What to do in Singapore and from One Runners Perspective. A weekly series of daily itineraries: Day 9

Well, I’m finally finishing up my blog posts about my Singapore trip and the things to do in there and near by South East Asia. If you’ve been following along, I appreciate your support and patience as I know some posts were not always a week apart. I have to admit it’s because I’ve become a regular contributor for the site RunnerClick, plus work, and half marathon training. Time has become more and more occupied with free time becoming less frequent. But enough with excuses, here’s my finale to my series!

Day 9 brought about a final day of running, as I was still training for the Paris Half Marathon in early March. The race would be immediately after a 13 hour flight home to Luxembourg and then a train ride from Metz to Paris. Check out that race recap here.

On my final full day, I made an 8 mile run out to a unique park called Haw Par Villa. It was created by the man who invented Tiger Balm to teach youths and others about Asian historical stories. Entrance into the park is free allowing one to view the most colorful, somewhat crazy and interesting sculptures depicting different eras in eastern time. Most stories are fables or folk and lore while others are about royalty and religious conquests.


Haw Par Villa


After getting my unique cultural history lesson, I took the metro over to the Chinese Gardens. Here I found beautifully kept landscapes with authentic Chinese and Japanese architecture housing the most amazing bonsai tree collection.


Chinese Gardens


Making my way back to the hotel to shower and pack, Katie and I had a final happy hour with dinner and meeting some other expats and Australian tourists before making I made my way back to Chiangi Airport for a red eye flight.

In summary, Asia has some of the most beautiful, culturally influencial countries in the world with the most amazing food and people. I’m thankful for the opportunity to visit Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Being able to experience this interesting world is my strong passion and I can’t wait for my next adventure.

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What to do in Singapore and from One Runners Perspective. A weekly series of daily itineraries : Day 8

If you’re just checking in for the first time, I’ve got 7 days of what to do in South East Asia that you can check below! Otherwise welcome to the continued journey bringing us to day 8 back in Singapore.

Day 1: Singapore Popular Tourist Sites

Day 2: Sentosa Island

Day 3: Little India

Day 4 & Day 5: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Day 6: Running Tour of Singapore

Day 7: Bintan, Indonesia

On this day, I ventured out to Marina South Pier in Singapore by metro to catch a 10am morning weekday ferry with Singapore Island Cruise. The cruise ventures to a couple of the smaller islands (St. John’s, Lazarus, and Kusu Island) off the southern part of Singapore, just past Sentosa Island. The ferry first brings you to St. John’s which has a connecting land bridge to Lazarus, from there they give you 2-3 hours until the ferry picks you back up at St. John’s Island for a quick trip to Kusu Island for 45 minutes and then back to the mainland by late afternoon.

St. John’s Island

Known as an old quarantine island for immigrants who suffered from cholera and leprosy, now vacant for campers, tourists and homeless cats and my main reason for this adventure. The ferry dropped us off at a jetty near a lagoon. I made a quick tour of the main lodge and campground sites before feeding the homeless cats that all seem to hang out by the bridge landing before heading to Lazarus Island. After a 15 minute feeding session, I made my way over to Lazarus which took about a 15 minute walk.


Photo 1: Welcome Lodge to St. John’s Island, Photo 2 & 3: homeless cats of St. John’s Island


Lazarus Island

Here is where the more tranquil and quiet beaches rest. I think mostly because it was a weekday but also being a secluded island, I basically had the place to myself except for a docked boat and two other ferry passengers. Although I’ve read, weekend trips here will be packed.


Photo 1: Bridge Walkway between St. John’s Island & Lazarus Island, Photo 2: Enjoying the quiet beaches of Lazarus Island


Kusu Island

After about 3 hours, the ferry picked us up for a brief stop at Kusu Island. This is a legend island known for its Tortoise Temple and fostering turtle sanctuary. The layover to Kusu was only about 45 minutes but have you enough time to visit it’s temple, shrines and sanctuary before heading back to Singapore.


