Singapore: Part One

We just spent six days wandering through Singapore. We ran ourselves ragged (Chad has the blisters on his feet to prove it) doing all we could in the bustling city-state in Southeast Asia. I decided to split all that we did into six posts, as we did so much, and I wanted to be able to tell you all about it.

There were a couple of expectations I had of Singapore, one was that it would be extremely clean and pristine, the other was that it would be busy and crowded and crazy. I had come to the conclusion of its cleanliness after reading about the fines in place for things like chewing gum or not flushing the toilet. And I had assumed that the city was crowded and overly busy after reading about the fact that Singapore is not only a powerhouse in the Southeast Asian business arena, but in the world arena.

As it is with most assumptions and expectations, I was wrong. Singapore is very sculpted, it’s sidewalks wide and lined with trees and shrubbery. There was nature on the edge of everything that was carefully crafted to look natural. But it was not a sterile, gleaming place of cleanliness. No, I did not see any chewed gum on the street, but ironically I did see a few breath mint boxes littered on the ground at points. And the whole thing about having to flush the toilet law must have been overturned or something, because I can honestly say that I rarely went into a public restroom without having to clean off the toilet seat and flush it before using it.

I was also wrong about how overly busy the city would be. Yes, it is a huge metropolis, but it is so well set up, that I never felt like it was crazy or chaotic. Even traveling on the MRT at rush hour was manageable as far as how crowded it was because the infrastructure was prepared to handle it. In this aspect, I absolutely loved Singapore. Everything seemed to be planned to perfection and we were able to move about with ease.

Despite these little hiccups of my expectations being unreal (again, ack!) Singapore had much to do and see that made our trip fun and worthwhile.

We arrived at Changi Airport in the middle of the day and were quite excited to see many of the companies we knew and loved back in the States. We ate Quizno’s for lunch, which is not one of my favorites, but Chad was pretty happy about it. Our trip was starting out pretty well it seemed (because truly it is mostly about the food for me).

We had rented a room in someones house on (you can read about that here) that was supposed to be a quick walk from the Marymount SMRT station on the Circle Line. Honestly all that was like a foreign language to me until I looked at a map of the SMRT lines. It was incredibly easy to figure out where to transfer from one line to the next to make it to our destination. And with the airport being one of the terminal stops on the East West Line, it made it even easier to find our way. We bought 3 day tourist unlimited SMRT cards for S$30 (plus a S$10 deposit) because that was the highest amount of days possible. We hopped on the train and although we had to transfer two times, it was a piece of cake. Each station was clearly marked with where to go and all of the stations were baggage and stroller friendly. We arrived at the home where we were staying within an hour.



I unpacked while Chad researched where to find good beer and food in Singapore. Chad is a home brewer of beers and has been missing the hoppy beverages since we left California. In every new place we visit, Chad is on the look out for any place that may have beers from home.

Chad found a place called “The Good Beer Company” that was located in the Chinatown Complex. We hopped on the SMRT and arrived smack dab in the heart of Chinatown within 20 minutes.

We arrived at Chinatown station

We arrived at Chinatown station

Chinatown reminded us both of Taipei somewhat. Hearing mandarin being spoken, seeing the arts and crafts being sold at the booths, and smelling the delicious Chinese fare made us feel at like we were home. We wandered around, looking for the Chinatown Complex without much luck until we finally used Google Maps. We finally came upon the massive open building (resembling a parking garage really, but with booths selling food or clothing instead of parked cars), we quickly made our way to the second floor and found the little hole in the wall that sells all the good beers one could wish for. We picked up a couple of delicious dishes at some food sellers around there and sat down with our food and drink and enjoyed. Chad’s favorite dish was the carrot cake, or Chai Tow Kway, which is radish cakes fried with seasoning and egg and has a sweet and smoky flavor. Z and I had dumplings and they were made so perfectly that I had to go get a second plate.

Chad enjoying a hoppy beer

Chad enjoying a hoppy beer

After we had all had our fill, we waddled out of the complex and noticed that there was a stage right outside the door where some sort of celebration was going on. There were girls dancing, singing, and some sort of comedy routine as well (it was in Mandarin so I am not sure). I think it had something to do with Chinese New Year. We watched for a little while because Z loves dancing lately and really loved watching the dance troupes with their fans.

