First day in Kuala Lumpur

Made it last night to KL via the goodness of a 50 minute flight on AirAsia and then a ride on the KLIA Ekspres which is a nice airport to KL Sentral service. It takes 30 minutes or so to transit to downtown and there are no stops after the airport. After settling at my hotel stay for the next 23 days, I wandered out in search of food and beer refreshment. I found a nice street cafe where the curry pork and rice was spot on and the cold Tiger Beer flowed. Ended up back at the hotel with the TV going and a few more beers reading news and writing a bit. Now its my first real day and after some relaxation in the hotel room I’ll find a local coffee zone and get to walking in some direction with the camera.

I have nothing but good stuff to say about the whole customs and immigration process at the airport and getting the required SIM card was quite fast. Both took about 20 minutes to get done and my passport was stamped with a 90 day stamp to visit Malaysia and the 4g SIM card good for a month and hopefully sufficient GB of data. 

Today I have to find a few necessary things like laundry service, a small market (like next door) to find toiletry items like bar soap, shampoo, tooth brush and toothpaste. Should be pretty easy here. I had no real worries about finding food places here since food is basically in front of the hotel at street food stalls if I want. I honestly prefer a place to sit down since its a nice bit of doing nothing to sit and watch the people with a iced coffee or beer in the evenings. 

So now its just the first morning of the first of 23 days in Kuala Lumpur and I’m excited to be in the second country of this vagabonding. Prices here are decent for things. Not cheap like Cambodia or Vietnam but I never have had problems with any of the costs including Singapore since the place I lived there had bunches of food courts and little restaurants that served up cheap food choices.

So in a bit off for coffee and maybe some pastry item but no real rush this morning. The hotel room has coffee I can make in the room so I never feel I am rushed to get to a place or do a thing when I have almost a month to see a city. 

I also still have to book the bus to Malacca on 20 February. There’s a few apps for that! The buses leave almost every hour from some bus stop in the city so I will have to find my way to the bus stop in a Grab and then take the hour ride. I think Malacca is gonna be really cool. Been reading some of its history and how it has related to Singapore in its history. Very cool stuff. After Malacca a bus trip back to KL then on to Port Dickson for two weeks. Then finally to Penang for a month and I’ll fly on to Thailand for two months.

First off though is the morning relaxation with nothing to really do and hours to do it in. Retirement is tough folks.

In transit to Kuala Lumpur – Between here and there today

I take the long 50 minute flight to KL today from Changi Airport. No real investigations besides to a new coffee shop later this morning since the one I like is closed on Mondays. I’ve had a great week here in Singapore and got to see some places not seen before plus visiting a few I had been to but things are so different compared to memories from 7 or 8 years ago. A few of the highlights if ever you visit the city-state:

  • Gardens by the Bay. Really worth the price of admission to see the sky walks the domes with flowers and forests and just the different views of the city. I would give this a few hours to visit. Really worth it!
  • Bugis Market and Junction. I really liked the market and the shopping and restaurant district close by. You can ride the SMRT right there and get some shopping and eating in quite easily.
  • Little India. I really liked visiting Little India. Although I had been there before I did not remember any of the places. The food, arts and crafts and colorful buildings plus shopping centers are really fun.
  • Riverfront. The restaurants are expensive but the beauty of the walk really is nice. You can find a cheaper food court nearby and have chicken rice like I did for much less. You should stop for a drink though along the riverfront. Also be sure to see the Parliament building, the beautiful state buildings and museums. They are all within walking distance. The historic bridges are a blast too!

I think getting around the city is one of the easiest things thanks to the SMRT service that provides connecting light rail service throughout the city areas. Consider getting one of the tourist passes and you get unlimited rides for a set number of days. I think its a good value and I made a lot of use of the service for 3 days.

If walking is your passion, Singapore is a nice city for walking. The sidewalks and traffic lights are well maintained and you can find foot paths by most or all roads and over bridges. I found that the city is very clean and easy to navigate with Google Maps so get a SIM card for your phone at the airport. Talking about the airport, there is Changi! More than an airport I think. More like a city that has airplanes park around it. I have never seen an airport like it for function and features. From the airport ambassadors that help you get through the stress points to the ease of transit if you wish using SMRT, its all there for you.

Today I will visit Changi again to fly to KL and I start thinking about when I will be back. I don’t see a time to return to Singapore in 2019 because this trip was meant to fill in some of the blanks or limitations of my last trip. Back then I had other realities and could not define a trip the way I wanted. This time I found the places to visit, stayed longer to take advantage of walking the city, and also was able to re-visit some places as I outlined above.

