In Singapore Percolates Down The Order’
Bhandari, assistant vice-president, marketing and sales of Set
(I) Pvt Ltd, overseeing the business interest for channel AXN, talks
about Singapore, his second home and the channel’s head office.
In conversation with Raadia Mukadam, he provides tips to
business travellers frequenting the Lion City
a business traveller, what strikes you most about Singapore?
most striking feature about Singapore is its convenience, connectivity
and cleanliness, whether it is travelling to or within Singapore.
It is well connected from India. If you grab some sleep during the
flight, you land fairly fresh and not jet lagged. Even if a business
traveller is visiting Singapore for a short business trip of five
days, the last thing he needs to worry about is how to get around
the place. The city is magnificently organised to facilitate its
populace. It will take you just, half a day to get familiar with
the city without any confusion. Clear indications at every nook
and corner dont let you get lost. The people and cabbies may
not be the friendliest of the lot, but they certainly wont
take you for a ride. Being the worlds most hygienic city,
Singapore is clean and pollution-free 24 hours of the day. It is
unimaginable that 15 years back they were a third world country,
but today Singapore is the second most developed country after the
United States of America. Even distances seem shorter due to the
convenient transportation options. Indeed, a boon for the business
according to you is the best time of the year to visit Singapore?
Singapore has good weather throughout the year with temperature
ranging from 6 to 24 degrees celsius. However, in July, you might
witness slightly heavy rainfall. But in Singapore, it does not rain
like it does in Mumbai. It may rain for half-an-hour and then stop.
You rarely run the prospect of getting caught in long, heavy showers.
So effectively, one could visit Singapore any time of the year.
would you recommend are must buys in Singapore?
do not recommend the purchase of any electronic items because the
duty on electronics in India is far too heavy. Besides, there is
not much difference between the market rates in India and Singapore,
with a marginal difference of Rs 1,200 and 2,000. Cosmetics are
very good and clothes though on the expensive side, are worth the
buy. But what is a real steal is the kitchenware that is available
there, which beats the best in international quality and is economically
priced too. Mustafa Bazaar, a popular wholesale market, offers most
products at 10 per cent less than the cost at which they are available
at any other place in Singapore. This place not only offers you
economy of scale, but an extensive variety as well. Another upmarket
store that is a must visit is Takashimaya at Ngeeann
on Orchard Road. Offering leading international brands, it is hard
to beat for the sheer variety it offers under one roof. The style,
cut and quality of garments here are unmatched. I intend to pick
up a Boss suit on my next trip down there. You can also
check out Robinson at Centrepoint also on Orchard Road
for clothes. IT addicts should head to Funan Centre.
is the ideal getaway destination from Singapore?
ideal getaway from Singpaore is Phuket or parts of Malaysia, which
are only a few hours away. Most business travellers do not have
much leisure time at their disposal with extremely tight and demanding
schedules. Therefore, Malaysia and Thailand due to their close proximity,
provide good getaways. My favourite though is Phuket, which is only
an hours flight away. I recommend business travellers take
at least two days off their busy schedule to enjoy this destination.
Another popular getaway from Singapore is Hong Kong, which is the
New York of the east, and offers umpteen entertainment options for
kind of nightlife does Singapore offer?
are different things one could do to enjoy the nightlife depending
on ones mood. If fine dining is top of the cards, then I would
like to entertain my colleagues or have a business dinner at the
House of Sundanese at Boat Quay, which offers great
cuisine and good music. And some nights, I like to frequent a sports
bar with giant screens showing the latest football or cricket match
while serving you food on the table while you watch. However what
tops my list of eateries in Singapore, is a place called Indochine.
This restaurant serves different cuisines from the Far-East including
China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. With its delectable fare
and fine dining facilities, I prefer to hold my business dinners
at this restaurant. A couple of really good discotheques that I
like to visit are Velvet Underground, Zouk
and Balaclava apart from the regular Planet Hollywood
and Hardrock Cafe. In India, the music is more rock
or trance. On the contrary, in Singapore, they play the current
pop hits, which does not expose you to any particular kind of music,
but lets you enjoy the wide variety.
tips would you like to offer other business travellers visiting
you do, dont jaywalk in Singapore. I was almost arrested once
for doing the same. However, when the traffic policeman understood
that it was unintentional and was sheer consequence of confusion,
I was excused. They have a peculiar signalling system, but with
a little attention you could get used to it. It is a city that follows
rules rigidly, so dont break rules. Another pointer for my
fellow business travellers is do not be late. Singaporeans value
their time and respect yours, they do not appreciate latecomers.
The city is characterised by professionalism that percolates down
the order in most companies.
are you impressions of Singapore Changi Airport?
being a technologically advanced airport, Changi also caters to
the smallest needs of a transit passenger. It is characterised by
a TV room where you could watch movies. It has a day-care centre,
besides an amazing duty-free shopping zone. The airport also has
6 to 8 restaurants, so you can savour the cuisine of your choice
and not be stifled by typical airport food. What is really worth
appreciating is that you dont have to pay airport prices to
buy something at Singapore airport. A bottle of water would cost
the same in the airport and the city.
would you suggest one buy from the Singapore Duty-Free?
can buy anything from stationery to books to cameras and handycams.
But I would recommend you buy cameras, which are relatively cheaper
there. Handycams and digital cameras are not advisable because of
the high duty payable in India. People with palm tops can buy excellent
accessories at the airport. Palm has a special counter offering
a wide range of accessories.