Bus No. 11

10 Things I Like About You Pt 4: Bus No. 11

“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R.Tolkien

I’ve been looking forward to this one. Between being from Singapore and living in NYC for 2 years, walking everywhere is no more odd than breathing. My general rule of a good meander is lights and sound. If something catches my eye, off I potter. Guess the rest of the world caught on too and walking tours are now the new Cronut.

My first stroll was during a tour of Paris and London with my parents. It was my first time abroad and we were part of THE stereotypical tour. Ladies with umbrellas, hell bent on finding the most expensive perfumes on the Champs-Elysees, hijacking unsuspecting Frenchmen and forcing them into photos, and the children, so many children… Thank goodness my parents had better sense and we legged it off to the Lourve on our “free” day, while the rest of our group proceeded to empty the shelves of Galleries Lafayette. As we walked along the Seine, passing by the street vendors and the famous Shakespeare and Co., I fell in love with traveling.

So I’ve done the same in the places that I’ve lived in and got some pretty good stories out of it.

Upstate NY

Located in downtown Syracuse, Freedom of Expresso is a local roaster right across the street from a Starbucks. Came across it when I had class nearby. Got the milk steamers there: hot milk with Italian syrup. (ps: fruit syrups means split milk except raspberry. we tried them all)

Located in downtown Syracuse, Freedom of Expresso is a local roaster right across the street from a Starbucks. Came across it when I had class nearby. Got the milk steamers there: hot milk with Italian syrup. (P.S: Fruit syrups means split milk except raspberry. We tried them all.)

The Boys of Syracuse. The Orange is one of the best US College Basketball teams. The whole city is in love with the sport. Basketball here is like football in Spain. Downtown Syracuse is also home to the 24 sec "shot clock" monument, a turning point in NBA history.

The Boys of Syracuse. The Orange is one of the best US College Basketball teams. The whole city is in love with the sport. Basketball here is like football in Spain. Downtown Syracuse is also home to the 24 sec “shot clock” monument, a turning point in NBA history.

Prop 8 protest in downtown Syracuse in 2008. It expressed the discontent for California making same sex marriage illegal. Prop 8 was overturned in 2013 :)

Prop 8 protest in downtown Syracuse in 2008. It expressed the discontent for California supporting the proposition to make same sex marriage illegal. Prop 8 was overturned in 2013 🙂

On a whim, my roommate in college drove the 45 mins from Syracuse to Skaneateles. The whole place looks like something out of an Enid Blyton book, complete with little candy store. We also went hiking to the nearby Carpenter Falls. Dang, I miss Upstate.

On a whim, my then roommate and I drove the 45 mins from Syracuse to Skaneateles. The whole place looks like something out of an Enid Blyton book, complete with little candy store. We also went hiking to the nearby Carpenter Falls. Dang, I miss Upstate! The apple is even from Beak and Skiff. 

Since it worked out so well in Syracuse, where buses run every 45 mins and trains are non-existent, I figured that it would be a perfect method in Singapore.

Singapore

We'll start with my second love, food! In search of the illusive ah balling (dessert riceballs with filling), my friend F introduced us to the wonders of Mei Hong Yuan Dessert. It serves all kinds of traditional Chinese desserts. So much deliciousness! They're so good that they don't even open on Mondays!

We’ll start with my second love, food! In search of the illusive ah balling (dessert riceballs with filling), my friend F introduced us to the wonders of Mei Hong Yuan Dessert. It serves all kinds of traditional Chinese desserts. So much deliciousness! They’re so good that they don’t even open on Mondays!

The Local People is a Singapore collective for budding designers and artists. Every month they do a market of some sort and their most recent was at the Singapore Art Museum. A friend and I wandered past and was very well fed. They also have great jewelry and crafts. Think if Etsy had a fair :)

The Local People is a Singapore collective for budding designers and artists. Every month they do a market of some sort and their most recent was at the Singapore Art Museum. A friend and I wandered past and was very well fed. They also have great jewelry and crafts. Think if Etsy had a fair 🙂

And there was live music

And there was live music

This was perhaps less of a wander... but I use to ride horses. Yes, I was one of those girls that wanted a pony for her birthday. Except I still want one and it's not to braid his tail. This is at the Singapore Turf Club Riding Centre. Gorgeous facilities and they're hosting the SEA Games. So wander there now!

