On this night of a thousand stars – Catching Evita and Ricky Martin on Broadway

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Wow! The holiday in the States has been AMAZING so far. I do this trip every year, with destinations that don’t change very much. I hit NYC, my favourite city in the world for my annual shot of great food and dancing, Orlando to spend time with my lovely sister, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, I squeeze in a new destination. It’s the fourth year in a row I’m making this trip and we really went out of our way to do it different this time, and I’ve been so blessed to experience so many new things!

I’ve done Broadway in NYC before the very first year I went there, but my sister has never had the chance to in all these years to see any of the shows. It was perfect timing then that Evita was showing!

My dad in particular is a huge fan of musicals, and he introduced us to Evita (then, a movie) when we were children. Anyone familiar with the story will know that it isn’t one that is easy for a child to understand, and true enough, neither of us remembered much of the story. BUT, we knew the songs and who cares, since RICKY MARTIN was performing?!

We decided to “invest” in good tickets. They were not cheap at all, but the guy at the box office promised us they were great – 4th row, centre. Given how far back the next price tier was from the stage, we decided to go with it, telling ourselves that we would only be 4 rows away from Ricky Martin. Trust me, even my sister was excited as hell – we could barely contain ourselves before the show!

All excited for @christabelgoh’s first Broadway show! We did so many different things on our trip this year. Win!

Turns out that the investment to get seats near the front was totally, TOTALLY worth it! We were so close to the stage (read: Ricky) and it was just so much easier to capture the emotions in the acting overall. The show itself was outstanding, with particularly clever and effective use of the sets, particularly in key moments. Evita’s death, in particular, was so amazingly done! Also, I say this without bias that Ricky Martin is so ridiculously charismatic. We were all completely smitten. I will not post any sort of spoiler, but if you have the chance, the show is most definitely worth checking out. My advice to you to would be to do the same as we did – get good seats, because you REALLY do want to be near the action. And if anything, this is why:

This my friends, is how close we were to THE Ricky Martin. And no, we were not terrible theatre-goers that snapped away during the show. This lovely shot of the very handsome man was taken after the curtain call. See why it pays to get up close now?

Such a sexy man, and what a great Che he makes! My sister and I both have very fond memories at least of the music from the show, or rather the movie that we saw as kids, and of course, could not help but measure it against the original that we had in the back of our minds. For objectivity’s sake, we compared the soundtrack that we purchased after the show with the movie soundtrack, even down to the individual characters in the cast of both and safe to say, it more than measured up. We’re both in agreement that the broadway production raised the bar! If you happen to be in the Big Apple, make sure you have this on your list!

More updates on other fun stuff from the trip soon!

Tearing up the floor at the Berlin Salsa Congress and Singapore International Salsa Festival

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Yes, I know this blog has been quiet for quite a while, but really, its just because I’ve been headed from one crazy dance weekend to the next. Two weeks ago, it was off to Europe for my first trip to the Berlin Salsa Congress, and the weekend just passed was spent at Downtown East for the Singapore International Salsa Festival. And it hardly stops there, mind you. I’m right now, in transit on the way to NYC, for my third straight weekend of dancing my brains out. Gotta love it.

Its been a while since I have been traveling for dance. In fact, I’ve waited over a full year for this – my month-long dance intensive. And boy has it been awesome thus far.

It didn’t start out easy. Mosaic Dance Company was meant to perform our routine as invited artistes in Berlin. Because time off work is always an issue for many of us, almost half the team (4 out of 10 performers) departed the night before the performance itself, to arrive on the morning of our show. Well, as luck would have it, the only Finnair flight out of Singapore we were book on was massively delayed by an airplane fault that just couldn’t be fixed. To cut a long story short, we were delayed by over 18 hours, and I, along with the other 3 on my flight, missed our show. What a bummer! The show photos look amazing though, and I’m so happy that the 3 couples still standing put on a rocking show nonetheless!

