Four years ago in Singapore…Escaping each other in a small space?…

The Chinatown Point mall in Singapore contained more restaurants than apparel shops.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 3, 2016, while in Singapore. See the link here for more details.

We’d traveled to Singapore for one week at the end of June 2016 with a plan to apply for visas for upcoming trips, which, for us, required in-person applications at the two embassies, including Thailand and Vietnam.

Most food items contain starches, sugar, and grains.

We’d hoped to apply for an Indonesian visa while in Singapore. Still, since the Thailand and Vietnam embassies required that we leave our documents with them for a few days, we ran out of time, ultimately figuring out the Indonesia extension once we arrived in Bali, which later worked fine.

Our upcoming Mekong River cruise was fast approaching making the Vietnam visa most important, followed by Thailand, where we planned to stay for 40 nights following the river cruise. 

As it turned out, everything went as planned. We had the two most urgent visas in hand one week later by the time we left Singapore. We could have applied for the visas online, but we’d have had to send our passports to the embassies via snail mail. 

Of course, we stopped to eyeball the sweets. Tom didn’t buy a thing. He’s always looking for donuts which few countries outside the US offer.

When we first began traveling, we committed never to mail our passports to any visa service or embassy outside the US. If they were lost in the mail, we’d be in big trouble in a foreign country without our passports.

Subsequently, we had no choice but to go to Singapore, the country closest to Vietnam where we were headed next, knowing we’d enjoy the ultra-clean and safe country while handling the visa applications. 

We stayed in a lovely boutique hotel in the center of downtown, close to restaurants and Chinatown, and each day we were able to get out and walk to check out the local flavor and restaurants. Taxis were reasonably priced and reliable, making getting around easy and pleasant.

The displays with menu options are meant to whet the appetite.

We’d been to Singapore once before, earlier in 2016, when we disembarked a cruise to catch our flight to Bali. At that time, we were rushing and couldn’t explore. The one week we spent in June/July was ideal for sightseeing in the unique country.

Although we enjoyed our week there, we weren’t interested in returning for a more extended stay. Most of the country’s holiday homes consisted of high-rise buildings and apartments, which weren’t then, and aren’t now our ideal holiday/vacation home environment.

In May 2013, in Dubai, UAE, on another occasion, we experienced condo/ apartment-living in a high-rise building on the 47th floor (of 87 floors). Again, this is not an ideal scenario for our tastes. See our photos here.

There were several appealing sit-down restaurants in Chinatown Point.

Over the years, at times, we’ve had no choice but to stay in condos when our options were limited based on availability and pricing. Preferably, as has been the case in the majority of situations in the past, we’ve stayed in houses.

I assure you, once we can leave Mumbai in many months to come, regardless of where we may go, we’d prefer a private house over other possible options. We’re longing for space!

Yesterday, when we disagreed about a tiny thing, I said, “I’ll go into the other room until you cool off.” Since I don’t like to argue and prefer to avoid confrontations, I’ve always used this tactic in the past as a simple means of avoiding a heated altercation. 

Food, food, food, everywhere in Chinatown Point. Neither of us was hungry, so we decided to wait until dinner.

We both laughed out loud when we both realized there was no other room for my usual escape. This returned us both to a positive state of mind when we could laugh over our peculiar situation, living in one room, 323 square feet, 30 square meters (including bathroom, closet, and hallway) for over 100 days so far.

It’s no wonder we both make an effort to get along so well! Over the years, we’ve stayed in small cabins on cruise ships and, most recently, a train with a considerably smaller space. Fortunately, we spent little time in the cabin during those periods other than to sleep, shower, and dress.

Many dishes are prepared with noodles which I don’t eat.

Again, the hotel is entire. We noticed the rates for this hotel have increased by almost IND 747, US $10 a night, since we’d booked for July a week ago. From now on, we’ll check prices daily to see if we can again get the lowest possible prices for August. We’re accumulating lots of “free nights” through our rewards program (using the link on our site) and will use them soon.

Have a safe and fruitful day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 3, 2019:

While in Connemara, Ireland, one year ago, we learned how to recognize authentic scallops with the orange roe connection piece, which in itself is delicious! In markets and restaurants, “fake” scallops are often served that are “plugs” from other types of fish. For more, please click here.

In our world, two years is not a long time, New cruise booking…A year ago birthday party…A birthday party today…

Ken set up the camera on a timer to take this photo of all 10 of us! Fantastic! For more photos, please click here.

Two years may seem like a long time away, but in our lives, two years fly by in a blur. The past seven years have passed so quickly. We can hardly believe it. When we now recalled two years ago, we were in Argentina six days away from flying to Ushuaia, Argentina, to board Ponant’s Le’boreal to sail to Antarctica.

So now, as we book cruises well into the future, we realize how quickly that time will come up, and we’ll be on our way from Singapore to Japan. Recently we booked three cruises around Japan in 2022 that ultimately will provide us with excellent experiences in this part of the world.

Today, we’re sharing details of the first three cruises that sail on February 27, 2022, 25 months from now. This cruise has four ports of call in Vietnam, with three ports we hadn’t visited in the past. The only city we’ve seen in the past is Hanoi, and we loved it so much, we won’t mind returning.

The other three locations in Vietnam and those in the balance of the itinerary listed below are new to us, and we’re excited to be able to see these locations.

