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Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
A trip around the world has always been on my bucket list. I still can’t believe that Jeff and I finally did it. We’ve just returned home to our sunny island home of Phuket, Thailand and finally have a moment to look back on our amazing journey around the world.
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Before we started this trip, I knew that we wouldn’t have the space in our luggage for souvenirs as we were going to nearly 30 different countries. Even though we have been told we packed light, I can assure you that our bags were anything but light. This inspired me to think a little outside the box for souvenir ideas.
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My favorite part about traveling is looking back on my photos long after the trip. It is a great way to put you right back to where you were and bring back memories you had long forgotten about. I wanted to do something fun and different with my photos. So I thought, “Why not bring a chalkboard?” I decided to have a photo taken of myself  holding a chalkboard with the name of the country I was in. I wanted a way to visually see each country while having a reminder of myself in that place during that time. Even if I may have been up all night, had not showered in days or was only in a country for a few hours, I wanted to remember all of it.
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Now, 28 images later, I have a fun collection of pictures that for me, sums up our 159 day, 32,281 mile trip around the world!
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
CANADA:
Even though Canada isn’t too far from my home county, it was still really exciting to go visit! Two days in Vancouver and I was in love! Canada is a great country and Vancouver is a beautiful city!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ENGLAND:
Since we only had two rainy days in London, and as it was my first time to England I knew I wanted the cliché photo with a red phone booth!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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BELGIUM:
Brussels was a beautiful city and I was surprised at how modern of a city it was. We had one of our favorite meals of the entire trip in Brussels, an absolutely amazing beef stew. This photo was taken at the bus station before we boarded to Amsterdam.
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Chalkboard around the world
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ISRAEL:
With so much history in Israel, I had a hard time deciding where would be best to take a photo here. While we were driving with a guide through the desert we went to this cliff where you could see a beautiful monastery in the hillside. I thought that this would be a great reflection of this historical importance of Israel.

 

Chalkboard around the world
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IRELAND:
Green! I knew I wanted this photo to be green, but I struck it rich when we just happened to get some sunshine since it was gloomy and raining during most of our stay. Ireland may have been our first stop, but it was also one of our favorites. Read our “Complete Guide to Ireland” for our best recommendations!
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Chalkboard around the world

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MOROCCO:
Oh Morocco! We were here for just a few hours while stopping during a cruise we took early in the year. I had always imaged Morocco as a colorful place, however Casablanca was not what I imaged. This is at the Hassan II Mosque which is the 7th largest mosque in the world.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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AUSTRIA:
Innsbruck, Austria is a beautiful little ski town nestled in the mountains. We were lucky enough to stay with some wonderful friends here for 2 weeks!
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Chalkboard around the world

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SPAIN:
We were lucky enough to be in Barcelona on my birthday in January! Once again, this was a quick stop during our cruise so I can’t wait to get back to explore more!
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Chalkboard around the world

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CZECH REPUBLIC:
We met some great friends in Prague and had an amazing time exploring this beautiful old city. While Europe has some of the best beer in the world, I’d bet most of it can be found in Prague, and at a cheap price too!
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Chalkboard around the world

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EGYPT:
Egypt just may have been my favorite place on this trip! Not only did I fulfill a childhood dream of visiting the pyramids, but we also got to spend great time with some new friends!
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Chalkboard around the world

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HUNGARY:
Budapest is one of the most enchanting cities in Europe. It is a great city where history meets a modern twist. I would live here in a heartbeat! This was the first time we have used AirBNB and found ourselves in this old apartment complex trying to find which apartment was ours!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:
Even though we spent most of our time in Dubai, we were still able to get out and see the beautiful desert! Jeff and I were both really impressed with Dubai and can’t wait to get back to explore more.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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ESTONIA:
Tallinn, Estonia is a quant little old city and has so much culture and lots to see. We were only here for one night but enjoyed walking around the old town watching the snow fall.
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Chalkboard around the world

