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Tim Foolery

Home » 2018 » October (Page 2)

Monthly Archives: October 2018

Sights and Sounds of Singapore

The sights and sounds of Singapore can be overwhelming. Before leaving for Singapore I made a list of all the things I must do before I leave the city. I do this every time I am in a new city or when I travel alone, which this was a little bit of both. I wasn’t alone, but much of the days I was exploring by myself.

No matter where you turn, you see something wonderful. It is a very clean city, so you aren’t burdened with the sights or smell of trash on the streets. I saw no homeless or beggars. Being in a quasi-benevolent-dictatorship you don’t get to see a lot of the bad things other metropolises have.

Here are some of my favorite sights of Singapore and should be on every first time visitors list (and on many returning visitors’ too).

Chinatown

Chinatown in Singapore

Chinatown in Singapore is bustling at night.

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

The infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands looks quite different from this angle.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens By the Bay

Gardens by the bay is a sensory feast.

Gardens By the Bay

View from Marina Bay Sands of Gardens by the Bay

Hawker Stall Meals

Kitchen views at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

The kitchen hard at work Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Our pork noodle and soup was totally worth the wait.

Hawker Stall Market

Telok Ayer Market

Singapore Botanic Gardens / National Orchid Gardens

National Orchid Garden at the Singapore Botanical Gardens

Orchid’s at the National Orchid Garden.

Performance Space at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Performance Space at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Arches at the National Orchid Garden in Singapore

The famous arches at the National Orchid Garden

Merlion Park

Merlion Park Singapore

The Merlion Statue with a beautiful skyline in the background

Chinese Gardens Singapore

Pagodas in Singapore

Twin Pagodas at the Chinese Gardens in Singapore

Chinese Garden Singapore

Statuary and Pagoda in the Park

I really enjoyed my time in Singapore and can’t wait to return.

What are your favorite sights and sounds of Singapore? What is on your Singapore list? Did I miss something? Did I pick some overrated places?

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Michelin Dining – No Really, They Have a Star!

Casual dining in Singapore is truly defined by the Hawker Stall. These Singapore equivalent of a food court in the mall are found throughout the city. You can get everything from grilled meats, noodle dishes, seafood and more. Singapore is also home to two Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls.

These stalls offer the cheapest Michelin starred meals on the planet. Generally, Singapore is a pretty expensive city, but you can easily eat some amazing food for less than $5USD each meal.

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

We visited both Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls on my 68 hours on the ground. The first was immediately after the great bike tour. I swung by Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, in Chinatown. These guys are known for the ubiquitous dish of Chicken and Rice. You are probably thinking how can a simple chicken and rice dish be 1) the national dish of Singapore and 2) earn a Michelin Star. Well, it isn’t because of the service or the ambiance, that’s for sure.

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Exterior of Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Menu at Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Interior of Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

This place looked like a fast food joint in a mall. I arrived around 13h45 after the lunch rush and still waited in line for 30 minutes. I ordered the Chicken and Rice and a beer. The beer blew the budget as I spent S$10 on this meal.  The dish was perfectly fine. Nicely cooked and mildly seasoned. I was lost as to how this was so highly rated. Then I saw the condiments. Simple sauces and peppers. Adding these to the meal was phenomenal. Loads of flavor, a little spice really kicked up the dish. I loved it.

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Chicken and Rice from Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

The second Michelin Starred Restaurant we visited was Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. It was right near the bike tour shop too. Arriving around 14h00, we didn’t miss the line today. We waited for nearly an hour in the very hot Hawker area. Most of the fans were not working either.

Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls - Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle – Single Star Michelin Restaurant

Neighboring Hawker Stall of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Most of the neighboring stalls were quiet.

Pork noodle was the famous dish here, so of course that was our selection. We grabbed a beer while we waited in line and another once we had our food. We loaded the dish with all the recommended condiments and paid S$7 per person.

The tables were pretty full, but we lucked out and snagged a four-top the second we had our food in hand.

Neighboring Hawker Stall of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Full tables – everyone enjoying Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Kitchen views at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

The kitchen hard at work Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

The pork noodle was just the perfect dish. Spicy, salty and savory flavors made me want to order a second dish, but I couldn’t handle the line.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Our pork noodle and soup was totally worth the wait.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle - Close up

Noodle Close Up – It was delicious!

So, we managed to knock a couple of things off our Singapore must-do list. Enjoying street food and hitting Michelin Rated Restaurant.  Have you visited either of these Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls?  Did you think the food was worth the wait?  What other places would you recommend who want great food, but can’t handle the 30-60+ minute wait for it?

Singapore Hawker Stalls

When people talk of Singapore, you’ll often hear of the Singapore Hawker Stalls. These casual dining shops are all over the city.  While I wouldn’t call this street food, per se, it’s pretty damn close.  When I think of street food, I often think of less permanent establishments.  These Hawker Stalls are home to some of the best food I’ve had while traveling.  These are really the best place to eat if you are traveling on a tight budget too, as most of the meals cost me less than S$10 ($7USD) and that often included a beer too.

After my bike tour with Let’s Go Singapore, I stopped off and had Singapore’s national dish – Chicken and Rice.  This simple dish, was pretty bland at first, then I added the various condiments and it really kicked the flavor up.  At first, it seemed like something you’d get while in hospital, but then it was so flavorful. I really wished I had a chance to grab another portion later on.