Right next door to the stage was the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. As we walked past it a parade started, four men dressed as lions and 5 or 6 men making a dragon on sticks dance around came out of the temple followed by monks playing drums and a long line of people holding what looked like large books walking behind them. They circled the temple a few times before we got up and started walking again. It seemed almost magical that all of these things were going on just as we arrived in the area. It was just perfect.

We ended the night by walking back through Chinatown, taking pictures, looking at the Chinese goods for sale, and just enjoying each other and the atmosphere. We hopped back on the SMRT and headed back to our home away from home and crashed early, preparing and resting for the next amazing day in Singapore.

Have you ever been to Singapore’s Chinatown? What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know!

(*** Chad took some amazing photos for this post and I was unable to get them to work, I will put up a gallery tomorrow)


Memories of 2013: Part 3

2014 has been off to a wonderful start, not only here in the blogosphere, but in our lives, too. I cannot wait to tell you all about the things we have planned in the coming months and the things we have already discovered and are doing so far this month.

Thank you again, truly, for reading, following, and sharing our blog. Our aim is to keep in touch with those we love, help fellow travelers, and to connect with people from all walks of life around the globe. Here’s to hoping that in 2014 all of these things will continue to flourish and thrive! xoxoxo

This is the final portion of our travels in 2013. We spent the last three months mostly in Hua Hin, Thailand, with some trips to Bangkok in between. These are my favorite pictures from October through December. I have linked the corresponding posts about Thailand under the pictures. If you want to read more of my posts on Thailand, type Thailand in the search box on the right hand side of your screen.

1-IMG_8559We made it to Bangkok and Z loved hiding in the apartment we rented off Can you find her?


Chad after one of our first Thai meals in Bangkok. He refuses to wear a flower behind his ear anymore, I don’t know why… I think it’s very handsome!


Hanging out on our balcony during our stay in Sea Harmony Guesthouse Hua Hin, Thailand. This was by far our favorite guesthouse in Thailand!


Our pool at our villa here in Khao Tao near Hua Hin. We can’t actually swim at night as the mosquitoes will eat us alive, but it sure is pretty.


My mom (Zoë’s Nana) came to visit us! Woo Hoo! (She wrote a guest post here. Thanks Mom!)


After picking up my Mom in Bangkok, we returned to this in Hua Hin. A massive storm hit the town and flooded the whole area. It also knocked our power out for two days and left us without running water for 12 days! It was a great welcome to Thailand for my mom.


On an elephant “trek” with the whole gang!


Pranburi Mangrove Nature Trail. Our little trail guide, Zoë. This was one of the most beautiful places in Hua Hin in my opinion.


Santa came and filled our stockings! One part of Christmas in Thailand meant using our (clean) socks for stockings.

Thank you again for reading and following us along on our world travels! Happy 2014!

Wednesday Write-Up: Memories Part 2

On Monday I started a week-long series sharing my favorite pictures from our travels in preparation for the new year. Mondays post encompassed our time traveling in the States, Curacao, Portugal, Disneyland Paris, and Budapest, Hungary. Today my post will … Continue reading

Wild, Wondrous Wulai

This week we decided to take the trek to a town just south of Taipei called Wulai. We traveled to Wulai many times when we lived here years ago. Wulai is famous for it’s natural hot springs,  waterfall, and a gondola that takes you to the top of the waterfall (yippee, I hope that you can detect my sarcasm in that expression). It is just a short 45 minute scooter ride from Taipei.  This time around we had to take public transportation because Chad and I are just not comfortable having all three of us on a scooter (it is possible, I have seen families of 5 on one scooter!). We mulled over the options to get there and decided to take the MRT to the Xindian stop (last stop on the green line) and then take the 849 bus to Wulai. It was the cheapest way to get to Wulai, just costing 7 NTD for the MRT and 15 NTD for the bus (about 75 cents US). You can take a taxi from the Xindian Station, but the going rate is 600 NTD ($21 US), so the decision was an easy one.