Kusu Island and Turtle Sanctuary


After a relaxing, touring day, I made it back to the main island for ladies night in the financial area. Meeting up with my friend Katie, we started our evening at Level 33 to catch a glimpse of the evening light show of Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. We then headed over to The Fullerton Hotel rooftop bar called Lantern which has free drinks for the ladies. After several cocktails, we knew we needed dinner and headed along the waterfront near Merlion Park and ate outdoors at The Pelican to continue to get great views of the evening light show.


Photo 1: Katie & I at Level 33, Photo 2: The Fullerton Hotel Rooftop bar, Photo 3: The light show view from Waterfront


Join me next week as I conclude my journey with a last long run in on my last full day to visit the bizarre tourist attraction called Haw Par Villa.

What to do in Indonesia & Singapore from One Runners Perspective. A weekly series of daily itineraries : Day 7

When you’re in Singapore, you are given many chances to visit near by countries, quickly and affordably, and that’s exactly what I did.

From Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal near the airport, one can take an hour long ferry to Bandar Bentan Telani in Bintan, Indonesia. This northern island of Indonesia, second most promoted after Bali, is cluttered with resorts along the coast. Picking one over the other can be your hardest decision of the day but you will be completely pleased in any one of your final destinations in Bintan.

I opted for the day pass at Club Med Bintan. For under $100 dollars you get pristine white beaches, 2 pools, 2 all you can eat and drink restaurants, daily sponsored activities like water aerobics or any water sport and even a trapeze lesson. Friendly servers, delicious cocktails and serene beach coastlines filled my day in Indonesia. It was paradise.



After spending the day and afternoon in Bintan, Indonesia, I took the ferry back to Singapore. A taxi ride later and I made my way to meet up with my friend Katie at the famous Newton Hawker Food Center. A huge outdoor fast food court with hundreds of options for Asian cuisine. You can go off the beaten path and try a unique delicacy like sting ray or stick to more traditional tiger prawns, chili crab, beef skewers or bbq chicken. You really can’t go wrong, especially if you enjoy meat, for an incredibly cheap price you can wash it all down with one or two Tiger Beers. A great way to close out the evening!



What to do in Singapore and from One Runners Perspective. A weekly series of daily itineraries : Day 6

Making my way back from Cambodia, I had a lot on my plate planned for seeing more of Singapore. An early rise at 8am & after breakfast, I had a long run planned and started by making my way towards Arab Street and the Kampong Glam District.


Masjid Sultan


This area hosts many mosques along with brightly painted buildings full with street art, souvenir & coffee shops. It’s serene, hip, & cool. Perfect for colorful photo opportunities.



After exploring a bit, I made my way over to East Coast Park. A perfect area made up of a long stretch of walking, running & bike paths parallel to the beach and lined with easy going restaurants.


East Coast Beach


After a 13 miles I was ready to hit the beach. After a quick swim, I showered up at one of the free public restrooms equipped with showers and caught a bus back into town to stroll in the Botanical Gardens.


Botanical Gardens


A huge park with several species of flowers, plants and trees, one could spend an entire day in its peace and tranquility.

This busy day had me tired early so I just grabbed some take out and planned my day 7 which included a day trip to Indonesia. Check in next blog for a day in Bintan, Indonesia!

What to do in Singapore from One Runners Perspective. A weekly series of daily itineraries : Day 2

My bad. If you had been anticipating last week’s blog on Day 2 in Singapore, you’re probably thinking, “Man, she forgot” and you’d be dead on correct. But my good excuse is that I was traveling and snowboarding in Switzerland.

#firstworldproblems!

However, I hope you didn’t hold your breath and are still around because I’m back with what to do in Singapore: Day 2.

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island is a connected island off the southern tip of Singapore. Known for family entertainment including: Universal Studios, Underwater World & Marine Life Park, Tiger Sky Tower, a couple museums, golfing, water sports, shopping, eating, and even a casino; my main objective was to visit it’s three beaches. The island is accessible from public transport at HarbourFront Station. I took a bus from Orchard Road which took about 40 minutes. From here there are a few options to get across to the island: drive, walk, take a cable car or a monorail. Walking is free and about 800m, so of course I chose this route.