An awesome shot of our team’s performance by the lovely Bircan Tulga. Amazing photographer and such an amazing dancer, too!

While waiting for news on when we would fly, we actually wondered if it would even be worth going on the trip at all seeing as how we missed our own show and would have spent more time traveling than actually in Berlin itself. Fortunately, our tickets could not be refunded and we all went, because it turned out to be the best overseas congress I’ve been to – HANDS DOWN. Massive props to the organizers for pulling such an amazing event together! Everything was run with military precision. Schedules were clear, shows were elaborate yet run like a proper theatre production, and they never compromised on the social dancing, ever. Whether at workshops, shows or on the dancefloor, there was great dancing to be had almost 24-hours a day!

The best thing about our trip to Berlin though, was most definitely the social dancing. Where do I even begin? Was so impressed by the standard of the leads there, and to my absolute delight, I found that the dances were mostly On2, which has been quite difficult for me to find outside of New York. I danced all night, every night, literally till the sun came up – even after a 35 hour journey there.

Walking back in broad daylight from our first all-nighter of social dancing, dance heels still in hand. We’d just arrived from our 35 hour travel ordeal, but still danced all the way till dawn!

Another big highlight of the congress for me was the shows. We were given a special treat – the European premier of Santo Rico’s 15th Anniversary show – an hour long production putting together the best of their routines in the last 15 years. Boy was it EPIC! The 5 couples sweated it out on stage doing one hard-hitting, spin crazy, tricked out routine after another after another. There must have been 10 of them! Not only are they fabulous dancers and absolutely thrilling routines, but I really have to respect them for being able to perform at such intensity for so long. After doing a 3 minute choreo, I can barely speak! These guys were just UNREAL.

All in all, the congress was an amazing and absolutely inspiring experience for every one of us that went, and already, I’m bent on going back next year. No discussion. I’m sure I’m not the only one, so I guess we can already look forward to dancing with the friends we made there at the next one!

The extremely high and happy Mosaic Dance Company Salsa Pro Team after our final night of social dancing. Note the sun rising in the background, that we would have completely ignored if we weren’t being chased out of the venue. Definitely coming back next year!

All the better then, that we were headed back to Singapore for another weekend of dancing, with Terry and Cecile and Santo Rico joining us straight from Berlin! After a year’s break, I must say that this year’s SISF was most definitely one of the best ones, especially in terms of the artistes and the shows. Had so much fun dancing with the guys from Santo Rico and Grupo Alafia, and we stayed till the lights came on every night! All in all, it’s just great to have the festival back in Singapore – there’s no other event that brings the scene together the same way, and I think that is especially clear after we’ve had to go a year without it. Mosaic Dance Company also had our first local performances as a team, and boy was it great!

Post-show shots against a backdrop we know so well by @sugahplume. Here’s to many more great years and great shows as a team!

It was a great show for us overall – and our performance video is already up, so check it out on the SISF YouTube. Couldn’t be happier with this amazing team. We’ve accomplished a lot in our first year as a studio, and it’s so great to be out on the dancefloor with these guys – I couldn’t ask for more!

The Mosaic Dance Company Salsa Pro Team out in force at SISF. Boom!

But as they say, no rest for the wicked. I can’t wait to hit the dancefloor in the home of On2 salsa. New York, I’ve waited a whole year and I couldn’t be more ready for you!

Deep Blue Sea Metallic Ombre Nails

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My team’s almost all left the country for Berlin! Just me and a few others the last ones standing and leaving tomorrow night. But what trip to perform overseas would be complete without a little bit of a special touch of drama?

Every time I travel for a big dance event, I try to get something special to celebrate the occasion and make myself look/feel more like a dancer. Sometimes, its a pretty henna tattoo that I can show off only clothes that you can get away with at a salsa event. Other times its coloured hair extensions that make me ridiculously easy to recognize on the dancefloor in a sea of strangers. I’m not sure I will have time to do any of that before getting on the plane tomorrow, but the least I could do was get my nails done up nice for the performance.

