Singapore is unlike any other city...10 laws punishable by fine and jail in Singapore...

Sri Mariamman Temple which we'll tour in the next few days.
Its expensive in restaurants, hotels and for products and services.  We realized this fact prior to booking a one week stay when we had a gap to fill in the itinerary and hoped to apply for necessary visas.

So far, we're doing well staying within our daily dining budget of US $100, SGD $135 per day.  We're reading online reviews on local restaurants as well as walking through the area to check out endless menus posted outside a wide array of restaurants.  This is an adventure in itself!

Shoes left outside the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple.
With the two embassies we visited yesterday and this morning, we weren't able to have breakfast before heading out nor did either of us have coffee or tea, fearing we'd have to make to bathroom stop.  We've been on a mission to get as many of these three visas knocked off.

Hindu temples rooftop adorned with the revered cows in India.
By noon, we'd returned from today's two embassy visits with the much needed completed Vietnam visas we collected first thing this morning.  From there, another taxi ride to the Thai Embassy where again we applied for another visa for the upcoming  six week stay in Phuket. 

Soon, we'll tour the Sri Mariamman Temple in its entirety.
Efficiency and organization is of the utmost importance in Singapore, we weren't surprised when the process at the Thai embassy would be seamless as it was at the Vietnam Embassy. 

We were well prepared with all of the required documents including passports and extra passport photos, copies of airline tickets in and out of Thailand accompanying both completed signed applications with cash fees of SGD $100, US $74.14.

Chinatown is a very exciting area to scout.
On the return drive to our area, we stopped at a restaurant for a somewhat mediocre brunch/lunch.  Currently, we're back at our hotel preparing today's post and documenting all the receipts we've accumulated over these past few days.

Each business has its own unique storefront.
Once we're done with these tasks, we'll make a plan for the remainder of the day, most likely heading back outside to walk more of the exciting streets surrounding us.  We chose a perfect location allowing us to walk to one amazing area after another.

At dusk, the streets began to fill with hungry tourists and locals.
Based on timing, we won't be able to apply for the Indonesian visa while in Singapore.  With a morning flight on Tuesday and the fact the Thai Embassy has our passports right now which we'll collect tomorrow between 2 and 3 pm, the required time slot, we won't have time to apply for the Indonesian visa with its two to three day processing.

The number of dining options in our immediate area is astounding.  We'll try a new spot each night.
As a result, we've decided to wait and apply for Indonesia once we're in Hanoi arriving next week for a five night stay.  The Indonesian Embassy in a 10 minute drive from the Hanoi hotel allowing us ample time to get it done with relative ease, we hope.. 

The evenings activities begin at dusk in Singapore with lots of cars, taxis and pedestrians. 
With peace of mind intact, we've begun to relax a little to fully embrace this short period in Singapore as long as we observe some of the peculiar laws in this country which may result in fines and jail time:

On our first night we wandered through Chinatown at dusk.  Diners had yet to arrive for the evening rush.

1.  The sale of or chewing gum is strictly forbidden anywhere in the country.

2. No walking naked in one's own house.

3. No jaywalking.

4. Failure to flush the toilet in a public venue.

5. No urinating in elevators.

6. No public displays of kissing or cuddling.

7. Gay and lesbians couples are not allowed to live in the country.

8. It is illegal to come within 50 meters of a pedestrian crossing marker on any street.

9. It is considered illegal to enter the country with cigarettes.

10. Singapore is not a place for lefties. It is considered rude to eat, wave and greet with your left hand because it is associated with using the bathroom.

Interesting historic buildings are seen throughout the city as well as modern high rise hotels, business centers and residential properties.
Of course, there are serious consequences including public canning for failure to observe these and all laws.  As a result of the strict laws, there is little crime in Singapore.  In addition, there are no typical slum areas.  Every area is clean and maintained to perfection.

Also, there's no "countryside" in Singapore.  The entire small country is built and developed into one of the most influential business meccas in the world.  So far, we've met and spoken to many business travelers from many countries.

The exterior our hotel, the Scarlet Singapore.  Its quite a steep walk up or down the road.
Mandarin is the primary language although many service providers speak some English.  Many locals have a thick accent and with Tom's bad hearing, I've been "translating" for him as needed.

More on Singapore as we continue to explore this country over these next few days.  With the high cost for tourism here, a one week visit will prove to have been ideal for our needs.  In the interim, we're enjoying every moment.

Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2015:
After leaving the beach we drove to a high point in the Yorkey's Knob area of Australia with this expansive view. For more details. please click here.

Arrived in Singapore...Oh my, this city is over the top!

We'd expected the Vietnam Embassy to be guarded and much larger.  As often is the case, many embassies are converted larger homes.
Its spotlessly clean, low in crime, meticulously managed and literally filled with unusual shops, restaurants, boutiques and hotels that literally take one's breath away.  Although we're not city people, its impossible for us not to be totally entranced by this magical place.

