Well, happy summer! I’m sorry I’ve been MIA but I have several good reasons for my absence. First and foremost, summer in Europe means holidays for many which means my work schedule becomes much lighter. Great for keeping up with my European Adventures but not so great for making money and paying bills. But I have been able to do a lot of more local, short trips on the cheap. Some examples include: Beaune, France, Bruges & Dinant, Belgium, Altfels & Saarburg, Germany, Upper Sur Lake in Northern Luxembourg & a hot air balloon ride in Thionville, France. And while I’m writing this, taking a long drive to Florence, Italy. I’ll be sure to update you on each of these trips in the near future.To help compensate my funds, I’ve also become a paid weekly contributor for RunnerClick. RunnerClick millions of readers with whom I’ve been able to share destination runs, exercise and rehabilitation programs, interviewing other inspiring runners, and reviewing up and coming running brand businesses. Go ahead and check them out, if you haven’t already. In the meantime, I’m honored to have been interviewed by Boston Voyager Magazine. Being able to share my story and hopefully inspire others to follow their dreams, puts a huge smile on my face.As I’m sure most of you are aware, my strong passion besides sport is travel. I’ve recently made a video entry for a contest through Travello to win an Ultimate Australian vacation and adventure trip. The contest ends this week and I would so much appreciate your support and clicking here to vote for my entry to help increase my chances to win this Epic prize! I’ve also been fortunate enough to live in the country of France and watch them win the World Cup this year in Russia. Although I’m not a huge soccer fan, it’s fun to be part of the excitement of a huge world sport. Allez Les Bleus, Champions du Monde! And to top it all off, I’ve started my 11th Marathon training for the NYC Marathon on November 4th. Training in the summer is not my favorite but running NYC is on my bucket list and brings me to 4 out of 6 in making my way to complete The Abbot World Marathon Majors. Doing NY also brings the opportunity to visit home and Boston right before my birthday!So, here’s the brief catch up on my side of the world. I’ll be back soon to dive deeper on my local escapes! See you soon!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
This week’s series of daily itineraries in South East Asia brings us to the ancient temples of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Since we were here for only a short weekend, I’m going to quickly wrap up the weekend in today’s series. Want to know what I’ve done up to this point? Check out Day 1, 2, & 3 in Singapore.
Last we left off my friend Katie & I had arrived at our resort in Siem Reap with plans for a 4am start for Day 4. Our hotel arranged everything for us with a day long tuk-tuk and even a boxed breakfast to take with us. Leaving in the dark from the hotel, our driver took us to the ticket booth for the Angkor village. We weren’t alone with the early morning start, finding lines of foreign tourists. The ticket booth has two areas to line up, one for a day pass ($37USD) and another for multi-day passes (3 day $62 or 7 day $72). While one of us waited, the other was able to grab some decent iced coffee to get us motivated for this early morning start. After about 30 minutes including taking a quick photo for the pass, we had tickets in hand and made the 15 minute journey to the massive Angkor Wat temple.
Upon arrival, our driver confirmed a 2 hour later pick up and left us to walk in the dark with the masses of people to grab a sunrise view. Now the waiting begins for the sun to rise with a couple thousand others. We unfortunately had a day with overcast, so the colors weren’t so magnificent but the daylight brought an incredible view to the massive temple.
Angkor Wat Sunrise
After you’ve had your Instagram moments, you are then allowed to explore the insides of the temple. As a respect to the religion and culture, people are expected to cover their shoulders and knees, making the exploring a bit sweaty after some time, even at 6am. After about 45 minutes of climbing the inside and out of the temple, we passed through a small street market filled to the brim with small souvenirs from pants & tank tops to straw hats while other options included artistic leather cut outs and paintings, all negotiable with the aggressive sellers. After a couple of small purchases, we made our way back to the tuk-tuk but not before passing wild monkeys that wait by the exits for tourists food.
Inside Angkor Wat – the largest temple in the world, beginning as a Hindu temple later transitioning to Buddhism & declared as UNESCO Heritage Site in 1992.
