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Tim Foolery

Home » 2018 » November (Page 2)

Monthly Archives: November 2018

NOSHtrekker Private Dining Singapore

Finding a unique dining experience ranks among the top things we focus on when traveling.  This doesn’t have to mean a Michelin Starred restaurant or one ranked on the World’s Top 50 List.  Our requirements are more broad than that.  We want a good meal, with an equally engaging experience. Now that could be a tasting menu, a cooking class, or local casual food eaten on a squat stool.  In Singapore we found a private dining experience that was like nothing we’d had before. NOSHtrekker brings a truly unique experience to discerning travelers.

With only 68 Hours in Singapore, I knew I wanted to make the most of it.  The idea of a Michelin Rated Restaurant just wasn’t exciting me.  I decided to step out of my normal routine and after a bit of Googling, I found articles written about a newer service in Singapore.  This group offered private dining experiences, food tours and cooking classes that focus on Singapore’s rich cultural heritage.

The Selection

With more than a dozen unique options to choose from, you’ll have a hard time picking one.  I quickly decided that I wanted a full dinner and a relaxing space the day I arrived in Singapore.  A few emails and a Paypal payment later we were all set.

We’d be joining the Masala Mistress for dinner.  We wouldn’t be helping shop for or make dinner, we’d just be eating.  Just be eating.  Looking back on our time with Dhershini, it’s hard to say we “just ate” with a straight face.  Let’s start at the beginning.

The Experience

We arrived at her home at 19h30. Yes, we dined in her home.  It was about a 20 minute walk from the closest MRT station and upon our arrival, she greeted us like long time friends.  She welcomed us into her home, offered us some refreshing juice and escorted us to a lovely sitting area on her patio.  She had help in her kitchen, so the meal prep would continue uninterrupted while we chatted.

I can’t properly say how warm and welcoming Dhershini was.  She made us feel at home, in hers.  We initially talked travel – she was enthralled with the idea of my flying 45 hours to spend just 68 in Singapore.  She had lived much of her life in Singapore and was honest about that time.  While the discussion was mostly positive, she did talk about immigration struggles, political change in the City/State and the region and even discussions on climate change.

Her husband had recently passed away and that was still really impacting her. When she spoke of him – he was an avid traveler too – you could see how she both lit up and was hurting.  This wasn’t a restaurant meal.  This was a meal with a friend.

NOSHtrekker requires a minimum of two guests (which we had) but you can have many more depending on what you select as your experience.  Since there were only two of us, Dhershini was joined by another NOSHtrekker – Heather (I believe).  The four of us enjoyed drinks (both alcoholic and non), and talked throughout the whole experience.

The Meal

The meal was a traditional Indian from Kerala.  Served family style, we had vegetarian dishes, mutton and chicken.  The four of us sat at the family’s dining table while Dhershini’s assistant finished the meal.  She even continued to make more dishes as we ate.  Some things were just too good to stop eating!

We were encouraged to take photos and share our experience on social media.  I will say, it did feel odd to take pictures of this lovely woman’s home and blast it on social.  As you can see, my pictures are very limited and they sure don’t do the whole experience justice.  When taking photos, sometimes you have to step away – step out of the experience to get the right shot. I didn’t want to do that. I was having too much fun.

NOSHtrekker Dinner Table

Dinner is served with the Masala Mistress

Dhershini and Heather (?) seemed like they were our old friends.  These experiences are billed as about 2-2.5 hours long. We stayed there for just under four. There was never any feeling that we had overstayed our welcome – or that there would be a surcharge for the extra time.  We were just talking – telling travel tales, talking about food, life and the future.  At this point, I had been up for days, traveling half way around the planet and I was getting sleepy.  We needed to excuse ourselves.

This was so much like a friend’s dinner party, that Heather offered to drive us back to our hotel in her cute little convertible.  We reluctantly took her up on the offer, but made her agree to drop us off at the MTA station on her way home.  No need to go out of her way on our account.  I wouldn’t even ask a great friend to do that!

Final Thoughts

At the end of it all, our time with Dhershini and Heather was utterly stellar.  A completely new experience for us, but one that I wouldn’t hesitate to do again.  Dhershini is a cookbook author, former restaurateur and culinary ambassador for the Singapore Tourism Board – could you find a better dinner companion?  I think not.

Have you worked with NOSHtrekker before?  For a truly amazing private dining experience in Singapore, you really can’t go wrong.  Also, I should remind everyone that we did pay for this experience – no part of it was comped (other than the ride partway back to our hotel).  This is truly our thoughts on this unique experience.  Go give them a try and tell them Tim (that crazy guy from Chicago who spent just 68 hours in Singapore) sent you!

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Talkative Seat Mates

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: Business Travel Isn’t Glamorous.  When I travel for work, it is usually a domestic flight, ranging from 1-4 hours long.  I take that time to prep for a meeting, catch up from the meeting, or just relax.  Usually, right after I put my bags away, I’m putting my headphones on and am in my own little world.  From time to time this subtlety doesn’t work with my talkative seat mates.

