Posted by Krista on March 8, 2014
Here are some different things I did while in Singapore that you might enjoy too.
PS Cafe in Ann Saing Hill: My friend Josh took me up to the rooftop of this quaint colonial bar where they played classical music in the ladies’ loo and Singapore’s office buildings twinkled above us. I liked the vibe at this place. It felt intimate and romantic and old school and the rooftop deck was ace.
1 Altitude, Raffles Place, Boat Quay: I think Josh also has a thing for heights because he also took me here — the highest rooftop bar in Singapore — where we had very expensive drinks on the 63rd floor rooftop deck. (I took the photo at the top of this post from the the bar.) This place also had one of the best signs I saw during my time in Singapore. (Above.) Better not accidentally do anything, people!!! 1 Altitude is worth it for the view but the vibe is not my scene really. (A little too clubby for me.) And the wind! Yikes.
Manicurious, Beach Road: Total first world problem but I arrived in Singapore with the mankiest nails. Jordi recommended Manicurious to me and I was glad she did. I liked the vibe (cafe in front, nail salon in back) and the free wifi, although it did feel maybe a bit cluttered and surprisingly for Singapore, their English wasn’t the best. They did a great job on my hands and toes though.
Bath Culture Foot Therapy, Chinatown: While walking through Chinatown, I decided I needed a foot massage. A few Googles later and I realized I was standing 20 feet from a great one. A 20 minute rose footbath followed by a 40 minute foot massage, plus free wifi and a hot tea. I felt great afterwards. 50 Singapore Dollars for my 60 minutes. This place is maybe smaller than I expected, given the copious number of online reviews.
Chinese Heritage Center, Chinatown: This is a small museum that tells the story of Chinese immigrants in Singapore, particularly during the 1800s. Opium, sexually transmitted disease, love, loss and gambling. Sad but riveting. Worth dropping in because it is a super quick visit and you can get a foot massage after!
Gardens by The Bay: I’m not a huge nature person — you seen one tree, you’ve seen em all — but I couldn’t help but gasp when the doors to the Cloud Dome opened. A man-made waterfall! Beautiful. I skipped most of the Flower Dome but if you’re into flowers and nature and stuff, you should make a visit. People told me I’d need three hours here. I did it in like 15 minutes.
Singapore Walks: I under-estimated my jetlag and bought a three-tour package and then only went on one of them, a tour of Little India. This was a really enjoyable way to learn more about a little slice of Singapore. (I’ll post some pics soon, but those are some flower gardens being sold on the street above.) I wish I had done more of the Singapore Walks but I was more in “slow travel” mode.
So…those are some of my Singapore suggestions for now. I may update this post as I think of more things so stay tuned.
Posted by Krista on March 7, 2014
I want to say this all carefully, because this doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough that I think about it and thus want to mention it.
I am a woman. I fly on planes, and I probably fly more than many people (but less than some people). So the thing that annoys me is sometimes (and we’re talking 15 to 20% of the time) is that when I go to get in the priority boarding line, airline (or airport) employees will assume I am traveling with the man in front of me or the man behind me, particularly on international flights. I never see them ask men “Are you traveling together?” in regards to the woman in front of or behind them. And trust me, I watch and listen for this. Rather, they get to me and ask me if I’m with the guy that just passed through the boarding gate or the guy behind me. What does this mean? (And if I answered “Yes” what would happen?”)
My interpretation after many instances with this (the latest the other day when boarding my flight to Singapore in Hong Kong) is that the industry don’t see women business travelers that often. (Which also annoys me to no end, but that’s a subject for another post.) Two years ago, when boarding a flight from Tel Aviv to Newark, I was in the priority boarding line and when I got up to the gate, the gate agent actually tried to send me to the back of the queue. “This line is for priority passengers only,” she said, before even looking at my boarding pass. I said nothing and stared at her while I passed her my boarding card. “Oh, you’re a gold member. Please, this way…” (I’ve ruled out dress as an issue. I’m dressed no differently than my fellow passengers, and I will generally even dress better if I’m flying at the front of the plane. That being said, I do look like I’m younger than I am which you think would be great but!!!)
What’s supremely awkward is what happens when you get on the plane. Particularly if I’m sitting in business class, more than once, a flight attendant has asked me if I’m “together” with the man seated next to me. (Calculate the ratio of women to men in business on your next flight and you’ll get it.) Sometimes, these men are old enough to be my father!!! What does that say about the world? And again, if I say “Yes,” what happens?? Is there some special dinner option for two? Special chair functions I don’t know about? Permission to use the bathroom together? WHAT??
