View of Berat, Albania from Berat Castle hill.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Berat, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Greece.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Singapore to Bali, Indonesia

Saturday morning, we checked out of our AirBnb apartment at 8:30am because Singaporean blog readers Han and Michelle were coming to show us some parts of Singapore that tourists wouldn't normally see.

And besides the tour, they gave us some interesting insight into how Singapore survives and thrives.

First stop was Sentosa Island.

Scenery along the way.

On the bridge to Sentosa Island.

Sentosa Island is a resort and theme park area off Singapore’s southern coast, connected to the city by road, cable car, pedestrian boardwalk and monorail. There is a golf course and private clubs and condominiums. Han has a membership through his previous work so we were able to visit one of the clubs.

Interesting swimming pool with glass walls.

Ruth, with Michelle and Han.

Another nice day in Singapore.

Crazy Rich Asians!

Looking back at the city.

Island off the coast.

Where the upper class live!

Next, they brought us to URA building... the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

This was really interesting. Singapore is a very well planned city with lots of thought that goes into anything they do... and they do have a plan.

Singapore only gained independence 54 years ago so it is a very young country. In a very short time time frame they have gone from a 3rd world sleepy fishing port to a 1st world major economic hub. 

The building contains a detailed model exhibit of the entire city including the planned changes that are coming.

Amazing detail!
The basic beige colored buildings are not built yet.

This is a public housing building!

80% of Singaporeans live in public housing. 

More than 80% of Singapore's population live in public housing. However, it's a very different concept to public housing than what you might think.  Most flats in Singapore are sold on a 99-year lease agreement. The remainder are rental flats reserved for those who are unable to afford to purchase the cheapest forms of public housing despite financial support. And those people may pay as little as $25 a month in rent. Therefore, Singapore has an extremely low homeless rate.

It's a bit of a complicated system, because you do actually own your apartment and can buy and sell it. More details here for those who are interested...

There was another group of tourists having a tour of the exhibits.

The entire downtown core of the city is modeled!

Next stop was to a residential area. Almost all residences are apartment towers, although there are some private household residences.

Every area has access to the rail system. You really don't need to own a car here.

Every residential area is planned with residents having easy access to shopping and park space.

They actually built a 9 km (5 mile) long river with all the landscaping so that residents would have access to water views and of course there is a walking/bike path that follows this man made river.

Singapore also does not have a vehicle congestion problem. Car ownership is limited by a lottery system so there will never be any more cars on the road than there are now. It's also the most expensive place in the world to actually buy a car due to the taxes levied on the purchase.

They also have a strategic reserve of sand! You can't do any building if you don't have sand, and almost all of the sand for construction is imported from Malaysia and other countries. They keep a stockpile in case of disagreement with other countries, and they can limit the amount that goes into the marketplace in order to control pricing.

Here is an interesting article...

Their politicians are very highly paid. They are also extremely well educated, and there aren't that many in cabinet, keeping expenses fairly low despite the high salaries. There is also no corruption.

There are worker unions, however rather than engaging in traditional adversarial unionism, union leaders in Singapore also sit on major statutory boards and are actively involved in state policy making, allowing them to use negotiation, conciliation and arbitration, thus eradicating strikes and other industrial action as a form of settling labor disputes.

Interesting stuff!

Han and Michelle wanted to take us for lunch, and they also wanted us to meet another friend. So we met Adrian at the JUMBO Seafood - East Coast restaurant.

Han and Michelle are avid travelers despite the fact that Michelle is still working for another three years or so. She is an architect, and Han is a retired computer software engineer who now drives part time for GRAB (like Uber) to keep busy. They have traveled to over 70 countries. And in fact they came across our blog when they were researching their recent trip to Namibia.

Adrian has a really interesting story. He travels on his skateboard. Literally! And he has been to over 100 countries. In Dec 2013, he got ambitious and skateboarded 600km across the Middle East from Jordan to Israel to Egypt. Since then, he just finished a skateboard trip that took him two years and covered four continents and 32 countries!


Han even insisted that I have a traditional Singapore Tiger beer!

Ruth had a coconut!

With our seafood bibs on.

Kevin, Ruth, Adrian, Han, and Michelle.


After lunch, they dropped us at the airport.

What a fantastic end to our too short stay in Singapore. We can't thank Han and Michelle enough. But, as avid travelers themselves, I think they realize how important it is to get a local experience and they were happy to share their knowledge of the area. We hope we meet them again someday!

Interestingly, we did not think we would ever visit Singapore again, however by the end of the trip we realized just how much there is to see and do here. Next time we are in the area, we look forward to planning another few days here.

Then we waited for our flight to Bali. Everything went smoothly, and we arrived on the island ten minutes ahead of schedule.

What a difference between Singapore and Bali!

