Seattle: Fremont market

Flea markets are pretty cool.

Flea markets with food trucks are even cooler. I come from a city with maybe 5 food trucks in operation. For a mobile business that is supposed to be low-cost, a food-truck business in Singapore is ridiculously high.

Throw in the mix of local produce, antiques and art, Fremont Sunday market was a must-visit for me. While I didn’t purchase anything, it was fun to have a look and poke around the antiques.

I also had my first grilled cheese sandwich here. Initially, I didn’t get the fuss about grilled cheese sandwiches. Erm, hello? How good can it get?

But I ate my sandwich, and I ate my words.

Hi Shaggy!

Continue reading “Seattle: Fremont market”

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Canggu, Bali: Echo Beach

Usually, I’m not a beach person. But how can anyone how fall in love with the gentle sea breeze and chill out vibe of Echo Beach? I would say it’s the calmer and quieter cousin of it’s hip cousins Seminyak and Kuta.

Canggu is up north of Kuta and it’s rather out of the way. It’s not so touristy and it’s like a sleepy surf town. In Kuta, the moment you step on the beach, there’ll be vendors harassing you but not for Echo Beach!

The sand is a fine and powdery black sand that you sink into. When you stroll along the beach, there’s a sand bar that you can rent a bean bag for 50,000RP and grab a drink. It’s pretty nice and fun to chill out, people watch and enjoy the breeze.

When it’s sunset, the beach fills up pretty quickly with locals, dogs and tourists.

Echo Beach
Jalan Pura Batu Mejan,
Canggu, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Google Maps

 

 

 

Seattle: Chowders

I never thought I’ll go on a diet – me and food? It’s always a love relationship.

One thing that I really miss about Seattle is the wide variety and amazing soups and chowders filled with fresh seafood. My favourites are those places that have sampler platters! Four different chowders in a meal. Ship me over please someone.

In everyday situation, I normally can’t finish an entire meal on my own. In USA, I find that the portions are so huge! Each meal seems to feed two of me. Chowders and soups are easier for me to finish.

I didn’t manage a picture but my favourite soup was the crab and corn bisque from Seastar. If you’re ever in Bellevue area, it’s a great restaurant although the prices veer on the pricier side.

My most memorable chowder experience came from Duke’s Chowder House in Southcenter Mall. I love having variety in my food and the ability to build my own platter.

Quad Dinghy, 11.20USD

The most affordable soup that is a one-meal dish (not literally) is clam chowder at City Soups near the Seattle office that I visited. With each soup, I believe you have a choice of toppings and a side of a bread. I vaguely remember my meal being affordable, about 5 – 6USD?

Clam chowder (I think) with mushrooms topping and cornbread

My most underwhelming chowder was probably from Pike’s Place. I went there with a lot of expectations, my brainwaves went, “Omg it’s Pike’s Place Chowder! So many travel sites recommends this!”

When I tried my first spoon, it was just a “Oh.” Not in a good way.

Locations

Seastar restaurant and raw bar
205 108th Ave NE. Suite 100,
Bellevue, WA 98004

Duke Chowder House (They have a few locations)
757 Southcenter Mall
Tukwila, WA 98188

City Soups
601 108th Ave NE # 130
Bellevue, WA 98004
United States

Pike’s Place Chowder
601 108th Ave NE # 130
Bellevue, WA 98004
United States

Kuta, Bali: Odyssey Surf School Part Two

Continuation from Part One.

(P.S. Part Three will consist of more surf pictures and video)

Once you’re ready, you head to the beach for your lesson! Each group usually has three to four students and they’ll try to group you according to the number of lessons you had.

You start with a ground theory and practice on getting on the board

Most inattentive and distracted student goes to me

You’ll head out to the waves and your instructor will help you catch the waves by pushing your board (with you on it) onto the wave. It’s a round robin process, so once you caught the wave or proceed to get wiped out, you head back to your instructor.

The trick is to not use your knees because it’s harder to stand up.

Cannot stand up but still enjoying the ride!

Although some of the people that I met were able to stand in the first lesson, I kept wiping out on the first day. I know, you’ll think that this Meowsyy does yoga and dance but still so lousy? I have a natural tendency to turn out my feet and point my foot towards the shore when you’re supposed to keep your feet parallel to the shore. Check out the below picture.

The guy must be like, how on earth did she managed to stand with her stance?

Getting wiped out

I managed to get the hang of surfing only on the second day. There is a break in between your lesson. Mineral water is provided.

Through out your lesson, there are photographers in sea with Go Pros and on shore with DSLRs. You can purchase your pictures when you’re back in the store. If you’re on a three day package like me, they’ll keep your images and videos until day three. Prices in Part One.

