As the Community Affairs Lead in Asia for Microsoft, Aussie ex-pat Clair Deevy travels throughout the region as well as back to HQ in Seattle. This week she shares her top travel tips, as well as her pick of restaurants in Singapore and Seattle, with Australian Business Traveller.
Which city do you live in?
How many days would you spend travelling each year?
What city do you most often visit for business?
I cover a big area so my time tends to be spread fairly evening right across Asia. On count though, the USA is probably highest as I go there a couple of times a year to visit Microsoft’s head office in Seattle.
What are your best tips for Seattle?
‘Wine flight’ tastings! Lots of the restaurants do them. They deliver three to four glasses of wine all at once and you work through the different flavours. Also, El Cantino Mexican restaurant. It’s really hard to get good Mexican food in Singapore so I always stake it out when I’m in Seattle. Finally, if you have a sense of humour that’s a little off the wall, head to a place called Archie McPhee’s. I can’t even describe what it is they sell, bits of everything, but lots of fun.
Alternately, for Singapore, my best advice is to head further down the river past Clark Quay to Robinson Quay – lots of restaurants and bars, good atmosphere and it’s away from the really touristy area. That and the pepper crab is much better than the chili crab in my opinion!
What's the one thing you do (or try to do) on every trip?
Take plenty of photos.
On any business trip, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Catch up on email; check in on my friends and family around the world through Facebook and Windows Live.
What’s your favourite city to travel to?
That’s a tough one; I love so many cities for so many different reasons. For work trips, Singapore is great as it is so efficient - I once timed eight minutes from stepping foot off the plane to sitting in a taxi. For big cities on holiday, Paris; and for my favourite off-road travelling Lukla and the surrounds in Nepal.
You’ve got a spare day in that favourite city: what do you do?
Wander, photograph and eat.
When you’ve overseas, what are your favourite stores to shop in?
Local art places, although if I’m in the US I’ll head to the outlet stores.
What’s your favourite hotel?
The Westin – with the heavenly bed!
Tell us about your best overseas dining experience.
I’m not sure it was the best but certainly the most memorable: I had fried crickets in Vietnam. Originally, the team there wanted to take me for snake but the store was closed so they took me for crickets instead; surprisingly they weren’t all that bad.
What are some essential carry-on items you’d never leave home without?
Mini bottles of everything for carry on; lip balm, moisturiser, Pashmina wrap, my Windows smartphone, my passport and my wallet.
How do you typically spend your in-flight time?
Catching up on email and work until my battery goes dead. Even if there is a power supply I usually only work as long as I have battery time; it helps balance the flight – I will usually have a movie or TV going on at the same time as I am working. Then I will read a bit or if it is a long haul flight ‘try’ to sleep.
How do you beat jetlag?
There’s no magic answer unfortunately. I try to drink lots of water and stay awake until nighttime when I get to my destination. If it is a short trip though sometimes I just won’t bother trying to adjust to the time zone.
What are the first things you do on a business trip after settling into your hotel?
Find out how to connect to the wireless, text home, and turn down the air conditioning!
What do you like most about travelling, even though it’s for work?
The amazing people I meet and the variety of experiences I get to have. I am lucky my work travel often takes me to quite remote areas so the experiences are really different to someone who may just go from a hotel to an office.
What advice would give airlines to improve the experience of the business traveller?
I was on a Cathy Airlines flight once and in economy they had seats that didn’t tilt back, they simply slid down to recline inside a shell. It was great because I could have my lap top open easily without someone banging on it when they dropped their seats back.
What are your biggest travel gripes?
Bad shower heads, hotels that forget to give you your wakeup call and freezing air conditioning.
What’s your best travel advice?
If you travel frequently, have your travel pack ready to go. I have a standard travel wardrobe, which doesn’t crease and has lots of dark colours. I also have a separate toiletries bag always packed and ready to go with all the stuff I need to travel but sized so that I can take on in carry on. Oh, and get a four wheel bag – they are fantastic!