After today’s posted cruise ends, we’ll have a total of 28 days to spend in Japan. What an excellent opportunity to experience this exciting country! In the future, we’ll search for a holiday home that we can book for this period, hopefully in the countryside away from the crowds, smog, and traffic. From there, we’ll board a back-to-back cruise around Japan and Korea ending in Vancouver, at which point, we’ll visit the family in the US once again. By then, it will be April, and we may avoid too much bad weather in Minnesota. We have no idea how long we’ll be in the USA at that time. We’ll figure it out in the future.

Here is the information on the first of the three cruises. For ease, I copied and pasted it, which often causes issues. Please excuse the formatting.

      14 nights departing February 27, 2022, on
Celebrity’s Celebrity Solstice

Brochure Inside $3,698
Our Inside $1,619
You Save 56%
Brochure Oceanview $4,298
Our Oceanview $1,919
You Save 55%

Brochure Balcony $4,898
Our Balcony $2,079
You Save 58%
Brochure Suite $10,598
Our Suite $5,149
You Save 51%


Date Port Arrive Depart
Sunday, February 27 Singapore 6:00 pm

Monday, February 28 At Sea

Tuesday, March 1 Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Vietnam 7:00 am 6:00 pm

Wednesday, March 2 At Sea

Thursday, March 3 Chan May, Vietnam 7:00 am 5:00 pm

Friday, March 4 Hanoi (Halong Bay), Vietnam 10:00 am

Saturday, March 5 Hanoi (Halong Bay), Vietnam 1:00 pm

Sunday, March 6 At Sea

Monday, March 7 At Sea

Tuesday, March 8 Taipei (Keelung), Taiwan 6:00 am 6:00 pm

Wednesday, March 9 At Sea

Thursday, March 10 At Sea

Friday, March 11 Kyoto, Japan 7:00 am 5:00 pm

Saturday, March 12 Shimizu, Japan Noon 8:00 pm

Sunday, March 13 Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan 7:00 am

As for today’s birthday party, it’s brother-in-law Eugene’s 82nd birthday. At 3:00 pm, we’ll all be getting together at his and Mary’s home along with several neighbors to partake in the celebration of this special man.

Yesterday afternoon, and well into the evening, we all met at Colleen and Gene’s home to play the card game Buck Euchre. I hadn’t played in years and fumbled through the first game, but I was thoroughly enjoying it by the second and even won, much to my delight.

Most likely, with all the guests at today’s party, the celebration won’t include card playing until much later in the evening when it’s back to the eight of us. It will be another fun social time.

Ironically, one year ago today, we hosted and celebrated our friend Rita’s birthday at our house in the bush. Great memories were made that day too.

Thus, the socialization continues as we’ve begun preparing for our upcoming departure. Yesterday, I set up Tom’s new Samsung Chromebook, and it appears all is going well for him. He loves not dealing with Windows 10.

May every one of our readers enjoy a festive weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, January 17, 2019:

One year ago today, we celebrated our friends Rita’s birthday at our bush home in Marloth Park. The boys from left to right are Danie, Leon, Tom, Gerhard, and Ken, toasting a good evening. For more photos, please click here.

Today’s the day, the four or five hour harrowing drive to Sumbersari…

By far, this is the best bargain in a hotel we’ve experienced in our travels.

With Butu picking us up at 10:00 am this morning after our included breakfast at the excellent and outrageously affordable Hilton Garden Inn Bali Ngurah Airport, with room rates around US $50, IDR 663,300, we had a little time to complete this post, pack a few items and be on our way.

As for the flights from Phuket to Bali, we found comfortable seating at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Singapore for the three hour layover. We signed up at the information desk for free Wi-Fi after showing our passports and boarding passes, purchased tea for me and bottled water for Tom and there we were comfortably situated, writing to our loyal readers.

A bubbling oval rock in the hotel lobby.

The drive from the villa in Rawai to the Phuket airport was a solid 60 minutes in rush hour traffic, although nowhere near as frustrating as the traffic in Bali. By the time you see this post, we’ll be in Egon’s air conditioned van, pillow behind my back, prepared to tackle the day ahead including a stop at an ATM and the big supermarket in Denspasar, a harrowing event in itself.

The first flight from Phuket to Singapore was relatively painless, smooth and uneventful and not too uncomfortable for me during the two plus hours in the air. 

Ninety percent of the Balinese people observe the Hindu faith and their lives are steeped in the rich history and traditions.

Unexpected meals were served during both SilkAir flights (owned by Singapore airlines). Tom had already eaten a Reuben sandwich at the Phuket airport when we had to use our remaining Thai baht and had no idea meals would be served when online stated that no food was served.  I’d purchased two bags of nuts with the remaining baht to munch on in the event none of the food worked for me.

An hour into the first flight lunch was served. Tom ordered the “free” beer (I ordered a second beer for him) but declined the food especially when it consisted of dark chicken meat. I ate a little of the chicken that didn’t appear to have sauce on it, knowing it would be a long time until we’d eat again. 

I’d considered having a meal at the Singapore Changi Airport but couldn’t find anything suitable in the terminal for my way of eating when most of it is Asian with sugary sauces, batter, flour and rice. No problem. I’m used to it.

The pool at the hotel.