The Metro ride was smooth and painless, but long, taking about 45 minutes. The bus ride, on the other hand, was quite an adventure. We thought that going to Wulai mid-afternoon on a weekday would mean that the bus would be empty and we would have seats for the hour-long ride. As we got on the crowded bus, there was standing room only. “Ok”, I thought, “I can do this”, as I held my now sleeping two-year old with one arm and the plastic swinging handle above my head with the other hand. I was great until we started moving, that first pump on the gas, I almost fell backward into the crowd. The bus driver obviously thought he was practicing for the Indy 500, driving like a maniac over the tiny, winding, mountainous roads. I let go of the handle and grabbed onto one of the side bars like my life depended on it. I say I grabbed onto it, but what I really mean is I wrapped as many of my limbs around it as humanly possible. With each turn I could feel my arm (and leg) muscles straining and working out. Who knew that I could “pump iron” while taking a bus ride?!

When we got closer to the town, finally enough of the elderly people who have priority to the seats disembarked so I was able to sit down. I was shaky and a bit car sick, but I felt like I had just ran a marathon and came in first (obviously I would come in first, I am the ultimate example of fitness). All this excitement and we hadn’t even made it to Wulai yet!

When we arrived at the terminal stop in Wulai, we walked a short distance to the main road that takes you through the touristy part of the town. It  looks like a walking path, but be aware because taxi’s and scooters fly through there with apparent disregard for the many pedestrians diving out of the way.

The main thoroughfare through Wulai

The main thoroughfare through Wulai

The street is lined with souvenir shops selling aboriginal crafts (most of them looked like they were made in China, but some shops did look as though they had actual hand crafted products), Taiwanese sausage stands, and restaurants that all offered the same dishes. You can find out more about the dishes in this Pig Pig’s Corner blog post .  We grabbed a couple of sausages and started exploring.

Taiwanese BBQ sausage, yes please!

Taiwanese BBQ sausage, yes please!

Walking across the colorful bridge on our way to the waterfall

Walking across the colorful bridge on our way to the waterfall

A not so pretty way of getting power from one side of the river to the other

A not so pretty way of getting power from one side of the river to the other

The river is a greenish blue color and foggy from the hot springs

The river is a greenish blue color and foggy from the hot springs

Almost to the waterfall

Almost to the waterfall

Wulai is a fairly small town and is easily walked, after the tourist street, you cross a bridge to the actual town.  I always judge the size of a Taiwanese town by the amount of  7-11’s they have. Wulai has one 7-11, it is small, so don’t worry, even if you aren’t much of a hiker, walking through Wulai is doable. For those of you using strollers, there are no sidewalks, but the streets are nice enough where that was not an issue.

You can take a taxi to the waterfall which is about 1 km up the mountain, but I love to walk and we decided to trek it. The way is nicely paved, but is just one lane with no sidewalk, so make sure that you pay attention, because taxi’s will try to take you out at every blind turn.

A picture of the whole waterfall

Wulai Falls

The walk was non-strenuous and quick, taking only about 20-30 minutes. When we reached the waterfall area we realized that there was a little train that will take you from Wulai to the waterfall. I was happy to have walked though, it worked off the sausages that we ate along the way. We walked past more souvenir shops, some cafes, and the Wulai Tram Museum.

Also at the top of the hill is a gondola that takes very brave people to the top of the waterfall.  It is the oldest gondola in Taiwan. Yay… that was said with complete and utter respect and fear. Chad and I discussed taking it to the sights at the top of the waterfall that we have heard are amazing, including a restaurant called Tops that overlooks Wulai. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I love adventure, especially when it makes me fear for my life, but the bus ride already gave me enough adrenaline rush for one afternoon.

See those dots hanging over the gorge...yep, those are the gondolas... in fact the oldest gondolas in Taiwan

See those dots hanging over the gorge…yep, those are the gondolas… in fact, they are the oldest gondolas in Taiwan

We made it to the waterfall! And for some reason we decided it was a good idea to squat while taking the photo?! Anyways, you get half of the waterfall and us

We made it to the waterfall! And for some reason we decided it was a good idea to squat while taking the photo?!

Zoë was quite fascinated with the Wulai Falls

Zoë was quite fascinated with the Wulai Falls

A statue of an aboriginal man and his dog

A statue of an aboriginal man and his dog

We (meaning Chad) took some pictures of the waterfall and decided to take the Wulai Log Ride back down to town. We bought our 50 NTD tickets at the Wulai Tram Museum and boarded the train without waiting. As with any other tourist destination in Taiwan, I would highly suggest going to Wulai only on weekdays. There are very few people and no lines to speak of so it is much more enjoyable.

