California: San Francisco Day 5 and 6

You can definitely feel the difference between Southern and Northen California. San Francisco is a bit chillier and it was really cloudy once we got there.

The flight between LA and San Francisco is really short. By the time you go up and you have to land again.

San Francisco, just like LA is really easy to get around using Uber/Lyft. The difference here is that public transport seems more convenient and accessible. One ticket is $2.5 and you can board another bus/street car up to 2.5 hours afterwards.

There is also SF BART which will cost you around $8 from the airport to Powell St.

After we arrived we headed downtown to find something for breakfast. As expected most places have lineups so keep that in mind. Brunch is a big thing apparently in SF.

This trip was a lot less structured due to not having enough time to plan and the shortness of our stay. 20170327_105731-2.jpgFrom Powell St once you’re out and the Cable Car is pretty much the first thing you see. It’s a huge attraction and always have a large crowd waiting to go for a ride. Tickets are $7 per person and are sold nearby.

We got on a street car and headed to Pier 1 since we had tickets to Alcatraz later on. Pier one is full of small markets where you can buy coffee, a snack, bread, cheese, honey, and other foods. Your stay in there would most likely depend on your budget.

Pier 39 and Alcatraz

This was our first big event for the day. I don’t think I need to explain what Alcatraz Island really is. It is amazing how they managed to turn a prison into a huge tourist attraction that brings so much money.

SAM_9964-2.jpgI think the best place to buy tickets is from http://www.alcatrazcruises.com. Not trying to advertise or anything but they’re the ones that actually sail to the island and not just around it. For $35 you get 2 way ferry ride plus audi tour of the cell block. I have to say it’s totally worth it. There is a boat schedule all over the island so you can plan to stay as much or as little as you’d like. Once you land there’s a bit of a walk until you reach the cells.

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The place is still pretty accessible since you can get a small bus/train that goes from the landing all the way up. Once inside, you get your audio tour and you’re on your way. The tour last 45 minutes and it’s pretty interactive.

There are also other events happening on the island which unfortunately didn’t have time to explore.

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The last boat departs Alcatraz at 5:30PM so after everything we had dinner in a Thai restaurant in a sketchy neighborhood and called it a day.

Next Day

We began the day boarding the cable car to the Fisherman’s Wharf.

20170327_115025-2.jpgThe ride is real fun. Obviously you can get to the pier much cheaper with streetcar but I don’t know if you can experience such a ride anywhere else. It takes probably 45 minutes to its final destination. You can see Alcatraz from there as well.

Once at the pier there are plenty of things to do. 20170327_120002-2.jpgOne of those things was Hyde St Pier where you can go aboard those ships but I wasn’t really excited to see those. Not to mention the Maritime Museum in San Diego is probably much better for pretty much the same price.

There are also a lot of places where you can rent a bike, scooter or other means to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Sadly we couldn’t do any of those so we headed back to Pier One.

From Pier one we walked around and grabbed a fairly long streetcar ride to Twin Peaks.

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There’s not really much to do there but if you want to get the best view of San Francisco this is it! Plenty of tourists here.

Looking back I don’t think we were explore most of San Francisco but we were happy with everything we saw.
Definitely wanted to check Golden Gate Park or walk across the bridge itself. Another time maybe.

In the meantime if you ever fly from San Francisco through JFK make sure you have enough time to transfer flights. We had one hour so due to delay we spent 12 more hours flying through Salt Lake City and Boston.

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Singapore Pt. 2

Day 3

I had the same dilemma again – where to go? I read about Changi Museum which was about Singapore’s civilian population during Japanese occupation and decided to go there. Jay came with me and our first stop was Chinatown again. We wanted to visit the Indian temple in the area which turned out to be closed for renovation, and a Buddhist temple which was fortunately open. IMG_8664IMG_8658 After exploring around we went to have lunch nearby and finally got the MRT to the station where we were supposed to take the bus to the museum. That place wasn’t very near but we still managed to get there on time.It was an unique experience reading about the events that happened in Singapore during WWII. The story about those people there was really touching and it was something you don’t get to learn in history classes. I read pretty much everything and the only bad side was I couldn’t take any pictures inside. When we finished , the only thing nearby was Changi village and we went there to have dinner and look around. IMG_8682IMG_8688 Before eating at the local market we explored the beach park on the east side of Singapore. We had some Malay food for dinner and then got the bus and went back to the hostel.