If I was up to walking a longer distance than necessary to reach our designated gate, we probably could have found a more suitable restaurant. I wasn’t about to push my luck when so far, halfway through our day, we’d walked almost 7500 steps (per the FitBit).

Having spent the last six weeks resting with minimal walking, after yesterday’s long walks I may be able to start walking a little in Bali, maybe a few short trips each day; one on the soft sand of the beach in front of the villa and the other, on the soft surface of the smooth road in the quiet neighborhood.

The dining room at the Hilton Garden Inn Ngurah Airport Hotel, a great place to stay when being close to the airport is useful. 

After walking on hard marble surfaces inside both the Bali and Phuket villas, I’ve come to the conclusion that walking on marble floors in detrimental to one’s spine health. In Phuket, we didn’t have the option of walking in the neighborhood when the roads were filled with potholes and uneven surfaces.

By 4:00 pm, we boarded on the second flight with SilkAir. The huge plane was fairly comfortable with personal video screens, although neither of us could find a movie we liked or hadn’t seen. The time went quickly, although the flight was longer than the first. 

Fresh orchids in the hotel lobby.

By 8:30 pm, we checked in the hotel provided with a free upgrade to what proved to be a great night’s rest after the bad prior night. (Neither of us sleeps well on the night before travel day, hardly able to get in three hours).

There’s seldom an exception to this. We have a tendency to associate travel days with feeling exhausted, more from the lack of sleep the prior night than the activities of the day; the long walks in the terminals, the commotion, the taxis, the lines at immigration, customs and baggage pickup (none of which I’m handling) never seem to make us weary. 

Light fixtures in hotel lobby.

Today will be a little more challenging when we’ll be sitting for so many hours during the long harrowing drive. I must admit I’m having a little angst over the prospect of stopping for a restroom break when all of the toilets are flush on the floor. This is nearly impossible for me to navigate with my current condition as noted in a prior post. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with the four or five hour harrowing drive behind us, our groceries stocked, our bags unpacked and looking forward to enjoying 60 days and nights in the beautiful oceanfront villa in Bali’s countryside.

Life is good. Hope it is for you as well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 2, 2015:

Midday sunlight filtering through the trees in Trinity Beach, Australia with only a few days until departing.  or more photos, please click here.

We’re at the Changi Airport in Singapore…

As a renowned international business center there are many high rise office buildings.

I was apprehensive about the long walk to our gate. Based on my Fitbit it was almost a mile long. I made it ok, albeit rather slowly, while Tom maintained the slow pace with me. Each day, I’m a little better.

Singapore has a wide array of interesting buildings, both old and new.

Since we’d paid our hotel bill yesterday, checking out of the hotel was quick and easy, with the taxi van driver grabbing our bags. He talked all the way to the airport explaining laws in Singapore that its citizens are pleased to obey and have in place. His accent was thick and hard to understand so we only picked up bits and pieces.

Once we arrived we checked the three bags, only having to pay SGD 32, US $23.75. We couldn’t complain about that. We’d purchased a number of necessary vitamins and toiletries in Singapore that may have been hard to find in Vietnam or Cambodia surely adding to the weight. It’s the way it is.

The old and the newer.

We never went out for dinner last night after we decided I needed to rest. We ate the balance of the cheese and nuts, never giving it another thought. There’s a complimentary meal on the plane but most likely Tom will eat both of ours. 

The airlines can’t ever accommodate my multitude of restrictions. It’s either gluten free with lots of starches and sugars or sugar free with lots of fruit and carbs. No matter. I won’t have any trouble waiting until dinner in Hanoi tonight, hopefully somewhere close to the hotel.

Street after street with shops.

We’d planned to do some sightseeing on the first three days in Hanoi before the beginning of the cruise tour. Most likely, more rest and light walking will be all I’ll be able to manage in an effort to prepare for the intense walking and activity ahead of us when the tour begins. We both accept this reality. Wherever we may be when injury or illness strikes, we’d be missing out on something.

This reminded me of New Orleans.

Just wanted to post this short post to say hello to all of our loyal and thoughtful readers who continue to write with warm wishes for improvement. Depending on the time we arrive and get situated, this may be today’s only post.

For all of our family, friends/readers in the US, have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July and we’ll be looking for your fireworks videos on Facebook. We’ll be back soon! 

Photo from one year ago today, July 5, 2015:

Viking Mekong Itinerary, Current Position, Ship Review | CruiseMapper

The Viking Mekong. For more, please click here.

Scroll for total final expenses for one week in Singapore…Tomorrow, an early morning flight to Hanoi, Vietnam…Tom’s haircut in Singapore…

Historical building.

We sorry we weren’t able to explore Singapore as we’d intended based on my injured spine during our entire week in this lovely country. It’s unlikely we’ll return when we still have so much of the world left to see.

The street outside Chinatown at dusk.

Right now, our biggest concern is getting me able to handle walking for several hours a day based on the many tours upcoming on the Mekong River Cruise beginning in four days. 

The bright lights in Chinatown at night.

Of course, we have a backup plan. If I’m only able to walk only short distances, we’ll go on the shorter excursions and decide at the time for the all day excursions which as of today, I can’t imagine being able to manage.

A popular eco friendly office building.

