Singapore 2019 – Week 6

My last week in Singapore had a very different feelings than the previous weeks. On the two previous weeks, Neta was here and we spent a lot of time together, and on the weeks before that – I had only arrived and had first explored the city. This week allowed me to be more relaxed, visit places that I wanted to attend once more and perhaps with a different atmosphere.
On Saturday I went back to Tiong Bahru Bakery, this time with Barak and Yul – my Israeli friends. What a fine place! I then took the opportunity to walk around Tiong Bahru, that looks so different compared to the rest of Singapore – with its short buildings.
I got to some cool shops, specifically a really nice bookstore.
I then got back to the Wired Monkey, and did some work that had overloaded on my todo list. It was cool to feel a bit at home, as this great coffeehouse already started to feel. I also got to read quite a lot, something I hadn’t done for SO long before getting to Singapore.
For dinner I went together with Barak to a cool Steakhouse. Barak was so hungry that he actually ordered two of them!
When I got back to my hotel I found an interesting image of a red-looking beverage. Apparently, it’s a beetroot latte! I had to give it a try 🙂
On Sunday I went back to the Wired Monkey, this time with Barak, where we worked together on a few things. We then had lunch at the Banana Leaf Apollo – an Indian restaurant where they serve the food on a banana leaf; Cool!
I then met with Natalie, a German friend I had met during one of the walking tours I had taken a few weeks previously. We walked around Tanjong Pagar, a nice neighborhood where most things were closed due to a public holiday.
It was actually quite weird to see all the closed shops, restaurants and even temples – it felt like walking in a ghost-city.
I ended up walking all the way back to Studio M. It was a ~15 km walk, so at least I got to do some sports 🙂 Getting there, I decided to try the Ripples  machine, that can print any picture on a latte. How weird is that? Well, I tried printing a picture of Neta and me on a beetroot latte, and it came out AWESOME:
Monday was a public holiday in Singapore, so we didn’t get to work. Rather, Yul, Roslana and I decided to go to the Treetop walk at MacRitchie natural reserve. It’s a nice walk, but it wasn’t as different from Pulau Ubin that I had been to with Neta, and it was far less impressive than Pulau Ubin in my opinion. We did get to see some cool monkeys, though 🙂
The treetop walk section was LOADED with travelers.
The heat exhausted us, so we got back to the hotel quite tired. On the bus on the way back I got to see two deaf people signing to each other. I quickly looked up the alphabet of the Singaporean Sign Language and found out that it was similar (perhaps identical?) to that of the American Sign Language. I approached them and tried to converse for a bit. It was tough, given that I don’t know any actual sign in Singaporean Sign Language, but it was impressive that we could actually talk, even if slowly by signing letters. I learned that there were indeed deaf, indeed Singaporeans, and indeed communicating using the local sign language. I explained that I am from Israel and that I had learned ISL in the university, and that I am in Singapore for teaching. I haven’t had enough experiences to draw a strong conclusion here, but it seems that all deaf people are friendly and patient, at least with hearing people who make attempts at signing 🙂
After getting some rest at the hotel, Roslana and I went to Craftsmen Specialty Coffee to have lunch, that resembled an Israeli breakfast quite a lot. I also got to try another cool drink – a black sesame latte.
For dinner I met with Keith, a British startupist who also stayed in Studio M and whom I had met during the appreciation event for long-term staying guests. I had a burger with him and his partners, before going to my room and watch the very last episode of Game of Thrones.
Tuesday was the beginning of my last week here. Most of my students had some meetings for lunch, but I went out with the remaining two to have coffee at… That’s right, the Wired Monkey ^^ In the evening I had some work talks with Israel, which already started to feel really close.
On Wednesday we brought the students some Hummus so they can try the Israeli food. It was rather amusing 🙂 In the evening we had a “happy hour” with the other Israelis who were teaching in Singapore in a German Hamburger restaurant (Hans im Gluck).
On Thursday the hotel held another appreciation event for long-term staying guests. The food was much worse than the previous time, though. Oh well. I got the time to do some laundry before going to sleep, and waking to my last day in Singapore for a while.
On my way to work on my last day...