In the evening I went to have dinner and Pauline’s mom made some delicious food for us.

Day 4

Jomel came back from Japan and the three of us with Mei Ling were going to Sentosa Island that day. IMG_8749 We met around 11AM at the MRT and had lunch in the mall. When we finished lunch we bought our tickets and got the train to the island. The fun package got us 3 different attractions so after stopping we went to our first destination. On the way there we passed by the fake Merlion which was also an attraction and took a few shots in front of it.

IMG_8762 The first stop was the history of Singapore from the beginning to present days. IMG_8770 IMG_8787

IMG_8812IMG_8815 Attraction #2 was the tower from which we could see the whole city. sentosa big

From there we went to the beach and stayed there, but later it started to  rain. We were anticipating the beginning of “songs of the sea” which was a very special laser show at Sentosa in the evening.

IMG_8878 IMG_8863 It started at 7PM and lasted for more than an hour and it was really unique – probably the best show of this kind that I’ve ever seen.

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In the evening we went for a drink and walk with my friends from the hostel. We went to the river again and stayed there until almost 4:30AM.

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Day 5

After waking up I packed my luggage and brought everything downstairs. It was my last day in Singapore and that night we had to take the train from JB to Kuala Lumpur. Kay and Sandy left early in the morning to HK and rushed to the airport around noon. We weren’t leaving Singapore until around 10PM so I just spend the time staying at the hostel. In the evening me and Ju went to have dinner nearby and said “bye” to each other cause she was going somewhere else and I was leaving Singapore. 17845_1327839762806_1435302914_893922_3563651_n

After I went back I got all my stuff and got to the MRT where I met Pauline. I couldn’t say “goodbye” to Jay but he didn’t come back while I was still in the hostel. From the MRT we got the bus to the border and after that everything went pretty smooth. We got to JB and almost missed the train but in the end we managed to get it. We got beds in the train so I fell asleep pretty fast and woke up next day around ½ hour away from KL

Malaysia Day 4

Arriving so early at the train station has certain disadvantages. Nothing over there is open so in order to leave my luggage we had to wait until 9. We got McDonalds(one of the few places open) for breakfast and planned where to go next. My plane was leaving at 4PM so there were not many places to visit. We went to central market again where I bought souvenirs, got lunch nearby, and went to the bus station again cause the bus to the airport was leaving from there. IMG_4007

I arrived at the airport just in time and checked in my luggage. Everything went smooth as usual and around 5PM we left Malaysia. I was going to see Taipei one more time =)

The flight wasn’t very pleasant because the plane was shaking too much and I couldn’t even sleep.IMG_4012

So much for that trip…it sure was GREAT!

Singapore Pt. 1

Day 1

I arrived at Singapore at 1AM after a long drive from Kuala Lumpur.

Map picture

At Johor Bahru we got a cab which took us across the border. We passed without any delays, even though the woman at the customs kept staring at my passport wondering how come I’m not flying to Singapore. After that we stopped at the hostel where I was going to stay for the next 5 days. It’s hard to describe the feeling when you’re in a new country and all of a sudden you find yourself inside without having the slightest idea what’s actually around. I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean.

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The following morning I woke up relatively early because I had to meet Mei Ling in Chinatown around 11A.M. We arranged our meeting at exit “B” of the MRT, but when I got there I found out there’s actually no exit B at that station. My phone saved me again cause I found Wi-Fi connection nearby and we were able to meet in front of “Lucky Chinatown”. I forgot to mention that getting a prepaid SIM card in Singapore is very expensive – you need to deposit around $300, which you get back eventually.

After meeting at Chinatown we had lunch there and then left for Orchard road where we looked around the malls and from there got the bus to the Esplanade(it’s the building that looks like a durian). IMG_8415

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The view of the area was quite nice and around half an hour later we finally got to Singapore’s symbol – the Merlion. IMG_8450IMG_8444

I took the usual touristy pictures and then we explored around. I really liked that part, especially the Singapore River and all the places nearby.

IMG_8507 There were many more things to see, but I still had 5 more days. Later that evening we went with Pauline and Jovi for dinner and then saw the night view of the river and again…the Merlion 😛 Singapore feels so great at night, because it’s warm and you can enjoy walking around. I got the MRT from there and went back to the hostel where I took a walk through Little India.  IMG_8542IMG_8541 IMG_8579

 

 

 

 

Day 2

Since I didn’t plan anything the previous day I stayed quite late that night thinking of where to go next day, but I was too tired. In the morning I woke up early and began looking for a good destination, preferably nearby.