This was perhaps less of a wander… but I use to ride horses. Yes, I was one of those girls who wanted a pony for her birthday. Except I still want one and it’s not to braid his tail. This is at the Singapore Turf Club Riding Centre. My friend S (she’s the one without the wings) also started a blog about all things equestrian so check it out. Gorgeous facilities,a tasty cafe on premises and they’re hosting the SEA Games. So wander there now!

A waterpark on top of a shopping centre!?! Where was this when I was a kid.

A waterpark on top of a shopping centre!?! Where was this when I was a kid.

Well, enough from me. Time to lace up those shoes and get out of the house 🙂

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Old Skool

quentinblake“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all around he world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”

Roald Dahl, Matilda.

10 Things I Like about You Pt 3: Old Skool

Roald Dahl had the right idea. There’s something visceral about holding a book and disappearing into the dusty pages. Every year thousands of travelogues are published, documenting everything from the Northern Lights to hiking the Appalachian, so there is no lack of people to live through vicariously. Chancing across Context, a tour company that curates walking tours for the historically savvy traveller, it seemed almost natural to contemplate the more historical aspects of my own country.

There are a ton of travel books. Skipping past all the Lonely Planets, Fodors and Rick Steves, I wander into the section marked history by the Dewey Decimal System. First thing that hits you is how many ways you can travel: Crowdfunding, Twitter, Instagram, even a guy who bartered his way across the world and ended up with a house in Hawaii. So no excuses now…

I pottered through a couple of them, enjoying the roller coaster ride as they met general odd bodies around the world. A lot of them were focused on travel as a task, ie: we’ll high five this monument and move on. However, when I lack inspiration, I look for the storytellers. When I was little, my dad used to say if you can write a thousand words about a blank wall, you’re a writer (I have yet to understand the correlation). While it didn’t turn me into a writer per se, I still enjoy a good tale: ones that inspire a good case of wanderlust and a hankering for more airplane miles.

But I digress. We were talking about how to rediscover the island and what not. So here are my top 5 books to keep you a-moseying.

1. The Neil Humphreys Island series

photo courtesy of goal.com

photo courtesy of goal.com

Okay, random ang moh explores Singapore. Real original. Despite the cliché, Humphreys is hilarious. The series of 4 takes you a hop, skip and sweaty jump though Singapore with the clueless kid from Dagenham. Thrown into the deep end in Toa Payoh (my backyard!), his quirky perspective and tongue-in-cheek style is enough to bring tears to anyone’s eyes. Reading on the MRT, I proceeded to terrify the people around me as I laughed out loud about how he came across the aunties who hoard plastic bags in their bras and uncles cleaning their nails in the station. His last book, Return to a Sexy Island, was the perfect coming home book. He hits up all the new locations in Singapore. Some like Marina Bay Sands and our Avatar-esque Gardens by the Bay are pretty typical, while others, like the new art storage at the airport I had never heard of.

Aside from providing more info about places to wander to any guidebook, I also vowed that an ang moh couldn’t know more about Singapore than me. Sometimes when the sun’s at full scorch mode, I need a little incentive to leave the aircon. Unfortunately, unlike the intrepid Caucasian, I did not see any version of Mas Selamat. There was a limping man but wrong leg.

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Meeting Strangers

10 Things I Like about You Pt 2: Meeting Strangers

Ah, yes. Yet another techie option. However, this one actually involves meeting real people. There are quite a few of them floating out there. Your first reaction is probably the same as mine. These are some souped up, well decorated dating Web site and perhaps a 10 foot distance is too close to be to it. If I was a purist, I should sit in a hostel bar and talk to backpackers and other nomads. But what the who, I am a child of the 21st Century and what not, so I hit the sign up button.

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I stuck with Meetup.com. Simple, no personal info required and no one wanting a testimony about how I met my one true love. Ka-ching! Stuff’s pretty simple, you indicate your interests and off you go. I connected with one about meeting international people in Singapore. It was a huge group so I figured that I could get lost in the crowd.

After several sessions of talking myself into not going, I finally got around to attending an event. Feeling socially awkward, I had the stand-at-the-corner-and-pretend-the-person-I-am-meeting-is-on-the-phone moment. Yup, got to love technology.

Thank goodness the event was for people who were Meetup noobs and they kindly singled us out with a gold star to encourage people to take us under their social wing. Which helped. As did the glass of wine that the event included.

photo courtesy of Meetup.com. Too dark and felt like a creep if I took photos...

photo courtesy of Meetup.com. It was too dim at the event and felt like a creep if I took photos…

By the end of the night I had learnt where in Little India to buy spices to make a mouth-watering lechon (Cuban roast pork that is a little piece of heaven), figured out how to travel though South America from a Russian interior designer and argued extensively with the bartender about how Barton’s gin shouldn’t be anywhere that served $15 beer. (that stuff tastes like rubbing alcohol).

