SATURDAY, JANUARY 21ST AND SUNDAY, JANUARY 22ND:
Got up early with less than 4 hours sleep so I could get in a workout and TRY to go to Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world) today. Literally raced through the workout, breakfast and shower and met the guys in the lobby at noon.
We realized when we arrived to purchase our tickets that we would have to pay for the expensive visit – about $135 U.S. – because otherwise the first available time to go up wasn’t until 3:30 pm. I had to be in the lobby by 4 pm and we were leaving at 4:30 pm. Everyone except Rocky and I bailed. When I reached in my purse to get my money out, I realized my purse was unzipped and my wallet was missing. It was the WORST feeling in the world. I thought I couldn’t possibly have been such a dumbass again as I was in Croatia and had everything stolen. I had purchased a new purse and the wallet was in a compartment that was at the back of the purse and hung on my stomach, meaning I would see and feel anyone trying to pickpocket me! After I calmed down, I realized I had put it in the hotel safe this morning when I was working out and didn’t remember taking it back out. Rocky fronted me the money and away we went.
I was dreading the elevator ride but it was surprisingly smooth and not at all frightening. Except for the ears popping, we really couldn’t tell we were traveling up 148 floors! There are actually 160 stories but the ones above 148 are not accessible to the general public. They are private suites owned by corporations with the TOP floor belonging to the offices of the owner of the building.
We were not disappointed. The view – even though today was “hazy” was spectacular. I took dozens of photos. And paying the extra price was worth it. It was definitely a VIP experience. There were a couple of places where we could walk out (125th and 148th floors) onto a glass enclosed deck. Just amazing. A photographer came out and asked to take our photos and said, “It’s a free service to our guests”. Right. Free unless you want to buy a photo! They were a couple of really good photos and the others not so much. But, you had to buy the entire package or nothing at all– $85 US. We walked away.
We were back at the hotel by a little after 2 pm and I finished packing and tried to finalize last minute things in Dubai. I was in the lobby by 4 pm and the equipment had already been loaded. Everyone else “trickled” down and arrived by the 4:30 pm departure time. There were lots of last minutes photos and video messages and then quick good-byes to the hotel staff. We arrived at the airport at about 5 minutes until 5 and our plane was departing at 8 pm. We are flying a direct flight (7 ½ hours) from Dubai to Singapore on Singapore Airlines. The check-in staff was totally confused by having to check in 9 people with 11 personal bags and 9 pieces of equipment. Singapore Airlines charges per kilo, not per piece. Howard and David were allowed 40 kilos total and I was allowed 50 kilos total because of my “status” on United Airlines. The guys were only allowed 30 kilos total. We finally convinced the staff to let us add the TOTAL amount of kilos for all the bags and just pay the overage on what was left. They agreed but it still took an incredibly long time to check us in. At the end, we only had 10 kilos of excess and they waived that amount. I was expecting the cost to be around $1,500 so that was a really pleasant surprise.
We said good-bye to Alwyn and Aquillha and went to the gate area. Nothing but good things to say about Alwyn, Aquillha and their staff for making this “historic” visit possible – the very FIRST country music concert in Dubai. They worked tirelessly to make sure the event was a success. The Bellamys loved performing for their many fans and the hotel, stage and production equipment were all first class. Looking forward to working with them again on more dates in this area as well as India, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.
A few of us went into the Lufthansa Lounge and grabbed something to eat. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast but I only had a little salad because I wanted to wait and eat on the flight. I’ve heard wonderful things about the aircraft inside and food on Singapore.
My boarding pass said I would board in Group 2 at 7:30 pm and the guys boarding pass said they would board in Group 5 at 7 pm. Didn’t make any sense at all. I asked the gate agent and he just said everyone would board in about 20 minutes!