Mr Go Pro man

I enjoyed surfing tremendously and will definitely want to go back to surf again! If I were to surf on my own, without a surf instructor, I don’t think I would be able to catch waves on my own. I had the same instructor for day 1 and 3 and he was able to tailor the class according to capabilities. For the third lesson, we were heading a bit further out to catch bigger and longer waves.

It was also fun meeting other people in your surf groups. I made friends with a couple of Singaporeans and Taiwanese.

I’ll definitely recommend a three day package to make the most out of your surf trip. However, be prepared at day two to suffer from board rash and water friction I had sore patches on the tips of my fingers and rashes on my knees. I checked in with my surf instructors and it looks like it’s very common for beginners to have these. These rashes don’t hurt much when you’re in the water but hurt like hell once you’re out. I was sore and tender for three days.

Tips

  • There are two lesson timings a day due to the tides. One lesson is usually in the early morning and one mid-afternoon. If you’re taking a three day package, I would suggest to go for the early morning for your first lesson and mid-afternoons for the next two. There are way less people on the beach in the early morning so you don’t have to worry so much about crashing into people. However, my early morning pictures were mostly foggy (see picture of me in white surf shorts). It could be that the photographer that day is less skillful? Photoshop does the trick though.
  • There are no toiletries provided, bring your own.
  • If you’re afraid of board rash, yoga/surf tights could be an option. The longer board shorts didn’t seem to help stop my knees from getting rashes.
  • Put on plenty of sunblock. As quote my friend, “The sun in Bali seems to be from another universe entirely.”
  • I have quite sensitive eyes that are prone to contact lens infections. I wore daily disposables and discarded my lens immediately after surfing. Please don’t wear contact lens for prolonged periods after surfing. The contamination from  the sea  must be bad.

Odysseys Surf School
Jalan Pantai Kuta – Bali
Mercure Kuta Hotel Arcade
Phone (0361) 7420763, 7411856
Fax : (0361) 763 026
Email: odysseysurfschool@odysseysurfschool.com
Google Map

 

Kuta, Bali: Odyssey Surf School Part One

I always fancied myself as a surfer chick. I never enjoyed water sports under water – e.g. swimming, diving or snorkeling but anything above water, bring it on!

There are many surf schools and locations to choose from in Bali. I knew I probably needed a lot of help and wanted somewhere calmer so Kuta was a good location to start. Next, was choosing a surf school. Since I was going surfing alone, the smarter choice was to go with a school that is credible, reliable and well organised.

This is part one of my surfing experience with Odyssey! Part two will consist of pictures and the surfing itself.

The obvious choice was Odyssey Surf School for me since friends like Sunrise Odyssey and my colleague, Audrey, had tried their surf lessons. Odyssey (the surf school but also Sunrise Odyssey is a good read) came highly recommended in many review sites.

The most common option seemed to be the one day surf lesson. There are options to do group, pairs or private lessons and they cater to surfers of all levels.

I did the three-day group lesson which cost 95USD (August 2014). Each lesson is approximately 2.5 hours long and the timing of the lesson is dependent on the tides. Typically there is an early morning and mid-afternoon session. The easiest method is to book your lessons online and there is a deposit charge (20% of lessons), payable by Paypal. The remaining costs are paid at the counter.

Surf Odyssey is on the pricier end but I feel that it’s quite value for money for what the package includes. All lessons include:

  • Transportation (Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Jimbaran, Nusa Dua, Sanur area) pick up and drop off
  • Lockers
  • Changing room
  • Rash shirt and board shorts
  • All surfing equipment
  • Shower facilities and towel
  • Mineral water
  • Photography
  • Insurance (medical costs covered if you’re injured)

I stayed at quite a hard-to-find hotel (more like a beach inn) and I was quite impressed that Odyssey called my hotel to check for directions so that I’ll be picked up on time.

Lockers for your belongings. The key will be kept at the reception.

Rash shirts

Board shorts

Surf equipment

From left to right: The leash goes on your foot and keeps your board with you, the Odyssey boards and fins to help you balance your board

Macs to view your images

Photo price list – its per lesson

Odysseys Surf School
Jalan Pantai Kuta – Bali
Mercure Kuta Hotel Arcade
Phone (0361) 7420763, 7411856
Fax : (0361) 763 026
Email: odysseysurfschool@odysseysurfschool.com
Google Map

Bali: Airport transit (departure hall)

I’m doing these Bali posts backwards somehow but here’s a quick tip for anyone departing Bali.

The new departure hall is pretty swanky as compared to the arrival hall that is but that is also because:

You need to pay a 200,000RP airport tax.

I think you’re able to pay in other currencies but the fastest method is obviously Rupiah.