Once on the island, I immediately encountered the theme parks. A bit of walking and I found an entrance to the monorail, which is free once on the island and has 3 additional stops.

I took the monorail to the next stop called Imbiah Station. Here there is a super Merlion Statue standing at 37m tall (4x the size of the one found in town at Merlion Park) and a magnificent tiled water fountain behind it. I easily walked from here, while admiring the fountain, to the next monorail stop, the last and most important in my opinion, the beach station.


37m Merlion Statue, Tiled Water Fountain


From the beach station there are two options to get around to the beaches, walking or taking a free shuttle bus. The athlete in me chose walking and to hit the 3 beaches would be about 2km. First stop: Palawan Beach. Here is a suspension bridge that brings you to the acclaimed southern most point of continental Asia. I, of course, had to see it for myself. Luckily, I almost had the place to myself on a weekday but I’ve read coming on weekends can be quite the nightmare.


Suspension Bridge and Southernmost point of Continental Asia at Palawan Beach


I ran the rest of Palawan beach. Soft sand and teal, blue waters made for pleasant scenery. One unpleasant view was looking out into the Singapore Straight and finding hundreds of container ships that just seem to hang out in the water. At the end of Palawan Beach, I realized the beaches were not connected and either a walk by road or the free shuttle would get me on to the next beach called Tanjong.


Palawan Beach


I continued my way by foot and found myself at the most tranquil and less populated of the three beaches. Tanjong hosts a beach club with a pool, friendly waitstaff that bring you fresh, young coconuts while you rest on cushioned lounge chairs with umbrellas, enjoying the most stellar view. I think you get the picture why I decided to remain here for the remainder of my day.


Tanjong Beach


Once I took in my fill of R&R, I made my way back by shuttle bus. Because the shuttle runs on a loop, I got a little, passerby tour past Siloso Beach, which is where all the water sports are done, before getting back off at beach station. From here I was able to hop on the monorail, get back over the bridge towards public transport and hop on a bus back into town to grab some late take out dinner. Picture perfect day!

What to do in Singapore from One Runners Perspective. A weekly series of daily itineraries : Day 1

I’ve been anticipating, since my return back from Singapore, to give you all the delicious details of my 10 day South East Asian tour. You can all now release your breath, find a cozy place to take a few minutes to read on about this one delighted, runners perspective on things to do and places to see to get the most out of your sightseeing trip when in Singapore. With the plethora of information, I’ve decided to write this in a weekly series of daily itineraries. Here goes Day 1….

After a 12 hour and 30 minute red-eye flight from Luxembourg with a brief layover in Zurich, I arrived with a loss of 7 hours compared to central European time. Since it was already evening upon my arrival to Changi Airport, I wasn’t expecting to get a full day’s activity in on night one. After an easy 20 minute cab ride, I quickly learned they use Singapore dollars, that pretty much everyone speaks English or at least Singlish, and the drivers side is on the right and the roads are driven on the left. Having passed many open aired trucks on the highway, full of construction workers retiring after a day’s job, I soon discovered the concrete jungle of high rises and constant construction growth to house the 5.6 million, multi-cultural, population of this island city-state. I certainly wasn’t in Metz, France anymore. Regardless of the population, the country itself is only 719 squared km (or 278 squared miles) and actually made up of a total 62 additional smaller islands. It’s a fairly new, independent country founded in 1959, so its architecture is not full of history. In fact, the whole financial district is fairly modern, full of sky rises with evening light shows but I’ll get into that more a bit later.