Our costume is a black turquoise ensemble, and to match that, I always do a sparkley ombre nail in blue and green. It looks great and it really REALLY simple to do. I’ve received so many compliments that I’ve actually genuinely lost count, all for a 15 minute do-it-yourself job! So I thought I’d share a quick how-to here.

I start with just two colours by OPI – Blue My Mind, a stunning, almost electric royal blue, and Catch Me In Your Net, an aquamarine-green full of sparkle and glitter.

On the left, Blue My Mind (NL B24) and on the right, Catch Me In Your Net (NL D33)

Both colours look great on their own, but layering them gives things a whole new dimension. I start with a good base coat, and then paint on Blue My Mind as a base colour. You will generally need at least 2 coats, as the pigmentation in this dark, shimmery polish isn’t very strong.

Two coats for a lovely electric shade of blue. No need to worry if the tips aren’t fully covered, the glitter layer will hide this.

Once that’s dry, I layer on the glittery Catch Me In Your Net, starting from halfway up my nail and continuing to the tips. You want to make sure that there isn’t too much polish on the brush especially for this first coat, so that the gradient on your nails from blue to green is gradual, and you get a nice ombre effect. From here, I do another coat but this time starting closer to the tip of the nail, and continue to build on layers till the coat of glitter appears as a solid, metallic finish at the tip of my nail. Finish off with a coat of Seche Vite, and you’re all blinged out and ready to rock!

Capturing the colour gradiation and metallic finish is so challenging! This is the best I could do in the morning sunshine, but it still doesn’t do the real thing justice.

If you’re looking for a cheap place to pick up OPI nail polish in Singapore, I choose to get mine from Dyon International, who have a stall at the weekend flea market at *Scape. I think they’ve recently gotten a proper stall there as well, but I’ve yet to check it out. They have an INSANE range of OPI polishes, with normal ones going for S$10 flat (what a steal!). They’ve also got a ton of other great nail products imported from the States – like Seche Vite, which is a total manicure must-have.

Hope the tutorial and tips were useful! More next week when I’m back from Berlin!

A monster called mycoplasma

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Looks like I spoke a little too soon in my last post when I said “No rest for the wicked”, and that I was ready for Berlin. I thought I was just tired out from a long, crazy weekend of racing, but really, the fatigue wasn’t getting better, only worse. Getting out of bed in the morning was virtually impossible, and so was finding the willpower to shower when I get home. So many times i’ve somehow collapsed on top of my covers only to wake up at 4am to shower.

I’ve dreaded the arrival of this day. Back in June, we found out after a long stint of being under the weather, that I was positive for mycoplasma pneumoniae. It’s essentially a weak strain of pneumonia – not the sort that kills, but it does take a lot out of you. It started with a flu that never truly went away, constantly feeling under the weather and really just extreme fatigue for not enough reason. Yes, I do lead a hectic life, but my crazy schedule had never ever taken so much out of me. So I got a blood test. The results came back positive. In fact, 5 times over the threshold of being positive. My doc explained how the test was done. Basically, its like taking half a cup of Starbucks coffee, and filling it full with water. Then pouring half of that away and filling it up again. So for me, it was like doing that 5 times, and having it still taste exactly like Starbucks.

5x positive for me – meaning I’ve probably carried it for a good 3-4 months before diagnosis… 3 months ago. It can be transmitted, so if you’ve been feeling ill for a while, please get a similar test!

That time around, I was on two 2-week courses of really strong antibiotics. The first one didn’t work, and we had to start on a second almost immediately. The drugs made me angry, irritable and cranky, and couldn’t be mixed with alcohol. And we all know what happens when an already upset Crystal isn’t allowed a drink here and there. For two whole weeks. It was TORTURE and I was so unhappy that by the time I was done with that second course, I really didn’t care that I wasn’t feeling 100% yet. I just wanted to be off the meds. As far as I was concerned, I could let it lie dormant in my body and think about it the next time it flared up.