However, each day there’s a little improvement. Tom’s been a huge help literally waiting on me for absolutely everything, whether it’s filling the tub with hot water for me to soak several times a day (which really helps) or pouring my iced tea, he’s “Johnny on the spot” with never a scowl or complaint for getting something for me one more time. This makes recovery a whole lot easier.

Sunday morning we took a walk through a section of Chinatown before the crowds.

I want to thank all of our readers who sent emails wishing me a speedy recovery. My inbox was full this morning with suggestions, prayers and good wishes. I managed to respond to each before beginning today’s post which contributed to yet another late posting.

Its appealing to some business professionals to purchase clothing in Singapore but prices were high although the service was quick.

We went for our final breakfast in the hotel which has been quite a treat each day. On several days, we were so filled by the huge and delicious meal, neither of us were hungry for dinner and only nibbled on our cheese and nuts into the evening when we felt like a little something.

Most of the locals wear flip flops on casual days. Tourists purchased this shoulder bags.

We’re disappointed not to have dined out more often, but when I think back to our old lives, when one of us was under the weather, we never thought about going out for dinner. 

Many products for sale are wrapped in plastic, most likely imported from China.

We’d stay “home” continuing to nurse back to good health.  Same here. The thought of going out most nights wasn’t appealing, although we did do so on a few evenings. Rest has seemed to be the most logical solution at this point.

These popular plastic chickens scream. Why? We never quite figured it out.

Luckily, when we arrive in Hanoi tomorrow afternoon, we’ll still have three days to continue my recovery before the cruise/tour begins. During that period, we’ll head out to get our final visa needed at this time, Indonesia, for the upcoming return to Bali in a few months. 

There are areas that reminded us of the French Quarter.

There’s no way we want to go through that awful three days of travel back and forth to Lovina for the visa extension in Bali if we can avoid it. With the three days in Hanoi, we should be able to accomplish it, plus the cruise includes two more days in Hanoi for sightseeing. This gives us a five full days to get the visa and for me to recover if necessary.

Tom was thrilled to get a haircut at long last.

Sure, it will be disappointing if we can’t go on the tours in Hanoi, but what else can we do? It’s the way our life is. We accept it fully. Tom, bless his heart, never for a moment has made me feel badly over money we may lose not taking advantage of our location. We’re together. I’m improving each day and we continue on with love and hope in our hearts.

A good cut by a stylist in a pricey salon.  The haircut was SGD 44, US $32.74 which included a 20% discount and was more than he paid anywhere in the world thus far.

Based on our late return to our hotel room after breakfast which included a lively conversation with a lovely couple from the US that we met in the restaurant and sorting out our hotel bill today instead of tomorrow morning, it was a late start.

Lots of tourist trinkets.

Our taxi will arrive at 6:45 am tomorrow for the 30 minutes ride to the Changi airport. Our flight is at 9:20 am, almost four hours on Singapore Airlines. We should arrive at our hotel in Hanoi by 1:00 pm.

Insect jewelry. 

Once we’re situated in our hotel room in Vietnam we’ll prepare a new post with a few photos of Hanoi we’ll have taken during the taxi ride. Thus, you won’t see a post until several hours later than usual. 

Colorful statues atop the Sri Mariamman Temple.

Here are the total expenses for the seven nights we spent in Singapore. Included is the cost for the visas we acquired for Vietnam and Thailand. 

Our food expenses were considerably less than average travelers may spend based on the fact we only dined out for dinner a few times and for breakfast everyday. (Please excuse formatting issues on char below).

Singapore Dollar
Hotel – 7 nights                 2108.03                            1568.00  
Airfare –Bali to Singapore                   223.10  $                            165.95
Taxi                    177.53  $                            132.06
Visa Extensions (2)                    562.07  $                            418.10
Groceries                      36.11  $                              26.86
Dining Out                    320.85  $                            238.67
Clothing                          –  
Pharmacy/ Dental                    217.68  $                            161.92
Total                 3,105.34  $                        2,309.92
Avg Daily Cost-7 Days                     443.62  $                           329.99

See you tomorrow after our arrival in Hanoi!

Photo from one year ago today, July 5, 2015:

The Cattana Wetlands in Australia offered excellent expansive views. For more photos, please click here.

An unusual city…An unusual experience…Surprising cost of owning a car in Singapore…Three days and counting.

The Chinatown Point mall contains more restaurants than apparel shops.

Singapore is unlike any city/country we visited in these past 44 months of world travel. For the enthusiastic shopper, food and wine aficionado, and avid tourist this location has it all.

Yesterday, we grabbed a taxi for the final trip to the Thailand Embassy to pick up our visa extensions. Two down, with one more to go in Hanoi. Arriving on time, we waited in a short queue on the sidewalk outside the official compound to all be let inside at 2:00 pm.

Most food items contain starches, sugar, and grains.

We didn’t wait long once inside. Singapore is known for short queues with little waiting time wherever one may go and we observed this as entirely true over these past few busy days.

Also, the traffic is light. The reason for fewer vehicles on the roads is due to  governmental regulations making car ownership beyond the financial realm of most residents.  

Of course, we stopped to eyeball the sweets. Tom didn’t order a thing. He’s always looking for donuts which few countries outside the US offer.

In order to limit vehicle ownership, the Singaporean government imposes fees and taxes in a successful attempt to keep their beautiful country clean, smog-free, and uncrowded on the roads. As a result, there’s little traffic even during peak hours.

