In October 2011, I had the opportunity to travel to Singapore on a work trip. It was a truly incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience to literally travel across the world and spend a week in a culture so completely different.
I did spend most of the days stuck in conference rooms for meetings, but we did take the time to explore. The coworkers I traveled with and I were most interested in the food (obviously!).
I tried a lot of new things. First up was Kaya toast and coffee for breakfast on the first day. It was almost like a peanut butter sandwich, but with kaya jam instead of PB! This was from Ya Kun Kaya Toast.
I was also fascinated by this to-go coffee mechanism.
Another breakfast creation was ramen with a fried egg. Not sure I’d eat this for breakfast every morning, but it wasn’t bad. This came from a spot in an outside food court. That was an interesting experience as there was produce and even meat hanging out for everyone to see. I’m not sure how I felt about that!
I wish I would have snapped a pic of the dragonfruit juice I drank. It was very milky, but pretty good.
One food item that none of us liked was the fish ball soup. Yes — fish. ball. soup. Gross.
It was a fascinating cultural experience to step into convenience stores and see the food they sell there — it’s so different from here!
One of my favorite experiences, though, was going to the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel and being in awe of the view.
Overall, this trip was a significant life experience for me — on many levels. I’ll always remember the long flight from DC to Tokyo and then Tokyo to Singapore; the food; the people; and the lessons I learned there. It was during this trip that I actually decided to start looking for other job opportunities. I was surrounded by people who sacrificed time with their families to climb up the corporate ladder, and I decided I didn’t want to do that. And from what I’ve experienced since then, you don’t have to. You can have a fulfilling, successful career and balance it with family, friends and other passions. I’m thankful for the job that took me to Singapore, and all of the experiences that I had there, but looking back I know I was meant to take this trip for a more important reasons than just business.