And now it has. This bugger just won’t go away! Let me just say. MYCOPLASMA SUCKS! Being ill for a long time just really blows. Its tough to concentrate for a full day at work given the intensity of my job. I have no energy to give it all when I’m dancing. And being on medication for a prolonged period is just a pain. We’ve really gone all out this time though. My dosage is already maxed out to as much as my tiny little frame can handle, complete with a giant syringe for dosage precision.

Oral, not intravenous! I’m terrible at this though, my syringe is always full of bubbles, which makes all our efforts at dosage precision kinda redundant…

I hate having my blood drawn, but we’re even gonna do a post-test once I’m done with yet another round of really expensive antibiotics, just to make sure its gone from my system. All I can do now is be disciplined with my ridiculously dramatic medication, and cross my fingers that it works this time around…

There’s quite the bug going around, so please keep this nasty illness in mind if you’ve been fighting a flu for a long time and just feel it wearing you down. Go to the doc’s and get yourself tested for Mycoplasma and get started on treatment, because it’s just misery once it takes hold!

Counting down to Berlin

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Wow, have the last few months been manic or what. With F1 out of town, I’ve officially wrapped my last big work event for the year (famous last words), and by biggest launch for the quarter is very close to being wrapped up with a nice big red ribbon. We even got a shoutout from Campaign Asia – which really just puts a cherry on the cake. Yes, praise is great, broadcast coverage is awesome, and we all love full page stories, but to know that people in the industry have noticed the good work we’ve done really is priceless if you ask me.

It’s now time for me to look forward to a different type of busy period, and to pay a little more attention to dancing again. I’m pretty psyched about Berlin, which will be my first dance trip of the year. MAN has it been a long wait. I remember a time where I could somehow manage 4 overseas trips for dance last year, even in this crazy PR job. Honestly,  I’m not quite sure how that happened. All I know is that I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to repeat that amazing feat again.

Mucking about backstage while waiting for showtime at the West Coast Salsa Congress, my last big trip with my team. Time to get those capes out again and rock the stage!

Performing overseas is always a big thrill. We started out small. My first time was at the inaugural Malaysia Salsa Festival, and then we moved on to bigger stages and larger audiences in New York, Sydney and Los Angeles. It’s always a special moment though, especially when new members join the team and do their first big international show with us.

So excited for my lovely partner! We’ve done this routine many times before together, but this will be his first time performing overseas. Remember what it was like when he first joined us last year, and I’m so soooo proud of how far he’s come!

Yes, Berlin will be the virgin world stage performance for my lovely partner Dingyan, and I’m so excited for him because the first time is always such an awesome one to remember. Sure, the home audience of people that are friends and dancing family is great, but knowing that your dedication to the craft is recognized by other equally passionate people around the world is another thing altogether. Especially this time.

The Berlin Salsa Congress is one of the biggest in Europe, and we’re all really stoked, because this trip is a little different. Our team is getting to attend it as invited international artistes! Yes, the organizers were so impressed with our routine when we performed at Amsterdam earlier this year that they’ve paid for us to come back to Europe to do it again. I missed out on that trip because of work, but sure as hell was not about to pass up on something that was going to be paid-for!

The trip marks the start of a month or so of refocusing my energies and throwing myself into getting better at what I do. After Berlin, its straight back to Singapore to take to the stage at the Singapore International Salsa Festival, and then after that, straight to the Big Apple to brush up on my on2 with the best of them. As they say, no rest for the wicked. But bring it on, its high time. Berlin, I’m ready for you!

5 great years of Grand Prix racing in Singapore, and 5 more to come! Yay!

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I woke up on race day to the awesome news that Singapore’s renewed our contract to hold the F1 race till 2017! What a reason to celebrate!

