Every year, you make plans to travel, and some how at the last-minute you have a deadline that you must meet or one parent has to work on that particular weekend. What good is it killing yourself for a job that can’t give you week of vacation to relax? Sounds like you need better work life balance. Well lets take a look at three ages of travel. The first being traveling while you are young, wild, and free. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the days of your youth (14yrs -29yrs old) or whenever you decide to get married. This is assuming that you don’t have any kids and you are not married. You get to wake up late, party, and get a sense of who you are. This is the time you backpack around the world, go on crazy road trips with your friends, and study abroad. Just be young! You have the next 40-60yrs to work assuming your time is not cut short on this beautiful planet. If you are not enjoying your youth it’s about time you start! The second part of traveling is family related. Some of you are fortunate enough to have family vacations. Maybe it’s just you and your dad camping somewhere or going on a road trip to see some historical sites. Family vacations are great aren’t they? At this point, you are married with kids, maybe both parents are working, and you just don’t have time to travel. Depending on where you are career wise, family related vacations could be expensive? I’m guessing that’s what’s going on in your head. Well spend a little, there’s nothing wrong with taking the time to experience the world. If you budget correctly, you can manage one big vacation a year. Open a separate account and take some money out of your paycheck and put it towards an account for vacation purposes. If you are the type of person that keeps waiting for your kids to get older to go on that special vacation, your kids could grow up not wanting to hang out with you because they have their own friends and plans. You know how teenagers are! Even worse, they might get into the cycle of all work and no play! Remember, these are the years, that you can have an impact on the way your child see’s the world. Instead of reading stories or watching reality TV of other families and their adventures, start your own. Experience another culture and see how other people live. It’s an experience that pays itself. The third type of traveling is during that retirement age. For the last 40 to 60yrs, you’ve been working hard and putting money in your 401K. At this point you’ve done the young wild and free travel, the family trips, and now its just you and the spouse. You spend this time exploring the Sistine Chapel, looking at fine art, playing golf in Indonesia. You are older and have a better appreciation of such things. You’ve worked hard your whole life, and now you want to slow down and watch the birds and the bees.
Singapore NightlifeChances are if you are reading this article, you're in Singapore or planning on visiting Singapore. If you're like me, you want to make sure you enjoy the nightlife in Singapore. While I was living I had the opportunity to check out some great spots that the city had to offer.
Clarke QuayNo matter what day of the week, Clark Quay is always packed. The area is beautiful at night, you will find people taking pictures or hanging out by the bridge talking and drinking a few beers. Clark Quay is filled with restaurants, bars, clubs, and some clothing stores. They have specialty bars that are themed like The Clinic, the seats are wheel chairs, the drinks come in different flavors through an IV tube and shots are in the form of a needle. You can find some Irish and British themed pubs. Most of the bars usually have futbol/soccer playing in the background or cricket depending on the location. Drinks will run you around $10 and up for beer and more for liquor. Be ready to spend around $50 or more on a typical night. If you're your into live music, you can find plenty of places that have live bands. The bars and clubs in Clarke Quay play all types of music ranging from Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, Electronica, Rap, Dubstep, Reggae, House/Techno music. You name it and they have it. Some of the bigger clubs like Atica usually bring in internationally know DJ's to play at there clubs. Typical night life in Clarke Quay ends around 3am or 4am and some places close later.
Boat QuayBoat Quay is located in the same vicinity as Clarke Quay. It's a short walk between the two places. filled with great bars and restaurants. There are a few minor clubs but for the most part you will find bars and restaurants near the water. People come there to hang out, drink, talk, and enjoy the beauty of Singapore. The seafood is amazing but if you don't feel like paying for the restaurant or bar food, you can check out the mini Hawker Center for great food. Like many places in Singapore, you will find a lot of late night massage parlors and legal working girls asking you to come into their clubs.