All in all, not a bad night.

Simple takeaways:

  • It’s a nice way to meet people if talking to them online is not your thing
  • You got to put yourself out there and actually talk. People are generally pretty nice.
  • Even if you don’t attend, the locations that the groups meet at are a nice travel itinerary. No one wants to meet at a terrible venue.
  • People might still hit on you but I didn’t say you couldn’t hit them (okay, please don’t actually. I feel there is some kind of liability involved in saying that)

Side note: Couchsurfing.com is also a good option. Checking it out and I’ll let you guys know 🙂

I Was Told There’d Be Flying Skateboards

Happy new year everybody!

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I’ll be the gazillionth person to say this but… The year 2015 has come, so where are all the things Back to the Future II promised us? Such a disappointment 😦

It’s actually difficult to believe the little date that’s written on the corner of my computer. 2015 sounds so science-fiction!

For one, had you asked me in 2005 about what to expect from the year 2015, I would’ve at least imagined I would have gotten my shit together by now, had a steady job, maybe in a serious relationship… Going to work in my flying car to my office in the 250th floor.

I am none of those things.

However, being merely a human being, I can’t help but feel hopeful from a brand new year to come. It almost feels like a chance to start new things, maybe even a new life.

So here’s to 2015. And hoping by 2025, I will truly have all my shit together.

Domo Arigato Mr Roboto

10 Things I Like About You Pt 1: Applications

If you just joined us half-way, refer to this post to start from the beginning 🙂

It’s the first thing that we think of when we’re trying to start something new. YouTube, Google, and TripAdvisor whatever it may be… Also (cue shameless plug) because I’m working to do social media stuffs for a startup that helps travelers socially source their itineraries and have looked up all the competing apps (the app is pretty cool but I’ll share that later).

2 quick parameters:

First, I must shout out to Apple. A quick scan of any app list will show that them sprinting past the Google Play store. However, since this is my blog, we will play by Android rules.

Second, there are apps that do everything from fold your socks to calculate, to the millisecond, what you can do in-between transits. This list will focus on how to rediscover Singapore. Asia is a tough nut to crack. Most apps are geared towards our Western counterparts so this is my Asia friendly list.

 

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  1. Triposo

This one is one of my favourites. Probably because the backstory is pretty cool. Founded by a pair of Dutch brothers, Douwe and Richard Osinga and their friend, Jon Tirsen, the app was born out of their love for travel. Their entire team is part of the effort, travelling the world (with nothing but Triposo and cash) and adding their experiences to the application.

The app is pretty comprehensive. The home page for each country gives you a breakdown of the typical stuff that you’re looking for as a traveller: sightseeing, nightlife, tours, etc. The highlights for me were the locally sourced mini guides (I was a cheapo and didn’t pay for premium) and if you’re a tourist, their practicalities section is invaluable! Discovered the lovely Singapore Pub Crawl here 🙂

 “We are wanderers and adventurers and we believe the best way to build a travel guide is to spend as much time as possible traveling to strange lands and discovering new places.” –Triposo.com

 

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10 things I like about you…

20141003_185257Being home and waiting for a visa means there’s not much to do. Not working for 3 months also means not exactly a fortune in spending money. My first thought when I came back was to find a job and just plug away at work. The only thing is that it’s hard to find too many people excited to train you for time unknown. Can’t really blame them. So what does a broke stuck adventurer do? You got it, potter around my own backyard.

For years, people have always asked me why I didn’t want to go home to Singapore. I never really had an answer for why not. Yet, other than family and friends, there was no magnetically compelling reason to either. So now seemed like a good a time as any to see what all the fuss is about. Inspired by Neil Humphreys, (Singapore’s equivalent of Bill Bryson) I wanted to see what I could discover about this revamped Singapore. And because I like lists, I made one of all the tools I used to figure out what the 10 things I like the most about home.

 In no particular order:

  1. Applications (I have an Android so we know that everything crosses over)
  2. Meeting strangers
  3. Old Skool
  4. The Number 11 Bus (ie: on foot)
  5. Geocaching
  6. Asking locals

For the sake of not sounding like a windbag, I’ll post them in installments so stay tuned for the breakdown 🙂