Singapore (in less than 3 days!)

First off…some facts about Singapore.

Singapore is a wealthy city state in south-east Asia and was once a British colonial trading post, today it is a thriving global financial hub and is renowned for its conservatism and strict local laws and the country prides itself on its stability and security. Chinese account for more than 75% of Singapore’s multi-racial population, with Malays and Indians making up much of the remainder. Densely-populated, most of its people live in public-housing tower blocks on the outskirts of the city.

So what can I tell you about my Singapore experience?

The streets are clean (no chewing gum is allowed in the country – read about this here) and spitting is banned; (a far cry from our experiences in India where they spat a brown nut juice on the streets and inside temples, staining them bright red.)

Singapore is a notoriously clean city. Here is me pointing to the clean streets (or the F1 track)
Singapore is a notoriously clean city. Here is me pointing to the clean streets (or the F1 road track)

It’s exceptionally green…A government program made sure Singapore became one of the world’s greenest cities. The city puts a cap on the number of vehicles allowed on the island and charged a fee in some zones. It’s nice to know that more than 5% of the island is reserved for nature.

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Green Singapore

Street food is good…Street food relatively cheap and is eaten on little plastic tables and chairs and little wooden stools inside some markets, like the one we ate at below.

Everyone speaks English, and it’s good English! The Singapore government encourages the use of proper English (as opposed to “Singlish,”), street signs and menus are in English too so it’s great for tourists. I tried my hardest but could not find any signs worth giggling, at unlike when I visited China!

It’s safe…even if travelling alone. I never felt uncomfortable in Singapore, yes I was always with Tom but I never felt like I was being targeted or looked at wrongly, unlike in countries we had travelled to before Singapore, India being the main one. Also with so many Westerners travelling to the country now they’ve seen it (blonde hair, white skin) all before. It’s only ever the tourists who wear their bags like this, locals tended to be more relaxed about their possessions.

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I only wore my bag like this when I had 2 to carry! Just like the locals, I felt safe so wasn’t too bothered about wearing a normal shoulder bag during the day.

While it’s generally safe for tourists, be careful when crossing roads. We saw this huge crash unfold on New Years Eve and never found out if there had been any casualties. This could have easily crashed into pedestrians on the walkways.

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New Year’s Eve car crash

Singaporeans take shopping seriously…Shopping is a national pastime and many designer shops are pieces of art. Tourists can get refunds on sales tax at the border over a certain amount. We visited 2 main shopping strips, there are so many to choose from you could spend all your time shopping (if you wanted to!)…

  1. Orchard Road – On first sight it’s a 2.2km shopping boulevard that doesn’t look that packed until you realise each door takes you into a new huge sparkly shopping mall. The sheer scale of this retail onslaught is overwhelming, there is every shop you will ever need here.
  2. Haji Lane – This was my favourite shopping strip due to its quirkiness. You might have trouble finding it as it’s only a narrow alley in Kampong Glam.
    Nearest MRT station – Bugis MRT (EW12) – Walking 4 mins from Exit B.

They have the super trendy Marina Bay Sands…You can’t beat a drink at one of Singapore’s sky-high rooftop bars. With outstanding views and in an iconic location, CÉ LA VI bar at the top of the Marina Bay Sands is the best place to cool down and relax in between sightseeing or shopping. At night you can see the laser show from here and at all times you can watch (enviously ) over swimmers at the guest only rooftop swimming pool.

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You can visit one of the worlds largest Aquariums…The S.E.A. Aquarium (South East Asia Aquarium) which contains more than 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species. The centrepiece of the Aquarium is the Open Ocean tank (below). 

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Ocean Tank at S.E.A

You have the well known Long Bar at Raffles to drink at…Yes it’s expensive but it is iconic and it’s a must do when in Singapore. If you have good company and a few spare £££, wade through the monkey nut littered floor, grab a seat at the bar, chat with others and treat yourself to the most famous drink – the Singapore Sling.