 

Friday was my last day. After teaching I decided to go to the Wired Monkey to say goodbye and thank them for the great coffee. I knew I would arrive just before they close and really hurried up… Luckily, Has the owner was there and I got to thank him personally. He was so kind and actually got me a coffee on the house before closing for the day and I left quickly to the hotel in order to get my luggage and go to the airport.
As Yul also had a flight on the same day we got to the airport together and had some Dim Sum to end our culinary experiences from Singapore for this trip.
All in all, it was a very rich, varied and interesting trip with an awesome mix of work and travel.
Till the next time, then 🙂
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Singapore – Week 5

We started the weekend by going relatively far away – to Pulau Ubin, an island outside of Singapore, that hasn’t changed much in the last decades. To get there, after a long ride with public transportation, one needs to wait till 12 people show up, and then the locals would take you by ferry (for 3$ a person).
The island looks so different from Singapore – no skyscrapers, no modern infrastructure whatsoever. Once there, many local bicycle rental shops await the visitors. Cycling along the island reveals lots of trees, swamps, mosquitoes and partially-paved roads.

It is still possible to visit houses of locals, one of which belongs to a family that has lived in Pulau Ubin for three generations.
At some point we found a friendly monkey that basically walked around the visitors, perhaps hoping to get some food.
On Sunday – we went to one of my favorite places in Singapore so far, Tiong Bahru Bakery, to try three drinks with three different colors 🙂
The brown one is simply a picollo (a small cappuccino). The green one is Matcha Latte – green tea with milk. The third is called the “Blue Latte”, which has butterfly blue pea and coconut milk. Fun!
We then went to SKAI restaurant at swisshotel, where we had made reservations before.  Despite being very expensive most of the time, they had decent prices for the weekend and the view was awesome.
From there we went to the beautiful Botanical Gardens. Neta liked the various healing herbs.
We then went to the beautiful national orchid garden (within the Botanical Gardens).
We were lucky to attend a show that Singapore Symphony Orchestra gave for free on that day in the gardens. It was really cool 🙂
Before finishing our day we went off to China Town to view it at night. Here’s a view of the beautiful Tooth Relic Temple:
And we finished with Sushi in China Town.
On Monday – I started the  last course I would teach here, with the same group I had taught during the first two weeks. The students took me for lunch to eat Buk Kuh Teh – which is basically a soup with LOTSSSSSSSSSSS of pepper, with pork ribs.
In the evening Neta and I went to buy a mug as a souvenir, as we do every time we go abroad 🙂  We then went to the Marina Barrage, to get yet another fine view of Singapore, and specifically the marina.
During the week I kept teaching, and every night Neta and I would go out somewhere. On Tuesday we had dinner in Aburiya, a really cool Japanese grill restaurant. We then watched the new episode of Game of Thrones.
On Wednesday we had a quick dinner at Kampong Glam Cafe and then went to a beautiful and fancy bar called ATLAS. We also got to walk around Kampong Glam, the Arabic quarter of Singapore. We ended up eating Hummus before going back to the hotel.
On Thursday we got to go to the pool at the hotel, something I had done only once before in Singapore. We then went out with the other Israelis who work in Singapore for a Greek restaurant named BAKALAKI.
Friday was Neta’s last day 😦 It arrived so quickly! I had had coffee at the Wired Monkey before we had gone eating some Mexican food and spend some time together before Neta went to the airport. It was so great to have Neta here, and now… Well, one more week to explore Singapore a bit 🙂

 