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FINLAND:
Finland is also on the top of my favorite places we’ve been to this year! Helsinki is a great design oriented town that is hip and embraces its rich history, although I had to take this photo while up in Lapland exploring the arctic circle and seeing snow fall for the first time in my life!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ITALY:
We went to many places in Italy, but it was in Venice during Carnival that I wanted to take this photo. Carnival was such a unique and beautiful way to explore all that Venice has to offer.
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Chalkboard around the world
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NORTHERN IRELAND:
While in Dublin, we decided why not take the 3 hour drive with some friends up to Northern Ireland to see the Giant’s Causeway and while we got there right after sunset we were able to catch some light for this photo!
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Chalkboard around the world
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GERMANY:
Germany has always been on the top of my list of places to visit in Europe and this year it finally happened! Although we only had 2 days in Berlin, it was great to learn more about Germany’s vast history and how the city has transformed to a modern city with tons of artistic expression.
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Chalkboard around the world
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HOLLAND:
I didn’t know if I should write Holland or The Netherlands but in the end it didn’t matter since we had such a great time in Amsterdam exploring the canals!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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PORTUGAL:
This photo is in Lisbon near the port while it was pouring rain. We had to be quick since the rain just kept washing the chalk off the board, but it made for a fun experience!
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Chalkboard around the world

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TURKEY:
Although Istanbul has so much history and culture, it was this pop of color while walking around that caught my eye. I wanted to show a different side to such an old city.
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Chalkboard around the world

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SWEDEN:
Since we spent an entire night at the airport in Stockholm we though it would be fun to take photos in the nearly abandoned airport at 2 in the morning.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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VATICAN:
The Vatican is such a beautiful place and it was very surreal to see all the paintings and murals in the museum, but it was here that meant the most to me. It really is amazing to stand here and thing about all the people that come here to see the pope.
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Chalkboard around the world

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MALDIVES:
Holy blue ocean! The Maldives are such a beautiful place. There are 1,190 different islands so it is hard to pick just one. We stayed in Maafushi which is a local island, but as you can see we still had a resort like beach to spend our time.
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Chalkboard around the world
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FRANCE:
Paris is a place that every girl longs to go to at least once in her life and I was no exception, I absolutely fell in love with Paris. We had an amazing 5 days here with a good friend who was kind enough to show us around this memorizing city. I can’t wait to get back and eat some more macaroons!

Chalkboard around the world

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SINGAPORE:
While it was not my first time in Singapore, it was great to be back and see how much this city has grown. Singapore is a beautiful city which great people and beautiful architecture.
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Thailand
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THAILAND:
Phuket will always be a second home to me and it is where we began and ended our around the world trip. Living here has really opened my eyes and taking this photo was really important. This photo was taken in a little lagoon in Koh Phi Phi Ley near where the majestic beach from the movie The Beach was filmed. You can see another hidden beach in the background that we could swim to. Taking a long tail boat out to this preserved island and spending the day snorkeling and soaking up the sun is my favorite thing to do in Thailand.
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MEXICO:
Growing up, my family always spent at least once if not twice a year in Mexico. This year I was fortunate enough to get the change to travel to a new place in Baja called Loreto. It is a great little fishing town located right on the Sea of Cortez.
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SRI LANKA:
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation located just southeast of India and visiting was a great treat for me. There are many elephants, beautiful landscapes and beaches. If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful country, take it!
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Bio Photo Marina 150x150 My First Time: Taking a Cruise Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

Is Singapore the Next Great Music City?

Is Singapore the Next Great Music City?
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Having lived in Thailand for much of the last two years, Marina and I were lucky enough to get to Singapore a couple different times recently and have absolutely loved it each time. Singapore is an amazing city, and very unique in South East Asia. The laid-back island life of Phuket was wonderful but it was equally nice to know that a major city such as Singapore is just right around the corner. While many major music acts come to Asia, we found it hard to find any known acts play in Phuket, aside from the cover bands!

Singapore will show itself in the best light once again for the hosting the well-known Taiwanese singer, actor, and composer, Jay Chou. He is now standing tall right next to the greatest international singers and he has become a model for the contemporary Asian music. His success comes from a fusion between Rock, R&B and Pop he has developed throughout his career in music. This singer is 34 years old and he has already recorder 12 LP over the more than 15 years he has been on stage. While we might not have heard of him, he is huge in the Asian world as Singapore is quickly becoming a major music destination not only in Asia but in the world. Buy tickets to his December 27th show in Singapore as he is not to be missed!

While cities like Dubai are able to attract major acts like Lady Gaga and Eminem once or twice a year, major musicians are looking for other cities in Asia to perform in and Singapore is quickly becoming a popular destination. With all of the amazing food options (seriously, they are endless) and entertainment options (check out Santoosa Island for a good time) and the endless shopping malls, Singapore provides an ultra modern city just a short flight from some of the most cultural little villages in all of Asia.