When the race first came to Singapore, I attended as a big fan, and it was a huge moment for me. In the last few years, feel like I’ve grown beyond that to become almost an ambassador for the sport – welcoming members of the media to my home race, taking them closer to the teams and the action, showing them the technology that makes things work and also getting my friends to love the sport that I find so wonderful. And you will have to agree that the race has done amazing things for Singapore to put us on the world map. My city sparkles every time the race comes to town, and I know that while we whine about the road closures and traffic, its also a really proud moment for us to see our city look so beautiful under the lights.

Amazing aerial shots taken by my colleague @liruchan of our glowing circuit. She watched the race from the 1-Altitude, clearly one of the best places for a view to take your breath away.

I always say (with plenty of conviction, too!) that I think Singapore is the best race on the calendar. Other than the fact that it’s held in my city, it really is so different from the rest, and so easy for people to enjoy. Think about most other races held on the big, famous race tracks. No one but a true race fan would make the trip out and spend a whole weekend doing nothing but watch cars zoom up and down. And as far as street circuits go, ours really is in the heart of the city. There’s plenty to see and do outside of the races, and off-track entertainment is truly second to none. It isn’t exclusive the way Monaco is, so EVERYONE can really enjoy themselves thoroughly, without having to be rich and famous. And of course, there’s the whole romance of racing under the stars. Its such a winning combination. I know for a fact that all my friends from work would never have watched a race in their lives if ours hadn’t made motorsport as accessible and appealing to the masses. Now, we’ve got a few die-hard converts that will attend the race year after year.

We normally sit at the Bay Grandstand, which I feel gives the best value for money. There’s not many places in the circuit park that places the cars against such a stunning view of the city’s waterfront, with Marina Bay Sands, the Merlion, the Fullerton Hotel and the city skyline all in the backdrop.

I must give full credit to the race organizers and volunteers, who clearly pulled out all the stops for the fifth installment. They made it bigger and better than before with the live acts, had all bases covered in terms of people moving and security, amped up the post-race festivities and fireworks, and really put an amazing human touch to things. I was handed an ice-cold isotonic beverage as I walked towards the concert stage on the track! Cherry on the cake for a strong race overall by Ferrari. The guys did well to finish where they did considering where they were during the race, especially Felipe who really clawed his way back up from the tail end.

So much to look forward to for the next few years, and already I cannot wait. But meanwhile, let’s just celebrate an epic 5 years as the host of the world’s only night race. They were totally right about it – nothing else comes close.

Thank you Singapore, for another beautiful and unforgettable race! See you next year!

Meeting Marc, Felipe and Fernando in Singapore – Go team Ferrari!

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It ALWAYS happens that after a weeks or so of absolutely manic preparation, the red-clad team from Maranello swoops into town and before you know it, they’re gone. I can’t believe that we’re already at the final day of the weekend.

I’ve written before that I was raised a Ferrari fan by my dad, who started us watching racing since I was about 12. Naturally, at that age, I was only in a position to follow suit, but quickly became team agnostic a few seasons in. But while I like to say that I’m a fan of the sport and the drivers, my work in the past few years has made it really hard not to come to want a win for the guys in scarlet that I now see as MY team.

Because of work, I’ve seen the drivers every year for the past three years. This year, they even got really involved in the LEGO project that I’ve been working so hard on for the past few months.

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso getting acquainted with our LEGO replica of the 2011 car. It looks STUNNING and they were pretty stoked themselves! Pictures courtesy of @manndy, who was in the room with me and clearly had a height advantage when taking these shots.

While I never really get to spend more than a few minutes with them, its really hard to not feel a little closer to the team and what they do, and correspondingly, want to see all that effort pay off for them on the track. Especially since this very race will be the 500th one that Shell and Ferrari will race together as technical partners. That’s HUGE.