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Singapore – Week 4

So Neta joined me in Singapore for two weeks 🙂
On Saturday we woke up late and went again to Tiong Bahru Bakery. Well, “again” is correct only for me – of course, it was Neta’s first visit there. We also tried their Blue Latte, a cool-looking beverage made of butterfly pea and coconut milk.
It was raining so we found another place to drink some coffee before continuing to Gardens by the Bay – where we attended the two famous domes. Basically, they are domes (and thus immune to the Singaporean weather – air conditioned and shielded from rain). The first one was Cloud Forest.
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It was cool, futuristic and even weird. We also got to see some plants made of Lego.
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From there we proceeded to the Flower Dome. I believe they have different themes every time, and this time it was a Dutch theme – so the flowers as well as other objects resembled the rural parts of the Netherlands.
We then went to see the daily light show. This time, we bought tickets and climbed up the OCBC Skywalk – a bridge on top of the “trees”, to get a better view. It was actually very beautiful to watch this impressive show from this height.
This was a great start for the weekend 🙂
On Sunday we went to Henderson Waves – the bridge on top of Mount Faber that I had visited with Tomer a week earlier.
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We also went to the “happy stairs” on top of Mount Faber:
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Where we could already get the view of Sentosa – an island southern to Singapore. We purchased tickets for the cable car and took the ride to the island.
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We started our visit at Fort Siloso – an old fort that was used by the Brits to defend Singapore. This place also described the history of WWII in the eyes of Singapore, who was captured by Japan. It was a kind of museum. Before that, we could look at the view from above:
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The walk in the fort was very hot, and we were very glad to find indoor, air-conditioned shelters from time to time.
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We then had lunch at the Malay Food Court in Sentosa.img_20190505_151301
We proceeded to the S.E.A Aquarium – which was vast, impressive and laden with all kinds of fish.img_20190505_161621mvimg_20190505_165251
Basically, Sentosa has lots of attractions for kids – Universal Studios and other theme parks. For us, the aquarium was great and fulfilling. We went to look at the Merlion, the symbol of Singapore:
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And then took the cable car to Palawan beach…img_20190505_181058
It was a really nice Sunday, ending a wonderful weekend. Life is better when Neta is around 🙂
On Monday I went back to teaching. For dinner we went to eat Sushi.
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We then took advantage of the relatively-not-so-hot weather to walk to the marina and watch the daily light show.
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On Tuesday we went to a really cool Chinese restaurant called Haidilao Hot Pot. Basically you pick a soup (or a few soups – we tried the tomato soup, chicken soup and mushroom soup) and then you cook things inside it. It was super cool and delicious!img_20190507_193047img_20190507_193126
On Wednesday we had dinner with my grandfather’s cousin and her husband that I had met before. We then had time to do some laundry and enjoy a relaxed evening together. On Thursday Neta’s phone stopped working, apparently we had bought a prepaid SIM card but hadn’t registered for an internet plan so all the credit was gone… Luckily the hotel has phones that guests are able to use for internet throughout the day, so Neta used such a phone before we settled the issue 🙂
In the evening we went to a Brazilian place for dinner with the other Israelis around.
Friday was the last day of the second course I am teaching here. I got to leave a bit early so the students would have time for a feedback talk, so Neta and I went up to the Skydeck at the Marina Bay Sands. It costs about 20$ per person to get up there, but we enjoyed very fine views of Singapore and the light shows from above – both before and after sunset.
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We then went down for dinner and had some pretty bad food at food court, sometimes you just choose the wrong things I guess. To get a better feeling we found a local chocolatire and had amazing hot chocolate. What a sweet end to a wonderful week 🙂
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Singapore – weeks 2-3

Continuing my work-trip adventure in Singapore… This Saturday I explored a bit the environment near my hotel (hm, working from coffee places). I then decided to stop working on things and explore the city a bit more, so I took another walking tour – specifically the Civic District & Singapore River tour with Monster Day Tours. The tour was cool, but not as much as the Little India tour I had taken.

Throughout the tour I got to try ice cream in a bread. How odd is that? Even weirder, it was Durian ice cream in a bread…

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Despite the dark clouds, it wasn’t raining so we could enjoy the tour. We went to see some old buildings such as the national art gallery. When we reached the Marina we found the impressive Marina Bay Sands hotel in front of us.

 

By the end of the tour it was raining really hard, so we didn’t get to see the last viewing points. I decided to go with three girls I met on the tour (one from Spain, one from Nepal and one from the U.K.) to travel around. We first went to eat Sata (basically, sticks with chicken, meat or prawns) in La Pau Sat – a famous food court.

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From there we went to see the Marina. The skies got clear and all the lights from the skyscrapers illuminated our way.

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We then watched the daily light show, which was quite impressive.

 

 

We then visited the Gardens by the Bay before going back to the hotel. I got home really tired yet very happy I got to explore Singapore a bit more, and also to practice my Spanish 🙂

On Sunday I took a bus to an amazing bakery called Tiong Bahru Bakery. It had all kinds of awesome pastries, and also surprisingly good coffee (later I learnt that they use Common Man Coffee Roaster’s coffee).

 

I had the green tea almond croissant seen in the picture above, and read a bit on my Kindle. I then toured around Tiong Bahru neighborhood a bit, and proceeded to Little India – where I had lunch with one of the girls I had met the previous day and with her friends.