Some of the most amazing hotels in the entire world are in Singapore and we have absolutely loved staying at the Four Seasons Singapore and the world famous Marina Bay Sands, which shouldn’t be missed even if you aren’t staying there. We have written many posts about why we love Singapore and always enjoy our time there, but are quickly realizing it will also be a popular place for us to catch good music for years to come!

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Marina Bay Sands Media Center

Hotel Review: Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

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Simply put, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore is one of the most impressive hotels in the entire world. Opened in 2010, the hotel has welcomed over 100 million visitors and has a staggering 2,561 rooms and one of the most iconic and recognizable designs of any structure on Earth. Built on the water in the center of Singapore, the iconic structure towers over some of the most prime shopping real estate you can find in Asia and offers visitors a once in a lifetime experience.

The world famous Sands SkyPark is the highest swimming pool in the entire world perched 51 floors above the three iconic towers of the hotel. Comprising an area longer than the Eiffel Tower is high, the Sands SkyPark is only open to hotel guests, which keeps it exclusive and special for those who choose to stay there. However, since the hotel is such a popular destination for travelers from all over the world, there is an observation deck that anyone can visit for a price. One of the most memorable views in the world, you have most likely seen a picture from the Sands SkyPark at some point and dreamed about where in the world it was taken.

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Marina Bay Sands Media Center

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With the insane amount of rooms, the three towers offer different room layouts for every traveler including the most impressive hotel suites we have ever seen in the world, complete with home theaters, grand pianos, private kitchens and massage rooms that would make any luxury apartment pale in comparison.

The hotel contains some of the most impressive works of modern art in the world with huge installations in the entrance of hotel and beneath the different towers throughout the ground floor. The modern feel of the hotel extends itself into the rooms which feature classy furniture, comfortable design elements and amazing views over the city.

The Marina Bay Sands also boasts one of the most beautiful fitness centers in the world, high up in the tower just below the Sands SkyPark, the gym offers unbelievable views of Singapore, leaving those working out feeling as though they are truly floating in the sky. Attached to the gym is their amazing Banyan Tree Spa for those looking to take their relaxation to the next level.

The real intrigue of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is the fact that absolutely anything you could imagine is probably available or attached to the hotel. The largest mall in Singapore is located right attached to the hotel, complete with the best high fashion stores in the world, a fully functioning river with Gondola rides and even an ice skating rink – with artificial ice, how crazy is that? The substance is just link skating on ice without the freezing temperatures.

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Marina Bay Sands Media Center

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What hotel would be complete without one of the most impressive casino’s in all of Asia? Just take a walk downstairs and visit the amazing casino which is simply another part of the Marina Bay Sands experience. While Singapore is very regulated, clean and has many laws, follow the rules and you will insure an amazing time.

If the casino and shopping mall isn’t your style, then you need to check out the amazing ArtScience Museum right outside of the mall which offers some amazing exhibits all year around. When we visited they were just opening a new dinosaur exhibit as well as a paired world class photography exhibit. Even the outside of the building is a complete work of art which stands out easily from an vantage point around the area.

Easily one of the most iconic structures on Earth, no visit to Singapore is complete without at least a visit to the world famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Make sure to take the time and explore the grounds, the shopping mall, the Sands SkyPark and surrounding areas. Sometimes you just need to let loose, book a fancy hotel and be treating like a king for a day, something a night at the Marina Bay Sands will do with flying colors.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Hotel Review: Four Seasons Singapore

Hotel Review: Four Seasons Singapore

Singapore is one of the most unique and fascinating cities in the entire world. If you are ever traveling through South East Asia and find yourself anywhere close to the city, you really cannot miss a visit. Chances are you will be in nearby Thailand or Malaysia, but very close geographically although they could not be more different culturally and socially. Singapore is a gigantic city with gorgeous skyscrapers, speeding trains and shining, magnificent hotels.

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“Walking through the lobby and main areas it is easy to forget you are in a hotel at all and not a beautiful mideival castle, a strange feeling knowing you are in the middle of a bustling city…”

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We sadly only had 1 night on this trip but spent it wisely at the Four Seasons Singapore, just about as good as you can get in hotel accommodation and we were not disappointed. Four Seasons has long been world renowned as one of the best luxury chains in the world but they don’t settle for just having the reputation of the best, the continue to boldly march into the future, a trend we were frankly surprised to see from such an old school luxury hotel chain, a fact that made us very happy.