Most residents and visitors use public transportation and reasonably priced taxis. Most of our trips to and from the embassies haven’t exceeded US $10, SGD $13.46. Tips aren’t expected and are refused when offered.

Taxi drivers have explained that only natural-born citizens of Singapore can acquire a license to drive a taxi and that the management of fares and services is strictly monitored by the government. 

Added to these realities is the uniform attention to detail, cleanliness, organization, and efficiency one can see in all areas of business. The citizens of Singapore are proud of their homeland and its evident in the smiles on their faces and their willingness to assist visitors in their pursuit of an extraordinary experience.

The displays with menu options are meant to whet the appetite.

Generally, we didn’t do much shopping but yesterday, we found ourselves at Chinatown Point, a relatively new indoor mall located in Chinatown. When we arrived, we expected there to be mostly tourists and visitors.

Instead, we found it filled with what appeared to be mostly local shoppers. Also, surprisingly, most of the shops in the huge mall were restaurants, bakeries, candy shops, and Asian health products shops with very few apparel shops as one would expect in a mall.

There are numerous malls packed with major brand and designer clothing, but Chinatown Point appears to be a mall specifically for the needs of the locals. We had a list of products we needed from a pharmacy and stopped to check out the grocery store to purchase some cheese and nuts for snacking.

There were a number of appealing sit down restaurants in Chinatown Point.

We were thrilled when we were able to find a shop similar to a traditional pharmacy (if there is such a thing) with over-the-counter products we needed, including such items as coconut oil, contact lens solutions, pro-biotics, Vitamin C, Vitamin b and such.

We found everything on our list, although the prices were twice as much as we’d paid in other countries. We walked out the door having spent US $200, SGD 269, not unlike we may have spent in the US, London or Paris.

Food, food, food, everywhere in Chinatown Point. Neither of us was hungry, so we decided to wait until dinner.

In the evening, we wandered the streets, enjoyed the scenery, and had dinner in a busy local Asian restaurant in Chinatown. Tom ordered sweet and sour pork with rice and I had steamed shrimp with veggies.  It was a good meal and reasonably priced.  We’ll continue to try different restaurants each day.

Many dishes are prepared with noodles.

This morning we had another fabulous breakfast at Tartufo Restaurant, next door to the hotel. As we write here now, we’re still stuffed and just may decide to just snack tonight on the nuts and cheese we purchased at the mall.

To our family and friends in the US, we pray you have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend. To everyone else, have a lovely few days off, if your schedule allows.

We’ll be flying to Hanoi in three days on to the next adventure!

Photo from one year ago today, July 3, 2015:

The flock of Cockatoos was busy foraging for food in Trinity Beach Australia. For more photos, please click here.

Medical issue kept under wraps until today…Time to come clean…More Singapore shopping photos…

Live crab.

It was only as a result of an extraordinary amount of pain relief from an anti inflammatory diet over these past five years that allowed us to begin to travel the world.

Chronic pain would make traveling to this degree unbearable and impractical. Over these past five years I haven’t had back or neck pain since the steps collapsed under our feet in Belize on the night of our anniversary in March 2013 and I banged my delicate spine and neck on the broken wood. Here’s the link to awful event.

It was a full two months until I began to feel pain free again as the injuries finally healed. From there, my strict adherence to living an anti inflammation lifestyle served me well until…

The grocery store has both local and western type foods.

About three weeks ago, while living in Bali and working out in the pool, I slipped and banged my neck and spine on the stone lip and edge of the steps leading in and out of the pool. 

At the time, I experienced a horrible pain in my spine, but didn’t say a word to Tom to keep him from worrying. But, I couldn’t keep my secret long when I began icing using our traveling ice pack. In telling Tom about the injury I dismissed the severity of the pain which escalated over a period of days.

OMG, I thought. Will this be our undoing? When will the pain subside? After a few days of rest, I decided to continue gently walking in the pool, albeit more carefully, and walking about the house for five minutes every half hour in order to stay mobile.

Lots of fresh fish reasonably priced.

I deliberated over walking on the tile floors knowing stone floors are hard on the back, but I had little interest in walking on the road or beach more than a few times a week to take more photos.  As for sightseeing, it wasn’t a remote possibility.  

I tried everything I knew from years of experience to relieve severe back and neck pain from making a homemade heat pack using a plastic bag with a damp heated-in-the-microwave cloth on the inside, to a series of very gentle stretches. Nothing has seemed to help.

It all boiled down to time…enough time passing for the injury to heal with the hope I’ll return to my usual pain free existence. Have we considered medical care? We have. 

A vegetable cutting tool presentation at the market.

Although, certainly not in Bali with less than stellar medical care. Also, knowing that major surgery is the only real long term option if the pain continues indefinitely, there’s no point in pursuing this option.What would they do anyway?   

Need I say that the harrowing five hour drive from West Bali to Denpasar was quite a challenge?  Ouch.

We’ve certainly had to curtail our activities in Singapore. I’m grateful we’ve already handled two of the three visas we needed. With our upcoming long flight to Hanoi in two days, I’m a bit apprehensive about sitting on the plane so long but I made it through the one hour shorter flight from Bali to Singapore and I’ll do the same for the upcoming flight. 