A few years ago, I was taking trips between Chicago and Portland, Oregon every 2-3 weeks.  While these weren’t business trips, I did spend the four hour flight working.  I almost always worked exclusively on these flights (while drinking gallons of bad chardonnay).  I’m also not one of those guys who works well with music playing, but I did have my headphones in.  The headphones are a signal to others that I’m not in the mood to chat.  It is my attempt to not be rude.

United Domestic First Class Seats

United Domestic First Class Seats

Well, this one day, I was typing away on my laptop and the guy next to me wanted to chat.  As he started talking to me, I continued to type.  I heard everything he said, as I wasn’t actually listening to anything, I just had my headphones on. He tapped me on the shoulder, I made a big production about taking my headphones off and asked him to repeat what he said.

He did, and I answered with as few words as possible. I smiled and went back to my work.

A few minutes later it happened again.  Almost exactly the same as the first time.  Then 10 minutes later, again.  About an hour later, I put my laptop away and closed my eyes for a bit of rest.

Tap, tap, tap on my shoulder.  Another big production of taking my headphones out. Asking the guy to repeat himself I motioned that my I couldn’t hear because of my music.  He smiles politely and pointed down to the unconnected end of my headphones.  They were just dangling their over my knee.

I felt badly. He wasn’t a rude guy, he just wanted to talk. I sure didn’t though.  Who knows how long it was clear that I was just trying to ignore him.  He seemed genuinely hurt that I had lied to him.  As I was telling this story later the same night to friends, they all had this awful cringy face and called me a jerk.  Well, I just didn’t want to talk. Kudos to my seat mate for calling me out on my lie too.

He didn’t try to talk to me the rest of the flight either.

The worst part?  I often took the same Thursday night flight out of ORD and returned on the Sunday afternoon flight from PDX.  Half of the first class cabin was the exact same passengers each of those flights.  The road warriors were consistent.  Yes, you’ve got it.  I ended up sitting next to that same guy at least half a dozen more times on those same flights over the next year.  He never tried to strike up a conversation again.

How do you deal with chatty passengers?

Stitch Fix Review – November’s Men’s Box

It’s that time again, time for a Stitch Fix Review.  I received my November box this week and I was excited to see what new items may enter my wardrobe.  As a reminder, my focus for Stitch Fix is more casual clothes.  My office recently transitioned to a fully casual environment (perish the thought) and after years of building up a business and business-casual closet, I needed some help.  I get all of my dress shirts custom made from a tailor in Hong Kong and they are perfect.  My pants usually come from Banana Republic, but sometimes I’ll get bespoke pants too.

With a much more casual dress code now, I need to revamp my closet.  Enter Stitch Fix.  I’ve been using the service off and on for a few months now, with relative success.  Read more about my previous boxes here and here. My fix arrived this week – let’s jump in, shall we?

Stitch Fix Men's Box

Anticipation and excitement. What’s in the box?

In The Box

  • Fairlane – Ashley Suprima Cotton Dress Shirt – $74
    • Liked the style. Sleeves were too long. Return
  • Fairlane – 24/7 Shirt – $68
    • Again, liked the style, sleeves were perfect, but it was just too form fitting. Return
  • Save the Duck – Giga Hooded Packable Jacket – $148
    • A down alternative puffy coat that actually fit well, and seemed to be a nice late fall jacket. I just bought an equivalent jacket.  Return
  • Ralph Lauren – Washable Merino Wool V-Neck Sweater – $98.50
    • Standard Merino Sweater.  Fit nicely, but the color wasn’t doing it for me. Return
  • Fairlane – Refined Wool Straight Fit Chino – $98.00
    • The lower legs had such a flare, I felt like an extra from a 70s film. Otherwise the fit was perfect.  The fabric wasn’t as fine (it felt very polyester like to me). Return

Initial Impressions

As I opened the paper wrapping, I was excited. The shirts were my style and it’s nice to have a pair of pants that EVERYONE else doesn’t have.  Do you shop at Banana and find that you have the same outfit as your colleagues?  Unfortunately, the fit just wasn’t right on most of these clothes.  If I hadn’t just purchased a new light weight jacket, I’d have kept this one. Timing is everything.

Men's Stitch Fix Box

POW! My fixes for November…hmmmm

The Decision

This month, I decided to return everything.  It’s a fine line between fit and style and I don’t want to compromise on either.  You shouldn’t have to.  That’s the beauty of Stitch Fix, if you don’t like the stuff, you just toss all the clothes into the USPS bag (that already has postage) and give it to your mail carrier. Easy Breezy.  You only bay the $20 styling charge (and there is a way around that too – I’ll tell you the secret next week).

While I didn’t have the greatest results this month, I’m still happy with the service and we’ll see what comes up in December.  If December turns out to be like November, I’ll probably put the service on hold until spring.

Do you use Stitch Fix?  Give me your Stitch Fix Review. Guys – what other services like this do you use and recommend?  Or do you just prefer to walk into your local Banana Republic and grab stuff off the racks?