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After having lunch we went to the Wired Monkey for a perfect cup of coffee:

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And from there we continued to the beautiful Botanical gardens of Singapore…

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From the gardens I went to meet a cousin of my grandfather and her husband, who had been living in Singapore for the past three years. I hadn’t met them before, and it was interesting to see them and hear about their lives abroad.

 

On Monday I got back to work, and Omry, one of the Israeli guys who usually work here and had been in Israel got back to Singapore.
While being here, I try different kinds of foods. Trying means that sometimes I find delicious stuff (like in Tiong Bahru Bakery), but sometimes – not so much. Today I tried Laksa for lunch – a local kind of soup with chilly and coconut milk…. It was too spicy and oliy for me. For dinner I tried a Javanese restaurant – and I didn’t like the food as much either. Oh well, at least I tried 🙂
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Laksa

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The Javanese dish I tried

 

In the evening I walked a bit around Kampong Glam, a neighborhood that has a beautiful Mosque.

 

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I also found Haji Lane street, laden with cool shops with various goodies.img_20190422_200820
Tuesday was a more relaxed day. After work I went out to have Sushi for dinner. The Sushi in here is way different than Sushi in Israel – so many different fish! I just ordered some kind of rice bowel with Tuna and some vegetables – none of which I recognized.
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For lunch I also tried drinking water from a coconut (based on my students’ advice). It was cool 🙂img_20190423_123744
I wasn’t feeling so well throughout the day, possible due to yesterday’s Laksa and the fact that I’m really not accustomed to this kind of food. I went back to the hotel early and managed to watch the new episode of Game of Thrones before going to sleep.
After work on Wednesday I went with Omry to have cool tacos at a Korean-Mexican place. What a cool mix is that?
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We then walked back via a bar called Smoke and Mirrors, where you can get a really nice view.
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On Thursday the hotel threw an “appreciation event” for long-term staying guest. I got there to find plenty of food and a few other long-term staying guests to chat with. It was cool 🙂
Friday was the last day of the first course I taught here. After class I went to celebrate with another perfect coffee at the Wired Monkey, where I also talked to the owner and we exchanged recommendations for coffee places in Israel and Singapore 🙂 I then met Omry in China Town, and after walking around a bit we had dinner at a really good vegetarian restaurant.
On Saturday I went to check a coffee place that the owner of the Wired Monkey has recommended, Craftsmen Specialty Coffee. I sat there writing for a while, and then went to meet my grandfather’s cousin and a local friend of hers. We had great dim sums and a cool-looking dessert together (I don’t have any idea what it was).
We then walked a bit in Orchard road, and then visited the National gallery. After having coffee we walked back to the hotel. Overall I walked a bit over 15 kilometers on that day.
In the evening I met Tomer, a friend from Israel who arrived in Singapore as well. For his first evening in Singapore I took him to the same viewpoint Omry had taken me, and then we watched a live music show in the marina area. We also got a nice view from a nearby bridge.
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We then had some delicious dim sums at Din Tai Fung. This time I tried the Xiao Long Bao – dim sums filled with soup of some sort. They were AWESOME!
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Afterwards we also met Barak – another Israeli who will be in Singapore for a few weeks.
I spent Sunday mostly with Tomer – the Israeli who had joined me in Singapore for a while. We went first to Henderson waves, a bridge in mount Faber, a mountain covered with trees in the middle of Singapore’s skyscrapers. The view from the bridge was really nice.
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We then went to Tiong Bahru Bakery, where I had an AMAZING roastbeef croissant. It was surprisingly delicious.img_20190428_125653
We then went to Tiong Bahru market, and came yet again to Tiong Bahru Bakery for dessert, where I stayed a bit to enjoy some reading time 🙂img_20190428_143521
In the evening we went to a guided walking tour around Bugis area. We saw another beautiful Hindu temple, as well as a really nice church, but other than that – it wasn’t as interesting as the previous tours I had taken.
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On Monday I started teaching a new group – bigger and with a lot of diversity compared to my previous group.
I the evening  I went out with Tomer to China Town, which is very well lit during the evening.
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On Tuesday we went out for the cool Sushi place I had visited the week before. We went there with a few other Israelis who happened to be here on the same time…img_20190430_205800img_20190430_210900
On Wednesday we actually had a day off due to Labor day 🙂 We started by having another perfect cup of coffee at the Wired Monkey.img_20190501_101431
From there we walked a bit around Little India.mvimg_20190501_131201
Then we went to the Istana – the president’s residence, that is open to the public on certain days of the year.
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In the evening we walked a bit near the riverside, and had some good tacos 🙂
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On Thursday – I, Tomer, Barak and the two Israelis who live here went out for dinner at Aburiya – a Japanese grill restaurant. It was AWESOME.

