing my best to eat good local Chinese, Indonesia, Thai, or other regional food while I am here, and today I had sweet and sour pork, which was excellent. Not at all like the thick sticky sauce we often get at home, but something very light, and extremely tasty.

There is one more day of class left, and I think it has gone pretty well. We've covered a lot of important topics, generated a lot of discussion among the students about how their organizations respond to various staffing issues, and a lot of cultural issues that arise in that situation, so I feel like they've come away with some useful things. Tomorrow, our last day of class, will be largely filled with student group project presentations, and the students have really worked hard on them, and I think will end up doing a great job on them.

Sunday will have to be an early evening, as my flight departs at 6:00am, and I'll need to be at the airport by 4:30am. So no last night carousing for me, I think. I've really enjoyed my time here, and will certainly hope to come back, but I think I am ready to get home and see the family, and see how the new house is turning into a new home.

That's about it for n0w -- I've done some good shopping, but some of you won't see the results of that for several months ;)

Love to all.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


OK, Singapore... I left on Wednesday afternoon, and flew to Tokyo. We waited on the tarmac for a while in Detroit, but ultimately landed in Tokyo only about an hour late, which left me plenty of time for the next flight. So I spent 13 hours in the plane on the way to Tokyo, had a 2-hour layover, and then another 8 hours on the plane to Singapore. We landed at about 1:30am local time, and I was amazed that no one asked me a single question at immigration or customs, so I was in the hotel and headed to bed by about 2:45am. Class started that evening at 7:00pm, so I didn't do much that day other than rest, find the class room, go over my files, and get ready for the class. I did go to a mall close by when I realized that I had brought a shirt with a stain on it -- fortunately, this month is "Singapore on Sale!" where everything everywhere is on sale. I got a couple of dress shirts inexpensively, though I did feel bad for the woman helping me. The shirt size she picked out for me was too small, which embarrassed her, but it wasn't surprising, given that the shirts are cut to fit an Asian population which is typically thinner than a North American population, and is certainly thinner than me!

Saturday and Sunday were both class all day. The class is really interesting -- there is a tremendous diversity of experience in the students, much moreso than I have wrestled with before. Some of the students are brand new to Human Resources, and really need to go over the basics of how you do Staffing (which is the topic of the course). Others are HR executives who have been doing this for many years, and no longer do the basics because their subordinates do that work now, and they want to talk about much more advanced topics. So I am re-working the classes for the final three days, and will try to find a point that works for everyone.

Sunday evening, I left class a few minutes early, and went over to the Presidential Palace, which is 5 minutes from my hotel. The first Sunday of every month they do the changing of the guard, and so that was interesting. Lots of pageantry, one military band playing as the new guard came in, another playing as the old guard went out. The MPs did a routine that was very complex, but also seemed to border on a dance routine at times. It was well-done, no doubt, but didn't seem to quite fit my idea of what MPs ought to do. I was looking around for an Indian, a cop, and a construction worker to go with them.

Singapore is a relatively large city (4.5 million), but a very small country. The class has several Singaporeans in it, but also Brits, Aussies, Indonesians, Vietnamese, Indians, Americans... it is very diverse, which is both fun and challenging. There is a tremendous variety of food available, and I've been doing my share of sampling it, including getting food from the "hawkers" who sell on the streets. These are very common and very popular, and typically extremely good.

Yesterday I went to Sentosa, which is essentially a resort island that is part of Singapore. They have all sorts of attractions, including the beach, animal shows, rides, etc. It reminded me of Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It was fun, and I got to see some neat things. There were macaques with babies on their bellies, peacocks, and I got a picture of me with a large parrot. There is also a large mer-lion at Sentosa -- the mer-lion is the symbol of Singapore, and it is half-lion, half-fish. To get to Sentosa, I took the Sentosa Express, which is a monorail from one of the jillions of malls here, and on the way back, took a cable car over the water, which gave a nice view. While at Sentosa, I went to the Southernmost point of the Asian Continent, which was nothing fancy, but just sort of cool.

This afternoon I had lunch with the staff who are coordinating my visit here, and we had excellent Thai food, including some really spicy things, and some things that I have no idea what they were. I also dropped my laundry off at the Washy-Washy, and will pick it up this evening. As soon as I am done with this entry, I am going to the Night Safari, where you get pretty close to the animals. I am planning to either go on a day trip to Malacca, Malaysia (a historical area), or to Bintan, Indonesia (a resort for good snorkeling), depending on which I can get to (trying to figure out the advance reservations needed).

So far, I am having a great time, though I feel horrible about leaving Heather and Michael and Heather's folks behind to work on the new house. "Hey, we have a new house, you all paint it while I am gone!" I really appreciate what they've done while I've been away, and look forward to seeing them and it in a week or so.

Monday, June 2, 2008

OK, I'm a bad person for not posting while I've been traveling, so here are a couple of quick catch-up posts. I did in fact go to Amsterdam and stay at The Bridge Hotel, next to the Skinny Bridge, and I think the talk there (part of the Distinguished Speaker Series at the Business School of the University of Amsterdam) went well. I got to spend some good work time with my colleague Deanne Den Hartog, and really enjoyed meeting with the graduate students, as well. It was a quick visit -- I left on a Saturday night to arrive Sunday afternoon, and then returned home on Tuesay morning -- but I think it was well worth it.

I really enjoy Amsterdam as a city -- it is so pedestrian-friendly, with tons of bikes and scooters, and walking paths, and a great public transit system. I have been there a few times, and always enjoyed it there. I could see living there someday, or at least doing a longer stay of a several weeks, and really enjoying it. Great museums, and just a neat place all around.

I got home on Tuesday, we did the walk-through for the new house on Wednesday, and closed on Thursday. Our water problems in the new home began on Friday... I think now they are mostly resolved, but we've gotten to know the local plumber much quicker than we had expected to. So we started having problems, and then I promptly left for Singapore, and left Heather behind to resolve the problems, and I have to say she is coming through like a trooper. I am really proud of her, and grateful to her for helping so much with everything.

I am going to try to do a post with pictures about Singapore (which is where I am right now), but it may not be tonight, as bed time is approaching. Love to all, and I hope to see you soon! (Come visit our new home!)