First impression, we think that Denpansar (the city where Bali airport is located) is a mixture of Mexico and Morocco! Very busy, with motorcycles and scooters literally everywhere! I don't think we've ever seen so many. And taxis, trying to get your money at every opportunity. I had read about this in advance, and the guest house we are staying at said "do not pay more than 100,000 rupiahs (about $9.00) for the ride from the airport to the guest house.

Rather than deal with all the taxi touts, I thought we should walk. After all it was only 3 kms (1.8 miles) and we hadn't had any exercise all day.

What a zoo! Finally made our way across the airport property and into an alleyway. Most of the city has these narrow alleyways that cars can't access, but the scooters still can. Its a little hairy at times, especially since we had arrived after dark. Nobody bothered us though... except for the taxis and scooter drivers asking if we needed a lift.

Not many people walk from Bali airport to their guesthouse! But, we are not normal.

Finally made it and got settled in. The room isn't quite as nice as described in the listing, but for $22 CAD ($17 USD) for just the one night it will do.

Then we went out for a late Indonesian dinner. It was quite good, and I had a Bintang local beer, and Ruth had a daiquiri. 

I had the Rendang (beef braised in coconut milk).

And Ruth had the Ikan Pepes (minced snapper and marlin grilled in a banana leaf).

Kevin with his Bintang beer.

Total bill including 6% service charge and 10% tax was 288,000 ruphias ($26.90 CAD, $20 USD).

What a day!

Back at the room, I was simply too tired to do a blog post for you, that's why it's a little late. Sorry!

Now, off to get some breakfast and explore the area! Our flight to Australia doesn't leave until midnight tonight, so we've got the whole day plus the evening.


And in Canada...


  1. Nice tour of off tourist areas...very interesting indeed. I do not like arriving at night...yikes!! Can't read street signs or get oriented which way is north, south, etc. Food looks good. Safe travels.

    1. We prefer not to arrive after dark either, but when you choose the best price, you have to be flexible. We never get disoriented because we use the app on our phone.

  2. Love the model of Singapore and glad you enjoyed your stay there. We wouldn't like to spend long there but a few nights stop over each time we transit that way is great. Bet you enjoy the prices better in Bali though. Safe onward to Aus.

    1. They actually had a number of different models there but I think the one Kevin posted of the downtown area was the best one. We agree, several days at a time is just the right amount of time, we look forward to going back and seeing a different area next time.

      Yes, the prices are much better here in Bali! :-)

  3. Definitely need to add Singapore to our list!!!

  4. I stopped reading travel blogs two years ago as we had decided to stop our travels and settle down. Then yesterday, I suddenly thought "I wonder what Kevin and Ruth are doing these days". Oh my, what timing! You are off on a new and fantastic adventure to Australia and I'm afraid you will give me itchy feet again. Although your stay in Singapore was short, you have me and I am sure many other readers intrigued about this fascinating city. How do they manage to not have corruption I wonder? I wish you a wonderful time while in Australia and thank you for keeping up your blog.

    1. Well wasn't that great timing for you to check out our blog just when we are about to start out on a grand new venture. We hope that you will continue following along as we start exploring Australia, it is certainly going to be an interesting few months ahead of us.

      Singapore is a really interesting city and now that we have been there, there is so much more than we thought it was going to be, so much so that we now want to return and see more of it on another visit sometime in the future.

      Han said that they don't have corruption in their parliament because it isn't big to start with and they pay their leaders really, really well that they don't have a need to try and make even more money. Not sure this is the case but it sounds pretty logical.

  5. Fascinating blog. Loved your Singapore trip and now Bali. 2 places we would love to go. Now looking forward to Australia where we have spent time. How precious to spend time with the locals.

    1. We are so glad that you enjoyed our blog posts on Singapore and Bali. They are both places we wouldn't hesitate to return to. Singapore has more there than meets the eye, it really intrigued us. As for Bali we never even touch the surface really. Denpasar, certainly isn't why we would go to Bali for though. A day or two isn't too bad but we would never stay in the city longer than that, however we really look forward to returning and exploring the rural parts of Bali.

      Yes we were very lucky to have spent time with Han, Michelle and Adrian in Singapore, it gave us a whole new outlook on the city/country. They are very nice, friendly people. :-)

  6. HOw did the Tiger beer and the Bintang beer taste compared to the North American beer? Very interesting info about Singapore and how they live and conduct business. Very lucky for you to have met three locals who showed you some key aspects of their culture. As an aside...just an observation..Ruth's plate looked more appetizing than yours Kevin! hahaha! But I bet that beef was delicious.

    1. Kevin said that is a hard question to answer because there are so many different types of beer in North America. He thinks he liked the Tiger beer better than the Bintang but both were drinkable beers and he would buy either one again. They were better than any of the very cheap, lite beers in Canada or the USA.

      Yes, we were very fortunate to spend time with Han, Michelle and Adrian. Very enjoyable and knowledgeable people who were able to answer our many questions about the country and how it runs.

      Both plates of food were tasty but at least mine included some vegetables. :-)


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