Singapore Airlines Business Class SIN-BKK SQ 972

I was excited about this flight. Probably the most excited flight of the trip.  It would be the only flight in this trek where I would be experiencing a new airline. I had flown EVA and Austrian before and of course have heard amazing things about Singapore from so many friends. Singapore SQ 972 is a short, 2.5 hour flight from Changi to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport but would give me a taste of the world class service offered by Singapore’s flag carrier.

My ride from Singapore to Bangkok - SQ 972 - Airbus 330-300

My ride from Singapore to Bangkok – SQ 972 – Airbus 330-300

Changi International Airport - F Concourse

The less than glamorous terminal at Changi International Airport

We boarded about 45 minutes before scheduled departure. When I arrived at the boarding area, there were already at least 200 people waiting.  Plus probably 20 children running around, Lord of the Flies style.  Like my last flight, there were a couple of people already lined up in the Business Class queue, despite near constant announcements to remain seated.

Very full boarding area at Changi International Airport

Gate F31 was packed – and this was just half of the room.

Changi is unique in that each gate area has its own separate security screenings – you don’t get screened until you enter your specific gate area. Passports and boarding passes were checked four different times from the point I got to the gate until in was seated in 14F. The Business Class of this A330-300 consists of five rows of six seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. I chose the middle section so I could have direct aisle access and not worry about someone crawling over me.

Changi Airport Security Checkpoint

Gate Specific Security – F31 Changi International Airport

Boarding

Upon boarding, I presented my boarding pass and was escorted to my seat. Daisy, the flight attendant, helped me put my bag in the overhead bin. Then properly welcomed me aboard, telling me of the flight time to Bangkok and letting me know that I wouldn’t have a seat mate. Score!

Before I sat down, I start snapping photos of the empty cabin and one of Daisy’s colleagues came up with a tray of beverages. His tray included orange juice, apple juice, sparkling and still water and champagne. He asks if I’d like a drink, “perhaps some refreshing bubbles?” How did he know? Yes please.

A330-300 Business Class Seats

Seat 12F taken from my seat. Not industry leading any more, but still wonderful.

Singapore Airlines SQ 972 Business Class to Bangkok

Singapore Airlines SQ 972 Business Class to Bangkok

Singapore AIrlines Business Class Seating

Seat 14D & 14F on Singapore Airlines A300-300

Singapore AIrlines Business Class Seating

Seat 14D & 14F on Singapore Airlines A300-300

The Flight

On board we were served the same champagne that was on offer in the KrisFlyer Business Class Lounge, which was a perfectly nice option. After champagne, he quickly returned with a warm, moist towel. I love these refreshing little treats. This flight wasn’t as empty as the EVA flight to Singapore, but it wasn’t full – 23 of the 30 seats were occupied.

This plane is an older model, but does have seats that lie fully flat. There is ample storage and several charging options including a UK/Singapore/US Outlet plus two USB ports.

The chargers on Singapore Airlines A330-300

The multiple charges on the A330-300

Boarding was quite quick as well. The last passengers boarded and we still had about 25 minutes until departure. I perused the in-flight entertainment selection, which was perfectly fine for our short hop to Thailand.

In-Flight Entertainment and In-Flight Selfie Reflection

In-Flight Entertainment and In-Flight Selfie Reflection

A short taxi and roll to take off found us airborne right on schedule. Just as we crossed 10,000 feet the flight crew sprung into action. Taking drink orders and distributing another warm moist towel. This morning flight served a selection of western and Chinese breakfast food.

Singapore Airlines Business Class Menu

Singapore Airlines Business Class Menu

Champagne and Brunch Menu

Champagne and Brunch Menu

You all know by now that I’m not big on breakfast, so I chose the Thai Pineapple Fried Rice option. It was surprisingly great.

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken and Prawn

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken and Prawn

The elaborate tea menu. My favorite is the Vanilla Bourbon Tea.

The elaborate tea menu. My favorite is the Vanilla Bourbon Tea.

The Vanilla Bourbon Tea. My absolute favorite flavor. Thank you TWG Tea!

The Vanilla Bourbon Tea. My absolute favorite flavor. Thank you TWG Tea!

After breakfast, I converted the seat into a bed and rested. I wasn’t ready for sleep, but I wanted to try the seat out. I watched reruns of Big Bang Theory, which always puts me to sleep on a plane.

Before I knew it, Daisy offered me another glass of champagne as the crew began final preparations for landing. A nice surprise.

We landed in Bangkok at 10h48. We deplaned through door 2L and the flight crew held the deplaning economy passengers while Business Class left. This practice is so elitist, but I do love it, don’t you?

Final Thoughts

The flight was very lovely. My biggest complaint was the length. The flight was just too short to really enjoy all the amenities. Two and a half hours isn’t enough.

Have you flown Singapore Airlines Business Class on a short regional route before? What was your favorite part? What is your favorite Asian Airline for short regional trips?