There are the usual duty free stuff like perfume, make-up, electronics, alcohol and expensive snacks. But I’m sure if you’re here, you’re keen to find out about the food options right?

My take: Don’t swing it.

There are quite limited restaurants and cafes in the departure transit hall in Bali airport. They’re mostly cold fast food such as sushi, sandwiches and pastries.

Sushi and noodles place

I think the food prices start from 100,000RP for a light meal like a sandwich or sushi. A coffee is probably about 50,000RP. I remember a grilled hamburger served with fries to cost 200,000RP.

However, what’s nice is that there’s a lot of power sockets available within the seating areas of these three restaurants (pictures above and cover image of this post).

The only cheaper option seemed to be Black Canyon that had Hainanese chicken rice and this won’t be your first line of sight (those sneaky airport planners) so unless you venture further and deeper into the airport, you won’t see this more affordable option.

Bandar Udara International/ Ngurah Rai
Jalan Raya Gusti Ngurah Rai,
Bali 80362, Indonesia
Google Map

Bali: Travelling from Ubud to Canggu

If you’re keen to check out my travel route for Bali, here’s a Google Map that I have plotted.

I admit, I am a cheapskate and was desperately trying to find a cheap route from Ubud to Canggu prior to my trip but even my crazy stalkerish/superb research skills couldn’t find any.

Then, there must be none. And I was right!

There are multiple tour operators along the roadside offering shuttle bus services to locations in Bali. These are like shared mini vans that go to tourist spots at a very cheap rate at set timings of the day. I wasn’t too sure exactly what shuttle service operator those roadside tour operators use but I got my tickets directly from the shuttle service operator, Perama Tours.

There wasn’t a direct shuttle stop at Canggu so the most convenient and cheaper way to do Ubud to Canggu is:

  1. Take the shuttle from Ubud to Kuta (nearest stop): 60,000RP
  2. Stick your arm and hail a cab to Canggu : Approx 90,000RP

I suppose it’ll be possible to hail an Ojek (motorbike taxi) or take the local public transport bus (bemo) but I was lugging a mid-sized luggage so those weren’t options for me.

I got a couple of quotes and it looked like a direct car from Ubud to Canggu will cost around 300,000 to 350,000RP. This would have been affordable if I’m travelling in a group but I was a lone solo warrior. My total transport cost (shuttle + taxi) added up 150,000RP. I took maybe 30 minutes extra by taking a detour (heading south then up north again) but that was negligible for me.

I got my shuttle ticket at Perama Tour official bus station which looks like this:

It’s recommended to reserve a seat 1-2 days before your travel so they can allocate the number of seats accordingly.

Perama Tour Bus Depot
Jalan Hanoman
Google Map location

Seattle: First Starbucks Store

Didn’t manage to get the any images of the store inside but Google Images will show you plenty!

While Starbucks fact sheet will tell you that the Seattle’s Pike Market is the first store ever, it looks like the founders opened the initial store on 2000 Western Ave from 1971-1976 before relocating the entire store to Pike’s Place.

The first store is a popular tourist place hawking limited edition “first ever Starbucks store” paraphernalia. It’s absolutely teeming with tourists. You could get a beverage to-go and purchase some limited edition stuff but there are no sit down areas to enjoy your cuppa.

I’m a caffeine addict but not that big a fan of Starbucks but I still purchased some first Starbucks store swag here! Do be prepared to queue if you pop by on a weekend, I waited in line for approx 20 – 30 minutes and was out of the store in 10 minutes.

First Starbucks Store
1912 Pike Pl
Seattle, WA 98101

On Google Map

Seattle: Gum Wall

The Market Theatre gum wall was named one of the top five germiest tourist locations globally by TripAdvisor yet tourists flock to the location daily!

The back story was: patrons queueing for tickets at the Market Theatre used to get annoyed waiting and started sticking coins into the gum wads onto the wall in the 1990s. Which got me thinking, why would you stick a coin into the gum when you can just stick the gum on? There were attempts to scrape off the gum but tradition stuck (Pun haha) on tight. The gum wall was officially named a tourist location in 1999.

Gum wall sticking has also become an art.

And maybe a method for leaving notes?

I saw many tourists posing with the hanging threads of the gum… I seriously wonder has any of the gum dropped into a mouth before? Surely that must have happened.

Also, boys roughhousing and bullying, does anyone get pushed to the wall? I shudder at that thought. Yucks.

Pretty cool to check it out, especially if you’re in the area for Pike’s Market or the first Starbucks store. Follow the crowd, you can’t miss it.

Seattle gum wall,
1428 Post Alley,
Seattle, WA 98101, United States
Seattle gum wall Google Map location