On Friday, FINALLY – Neta my fiance arrived 🙂 We ate dim sums at Din Tai Fung at the airport, where I noticed that there is a crazy waterfall inside! How come I’ve missed that on my arrival to Singapore?

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Anyway, I was really excited to see Neta again, and I am looking forward to spending time with her in the upcoming couple of weeks.
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Singapore 2019 – First week

So this is a very unique trip/experience – I’m off to Singapore, for six weeks. In this time I will be traveling as well as working (Monday through Friday). This opportunity came as I was offered to teach three courses, each one lasting two weeks.

I flew from Israel on Friday via Turkey and landed in Singapore on Saturday, April 12th. As I arrived pretty late I used the time to walk around the hotel and get unpacked. At first I was surprised not to find a closet in my room, but I later that discovered that almost every part of the room was a storing space as well. The room consists of two “floors”, and even the bottom part of the stairs can be opened and used as a closet.

It was hard to tell what this experience would be like. It’s a long trip, after all. Six weeks. Some people have told me that it’s WAYYYYYYYYY too much time for Singapore; Others – that there’s plenty to see. Well, I guess I’ll find out. I am not sure how I’ll feel about being on my own for so long either. Luckliy, Neta will join me after 3 weeks for a period of 2 weeks, but still – I haven’t been abroad on my own for so long since 2012 – back then I didn’t even start this blog!

On Sunday I went first to Common Man Coffee Roasters. I had heard about this place before arriving here, getting advice from my friend Elisha who had been to Singapore already.

The coffee was great 🙂 Too bad that they close at 6 PM, and I only finish teaching at… Well, 6 PM.

From there I went to China Town, following a short guide in Hebrew I found online. It is really impressive to see the various temples that this area has – whether Hindu, Buddha or Mosques. The variety is just incredible.

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The Market

A Hindu temple:

 

The amazing Tooth Relic Temple:

And some other temples:

 

I then headed to eat at a food court for the first time.

Prices in Singapore are just crazy. My lunch (rice in Curry and chicken – I picked the place that had the longest queue consisting of locals) costed me 2.70 SGD, while my morning coffee costed 6.50 SGD. What? 🙂

I then went for another really good coffee – the Five Oars, in China town.

Monday was my first teaching day. I have to admit that I’ve been a bit nervous. Despite a lot of teaching experience, I have never taught Asian students, and not with this specific background. So far it has been going really well. The students are really nice and hard working, and I enjoy going out with them for lunch where we actually change tasks – I become the student, learning from them about their country and culture. They actually took me to this restaurant where we shared lots of cool dishes – mostly dumplings-kind-of-things stuffed with prawns or pork.

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Tuesday started with another teaching session. I enjoyed the way the students can be easygoing when they arrive, yet really concentrate on learning during self study time. One of the students brought a car so we went a bit further for lunch, where I had a rice bowl with salmon and tuna, that is called after the manner in which the tuna is sliced.
It was YUMMY! In the evening I went to the gym in my hotel.
On Wednesday I learned from the students that in Singapore you buy a lease for an apartment from the government, and it only lasts 99 years – so your children and grandchildren may inherit it, but at some point – it will expire. How different than what I’m used to 🙂
In the evening I decided to travel a bit and went to see the lightshow of Gardens by the Bay. It was really stunning. I felt like a child when I reached the huge, colorful tree-looking structures. It looked like a scene taken from the future.

From there I went to a restaurant that I’ve received lots of recommendations on – Din Tai Fung, a wonderful Taiwanese restaurant. I had an oriental salad and some vegetarian Dim Sums. They were delicious.

I was also quite surprised as they brought me a basket for my bag. It’s funny how these small cultural differences are reflected in restaurants.

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That was a wonderful night. I definitely plan on going back to the gardens for a a longer time when Neta arrives, and also to that restaurant.