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Hotel Review: Four Seasons Singapore

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Free wifi is available to every guest, and extra fast wifi available for an extra charge. We are still surprised at all the luxury hotels which charge for internet, and while the Four Seasons Singapore only offers each rooms complimentary access for two devices, we applaud them for offering a free option to all their guests, a service others in their class still charge for.

Hotel Review: Four Seasons SingaporeWalking through the lobby and main areas, it is easy to forget you are in a hotel at all and not a beautiful mideival castle, a strange feeling knowing you are in the middle of a bustling city, a feat they have somehow pulled off with rare Asian artifacts adorning the walls and an impressive Titanic-esque staircase, leading to the second floor which houses and unbelievably impressive and somewhat hidden feeling Chinese restaurant as well as their conference rooms, and one floor further up an equally impressive indoor lounge and gym and access to one of their two pools.

Back to the ground floor, both their signature restaurant, One-Ninety: Wood Fired Steaks and Seafood and their world famous bar, One-Ninety Bar by Javier de las Muelas are tucked into the layout while remaining inviting yet private at the same time. The restaurant serves up some absolutely delicious steaks and burgers, which we both devoured but the real surprise came at the restaurants breakfast, easily the most complete and stunning spread we have ever seen. With entire sections for different cuisines, different hot and cold areas there was simply nothing you could want for, something rare in a hotel breakfast.

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The One Ninety bar is really more than a bar, its an experience. Carefully and thoughtfully crafted Javier de las Muelas has designed the experience of the bar all around the Dry Martini and the experience of having one made expertly in front of you, it really is a unique and stunning bar experience.

Located close to the airport and walking distance to the Orchid metro stop, the location of Four Seasons Singapore is surprisingly secluded and convenient in the midst of one of Asia’s most impressive cities, and all while maintaining the quality, luxury and expectations you would expect from a Four Seasons hotel, while providing the modern touches you can’t live you life without these days.

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Hotel Review: Four Seasons Singapore

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

3 Ways to make Singapore an affordable travel destination

3 Ways to make Singapore an affordable travel destination

 

3 Ways to make Singapore an affordable travel destination3 Ways to make Singapore an affordable travel destinationAccording to the latest research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2014 Worldwide Cost of Living, Singapore has been named the most expensive travel destination in the world. That is certainly a bad news for budget travellers, however there are still few things you can do to make it affordable and yet enjoyable.

Once you come here, you will quickly realize that travelling in Singapore on the cheap is not that easy. It is, in fact, expensive in terms of accommodation and sightseeing, but as they say “Impossible is nothing” and I’m going to show you how to stay in Singapore on a very tight budget still having a lot of fun.

 

Current currency in Singapore

1.00 USD = 1.27 SGD

25.00 USD = 31.73 SGD

 

 

#1 Dine out in Hawker Centres.

 

The food in Singapore can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. There are plenty of posh and fancy restaurants with local and Western food you should definitely avoid when travelling on the cheap. Most of travellers head straight to Hawker Centres to eat well without spending much money. What the heck is Hawker Centre and where can I find it? You might ask. Based on Beginner’s Guide to the Singapore Hawker Centre, it is an open-air complex housing many stalls that sell a great variety of dishes – from Malaysian, Indian to Chinese and Singaporean. They can be usually found near public housing estates or transport hubs (such as bus interchanges or train stations) all over Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The place I would highly recommend is famous Maxwell Hawker Centre. Its location makes it a perfect spot for dining out as it is located at the edge of Chinatown, where all temples and sightseeing spots are. Maxwell Hawker Centre is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm. There are over 100 different dishes served all day long and each dish does not cost more than SGD 3 or SGD 4, which is nothing. In this way you can get a high quality food for a very cheap price.

 

A typical food price list at Hawker Centres:

  • Fish soup (SGD 3),
  • Thai pancakes (2 SGD),
  • Sweet conginee (2 SGD),
  • Indian roti prata (4 SGD).

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3 Ways to make Singapore an affordable travel destination

#2 Stay at hostel or go couchsurfing.

