Monday, 10 August 2015

Changi airport ... it's own destination ...

Most of you will know how much I Singapore ..  for those that have never been .. it is tiny ... but extraordinary ...  so well planned and organised that despite the limited space, it feels so much bigger than it is ... full of gardens, super clean, never a hold up in traffic, cosmopolitian, wonderful food, multicultural, superb architecture, superb design, movable runways, floating F1 tracks, sentosa, amazing history, warmth, pride etc ..  add to that ... knowing some awesome folk that live there ... 
it can be easily forgotten that there is a destination, within this destination ...  Changi airport ...  Huh !??  too true ... I always try and stop over for a night or a few hours in Singapore ..  just to hang out at the airport !! (sorry team sinkers especially M & L , trips are not really to see you ...  !^$!*). 
The airport is about a 20 minute ride from the CBD and only £5 or $12 AUD in a cab ...  made up of 3 terminals (4th being built) with the free skytrain running between terminals every 3 minutes ...  so I am sure you can look up easily what to do in sinkers .. as an alternative, below is my run down of why spend time at the airport ...  before that ...  maybe I should add tip #1 .....  make time to talk to a stranger…
Singapore airport travel tips...

  • early check in desks - most airports and airlines only open their check in desks 2-3 hours before the flight ...  at Singapore there is early check in everywhere so you can take advantage of all the airport goodness up a few hours early, check your luggage in and spend a day or even two at the airport

  • free tours through Singapore - yep, if you land and are waiting for a transit flight, you can have a free tour of Singapore..  private tour on a bus | coach a day and night tour ...  for around 3-5 hours seeing all the key sites in Singapore with an English speaking guide (check out the Singapore tours desk)

  • sunflower garden - visit a whole garden dedicated to sunflowers

  • Visit the private music booths ....  where you can spend a few hours listening to

  • rooftop pool - yep, you can even take some time to pop along and have a swim in the sun to refresh ...

  • the shopping - by far the BEST airport shopping and best discounted shopping ever encountered ...  surpasses even Dubai

  • the cultural education - throughout the whole airport are mini museums providing education and understanding of the history of Singapore and surrounds

  • free movies - for those that have checked in, or in transit there are cinemas in the terminals that offer all the latest releases for free

  • airport hotel - inside the airport where you can rent rooms by the hour..  (not that kind) or overnight .... take advantage of this ...  an absolute bargain

  • massage - foot reflexology terminal 3 (do more than just reflexology) the massages here are the BEST in the world ..  (trust me, I have had alot) ..  I go to the airport for these massages alone ... try the 90 minute aromatherapy and oil, with body scrub and shower for around $100SD ... and the 60 minute reflexology ... (if not there, are multiple other massages places to keep you relaxed)

  • Visit the gaming centre for free - where there are multiple things to keep you busy

  • free wifi and internet lounges - everywhere

  • the koi pond and garden - visit a garden where you can relax and view singapores most prized fish

  • free massage chairs ...  most places charge ... everywhere in the airport you can sit down and take advantage of these chairs

  • snooze lounge - the only airport I know that has lounges set up with beds for free where you can take a nap, and plug in your laptop phone for a free charge

  • free TV - parked around all the major eateries are super comfy chairs, with access to recharge your technology, as you watch TV, documentaries, movies and have a wine, whilst you listen through speakers in your chairs

  • butterfly enclosure - not for me ... I hate moths and butterflies ...  but you are free to experience many types of butterflies in one of the worlds largest enclosures

  • visit the orchid garden - one of the most beautiful gardens to experience

  • kinetic rain - an amazing art display featuring movable silver rain drops

  • the worlds largest slide - true, take a ride ...

  • and if you can't be bothered to remember all that - grab one of the free customer experience agents - who will show you all this and more ...  and guess what …  for free !!
but you know the best bit …   you get to meet the most wonderful people, with the most heartwarming stories while waiting to check in, more of that later …
stay safe ...

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

moments of self reflection ... mmm .. probably a bit deep !