Marina Bay is one of the coolest places in the world to spend New Year amongst the locals…There are live performances each New Year’s Eve from some top bands and a big fireworks display to cap off the night over the Marina Bay Sands. It was crowded, the metro stopped for the night for obvious reasons and everyone had to walk home but the atmosphere was amazing, one of the best NYE shows I’ve been to.

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New Year at the Marina

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They have lots of gardens…Gardens by the Bay is a nature park in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. There are three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. The government wanted to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden”and the aim was to raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city.

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The F1 is held here…Unlike many circuits where they are within boundaries, here it’s on public streets. If you come just before or after the race you can see some of the set up and wander into the garages too. You can easily walk the circuit in no time if you plan the route or have maps on your phone.

The buildings are historical and unique…Singapore is full of photo opportunities. We came across this quaint little street along the Singapore river called Boat Quay with restaurants, bars and live seafood waiting to be eaten on.

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My Singapore Highlights

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Travel Guide

New Year in Berlin

We visited Berlin, the city with more violent history than most cities on Earth, for new year 2015/16. Tom had pestered me for years to go there but I never saw the appeal. The sights of Berlin – from the Brandenburg Gate to the Federal Chancellery – tell the story of an entire nation, this is clear on every street, there is always something that reminds you of the past. Germany’s capital is home to all the major government buildings, most notably the historic Reichstag, seat of the German parliament. It’s a city of art, artists and museums and you’re never short of anything to do there.

My top things to see and do over new year

The iconic Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) is one of Germany’s most visited landmarks. It has been a symbol for peace, war, victory and terror and since 1989 it stands for the reunification of Germany. We visited during the day and night, since it was new year there were more people after dark to see this structure, which is considered a symbol of the tumultuous history of Europe and Germany, but also of European unity and peace, lit up.

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How to avoid the most common scams when travelling

Scams to avoid abroad

Don’t forget that, when travelling, there is always someone trying to rip you off. Here is some advice on how to dodge them the most well-known scams.

As travelers, it is easy to think that we won’t be the ones to get caught up in these scams but it happens to everyone! It could be something little like getting overcharged on cab rides to unknowingly revealing credit card information, travel scams exist in every country.

While you’re sometimes unlikely to know when these scams are happening to you, it is important to know what kind of scams exist.

  • Is someone harassing you by constantly telling you they know where that thing is you’re looking for, a tourist office? If so, we’ve been there and avoided that. Do your own thing and don’t trust anyone telling you this, especially in India.

Chinese Food – 2 months of food pictures

Dining out in Chinese restaurants is cheap, but the street food is much cheaper and you’ll feel more cultured for trying it too!

You can have a hearty bowl of fried noodles with vegetables from the street for only RMB4, which is less than $0.50. After 2 weeks of having street meals, you will notice how much you can save on food (and loose weight in the process!) and you will not believe.

Below you’ll find all my foodie pictures from my travels around China. Some pleasant, some not so pleasant! I’ve tried to remember where about we were or what it was for each picture. You won’t go hungry in China if you’re adventurous.

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You can find similar takeaways to your local back in England

Continue reading “Chinese Food – 2 months of food pictures”

The Ryanair Review

Review: Ryanair

We chose to book through Ryanair on our flight from Manchester to Riga because the flights were incredibly cheap, even in the half term holidays. It cost us £80 return from Manchester for one adult and had no problem getting seats together beforehand. We didn’t even need to pay to pre book like we had been told we should do, we just checked in when we could and chose seats. Our flight landed at 2.45pm Latvian time without delays.

Continue reading “Review: Ryanair”

Yangshuo Culture House View

Review: Yangshuo Culture House, Yangshuo

Yangshuo Culture House -China

A bit about Yangshuo first.

Yangshuo County is a county under the jurisdiction of Guilin City, in the northeast of Guangxi. Yangshuo does not have its own train station yet (but there is a fast intercity-rail from Yangshuo to Guilin planned for 2017!) so the only options yet to cover the 65km from Yangshuo to Guilin center or the 85km fromYangshuo to Guilin Airport northwest are either by public bus, express bus, airport shuttle bus, or hiring private transportation. Continue reading “Review: Yangshuo Culture House, Yangshuo”