Singapore–Shopping Mecca of Asia and yes, it has beaches!

This is a few days late and my excuse is that it takes 2 days to get from Israel to Sydney complicated by a slight spill that resulted in a big fat lump on my head. How do I do these things?? But, it’s still the weekend and time to head to the beach somewhere. If you are traveling to beaches with me through cyberspace, we’re off to Singapore so let’s go!

Copyright: Elle Druskin 2011

If you have never been to Asia, I think Singapore is a great place to start.
I cannot tell you how much I like Singapore and I’ve been there a number of times. Now this might sound a bit spoiled, but among the things I love about Singapore is that it is safe, and I do mean really safe, so clean you cannot believe it, compared to other cities. People are multi-lingual and they all speak English because it is their primary language. There is a wonderful blend of cultures including Malay, Indian, former British colonial, and Indonesian, and this is reflected in the marvelous food.

The orchids are magnificent, you can’t help being amazed by them everywhere you go. Weather is hot and humid, after all you are very close to the equator. There is a monsoon season in Singapore, highest rainfall is usually from November through January but it rains all year so you should bear that in mind.
Dressing Tip: Light cotton clothing is going to be the most comfortable and perfectly acceptable in Singapore.

If you have never been to Singapore, there is no doubt you will spend time shopping—it feels like the world’s biggest shopping mall, and you will go sight-seeing because there is so much to see and do in Singapore even if a fairly small place. In fact, that’s a benefit because it is so compact, it’s easy to get almost anywhere. I won’t list all the places but probably you will want to visit Chinatown, the Butterfly Park, Jurong Zoo, Underwater World, and if you are thinking about the former British Empire, you will want to go to the Raffles Hotel and at least have a drink and pretend you are back in history. You won’t have any problem finding things to do or buy—bring a suitcase with spare room because you will buy things no matter how hard you try to resist. Even if you don’t want to buy electronics, you are going to end up tempted with batiks, local artwork, crafts, etc. A very popular item to buy in Singapore is fabric and the best place to buy that is Little India. Isn’t that great? It won’t break in luggage and usually not too heavy.

Food Tip: While you are out and about, pop into Tang’s Department Store. The external façade is shaped like a pagoda and if you are not sure about local cuisine which is fabulous—try the satay, Hainanese Chicken Rice and laksa (not all at once). These are a MUST. You can go down into the basement floor of Tang’s which has a food court although there are plenty of others that are equally good. You will be with locals and not surrounded by tourists. Try a bit of lots of things at great prices. Loads of various noodle dishes if you aren’t game for other things.

Watch what the locals are eating and you will get some ideas. Remember, the cuisine is a blend of Asia, particularly Malaysian, Indonesian and Indian so why would you settle for a burger when you could try all this? Try the local fresh fruit juices too. If I remember correctly I had a great blend of green apple, carrot and ginger.

All roads or cable cars lead to Sentosa

By now, you are ready to head to the beach so how do you get there? You can choose any number of ways. The beaches are located on Sentosa Island about half a mile off Singapore City. Sentosa has been developed as a resort area so it’s full of hotels, amusements of all sorts and for the beachgoers, this is where the beaches have been created. You can actually walk there if that is your choice. There is now a boardwalk. Take the MRT (the equivalent of a subway which is so clean you could eat off the floor and I am not kidding. It’s fast, efficient and reasonably priced). Get off the MRT at Vivo City Shopping Mall. From here you can easily walk over the boardwalk to Sentosa. Alternatively, you can take the Sentosa Express from the same station which will get you to Sentosa in under five minutes. There is also a shuttle bus that operates along Orchard Street—the main street of Singapore, or you can take a cable car. Whichever route you choose, you will get a spectacular view over the harbor. Do not rent a car; you have no need for one in Singapore because public transport is so readily available, safe and affordable. Cars are not encouraged in Sentosa and you won’t need it.
Tip: I would take the cable car just for the ride around sunset, unforgettable.

Okay, now you’re on Sentosa, so what next? Take your pick.
An interesting thing about Singapore beaches—most of them, okay, all of them, are not natural. They are reclaimed land but that doesn’t detract from them. There are basically 3 beaches on Sentosa with sand imported from Indonesia or Malaysia. Does that really matter?—it’s still the beach. All of the beaches have lifeguards, by the way and they all have first aid training too.