BugisBugis is a great place to visit during the day or night. On a typical night in Bugis you will find the streets lined up with motor bikes and bicycles. You find great Halal food and great hookah. This is more of a hang out and talk atmosphere. The restaurants are reasonably prices between $10-$35 depending on the restaurant. It's a great place to hang out with friends or to bring a date. The area closes around 3am. Depending on the night, you will mostly find soccer/futbol on the television screen. One of the unique clubs I accidentally ran into was Blue Jazz Cafe. They have a great selection of live and recorded Jazz music. Once or twice a month on a Saturday night, the top floor of Blue jazz Cafe has hip hop and reggae night. If you are looking for great hip hop and reggae, just walk upstairs and ask when are they hosting the party.
SentosaSentosa is the man-made beach of Singapore. Usually they will have concerts and outdoor parties. You have to listen to the advertisements to know when the next party will be. But for the most part you can find something every weekend.
Two sides of GeylangWhile I was living in Singapore, one of the places that I was often told to visit was Geylang. Geylang is the area of Singapore’s red-light district and has arguably the best food in Singapore. I know some of you are wondering “how could this be?” but according to the locals, it’s true. The first day, that I arrived in Singapore I was told to visit the area. Me being from the states, as soon as I heard that it was also a red light district, I immediately thought of prostitutes and to stay away. Over the next few weeks I pushed away any thought of dining in that district. I remember one night we were taking the cab ride back home to Simei and the cab driver asked us if we wanted to take a detour and drive through the Geylang district. With some hesitation, we agreed and off went. The driver was born and raised in Singapore so he was very knowledgeable of the area. He showed us one side of Geylang which was the food district and the other part which is the red light district with brothel houses and hotels looking for customers. Looking through the cab window it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. Please keep in mind that prostitution is legal in Singapore. There are all sorts of rules and guidelines that these employees and employers have to maintain to get their business going. Because it was part of their culture in Singapore, the people weren’t as bothered by it as I was. In the United States, for the most part prostitution is legal with some exceptions. So for me it was strange seeing this live in person. I did not part take in any of the activities. But being in the presence of these workers was definitely out of my comfort zone. A few months later I was invited out to dinner by some friends that I made in Singapore. They wanted to meet in Geylang and have frog meat. I’ve never had frog meat before. It was delicious and tastes just like chicken. Another popular dish in the area, which I did not eat/drink, was turtle soup. The area is filled with Hawker centers and restaurants. After we were done eating, we walked around and looked at some of the local shops. The food district at the time didn’t have a lot of street walkers walking around; I don’t know if that’s changed since I last visited. If you ever visit Singapore, I suggest you visit the area because it is so unique and it’s part of the culture.
My experience Singapore While working for my previous employer, I had the opportunity to work and live in Singapore with two other colleagues. Prior to the job assignment in Singapore, I didn't pay much attention to Asia. I knew it was a place that I would eventually want to visit but to what I extent? I didn't know. Growing up in Haiti and America, what I learned of Asian culture was from brief celebrations of Chinese New Year in school, visiting Chinatown, cheap Chinese food, Kung Fu movies, and some friends that I made while in school. This all seems like a lot of interaction but it's nothing compared to my experience in Singapore and other parts of Asia. Singapore For those of you who are new to Southeast Asia, Singapore is one of the biggest financial centers in the world. It's a small country that's very advanced in technology and societal rules. The main language spoken in Singapore is Malay and English. Singapore used to be under the rule of the British. You will notice the British influence on the country. A lot of bars and restaurants and other places of entertainment are British owned or themed. What I loved about living in Singapore was the people and the food. My coworkers were great. I arrived in Singapore during the Chinese New Year Celebration which is about ten days. All the managers took out the employees for lunch for all 10 days. We had black pepper crab, chili crab, lo hey, and other types of traditions food. My coworkers were very impressed that I could use a chop stick. I thought that was funny. Initial thoughts of the country Singapore is one of the cleanest countries in the