Ni hao Singapore!

This morning I’m writing from hot, humid, sticky and steamy Singapore! (Made you jealous yet?) I arrived here on Friday afternoon for an 8 day trip for work – my work involving chaperoning 15 UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) students at a Leadership Forum at Nanyang Technological University – not a bad gig at all! Our forum is facilitated by one of our long-term partners, Linkage Australia & New Zealand, a great leadership consulting company who work amongst a variety of corporate companies and organisations in Aus, NZ and Asia, but have begun branching out into leadership training for students due to their partnership with us. I’m looking forward to learning a lot from this forum as well, and will be posting updates from the seminars over the next week with some new insights into leadership!

When I wasn’t waiting for students to arrive and showing them to their rooms over the weekend (I’d seriously make a fantastic concierge  after co-ordinating the arrival of 15 students over 3 days, some who’ve never travelled overseas before!!) I spent most of my time exploring one of my favourite places in the world – Little India (probably because I haven’t been to real India yet!) It’s amazing to step out of the MRT station into a world completely different to the surrounding Chinese-influenced Singaporean suburbs, a world of overwhelming sounds of Bhangra, the smells of saffron and chai, the sights of flowery garlands, sparkly saris and gleaming gold and the taste of a sweet mango lasso or garlic-infused naan. I could spend days on end exploring the streets, alley ways, temples and markets of this beautiful place but was lucky to have a few hours to spare on both Saturday and Sunday to grab some delicious food, get some henna drawn on my  arm and ankle, and buy some cushion covers to add some life to my home.

For the ‘Little India’ experience I definitely recommend henna from the Little India Arcade – you can choose from pages and pages of designs that range from simple $5SGD designs to extraordinarily intricate $40SGD+ designs. There are two henna stalls set up in the middle aisle of the arcade, coming from Buffalo Rd, I’ve always gone to the artist on the left who is fantastic (ask for Asha!)  – their patience, precision and creativity is admirable, definitely want to go home and practice with my $3AUD tubes from Tree of Life.

Get a bite to eat from the Banana Leaf Apolo, on the corner of Little India Arcade, an eatery serving both Northern and Southern Indian cuisine, all served on a banana leaf. The butter chicken (boring I know, but I have to try it everywhere I go!) was the perfect blend of creaminess and spice, and went down well with some delicious saffron and sultana rice with a sweet mango lassi. Not the cheapest place in Little India, but definitely worth the extra $$ for the experience.

Sadly the beautiful Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple was closed during the hours I went exploring but I still managed to get a photo of the colourful and intricate temple steeple against a rare Singaporean blue sky.

I almost spent a lot of my weekend in the newly opened Gardens by the Bay, a beautiful oasis shadowed by the towering Marina Bay Sands. The gardens are home to plant species from every continent except Antarctica, and includes a beautiful dragonfly lake, a boardwalk through the gardens, and ‘super trees’, these amazing half metal half plant tree towers that come alive at night with light, sound and colour. Definite ‘must-see’ when in Singapore!

Quick update on my 365 project – have taken photos of myself every day which has been quite an achievement so far! I’ve begun to read the Kite Runner, and quickly forming a list of other books based on some great recommendations. Went for a brisk walk around the university (or quarter of it) for 45 mins on Saturday – it’s so large this definitely counts as exercise!! Looking into accessing the gym tonight hopefully too 🙂 It’s been challenging with the change of rhythm and location so early into my project, but I’m trying to embrace as much of my project in Singapore as I can!

The key question we’re asking today at the forum is “what three attributes make a leader?” What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments 🙂

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