 

I would strongly recommend you to stay at the Heritage Hostel as it’s one of the cheapest places to stay overnight in the whole city. What I love the most about this place is its perfect location. Heritage Hostel is located in Chinatown, right opposite(literally) Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum and the Maxwell Hawker Centre. As you can see on the city map, it is situated just in the middle of the greatest tourist attractions. In this way, you can save money on transport and have fun going out at night as it is a walking distance to nightlife hotspots such as Clarke Quay and Boat quay, marina bay sands.

Note: If you book your room 2 months in advance, you will pay only 18 SGD a night (dorms).

If you are a travel blogger or you do any freelancing job online, the good news is that this hostel has an excellent Wi-Fi connection. Moreover, the rooms are very nice, comfortable and secure. It has clean facilities with adequate size dorm rooms and the girls on reception are very helpful with transport queries visitors have for city attractions!

If your budget is very tight and you want to experience Singapore as a local, you should definitely do some couchsurfing. There are plenty of locals registered online who would love to become your host and city guide. They can show you around, recommend some local dishes to try and sightseeing spots to explore and who knows you might stay in touch afterwards and you can return the favour when your host will visit your country. Couchsurfing is free of charge, but it would be nice of you if you could bring a small present with you.

 

#3 Say no to taxis.

 

Singapore is very small so it can be easily explored on foot. However, it is also busy and hectic so you should make sure to carry a map in your backpack and ask locals for direction in case you get lost.

When travelling on a tight budget, forget the local taxis! If you feel tired, take a bus. The single bus ticket costs 1 SGD in case you get tired or want to go somewhere remote. The good idea is to enjoy cycling with Singapore’s first eco-friendly electrical bicycles at the Gogreen Heritage & Island Explorer in Sentosa. It does not cost much, but it’s plenty of fun and a morning bike ride will wake you all up immediately.

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3 Ways to make Singapore an affordable travel destination

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As you can see, Singapore can be easily explored for around $20-$25 a day. There are plenty of free attractions you can enjoy when staying here such as:

 

  • Night walk through Marina Bay – go down to the Marina to shoot some shots of this magnificent city lit up at night and reflected across the water. It costs nothing and Singapore’s night view is so worth it.
  • 2 Riding the world’s highest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer – it usually costs $S33 for adults, but during Chinese New Year and big city events it’s free between 10 am and 1pm.
  •  Visiting East Coast Seafood Centre – You can find here up 150 of the best foods in the city. They are cheap and the place is just magnificent.

 

Without a doubt, you will not be bored here and you will love every second of the hectic day on the cheap!

 

 

3 Ways to make Singapore an affordable travel destinationWe are travel tramps – Agness and Cez – a Polish duo and founders of eTramping.com where we share budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. We are both photography passionates obsessed with Chinese cuisine and culture. If you would like to read more about China, you can check out our Add the Brick to the Great Wall:” Experience-based Advice for China from Expats e-book which sums up our two-year experience of teaching, living and travelling in the Land of Dragons.

 

Singapore Fling: Falling in Love with Southeast Asia's Impressive City-State

Singapore Fling: Falling in Love with Southeast Asia’s Impressive City-State

 

Sure, tourists might not be able to spit or chew gum in the streets of Singapore, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun. There are spectacular attractions to visit, taxis are cheap, food is delicious, shopping is great and almost everyone speaks English. It all makes Singapore one of the best destinations in the whole of Asia. We recently spent a weekend in Singapore, a quick flight down from our home in Phuket, Thailand. I was shocked at the modern state of Singapore and very impressed by the city. Changi, the airport, is consistently rated in the top airports on Earth and their public transportation system is fast, clean, efficient and affordable. So whether you are on a long layover, a business trip or a romantic weekend, Singapore leaves little be to desired and loads to be discovered.

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Singapore Fling: Falling in Love with Southeast Asia's Impressive City-State

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Just Snoozing

You’re never spoilt for somewhere to lay your head, and Singapore hotels are second to none. The city’s best-known hotel is also one of the most expensive but Raffles is worth every penny. Not only does this hotel make a mean Singapore Sling, it also keeps out the riff raff at bay by applying a strict dress code. Inside the 121 year old establishment and class oozes out of every room, with spacious parlors, rattan furniture, verandahs, and ceiling fans. For more modern digs head for the Marina Bay Sands in the heart of the city. Close to the ArtScience Museum and the Chinatown Heritage Center this 5-star hotel is also within spitting distance (but don’t actually spit!) of the Gardens by the Bay which make for a spectacular view, day or night.