Next blog post is from KL. I have three weeks there so I am sure I will see all kinds of cool things, eat some good food, and take a few photographs. All told I have 81 days in Malaysia to explore 4 cities. Gonna be fun!

Sunday in Singapore – Last Day to Explore

Today is my last full day in Singapore. I did not make it to Fort Cannell yesterday so will get there today along with some of the downtown area I would like to see along with a late lunch downtown before heading back. The area has museums and historic sites along with the park and a lot of shopping. Since I have the 3 day tourist pass I can get to the Fort area pretty easily on the East-West line from my starting point by Starbucks here. 

Tomorrow I leave for Kuala Lumpur and at first was going to ride the bus which takes about 5 hours. I decided to check to see if I could fly for less than $100 USD at the last moment. Of course it’s possible! I booked an AirAsia ticket for tomorrow later in the day which takes an hour from Changi. Getting into KLIA, I ride the express train to KL Sentral which takes 30 minutes and my hotel is a 10 minute walk from the drop-off point. Not bad! I always am in favor of getting transportation which is cheap but I also like an option like the cheaper air flights in Asia where I can fly just about wherever I want for $100 or less. To me, there is a value even at the last moment for getting to a place with a minimum of hassle and getting the basics done like a SIM card, banking, and then the transit downtown.

If you ever want to do this, I recommend using Skyscanner for searching for the trips even at the last moment. Its easy to find flights that have some restrictions at the last moment. If you have any doubt that you may go somewhere the next day, you have a lot more to think about than just the flying I think :-). Skyscanner often includes numerous itineraries to choose from with prices and times you can choose either on your laptop or phone. You just elect one and process the payments and you get tickets in email. That’s about it for cheap airline travel in Asia. 

Now its coffee in the hotel room and watching some news on CNN and just going through my travel notes for Malaysia coming up. I really will like this part of the trip. Will be seeing 4 different cities and regions in Malaysia. Malacca has to be one of the primary places I want to see but I think the time I have in Penang will be nice too. Finally about 45 days in Thailand will be nice. I’m spending time in places in Thailand I have wanted to see so its not exhaustive of every possible combination. I chose Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi. Its easy to get back again if there is something I want there. I have a friend I met in Da Nang that lives in Bangkok so it will be fun to catch up with her and hopefully talk her into coffee or dinner. She’s an interesting person that speaks a variety of languages including Japanese and has friends there. Since I really love Japan, its always fun to compare notes with someone about the places I’ve been there and where I want to go.

So, the morning is all caught up and as usual, this post will go live after my last full day exploring the city-state. See you all on the flip-side of this day!

Back again!

So the last day is in the books. Filled with wandering parks and a riverfront and seeing the beautiful government buildings and museums around the river. Singapore has a beautiful skyline as well that has so many different looks and that is always fun to capture with those looks. The riverfront is gorgeous and there are expensive restaurants along both sides and then you can get to historic bridges and wondrous country offices like the Parliament.

I spent a week wandering the city and others have told me that they would take a lesser time but for me walking the city takes a bit of time so I always want to give a place sufficient time so I can explore in different directions, take the light rail or subway options and also identify the places I really want to see. I had wanted to get to Gardens by the Bay, Little India, and the Riverfront area and I got this done this time. Here’s the entire photo album for the travels. I noticed I said it was 2018 so corrected that as well. Take a look. Maybe plan a trip to Singapore. A lot to do plus food to eat. Its a very safe and clean country and the SMRT is a very nice transit option but you can also use GRAB if you want to hail taxis.

Now its on to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia tomorrow. Stay tuned! More to come.

Saturday in Singapore – Gardens by the Bay, Fort Canning and the Downtown Core Area

Today later will ride over to the Gardens by the Bay to see the amazing botanical displays and also wander around the downtown core area with its more expensive food courts and restaurants, historic and cultural sites, and shopping. Since I have the 3 day SMRT pass which gives unlimited rides, I’m changing out how I do the visiting of places. I picked a few places I have not been here to see these last few days which are easier reached by the SMRT that runs in so many directions in Singapore. I want to walk the downtown core area and see those places away from the garden area and stop at one of the more touristy hawker centers to have late lunch/early dinner today.