Hawker Stall Market

Telok Ayer Market

Immediately next to the SO Sofitel Singapore was the Lau Pa Sat Market (a/k/a Telok Ayer Market).  This world famous market is home to more than two dozen stalls with a ton of seating.  The street closes at 19h00 and fills with tables.  We ate here our second night in Singapore – dining outside and getting satay from Stall 7 & 8 “Best Satay Stand”.  It really was great satay.  We had both chicken with peanut sauce and prawns.  Utterly delectable.

Grilled Prawns

Grilled Prawns

Grilled Prawns

Grilled Prawns

When visiting Singapore, be sure to visit the Lau Pa Sat Market (Telok Ayer Market), the sights, sounds and smells alone are worth the visit.  The food is amazing and the prices cannot be beat.

What are your favorite places to grab a bite when in Singapore? Do you steer clear of Hawker Stalls?

Lufthansa First Class Amenity Kit

I love Airline Amenity Kits.  A Lufthansa First Class Amenity Kit made it’s way to me – after some issues on Austrian Airlines forced a flight change.  Amenity Kits are really hit or miss nowadays.  You’ve got airlines like EVA and Thai who still offer the beautiful Rimowa kits and then you’ve got United who will sometimes provide a tin.  The sign of a good amenity kit for me is two fold: 1) The design itself and it’s reusability and 2) The contents and their immediate usefulness.

The Kit

I love to reuse an amenity kit.  Currently, I’m using a simple Lufthansa Business Class kit to house my various cables while traveling.  It’s compact, sturdy and strong.  The current First Class Amenity Kit is quite a bit larger and is in a strange quasi-heart shape.  The two-toned color looks good at day one, but I’m sure with regular use, the light suede will really start to show the wear.

 

Lufthansa First Class Amenity Kit

The quasi-heart shaped First Class Amenity Kit.

As you can see there is a folding snap in addition to the proper zip closure.  The flap appears to be just decorative, which I don’t care for.  It is just another piece to get in my way or get damaged.  It does add a nice aesthetic though.

Lufthansa First Class Amenity Kit

Sunburst detail on the flap.

The Contents

Like any good amenity kit – either in First Class or Business Class, I think you’ve got to have an eye mask, ear plugs and socks.  Those are the absolute bare minimums, otherwise it’s just a complete waste.  This kit included those items, of course, and they were quite nice.  The eye mask included a velcro adjustable strap and the mask itself was quite broad, easily covering the area around my eyes.  The earplugs were pretty standard, but they came in a great little carrying case.  I think this case was pretty useless, but I thought it really upped the presentation.  The socks were traditional thin airline socks, but they were much longer than normal – traditional sock size.

In addition to the minimum requirements, this kit also included a plastic shoe horn, a compact brush and la prairie moisturizing creams.  The brush isn’t at all useful for me (have you see a recent picture??), but I love the shoe horn – I keep one in each of my suitcases, backpacks and briefcases.  They are strong, compact and lightweight – you can always use a shoe horn.  The moisturizing creams were pretty creamy and smelled fresh, but they took a while to properly absorb into your skin.  I felt a little greasy.  Nice effort – use these before you pull down your eye mask and take a nap.

Lufthansa First Class Amenity Kit

The contents of the kit – even tied so elegantly with ribbon.

Lufthansa First Class Amenity Kit

The kit, fully unpacked.

Lufthansa First Class Amenity Kit

The interior of the heart-shaped amenity kit

The Results

The contents were spot on for in-flight use, but the kit itself missed the mark for reuse.  It was a bit too big for what I would use it for, plus that extra flap just frustrated me.  After a few weeks of traveling, I am confident that the light brown suede would look a bit dingy.  So unbecoming of a lovely First Class Amenity Kit.

What do you think of this kit?  Do you like to reuse the Amenity Kits you get whilst traveling or do you leave them behind?  What other purposes do you task you kits with?

Flu Shot?

Do you get a flu shot?  No, I’m going to get into the benefits of the flu shot or venture down the anti-vax rabbit hole, either.  When I was younger, I would never get a flu shot.  It wasn’t because I liked the flu, or that I thought vaccines were bad.  I was young and healthy and never really caught the flu. Plus, I don’t like the idea of medication unless absolutely necessary.

That all changed in 2010.  We were planning our trip to Africa and needed quite a few shots before we left.  I visited, as I always do before exotic travel, the Northwestern Travel Clinic.  I was talking with the nurse about all the vaccines and medications I must get: Typhoid, Yellow Fever and a Tetnus Booster.  We also talked about the vaccines I could get: Malaria (not a vaccine, but you get the point) and Rabies.  The doctor didn’t recommend the rabies vaccine as it wouldn’t prevent rabies, but just give you an additional 24 hours to find medical help.  I decided to get the rabies vaccine as we’d be in rural Zimbabwe with very limited hospital and flight options.  Easy enough.

Simple Question – No Answer

She then asked me about the annual flu vaccine.  I told her I wasn’t interested in it at all.  Struggling not to roll her eyes at me, she asked why.  I explained that I’m not a fan of medication and the flu doesn’t really impact me.  She then started spouting off stats on Americans getting rabies in Africa vs the flu at home or while traveling.  She made a good point that I could not refute.  If I’m afraid of a 1-in-300,000,000 chance of rabies vs a 1-in-5 chance of getting the flu.  Logically it made sense to me.

Flu Shot Vaccine Good or Bad

Flu Shot: Annual Tradition or Waste of Time?

It was from that moment on that I would get the flu shot each year.  I have had no ill effects and have only caught the flu once in the past 8 years.  With all the travel we do, anything that can keep the germs on airplanes, hotels and crowded spaces at bay is good in my book.

What are your thoughts on getting the flu shot?  Do you think I was crazy for getting the rabies vaccines too?