The aircraft was nice inside but again was an older plane. I watched a movie and managed to stay awake for “dinner” but it was disappointing. Not very good food at all. Then I tried to lay my seat down into a bed and it would not recline! I called the flight attendant and she said SHE had to put it down and pull it back up for me. What??? So I went to the toilet and when I got back, she had made it into a bed….one of the hardest and most uncomfortable beds I’ve had on a plane. But, I should not complain. At least I wasn’t in a coach seat in the back of the plane! Needless to say, I didn’t get any sleep…maybe 30 minutes. Plus it was turbulent the entire flight!
When we landed in Singapore a little before 7 am, it was still dark! The lights of the city were beautiful from the air though. When we disembarked, there were staff at the end of the jetway checking for people who might be sick. They told Howard and David to take off their hats/caps and then pulled them aside to take their temperature – in their ear! Thankfully they were released quickly.
All our bags and equipment made it and our escorts – Stella and Audrey were waiting for us with a van for the equipment and a huge tour bus for us and our luggage. We stopped to exchange money and then were on our way. We were about a block from out hotel and the last “street” was a roundabout. All of a sudden, the bus driver slammed on the breaks and we all went flying! Fortunately, no one was hurt. A lady driving a car in the lane to the right of us decided she wanted to go left into the roundabout! She slammed right into us ad would have gone under the bus had the driver not been able to stop so quickly. She got out of her car and was yelling and shaking her fist at the drive as if it were his fault. Crazy! We had to stay there for about 10 minutes but Stella got out and told the bus driver that he was causing a serious traffic jam and he should just take photos and leave. I guess the female driver agreed and we were on our way.
I got everyone checked in and all the rooms were ready even though it was only about 9 am. Had some logistical things to sort out with Stella and then I went downstairs to have breakfast with the guys and “Jimmy”, the agent who booked this date for us. It was a great breakfast buffet and I enjoyed talking to Jimmy who has lived here all his life!
Everyone was going to sleep for a little while and then walk across the street to find lunch. There’s a great mall right across the street plus a “walking street” with lots of booths selling food and goods. I worked for a couple of hours, slept for a couple of hours and then headed over. As I was getting in the elevator, I heard loud drums and cymbals. When I got to the lobby, there was a small “band” outside and dozens of beautiful Ferrari’s lined up on the street. There was also a “dragon” and cartoon character walking around taking photos with everyone one. I had forgotten that they are still celebrating the Chinese New Year. Ran into Rocky and Jim and they had just eaten at the booths and said the food was amazing.
I wandered around the food court in the mall and then went out to check out the food at the booths. This part of Singapore reminds me so much of Hong Kong. As I was wandering, I ran into Wally and we both decided to go eat in the shopping mall at “PappaRich”. I had a chicken skewer, egg plant and something with an egg on it. It was all really good food. We grabbed a coffee at Starbucks on the way out of the Mall. Downstairs outside in front of the mall there were huge plaques that tell the “horoscope” depending upon what your “sign” is. I am supposedly a Dragon (which makes sense and fits my personality perfectly) but because I was born in January before the 28th, I roll back to the year before and they say I am a Rabbit….which doesn’t fit my personality at all! There was also a sign for a Curry Shop proclaiming that it has a “One Star” rating from Michelin. I don’t’ think I would advertise that fact since it’s only a one star!
Howard, David and I have access to the Executive Lounge on our floor. It’s open for breakfast with limited items – not like the big buffet downstairs and open for free drinks (which are wasted on us!) and hors d oeuvres in the evening. I checked it out and the food looks great. Will try it tomorrow.
I have been working now for hours and getting ready to call it a night. Tomorrow is sound check and performance and then we have an entire day off. I have to get some laundry done!!! They have washers and dryers on the 4th floor of the hotel. It started raining and lightning tonight. I checked the weather report and it’s supposed to rain the entire time we are here. Hope they are wrong.
MONDAY, JANUARY 23rd – PERFORMANCE IN SINGAPORE:
Another night of only 3 hours of sleep because of “email traffic” until the wee hours! Got in bed at 4:30 am and up at 7:30 am. Hit the gym for a workout. It’s a nice gym for a hotel but lacking the “machines” and equipment I need for my normal workout. But, better than nothing! I had planned to go for a long run along the waterfront, but it was still raining hard and lightning.