Its been now 5 days of wandering the city-state and its just as amazing and beautiful as the last time I was here in 2011. When I flew out from Phnom Penh I had no pre-conceived notions of things to see or do. I was concerned about the food prices which have turned out to be much cheaper than anticipated at the small food centers in Geylang area.When I first saw the area, it is a bit removed from the main attractions but I had realized I would get the tourist SMRT pass which would let me ride unlimited for a set number of days and I could change how I do the walking and seeing to catching the SMRT first and then seeing an area or three. Yesterday this worked out well going to Little India and then walking all around there and seeing the Bugis area including Sim Lim Square. The area is a big shopping and market district and Sim Lim is about 7 stories of electronics which I won’t shop in at all. I don’t trust the products there. I’ve read horror stories of people not getting what they paid for. Its much better for me to go across the street if I were wanting a lightning cable or something and visit with the local guy who has to be here every day selling his stuff. I trust him more.  I had also thought of buying a new iPhone here. The iPhone XR looked good but I doubt that will happen. The iPhone 7 plus 128gb version still works a treat for me for how I use the phone. 

Now its coffee in the room time in the morning and looking at the day developing out the hotel window. It gets light much later here than Cambodia so I wake up sometimes thinking its still very early morning and its after 7am. I have to admit to feeling very removed from the news in the states these days. I feel really badly for those furloughed that are dedicated federal employees and contractors. I would find it very difficult to have my loyalty tested by a wall that’s not necessary or that will really achieve its purpose. I hope sometimes that our current political machine becomes better but that is not going to happen until 2020 it appears when we can get someone that is not intent on ruining global alliances, turning back environmental quality regulations, or suffering from a level of corruption and deceit that seems incredible. I don’t turn political often here because the blog is about travels and retirement and sometimes photography but we have really gone backwards. Shameful.

Now I’ll get off the political soapbox and mark this as a draft post and come back after another wondrous day visiting Singapore!

After Gardens By the Bay!

I got back after about 4 hours wandering the Gardens by the Bay. Simply a beautiful place to wander around. Just made for walking and taking pictures of the beautiful downtown core area of Singapore. Having the 3 day tourist SMRT pass is really nice. I can just ride wherever I want up until midnight tomorrow night so I have been taking the service to wherever I decide would be fun. Most of Singapore is reachable via SMRT and they have numerous systems that run east to west, north to south, downtown, etc. I got to the Gardens by the Bay quite easily with the service this morning after coffee and pastry. 

After getting back I started looking at my last full day here. I am going to ride over to Orchard and Fort Canning tomorrow and stop at some intermediate spots to walk around. I feel like I have seen parts of Singapore by walking each day that I otherwise would have missed completely. The week seems to have gone by pretty quickly!

With only one full day left before leaving for Kuala Lumpur, I have a few little logistical tasks to get done. I had thought of getting a T shirt here until I saw all of them are $10 each. I guess I am a cheapskate but I have bought any number of shirts in Cambodia for $3 each and they are higher quality so I think I’ll wait unless I find one tomorrow on my travels that looks good.

The photo album I linked yesterday will have the the pictures from today as well. Its been a good time visiting again. I got done after today with a number of places I had set to get to. After tomorrow’s blogpost, I’ll be hopping a bus for the ride to KL which takes some hours. I’ll be there longer so can kind of settle in and hopefully find a place to get laundry done, get unpacked a bit, and start investigating another city! 

A day in Little India, Sim Lim Square, and riding the MRT lines

Today was a fun day! I rode the Singapore MRT to Little India for the day today and walked around the streets and alleys filled with jewelry shops, restaurants, and craft shops. Lots of people were visiting today. I walked across the street to Sim Lim Square which is a large electronics shop on multiple floors and walked a few levels plus to see the food court which I had not seen before. Then I crossed over to Bugis which is an enjoyable market and food court area to visit. I had decided to look at some socks and t shirts. I found 3 pair of socks for $12.50 which seemed a bit much so I declined that and I could not find XXL shirts so did not buy a Singapore shirt. If I can find one though tomorrow or Sunday, I’ll get one and replace one of my Cambodia shirts with one from Singapore.

I bought the 3 day MRT pass today which lets me ride on the MRT lines as much as I want through Sunday at midnight. From here on out, my wanderings will start with a ride on the MRT to a new place or places. I have two more days to investigate and two places to get to. I may combine some places tomorrow and ride the MRT in-between.

I’ve updated my photo album and just for ease if you want to see it, here’s the link for it. All in all, just a great day visiting a very interesting location, having lunch which turned out to be a Masala Dosa in a very nice Indian restaurant that was reasonable in cost as well.

