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Tim Foolery

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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?

Let’s Go Singapore Bike Tour

When visiting a new city, I love to hop on a bike tour.  Seeing a city by bike is seeing it like a local. Living life like a local.  You feel the pulse of the city and can truly experience the vibrancy.  With only 68 hours on the ground a Singapore Bike Tour was in order.  First off, I had to find a knowledgeable, local guide and jump on a bike.  It was clear, after just a few searches, that Let’s Go Singapore was the right company to lead me around this City.

After sharing an awkward breakfast at the M Hotel, I hopped on the train and made my way to the Let’s Go Singapore offices.  Arriving 30 minutes early for the tour, I sat outside and organized plan for the post tour afternoon.  The tour was small, just me and two young German tourists.  It can make for an amazing trip when you have a small group of fit tourees.  I’ve had some overcrowded bike tours with people who haven’t ridden a bike in years (like our tour in Barcelona) and it just kills me.

Singapore Bike Tour

Let’s Go Singapore – Fully Stocked for a Bike Tour

Singapore Bike Tour

Let’s Go Singapore is opening a cooking school too. After your bike ride, you can make traditional Singapore cuisine!

The Tour

After adjusting our bikes and getting a brief rundown of the plan, we headed out.  Our guide was really excellent.  First off, he told us the rules of the road in Singapore.  Who has the right of way and how to interpret his directions throughout the ride.  And we’re off.

We moved quickly throughout the City, visiting some major sites, plus places that normal tourists likely wouldn’t see.  We visited places that tourists wouldn’t find on their own either.

Singapore Bike Tour

The Formula One Track in Singapore – Used by the citizens when not racing season

Singapore Bike Tour

Our tour group, posing on the F1 Track

Singapore Bike Tour

Marina Bay Sands from the Singapore Bike Tour

Singapore Bike Tour

Three bike tourees in front of the three towers of Marina Bay Sands

Singapore Bike Tour

Riding away, early in the tour. Singapore’s National Stadium looms ominously in the background.

Singapore Bike Tour

The Gardens by the Bay Arboretum

Singapore Bike Tour

The Singapore Flyer Ferris Wheel

Singapore Bike Tour

Love the greenery built into the architecture all throughout Singapore

Singapore Bike Tour

Closing out the tour near the Mosque

Singapore Bike Tour

I’m really not upset, despite the angry look on my face!

Singapore Bike Tour

Riding away, early in the tour. Singapore’s National Stadium looms ominously in the background.

Singapore Bike Tour

Singapore Bike Tour

The vibrant dining area near the mosque.

Singapore Bike Tour

Colorful Haji Street in Singapore

The day we toured was a little overcast, with a constant threat of thunderstorms.  You can see the cloudiness in the photos, they are not as crisp and clear as I’d like them to be.  Midway through our tour, we had to stop and take refuge in a shopping mall.  Shopping malls are ubiquitous in Singapore and we were thankful for that when it started to rain.

The tour lasted about four hours, plus a bit more because of the rain delay.  This was an active tour, but not a strenuous effort.  I really enjoyed every part of this tour and can’t recommend it enough.  For S$80 ($58USD), I defy you to find a more knowledgeable guide and more fun tour.

No matter how much time you’ve got to spend in Singapore – but especially if it is only 68 hours – seek out Let’s Go Singapore and get to know the city.  While I’m sure all the guides are great, Alfie was really phenomenal.

Do you take cycle tours when on vacation?  What better ways do you have of getting to know a new city in such short order?  What other tour would you recommend in Singapore?  Have you used Let’s Go for a Singapore Bike Tour?

Singapore Sling at Raffles

The Raffles Hotel is colonial Singapore. Opened 1887, it has been the mainstay of imperial stature and architecture in the region. I love visiting classic hotels while traveling; especially when these hotels have famous cocktails like the Singapore Sling. I find the colonial hotels in southeast Asia really pique my interest. While the ideal of oppressive imperialism turns my stomach, the romanticized notion really gets me going. Living in relative luxury, overseeing your “enterprise” – and in this scenario, “your enterprise” is the pillaging of the land and the enslavement of the people. But I digress.

A major renovation has closed the Raffles Hotel. It is slated to reopen again in the first half of 2019. Obviously that didn’t work for me. I was fortunate enough that the fine Raffles folks opened a PopUp Shop next to their hotel. Of course I had to stop by.

Raffles Bar PopUp Singapore Sling

The Long Bar PopUp in Singapore

The PopUp

The PopUp has a limited menu, consisting of only five items, two of which are alcohol-free. The Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel is known for the Singapore Sling, which they invented. This cocktail cost 31SGD or 22USD, which is outrageously expensive for this cocktail. I still ordered it, but I didn’t order a water as the tiny bottles were 14SGD OR $10USD. I’m usually not a cheapskate, but these prices are extreme.

Cocktail Menu

Limited menu at the Long Bar PopUp in Singapore

Singapore Sling

A refreshing Singapore Sling. Expensive but amazing.

The Original Singapore Sling was phenomenal, despite the crippling price. I debated on ordering a second but, after working all day on Tuesday, traveling 23.5 hours, sleeping a bit and having a full first night ahead of me, I decided to stick to just one Original Singapore Sling.

Singapore Sling Advertisement

Singapore Sling Advertisement

I enjoyed the cocktail and when / if I am back in Singapore, I will grab another one at the proper bar in the renovated hotel.

Do you like hitting up classic hotels and trying their famous cocktails? Have you visited Raffles before? Aren’t these prices nuts?