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photo Singapore Fling: Falling in Love with Southeast Asia's Impressive City-State Jeff Johns Founder, Latitude 34 Travel Blog e:hello@latitudethirtyfour.com | w:http://www.latitudethirtyfour.com

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Sights for Sore Eyes

Gardens by the Bay are a multimillion-dollar eco-garden project that is fast becoming the city’s signature attraction. The gardens feature sixteen steel super-trees which act as massive trellises for a range of plants. The Gardens also feature two climate-controlled domes. This allows them to provide habitats for all kinds of vegetation from rainforest to desert plants. The Singapore Zoo is a great place to spend a day but an even better place to spend the night. The zoo offers night safaris which begin at 7:30 pm and provide visitors the chance to observe nocturnal cats as well as other wildlife. There are tram rides and trails that are lit up for night walks through the grounds which offer insights into the worlds of wildlife that come alive after dark.

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Singapore Fling: Falling in Love with Southeast Asia's Impressive City-State

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Getting Your Fill

For first time visitors, one of the very best ways to experience Singapore’s culinary culture is to head to a hawker center (an open-air market offering all varieties of cooked foods) with a few bottles of Tiger beer and a serious appetite. Adventurous eaters can sample everything from Sambal stingray to oyster omelet to fish-head curry while those with slightly less adventurous palettes can munch on chicken rice, clay-pot seafood or the Singapore staple — satay. For the satay enthusiast, no visit to Singapore is complete without a trip to Boon Tat Street. This foodie destination is closed to traffic every evening to make room for the line of satay huts and the plastic tables and chairs they set up for patrons. Hundreds — if not thousands — of satays made from all types of meats are prepared each night on Boon Tat and hand-cooked over coals. Singapore has developed a reputation among Southeast Asian destinations as being a strict and sterile compared to the vibrant and ‘developing’ cultures of Bangkok or Jakarta. In reality, Singapore is one of the most enjoyable, modern and efficient cities in the world. Go and visit if you don’t believe so!

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Images by Kiwi Flickr, Jirka Matousek, jjcb and Carrie Kellenberger used under creative commons license.

thai beer review latitude 34

Thai Beers, All You Need to Know

So you’ve found yourself in Thailand and are more than excited to sit back on the beach, watch the sunset and drink an ice cold Thai beer. Sounds wonderful huh? Are you going to grab a Singha? Chang? Tiger? Leo? What are the differences and which one do the locals call elephant piss? There are a couple unique facts about Thai beer and we are happy to share our thoughts on all the thai beers with you below!

SINGHA

First off, we’ve got to talk about Singha. Singha is the quintessential Thai beer, proudly displaying that since 1939, it has been the only beer allowed to display the Royal Thai Garuda symbol on its neck. A pale lager, Singha (pronounced sing) is light, refreshing and has a sweet aftertaste. As the number one beer in Thailand, it is well advertised and carries with it a certain mystic as an exotic and exciting beer. Available world wide since 2007, it is enjoyed a popularity in its world wide consumption in recent years, due in partially to a four year marketing partnership with English Premier Football Club Chelsea. The “Singha” is a powerful mythological lion, found in ancient Hindu and Thai stories, the image displayed on all bottle and cans. Singha is 5.0% (abv)

In 2007, Singha announced a 3.5% (abv) version of its popular lager

CHANG

Chang, meaning elephant in Thai, is the annoying little brother of Singha. The cheap Thai beer is often ignored by many Thais and foreign expats who know better, as it is brewed at a surprising 6.4% (abv), which can catch even the most experienced beer drinker off guard. The higher alcohol content is not obvious off the bat, but mixed with the hot weather and its incredibly light and bubbly content, can catch up to you quickly. And with the big bottles selling for around $1-2 and legal to drink on the streets, many tourists find themselves enjoying their evenings a little sooner then they planned if they have a couple during dinner or while out walking around. So watch your back, elephant piss will catch up with you.

In Thailand you can also find Chang Light and Chang Export. Many assume the Chang light would be less calories, it actually has lower alcohol contend with the same amount of calories. Chang Export sounds fancy, but in reality is still just a cheap malt liquor.