This evening I started planning out the remaining places I want to get to. Tomorrow I will ride over to the Gardens by the Bay which is a huge open space in the city-state. I will also visit Fort Canning tomorrow which is a few KM walk from the Gardens.

Next Steps and Next Places…

Hard to believe that this was a week in a place like Singapore. I had spent the last months in Cambodia and had looked at this 5 months and 3 countries with a lot of interest and desire to be able to walk farther each day with the camera. So far, so good! Walking has been very good here in Singapore. I would say the the city-state is pretty pedestrian friendly. 

On Monday I’ll leave again. Not quite sure if I will return any time soon. My goal this time was to get to see places I had not seen before or could not remember. I think I will have done that thanks to the 3 day tourist pass for the MRT.

So, two more days to go here and some good food to still eat ;-). 

Day 4 in Singapore is all wrapped up!

Welcome to Thursday in Singapore! Its my third day here and ended up walking yet another way around the city-state. Singapore is so big of a city that I can find a new way to walk from the hotel every day and see a new view of the city! Very cool. I also decided on a few things I have to do in the next three days before I leave for Malaysia. Here are some places I need to reach:

  1. Little India. I went by there today but decided to mark it for a return visit via riding the MRT one day. I will probably do this tomorrow. I’d like to spend the day in and around Little India with the camera.
  2. Orchard Area. I would like to get down to the Orchard area since I have a lot of memories of staying down there before and would like to see it again. Food is much more expensive down there so I would probably go for a day and have an early dinner there but pick a nicer restaurant.
  3. Gardens by the Bay. The beautiful flower and tree gardens.

I think that this will take a day for each thing pretty much and each one is better done using the MRT service from by the hotel. Tomorrow I’ll ride it to Little India and spend the day walking around.

I’ve spent a day or a week on using my different applications for notes, writing, blogging, and journaling. I reached the point today where it seemed each thing was a completely separate entity and to share data between them became difficult. Sure, I could copy and paste but what I came back to was a single application which shares the experience and use across the board. So, today sitting in the room, looking at the places I want to get back to, it just became evident. I need to use Ulysses. It is just easier because its the same user experience. It means my travel notes are a bit different but really what I want is the data. I am writing this now in Ulysses and it publishes to my blog easily.

Not gonna say I won’t change again because most likely I will. The truth at this moment is that Ulysses just works better and is consistent. Let’s just take it day by day and see how it goes.

I also added a few more photos to the album I shared earlier. Give it a look!

Down to the days here…

Now I am down to three days left here in Singapore so will make an attempt to eat, drink, walk, and enjoy my times here as much as I can. I really love this place. The mix of food, people, different things to see and great conditions for pedestrian tourism makes things great. Get this Cambodia! People actually stop in buses and cars and bikes and let me cross the road. Power to the Pedestrians! One of the major nags here is that food is expensive. I have not really found that but if you eat in the major tourist zones and not at the street kitchens or hawker stands it can be. Beer is more expensive than food! Go find a local 7/11. They are all over the place and will sell you the beer for cheaper. Also, there is no need to buy bottled water here. Water is safe from the tap to drink. That is different from Cambodia and Vietnam. Nice to be able to just do the basic stuff without worrying about water.

I’ll close this out now. Stay tuned for my Little India travel tomorrow and photographs with the stunning Fujifilm X100F! All good times.

Day two begins here! – Singapore on the Move

Today is my second day here in Singapore and after yesterday’s 8 mile walking adventure and beers in the room, I slept for almost 9 hours straight through. Now its morning time here and today will see me walking first down to a local Starbucks for breakfast and then venturing to Suntec area and perhaps I will stop and get a camera case at the Fuji center. There’s no real rush to start so I’m enjoying the coffee in the room this morning and watching some news.

The weather here has been about the same as I remember it from so many trips. Kinda cloudy most days but warm and humid which is not different from all the other places I’ve wandered the last year. Its good for me for walking each day and I can easily find a place to get something like a smoothie after some thousands of steps. No real ideas about food tonight which is good as well. This area has lots of cheap restaurants. Last night dinner was less than the beer. I spent $4 on dinner which was BBQ pork, two different veggies, and rice. I can find a different place here each night and really spend little on food but more on beer!

Since I start the blog posts in the mornings, I always save them as draft posts using the MarsEdit blogging editor. Its really a nice editor and has a lot of added functionality over using Ulysses to blog.

Will be back this evening to cover my most amazing second day here in Singapore!

Back again!