If you are looking for activity, head straight for Siloso Beach. That’s the most likely one with beach volleyball and some water sports like canoeing. Siloso is considered the coolest beach in Singapore. There are also man made waves and a whirlpool so if you must catch a wave (surf) you can do it here at Wave House. Probably the reason this beach is considered so cool is the party atmosphere at night with clubs, restaurants, parties and bars so if that’s your thing, definitely stick around this beach. If you are hoping for a beach party, this is the most likely beach to find one going on.

Unless you are traveling with family (kids) you might want to avoid Palawan Beach. Nothing wrong with it but it is very much a family sort of beach with kids’ activities and that means the shops and restaurants cater to that kind of crowd.

Tanjong Beach does not offer the activity or amenities of the other two beaches, but if you want a bit more quiet then this is the beach for you.

Sentosa is filled with amusements and activities so you will have plenty to do if that’s what you want and chances are you will go into Singapore and come back to the island or the other way around.

There is no way you won’t enjoy Singapore. It won’t have the beach culture of other places and the number of beaches is limited but you will have so much else to do, experience and enjoy that this is a destination that is well worth thinking about.

Next stop: Bali, the island of the gods. Here’s your quiz:

The primary culture in Bali is:


Garang Asam is:
A spicy local soup
A local version of soccer
The southern beach
A local fruit

A beach for dolphin watching is:
Kuta Beach
Lovina Beach
Legian Beach
Nusa Lembogan

Things to try in Bali include:
A massage
Water skiing
Bungee jumps

It’s Greek to me!

Copyright: Elle Druskin 2011

There are so many Greek islands that you could spend months going from one to the other and enjoying the sights and the beaches and that doesn’t take into account the Greek mainland. I went to Rhodes on a whim, happened to catch a fantastic package at a very cheap price that included a 5 star hotel and 2 meals a day. One of the best parts was that because it was a relatively short trip, I decided to ditch the luggage and just use a carry-on. What did I need? Two bathing suits, a few light dresses that didn’t wrinkle (I was not going to spend my time ironing) and two pairs of sandals and the beach cover up. Rhodes is pretty laid back and you don’t need dressy clothes. If you have one item that can do double-duty, you’re all set. Stuffing minimal clothing into a carry on bag with the requisite sunblock and toiletries did not take a lot of space so it was on and off the plane. Easy.

Let’s Hit The Beach
Rhodes is an island so you’re going to find plenty of beaches. It’s also a fairly laid back place, the water is warm in summer being the Mediterranean, and there are heaps of things to see and do if you get tired of the beach or need a break or feel you’re supposed to see something. You should be aware that a lot of cruise ships dock at Rhodes and some beaches get more overrun than others. One other thing, it is not unusual to see topless women on the beaches so try not to gawk. Rhodes does tend to get crowded in the summer anyway, but you will find your beach.

Like Tel Aviv, you will find plenty of chairs and umbrellas for rent on the beach or if they are part of your hotel, they might be free for guests. Wherever you go, the water is very blue, just beautiful and for the most part, quite calm. Also be aware that the ocean floor tends to be rocky on these beaches, even if the beach itself is sand. Some are not, by the way. The most crowded beaches tend to be on the south and west coast of the island so if heading south, I would keep going past Lindos Beach, but I’ll still mention it because it is beautiful. (Just crowded!) Also, do bear in mind you may not find lifeguards on every beach and you swim at your own risk. Even if the water is calm, I never believe I know better than the sea so keep that in mind.

Lindos Beach is gorgeous. Yes, you will definitely have umbrellas and lounge chairs for rent there. The beach is right under the acropolis and popular for jet-skiing and banana boat rides. This beach gets crowded so you might want to consider a few others.

If you are staying near Rhodes City, Elli beach might be the one for you. It also tends to get crowded—it’s hard to get away from that in the summer. This beach is on the northernmost tip of the island. You will find volleyball nets on this beach and lots of restaurants since it is so close to the city. The water is particularly clear and clean here so despite the crowding, it is a nice hangout. Personally, despite Elli’s reputation of sophistication, I prefer Ixia Beach which is also on the north coast. One of the reasons is that there is wind on this beach, so the breeze is welcome and you have a better chance of some surfing if you want to try that, and there are windsurfing lessons for those who want to try it out. I find the sunsets particularly spectacular on this beach so hang out for the evening and watch that sunset.

