We met up with some amazing ladies from the South Africa Glitch Gate group that I mentioned in a previous post. We had dinner at The Carnivore Restaurant in Misty Hills Country Hotel in Johannesburg. The drive was about an hour long but the experience was worth it. Our taxi was about 460 Rand round trip, which was the equivalent of $29.00 USD.
Taxi’s in South Africa – Uber’s are cheaper than regular taxis in South Africa. Due to the WiFi situation out there, it wasn’t always easy for me to catch an Uber, but the cost was almost half-the price of what your average taxi would cost. My taxi reference in the above post is the quote for a regular taxi. However when I started using Uber, I was paying about 3.00 USD at some point for my cab rides.
The Carnivore is a family styled restaurant that allows you to try the meat of different animals including Zebra, Crocodile, Antelope, and Deer just to name a few. The meal commences with a soup or honey bread and proceeds to the main course which is salad, baked potato and meat! If you’re wondering, the zebra kind of taste like beef, the crocodile tasted like a chewy chicken, the antelope, I had it mixed in rice, it sort of resembled paella. Eating deer was just too weird for me. Up until that trip, I’ve never encountered zebras or antelopes but I see deer’s running past me on the highway all the time. In spite of this I tried the deer meatballs. Dessert was a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream. The waiters were friendly and brought around the meat on a stick. They were dressed in striped aprons and sun hats. They really blessed us with hospitality.
I really loved the vibe of this restaurant. Upon entering, you have to walk through a long corridor filled with historical biographies of very important figures in South African history ranging from Shaka Zulu to Nelson Mandela. The bios are accompanied by over-sized bronze statues representing these men and women in their natural state. As you progress into the restaurant you’ll notice it’s adorned with South African artifacts and keepsakes in glassed window cases.
After dinner, all the waiters took pictures with us, and waited patiently until we were ready to leave. It was the perfect welcome to South Africa meal and the ladies we had dinner with were awesome!
“Really flying…yesterdays a thousand miles away“- Hoodoo Gurus
Waking up in Singapore for the first time was amazing not just because of the beautiful view from my sister’s apartment but because of the time difference; I was awake while everyone else was asleep.
Day one in Singapore was awesome. My niece and nephew were my personal tour guides which made the transition into this new country an easy one. Being shown the hangout spots and meet up areas that I probably would have bypassed had I not been with them made me think of all the areas New Yorkers know about that tourist won’t even think to look twice at or visit.
Many of the local hangouts in Singapore are primarily malls or outdoor food courts where the locals can come and sit around either between classes or during lunch breaks. The simplicity of these hangouts might be overlooked by tourists, but it was important for me to experience the essence of everyday life among the locals while there. The Ion Orchard is the “it” mall in Singapore city. Most of the malls use a tier system where the more popular, upscale and expensive brands are on the ground level and above, while the more affordable brands are downstairs.
Tasha Fact:If you get a Starbucks itch while walking through the mall, try a cheaper local delicacy instead. My tall frappe from Stbx was almost 8 Sing-yikes.
Areas like Holland Spring are another facet of the tourist-local blend in Singapore. Really popular for its low-key atmosphere and local amenities like supermarkets and convenience stores (i.e the 7-eleven behind me), its where many expats on a budget live. Overall, Holland Springs gave me a taste of what the everyday experience of shopping and living there might be.
Tasha Fact: Massages are a big thing in Singapore so finding a spa or massage parlor is really easy to do. The one behind me is on Holland Spring Road and offers really great foot massages for cheap.
Walking the streets of the city was definitely an experience. I had so much fun people watching; just walking around observing the locals and some of their traditions was really awesome. Traveling throughout the different areas presented another interesting aspect of life there.
Singapore is notorious for its fines. Whether in a taxi or on the bus or train, fines for eating or drinking while en route can be as high as 500 Sing. So needless to say I kept the cover on my bottle of water screwed tight.
Tasha Fact: Singapore is known for being one “fine” city. Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore and fines for this petty offense can reach as high as 500 Singh.
The Singapore MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system is very similar to New York’ s MTA system except a lot cleaner. The EZ-link passes for riding the train are slightly different. If you’re from New York or have ever visited then you’re familiar with a metrocard. In NYC there’s a flat fare of $2.50 which allows you to travel the entire subway system. In Singapore however, when you enter the train station or a bus you tap your EZ-link card and when you exit you tap it again. The card is charged for the distance traveled, and don’t forget to tap when you get off or they’ll keep charging you.
Even though I stayed with family for this trip I was the only one actually on vacation. The family however was in the midst of preparing to move back to the States, so for the remaining days we stayed at the Orchard Marriott in Singapore city. This is probably one of the more expensive hotels costing about 400 Sing a night (or $300 USD). There are definitely more budget friendly hotels that you could consider. With local events and activities going on all around you, I doubt you’ll even remember what the inside of your hotel room looks like.
Throughout much of the city, especially around the malls, I noticed random pop-up tents and stands with presentations of different products or events. Singapore is very fashion friendly-even the renowned luxury brand Louis Vuitton had their third presentation of their Fall/Winter 2014 collection while I was in town.
This lady is eating an ice cream bar inside a slice of bread, which I came to find out was a local treat. Talk about local delicacies
The local experience was fascinating and that was without even trying, so just imagine the wonders the city has in store for its tourist.