Painting of the Wulai Log Train

Painting of the Wulai Log Train

We walked back to the bus station and I boarded the 849 with some trepidation. We were lucky this time and Chad and Zoë got a seat. I felt like working out my now stronger muscles a little bit more, but soon a seat opened for me as well. We were able to take the bus all the way back to Taipei Main Station which cut about 20 minutes off our trip back.

I really enjoyed our trip to Wulai and we will definitely go back. We didn’t take the time to go in the natural (and free) hot springs, but will next time for sure. It was just sprinkling enough to make me not want to get into a swim suit. As far as the gondola goes, that will have to be done at another time, or maybe never… I say this as only a person scared of heights can hope.

Tamsui Terrific

When the weather report in Taipei says that there will be no rain, you learn to take advantage. This time of year (ok, any time of year really) there is a chance that you will have rain for days on end. Last Monday was one of those days for us.

Chad had the fabulous idea to take the trip to Tamsui (formerly known as Danshui) on what turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures of about 88º F and low humidity. It was perfect!

Chad, Zoë, and I hopped on the metro and within 45 minutes we alighted in Tamsui. This lovely town is easily reached by taking the red metro line to the Tamsui stop (it’s the terminal stop in that direction).

Tamsui has a diverse and interesting history which includes being controlled by the Portuguese, Dutch, and the French in the 17th and 18th centuries. You can see remnants of the different cultures in the architecture of many of the buildings.

We walked out of the metro station and took an immediate left into the tourist area of the town. The roads and alleys in that area are all one outdoor market lined with street food, carnival type game booths, little shops with souvenirs and novelties, and tea stands. We walked into one of the alleys and immediately noticed that one of the children’s clothing stands looked as though they rented out strollers that looked like the Little Tykes car. We decided to rent Z one, what a great way to entertain a two year old while walking around! Not only did Z love love love it, but it only cost 100NTD (under $4 US) for the WHOLE DAY!!! Back home you can’t even rent a stroller at the mall for less than $5 US. The whole afternoon and evening, Z “drove” her car and was actually happy to be contained.

Happy Girl Driving Her Car

Happy Girl Driving Her Car

We walked and Zoë drove down the walking path down the river and came upon the ferry that has routes to Tamsui Fishermans Wharf and Bali. We decided to take it to the fishermans wharf instead of walking (walking takes about 45 minutes). The ferry is a large speed boat, costs 75 NTD a person to get to the wharf (15 NTD for Zoë, but only on the way back for some reason), and we were able to take Zz’s car with us. 

We arrived at the dock near a fantastic looking walking bridge called the “Lovers Bridge.” There were a couple of restaurants with outdoor seating along the pier and then we came upon a strange looking arcade called “Bubble Sea World”. We decided to stop so Chad and I could play some games Z could try out some of the arcade games. She ran around for a bit and when we made to leave the teenage guy working there gave Zoë a little 2013 planner book. She was so excited and got right in her car to read it while she drove. We are training her to be a safe driver already.

Playing Whack-A-Mole Photo By Jennifer Mitchell

Playing Whack-A-Mole
(c) andthreetogo

Playing the Drums

Playing the Drums
(c) andthreetogo

We made our way over the Lovers bridge and walked through a little building that had kiosks selling dried fruit, iron eggs, and other Taiwanese fare. There is a large park on that side of the bridge, but we didn’t see a playground so decided to just head back to the ferry and go get some dinner.

Lovers Bridge

Lovers Bridge


We took the ferry back and walked around the market running through all the alleys in the area. We decided to eat at a chain restaurant called “Easy House” because Zoë wanted french fries. After her being sick and having the seizure, and because she was being so good driving her car around that whole day, we were admittedly spoiling her a lot little bit.

Easy House  has numerous locations through Taipei. As we went to order from their diverse menu, we realized that they are a vegetarian restaurant. I love that Taiwan has so many options for vegetarians. I myself am not one, but I usually go without meat in my meals and enjoy the creativity that goes into vegetarian/vegan food. Chad and I ordered a fried sampler platter (obviously we were spoiling ourselves too) and an amazing veggie burger. The EZ Burger was not just a normal veggie burger, it was a soft fresh bun stacked with two fried eggs, two burgers, two different types of lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and a sauce that was downright delicious. The thing must have been 8 inches tall! Chad and I split it and we all left feeling full and satisfied.