I also got to meet Marc Gene, who drove the special 500th Race 458 Italia in the Ferrari Challenge today. The car, I must say, looked absolutely beautiful up close!

So as I rush down to the circuit for the last and most epic evening of the weekend, here’s a big good luck to the boys in red. We’re rooting for you!

My flying lap on the Marina Bay Street Circuit

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Wow. Thursday was great and brutal all at the same time. Great because we had an amazing turnout, I got to meet so many people who’ve been names in the “To” field of my emails and see Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso in the flesh. Brutal because well, it was bloody exhausting! After all those hours on my feet, I got home past midnight with just enough strength to manage a shower before collapsing in bed without even bothering to shut off the lights.

While the session with the Ferrari drivers was as expected, the height of our activity, there is so much behind-the-scenes logistics that happens before and after. And I was lucky enough this time to be able to sneak in a couple of laps around the track – virtually of course – behind the wheel in the Shell Professional Simulator Experience.

Full disclosure again: Shell is one of my clients, which is why the Singapore Grand Prix is always particularly action-packed for me.

Simulators are getting more and more important for driver training and practice, for a few simple reasons. One of them is race regulations limit the amount of practice a driver can get on the track. But more than that, street circuits like Singapore and Monaco are pretty much IMPOSSIBLE to get any practice on at all. In the absense of the real deal, the next best thing for a driver really, is to try to recreate the experience, virtually.

That’s what we got to use to test drive my own city’s track, and boy was it an experience indeed!

The SPSE was a crazy set up that included the chassis of the 2009 Ferrari, a McLaren steering wheel, a 180-degree panoramic screen and cameras all around. This things moves, shakes you about, and fights with you for control!

The race simulator we drove on was created specially by a company based in Modena, working exclusively with Ferrari. Here’s what I got from my 5 minutes on the track:

1. Visibility in an F1 car is absolutely terrible!
Already, I’m so short that I can hardly reach the pedals or see out the cockpit. The lovely guys operating the machinery had to fashion a special booster seat for me out of a bag filled with… dirty clothes?

Innovation at work – the special booster seat the guys made just for me so I could actually see AND reach the pedals.

You start out looking straight at a wall – the pit wall, and as you get onto the track, it quickly becomes obvious why drivers need time to get familiar with the circuit. A lot of the time, I found it difficult to correctly discern if corners were heading right or left as I was heading into them, making it super difficult to pick the right line. I was lucky to have Anthony as my instructor, and he taught me to watch the signs and distance markers going into the corners, so I did manage to figure it out in the end. These aren’t on every corner in real life though, and I’m sure that with the speeds and g-forces, it’s gonna be even more difficult to know where you’re going.

Anthony was my awesome driving instructor. He was super patient teaching me how to use the controls and giving me tips on how to get around the track. I probably couldn’t have gotten around without him telling me exactly what I needed to do. In fact, my laptime nearly doubled when I tried it without him (not to mention the 3 would-be fatal crashes)

2. The circuit and the roads do not look alike AT ALL.
Yes, the backdrop of the city is familiar, in fact, recreated with stunning attention to detail to resemble the real thing as far as possible (apparently to 5mm of accuracy).

All familiar landmarks on the circuit – the city skyline, the Esplanade, and the Singapore Flyer, created to be almost completely true to the view on a real flying lap.

I’ve driven the route countless times in my own car, even under the race lights, but put up the barriers and reverse the flow of traffic and I have no idea where I am on the track at all, except for the time I drive under the Bay Grandstand. I had the opportunity to do quite a few laps, but no matter how many times I went around, things really didn’t get much more predictable.

