Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Singapore Pictures

I loved Singapore. Friendly people, modern city, cleanest place I have ever been (puts Japan to shame), easy public transportation, and everyone speaks English. I will look forward to going back some day.

Map of Singapore

Map of Singapore

Wash and Blow, 3 bucks in Singapore

A tourist pass that might save you money if you're interested.

A bum by the Hawker Center in Chinatown. Housing is subsidized and certain quotas are maintained by the government of ethnic groups in neighborhoods (i think....). Housing is of course in high demand, and this guy rents his home and saves all the money in the bank by being a real vagabond. It's fairly shameful, but you can't stop him.

St Andrew's Cathedral.

Challenger - kinda like the Best Buy in Singapore. Singaporeans need to buy membership to get discounted prices, but they will give foreigners the discounted price without signing up. They generally don't accept returns, but I had to return something and was persistent about it. I think they finally honored it cuz I'm an foreigner.

No durians. I was not brave enough to try a durian.

Christmas time in Singapore.

Backpackers.... holy crap that's a lot of gear to lug around. Don't be them, travel light.

Funny Ikea Commercial

Old ladies selling stuff

Clean Sparkling Toilets!

Fake watches... Chinatown of course

Ok.... my last country on this trip will be next in my next post: On to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia via first class train.

Some More Singapore Food

This post just has some random food I got on my last night in Singapore... I mainly indulged myself with those pot stickers.

Man... I'm totally hungry for them right now! Without further adieu, proof I am a fatass...

Making my pot stickers.

pot stickers.... one of my many weaknesses

Some peanut snack.

Yeah man, I'm such a fatass, Pot stickers, two dishes of Xiao Long Bao, and a strawberry fruit smoothie. Do you see the two chopsticks? Yeah.... they thought this was for two people. Nope, just for me!

Another strawberry fruit smoothie.... jealous?

Fried seafood on a stick.

Ice Cream and Waffles at the Mall.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Singapore: Fort Canning Park

Yes yes, it's been over a year and I still haven't caught up on my blog? Shameful..... well I'm still trying.

On my last full day in Singapore I went to visit the Fort Canning Park. It is here where the British lost Singapore to the Japanese in World War 2 on Feb 15, 1942. The fort is a nice peaceful park area where you can escape the hustle, bustle, and noise of the rest of Singapore. You can visit the Battle Box, the British base of operations during WW2, take different walks which explore Singapore's history and archeology, or read about the vegetation on the signs posted along the paths.

The Battle Box Brochure.

Battle Box Map

Stairs up to the fort.

Fort Canning Park Map.

Raffles Terrace.

South Battery Cannon.

14th Century Walk - one of the informative walks at Fort Canning Park, I took this walk.

Map of the 14th Century Walk.

I think this was the Fort Gate... but I can't remember.

View of the city from the park.


A sally port at the Battle Box.. the command center for the British in Singapore.

Battle Box Entrance.

I walked in and was greeted with this sad looking manikin of a british solider.

Walk past that manikin down those stairs and you can tour it... only it was closed when I got there. Drat.

Tickets to the Battle Box can be bought here.



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Haggling while Traveling 101

While I was abroad traveling in Asia I went to many open air markets like the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok. You're gonna have to do some haggling whether you like it or not, unless you don't mind getting ripped off. Prices are often marked much higher than the merchant is willing to sell it for. Here are some tips I learned. I don't remember where I learned them all from, probably from reading websites, books, talking to other travelers, and just being there to experience it all myself.

1. Do not haggle on prices for food. This is not acceptable.

2. Put your money in different pockets. Split it up, you'll see why later.

3. Scout the market out. I like to walk around the market first and check out the prices. If there's something I want I try to keep an eye out for it and note the price everywhere I see it. If you need to, find a safe place (nobody looking) and move the amount of money in your pockets so that 1 pocket has the amount you want to pay. Put some more in another pocket just in case.

4. After you have an idea for the price find a merchant you want to buy it from.

5. You don't have to be nice, but that doesn't mean you have to be a jerk. Start low, so if you wish to pay 50% of the listed price start at 25% or 30%.

