As my time in Bali comes to a close, I thought I’d share some of my favorite shots from the trip and a brief story or information with each one. Enjoy!
First let me just say Singapore Airlines is the best economy class experience flying I have yet to experience (of probably 20 or so airlines I’ve flown on by now). Large seats (even in the back), lots of storage room for luggage, free food and drinks (including selection of alcohol), vegetarian options (the best in my opinion, although not a vegetarian myself), and great free entertainment. No wonder they were rated number one economy option worldwide this year!
En route to Bali, Singapore Airlines offered the free options of having an extended layover in Singapore so we took it obviously. My only regret was not taking two days instead of one, as there just isn’t enough time to recover from flying 20 hours to fully enjoy even a quick city exploration day.
We flew out of SFO at 1:15 am which was perfect as it gave me the chance to sleep for about 6 hours on the flight to Hong Kong. One helpful hint, you must disembark in Hong Kong and go through security again to re-board and continue to Singapore. This is fairly well organized and expedited but was unexpected. Another helpful hint: economy boards from back to front. Get a seat near the back and get in line early if you are flying with only carry on luggage as we did. It was hard to fit our bags the first time because we got in line late but after that we found that by getting in line first we had plenty of room to store both a carry on and a personal item above.
Singapore’s Changi airport has consistently been rated the best airport in the world. I can certainly see why. It is clean, modern, efficient, English language signs, and full of gardens and good food. the only slightly inefficient part is immigration, which like many US airports involves long waits in line. But luckily the agents are more friendly and being a US citizen, no visa required. Checking back in is a breeze. They fingerprint you into the country and leaving you can use automated check in with their fingerprint recognition! No need to talk to anyone!
To get to Singapore from the airport we opted for the inexpensive option of the MRT (metro or subway system). To buy tickets you must use cash, so visit the exchange counter or ATM first. Our ticket down the East/west line only cost 2.20 SGD (Singapore dollar is equal to $0.75 USD as of 5/18). There was one transfer (from the Airport spur to the main East/west line). The MRT is very modern, clean, not too crowded, easy to follow, and like everything in Singapore, has plenty of English. In fact, English seems to be the preferred language for most public writing!
We stayed in a Hotel 81 (seems to be a popular 2-star chain in the area). I used booking.com (click my link to save $20 off your travels, helps me travel too!) and we spend SGD $75 (55 USD). The hotel room was small, but clean and comfortable and about a 10 minute walk from the Kallang station of the East/West line (25 min ride from the airport).
Singapore is a very walk-able city. Between short (two stop) rides on the MRT and walking, we saw a good amount of it in just one afternoon. We primarily visited 4 areas. The first was Haji Lane and more generally the area around it between Beach Road and Kallang Road. There was a fundraiser market going on with all sorts of delicious looking food for a local Mosque. Haji Lane itself was full of tourists visiting quaint shops and taking photos. I can see the appeal of the architecture for sure but it did seem a bit touristy.
From here we walked north to Little India. This is a much larger area full of too many shops and restaurants to count. Some of the food is very cheap (SGD $4 for a meal) and many of the markets were quite crowded. There were many tourists here too but it didn’t have the same touristy feel as Haji Lane. Walking through the entire area took about a 2 hours but we could have spent way more time.
We then headed south-west to the Bugis Markets. Here we tried delicious food, drank amazing fruit juices and explore the vast array of food, clothing and other shopping options. This are was full of tourists but still had a very vibrant local feel to it. The architecture was beginning to get more modern as we approached the downtown core. Once we tired of the shops, we began the long two mile walk to downtown, Marina Sands, and the famous Gardens by the Bay.
Marina Sands is everything its advertised. A spectacularly beautiful hotel with three impressive towers holding up what appears to be a ship straddling across them hundreds of feet in the air. Its a beautiful site to behold. We did not attempt to reach the pool, but I’ve heard of tourists sneaking in successfully to enjoy the rooftop views. We walked around it to the Gardens by the Bay. Surprisingly these are free for all but the cloud forest and the tree top walkway. We opted not to pay for either, as much of the gardens is open to all and the tree top walkway didn’t look that special. The cloud forest did look nice but I’ve done a lot of these indoor gardens in the past. I believe it was SGD $28 to do both indoor domes and the tree top walkway. The metal tree structures famous in these gardens were not as beautiful as often pictured. In fact the garden in general wasn’t quite up to my expectations. Its beautiful and green but just doesn’t seem as natural or colorful as many photos make it appear.