world. The first day I was there, I noticed one of the custodians cleaning the fire hydrant with a tooth-brush. I stood there staring at him for a few seconds. That’s something that I’ve never seen before. I thought to myself “they really take this cleaning stuff to the next level”. My first cab experience was interesting. It's always good to meet cab drivers with enthusiasm for their job and a willingness to educate tourists of their home country. What I learned from the cabby is that Singapore has a religious tolerance, all religions are accepted and practiced, the Jacksons, especially Janet and Michael have huge followings in Singapore, most of the people spoke English, and some of the popular tourists locations in Singapore. Traveling around Singapore is a well-developed country so transportation was easy. The country is small which makes it easy navigate. The three main forms of transportation are the MRT or Trains, taxi, and buses. In order to use the bus and MRT you need an EZ-link pass. You can put any amount of money into the pass. Every major MRT stop has a mega-mall. Shopping is a big deal in Singapore and other parts of Asia. The signs are in English and Malay. It is very easy to get around in Singapore through MRT. You can travel from one end of the city to another and in 1hr 30minutes. The MRT is mapped out in color and it takes you to the airport. Out of the three forms of transportation, the bus is the cheapest, but it also takes the longest to get to your destination. Food Hawker Centers (food court) Singapore has these massive food courts called Hawker Centers. You can find them anywhere you go in the city. The food is nothing short of amazing. You can also get amazing fruit drinks like, sugar cane, mango, and papaya. The price ranges between $2-$5 depending on what you get. One of the things you will learn quickly is portion control. You receive small portions of everything, so it's up to you to tell the vendors that you want more food. Some of the most well know dishes are Nasi Lamek, Chicken Rice, Black Pepper Crab, Chili Crab The Beauty of fruits Fruit stands are usually in the same vicinity as the Hawker Centers. I had some of the most amazing fruits that I've ever tasted in my life while in Singapore. The king of the fruits is called Durian and the Queen of the fruits is called Mangosteen. Durian, when you smell it for the first time has a bad smell to it, but what I’ve learned is once you try the fruit, it will either taste sweet or sour and once you've had it, the initial smell that you had will be gone and you will only smell the best of the fruit. I can attest to that. I used to cover my nose when I smell Durian till one of my friends that I met in Singapore made me try it. It's a weird tasting fruit, it's slimy and gooey, but very tasty if you can pick out a good one. Mangosteen is a very sweet fruit, you have to peel off the skin to get to the center or the seed that has the actual fruit. Mangosteen quickly became my favorite fruit with a strong contender from mangoes. I was in fruit heaven while living in Asia, I had mangoes, Mangosteen, Durian, and other fruits everyday. The best part about Singapore is it doesn't have seasons so there are always fruits. In the month of July to early August they usually have fruit festivals. I was fortunate enough to attend the one that they had at my job. All the coworkers came out and had a great time. To prove that I was not afraid of tasting Durian, I tried it in front of everyone and they were very pleased. Outside our offices were a few mango trees that I used to use a stick to pick out the ripe ones. I quickly became known for doing that and putting the unripened mangoes in a brown paper bag. How I made friends I'm by a nature an outgoing person so it wasn't hard for me to make friends. I also had the benefit of coming to the country with people I worked and were friends with from the United States, so it made it easy to hang out. However, I wanted to have some local friends as well. Singapore has a lot of programs that you can sign up for a cheap rate such as photography, dance, karate, learning a new language, and Microsoft Office Suite. Since, I was started to fall in love with photography I signed up for one of the photography courses which was taught by professional who was doing pro bono work at the time. Through that class I was able to meet people who had a common interest and were locals. My job had interns for a few weeks and I befriended a few of them. I checked out expat blogs, spoke to people who were going to the universities as exchange students, and I met people at hostels. During one my trips to the Bintan Islands in Indonesia with my co-workers from the states, we were able to meet some people from Canada that had lived in Singapore for a while, they introduced us to other people and we just kept expanding our circle. I remember my friends and I being at one of the expat bars in Singapore and I overheard someone say they were from Chicago and we all began chatting and since then we've been great friends. Another time, I