6. Always smile while negotiating price. You can politely point out things that are wrong with it and say it's not worth that much -- WITH A SMILE. Most of what I've read from hippies say don't do that because the merchant will lose face. I say hogwash, I've never seen one care -- they just want your money and they know they'll never see you again.

7. Invariably you will probably lose this battle of haggling. They do this everyday, and you are used to going to the Mall and just buying at the window price.

8. Ok this is where the real trick starts. Remember the money you put in different pockets? This is where it comes in. If the merchant isn't going for your price put your hand in your pocket and pull out your money. Hold it tight and wave it in front of them and say the amount and "I buy". For example, "30 baht, I buy!". Often seeing the money makes their eyes open wide and they'll go for it. Congrats, you have successfully haggled for something. If they're still not going for it, then you have a stingy merchant or you are just too cheap. Move on to another merchant and try your luck again.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Aki Ra Clears Cambodian Landminds by Hand

Three decades of war in Cambodia left many landmines all over the country. These landmines were scattered throughout the country side by the Khmer Rouge, the Heng Samrin and Hun Sen regimes, the Vietnamese, the KPNLF, and the Sihanoukists. Unfortunately many of these landmines were undocumented, and as a consequence upwards of 40,000 Cambodians have been victims of landmine blasts from 1979 through the present.

I loved my time in Cambodia, though I only visited Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor. The people were so friendly and the Temples were amazing. Cambodia is a dangerous place to visit though, you must always stick to the path because of active undocumented landmines still out there.

This video I randomly found shows a man named Aki Ra, a former child solider in the Khmer Rouge's army, finding and disarming landmines with nothing more than a stick and knife. This is a truly courageous act, but it doesn't just stop there. Apparently Aki also houses and pays for the schooling of children that were victims of landmines.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tips and Tricks: Free E-Books

If you like reading you can get free e-books at Project Gutenberg. These are books with expired copyrights so they are free to download and print. Since their copyright are all expired most of these books are old classics. Having books to read can be a great way to pass the time while traveling between places. Load the e-books in your latop, smartphone, or just print it out and toss it when you're done.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Singapore Day 4: Just wandering around now

Having finished off the temples fairly quickly I decided just to spend the day wandering about. I came across the Chinatown Heritage Center and decided to check it out. No photos were allowed so no pictures. I met a girl from the Philippines who had gotten a free ticket or something. I don't understand why but she was afraid to go in by herself and asked me to go with her. It turns out she was a java programmer and so I talked a little bit about her job, just out of curiosity. It's not so clear to me anymore but I think whatever she was working on used J2EE... yikes. Why anyone would still want to use that overly complicated architecture and technology is beyond me when there are other lightweight ways to do the same thing... but I'm getting off topic here.
The Chinatown Heritage Center was ok if you've got nothing to do. It told the story of the Chinese immigrants that came to Singapore and what their living conditions were like. I'll let you guess.... yep, not so good. I think I probably had the most fun checking out their replica toilets from the old days. It was about the size of a portapotty but made of..... concrete or stone... something heavy. Anyway you stood on a platform about 2-3 feet above the ground and there was a hole under you. I don't think you're supposed to touch it, but since nobody was around I jumped up on it and squatted just for fun. No photos for you... too bad! Maybe I didn't really do it then!

A random sign I saw while walking around... I did not get any since I already had crocodile in Cambodia.

After this it was off the Esplanade again. There was some fair going on, maybe a motorcycle trade show or something so I got to snap a few pictures of import models. There wasn't much to do there, and I think I ended up eating Popeyes of all places because it was right there and I was lazy, hungry, and tired.

The Ferris Wheel at the Esplanade. It's quite expensive and I think it takes 30 minutes to go around once.

Some fair was going on, I got there just as it was ending.

Import models.
Import Models

Tired I returned back to the hostel only to find the most interesting thing I saw in Singapore. A bunch of Chinese people line dancing in front the of the Chinatown Complex in Chinatown. Yes, Line Dancing... to country music. They were really into it, and I guess they do it once a month. Quite a spectacle. Enjoy the footage.