I went into the Executive Lounge and had breakfast there. Not a very big selection but convenient and I was able to order an omelet – which they had to order from the 3rd floor restaurant and go downstairs and pick it up! Showered and met the guys at 11:45 am to go to sound check. The theatre is beautiful…as is all of Singapore. Really hope we’ll have a big crowd this evening. I walked around and checked out the dressing rooms and the area for the “meet and greet” and then came back to the hotel to work. I’ve been trying all day to grab one of the washing machines and do laundry but they are always full. I figure I’ll be able to wash clothes at around 3 am tomorrow morning!
It continued to rain all afternoon and I worked. Was planning to walk around the hotel area but the weather was just too bad. We all met in the lobby at 6:30 pm and departed to the venue. Howard and David had a private “Meet and Greet” with the VIP ticket holders prior to their performance. There was a staff photographer taking all the photos and everyone had already been given autographed copies of their 40th Anniversary CD, so the line moved quickly. There was a stack of cowboy hats in various colors on a table on one side of the room. I assumed they wanted those autographed at some point, but I was wrong…..those were for the guests to put on to have their photos taken.
We met the Counselor for Public Affairs and her husband. She is serving at the U.S. Embassy Singapore for 3 years. Had a chance to chat with her briefly prior to the show.
The “Revival Music Band” opened the show by singing “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Words” and then the Moca Ukelele Group came on and performed “Country Roads”. It was a huge group of men and women dressed in “island” attire and they were awesome. Then, Jerry Fernandez performed several songs in front of the curtain (“Delilah”, “Quando, Quando, Quando”, and others) while the Bellamy’s band set up.
It was another great performance by the Bellamys. Singapore has a huge “line dancing” fan base and we expected everyone to be up and dancing. Actually, it was more of a listening audience and everyone was too “polite” to dance in front of the stage. A couple of people danced once or twice over on the side of the stage. Bellamys performed their hits for 90 minutes and the audience recognized every song. Lots of “sing-alongs”. The performed a couple of encores and then the owner of the theatre brought them onstage and presented them with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Everyone here was great to work with and did a fantastic job of coordinating the event. All the backline equipment and production were great as well.
We were back at the hotel by around 10:30 pm. I went down to the “launderette” at midnight and was FINALLY able to wash and dry my clothes.
It’s almost 3 am again and I am going to bed. Supposed to rain again all day tomorrow so not sure how much of Singapore I’ll get to see.
TUESDAY – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24 – 25, 2017 – DAYS OFF IN SINGAPORE:
Well, the weather just did NOT cooperate. It has rained all day. Just not “sightseeing” weather. So…I worked all day and night.
Got up and worked out, showered and started answering all the emails that came in overnight. Basically sat at my desk in the hotel room almost all day. I took one “break” to walk across the street and find a quick lunch.
Galen sent me a text and said he was in a middle seat for the 12 hour flight from Singapore to Helsinki tomorrow night! No idea how that happened but when I started checking, Tim and Jim were in middle seats, too. Galen was able to move his seat and I went in and moved Tim and Jim but they are way in the back of the airplane. Hoping my travel agent can do something to help them today when she gets to work.
Today was so boring, I’m not going to post until tomorrow. Didn’t even take any photos! Just work, work, work.
I want to go ride the “Ducks” tomorrow or the “Hop On, Hop Off” bus “if” the weather is better. That’s the best way to see a lot in a short period of time and all we have is one day!
Got up this morning (Wednesday now) and could almost see some sunlight! I quickly got into my running clothes and headed to the beach for a run. It was wonderful except for the heat and humidity! Felt like I was running in Hong Kong again!