Not complaining, really. Just observing. And I’m sure at the end of the day, airline staff are just trying to be nice. But be conscious of it next time and share your stories with me because I am trying to determine if it’s all in my head or if I’m being singled out for some reason.
Posted by Krista on March 5, 2014
1. They really like crab. A lot. I mean a lot, a lot. I never realized how much I didn’t like crab until I was invited to eat it everyday for four days straight.
2. I expected everything to be spotlessly clean. It’s not. Maybe there’s not a lot of garbage around but things are dirty.
3. There are no homeless people. Or if there are, they are hidden very, very well.
4. It’s super-diverse. It reminds me of Dubai in that way. All colors, all languages, all religions. Taxi drivers routinely speak English, Chinese — all of Cantonese, Mandarin and Hokkien — and Malay.
5. The little kids speak English like Americans/Canadians. (I’ve seen a ton of school groups out and about, all in super-cute uniforms, chattering away.)
6. It’s EXPENSIVE. Taxis are cheap, and the tap water is drinkable. Hawker markets are cheap. But booze and everything else you need is PRICEY.
7. It’s HOT. Yesterday, the thermometer at the pool read 36 celsius. That’s really hot. Really. Although it’s also been cloudy, so there’s some mercy. (But there’s also been a huge drought, which is bad news.)
8. There are A LOT of container ships around in the water. Singapore has to import practically everything it needs, so this makes sense, I suppose.
9. The kids are carrying around really huge cell phones, many with book- cover like cases. Also, on the train, I see more people with iPads out than I do in Chicago.
10. Did I mention they like crab?
(Added after original posting…)
11. There are many hookers.
12. It is nigh impossible to get a taxi between 4 pm and 6 pm because many taxi drivers change shifts. You will see people standing on street corners everywhere, valiantly struggling to hail a cab. This seems like a gap in the market just waiting to be filled!
13. Every taxi driver (and I had many) knew that The Economist had just crowned Singapore the most expensive city in the world.
Posted by Krista on March 4, 2014
I am suffering from heavy jetlag. I hate it. I slept from 10:30 pm to 2:30 am last night and, thanks to a little boost from my friend Advil PM, I made it from 10:30 pm to 3:45 am this past night. (I can’t call this last night because it is indeed still THIS night. It’s 5 am as I write this. I’ve given up on sleep and have turned on my laptop.)
If you have a jetlag cure or tip, I am all ears!
I called yesterday “logistics and operations day.” After having a big day in Singapore on Monday, Tuesday was the day to get organized, to exercise, to acclimate and to get things done. Ah, and to say hi to my work colleagues in Singapore and also attempt a food tour. (“Attempt” being the operative word.)
This means I didn’t leave the hotel until 5:30 pm. Don’t judge! Plus, I got my taxes done! Also, I’m on vacation and trying to relax, read books, exercise and not over-schedule myself. It helps that my hotel is one of those cities within itself. I really don’t have to leave unless I want to be a tourist.
After having a quick drink with my local colleagues at a Belgian beer bar — of all places — in Far East Square, I headed over for my food tour, where I proceeded to fall asleep more than once at the table. You can’t take me anywhere. Indeed, I’m about to fall asleep on you now…sorry, back to bed I go. Wish me luck.
Up above is a statue I saw outside a temple we passed during my food tour last night. It was very beautiful.
Posted by Krista on March 3, 2014
It takes me a while to relax. Especially when traveling. It really won’t be until Day 3 that I will enter the “oasis of calm” and be able to go with the flow and forget about all the work waiting for me back in Chicago and elsewhere. I do this to myself, really. I make this huge list of things I haven’t had a chance to do and I convince myself that surely I’ll be able to take care of these items during the first few days of my vacation. You know…I’ll make time to do my taxes and then I’ll make time to spend an hour on the phone with Comcast, my cable company, explaining to them for the umpteenth time that I RETURNED THEIR STUPID EQUIPMENT IN NOVEMBER SO PLEASE STOP STALKING ME.
Right. Time for some Char Kway Teow from room service. I was hoping my hotel would have it! And they did. Happy dance. I don’t know what’s in this stuff, but I love it. It was especially good at 4 am while I was wide awake with jet lag. I had arrived at the hotel around 2:30 am.