3. I have no future as a race car driver
Anton, the guy that builds these machines, is an absolute fountain of knowledge on stuff related to F1. He told us about how race telemetry is analyzed remotely due to current restrictions, about how each driver likes their car set up, how weight affects the speed and performance of the car and so much more. Did you know that every 10kg makes a 0.3 second difference PER LAP??? That’s huge! Only regulations make it such that weights have to be added to even things out – but of course, being able to add them at different points in the car makes a huge difference in handling. He also told us how important strength was in racing, which is probably why there aren’t many women at the pinnacle of the sport. I was told that I would need to work out more to have any hope. Then again, since most of the champions-to-be are already champions in the karting series and other race circuits when they are aged 10 or 11, I think I’ve missed the boat on that one. Looks like its gonna be a life as a PR professional for me.

I clocked a time of 2.36 minutes on my fastest lap around the Marina Bay Street Circuit. For a sense of where that is, Alonso rode the simulator a couple of hours before I did and clocked a 1.47. Marc Gene, who is driving in the support races for Ferrari this weekend, did a 1.55. I’m actually quite pleased with myself. The simulator also spat out really comprehensive race telemetry, which I had no idea how to read or decipher.

This is probably the only sort of race telemetry I’m ever going to get in my lifetime. Awesome, cool shit, though I had absolutely NO IDEA what I was looking at.

Anton told us that a lot of this telemetry from the drivers actually feeds straight back to engineers at Ferrari who analyze it remotely because of limitations that restrict the number of people you have doing that on track. Fascinating stuff, though I hope that my own stats would never somehow fall into their hands. It’d be terribly embarrassing!

At the end of it, he turned it on “self-drive” mode to kinda well, give me an idea of what I actually should/could be doing, and boy was it different! Think I’ll just stick to it as a really expensive video game for an overgrown child like me. I could ride that all day if only they didn’t have to tear it down and head out of town tonight. Had a great time guys, and I hope you come back next year!

The Edelman Singapore Shellettes with the lovely Anthony and Sam from Crunch in London, and Anton from All in Sports in Modena. Thanks for the massively fun time and being so patient with this squeeing, screaming child.

For another hilarious write-up on the experience of driving this simulator, check out Vernon’s piece in TopGear Philippines.

Here’s Alonso showing both of us how it should be done:

Alonso does the REAL flying lap

Grand Prix fever is go!

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Every time race weekend rolls around, I’m reminded how much of a lucky little girl I am – to have a chance to get so ridiculously close to the action for something that I’m super interested in and excited about! It’s the one week in the year where I LOVE working overtime. I don’t care if its midnight and I’m still clocking hours at the Pan Pacific, or if I’m on my feet all day sorting out minute logistical details. Its the one week in the year where I’m doing something that everyone else wishes they were doing, and for these few days, I suddenly become the person that everyone wants to speak to, instead of being the one that has to beg people to hear me out.

Full disclosure: I work in a PR agency, and Shell is a client of mine. Their technical partnership with Ferrari is the reason why I get to do all the cool stuff every time the race rolls into town.

Part of the job means I get to spend double the time that most people spend in “race weekend” mode, simply because the weekend starts earlier for me, normally the moment the circuit starts to close. I was there last night as road access shut down, and all the barricades and walls were locked in place. Our pre-race engagements kicked into gear today, a long way away from the track, but a definite sign of good things to come in the next few days!

What a welcome! Was greeted by this (not so) little guy when we went down to do a filming session with the local TV station to kick off the Grand Prix weekend. Full disclosure: I work in a PR agency, and Shell is one of my clients.

This whole partnership with LEGO and Ferrari has got to be one of the cutest and best things I’ve gotten to work on this year, though it seems like I’m the only overgrown baby that’s excited about all this. I’ll probably need that to power me through the day though, because tomorrow, things really heat up. As the only day where teams can really concentrate on non-race related stuff, Thursday is always a really busy day for driver appearances, photo calls, media sessions and the like. We’ll be no different of course, and I’m crossing my fingers that tomorrow will go smoothly, and that this race throws up more awesome moments just like the last ones did. More to come soon!

Singapore Grand Prix Survival Tips

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So, since I’ve been for every single installment of the night race, here’s a quick round-up of some small things you can do to make your time at the race track easier and more enjoyable!

