Singapore – The Full Story

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Singapore is a clean, modern city. 

   
 Strikingly beautiful old colonial houses and temples give way to uniquely designed skyscrapers, each incorporating unique features like gardens and sky bridges. Without leaving the downtown core you can take in delightful tourist attractions like Gardens By The Bay or take a cable car to Sentosa, where more traditional attractions like the Madame Tussaud’s and Universal Studios Singapore await. 

The Raffles hotel, in the heart of the city, is something out of Indiana Jones and immerses visitors into a bygone era of travel and adventure. The hotel used to be set along the water but with so much land reclamation the sea is now 500m away. Raffles is a name you keep seeing around the city and for a good reason. It’s the last name of the man who founded Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles. He’s also responsible for the fantastic design of the archway covered sidewalks and the urban planned areas of Chinatown and Little India.

   
   
The covered walkways are a smart design, protecting walkers from heat and rain – both of which make up the bulk of the weather. Expect incredible heat and impromptu rain showers daily. 

   
 The secret to keeping Singapore affordable is to never sit down for a full service meal and don’t expect to go out drinking. Cocktails start at 25$ and all full service restaurants add 17% worth of charges to your bill. If you have money to blow, go for it. If not, steer clear of bars and restaurants and you’ll find Singapore incredibly affordable.

  
Why you’d want to sit down at a restaurant when the hawker centers and food courts are so abundant is beyond me. Food courts here share little in common with their North American counterparts. There are so many of them and each offers more options than the last. With meals costing between 5-7$, it’s both a steal and an opportunity to try a dazzling array of local and international dishes, all freshly made.

Shopping ranges from the incredible deals to be found in Chinatown to the insane high-end shops of Orchard Street and Marina Bay Sands. For a more middle of the road experience, visit Vivocity across from Sentosa Island.

The only thing that might set you back is your hotel, where again that 17% service charge and tax returns, but the hotels here are truly outstanding and worth the splurge.

We were lucky enough to visit just shy of the Chinese Lunar New Year which appears to be bigger than Christmas. Decorations are everywhere (even Universal Studios where those adorable Minions were dressed for the occasion) and sales are happening all over the place (all sales seem to end in the number 8, a lucky number).

Our time in Singapore felt far too short and it’s the kind of place I hope to return to soon and often.

      
Oh, and just a special note – if you’re taking a cruise – there are 2 cruise centers in Singapore. Make sure you’re going to the right one. We didn’t and had to hop in a taxi to make it to our ship on time.

Jen Travels : India – EVERY ROAD IS A TWO WAY ROAD WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE

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A travel moment  by Jennifer Mason.

India is frenetic. In its sights and sounds and smells and experiences we’re teetering on the edge of control. Each day we tell our driver Raoul our plans for the next day. He listens silently. When he doesn’t answer (which he never does) we prompt him for an affirmation that our plans are achievable.   

“So Raoul, does this sound good?”

“Let me tell you something…No”
We’ve done one this dance four times. We’re expecting it. He’ll get on the phone with our tour guide of the day and arrange a plan. This plan invariably changes one or two more times. We’re along for the ride. But it gets done,often with some extra spice thrown in along the way.

  
When we went to visit Jama Masjij mosque in Delhi it was closed to tourists. Instead, our guide sent us off on a rickshaw ride through the the small alleys of Chandni Chowk market. Often not more than two rickshaws wide we barrelled through the alleys flanked by every colour of material imaginable narrowly missing carts, shoppers and other bikes. Occasionally not missing. 

We’d been warned repeatedly of the pungent aromas we’d encounter. All true, but in a surprising and wonderful way. Restaurants waft out spices. Shops are a cloud of incense. The near constant fog of humidity clings these aromas in the air.
I’m going to take a break from writing to go ride an Elephant at the Amber Fort of Jaipur.

……..

