After months of planning, it was time for my first big solo adventure to Singapore and Bali. I’m glad I booked all my flights with Singapore Airlines because they are absolutely incredible! Above average legroom in economy, hot towels, stainless steel cutlery and well-seasoned food. My highlights were the Dreamliner aircraft with tinted windows (yes, tinted windows) and the pork noodles for breakfast. They can get all my coins for future travel to Asia, because who wants to suffer through a 13-hour flight?!
36 Hours in Singapore
With only 36 hours in Singapore, I wasted no time in exploring the city. The Raffles Hotel is under restoration until 2019, so no Singapore Sling for me! Instead, I went for dinner and ate one of the best pork dishes I’ve ever tried at a random restaurant in Chinatown. I chose the busiest spot and although it was loud and crazy inside, the food was so good.
After dinner, I explored one of the ‘must see’ spots, Gardens By The Bay, which is really beautiful at night. I love how safe it is to be out alone at night as a solo traveller in Singapore. I was out alone until after 11 pm which is something I avoid in most places.
It was a toss-up between visiting the zoo and going on a foodie adventure, so I left bright and early for breakfast at one of the hawker centres. I was pissed to discover that Anthony Bourdain’s favourite breakfast spot in Singapore was closed on my only day in the city. I always have a plan b, so I ate at a popular noodle eaterie instead. I’ll definitely share more on the food centre experience because it’s definitely an experience!
Several places in Singapore have received a Bib Gourmand, but I had to try the world’s cheapest Michelin Star dish: Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle.
I spent my afternoon wandering around the Botanic Gardens which is Singapore’s first UNESCO site. It’s so picturesque and peaceful. I had so much fun exploring the tropical paradise until sunstroke got the best of me.
On my way back to the hotel, I visited Hajii Lane and stocked up on sheet masks. I waited for the sun to go down, before having dinner at a nearby restaurant to try one of Singapore’s national dishes – Hainanese Chicken Rice. Suddenly feeling more energised, I ended up staying out late on Orchard Rd and going for dessert. It was a visit, but I had a great time In Singapore and was looking forward to my next stop: Bali.
Landing in Denpasar was hell on Earth. I was ambushed by taxi men as I came through arrivals. They follow you through the airport even after you decline their services. Ironically my taxi driver in Singapore told me that foreigners often get a culture shock when they leave to visit other Asian countries. I insisted I’d be fine because I’ve been to Asia before, but low and behold, my words came back to bite me.
I ended up switching on my data roaming and booking a Grab (the Asian Uber) to avoid paying the 400k (£20) they quoted me at the airport. The driver wanted to meet on the 5th floor of the carpark, but since I was not trying to get snatched, I met him at the entrance instead. I later realised he was trying to avoid an altercation with the local taxi men who are very territorial. One of the guys scratched the side of his car and yanked one of the doors open as got into the vehicle. Complete madness, but worth it for the 187k fare!
Note: if you’re wondering why I didn’t book a transfer. The internet said getting a taxi at the airport is easy and affordable. The internet lied. My advice would be to either book a transfer or use Grab straight away.
Ubud was my least favourite place due to the remoteness and reliance on the local (extortionate) taxi drivers. I enjoyed how pretty and serene it was and being able to see the local customs and traditions, but that’s about it. I planned to practice yoga but ended up eating, lounging by the pool and indulging in spa treatments instead. The Bali Swing experience was definitely the main highlight of Ubud and another ‘tick’ off my bucket list. I’d try another resort area next time as a place to relax, but for first-timers, it’s worth visiting.
I absolutely loved Canggu! It wasn’t until I arrived here that I really fell in love with Bali. I spent my time eating at the different restaurants and cafes on the strip and trying out new cocktails at night. My hotel was in a great location on the strip so I was able to walk everywhere. I wish I could have spent more time here, but I made the most of it by exploring as much of the area as possible. The beach was a short walk from my hotel and although it was dirty, it relaxing to hear the waves and enjoy the sea breeze.
Seminyak was my final stop in Bali. You can tell it’s a touristy area because all you hear in the street is ‘Taxi ma’am? Transport? Massage? Shellac toe?’ I spent most of my time shopping, eating, visiting beach clubs and spending even more time at the spa. Spa services are so cheap in Bali I booked a treatment every other day.
Canggu has cute resort wear boutiques and Ubud is known for its authentic silk kimonos, but Seminyak is a fashionistas DREAM. I left for breakfast at 9 am and didn’t get back to my hotel until 4 pm with several bags. Everything was reasonably priced: snakeskin bags, leather slides, silk dresses, linens…I was in heaven! I would go back JUST to shop.
Whilst shopping I met two lovely American ladies who invited me to dinner at Ku De Ta. I had the most amazing night with great food and great company. Ku De Ta is a beach club/restaurant/bar with a beautiful oceanfront setting. I arrived just in time to watch the sunset and really soak up the atmosphere. It was also a highlight for me as I stepped out of my comfort zone as an introvert and made new connections.
After checking in and out of four hotels, it felt weird to be going home. Almost.
Layover in Singapore
With just 7 hours in the country, my layover in Singapore was a carefully executed mission. I rushed over to the next terminal once I landed, strategically leaving my bags where my final flight was departing from. Then I hopped straight on the MRT and headed to Lime House Caribbean restaurant for dinner. I previously met the founding chef in London and made a note to visit during my trip.
I was immediately greeted with dancehall music and an extensive rum menu which put a smile on my face. For starters, I had the fried macaroni cheese balls. They come with a dipping sauce, but the waiter treated me to their homemade hot sauce which was delicious! For my main course, I had oxtail with rice and peas, followed by banana cake for dessert. I had no business eating a three-course meal before my flight, but the food was good! I want to go back to experience the bar/lounge upstairs which I didn’t get see to due to time constraints.
Lastly, I did the one thing everyone must do in Singapore: go for drinks at the Marina Bay Sands Skybar. I arrived just before sunset and the view was breathtaking. Pics don’t do it justice! I had an amazing time in both countries, but Singapore really captured my heart!