For those who don’t know, I’m was visiting my college friend Katie, who was on a 3 month work stint in Singapore, allowing me to take advantage of coming in the first place. So night one was dinner together on Orchard Road, the famously long shopping avenue in downtown and then immediately making an attempt to get a full night’s rest before a busy tourist day the next day. I slept maybe 4 hours and was up by 4am, a blessing and a curse that with age I’ve found jet lag hits me harder with long travel. Reminder: I was still in training for the Paris Half Marathon scheduled the weekend of my return home. Because it’s one degree north of the equator, you’re dealing with super heat year round with incredible humidity, it’s not the ideal climate for long distance runners. But I made the most of my jet lag and hit up the hotel gym and got a 5k interval run in before 7am. After a quick breakfast and having purchased a discounted online ticket for Gardens By the Bay, that included the sky walk, I set out for my first day’s adventure by bus before 9am. By the way, public transportation is superb and incredibly affordable, something I used frequently to get to and from a lot of my adventures because it’s just too hot to run around everywhere

Gardens by The Bay


Pic 1: Supertrees, Pic 2: The Singapore Flyer, Pic 3: Marina Bay Sands Hotel


Near the marina, this eclectic garden mixed with modern day Supertree apparatuses, houses indoor and outdoor botanical beauties. Placed in between the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Singapore Flyer, you can get some great photo ops of the iconic structures. My first stop after a short walk around the outdoor gardens was to hit up the sky walk, as recommended seeing before peak day to avoid the heat from the sun. After, I made my way towards the two indoor conservatories; first, the Cloud Forest which encases a 35m (115ft) indoor waterfall and second, the Flower Dome which is the world’s largest column less and eco-friendly glasshouse.


Pic 1: Sky Walk, Pic 2: The Cloud Forest, Pic 3: The Flower Dome


Merlion Park

From the gardens, I made a brief walk over the helix bridge towards Merlion Park. Along the waterfront with another spectacular view of Marina Bay Sands, sits an impressive 8.6m mythical, half lion/half fish, water spewing statue. The landmark is the Singapore mascot.


Merlion Park


Hawker Centre Food Courts

With almost a half day spent, I was getting hungry and found myself making my way towards Chinatown with a pit stop at one of the famously known Hawker Centre Food Courts. Each court has numerous stalls housing authentic, local and nearby cuisines for mere dollars. For sure, should not be missed.


Ramen


Chinatown


Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum


33% if the Singaporean population is Chinese and Chinatown keeps authenticity close to home with its several temples, most famously Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. Amongst the magnificent 4 story temple are several, narrow, mostly pedestrian only streets that have negotiable markets for souvenirs and fruit stands where you can try a piece of the stinky Durian fruit. After 13 miles of walking, a little shopping and quenching my thirst with a couple Tiger Beers, I met back up with Katie and we made our way to the river for dinner.


Chinatown Streets


Clark Quay

A great area for specialty food and cocktails with a peaceful view is Clark Quay along the river. Clark Quay is home to several restaurants with most providing specialties of Singapore including the soft shelled crab. The crab is stir fried in either pepper or tomato based chili sauce. Paired with sticky rice and garlic spinach, this meal is as messy as it gets but a sweet memory of flavor and fun that I won’t soon forget.


Katie and I having chili crab in Clark Quay


Stay tuned for next weeks blog when I make a venture to Sentosa Island!


Sentosa Beaches


Fitbit Semi de Paris Marathon: Race Review

I bet you’re all anxious to read about my latest travels to South East Asia but that will come in a series over the next couple of weeks. First, I need to review the biggest half marathon I’ve ever participated in yesterday, The Fitbit Semi de Paris Marathon.

I signed up for this half marathon in early January. Immediately after, I booked my trip to Singapore. I didn’t notice the closeness of my return being the same weekend as the race. Oh well, c’est la vie! One thing that did catch my attention upon the race sign up was the 62€ price tag attached to the race. Gulp, I’ve paid much less (at least half of this or more) to enter all the other European Halves I’ve participated in and even the Rome Marathon was only 55€. I swallowed my frugal pride and paid the overpriced entry fee, I mean it is Paris after all. But wait, this price tag does not include the train ticket to the city (~60€) nor the fact that there is no bib pick up the day of the race, now accommodations must be made. So if you’re an outsider to Paris, you’re now spending at least the weekend there.

