Saturday, March 11, 2006

Singapore, Day 2, Earning My Keep

I had come to Singapore as part of a marketing and research synchronization program where marketing on the country level would be informed of what pharmaceuticals were in the research pipeline and have input. This was a trade secret in 1997. My reaction was, “You mean we are not already doing this?” I was part of the research expertise there to present the program to my colleagues from the Middle East and generally meet and greet my all of my Asian marketing colleagues. The “boondoggle” was a payoff for work I had already done at headquarters for marketing. Trust me, you don’t want to know the details. Now that everyone is thoroughly bored, we can move on to the fun stuff.

The next day, I went down to the conference room for a continental breakfast and was “adopted” by my amiable marketing colleague from Egypt. He introduced me to my colleagues from Bangkok, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Middle East Group. I met so many folks I couldn’t even remember what countries they were from unless I got their business cards. Everybody was more than pleasant.

During a lunch break, I noticed a female colleague from KL who was wearing a stunning jade bangle that was exquisitely dark green with a turquoise streak and a clear streak, with bits of mica. I inquired about it and she, impressed that I had noticed, replied that it was indeed a family heirloom worth thousands of dollars. She advised that I not buy jade in Singapore. I told her it was too late, and that I already had, my face and spirit falling. So, I pulled out my now questionable booty of bead necklaces and she was floored and impressed. She said that the color was very pretty and the beads nearly clear in some small areas and was astounded by the price I paid.

“How did you do it?” she asked dumbfounded.

She said that I got a great deal and then advised that I run back there and buy more jade. I asked her my question about pricing of jade; why were larger high quality pieces so much more expensive than smaller. She indicated that it is the same as for diamonds and all other precious stones. Finding a high quality stone in a mine or pit (see picture of a mining pit in Burma) that is small is more common than finding a large one, so the large one will cost more. Also, chips may result from the finishing of a larger piece and may be high quality.

She also noted that it was the very best time to buy gold in Singapore is now since the prices of gold are very low and Asian currency weak compared to the dollar. It was like music to my ears! I couldn’t wait to get back out to shop. Suddenly, I felt like throwing out all of my 14 karat gold jewelry at home and starting over. Actually, some of my colleagues from home were mentioning buying gold bars from Singapore; I thought they were kidding.

I had lunch with some of the physicians from Thailand and marketers from KL. The folks from KL wanted me to come on up there and visit the office in Malaysia. But, I didn’t see how it would fit with my itinerary. Sigh.

After slaving all day (one does have to earn these boondoggles doesn’t one? work one day; stay a week, not such a bad deal) I went to the hotel sushi restaurant, Unkai, for dinner. I had spinach salad, clear soup (L) with quail egg and prawn, tekka maki (C) and unago (R). All in all the food was super quality and presentation; ensuring that I will be back again.

That night I had chills and aches. I turned off the air conditioning and used an extra blanket.


savante said...

Sounds like you had great fun :)

Sue said...

Thanks, Paul, I really did. And there is so much more to come!

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