Tom was in line paying for cheese and nuts.

We get out as much as I feel I can and continue to take photos to share. I’m saddened over the fact that we aren’t able to do some of the sightseeing we’d hoped in Singapore. When one doesn’t have a home and lives in the “world,” recuperating from any medical issue is required wherever we may be at any given time, thus we may miss out on some opportunities.

Why didn’t we bring this up sooner? I suppose it was my attempt to “tough it out” to avoid complaining. I suppose any of us retirees have bad periods where we’re under the weather in one way or another. Even the younger generation becomes ill from time to time. Its a part of life.

With the sharing of our daily lives of travel we attempt to stay upbeat and positive in our posts.  Although, I must admit its been tricky over these past weeks. 

The mall aisles weren’t crowded since most visitors were eating.

We’re forging ahead with all of our plans over these next few months. Its comforting to know we’ll have a six week restful hiatus at the house in Phuket beginning on July 22nd. Hopefully, by then my recovery will be much further progressed.

That’s the scoop folks. This morning, Sunday, once again we went out to breakfast and walked through Chinatown without the usual weekday crowds. The walk was good and now we’re back at our hotel to rest until dinner.

We’ll be back tomorrow as we wind down to less than two days before departing Singapore to head to Hanoi.

Photo from one year ago today, July 3, 2015:

It was fun to take photos of wild cockatoos in Trinity Beach, Australia. For more details, please click here.

Food and shopping attracts tourists to Singapore…

Tom likes these “wienie wraps!’  These are SGD 1, US $.74.

Breakfast is an easy meal to accommodate my restrictive diet in most countries when eggs, vegetables and bacon of some sort or another are readily available. For this reason, we’ve been having breakfast each morning over these past few days since we arrive in Singapore.

An evening meal is more challenging. Having perused menus from many restaurants both while out walking each day and online, the pickings are slim for my way of eating.

Three long rows like this one shown here at the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, a short walk from our hotel.

There are dozens of local restaurants that would be able to accommodate my diet, but most of these would be in the range of SGD $269, US $200 for dinner, drinks and the always included 17% taxes and service fees.

There’s no meal that’s worth that type of expenditure for us. Subsequently, I’m left with being creative with more modest options at mid range establishments. Tom’s picky taste buds also limits his choices when he’s adamantly opposed to unfamiliar spices and seasonings. He almost gagged over a cardamom roll he purchased in the open market.

Many vendors were selling unique items used in Asian cooking.

Last night, we decided to try the local and highly popular open food market, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre rated #38 of 8067 in TripAdvisors reviews for dining venues in Singapore. For the typical tourist and local citizen this is the place to eat.

Prices are unbelievably reasonable with a typical meal at SGD 4, US $2.97, although, there higher priced options. The huge draw for tourists in the popular establishment is the famous “chicken and rice” dishes which is often boiled or sautéed chicken atop a bed of tasty fried rice.

There are no chicken parts wasted in Asian cooking.

Tom, off his diet over these next weeks, has no interest in boiled chicken and rice. He’s ravenous for starchy, fried Asian foods with minimal spices and sauces. That’s tricky in itself. 

Last night’s boiled chicken, bean sprouts and steamed cabbage didn’t quite do it for me last night.  The boiled fatty chicken (with the skin) without being able to include soy or oyster sauce, made it bland and uninviting.

Tom, unable and unwilling to try something new especially when he saw a number of dishes made with intestines and chicken feet, resorted to ordering  several sausage stuffed rolls (kind of like “wienie wraps” of the 1970’s) and the cardamom bun that caused him to gag.

Had I not been on this way of eating, I would have loved most of these items.

As we perused each and every stand in the enormous marketplace, there were no other dishes I could try when all were made using sugar and sauces made with flour with rice as a foundation.

Going forward, we’ll continue to experience the midrange restaurants located in Chinatown and see what we can accomplish. No, we don’t like it that we both have limitations; my issues revolving around health and Tom, the simple fact of his picky taste buds.

The prior day Tom had one of these shown blueberry muffins which were sold out when we returned last night.

This reality doesn’t bother us. We seldom become frustrated or complain about our limitations. It is what it is. We enjoy perusing the wide variety of restaurants and dining venues, curious as to unusual products used, methods of cooking and presentation. It’s more visual for us. 

Tom always call me a “food voyeur.” No doubt, this is true. I never walk past a bakery or candy shop without stopping for a look. Oddly, Tom, who could try something if he wanted to do so, seldom makes a purchase. 

The central city, where we’re located, is filled with business centers. It was obvious many workers stopped here for lunch, returning in the evening for takeaway.

Recently, the only time he expressed enthusiasm over food was when we drove past a Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Denpasar on Tuesday. We didn’t stop. Most likely, in Bali those donuts weren’t the typical US variety anyway. 

However, I did notice him to be somewhat enthused this morning at a breakfast buffet when he buttered four pieces of white toast with his bacon and eggs. Yesterday, I dug out the scale and put it on the bathroom floor. So far, he hasn’t gained back an ounce which surprised us both.

Soon, we’re out the door once again to return to the Thai Embassy to collect our visas. As mentioned yesterday, we won’t be getting the Indonesian visa until we get to Hanoi next week, where we’ll have five days to get it accomplished.