After dinner, Zz hopped back into her car and we made our way back to the metro station. We took our time and enjoyed the fact that we were finally at a market at night. We stopped along the way and Chad won Z a toy shooting balloons. We went and bought some souvenirs for friends back home. It is hard to describe the fun and free feeling of walking down an alley lit by neon and fluorescent lights, past all the people selling their wares, and their voices yelling at you to come see what they have for you in Mandarin. It is almost overwhelming all that you can see, eat, drink, and buy. At night it just feels amplified and surreal.

We returned the car stroller with just a little fuss from Z and hopped back on the metro to go home.

Spending the day in Tamsui made us feel like we were traveling again. Being in Taipei so far has been like being back home for us, so doing something like taking an afternoon to see the sights reminded us what we are doing and why we are doing it. We are on an amazing journey to see the world. I am excited for all the travels to come and being able to share them with you. 

Wednesday Write-Up: Who’s Afraid of Heights?

We are back in the travel mode and are taking every opportunity to explore our surroundings while we are still staying in Taipei. Yesterday we decided to take the afternoon and check out Maokong. Maokong is a suburb of Taipei, set … Continue reading

The Best Bookstore For Kids in Taipei

I have been to many bookstores in my lifetime. I love to read and now that I have a daughter, I love reading to her. I strive to have many books for her to choose from, although she usually sticks to the same one over and over and over…

When we lived here before, Eslite bookstore (Store website in Chinese here or information in English here) was a place where we could find hundreds, if not thousands of English books, which was unlike any other bookstore that we found in the city. I was excited to take Zoë to the childrens section to check it out, so she and I ventured there last week.


(c) andthreetogo

Eslite has over 40 stores now in Taiwan and was the first 24 hour bookstore in Taiwan at their Dunhua Road, Taipei location. Z and I took the metro to the Taipei City Hall stop (on the blue line) and walked a few minutes to the entrance of the Eslite building. This branch, the Xinyi branch, is now their flagship building and boasts of 8000 m2 of shopping, food counters, and of course their bookstore.

We entered the building and walked through the high-end clothing sellers and went up the escalators to the 4th floor, which is where the children’s area is.

The wonderful thing about the Eslite building is that each floor has the same kind of vendors, so finding something like a specialty soap is easy because you can choose from numerous shops selling that product on the same floor.

The floor with the childrens books also houses all the vendors for child appropriate crafts, toys, and baby supplies. Once you get off on this floor with your child, be prepared to run after them. There was so many products that Z wanted to take home and crafts that she, ok, I wanted to do.

After running around the shops for a while, Z and I made our way into the book area. The layout is organized and decorated well. I unfortunately do not have pictures of this part as photos are not allowed (per a large sign as you enter the area).

There is a small section of English books, as well as toys, crafts, and art supplies. Many parents and grandparents were just sitting and reading to their children or grandchildren. Zoë and I also sat and read a couple of books and then we looked around at the crafts and art supplies.

Reading By Herself Photo Taken By Jennifer Mitchell

Reading By Herself
(c) andthreetogo

The products that they offered are often American or from another western country and are well made and the price shows it. I did find a clearance area though that had many learning tools, books, and puzzles for reasonable prices.

An amenity that makes this floor of the building amazing for parents, is that they have a breastfeeding and baby changing area. It is clean and has a water cooler for formula, a hand washing station with specialty soaps and lotions, high chairs, private breastfeeding rooms and a diaper changing area. This is worth its weight in gold. As we have traveled a nice diaper changing area has been hard to find, so I practically cried with joy that I didn’t have to change Z’s poopy diaper while she stood in a dirty toilet stall.

Not the Best Picture, But the Best Baby Changing Area I Have Found in Taipei Photo Taken by Jennifer Mitchell

Not the Best Picture, But the Best Baby Changing Area I Have Found in Taipei
(c) andthreetogo

Zoë and I had a wonderful time together at Eslite Bookstore and I hope to take her back again soon to make some of the painted pottery, or read some more books to her. It is a great way to spend time with your little one, especially if you want to keep them out of the heat. It was another wonderful mommy-daughter day thanks to Eslite!