Getting back from Singapore on Friday morning before the Sunday race, working a half day, then getting up Saturday for 9am to take the hour and twenty minute train to the city to then take 3-4 different metros (because of course it’s the weekend and due to work on some stations, a bunch of stations were closed), I finally made it to the expo at Parc Floral near Chateau Vincennes to grab my bib by 2:30pm. The expo itself was surprisingly well organized as long as you had your 3 pieces of essential paperwork: medical clearance (typical for most European races), the notification letter (emailed to you the week of) and a form of identification. From there you grab you race shirt (included in the price admission, thank goodness). Ladies received yellow, men got teal, both good quality tech shirts that fit true to size. From there you pass through the typical expo retailers, this race particularly was sponsored by Adidas where runners got 20% off apparel. Other booths included belts, medal holders, compression socks, the whole gamut. There were some fun, free photo booths and bicycle smoothie makers, even a little wine and cheese tastings combined with other future nearby race pamphlets. Overall a good showing where I spent about 45 Minutes moseying around grabbing free stuff here and there.



Staying with some friends of friends on the outskirts of the city, I finally made my way after a pasta dinner to bed by 8:15pm, the one good thing about jetlag.

This race, by the way, is huge, like 45,000 signed up – almost 37,000 finished huge! After some tea, toast, and bananas, I made my way back into the city around 7:30am to get back to Bois de Vincennes. The elite started at 9am and then waves every 10 minutes depending on your estimated finish times. I was in the 1:50 group with a 9:40am start. After a bag drop off and corral opening at 9:10, I waited a bit with others as the rain began. The weather wasn’t terrible though as the temps were pleasant enough for the long distance at 42F/6C.



The race course starts and ends at Bois de Vincennes, well equipped to hold the masses of people along with several portapotties, bag check, and lively music to keep us entertained until the gun start. The course heads out to the River Seine and makes it way behind Notre Dame, around Bastille, past Hôtel de Ville and back along the other side of the Seine to head back to the park. With the rain, we lost a bunch of spectators but diehard supporters were still out with clever signs like, “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear”. Lots of bands along the route braved the weather and pumped up some tired runners. Water and food stops were minimal to 3, each about 5km apart. No electrolytes, unfortunately, and with 5 miles left I could feel them missing as my overtired, swollen, jetlagged legs began to cramp. With such a huge race, I never had the chance to have enough space to find my own rhythm. I was constantly battling elbows, couples, walkers, you name it. I was weaving a lot just to find ample room. Once at a water stop my arm got tangled up in a woman’s head phones, yanking them right out of her ears. I heard the, “Owww”, and yelled back, “Sorry”, but really it was almost unavoidable as this race is really just too big. Finally the finish was near sight, but even if my tired legs wanted to sprint into the finish, the crowd of runners really limited a strong finish. Despite the rain, packed roads, lack of the electrolytes and spectators, jetlagged body and legs, I was still able to complete a sub-2 hour run in 1:58:00 even!



After the finish line, they corral you another 400m until you grab your medal, which by the way is one of the coolest as it doubles as a bottle opener also! Then another 200m to a bag with some goodies, water, bananas, and chips. Then you could finally exit the herd. The bag check, however, was an utter mess. After 5 minutes of the girl searching for mine, I was invited to hop over (haha hopping, get real!) the fence the search for the bag myself. After 15 minutes, myself, looking I finally found my bag two tables away from where it initially should have been. Poor organization to follow up the race unfortunately. Luckily, upon finding my bag I could quickly change into dry, warm clothes in a disgusting portapotty (this being harder than running the half, in my personal opinion). I then made my way back by metro (which bonus, was free for runners following the race) to head back to Gare de l’Est to make my way back to Metz.



After successfully determining the medal bottle opener worked a few times that evening I was back to bed by 8:30pm again. After a full night’s rest, I’ve rated this half a 7.5/10.