(15 minute read)
On our last day in Singapore as we were walking in downtown, we came across some big event at Fort Canning Park on Hill Street. There was live music playing, huge crowds of drunk young people, and lots of sticky (probably beer) puddles. So Dima and I tried to walk through the crowd as quickly as possible to get away from the craziness. Of course as I'm walking, out of nowhere, someone pours something all over the back of my shirt and I'm drenched! Naturally, I flip out a little :D I turn around, detect a guy with an huge empty bottle in his hand who's looking straight at me, and I say to him "What the heck?! Why did you do that for?!" He mumbles out an "I'm sorry" as I turn back and walk away. He seemed as shocked as I did. In retrospect, it was only water, and it actually felt pretty good as it was so hot and humid outside. But at that moment, seeing that the guy intentionally just poured something on me, (definitely wasn't an accident) didn't make me happy :) Reflecting back, Dima and I do remember seeing a lot of wet people. So maybe this was a 'thing' they did at the event/concert? Maybe I was supposed to be flattered that someone shared their water with me, trying to cool me down in that horrible heat? I'm not sure :D If anyone knows anything about an event at Fort Canning Park on Sunday April 23rd, 2017. Please do let me know. :)
Part 2 of Series:
We spent our first night in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The hotel itself was luxurious and conveniently located, but the one and only reason for our stay at the hotel was the rooftop pool. (And you'll see why!) As soon as we arrived at the Singapore Changi Airport the journey to the hotel was extremely convenient; 2 MRT subways straight from the airport to an underground walkway to the hotel from the MRT station. We arrived at the hotel around 8 am on Saturday April 15th, 2017 but our check in wasn't until 3 pm. We decided to try to see if our room was ready. The hotel receptionist offered to upgrade the room for $42 USD on a higher floor with a city view and the room would be available immediately. The room was already costing us $492 USD for a single night, so I thought what's an extra $42 gonna matter? :D We went up to our room on the 37th floor, and the skyline view was beautiful! After traveling for 32 hours, we both desperately needed to brush our teeth, and take a refreshing shower before heading out to explore the city.
Although there were lots of people at the pool, it did not feel crowded because the pool is ginormous. Pool, lounge chairs, palm trees, restaurant/bar, drink service, the view = the recipe for a perfect place to relax. And you bet we were there first thing the next morning again!
- Pool: is only open to Hotel Guests: if you would like to swim here, you will need to book a night's stay
- Infinity Pool faces the city, hot tubs face Gardens By The Bay
- Average Nightly Price: depends on the season. Be prepared to pay at least $400 USD for garden view on the lower floors (but who cares, you'll still get to access the pool!)
- SkyPark: the 57th floor also has the SkyPark observation deck which is free for hotel guests, but is also open to the public for a small charge
- Weather: Pool closes temporarily when it rains
- Location: great! Great access by the MRT subway, and hotel is connected to The Shoppes Mall.
- Restaurants: hotel restaurants are VERY expensive, so we did not eat there. Instead, we walked 5 min to the Mall which has several great restaurants, including Din Tai Fung (delicious!).
Part 1 of Series:
Heat, humidity, and the smell of fresh air hit me as I got off the MRT subway, which we had taken straight from the airport. It was about 27 C (80 F), humidity at 80% at it was only 7 am in April! This was definitely going to be a sweaty trip. Singapore was our first of two destinations in Asia, and after 32 hours of travel from the US (3 flights, one of which was 16 hours), we were ready to move around and explore.
As we stepped outside on to the bustling Singaporean streets, I made sure to keep an eye out on Dima (my husband/travel partner). Why? Well at the time, I had a legitimate concern that he might get arrested as he wouldn't be able to follow the local law. Jaywalking, chewing gum, spitting and singing in public, walking around naked in your own house/hotel, connecting to someone else's wifi, were just the tip of the iceberg on why this could have been the place he was sent to jail :D Some other weird laws/ illegal things to do in Singapore include; smoking in public, forgetting to flush the toilet, feeding pigeons, and singing or playing an instrument in public. Penalties vary from jail time (up to 3 years for connecting to someone's wifi) to smaller fines ($150 SGD, around $108 USD for not flushing the toilet). And of course things like urinating in public, littering and hawking (selling goods on the street by calling out for attention) are also illegal.
You might think some of those laws are crazy, but I definitely witnessed the result from some of them. My first realization was that Singapore was extremely clean. No trash, cigarette butts, gum anywhere to be found. (Which was interesting, because we had an extremely hard time finding trash cans around the city. Weird) My other realizations were that Singapore was very safe and high tech.
