Bali – Travel Tips

Let’s face it, we hardly gave Bali a chance. We missed the beaches, many iconic temples, and everything else the average tourist would see. After just a few days in Ubud, we hightailed it off the island in search of something more our style – natural beauty, peace and tranquility.… [Read more]

In Search of Paradise in Bali

Just the mention of Bali evokes images of a paradise – isolated expanses of powdery white sand beaches, wooden bungalows overlooking turquoise waters, stunning rainforests, and exotic temples and shrines.  I’m talking about the Bali that is romanticized in movies and literature like “Eat, Pray, Love”.  Sadly, this may have been an accurate description of Bali 20-30 years ago, but today, with tourism at an all time high, many areas such as Kuta and Seminyak are tourist meccas with all the accoutrements that go with it – western style bars and restaurants (with accompanying western prices), large hotels and resorts, filthy beaches, and drunk tourists.  

Having been forewarned of this dismal truth, we chose to head inland, to the town of Ubud, which is located in the uplands of Bali.  It is known as a center for traditional crafts and dance.  Surrounded by rainforest and terraced rice paddies, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, Ubud offers some of Bali’s most famous and most photographed landscapes. Lonely Planet 2019 describes Ubud as “a place where traditional Balinese culture imbues every waking moment, where colourful offerings adorn the streets and where the hypnotic strains of gamelan are an ever-present soundtrack to everyday life.… [Read more]

Singapore – A City in a Garden

On our first visit to Singapore, we were impressed by how green the country/city was in spite of its dense population and small landmass (about the size of Ottawa/Gatineau).  On this most recent visit, we set out to explore the city’s abundant green spaces in more depth.… [Read more]

Singapore – Travel Tips

We fell in love with Singapore the first time we visited, and we weren’t disappointed when we returned. If it wasn’t for the unrelenting humidity, we even think we could live here, at least for a short-term work contract.… [Read more]

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Singapore – A Foodie’s Paradise

The diversity of Singapore’s foodie scene is astonishing where old school hawker markets are as common as five-star, Michelin rated restaurants.  While Chris and I are pretty adventurous travellers, I must admit we don’t have very adventurous taste buds.  We tend to stick with what we know, and I for one, am quite happy to eat the same thing over and over again.  Needless to say, this presents a few challenges while on the road, especially in countries where English is not commonly spoken and restaurant menus become an intriguing puzzle.  When we are off the tourist track, the likelihood of finding food that we recognize is even further reduced.  

Somehow we managed to feed ourselves during our last trip around the world (and I even gained a few pounds), but I do remember many times woefully dreaming of a having a simple bowl of cereal or some toast and butter – comfort food at its best.  During our last trip, we could have been spokespersons for Snickers bars and single packs of Oreo cookies as these were our go to travel snacks, readily available everywhere we went, and tasting consistently the same as the ones back home. By contrast, we quickly learned that chips, crackers and other snack foods may have looked the same on the outside, but they sure didn’t taste anything like what we were used to.  

This time around, we have challenged ourselves to get out of our food comfort zone and be a little more daring – within reason of course.  For starters, while in Singapore, we focused on eating where the locals eat – the hawker centres.  We learned that most Singaporeans don’t cook at home.  Quite understandable given that the majority live in very modest apartments, and the cost of food is very high, as compared to the cost of food at the local food stands.  Unfortunately, the food in those food stands is not very healthy (too much salt and sugar) and consequently, there has been an increase in nutrition related illnesses. I noticed quite a few billboards related to the rise in diabetes, admonishing the public to eat more nutritious food.… [Read more]

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Exploring the Attractions at Marina Bay

Adjacent to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Gardens by the Bay is an oasis of lush greenery that has won multiple accolades since it first opened in 2009.  Spanning over 100 hectares, it is a nature lover’s paradise comprising man-made super trees, a flower dome, cloud forest and many kilometers of walking paths through immaculate gardens of Jurassic proportions. … [Read more]

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A Splashy Start in Singapore

After 36 hours of travel including two long, overnight flights (Montreal to Doha – 12 hours; Doha to Singapore– 8 hours), we arrived in Singapore on Friday morning feeling well rested.  

Somewhere along the way we lost half a day of our lives, as we are now 12 hours ahead of Ottawa time.  At least the time difference made for easy math when figuring out when to call home.… [Read more]

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Chris and Chris Break Free…AGAIN!
At Ottawa International Airport, waiting to begin our new adVenneture!

Eight years after departing for our epic around the world trip on September 8, 2011, the stars have aligned once again and we are heading out for a new 6-month adventure.  Beginning in Singapore, followed by some island hopping around Bali for a few weeks, the broad plan is to spend about 6 weeks in Australia, which will include New Year’s Eve in Sydney watching the fireworks over the Harbour (check that off the bucket list).  A 14-day cruise will take us from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand via some rather intriguing ports of call on several exotic South Pacific islands such as Vanuatu and New Caledonia.  Our time in New Zealand will be divided between the north and south islands, after which we will do some more exotic island hopping (time permitting), before heading to our final destination – Japan, just in time for the cherry blossoms in the spring.… [Read more]

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Our round the world trip comes to an anti-climatic end

With just ten days left in our round the world trip, we wanted our final days in Vietnam to be memorable and special.  To that end, using Hanoi as our home base, we planned a trip to Sa Pa in the north, close to the border with China where we would go trekking for several days in the Hoang Lien Son range of mountains.  [Read more]

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A step back in time in Central Vietnam

A quick flight from Saigon landed us in the city of Da Nang just as the day was coming to an end.  Our pre-arranged transportation failed to show up which seems to be happening a lot lately. After several calls to our hotel to try to sort out our transportation, we finally grabbed a taxi to Hoi An, about an hour away, at a cost of $18 US.… [Read more]