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…
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.
From there we went to see the Marina. The skies got clear and all the lights from the skyscrapers illuminated our way.
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.
After having lunch we went to the Wired Monkey for a perfect cup of coffee:
And from there we continued to the beautiful Botanical gardens of Singapore…
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.
In the evening I walked a bit around Kampong Glam, a neighborhood that has a beautiful Mosque.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The park was really nice, and we got to see some brides and grooms shooting wedding photos.
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.
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.
We then walked around the neighborhood and looked at some interesting stores. Neta especially liked an enormous place filled with vintage items.
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.
We went to another market and had some Sushi.
We then got… Well… Yes, ice cream. Again. And it was DELICIOUS!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
From there we drove to Ithaca Falls – a genuinely impressive fall, only 5 minutes away from the parking lot.
We bought some more groceries at a coorperative that belongs to local students, and made ourselves dinner. Tomorrow we’ll head back towards NYC.
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?
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!
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.
After the tour we walked a bit along Lake Ontario and saw lots of squirrels.
Afterwards, we went again to do some grocery shopping. Yarin cooked for us amazing fish, and I was again responsible for the salad.
We went for a night walk to see the falls at night, when they are laminated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At some point we did a short walk on one of the islands as well.
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.
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.
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.
We then drove for another ~3 hours to Calcium, where we spent the night.
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.
We then went on to Glen Ellis Falls, another short trail leading to waterfalls.
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.
We drove all the way to the top, where we couldn’t really see much… Due to the clouds.
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.
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.
We then went to see Rocky Gorge.
Very close to the gorge, there is a beautiful pond.
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.
Many mushrooms accompanied us along the way.
We continued to Sabbaday Falls. An easy trail leads to the falls that create small ponds in different layers.
We did get to spot a few autumn-looking-trees along the way.
We also had some nice viewpoints through Kancamagus highway.
As the forecast showed tomorrow would rain, we decided to do another trail – Flume Gorge.
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.
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.
We then went to the Flavor Graveyard – where they have tombstones for flavors that “died” – that is, aren’t made any more.
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.
On the next day we are supposed to meet my friends Yarin and Eliav, who will join us for a few days 🙂