Thursday was the last teaching day of this week, as Friday is a holiday (Good Friday). I managed to learning ab bit about Singlish during lunch at the food court. Apparently the Singapore people mix words and morphemes from other languages into English. The students explained that Singlish is a very effective language – and that they took many words that can express concepts that would require many words to explain in English. Apparently they can add some suffixes to any English root to slightly change it meaning. They gave me a few examples, but I am not willing to describe a language in a false manner so I wouldn’t try to repeat them here 😉
In the evening I had a work call with my team in Israel. It’s a bit weird to be a on a trip and manage something from Israel, but I hope that it will work out fine. Technology makes it possible to have a pretty convenient team call even when some team members are so far away.
In the evening I went to Aburyia, a Japaense restaurant. I was expecting some Sushi, and realized it was a very serious steak restaurant where you cook your meat in a hole in the middle of the table. I wasn’t up for a heavy dinner so I just ate some really good rice with lots of vegetables (and a bit of meat nonetheless). It was really good
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In the evening I got time to talk a lot with Neta, and also my friend Yoav. It was great talking to them 🙂
On Friday I went on a guided tour with Monster Day Tours to Little India. It was a lot of fun – the guide provided a lot of info about Singapore in general and Little India in particular. We got to enter another beautiful Hindu temple, try the local cuisine and see some wonderful colorful houses. We also got to see some of the famous artwork on the walls – which are specific walls where it is allowed to paint. If one paints on other walls, the punishment is six hits from the cane.
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I later went to another recommended coffee place – The Wired Monkey. The coffee was great and the Barista was really friendly. In the evening I also got another coffee at Common Man Coffee Roasters, and then headed to celebrate Passover Eve with a few Israelis who kindly posted on Facebook that if anyone wishes to celebrate in Singapore with them they can join. It was really cool and I enjoyed the time with them a lot.
In general, quite oddly I find myself a bit stressed in between activities. When I am touring somewhere, meeting people or also when I teach – I enjoy it a lot. Yet in between I sometimes get a weird stress feeling that I find hard to explain. I need to get used to being on a trip that involves work and traveling in places that I do not know.
All in all, the first week here was really cool, and I hope to make an even better one out of next week.
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USA & Canada Trip 2018 – days 59-60 – Central Park, Williamsburg, flight to Florida

The first part of our day consisted of a long drive back to NYC. The road was nice and scenic, well, at least we reached Manhattan. It’s unbelievable how fast everything changes, how vast becomes dense and peaceful becomes hectic. It was a nightmare driving through the city. We finally reached the hotel we had booked in Queens, unloaded our suitcases and took the subway to Central Park. We walked around the park, which we hadn’t done on our previous visit to the city.

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The park was really nice, and we got to see some brides and grooms shooting wedding photos.

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At some point the sun set, and we walked through the park at night, watching the city’s lights.

 

We then took the subway to Carmine’s in the northern part of Manhattan, where we met Neta, my friend who had moved to NYC a few weeks earlier. It was fun meeting her again, yet the dishes at Carmine’s were even bigger than the last times we were there. We couldn’t even finish half of the main dish.

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The next day was surprisingly fun. We expected to basically waste some time before our flight to Florida, but Williamsburg turned out to be a really cool neighborhood. We first drove to the farmers market that takes place every Saturday. It’s not as big and impressive as the one in Burlington, but it was cool to see.

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We then walked around the neighborhood and looked at some interesting stores. Neta especially liked an enormous place filled with vintage items.

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We walked to a new urban park called Domino Park, where they had actually created a small sand court with volleyball. People were getting tanned in the sun.

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We went to another market and had some Sushi.

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We then got… Well… Yes, ice cream. Again. And it was DELICIOUS!

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After that we calmly walked back towards the car and started our journey towards JFK. When we arrived at the airport I was shocked to find out we were charged 277$ by the car rental company. I believe I know what happened… On the first day of our New England tour when I came to take the rented car, Neta was at Michal’s packing, so I was told she needs to arrive at some other Alamo station and show her driving license so she can drive. We did that in Boston, and apparently they charged us for an additional driver (even though Neta had already been included!). I very clearly made sure with the woman who told me Neta should show her ID that we would not be charged for it. That got me pissed. I wrote Alamo an email, and I hope they will solve it soon. We shall see.