Upon entering the iron gates we walked this driveway to the Vietnam Embassy receiving fast efficient service.
Our flight was relatively uneventful from Denpasar, Bali to Singapore's highly rated Changi Airport.  We flew on one of the cheapest airlines on the planet, Jetstar, with a good safety record but without even a glass of tap water in included.

There were no pillows, no blankets, no movies, nor a nut or a cracker available for a cranky traveler. The seats are a little tight but were leather and more comfortable with more legroom than on most US airlines

Desk area in our upgraded hotel room at the Scarlet Singapore, a boutique hotel, affordably priced. This are is now cluttered with all of our extension cords and plugins.  We'll post final expenses on our last day.
In any case, our plane arrived safely without incident and once again, we were grateful for a good overall flight to another foreign land.  Once off the plane, we quickly made our way through immigration, customs and baggage pickup.

The bed and bedding are extremely comfortable.
In no less than 20 minutes from touching down we were in the taxi queue again without a wait.  Within a half hour we arrived at our hotel, The Scarlet Singapore, a Paris influenced boutique hotel, quite similar to the boutique hotel in Paris in 2014 where we spent two weeks.

We'd read  that hotel rooms in general are small in Singapore.  Once we checked in we asked to see the room we'd booked before having our bags moved.  It was as tiny as a balcony cabin on a cruise ship. 

The French style furnishings in our upgraded room are typical in boutique hotels. 
I asked for an upgrade which we rarely do.  We can manage a tiny room on a ship but the first hotel room we inspected was simply too small at 174 square feet, 16 square meters. For an additional US $344, SGD $435, we were upgraded to the sweetest Parisian hotel room one could imagine, roomy and with every possible amenity including free wifi and free minibar.

The flat screen TV has multiple English speaking channels.  Its good to be able to watch world news.
After a good night's sleep, we grabbed an 8:20 am taxi to the Vietnam Embassy to begin the process of acquiring the three needed visas while in Singapore including Thailand and Indonesia (for the upcoming second stay in two months).

I can't wait to use the tub when we have a little more time in the morning.  Few vacation homes have bathtubs.
Getting the timing to work is tricky when each embassy requires to keep our passports for a few days.  The process is only applicable on weekdays.  We're here only until next Tuesday, not leaving us enough time to accomplish all three.

Instead we decided to apply for Vietnam (double entry) and Thailand which are most imminent.  We can apply for Indonesia while in Hanoi for five days starting next week. 

There's also a spacious shower as well as fluffy robes.
The taxi ride was 30 minutes from our downtown location and surprisingly the traffic wasn't as busy as we'd expected at rush hour.  Arriving at the embassy a few minutes early allowed us to be first in line with our documents. 

We opted to pay the SGD $660, US $489 fees for both visas in order to be able to collect our passports and visas first thing tomorrow morning when we'll be on our way back once again.  From there, we'll head to the Thai embassy to start the next process.  If it goes as smoothly as it did this morning, we'll be very grateful.

The room has adequate lighting and ample amenities.
Last night, we wandered the safe streets of Chinatown to scout for a restaurant. We found a cozy gourmet spot with a Michelin star rating.  Tom's full lobster tail risotto was delicious but my 4 ounce, .11 kg slab of boney Barramundi on a bed of greens was mediocre and certainly not enough for an entire meal. 

The complementary mini bar, restocked daily have everything we need.  There's even a bottle of Pelligrino in the fridge, my favorite bottled water.  Its safe to drink tap water in Singapore.
On the return walk to the hotel we stopped at a Seven Eleven to purchase raw nuts to fill in the blanks for me during our stay.  In both Paris and London, nuts were a lifesaver for me when many of the items served in restaurants aren't sufficient as a filling meal. 

After perusing menus of dozens of restaurants, we have a plan to try many anyway and see how they'll accommodate my diet.  Steamed or sautéed veggies, chicken, pork, fish and seafood will certainly work in any case. I'm not concerned it will work out well.  More on that as time progresses.

Tom's lobster risotto from Cato Restaurant last night.  He said it was delicious containing an entire large lobster tail draped acoss the top under a pile of pungent parmesan cheese.
This city is conducive to lots of walking which we're sure will be our primary means of checking out this amazing location.  As for major sightseeing, we're holding off until we get at least tomorrow's embassy visit accomplished.  But, we already have dozens of city photos we're looking forward to sharing.

We'll be back with more tomorrow, again a late posting after we return from the two embassies.  In a few hours we'll be taking off on foot once again to explore this eclectic and fascinating city.

Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2015:

A pretty restaurant on a corner on the Esplanade in Palm Cove, Australia.  For more photos, please click here.

Singapore, here we come!...Exceptional hotel and meal in Denpasar...Photos!