was coming from the MRT or train station and I noticed someone wearing a Detroit hat and we began talking and becoming good friends till this day. The point I am trying to make is to go out there and be proactive about meeting new people. You will never know what you have in common with someone until you speak up and start a conversation. Just remember to be smart about it. Overall experience I had a life changing experience living in Singapore. I know you probably hear it all the time and at this point its become a cliché but living in Singapore was and still is a life changer. I was living and working in Singapore for six-months. In those six-months, I met a lot of people from all over the world. I've tried all sorts of food that I've never heard over before. My perception of Asia change, especially in my understanding of who or whom is considered Asian or what Asian's look like. When you get an opportunity such as this, you have to fully invest yourself in the culture and I did that. I hung out with the locals, went to the festivals, participated in events, took classes, and contributed to the overall society. I interacted with most of the people at my job and they appreciated that I came to their country with an open mind and was willing and able to try anything they recommended. Which in turn lead to more opportunities for me to interact with my coworkers in and out of work. They took me out to lunch, brought me to their homes, and taught me the language, and shared their lives with me. In return I did the same. The reason this travel blog exists is because of my wonderful experience in Singapore and other parts of Asia. I wanted to bring that message to anyone who was willing to read and listen. I wanted to give advice to people so they don't make the same errors as I did the transition to a new lifestyle. I came out of this experience as better person because of the experiences and the knowledge that I've gained. I made it a personal goal to visit a new country every year and to continue my newly found passion of traveling. As a result, I am currently pursuing a Master in Science in Tourism Management degree. I would love to go back and work and live in Asia and help other countries develop their tourism industry.
Have you ever used public during rush hour? Or seen a movie on opening night? Went to the bar with a few friends? By now you've probably figured out where I am going with this. I find it odd when I'm riding the train to see people standing even though there are plenty of seats available. Why is it so awkward to ask someone to move over? The question is simple enough. Is this seat taken? May I sit down?
I've always wondered why people would rather stand than ask someone to move over so they can sit down. There are plenty of seats on the train. I look around and I see a lot of empty seats. You figure someone would be bold enough to ask a fellow citizen to slide over, but I'm going to guess that 7 out of 10 times that doesn't happen. Even as I am riding the train to Huntington, the same people who were standing are still standing. But as soon as we stop at a major destination like Jamaica, seats clear and the people standing finally sit down. I for one am too tired to stand so I'll ask someone to move over.
These days most people are too busy playing with their cell phone to even notice what other people are doing on the train. With that being said, I still wonder why people don't ask fellow passengers to slide over. I don't want to put the blame on technology because this is something that existed prior to cell phones and tablets. When I was an undergrad in college, I remember lots of people signing up to take public speaking classes and I remember reading that public speaking was one of the biggest fears for most people. Could this be a reason that people don't ask strangers to slide over or ask if the seat is taken?
While riding the train, I decided to take a picture of what I am now calling "The Situation". As I took the picture, the person sitting next to me said ,"this train can't be that interesting." I replied, "I am going to blog about why people don't simply ask strangers to slide over so they can sit." We both laughed and he admitted that he was one of those people. He brought up an interesting point, the distance that someone has to travel can decide whether they will ask a passenger to sit down. Since I was going to Huntington, there was no way I was going to stand for over an hour, but if someone is traveling to Woodside from Penn Station, they might not mind standing for 5 minutes.
To all the people who would rather stand than ask someone to slide over, the trains are only going to get more crowded. The population is going to increase. More people will take the trains and other forms of public transportation. Don't be afraid to ask if the seat is taken. You never know who you will meet and what conversation you can have with the person sitting next to you. Sit down, be courteous, introduce yourself, and enjoy the ride. The person sitting next to you could one day save your life.