After finishing Book #1 and then doing some puttering around — I call this “picking things up and putting things down” — it was time to get out of the hotel. I like things on water, so I took a “bumboat” ride (har har) and nearly lost my char kway teow with a sudden onslaught of jet lag combined with motion sickness. Sometimes it can take me 48 hours to share the feeling of being on a plane. Ugh. Singapore is cute though, isn’t it?
Cocktail time. Even though Anthony Bourdain kept saying in The Layaway Singapore to skip Singapore Slings at The Long Bar at The Raffles Hotel, I did it anyhow. And you know what? I loved it. Cool old colonial vibe, even if it is overrun with tourists.
Next, back to the hotel for nap time. Ah, and Book #2 time.
And then it was time to eat again. Chili crab at the “No Signboard Seafood” restaurant in Esplanade with my old friends, Sherry, Roman and Avi. I confirmed that I don’t really like crab. Also, I nearly fell asleep at the table. And despite an invite to see “Four Floors of Whores” for myself, (the band on the 2nd floor is supposed to be great) I went back to the hotel and straight into bed. “You should come out with us, Krista,” they said. “You know you’re going to be wide awake at 2:30 in the morning.”
They were exactly right.
Posted by Krista on March 2, 2014
I know. You don’t feel sorry for me. But here is the problem with flying first class. YOU SLEEP TOO MUCH. During my 15 hour flight from Chicago to Hong Kong, I slept about eight hours and then I was in a trancelike state for four hours and then I spent like three hours eating. 90 minutes on the dinner service at least (I was multi-tasking and watching the Saudi movie about the girl that wants the bicycle–I’d recommend it), and then 30 minutes on a noodle intermission mid-flight, and then an hour on breakfast (a surprisingly tasty congee with mushrooms) while I watched an episode of Law & Order SVU. (I must have missed something because Detective Stabler was MIA.)
That’s my tempura prawn and dumpling starter. I liked the Asian twist on all the menu options.
So now I’m in Hong Kong airport. I have no idea what day or time it is and I have a bad feeling that I’ve either already lost something or I’m about to. So I’m trying to stay in one place and not move around much. The lounge makes it easy because the serving station is full of dumplings and satay and tempura and it’s soothingly quiet and calm here. Sadly, I have to leave in 30 minutes.
Posted by Krista on March 1, 2014
I’m on a plane! To Singapore. Well, Hong Kong really. And then onwards to Singapore. I cashed in a gazillion miles and I’m flying FIRST CLASS. If you’re going to fly 22.5 hours…well, I could do it so I did it. Trust me, most of the time, I’m at the back of the plane. So this is a big deal for me. I’m taking a break…a three-week break, unusual in the American working world. So I wanted to start things in style.
Before my flight, I ate some smoked salmon in the Global First lounge (okay, maybe three servings of smoked salmon) and I drank all the champers. The United Global First lounge in Chicago has been recently renovated, and now it is a sea of beige. The huge bronze sculpture that used to be the focal point of the lounge is gone and the staff don’t know where to. My workplace has the same chairs as the lounge, which is alarming me for some reason. I also drank a lot of water in the lounge because hydration is key and I’ve got a lot of hours in front of me. So now I am getting on a silver tube that will fly through the sky for 14.5 hours. Crazy.
Posted by Krista on January 2, 2014
Everyone’s been telling me “You should watch that new show, The Getaway. Anthony Bourdain has something to do with it. They just did a London episode. Quincy Jones’ daughter is in it. You’ll love it. She goes to some cool places.” And I did love The Getaway, London. Rashida Jones has excellent taste. (Although you know how I feel about The Dean Street Townhouse now.) Here’s a clip of her at one of my old locals, 69 Colebrooke Row. Bryan and Stacey, if you’re reading this, I miss you. xoxo.
Oh and by the way, I did get away to London recently. I have some stuff to report. Eventually.
Posted by Krista on January 1, 2014
I watched this Bette Davis movie over the holidays and it was so very charming. Bette Davis is luminous in it. Lovely. Her eyes really do shimmer — and this is from 1942, before all those special effects and filters and crazy lenses and gazillion cameras. Now, Voyager is the way movies were meant to be, although I really could do without the soundtrack after a while.
And although I read something snippy the other day about my homeslice Walt Whitman (Long Island, New York, my people), I’d still like to quote him here:
The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted, Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.
Happy 2014, my friends. Sail forth, to seek and to find.
