We awoke the next morning to the predictable sounds of the room phone. The speaker group was energetically attempting to figure out what we were all going to do on our first day in Singapore.
After all, we would be speaking at the Singapore SMART Seminar crowd in just two days and there was a desire to sneak in some tourist stops before the work began.
Surprisingly not a lot of activity appeared to be planned.
One speaker opted to get a well earned massage at the hotel spa. Others decided to take a day to catch up on neglected customer support or other business overhead tasks.
I decided to head down to the breakfast buffet and see what the day would bring us.
It brought us Mark Widawer – one of our fellow speakers. He was enjoying a quiet morning meal when we invited ourselves to sit with him.
Mark expressed his desire to do SOMETHING – after all how many times do you get a chance to hang out in Singapore?
We shared his longing and commenced to figuring out what our options were.
A couple of the other speakers were headed to the beach and the Singapore Aquarium. Although this sounded like a fine use of time, I was looking for a more authentic (local) taste of Singapore.
Our waitress had the perfect recommendation: an open air market on Bugis Street.
Now this sounded more like it! I had so enjoyed the open air markets of South Korea and was thrilled at the possibility of reliving those memories here in Singapore.
With our mission in hand, we finished our meal and
hailed a taxi to whisk us off to our shopping adventure.
We arrived on Bugis Street and I was at first a little disappointed. The cabby dropped us off outside of what appeared to be a traditional western style mall. Not my idea of an adventure, by any means.
Then we turned to face the other street and there it was.
Stone carved pillars held high a clay topped roof that housed an antique looking Asian sign declaring that this was indeed Bugis Street. The two typically carved stone characters on either side appeared to glare their agreement to this statement down to the street.
It looked like we would be entering the realm of “Big Trouble in Little China”.
Now this was exactly what I had been waiting for!
We entered the arches to find halls and halls of little stores. Many appeared to be smaller than my closet back home and were stuffed with oodles of items.
One store was brimming with watches. Another with silk robes and dresses.
One near the entrance had titanium and steel jewelry. The variety of stores just went on and on and on!
My favorite depots were what Mark called “junk stores”.
These were filled with all kinds of touristy trinkets such as pocket sized buddha dolls and chop sticks, elephant statues, shot glasses, drums right out of Karate Kid, cheesy cartoon dragons – red, gold and green oriental designs screamed at us as we entered.
Then there was the snack and drink shops.
One such drink shop in particular caught our eye. They displayed a dozen different freshly made fruit juices on their counter – along with a sample of the fruit so you were sure to understand that this was REALLY fresh juice.
We eached grabbed one…I had mango (played it a little safe), Lee chose watermelon and Mark decided that he wanted something different. He chose the Drazon Fruit.
This fruit was so beautiful. It was about the size of a softball and had flexible
spikes adorning it’s entire surface. Image a green and purple Fraggle Rock
character and you would have a pretty good idea what this fruit looked like.
It was very cool – and as Mark was kind enough to allow us to sample it – quite good!
Soon we found ourselves at the other end of the first great hallway. ourside of the great market were other less formal stands encased in tent-like structures. Here we found clothing and other more common wears.
I found a couple of hand made Indian shirts I had to snatch up. Rough cotton textures and hand sewn stitching made these casual items very unique, indeed.
After the row of tents, we found ourselves entering a mini-little china.
Carts with red and white round umbrellas cluttered the wide street. Less and less people in this area spoke English and the signs hanging from the carts no longer had words that we could recognize.
There were many different traditional Chinese food options (not American Chinese – by the way).
I tried an egg tart treat that could have been snatched right out of the “Alice in Wonderland” story and Mark had some puffy pastry filled with bean custard.
I didn’t like either 🙂
Then we found ourselves deep in the middle of what must have been a religious ceremony.
There was a life size Buddha statue that people were rubbing and praying near. The carts were now filled with fresh flowers and incense which appeared to be used in the streets and in the surrounding buildings during what must have been a scheduled religious time.
Not wanting to intrude upon a local ceremony, we quietly began to make our way back to the great market halls.
As we approached the entrance to the open air market, the skies open up and we were surrounded by a pouring tropical rainfall.
Quite nice, especially since we had just made it under cover.
At this particular entance was a stand selling Durian. This is a very recognizable fruit that looks like a crescent roll, but definitely does not smell like one!
Let’s just say that they provide you with plastic gloves to handle the fruit when you eat it.
Not exactly a great visualization to have for those who may be brave enough to taste this delicacy.
Mark, being the constant food adventurer, decided to sample the fruit. After the first bite, it appeared that Mark was having a hard time holding his poker face as he attempted to talk me into tasting it as well.
It took one look at his face to know that I could live forever without sampling this local treat!
After the rain let up, we headed back to the front of the market to find a taxi to take us to our next stop: rejoining the group for dinner and local entertainment.
The night’s entertainment portion was so much fun, that I want to skip any dinner details and head right into the later parts of the evening.
Most of the speakers decided to take in some of the local nightlife and hit a very popular club, Attica. Plus it was ladies night, so I was definitely in.
We enter the venue to the pulse of an incredibly loud trance like dance beat. People were jumping and swaying in sync with each other to the music.
My mind immediately took me to a cool scene in a great vampire flick,
where the sprinkler system opens up to drench the crowd in fresh blood.
This did not happen at this club 🙂
We arranged for a VIP section and settled in with a couple bottles of rum. As the rest of the group wandered on and off of the dance floor, Lee and I enjoyed our drinks from behind our velvet rope and “people watched’ for most of the evening.
Not to say that we didn’t hit the dance floor…we did. And people-watching (which, in Singapore, is fascinating on its own).
After like 6 hours of dancing and general shenanigans, it was time to head back towards the hotel.
Sometime during the evening, I became the “wing man” for one of the speakers and had enjoyed the fun of helping others pick up hot chicks.
Many techniques were used on the unsuspecting ladies all night, which left very few lines to try out in our last moments of socializing.
Keep that in mind….
As we walk through the now mostly empty streets at 5 AM to the nearest taxi stand, Wingman Lee spies a group of pretty ladies and points this out to the other speakers.
Apparently it was decided that Wingman Lee had used up all of his material previously in the evening and so he was forced to resort to the simplest of tactics.
I very loudly and confidently hollar “hey” to the group of girls.
Now, this may have been the result of the very late (or early) hour or a response to the very simple technique – but one of the girls starts to head over. She even waves for one of her support friends to join here.
This, of course, leads Wingman Lee and the others in our group to stop in utter amazement at the results of this very clever technique and to instantly burst into laughter at the fact that it was actually working!
Which, of course, lead to both girls deciding to immediately return to their group of friends.
And in this, is a very good marketing lesson – if not THE BEST marketing lesson.
Simple still works.
Just don’t burst into laughter and scare off your prospects 🙂
And with that, I will call it a night. More adventures in the next post.