Two days in a row, Tom ordered several of these hot dog filled buns shown on the center rack. They smelled amazing, reminiscent of a similar item I made for my kids in the 1970’s.

After we’re done at the embassy, we’ll have the taxi driver drop us at the far end of Chinatown and we’ll walk back to the hotel in time to relax for an hour and then we’ll be off again to walk the streets of Chinatown at night hopefully finding a good spot for this evening’s meal.

We’ll be back tomorrow, with nighttime photos of magical Chinatown and the results of our dining experience. 

May you have a magical day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2015:

At AUD 64, USD $49.26, all of these items which includes a huge Barramundi filet, two pieces of made-without-sugar smoked fish and two containers of crab meat which we used to make low carb crab cakes resulted in four meals.The cost per entree resulted in a cost per day of AUD 16, USD $12.31, not bad for such delicious fish and seafood. We struggle to be motivated to go out to dine when we do so well at home and have just as good a time.  For more details of our trip to the wholesale fish market in Trinity Beach, Australia, please click here.

Singapore is unlike any other city…10 laws punishable by fine and jail in Singapore…

Sri Mariamman Temple, which we’ll tour in the next few days.

It’s expensive in Singapore… in restaurants, hotels and for products and services. We realized this fact, prior to booking a one week stay when we had a gap to fill in the itinerary and hoped to apply for necessary visas.

So far, we’re doing well staying within our daily dining budget of US $100, SGD 135 per day.  We’re reading online reviews on local restaurants as well as walking through the area to check out endless menus posted outside a wide array of restaurants. This is an adventure in itself!

Shoes left outside the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple.

With the two embassies we visited yesterday and this morning, we weren’t able to have breakfast before heading out, nor did either of us have coffee or tea, fearing we’d have to make to bathroom stop. We’ve been on a mission to get as many of these three visas knocked off.

Hindu temple rooftop adorned with the revered cows in India.

By noon, we’d returned from today’s two embassy visits with the much needed completed Vietnam visas we collected first thing this morning. From there, another taxi ride to the Thai Embassy where again we applied for another visa for the upcoming  six-week stay in Phuket. 

Soon, we’ll tour the Sri Mariamman Temple in its entirety.

Efficiency and organization is of the utmost importance in Singapore, we weren’t surprised when the process at the Thai embassy would be seamless as it was at the Vietnam Embassy. 

We were well prepared with all of the required documents, including passports and extra passport photos, copies of airline tickets in and out of Thailand accompanying both completed signed applications with cash fees of SGD 100, US $74.14.

Chinatown is a very exciting area to scout.

On the return drive to our area, we stopped at a restaurant for a somewhat mediocre brunch/lunch. Currently, we’re back at our hotel preparing today’s post and documenting all the receipts we’ve accumulated over these past few days.

Each business has its own unique storefront.

Once we’re done with these tasks, we’ll make a plan for the remainder of the day, most likely heading back outside to walk more of the exciting streets surrounding us. We chose a perfect location allowing us to walk to one amazing area after another.

At dusk, the streets began to fill with hungry tourists and locals.

Based on timing, we won’t be able to apply for the Indonesian visa while in Singapore. With a morning flight on Tuesday and the fact the Thai Embassy has our passports right now which we’ll collect tomorrow between 2:00 and 300 pm, the required time slot, we won’t have time to apply for the Indonesian visa with its two to three day processing.

The number of dining options in our immediate area is astounding.  We’ll try a new spot each night.

As a result, we’ve decided to wait and apply for Indonesia once we’re in Hanoi arriving next week for a five night stay. The Indonesian Embassy in a 10 minute drive from the Hanoi hotel allowing us ample time to get it done with relative ease, we hope.. 

The evenings activities begin at dusk in Singapore with lots of cars, taxis and pedestrians. 

With peace of mind intact, we’ve begun to relax a little to fully embrace this short period in Singapore as long as we observe some of the peculiar laws in this country which may result in fines and jail time:

On our first night we wandered through Chinatown at dusk.  Diners had yet to arrive for the evening rush.
1.  The sale of or chewing gum is strictly forbidden anywhere in the country.

2. No walking naked in one’s own house.

3. No jaywalking.

4. Failure to flush the toilet in a public venue.

5. No urinating in elevators.

6. No public displays of kissing or cuddling.

7. Gay and lesbians couples are not allowed to live in the country.

8. It is illegal to come within 50 meters of a pedestrian crossing marker on any street.

9. It is considered illegal to enter the country with cigarettes.

10. Singapore is not a place for lefties. It is considered rude to eat, wave and greet with your left hand because it is associated with using the bathroom.

Interesting historic buildings are seen throughout the city as well as modern high rise hotels, business centers and residential properties.

Of course, there are serious consequences including public canning for failure to observe these and all laws.  As a result of the strict laws, there is little crime in Singapore. In addition, there are no typical slum areas. Every area is clean and maintained to perfection.

Also, there’s no “countryside” in Singapore. The entire small country is built and developed into one of the most influential business meccas in the world. So far, we’ve met and spoken to many business travelers from many countries.

The exterior our hotel, the Scarlet Singapore.  Its quite a steep walk up or down the road.

Mandarin is the primary language although many service providers speak some English. Many locals have a thick accent and with Tom’s bad hearing, I’ve been “translating” for him as needed.