Interesting Facts About Singapore
- Singapore is among the smallest countries in the world, with an area of 277.6 sq mi / 719 sq km. (Lexington, KY is bigger: 285 sq mi!!)
- 3rd most densely populated country in the world, with a population of 5.6 million
- One of the 3 surviving city-states in the world (Other two are: Vatican City and Monaco)
Gardens By The Bay
On our first day in Singapore we spent a good 4 hours exploring Gardens by the Bay. It looked like something out of this world! The park was so green, full of color, had interesting plants on every corner and not to mention the intergalactic looking Supertrees. In the park, they also have the Supertree Grove and two conservatories: Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, which house 217,000 plants from 800 different species!
Gardens by the Bay only opened in 2012, and was a strategic move by the government to transform Singapore into a "City in a Garden." The aim was to improve Singaporeans' quality of life by improving the clean, fresh air and boosting the fauna and flora in the country. If you look closely, the Supertrees (pictured below) have plants growing on them, and as of April 2017 they were covering about half of the Supertrees and one day they will be covered completely. How cool!
Cloud Forest Dome
Well this covered about the first 4 hours of our 12 day trip. Haha! So there's plenty more coming! I would love to hear your thoughts and/or questions. I would also love to hear the 'first impression' you received from reading this post. Is Singapore / Gardens by the Bay a place you would like to visit? Have you heard about Singapore / Gardens by the Bay before? Or will you stay away from a country with too many regulations and laws that might send you to jail?
Part 3: Ancient Capital & the Hike to Machu Picchu
Ancient Capital of the Inca Empire
Cusco, Peru in the Andes Mountains
When: October 6, 7 &10, 2016
Peru Trip: October 3-11, 2016
On our 4th day in Peru, we took the afternoon flight from Lima to Cusco. Cusco is the ancient capital of the Inca Empire in the Andes Mountains. It is a city at an altitude of 3,400 meters (11,152 ft) and is known for its Spanish colonial architecture and archaeological remains. It was my mistake, that I did not do my research on traveling to high altitude cities. Once we landed in Cusco, I felt the air to be a bit thinner to breathe but I was feeling fine. Within a couple of hours, however, I started to feel lightheaded, a headache began, I felt extremely tired and weak. The altitude sickness was kicking in. Dima had a massive headache and vomited several times, although it could have been from food poisoning. I immediately researched how to deal with altitude sickness, and one of the first tips on WebMD was to avoid flying in to high altitude cities like Cusco, Peru, but rather ascending gradually. (Oops!) Clearly that was no help, as we were already in Cusco... The hotel offered complimentary coca leaf tea, which supposedly relieves headaches and helps to cope with the altitude. That evening we were too weak to do anything but stay in bed, relax, sleep, and watch some Netflix.
PART 2: From Humboldt Penguins to Desert Oasis
After Lima we continued our travels south, with our first stop in Paracas which was approximately 3.5 hours away. On the drive down, I was startled at the conditions that people lived in. As I mentioned in my previous post, about 25% of the Peruvians live in poverty, and as we got farther away from Lima the conditions just got worse. At first I though we were driving by abandoned neighborhoods, or landfills. But I was wrong. There were hundreds, if not thousands of shacks along the 1S highway, where people made their homes with whatever they could find: scraps of metal, cardboard, bamboo, and drywall here and there. It did look like they had electricity, but I highly doubt they had running water or a sewage system.
PART 1: Roaming the Streets of Lima
Where: Lima, Peru - South America
When: October 3 - 4, 2016
Peru Trip: October 3 - 11, 2016
Lima is the capital of Peru, and one of the largest cities in South America with a population of about 8.4 million people. (Peru's population is roughly 30.38 million.) I had imagined that Lima would be a very warm place all-year round, as it's semi-close to the equator. As it turns out, it's not that warm and on most days the sun hides behind thick clouds making the city very gloomy.
Exploring the Historic Town of Savannah, GA
Where: Savannah, GA
When: July 8-10, 2016
I definitely recommend spending a day or two in this vibrant town filled with top notch restaurants, shops, and live music on the streets. However, I would recommend coming here before or after the Southern summer heat.
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Welcome to my travel & lifestyle blog!
This blog is long overdue! I've wanted to start it years ago, but never got around to it. Traveling is my passion. My dream is to one day visit all continents, countries and states in the U.S. Thankfully I have had the opportunity to visit 38 countries in 4 different continents so far. Keep posted for my adventures and life events on my blog! - Rebecca
Blog launched: June 2016
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