Tim Foolery

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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?

M Hotel Singapore

Have you even heard of the M Hotel Singapore?  I hadn’t either, before my stay.  Located a short walk from the Tanjong Pagar Metro Station, the M Hotel really does cater to business travelers.  Found in the central business district and surrounded by densely packed skyscrapers.  This hotel was where Mike stayed for the week while in Singapore. His office is just around the corner.

Check-In

I arrived around 13h00.  My name had been put on our reservation and it was made clear that I would just need to show up, present a photo ID and grab my key.  Not so much.  When I arrived, the four people working reception were chatting amongst themselves and watching something on their phones.  After a couple “Excuse mes” and “Pardons”, one lady tore herself away to help me.  She said Mike didn’t have a reservation, despite the fact that he’d been there for four days already.  She eventually found it, but said I wasn’t listed and he’d have to come back and vouch for me.  Fine…I’d just leave my suitcase and head out to explore.  Since I had taken a shower in Taipei just a few hours earlier, that wasn’t a big deal.  She wouldn’t let me check my luggage – it was only for registered guests.

“MayI speak to the front desk manager please?”

A couple minutes later, the manager arrives, I explain my situation and he immediately says “Ah, yes, Mr. Timothy. Mr. Mike told me of your arrival.  You are in room X on the 24th floor.”  Then he started speaking Mandarin to the woman previously helping me.  He was pointing vigorously at the monitor and appeared to be scolding her.  I don’t speak Mandarin in the slightest, but I know when someone is getting a dressing down.  He delivered my keys with way too many apologies.

The Room

The elevators were a little slow, so once one arrived, it was a bit like Lord of the Flies trying to board.  I had forgotten about pushy Chinese Tourists.  I didn’t make it on the first elevator.  The second one was mine – I barreled through the crowd and made it to my room in short order.

Equipped with a queen sized bed, this room was meant for a business traveler.  The room was a decent size and served our most basic needs well.

Full queen room view

The compact and efficient room.

The minibar was stocked.

TV and minibar flanked one wall.

The work space

This rooms work space was large with lots of power outlets.

Lounge Chair

Lounge chair with a view

While a relatively nice hotel, it didn’t have a relaxed vacation feel to it. We decided to move after just one night.  The hotel did have a pool, but it looked pretty rough and I really wanted to spend at least an hour poolside.  We decided to move to the SO Sofitel for the last two nights of our stay.

Other than the issues at check-in and the hordes of loud Chinese tourists commandeering the elevators, we had one other interesting experience.  While grabbing breakfast one morning, I was enjoying some noodles and dumplings (I hate traditional breakfasts) and a man just sits down with me at the two-top table.  85% of the other tables were completely free, but he chose to dine with me.  He didn’t say a word. He read his news paper and slurped his noodles.  It was so strange – I have never seen anything like this before.

Have you stayed at the M Hotel Singapore before?  What did you think of the property?  Did you hang out at the pool at all?  How many random Chinese people sat down with you at breakfast?

Duration versus Frequency of Travel

As an American working at an American firm, I get a very limited amount of vacation time. After being at my current employer for more than a decade I get just 15 vacation days each year. That’s three weeks total. That’s not enough to go and do what I want to do, so I have to really plan my trips.  People often ask me if the frequency of travel is “worth it.”  Why go away for such a short period, they ask? For only three full days in Europe is it worth the expense of the airfare, the jet lag and everything else. To that, I say a resounding YES!  If I didn’t love short, frequent trips, I wouldn’t have flown to Singapore for 68 hours last month!

Singapore Gardens by the Bay

Singapore by night

You don’t have to have a month long sabbatical to disconnect and recharge your batteries. Taking a few days can help you reset and re-energize. You just need to be in the right mindset.

Frequency of Travel

Last year, my best friend got married. We had a couple of quick trips to associated with the wedding, but each time we added just a single day to the festivities and made a proper vacation out of the time. Weddings are always busy, but we came into the weekends knowing that we had a single day for a proper vacation and we fully used that day.

For example, the ceremony was in Palm Springs. The wedding events were from Friday through Sunday (not all day though). We arrived on Thursday morning and spent that day and most of Friday properly vacationing. With only two days away, we planned and we executed. Our offices knew we completely out of pocket. We didn’t do any work once we landed in Palm Springs – we disconnected; not even email. We ate; we drank; we didn’t really DO, we just were. It was fabulous.

One of my favorite podcasts, Happier, with Gretchen Rubin, focused on Duration versus Frequency this week. Gretchen and Liz talked about their trips to see each other, their parents their friends and even trips just with their spouses. They posited, and I agreed, more frequent vacations or contact is much better than long duration and much less frequent.

I’ve been a firm believer of this for years and have even written about it here before. If I felt I had to take a two-to-three week vacation each year, I would take just a single trip – and that would kill me.

What do you think? Do you prefer frequency or duration? I know, I’d rather have frequent, long trips, too, but that’s not really an option for most of us. What has been your favorite small duration trip you’ve taken this year?