Overall Singapore is super clean, easy to navigate, and very modern. Supposedly it has great nightlife (number two rated EDM club in the world), but we were too tired for that. Apparently chewing gum and spitting are quite illegal but I saw many people doing both. I really wish we had planned two nights here, however, unless you are in to the modern city life and culture, I don’t think you need much more time in Singapore. Its a beautiful clean city, but still just a city. Perhaps knowing someone who lives there and could help us explore the cities secrets would have made it worth spending more time.
Approximate total cash cost (in USD): $75 (lodging, food, transit, activities).
Discounts received, reward money earned, points used etc: $30 back through Booking.com using affiliate link.
World Adventure Score (out of 10 stars)
Cost (overall, i.e. Norway is 1, US is 3, Nicaragua is 9): 4
Food (quality, cost and variety): 7
Culture (diversity, friendliness, etc): 7
Transportation (ease of use, public options): 10
Nature (places to hike, beautiful scenes, green cities): 5
Photography options (from a landscape and nature perspective): 4
Adventure factor (lots of adventurous activities): 3
Safety (ok to walk at night, lack of unsafe neighborhoods): 9
Enjoy my adventures?
- Get $40 on Airbnb travel
- Buy prints www.creatingezra.com
- Instagram photos Instagram.com/Jeltown
- YouTube videos Youtube.com/myworldwander
- Facebook Facebook.com/jeltown
- Twitter Twitter.com/jeltown
(Disclaimer: some links in here are affiliate links which may give me some compensation and help with my continued travels)
Hot Creek Geological Site is one of the many diverse geothermal locations near Mammoth Lakes. The land is rich in volcanic history and has so many hot springs most of which you can freely bathe and relax in. This one is unique though. The water in the main springs (pictured below) is quite blue (yes it really is that color). While the water in the creek formed around all these springs is green (I suppose from all the algae growing in it). The gorge itself is much larger than I ever would have thought just from seeing photos. The pools are probably close to 100 feet blow us and the gorge, which has a trail running along much of its base, is quite long. Is the distance loom the might Sierras and all around are geodes and amazing rock formations from ancient volcanic activity. Sadly you can’t get in the pools anymore as they have been closed to protect them. But who’s complaining when we have so much beauty to enjoy and many other pools are still open to all. Have you seen this epic gorge yet?
Enjoy my adventures?
One of my favorite things about visiting the Sierra’s on the eastern side is all the free camping. Camping allows you to get out in nature in a much closer more intimate way. Cooking your own food and surviving the elements are so much fun (both of which we did on this trip as a huge storm blew throughout the entire night and the next morning we cooked an entire brunch on our fire!). Much of the land in the Sierra’s is BLM land which is generally free to camp in year round. Many of the campgrounds become free in the off season as well. We like Holiday Campground near Tom’s Place, Glass Creek Campground near Mammoth, and Buckeye dispersed camping near the Buckeye Hot Springs (probably the best in the sierras that I’ve been to). Make sure to get a fire permit (available for free online) and put your fire completely out. We don’t need the forest burning any more than it already has.
Enjoy my adventures?
I love driving down the 395 (the main highway along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada Range in California) and finding new and unexplored (by me) roads into the mountains. One such road that I found near Bridgeport was Green Creek Road, a 9 mile winding gravel road that eventually dead ends near a campground. Hiking further up the trail continues deep into the mountains even looping around the Virginia Lakes Resort and appears to be used by pack horses in the summer. This is the first lake you come to and it offers a glimpse at the spectacular craggy peaks awaiting you further up. I can’t wait to come back and here and do some proper hiking! Have any of you hiked in this area before? Any recommendations? Please let me know below!
Enjoy my adventures?
And I visited both last year. The first one I went to is near Bridgeport, CA and starts from the Twin Lakes area at the resort. You can part there for free during the day. The hike is about 8 miles round trip and has only about 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Because last winter was so snowy, the trail was a swamp when I did it. I was severely under prepared and got quite soggy. And with all that water came swarms of mosquitoes. The worst I’ve ever seen anywhere. I killed 7 with one swat of my hand on my leg. So be sure wear plenty of clothes (not shorts) or lots of bug spray or both. Beyond this lake the trail winds its way up into the high sierras but it was much damaged due to numerous avalanches last season and I don’t know if its been repaired yet.
Enjoy my adventures?
The Aspendells are just west of the town of Bishop California. This small town and its associated lakes and trails are known for some of California’s finest fall colors especially among their name sake’s, the aspen trees. During the fall these color range from light green to brilliant yellows, golds, and oranges. Who knew California had such amazing colors! South Lake is one of three lakes easily accessible from the road without hiking. Kayaking and fishing are popular sports here. We found that renting a Kayak is one of the best ways to see all the beauty of the lake and and the mountains around it. The water is so clear and blue! Have you even been to California for the fall colors? Comment below and let me know what you thought!
Enjoy my adventures?