LEO

After the two big Thai beers comes Leo. Leo is the favorite Thai beer of many expats because it is not too sweet and not too dry. Leo is brewed by the Boon Rawd Brewery, same as Singha, but is not heralded as a premium beer. Slightly cheaper than Singha, Leo can sometimes be hard to find at many popular tourist bars since its brewers want to promote Singha, and not its cheaper little brother. A delicious Thai beer, our favorite, make sure to try one when you are in Thailand. If you can’t find a Leo in a bar, surely the 7-11 within spitting distance from you will carry them. Worth noting is the fast that Leo translates to lion, although the logo is a leopard, which we never understood.

TIGER

The last in the list of (all animal themed!) Thai beers is Tiger. While actually the first locally brewed beer of Singapore, Tiger has gotten very popular in Thailand as well. Another pale lager, Tiger is liked by many as having a bit more flavor than Singha, without the cheap taste or feeling of Chang. While still a pale lager, it is a good choice and by no standards a bottom of the barrel beer. 5.0% (abv)

SAN MIGUEL (Honorable Mention)

“San Mig” as it is referred to in Thailand, rounds out the top 5 most popular Asian beers. While San Miguel is the official beer of the Philippines, with 95% of the market share, its San Miguel Light is enjoying massive success in Thailand. The only beer sold in Thailand in a clear glass bottle, many compare it to Corona and the “light” makes it very popular among the ladies and those watching their calorie intake while on vacation (seriously?). Often enjoyed with a slice of lime, it greatly enhances the flavor, rendering the beer drinking experience very similar to drinking a Corona. I enjoyed San Miguel a lot during my time in the Philippines but rarely see plain old San Miguel here, only light. San Mig is light and refreshing, seemingly lighter than other beers, most likely because you’ve had a few and the clear glass makes you think its lighter. Word of caution, if in the Philippines, watch out for Red Horse, also made by San Miguel Beverages. Each batch is brewed at a different percentage so you never know what you’re going to get!

So thats it! Enjoy a couple of the different options and let us know what you think. We personally love Singha and Leo, although admit sometimes a rough day calls for a Chang. Pints up, and enjoy that spicy Thai food with a delicious cold Thai beer!

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jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to forget them all.

A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.

Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!


trip to singapore, latitude 34

3 Days in Singapore

If you live in Thailand at one point or another you must do a visa run. Thailand has very strict laws for foreigners and there are a lot of hoops you need to jump through to stay for an extended period of time. As an American, when you land in Thailand you automatically get a 30-day tourist visa no problem. Tourism is huge in Thailand and they make it easy to come and visit.  Before we left California, Jeff and I applied for a multiple entry visa at the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles. We paid $80 each for a 120-day visa. Because it was a multiple entry it meant that after 60-days in Thailand we would have to leave the country and could re-enter for the second 60-days of the visa. We figured this way we could meet some expats and find out what the best visa was to stay for an extended period of time instead of trying to obtain an education or long term visa before we left Los Angeles.

singapore_06Since we’ve been here we’ve learned that the education visa is the best way to go. We can pretty much stay as long as we want as long as we are enrolled in Thai Language classes, up to have and a half years. However, we wanted to use up our 120-day visa before enrolling in classes, and boy did the first 60-days go by fast. Without realizing it our 60-days were up and we had to leave Thailand immediately. Due to obligations with work we couldn’t leave right at the 60-day mark. For each day we stayed in Thailand past our visa we had to pay 500 baht each, which is about $15 each per day.

Some new friends of ours, Megan and Giles have been living in Thailand for 2 years under an educational visa, but due to some complications also had to do a visa run. They had done some homework and discovered that right now the cheapest flights were to Singapore and asked us if we’d like to come along.

We had everything planned. Fly to Singapore for 3-days and stay in the airport to save money and then return to Thailand with new visas. The Changi Airport in Singapore was recently named 2013 Best Airport in the World. They have sleeping beds and showers for travelers. They even have a butterfly garden, a huge slide (random but fun!), and a free movie theatre so who needs a hotel? Since Singapore is pretty expensive we thought we could just stay in the airport and take the metro into the city when we wanted to explore.