So today was a 10 mile walking day around Singapore. I went in another direction from the hotel after a stop at Starbucks for a bagel and an Americano coffee. Nothing to write home about and wifi is difficult. Tomorrow back to Brains and Brawn Coffee for breakfast. I did get to see the big tourist zone called Suntec City and also the southern part of downtown which was cool. Check out the photo album link I posted before and that should work to show you the latest photos from today.

I also stopped at the Fuji Style store and bought a protective case for my camera which cost a bit. My poor camera has taken a bit of a beating stored in the backpack so I decided to get the case which is leather and protects either the whole camera or half of it. It opens on the bottom with a snap to allow access to the battery and SD card slot. Very handy!

Then after the walk and getting back and taking a shower, I exchanged some money down the street. They told me they only take $100 and will not exchange $20. I guess the USD $20 will stay with me until I get to Malaysia and exchange money there. For dinner, I went to yet another food court area and had sweet and sour pork with rice and a fried egg and two large Tiger beers. There I sat watching people much like everyone else there. From some years of experience here, it’s a basic thing everyone does in the evening at food courts or hawker stalls. Time to watch people! So I did the same thing just like the guy next to me drinking down Carlsberg beers.

Tomorrow is yet another day to wander the city in another direction. I have to say that Singapore is way fun to wander. Good behavior on the roads by the drivers, well managed traffic lights, sidewalks all over for pedestrians and its damned clean! I love it. I’m much happier with the wandering times and I have 5 months to wander three countries and then I go back to Vietnam and then on to Lao.

So a good day here in Singapore and the clouds finally did more than threaten. It rained just a touch this evening after eating and drinking.

Good Morning Singapore!

I rolled in last night to the hotel after a very nice flight from Phnom Penh. Singapore Customs has it down folks. It took me 5 minutes and the customs and immigration officer knew I had visited many times in the past and welcomed me back. From there it was to baggage claim and a scary moment or two because I checked my bag. My travel backpack, the Tortuga Outbreaker is within carry on size but I had decided to experiment with checking it in a few times instead. What happened this time was that the baggage carts did not arrive from the flight all together and only a subset of bags were delivered at first. Yet the sign on the terminal said all were done. Changi has airport ambassadors assigned to critical areas and that is a really fine idea! They speak a variety of languages and were able to help Japanese, Khmer, and English speakers understand they had to wait another 10 minutes. I have to say that Changi Airport also really has the whole thing down.

From there it was to the a money exchange stand that also sold SIM cards. I got some Singapore dollars and a nice deal on a SIM card which the person activated and switched on 4G for me. All of that done within 5 minutes of stopping! Having an unlocked phone is a necessity in Asia. I just don’t know how people travel and carry locked phones with them. Buy a cheap android phone and carry it folks! You don’t need state of the art. You just need something with google maps on it! My iPhone 7 plus has been very nice since getting that first SIM card in Japan last year when I left and then the SIM cards in Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Cambodia.

Off to the hotel in a cab. Here its by the meter in the cab so there is no ratcheting up the price or adding more to it. Most things just cost more here and cabs are no different. Got to the hotel, checked in, and headed out for dinner and a beer or two. Found a smaller food court where I got Chicken Rice and a Tiger beer. Chicken Rice is a big thing here and it was so good! Then I walked around the neighborhood getting my bearings a bit and looking for smaller stores like 7/11 or Circle K and restaurants that look cheaper. Found both!

Then off to zombie sleep land with some strange dreams and coffee in the room this morning and deciding what to do today. Its all about walking with the camera today so am enjoying first some moments with coffee in the room and looking at google maps for what I want to do. I want to just wear myself out each day walking and seeing the city again! I will do about 7 miles today and all days.

I’ll save this as a draft post and then add in my end of day thoughts on my first day in Singapore later!

Later that Same Day!

Now I’m back after wandering around Singapore for about 8.1 miles turning this way and that mostly around Bugis Junction, the malls, a number of interesting streets and seeing the wonderful sky scrapers and views I have been missing for awhile! Here is the start of my photo album on my wandering in Singapore. It sure is nice to be back. The city is so clean, people observe traffic laws and pedestrians actually do have the right of way here for the most part except for these scooter things that seem popular here now.

I had a great day wandering the city and catching this and that with the camera. The miles seemed to get me back to the things I truly love doing in a city. For the last weeks, I would walk in Phnom Penh at the riverside or Independence Park or by Central Market but it was not like the city wandering I love to do. It was a great start to a great week here.

More to come!