Beginning with the largest and most well known temple, our tuk-tuk then took us to several smaller temples over the 500 acres of land reserved for the heritage site. One can literally spend days exploring the massive lands, but we made our trip through the early afternoon until the sun rose and made an exit before the temperatures became too hot.
3 stops from several of the different Angkor temples
Our tuk-tuk brought us back to the resort where we made use of the pool by having lunch and beers before a well deserved nap.
Our resort, Borei Angkor Resort & Spa, also hosts a cultural dance and dinner every Tuesday and Saturday evening. Instead of venturing out, we opted for the dinner and show which was not the least bit disappointing.
Traditional Cambodian dancing and cuisine
That evening we ordered another tuk-tuk from the hotel to take us 10 min down the road to the infamous Pub Street. This is a section of town that hosts the nightlife including bars and restaurants, massages from a person or a foot massage from fish, fried scorpion on a stick, homemade fried ice cream and the night market. Fantastic, lively place that should not be missed if visiting Siem Reap.
Pub Street and Night Market
An eventful day led to a good night’s sleep where we returned back to the pool on Sunday morning (Day 5) before we headed back to Singapore with an afternoon flight. Next week I’ll give you my Day 6 last, long running route in Singapore prior to my Paris Half Marathon, where I hit up Arab Street, East Coast Park and the Botanical Gardens.
We’re continuing on with my weekly series of what this runner did while visiting South East Asia in February of this year. Day 1 itinerary included must see icons of Singapore. Day 2 was a trip to Sentosa Island. We’ve made it to Day 3 and we start in Singapore but make our way over to Siem Reap, Cambodia for the weekend.
Reminder: I was still training for the Paris Half Marathon which would be 10 days away so I still had to get some runs in on my travels. I made a morning start from Orchard Road and made my way over to Little India, about a twenty minute run. A 9am start may have already been a little too late as the heat pelted on me with minimal shade. I headed east, past the extensive shopping plazas, until I hit SOTA (School of the Arts Singapore) and made a left. Following this about a kilometer you eventually make it to a crosswalk with two life-sized Elephants, made from purple, yellow and pink flowers to welcome you to the gates of Little India.
The area is comprised of narrow streets filled with gold jewelry shops, a temple and a market.
However tempting it was to buy some gold bangles, I held back and went to admire the colorful roof of the Sri Veeramakaliammam Temple.
After I crossed the street and ventured towards the Indian Heritage Museum and market. Adorned with bright hand bags, intricate wood carvings and incense, I figured I would have to make a return trip as I knew I wouldn’t be able to run back with my hands full. Enjoying the flavor of the culture for about 30 minutes, I made my way back to the hotel the same way as I came. I quickly showered up and got ready to take the hour and twenty minute bus directly to Changi Airport for an afternoon flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia where my friend Katie and I would explore the Ancient Temples over the weekend.
1. Running on Orchard Road, 2. Through SOTA, 3. The greeting Elephants of Little India, 4. Sri Veeramakaliammam Temple, 5. Running towards the Indian Heritage Museum & Markets
Siem Reap, Cambodia
After a brief layover in Bangkok, Thailand (in my opinion one of the least attractive or accommodating airports, at least where our gates were), we made it to Siem Reap Airport by early evening. Definitely, one of the smallest airports I’ve been to (the smallest being Beckley, West Virginia) it was quite easy to figure out where and what you needed to do in order to get a visa. Strangely enough, they take US dollars in Siem Reap. So upon arrival you hit up an ATM to get $35 for your Visa and then make your way to the taxi stand to get to your resort. Cambodia is still a third world country so everything in comparison is very affordable, the cab being $10 for a 15 minute ride. Upon arrival at our 5 star hotel called the Borei Angkor Resort & Spa, we made reservations for a sunrise tour (4am departure) with a day rented tuk-tuk to take us to the Angkor Wat Village. Even with our early wake up call, we finished the evening with a couple nightcaps at the hotel bar before getting some shut eye.
Katie and I making our way to Siem Reap, Cambodia via Bangkok, Thailand
Stay tuned for next weeks itinerary of the 4 separate days wrapped into one!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!