Charming Chef Suhaimi spent considerable time discussing my menu options and creating a meal I'd have loved even if my restrictive diet wasn't necessary.  Also, we shared travel stories with him when coincidentally, he's from Singapore where we'll be arriving later today.  He also lived in Thailand (where we'll be in three weeks) and then in Dubai which we visited in 2013.
Our expectations for the Hilton Garden Inn in Denpasar, close to the airport, were few.  At IDR  $817,705, US $61 per night, we assumed it would be as basic as a hotel room could be. 

My crab and avocado salad was crispy and tart with a lemon garlic olive oil dressing Chef Suhaimi made especially for me.

My buttery dish of salmon and vegetables with a tangy tarragon sauce Chef Suhaimi had prepared was flavorful, fresh and seasoned to perfection.
The fact we'd be at the hotel for less than 24 hours, it wasn't necessary to stay in an upscale hotel.  If it was clean, with free wifi, comfortable bedding and a few amenities, we'd be content.

Tom, 21 pounds slimmer than when we arrived in Bali two months ago, couldn't wait to tackle this bread. 
Little did we know that we'd find ourselves in a hotel befitting a nightly IDR $2,681,000, US $200 or more price tag for the low price we'd booked at this Expedia link on our website

Tom's mushroom soup with a Tepenade Crustini.
We left the villa at 9:45 am, stopped for fuel and for Butu to purchase a SIM card for directions on his phone, as well as one quick restroom breaks (yep, that on the floor toilet again which I figured out how to use this time!).  We didn't arrive at the hotel until 2:45.  It was a long five hours in traffic.

Tom's lemon chicken entrée with mashed potatoes, and roasted vegetable.
What a relief it was when we finally pulled into the hotel to see it was considerably more appealing than we'd expected.  With security checking both us and our bags and only a few short minutes at the check-in desk we were on our way up to our room on the second floor.

Tom's Oreo Raspberry Cheesecake dessert.
After we settling into our room, we explored the property taking photos and checking out the dinner menu.  After the many hours on the road, we had no interest in taking a taxi to dinner and hoped we'd find good options in the hotel.

We were surprised the reasonable bill for our dinner.  Tom had the fixed priced meal, the "Set Western" which included a cocktail of his choice.  He chose a frozen Marguerita.  This total of tour dinner was IDR $744,150 was US $51.50 including 21% in taxes and gratuity. 
We'd read several excellent reviews at TripAdvisor for both the hotel and restaurant inspiring us to give it a try.  We weren't disappointed at all especially when Chef Suhaimi couldn't do enough to make an exceptional meal for me. 

Outdoor dining area.  It was cloudy and we opted to dine indoors.
He also spent time chatting with us as we each shared some worldwide experiences. He made the suggestion that we take a photo together as shown here today.  We gave him one of our cards so he can check out today's post.

Interesting artworks are highlighted throughout  the hotel.
The courses were well paced by a conscientious wait staff, the food fresh, seasoned well, hot and beautifully presented. We never felt rushed or, a sense of waiting too long for the next course.  Timing is such an integral aspect of a finely served meal.  Without this element, even great food can seem mediocre. 

The swimming pool is much larger than most hotel pool.
This morning, we decided to try the hotel's buffet breakfast with made to order omelets, eggs, bacon, waffles and a variety of Balinese dishes.  Tom was in his glory when they had donuts, white toast and pastries along with pork bacon and fried eggs. 

View from second level to the bar.
Of course, Tom has no intention of staying with our way of eating over these next weeks until after we settle in Phuket on July 22nd when I'll begin cooking again after a three month hiatus.  I zipped it up and didn't say a word.

The hotel hosts business events providing many ample seating areas for conversations.
For breakfast I had a delicious fresh egg omelet with veggies, chicken and cheese with a side of bacon, a few bits of gourmet cheeses and steamed broccoli.  Once again, we were thrilled with an excellent meal and good service.

I reached out to touch these beautiful orchids in the lobby to ensure they were real.  They were.
The total bill for breakfast was IDR $242,000, US $18.30 including tax and gratuity.  Having prepaid the hotel for our reservation at time of booking all we had to cover was the cost for the two meals at a total of IDR $986,150, US $69.30.

The hotel's public areas are tastefully decorated.
With plenty of Indonesian rupiah remaining, this morning after breakfast I visited the desk to pay the balance in cash and confirm our free shuttle to the airport at 11:45 am. 

The king sized bed is comfortable with fluffy pillows and quality bedding.
Although we'll be back in a few months, there is no point in carrying rupiahs to other countries.  We have enough rupiah remaining to pay for beverages at the airport during the wait for the flight. \

The bathroom is well appointed and designed with upscale soaps and lotions.
Tomorrow's post may not be available until approximately six hours later than usual since we'll be leaving our hotel by 8:30 am on our way to the Vietnam Embassy to apply for the first of three visas.  However, if we find we have time tonight it will appear at our usual time.  Please check back!  See you soon!
Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2015:
This was one of our favorite spots located on William Esplanade in Palm Cove Beach in Australia.  The vivid colors reminded us of the village in Placencia, Belize from so long ago.  For more details, please click here.