so ...  now back in tokyo .. and spending the evening hotel bound, rearranging flights etc ... to head back to Mel | Sydney next week ...  interviews and to help someone out, before looking at heading back to the UK.  Off to Mt Fuji tomorrow and a soak in the Hakone onsens ... for a couple of days before heading back via Manila and Singapore for a couple of days ..
I spent the strangest but oddly very rewarding couple of days in Kyoto at Geisha training.  An experience very few people would be able to do.  I was sceptical at first, as the folk that introduced me, I met at Lawsons, (grocery store in Japan) but it turned out to be a reality.  It takes around 6 years to train as a Geisha and there are apparantley only 2 or 3 thousand left in Japan, these women are extraordinary, called living works of art it is not hard to see why.  Three days being taught many things, fom the basics, how to stand, walk, how to tip your head and communicate messages without saying anything, to the more complex, learning traditional drums, pouring tea, flower arranging, days all spent in silence (well I tried to spend it in silence) ... a geisha is supposed to be the worlds greatest host, able to converse on many topics, keep people constantly entertained, fill glasses and provide multiple elements of entertainment ... singing, dancing, playing instruments .. sounds easy right ... hell ...  surely that is the stuff I was born to do .... errrrr no ....  it was hard work ...  covered in thick makeup, multiple layers if clothes so fitting, that I could only take steps of about 3 centimetres, sleeves to the floor, my hair pulled to an inch of its life ...  the hottest week in kyoto in an age ... lucky I was taught how to demurely fan myself ... staying in a home on a bloody hard bed where it did not get lower than 27 degrees overnight ...
This trip was because I wanted to come away ... to reflect on next steps ...  I still have given no real considerations on this ... do I stay in Australia, do I head back to London, the States, the Middle East, do I do something for myself, do I work for another company .....I feel like I still need to go away for a month and sit quietly and decide ....  where do I want to live ... where should future home be ..?
I was asked today, where are you from, where is home? ...surely a simple question ... yet I could not answer it ...
what I do know now after those few reflective geisha days is this ... I spent a lot of time reflecting on the personal, family, friendships, relationships.  I dont have all the answers yet ... and maybe this is because Japan is probably the only place I wish I had travelled with someone ... someone probably more than friend (which has confused the becrappy out of me, I have not wanted a relationship for a long time).... and whilst my ovaries may have expired ... and I dont need to be married or hook up as a forever ... I think I kinda feel it might be nice to finally spend time with someone special ...  I also know ..  I have to do more for family and I have to be a better friend ... be better for those that have given and continue to give to me support regardless of how shitty I have been better to those that I know I can be myself with and not be judged ...  where there is give and take through time and support,  to people who drop me funny notes, and take care of things, and put themselves out to make things better .... to those that have given more than taken ....  thank you ...
aahhhh so what does all this mean .....??  Not quite sure yet ...  before I went to Geisha school, I was having a conversation with a friend about not feeling gown up, feeling like I am constantly searching for something ... thoughts in the back of my mind ....would I ever feel complete..??  I guess all this rattled around in my head ....
which is why maybe my Geisha school made me think of the personal stuff ... that coupled with ... on the way to Geisha school ...  I also came across this ...  (see attached the Charlote Rouge cake - seriously best ever thing) ...  so I also had Moulin Rouge thoughts playing in my head .... 
so maybe ....  I think ...  in the original words of Nat King Cole - Nature Boy - "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return" - is what makes things complete ...
My preferred version | quote (and where I first heard this) ...  Moulin Rouge .. shared by characters Toulouse-Lautrec (one of my favourite artists for odd reasons) and by Christian (Ewan M peformance) before he launches into the most gut wrenching song) ... is a question in the back of my mind ....
so .....I know I can love ... will I feel complete and stop searching, if I feel loved in return !?
is that what makes one feel grown up ... complete?! 
Heading off tomorrow to spend two days in the nud ... bathing with strangers ....
If you are in Pillypeans, Sinkers - see you in a couple of days .. if you are in London, UK, see you in approx 3 weeks ..
muchas lovas ...
CBT  - x

Saturday, 1 August 2015

I LOVE Japan ....

been a bonkers couple of days in Tokyo ....  I LOVE Japan ...
here are the touristy things checked out ... imperial palace and gardens, asakusa temple, sumida river cruise, tokyo tower, ginza, meji shrine, tea house
here are the extras that make me love this place ..
  • I love a 'welcome towel' ...  !$#! ...  for me, a sign of a great hotel, I love it when you arrive somewhere hot and the hotel greets you with a cold refreshing minty towel and welcome drink ....   I loved it more when I got off the train at Tokyo Central and jumped in cab ...  where the gentleman co-ordinating the cabs and passengers provided all taxi passengers with a little pack containing 3 lovely fresh chilled minty towels.
  • I love that the taxis are pristine, that the drivers are wearing white gloves and that all the taxis have lovely white fabric covers overlaid with delicate lace doilies.
  • How great that tipping is seen as almost rude and yet the service is exceptional
  • Sake ... errr no ... not for me ... well not the warm one anyway ... my sake faith restored with a refreshing cold blend
  • Vending machines everywhere with the strangest variety of things available
  • The cleaniness ... oh how I LOVE the cleanliness of EVERYTHING
  • The toilets ..  I am addicted .... I am already having withdrawals at the thought of not being able to have those little warm sprays going forward ... (my loo in the hotel even says hello to me and asks if I would like a massage and my seat warmed - errr yes to both)
  • I know I shouldnt, but I do ...  I love that western women appear to be worshipped by bonkers japanese men, but not in an overtly sleazy way, in a very respectful dignified way
  • Fruit sandwiches, yep picked one up last night at Lawsons (a mini mart) kiwi fruit, strawberries, mandarin in a sandwich with a cream cheese type spread ... true stories .. in normal bread ..
  • I love that despite how modern the place is, tradition is evident everywhere and not exploited by english, I love that most places still dont use english signage
  • Bowing, I love bowing, I am now just naturally bowing to everyone everywhere ...although I must learn more abut this ... because the more I bow, the more people bow, which makes me feel obliged to bow, which makes them bow again ...  this can go on for ages ...  even at the train stations where I just hello to people
  • I love the fact that I met a crazy guy from London at Lawsons , who introduced me to his crazy friend from Japan, who has recommended a crazy two day experience where I can stay in an okiya and learn the secret world of the geisha ...  which is where I head to later this week ....  mmmmmmmm this will be interesting ... it seems too readily available given the secrecy that normally surrounds this ....
  • I love the warmth, spirit and generosity of the people here and the new v old that seems to blend together to seamlessy
I still have not found Maru ..
stay safe
CBT - x