 

Next stop – Fort Lauderdale, Florida!

 

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USA & Canada Trip 2018 – days 57-58 – Tughannock Falls, Ithaca Area, Watkings Glen

We woke up early and drove Yarin and Eliav to the airport. Once more, we had the quite unpleasant experience of crossing the border into the United States. The people there always make me feel as if I’m guilty of something.

Since Yarin and Eliav left, the blue skies left with them, and we had grey clouds and pouring rain again.

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We stopped at a local Walmart store. I haven’t been to one in years, and it was Neta’s first time. God, how big is that store. It really has everything, even rifles.

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Neta, trying on a mask we found in Walmart

We stopped at Tughannock Falls. First for a viewpoint, and then for a short trail (1.2 miles in each direction). We started walking the trail when suddenly the rain got SOOOOO hard. I walked back to the car to get our umbrella. I got there completely soaked, and of course the rain just stopped a minute afterwards. We continued walking, holding the closed umbrella. The waterfall itself was really pretty though.

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View from the top

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Smaller falls along the trail

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We wrote to Eliav and Yarin about the awful weather we were having since they had gone, and they replied that they were having a sunny day in NYC. Some people are just lucky.

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I have no idea how the back side of my pants remained dry

We then went just across the street to Taughannock State Park, which would probably be nicer in a sunny day. From there we went to a local winery, Ports of New York, where we again tasted four different wines, and also bought ourselves a bottle. Since we didn’t have an opener, the owner actually made a special cap for us (apparently it’s illegal to just hand us an open bottle). Oh well.

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It was quite late when we arrived in Ithaca. We made ourselves dinner using the cheese we had bought in the farmers market in Burlington and the wine we’ve just purchased.

 

The next day featured the most beautiful trail we had in New England in my opinion – Watkins Glen. It wasn’t hard, despite having lots of stairs, and it featured plenty of waterfalls along a gorgeous gorge.

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Neta and I also started using the “motion” feature of my cellphone, meaning that we automatically get a short video for every picture we take.

 

We then had lunch at an Italian restaurant, followed by… Well, ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s. I’m so glad that we walk a lot in this trip, given the amount of Ben & Jerry’s I’ve consumed. Oh, they had their own Ben & Jerry’s car!

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We then drove to Buttermilk Falls State Park, featuring a nice circular trail (Gorge Trail and Rim Trail), though it wasn’t as beautiful as Watkins Glen.

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From there we drove to Ithaca Falls – a genuinely impressive fall, only 5 minutes away from the parking lot.

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We bought some more groceries at a coorperative that belongs to local students, and made ourselves dinner. Tomorrow we’ll head back towards NYC.

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USA & Canada Trip 2018 – days 55-56 – Thousand Islands, Niagara Falls

We woke up early and went to the Thousand Islands, where we took a tour by boat (2 Nations Tour by Uncle Sam Boat Tours). The islands are beautiful, and we got to learn a lot about their history, the relation to the sauce and some cool stories. Most of them are actually privately owned by millionaires who just decided that they want an island. How crazy is that?

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We then drove all the way to the Niagara Falls, crossing the border to Canada. As we arrived quite late we didn’t get to look around much. Rather, we went to do some grocery shopping and made ourselves dinner. Finally, real salad!

 

On the next morning we took a boat to the falls. Honestly, they aren’t as incredible as I had thought, given how famous they are. Yet, the strong flow is impressive, and it got us completely wet!

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We then drove to an adjacent town called Niagara on the Lake, where we took a wine tour at a local winery (Peller Estates Winery). It was awesome! We tasted four different wines, and the last one (ice wine) was really special – they only make it from grapes that they pick up when it’s -10 degrees (Celsius). They had us taste it in a room that had -10 degrees. It was freezing, and the wine was really delicious. Also, the winery is just beautiful.

 

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After the tour we walked a bit along Lake Ontario and saw lots of squirrels.

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Afterwards, we went again to do some grocery shopping. Yarin cooked for us amazing fish, and I was again responsible for the salad.

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We went for a night walk to see the falls at night, when they are laminated.

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We then walked a bit in the town of Niagara Falls, that seems as if someone took it straight out of the 90s. Really old, and somewhat broken signs welcomed us as we walked through the streets, pretty much on our own.