Posted by Krista on September 21, 2013
Some people like to sit on their couch and watch sports in their spare time. Me, I like to thumb through travel booking sites. All of the travel booking sites. Imagining my next trip. I like to see what the same hotel will cost me on different sites, and if there’s an advantage to booking on one site over another. (Even when I’m not going anywhere.) This was made particularly clear during our trip to Bogota, where Ms. Roam & Home scored us a great discount at the B.O.G. Hotel on Splendia, a new site for me.
If you’re a travel aficionado, I’m probably not going to be telling you anything new. But maybe you don’t know about all these sites. If so, I consider it my duty to tell you. Also, you should really join these sites just for the welcome booking bonuses and referral credits alone.
LuxuryLink.com: $50 credit on your first purchase! Now that’s awesome. I like the global selection of hotels and villas and also the tidy arrangement of what’s on sale (newest, best selling, closing soon, highest percent off retail). Also, they have a selection of vacation packages that are available by auction or “Buy it Now” prices. For example, there’s a great deal at the Miraflores Park Hotel in Lima for two nights for $717 USD. Breakfast for two and massages for two are included in the rate. Visit LuxuryLink.com and search for Miraflores Park Hotel for more info. LuxuryLink.com also includes forums blogs, and live chats too. 17 hotels in London, to give you an indication. Register for LuxuryLink.com now.
Splendia.com: For every friend you invite, you receive a 20 euro credit. Splendia says they offer 3000 luxury hotels worldwide and I just checked out the London selection and it is pretty impressive. (48 hotels as of this writing.) I like the “Splendia Club” aspect which gives you 2% of the total amount paid for a booking as a credit on future bookings. (If you become a Gold member, you’ll get 4%.) My Bogota trip earned me $16.02 for use on a future booking, but you need at least 20 euros to get started using your credits. The site offers a small number of private sales each day. Register for Splendia.com now.
TabletHotels.com. Earn 25 Tablet Credits per reservation and earn 25 credits when your friends book. A Tablet Credit seems to be equivalent to $1 USD but that’s not entirely clear to me just yet. They have 55 London hotels on their list. I like how if a hotel’s ratings fall below 16 points, they take the hotel off their list. They have a small selection of private sales (there are two active right now), along with a general section of deals. They have travel guides written by hotel concierges, a magazine, and a cool membership program called “Tablet Plus.” With Tablet Plus, you pay $195 a year and that gives you access to upgrades, special perks, and bonus amenities. Register for TabletHotels.com now.
JetSetter.com: You’ll earn a $25 credit for every friend you refer who makes a booking. They offer 34 London hotels. There are daily deals, which I think is one of the main attractions of JetSetter.com. I love to live vicariously through the daily deals. Also, there are editors’ picks and a magazine. You can also pay $250 for a travel consultant who will help you plan your next trip, which is a neat feature. When checking out the different hotels on offer, it looks like JetSetter sometimes arranges a few perks with different rooms. For example, at The Royalton in New York, the Jetsetter rate for deluxe rooms also includes a 2 p.m. late checkout, and for Loft Suite Kings and Alcove suites, the Jetsetter rate also includes two free signature cocktails per stay. Register for JetSetter.com now.
I did a little price comparison of deals from the four sites over here on a Google doc. I was looking at the Miraflores Lima Hotel because all four sites offered it. One of the main differences I found between the sites is whether they offered rooms with cancellation penalties or not. You can see that in the pricing. (I took the best available price from each site, regardless of cancellation penalty.) Hard to say who comes out on top after you factor in things like Splendia’s membership credits and things like TabletPlus from TabletHotels.com. Also, LuxuryLink had a GREAT package deal if you were up for the Junior Suite option. Lots to think about…
Posted by Krista on September 19, 2013
We (@roamandhome and @cbobfoto and me) set ourselves an Instagram challenge in Bogota. Maybe you already know this. If not, hop on over to Instagram and check out our #bogotaisariot hash tag. (Because Bogota was a-rioting while we were there.) Too lazy? Here are some of my snaps…
Posted by Krista on September 18, 2013
I went to Dillman’s for lunch the other day. It is all dark and cozy with chandeliers. My server said “for sure, for sure” a lot. It was distracting. Also distracting? The rose was listed under “Whites” on the wine list. Less distracting? The chicken liver and lovely toasty warm brioche. A very generous, tasty and satisfying portion at $9.95.
Best part? COWSHED PRODUCTS in the bathroom. SOHO HOUSE CHICAGO, I am coming for you.
The Verdict: Go for the chandeliers! And wash your hands with all the Cowshed! Have the chicken liver with ALL the toast. For sure.