Terrific Day at the Taipei Zoo

Today we took Zoë to the doctor and got confirmation that she does indeed have heat rash (10 days now, I hate seeing my baby uncomfortable). The doctor gave Zoë a prescription of steroid cream that seems to be working well. Poor thing was up most the night last night scratching, hence the doctor visit. I love visiting a country where we can see a doctor and get a prescription for a total of about $25, but that is a topic for another day.

Since Zz was feeling better and her rash seemed to improve after applying the cream, we decided to take her to the Taipei Zoo.

When Chad and I lived here five years ago, we ventured to this wonderful zoo three or four times. We loved it and when we returned here, one of the things we were looking forward to was taking Zoë to experience it as well.

The Taipei Zoo is located in the Muzha district of Taipei, you can take the metro to the terminal stop on the Taipei brown metro line. The “Taipei Zoo” metro stop drops you off within a 2 minute walk of the zoo entrance. You can also take a taxi, but the metro is much cheaper and actually very comfortable.

We took the metro, or “choo choo” as Z calls it, and landed at the zoo this afternoon. It was raining at our house, but the weather there was beautiful and sunny. This is typical for Taipei, the storm clouds seem to pick one area and stick to it on any given day, I was glad that the storms left the zoo area alone today. We all needed some time out of the house.

Zoë was very excited to be going to the zoo, and became even more excited as she walked past the metal sculptures of animals on the way to the entrance.

Zoë loves the sculptures on the walk to the Taipei Zoo

Zoë loves the sculptures on the walk to the Taipei Zoo
(c) andthreetogo

We paid our admission fees (60 NT a person, but it was buy one get one free for adults, and children under 6 are free, so we paid about $3 to go to the zoo!) and entered the park.

The ticket window

The ticket window
(c) andthreetogo

Immediately, all three of us noticed the children playing in a fountain type water play area. We took Z’s shoes off and let her run around in the water for some time. It was a great way to cool her off before we started to walk around and see the animals. She had a blast. Not only did she have fun, but there seemed to be a Zoë fan club going on as well. There was literally a line of people waiting to take their picture with the little Wàiguó rén (foreigner). At first we relented and felt even honored, and then it got a bit crazy (probably dating myself, but think of the NKOTB fans and how they would have felt getting a picture with Jordan) so we stopped it. It felt a little like Zz was an animal in the zoo that everyone came to see and we both were worried that it would make her scared or something.

Zoë playing in the fountain

Zoë playing in the fountain

After we dodged the fan club, we started walking around the park. The wonderful and beautiful thing about the Taipei Zoo is that they have built it utilizing the existing landscape. The jungle that surrounds the zoo is part of the zoo. It is luscious and green and makes it fun to walk from habitat to habitat.

The park is large and we knew that we wouldn’t be able to see it all in one day, especially since we were being careful to keep Z cool and not exacerbate her heat rash.

We checked out the panda’s (which are way cuter in real life), the koalas, the elephants, hippos, tigers, and the list goes on. Zoë loved just stopping to watch the animals and also to pick up leaves and clean the ground with them. She definitely takes after her mama, a bit on the obsessive compulsive side.

Z hugging a panda statue (that was made to look as though it is marking it's territory)

Z hugging a panda statue (that was made to look as though it is marking it’s territory)

Zoë cleaning the handrails with a leaf Photo Taken By Jennifer Mitchell

Zoë cleaning the handrails with a leaf
(c) andthreetogo

We left as the call went out that the park was closing. We left much of the park to see for another day, but with such inexpensive entrance fees, we figure we will take Zoë back numerous times during our visit to this great city.

As we left, we again had a crowd of people following us, asking to have their pictures taken with Zoë (Justin Beiber, you have obviously been replaced in Taiwan). We kindly declined the pleas as the line of people was getting rather long to get a snapshot with her. We ran to a taxi and headed home, the metro just felt too long a trip after running around all afternoon.

Whether you have kids or not, the Taipei Zoo should be on your must do list when you visit here. It is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, a day, or whatever time you can give it. I promise you it will be time well spent!

Zoë gives the zoo a thumbs up

Zoë gives Taipei Zoo a thumbs up