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USA & Canada Trip 2018 – days 53-54 – Burlington, Lake Placid, Mount Baker

Our Saturday started by attending a wonderful farmers market in Burlington, which takes place every Saturday. It was huge and had so many interesting things! And so many tastings! We could have satisfied our hunger with tastings only, but we bought some really cool things – delicious cheese for later, and some things to eat there. Neta tried a special honey-lemonade.

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We then got a message from our friends, Eliav and Yarin, saying that they had landed. We left the farmers market to pick them up. It was really cool seeing them again after so long. We then went back to show them the market, and let them explore it while we were getting some surprisingly good coffee nearby.

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It felt as if Yarin and Eliav brought the sun with them. We had had some rainy and cloudy days in a row, but that day had just perfect blue skies. Apparently, Eliav and Yarin had been having good weather for a while now.

 

We then started driving through small islands of Champlain Lake. We got to see little farms alongside the water.

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At some point we did a short walk on one of the islands as well.

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On the next day we drove west, towards Lake Placid, a nice town surrounding Mirror Lake. We walked around the lake and found some enormous sunflowers.

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We were really hungry and went eating BBQ for lunch. Then, we went to an adjacent Ben & Jerry’s place. It’s pretty cool they have their own Gelateries in the States, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in Israel or Europe.

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We then drove to Moody Pond, where the trail to Mount Baker starts. It was pretty steep but quite short, and from the top we got to see beautiful views of the valley.

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We then drove for another ~3 hours to Calcium, where we spent the night.

 

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USA & Canada Trip 2018 – days 50-52 – New Hampshire and Vermont

We started by going to Diana’s Bath trail, a short ~40 minutes trail (~20 minutes each direction) leading to nice ponds with small waterfalls.

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We then went on to Glen Ellis Falls, another short trail leading to waterfalls.

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We then went to Pinkham Notch visitor center, where they told us that we should drive to Mount Washington (the highest peak around), and that we would get to see a lot. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend going there. It costed 40$ to go up by car, and most of the time we couldn’t see anything due to the clouds.

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We drove all the way to the top, where we couldn’t really see much… Due to the clouds.

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It was cool to see a restoration of a house that used to be sort of a hotel a long time ago.

We then walked the Lost Pond Trail.

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We went back to the hotel quite early, and actually got to watch TV(!), which we hadn’t done a for a long time. Some rest isn’t too bad after 50 days of traveling 🙂

On the next day we drove through the Kancamagus highway, which is supposed to be THE great highway for viewing foliage during autumn. Well, after talking to locals – it seems that: (a) it’s really hard to foresee when the foliage will actually occur and the time differs every year; (b) last year there wasn’t really foliage as the weather was “crazy”, and they thought that this year would be the same. If you plan on going to New England – great. Don’t expect the beautiful foliage Google shows, though.

We first went to the Lower Falls, which are located just 5 minutes walk from the parking lot.

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We then went to see Rocky Gorge.

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Very close to the gorge, there is a beautiful pond.

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We then walked the short and easy Lovequist Loop Trail. It is not found on Google Maps or any local map we could find, but after crossing the bridge from Rocky Gorge to the pond above one can see the relevant signs.

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Many mushrooms accompanied us along the way.

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We continued to Sabbaday Falls. An easy trail leads to the falls that create small ponds in different layers.

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Neta is there!

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We did get to spot a few autumn-looking-trees along the way.

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We also had some nice viewpoints through Kancamagus highway.

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As the forecast showed tomorrow would rain, we decided to do another trail – Flume Gorge.

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On our 52nd day we drove to Vermont. The views changed and we saw many farms, cows, horses and isolated homes.

We stopped at Morse Farm, where they make Maple syrup. We had a short self-guided tour and some tastings. It was really cool! We also bought maple-popcorn.

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From there we went to Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont. We also took the tour and learned about how the company started, as well as how they make ice cream. We also tasted a special flavor they save for the tours only.

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We then went to the Flavor Graveyard – where they have tombstones for flavors that “died” – that is, aren’t made any more.

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What an awesome idea! They actually turned “failures” into something amusing that people can enjoy. Some of the flavors actually sounded terrible (as in, why would anyone think they would succeed?) while some sounded amazing and it was too bad they were ‘dead’ already.

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On the next day we are supposed to meet my friends Yarin and Eliav, who will join us for a few days 🙂

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