1. Dress sensible

No matter where you plan to watch the race from on the circuit, you’re probably going to have to walk a great deal, very often over rather challenging terrain. Sometimes there will be gravel, sometimes grass, sometimes metal grilles and always a crazy crowd trying to get to or away from the track.

Sensible footwear – my number one piece of advise for a bearable trip out to the track.

Wear flats because you’ll quickly regret choosing anything elevated, and dress in light clothing. The route to any section of the track is outdoors, so there is no way to avoid getting hot and sweaty, just on the journey to your seat alone. Ladies, leave those heels at home. And if you really can’t, at least wear wedges so that you’ll have that little bit of extra stability to navigate all them obstacles!

2. Focus on the essentials

Leave the heavy cameras, bottled drinks, umbrellas and all that unnecessary stuff at home. Everything you need is available at or near the track at one of the malls in the area. All you need is CASH – so that you can buy what you need. So make sure you’ve got some of that. Also, make sure to pick up a Survival Kit when you enter the circuit park.

Race weekend must have. Image courtesy of Qing Moments

This costs $2 and contains a poncho and earplugs, both of which you will only realize you really need when it is too late. Even if it doesn’t rain, the poncho makes a great groundsheet for when you’re watching the concerts!

3. Plan your shopping

From experience, race merchandise does go on sale towards the end of the weekend – but only the most ridiculous, XXXXL type sizes. I know they can be pricey, but hey, so are those soccer and basketball jerseys when you buy official merchandise. The show and the shops only come to town once a year, so if you see something you like, get it early, because the Asian friendly sizes normally run out pretty quick.

There will be countless stalls like this one scattered all over the track, selling pretty much the same stuff. If you see something you like, don’t wait it out! Stock for the nice stuff does run out! Image courtesy of Ankur Banajee.

There is also little point checking out all the stalls to find out the most competitively priced one if you already know what you want. Prices are pretty aligned across the stalls, except for sale merchandise.

4. Invest in technology

Because of the sheer noise from the engines, it isn’t always easy to hear the race commentary from the speakers around you, especially if you’ve got earplugs stuffed in your ears. Buy one of those radio headsets – this will give you much clearer race commentary, and you won’t need to miss any of the action if you leave your seat to hit the loo or get another beer. If you’re willing to take it one step further, rent a Kangaroo TV. Its a little portable screen that shows the race as it is seen on TV, with additional options to check laptimes and other cool race telemetry and stats.

I gave Kangaroo TV a try for the first time in 2010 and it CHANGED the way I watched the race. It really is the ultimate fan experience and an absolute godsend if you aren’t seated in front of a big screen. A weekend’s rental will likely set you back upwards of $150, but in exchange, you’ll get unmatched race coverage.

There’s a ton of camera angles, options to follow your preferred drivers, and all sorts of cool stuff you can’t get on the big screen on TV. This is great for a full view of all the race action even if you’re in a seat that is not situated in front of a big screen – and more! If you’re thinking of getting either of these, make sure to do them on the Friday/Saturday so you get maximum usage. Especially for the Kangaroo, which is rented out for the whole weekend – you only return it after the race is over.

5. Eat out

Drinks and food at the circuit are pricey and also far from great. Its gotten better in recent years, but a routine I like to keep is to have all my fun in the circuit park in the late afternoon, and then head out for dinner and the use of a nice air conditioned toilet in the evening, before coming back for the race.

Sukiyaki at Marina Square is one of our favourite things to eat before braving the long walk with the crazy crowd to the grandstands. Least I can have is a whole lot of meat in my tummy first!

Don’t feel like you need to stay in all the way. There’s a ton of great food just minutes away from the gates. In fact, options outside are normally better, more comfortable, and haven’t had their prices jacked up.

Hope these tips are helpful! See you this weekend at the race!