I grabbed a quick breakfast, a shower and met the guys in the lobby to go ride the Ducks. We took a bus downtown and didn’t get lost. Found this HUGE mall where the ticket booth was located. No problem getting on the bus as soon as we walked up. However, the only seats available were in the very back of the vehicle. We thought that would be fine but it wasn’t. The noise from the motor was like standing right in front of a jet airplane as it was taking off and it was non-stop the entire tour. There was a great tour guide who apparently told some very interesting history of Singapore – only we couldn’t hear her. There were spots for headsets on the seats but there were no headsets. The tour left land and immediately went into the water for the first part of the tour and we went past most of the historic landmarks in Singapore. Took lots of photos but didn’t get to hear the significance of any of them. We went back on land for the last half hour of the tour and again saw some really cool stuff. When we got off the Duck, I told the tour guide that we couldn’t hear anything she said. Her response was, “You shouldn’t have sat in the back”! DUH!!!
Jim wanted to find the Harley Davidson store, so we took a taxi to yet another Mall (there is LOTS of shopping in Singapore) and he purchased a t-shirt. By then, we were all starving so we went into the Food Court for lunch. They had everything imaginable there – Korean, Thai, Indian, Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, etc., etc., etc., and it was really good food. We took a taxi back to the hotel and the guys went across the street to the Mall and outdoor booths. I walked over a few minutes later but didn’t buy anything.
We meet in the lobby at 9 pm tonight, so I am signing off for today and will report again tomorrow – Thursday! It’s a 12 hour flight to Helsinki, then a 2 hour layover and then another 2 hour flight to Zurich. Temperature here today has been in the high 80’s with 100% humidity. Zurich will be 17 degrees when we land there!
THURSDAY, JANUARY 26TH 2017 – SINGAPORE TO ZURICH:
Everyone met in the lobby at 9:00 pm and we left for the airport at 9:15 pm. Check in was “relatively” easy but we did have to pay some excess charges on Finnair. But wasn’t as much as we had to pay the last time we flew them years ago though! We had a few minutes to go to the Lounge before boarding. Really nice Lounge, too.
This aircraft is configured more like I’m accustomed to flying internationally. Since it’s a 12 hour flight, I was looking forward to having a light meal while watching one movie (the new Jack Reacher movie – I’ve read every one of his books!) and getting some sleep. Then waking up about 4 hours before landing and working the rest of the flight.
Everything worked out just fine until it came time to sleep. The guy across from me started snoring so loud, I know they heard him in Coach! I put in the earplugs provided in the amenity kit and the headset for the TV monitor and nothing worked. David said there were actually several snorers but I only heard him. There needs to be some kind of “protocol” on how to handle a snorer that loud. Can I throw my pillow at him? Can I shake him every time he snores. Can I yell loudly at him? Sure hate that I forgot to bring my noise cancelling earphones and really don’t want to invest in another set since I have a pair at home.
The food was good on Finnair as was the service. We landed on time in Helsinki and got a good “shock” walking down the jetway…..90 degrees in Singapore and about 12 degrees in Helsinki! We had about an hour to spend in the Lounge and then boarded the 2 ½ hour flight to Zurich. Again, it was a nice plane and very nice flight attendants.
We landed on time and all our luggage and equipment arrived as well. That’s always a concern! Albi was waiting for us with his car and a van and trailer. It was a short ride to the hotel but because we arrived so early, only 4 rooms were available. I got those 4 guys checked in but didn’t want to switch two of their rooms with Howard and David so they could check in because Albi gave Howard and David suites (thank you, Albi). It took about 30 minutes before I got everyone checked in except me. But mine was ready a few minutes later.
I love staying at this hotel – right next to a shopping mall, great WiFi, and great gym (although it’s under “new management” and they are charging 30 CHF per visit. That’s expensive!).
I got unpacked, showered (boy did I WANT a shower!), worked for about 2 hours and then slept for 2 hours. Was starving when I woke up. Walked over to the mall and stopped by one of my two favorite restaurants to grab something “to go”. Unfortunately, they did not have gluten free pasta so I headed to my other favorite restaurant and had butter chicken (without rice).
Have been in my room working non-stop since 6 pm. Tomorrow is sound check and our first show in Zurich. Everyone loves performing at the Albisguetli Schutzenhaus – thanks to Albi and George for bringing us back again. Looking forward to seeing all or Swiss friends again!!!