First stop was Arab Street which was walking distance away. On the way there I stopped at the nearby mosque which was 2 minutes away from the hostel. I took some shots and then left toward my original destination.

IMG_8582 Arab Street was filled with many stores selling carpets and many restaurants.IMG_8604IMG_8593

I wanted to see Sultan Mosque which was one of the special attractions in the area. I didn’t indent to go in so I just took a few shots on the outside and left along the road going east. IMG_8595 I decided to go to Chinatown after that so I was going to walk  there and take pictures along the way. I got somehow lucky cause right after I went near Chinatown it started to rain. I got lunch and then sat down for a while to see if the rain’s going to stop. Waiting for 20 minutes was long enough and I just went back to the hostel. I made some friends over there so we spend the rest of the time talking.

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It wasn’t a very exciting day but it was still OK.

Taiwan – some thoughts

That’s what I wrote just a few days after I arrived in Taiwan..somewhere on Dec.3:

Hm..how to start describing such a different experience?

Just a week ago I was sitting in my room watching the bad weather outside. That day I hadn’t the slightest idea what to expect once I arrive in Taiwan. I was supposed to be somehow excited of the fact, but it was a very distant thought in my mind. Right now it is as if everything I expected was so different from what it is in reality…but let’s go to the very beginning.

I’ll try to explain as well most of the details about the trip and about my stay in here as well….just cause I get too many questions ;).  I kept track on what’s really happening but I was somehow lazy to post it before.

“Day 1 Departure

Sunday…somewhere at noon..I am thinking of totally different things and I have no expectations, whatsoever about the forthcoming trip. I just said to myself  “I’ll leave it all to chance”. I didn’t want to make big plans, not because they were likely fail, but because sometimes that’s the good thing about life – surprises( even sometimes being bad)

Around 10 hours later I was on Terminal 3 at the airport and everything looked much different. The majority of people traveling in the airplane to Hong Kong were Asian  – not that it was surprising in any way, but it was something noticeable compared what I’ve experienced in Canada. That made me feel somehow strange, because for the first time I really realized that I am going to a country that speaks very different language from my own and my knowledge might not help me in every situation. Looking on the positive side I just told myself “whatever” – that’s how we learn –  by experiencing things.

15 minutes after midnight, as scheduled, myself and around 300 others embarked on a long 15 hours journey across the Pacific.( Actually the longest part of the flight was passing through the arctic and then through mainland China so at the end the plane was not going the way I thought it was.)

On the Airplane: Everything about it was pretty much perfect – the service was good, food was delicious, even though right now after what I’ve eaten for the last few days it just seems a little dull. I am just thinking they know pretty well how to make successful business, unlike Air Canada or some other European air companies. After all there was electricity on the plane, phone, catalog with endless titles of movies, music and television. First class was just… WOW. I have no words to describe that. I always thought traveling first class is a waste of money but in this case I can make an exception.

Day 2 To Taiwan

The airport in Hong Kong looked nice, even though there were few people that had arrived at the same time as me and most of them seemed very tired. After an hour spent at “arriving” level I decided to move toward “departures” on the next level. It was significantly better on the next floor –all stores were open, and most of them were selling some of the most expensive brands in the world. I had no idea exactly who was going to buy anything from there, because it was probably really expensive. I just decided to spend my money for something else(but right now I think that I won’t really spend a lot in here)

We departed to Taiwan 1 hour after that. The flight was serviced by Dragon Air which wasn’t exactly as good as Cathay Pacific. The service was similar to the one I got on the way to Poland the first time I went to Canada, but at the end the flight itself took only about an hour and a half. For one hour they gave me food and AIR Stupidiy(ahum..Canada) don’t give anything on the flight to Mexico unless you order it(and pay for it).

When I arrived at the airport I still had no idea what’s going to happen soon. The only thing I hoped for at that moment was  to see some familiar faces once I go out through the doors – and that’s exactly what didn’t happen…there was no one there waiting for me, just some people wandering around. I circled the area three times, but still no one was paying any attention to me. After I almost got desperate I decided to check if there is wi-fi at the airport and the only thing that crossed my mind was to send an email.

After around half an hour I finally met the AIESECers and an hour later everything seemed much better.”