First and foremost getting to the Phuket airport is not the easiest thing in the world. You would think that getting anywhere on an island would be easy right? Not here. Phuket is a huge island full of hills and windy roads and really expensive cabs.  From where we live in Phuket a cab to the airport costs 800 baht, which is about $20. We decided to meet at Megan and Giles apartment to get a cheaper cab which cost 700 baht. Of course as soon as we get close to their house it started pouring rain. I’ll save rain on a motorbike for a later post, but with luggage I’ll just say that it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world.

singapore_02We arrived in Singapore at 1:00 am. Barely anything was open in the airport. Still, we were pretty excited so we went through customs and about 5 seconds after, realized all the wonderful award winning amenities were in the departure or transit lounge. This destroyed every plan we had made. We couldn’t get back into the departure lounge until a few hours before our flight… three days later… goodbye sleeping beds and hot showers. After a little laughter about the situation we found the most comfortable place to sleep which just happened to be a closed Starbucks (not the best nights sleep).

Just a few hours later, at exactly 7:00 am, we awoke to the sound of Starbuck’s employees moving chairs and stomping their feet as loud as they could in hopes of waking us all up. From here we looked up the cheapest hostel we could find online and decided to book our next 2 nights there thinking it had to be more comfortable than the Starbucks at the airport.

singapore_04Singapore has great public transportation. We each paid $20 Singapore Dollars, about $15.80 USD to get a 3-day unlimited access to all public transportation including the oh-so-clean metro and all the buses.

Megan and Giles had to drop off their passports at the Thai Consulate so Jeff and I waited with all our luggage at the metro stop by the Consulate. This was our first real glimpse of Singapore. I don’t know what I expected it to be like but Singapore is extremely rich. It is extremely modern, clean, and architecturally stunning. If someone were to take all the best assets of every city around the world and design the perfect city, you would get Singapore.

singapore_05After Megan and Giles finished up at the Consulate  we decided to make our way to the hostel. We were all pretty excited to set our bags down and have a good shower after our late night in the airport, but reality soon set in. As beautiful as Singapore is, we found ourselves at the worst place you could probably find to stay at in the whole country. Walking into this hostel was like the scene in Trainspotting where Renton is forced to use the worst toilet in Scotland. We should have known that since we booked the cheapest place that it wouldn’t be perfect, but I at least thought it would be clean. Luckily we got a room with four beds and since there were four of us it could have been worse. The bunk beds looked like hand me down metal prison beds and the floor was covered in odd stains, water and leftover hair from other travelers or perhaps drug addicts, who knows. The humor of the situation only sunk in when Megan went to the hostel next door which was clean, stylish and comfortable. When she asked how much for a night, a women responded with “$40 an hour, would you like a man or a women?” Megan then realized she was in a brothel only disguised as a hostel.

Since we couldn’t get a refund on the room we decided to bite the bullet and stay. Our bags were locked up and safe and we didn’t have any strangers in the room and after all, it was more comfortable than Starbucks.

singapore_07Finally we got to explore more of Singapore. We went down to Marina Bay where most of the attractions are. We were able to take the metro and walk anywhere we wanted to go. Singapore is full of beautiful skyscrapers and designer malls. We spent the evening exploring the city and taking in the skyline. We enjoyed some local food, similar to Thai but a tad different, still very good though.

The second night in the hostel they made us switch into a 6 person room. There were four of us and one Chinese man who, although possibly well intentioned, came off as a probable drug addict who may or may not have lived in that hostel for several years. He had a bag of medication that he kept fidgeting through and he kept staring at us. After a few minutes of awkward silence we all decided we’d rather stay our last night in the airport. We packed up our bags and told the hostel that we had to drop off our luggage at a friends house near the airport since we had an early flight even though our flight was at 5:00 pm the next day. We didn’t want them to know we weren’t coming back.

Once at the airport we thought we would try to check in and get access to all the great sleeping amenities the airport had to offer. Unfortunately, our airlines, Jetstar, doesn’t let you check in online and get your boarding passes and would not let us check in until 4:30 am. Since it was already 11:30 pm we decided to grab some food and just stay up.

singapore_03Who would have known that staying up all night in an airport would be our funnest time in Singapore. The four of us sat at McDonalds, shared stories and laughter until 5:00 am when we decided to check in, go through immigration and find a place to sleep in the sleeping lounge.

The whole experience was really fun. I was really impressed with Singapore, but it has a completely different feel than the rest of Asia. It reminded me a lot of home and I found myself missing the charm of Phuket. Overall I was really glad to have the experience but thankful to be back home on our little island.

 Marina

 

 

Marina Dominguez Latitude 34Marina is the co-founder of Latitude 34 – Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker. 

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

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