I almost died riding an elephant today.
Turns out our elephant was in training. He took nearly twice as long to climb the hill, backing up, refusing to move, and occasionally pitching us sideways towards the cliff. Old white tourists passing us by (on their reliable, sober elephants) took pictures of the two of us freaking out, with an apologetic smile.

What sums up the cities, with perfect synchrony is the driving. Everyone honks, constantly. It’s their way of blinking. But it’s not out of anger. You can be flying down a highway at 80kmh and have to swerve for an oncoming cow. Just as often you’re swerving for an oncoming car driving the wrong way in your lane. It’s perfectly coordinated madness. Motorcycles, people, camels, dogs,monkeys and cars seem to have the same priority on the road much like three major religions seem to co-exist with relative respect.

India’s madness is part of Indians charm and we certainly are just along for the ride. 

– Jen

Singapore – A Taste

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My first stop in Asia (I can’t count Taipei as it was just a connection at the airport) is Singapore – and what an introduction!Clean, epic and varied are words I would use to describe this city-state that serves as a melting pot (pun intended as its so friggin hot all the time) for a variety of cultures. India, China – every neighborhood has a different flavor and character. At the same time, it’s a perfect introductory city as everyone speaks English and the streets are incredibly safe. 

   
 It’s also pretty affordable and I say that with a huge asterix. I’ve never seen such a vast amount of high end shopping but when it comes to foods and general purchases I’d say that prices are comparable to back home (Canada) and far better than the US given the current exchange rate. It’s amazing to travel halfway around the world to experience something new and exciting that’s also safe and familiar.

 
  
There are plenty of pictures and videos to share (and opinions) but we’ll start off with some samples of what we witnessed on our way to the hotel:

   
    
   

20 Hours Of Flying

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Usually (well, sometimes) there’s more of a point to my articles but at his point I’m just really proud that I’m still standing (errr…typing).

We began our trip to Singapore in Montreal, then took a five hour flight to Vancouver. Here we are about to depart from YVR!   
That flight was 12 hours. I think we still looked pretty awake as we landed in Taipei.

 
So we boarded our flight from Taipei to Singapore which was another four hours…

 Amazingly, the trip halfway around the world was absolutely flawless! Our luggage arrived on time as well! Now that we’re here, we are ready to tear up the town!   

 

Happy National Hug Day!

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There are a ridiculous number of special days out there. It seems nearly every day you’re seeing some type of dedication imposed on a day: National Donut Day, International Day of Fiber Rememberance. 

While some might theorize that giving every small, silly thing it’s official day devalues the awareness going to health or well-being days that truly need a spotlight, I think we should celebrate as much as we can, whenever we can…

So Happy National Hug Day!

  
It’s, statistically, the day where more colds and flus are passed between people and was originally created in 2009 in a joint effort between cold medicine makers “Robutussin” and “Tylenol Cold and Flu”.

So spread your germs as much as you can today, assess the true size and shape (and build) of your co-workers! 

Happy Hug Day!

Travel: Vancouver Aquarium

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Our adventure has begun. First stop – Vancouver!

Just a short visit but a great chance to test out my new “Moondog Anamorphic Lens” and “Filmakr” app. As you can see, I’m still learning to play with both but many of the results are quite impressive.

I’ve also included some of the great photos we took! I could stay and watch these animals all day! The Vancouver Aquarium is a fantastic non-profit rescue facility and well worth the visit!

   
    
    
    
 

Adventure Is Out There!

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I love to travel!

A lot of people say that but very few people make a living doing it. Even less make a living doing it and still spend their free time hopping from place to place. I’m lucky to have an amazing companion with a spirit of adventure similar to mine!  
Today is an exciting first step – as we head off, for the very first time, across the Pacific! Expect some updates with glorious photography and my usua observations  as we visit: Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Brunei!

And – in a strange and bizarre coincidence – my sister from another mother, Jen, is also setting off halfway across the world – to India – on the exact same day and she’ll be sharing some observations from her vacation on here as well!