More on Singapore as we continue to explore this country over these next few days.  With the high cost for tourism here, a one week visit will prove to have been ideal for our needs. In the interim, we’re enjoying every moment.

Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2015:

After leaving the beach we drove to a high point in the Yorkey’s Knob area of Australia with this expansive view.For more details. please click here.

Arrived in Singapore…Oh my, this city is over the top!…

We’d expected the Vietnam Embassy to be guarded and much larger. As often is the case, many embassies are converted larger homes.

It’s spotlessly clean, low in crime, meticulously managed and literally filled with unusual shops, restaurants, boutiques and hotels that literally take one’s breath away. Although we’re not city people, it’s impossible for us not to be totally entranced by this magical place.

Upon entering the iron gates we walked this driveway to the Vietnam Embassy receiving fast efficient service.

Our flight was relatively uneventful from Denpasar, Bali to Singapore’s highly rated Changi Airport. We flew on one of the cheapest airlines on the planet, Jetstar, with a good safety record, but without even a glass of tap water included.

There were no pillows, no blankets, no movies, nor a nut or a cracker available for a cranky traveler. The seats are a little tight, but were leather and more comfortable with more legroom than on most US airlines

Desk area in our upgraded hotel room at the Scarlet Singapore, a boutique hotel, affordably priced. This is now cluttered with all of our extension cords and plugins. We’ll post final expenses on our last day.

In any case, our plane arrived safely without incident and once again, we were grateful for a good overall flight to another foreign land. Once off the plane, we quickly made our way through immigration, customs and baggage pickup.

The bed and bedding are extremely comfortable.

In no less than 20 minutes from touching down, we were in the taxi queue again without a wait.  Within a half hour we arrived at our hotel, The Scarlet Singapore, a Paris influenced boutique hotel, quite similar to the boutique hotel in Paris in 2014 where we spent two weeks.

We’d read that hotel rooms in general are small in Singapore. Once we checked in we asked to see the room we’d booked before having our bags moved. It was as tiny as a balcony cabin on a cruise ship. 

The French style furnishings in our upgraded room are typically in boutique hotels. 

I asked for an upgrade which we rarely do.  We can manage a tiny room on a ship, but the first hotel room we inspected was simply too small at 174 square feet, 16 square meters. For an additional US $344, SGD 435, we were upgraded to the sweetest Parisian hotel room one could imagine, roomy and with every possible amenity including free WiFi and free minibar.

The flat screen TV has multiple English speaking channels. It’s good to be able to watch world news.

After a good night’s sleep, we grabbed an 8:20 am taxi to the Vietnam Embassy to begin the process of acquiring the three needed visas while in Singapore including Thailand and Indonesia (for the upcoming second stay in two months).

I can’t wait to use the tub when we have a little more time in the morning. Few vacation homes have bathtubs.

Getting the timing to work is tricky when each embassy requires to keep our passports for a few days. The process is only applicable on weekdays. We’re here only until next Tuesday, not leaving us enough time to accomplish all three.

Instead we decided to apply for Vietnam (double entry) and Thailand which are most imminent.  We can apply for Indonesia while in Hanoi for five days starting next week. 

There’s also a spacious shower as well as fluffy robes.

The taxi ride was 30 minutes from our downtown location and surprisingly the traffic wasn’t as busy as we’d expected at rush hour. Arriving at the embassy a few minutes early allowed us to be first in line with our documents. 

We opted to pay the SGD 660, US $489 fees for both visas in order to be able to collect our passports and visas first thing tomorrow morning when we’ll be on our way back once again. From there, we’ll head to the Thai embassy to start the next process. If it goes as smoothly as it did this morning, we’ll be very grateful.

The room has adequate lighting and ample amenities.

Last night, we wandered the safe streets of Chinatown to scout for a restaurant. We found a cozy gourmet spot with a Michelin star rating. Tom’s full lobster tail risotto was delicious, but my 4 ounce, .11 kg slab of boney, Barramundi on a bed of greens was mediocre and certainly not enough for an entire meal. 

The complementary mini bar, restocked daily have everything we need. There’s even a bottle of Pelligrino in the fridge, my favorite bottled water. It’s safe to drink tap water in Singapore.

On the return walk to the hotel we stopped at a Seven Eleven to purchase raw nuts to fill in the blanks for me during our stay. In both Paris and London, nuts were a lifesaver for me when many of the items served in restaurants aren’t sufficient as a filling meal. 

After perusing menus of dozens of restaurants, we have a plan to try many anyway and see how they’ll accommodate my diet. Steamed or sautéed veggies, chicken, pork, fish and seafood will certainly work in any case. I’m not concerned it will work out well. More on that as time progresses.

Tom’s lobster risotto from Cato Restaurant last night.  He said it was delicious containing an entire large lobster tail draped across the top under a pile of pungent Parmesan cheese.

This city is conducive to lots of walking which we’re sure will be our primary means of checking out this amazing location. As for major sightseeing, we’re holding off until we get at least tomorrow’s embassy visit accomplished. But, we already have dozens of city photos we’re looking forward to sharing.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow, again a late posting after we return from the two embassies.  In a few hours we’ll be taking off on foot once again to explore this eclectic and fascinating city.

Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2015:

A pretty restaurant on a corner on the Esplanade in Palm Cove, Australia.  or more photos, please click here.