Off we go!...Final expenses for two months in West Bali in an exceptional property...Final favorite photos...

It was business as usual with Tom wearing a sarong as the required dress to enter the temple. He had a hard time managing the steps.  He just didn't have the same experience as women who've worn long dresses, knowing when to hold up the hem for ease in walking.

Me, at the monkey temple wearing the required sarong.
"Sightings on the Beach in Bali"

The flow of the river at low tide. 
This is our last post from the West Bali villa.  Soon driver Butu will arrive to drive us on the harrowing four hour trip back to Denpasar which is only 74.5 miles, 120 km, where we'll spend tonight in a hotel prior, flying to Singapore tomorrow afternoon.

This is where we dined each night with views of the pool and the sea.
We're excited for the upcoming two months in Southeast Asia, especially once we've completed the process of acquiring  the three necessary visas hanging over our heads while we're in Singapore for a week. 

The entrance to the villa.  Water spouts from the trunks of these elephant statues.  There are Koi pools in front of each statue.
The packing went well especially since we're able to leave the duffel bag behind in the storage room awaiting our return, saving us hauling an extra 25 pounds, 11 kg, of items we won't need in the heat of Southeast Asia. 

These two chaise lounges provided us with shade for part of the day.  Later, we'd move to the shade of the cabana.
After completing the packing yesterday, we weighed our bags only required to pay US $19.39, IDR $260,000 for the excess online.  That was good news.

The villa from the beach side.
Yesterday, Gede stopped by to say goodbye. We presented him with a generous tip for all he'd done for us.  This morning we tipped the two Kataks and Ribud.  They were grateful, graciously acknowledging the tokens of our appreciation. Interacting with the four staff members six days a week had been delightful.

The infinity pool and Jacuzzi view from the second level.
Also, yesterday was  our last day poolside.  It rained in the morning with the sun not peeking out until around 11 am.  Once the sky cleared we couldn't get outdoors quickly enough to sit in the comfy shaded chaise lounges on our last day at the villa.

By early afternoon, it rained again driving us back indoors while it rained into the evening and again this morning. Overall, we've had very few rainy days during these past two months.

Kingfisher sitting atop a palm frond.
As we prepared the final expenses, using all the data we'd previously entered on the spreadsheet we were astounded to see how affordable the two months in Bali proved to be. 

Four buffaloes passing on the beach.  Its amazing these young kids can handle these large animals which obviously know them and cooperate.
Once you peruse these numbers, you too may be surprised at the reasonable cost of living in this fabulous property with a full staff to attend to our needs.  We can't thank the staff and owners enough for the finite attention to detail in this property and anticipate our return with happy hearts.

Dragon fruit, a popular local item. 
Here's the numbers which are among the most reasonable we've seen in our 44 months of world travel:

Expenses for 59 nights:  US Dollar to IDR Indonesian Rupiah

Vacation Rent:   US $ 4,648.03  IDR $62,330,082.30
Airfare:             US      579.96   IDR     7,777,263.60
Taxi:                 US     403.00    IDR     5,404,230.00
Visa Extension:  US     122.57    IDR     1,643,663.70
Tips/Laundry:    US     435.22    IDR     5,836,300.20
Wifi (SIM card)  US       20.32    IDR        272,491.20
Groceries:         US     935.00    IDR    12,538,350.00
Restaurant:       US       60.00    IDR         804,600.00
Hotel:               US       61.00    IDR         818,010.00
Pharmacy:         US      28.00     IDR        375,480.00

Total:                             US $ 7,293.10  IDR $97,800,471.00
Average Monthly Cost:  US $ 3,759.80  IDR $50,418,918.00  

Average Daily Cost:       US $    123.61  IDR $16,576,279.17

Flower market in Lovina. 
The above referenced grocery total included the cost for all the items purchased by the cooks for our meals plus all items we purchased on our own.  The above mentioned restaurant amount is an estimate for tonight's dinner in Denpasar.

Beach views.
We couldn't be more pleased with this Bali experience in its depth and breadth of what we've learned about the Balinese way of life, the affordable cost of living, the luxury and ease of living in this beautiful villa and the wonderful people we've come to know and love. 

Beach views from second story at high tide.
We'll be back tomorrow with comments after dinner in a restaurant and the night in the Hilton hotel in the capital city of Denpasar!

Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2015:
One of many quaint outdoor/indoor restaurants along Williams Esplanade In Palm Cove beach in Australia.  Please click here for more details.