Kalithea Beach is on the east coast of the island but I would avoid this one unless you are on a ship—this particular beach fills up quickly with people on day trips on the ships. It’s worse than the subway at rush hour. That’s my opinion, but you might want to find out for yourself. Instead, try Falikari Beach just south of this one. I wouldn’t do it because I’m chicken but they do have Bungee Jumps near this beach. It also has lots of restaurants and clubs so there tends to be a lively night life once the sun goes down if that’s your thing. In that case, Falikari Beach is for you. Just south of Faliraki is the Nude Beach, if that’s your thing, go right ahead. Just keep in mind, this is not a “sight-seeing” beach; you get in by being nude.

What’s fun to do in Rhodes other than the beach?
Don’t forget that this is the site of The Colossus of Rhodes—one of the ancient wonders of the world, so if you are interested in ancient history, you should make time to see this. The medieval town of Rhodes is world heritage listed and you should make some time to wander within its walls. Have a look at things like the gates to the city with the flanking turreted towers –think medieval England and you’ll be able to imagine it before you get there. Be sure to walk the Street of Knights and see the Grand Masters Palace. Even if you aren’t Jewish, make the time to visit the Jewish Quarter because this was a very old community, dating back to around the time of Jesus. The community was decimated by the Nazis in 1943 during which time most of the Jews on the island were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau so there are very few Jews on Rhodes today but the synagogue is still there. The Jewish Quarter is in the southeast of the city and a small museum is located in a part of the synagogue. This was an interesting linguistic community; like many Mediterranean Jews in exile, they spoke Ladino which combined Hebrew and Spanish. Once the language of the Jews in North Africa and many parts of the Mediterranean, hardly anyone speaks it today and you will be hard pressed to find anyone who can. (I have met a few people who do and I was interested in all this because I know someone descended from this community.).

Everywhere you go in Rhodes, you will find signs of ancient Greek and Byzantine culture and if that is your thing, spend some time at the museums that specialize in these areas.

If you have to go shopping, lots of handicrafts for sale and you can peruse as you wander the cobbled street down to the bottom of the hill which is lined with shops selling leather goods, ceramics and pottery, beachwear, jewelry, etc. I wasn’t too keen on shopping and I don’t recall the prices were any bargain but if you MUST shop, check out and compare prices before you pay. This is pretty easy to do, just keep wandering down the street and pop into shops along the way.

It’s Greek to me
Food? Well, take your pick. As you would expect, in addition to typical Greek food, yep, you are going to find a lot of fish and a great variety from tuna, sea bass, squid, swordfish, halibut, anchovies, grouper and more but I recommend a dish that is typical of Rhodes—Rouzetia which is a small fish fried in garlic sauce. If you are a meat eater, lots of lamb and goat on menus and kebabs for snacks. Of course, you will find stuffed vine leaves, eggplant and feta cheese served in a variety of ways on menus. Lots of garlic used in the cooking and of course, olive oil. Wander around and try samples of some of these items at food stands and then decide if you want to try a full meal at a restaurant at another time.

How to get around? Don’t rely on public transport too much on Rhodes. You will either be using taxis, rent a car, or a scooter. Scooters seem to be everywhere and if you are going to visit lots of beaches or other sights, you will need transport. If you are staying at a hotel, check to see if they offer any shuttle services.

Rhodes is great for a short break and while I do recommend giving a few hours in the morning to sight-seeing, I would reserve the afternoon hours for the beach (with an umbrella because the sun is fierce). So have fun, enjoy the sun, sea, Greek food and laid back atmosphere.

What’s our next stop? Singapore, an amazing Asian destination.

Here’s your quiz:

The main language in Singapore is:


The beaches are located at:

The end of Orchard Street
On Sentosa Island
Adjacent to Chinatown
One subway stop from Little India

One of the best buys in Singapore is

Custom made clothing
Sapphire jewellery
Locally made cameras
Hand crafted batiks

The beach with the most activity is

Siloso Beach
Palawan Beach
Tanjong Beach
Raffles Beach

Singapore culture is a blend of

Indonesian and Mandarin
Indonesian and Japanese
Indonesian and Malaysian
Indonesian and Korean

We Come From the Land Down Under– Sydney Beach Guide

Copyright: Elle Druskin 2011

Aussies (pronounced Ozzies) love the beach. They love swimming and water sports in general. Whether you get to the beach or not, Sydney is a beautiful city. There is nothing like a beautiful sunny day on the harbor (spelled harbour there), kicking back with a latte at a café at Circular Quay which is right between the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and watching the ferries come in with that beautiful blue sky in the background.

Sydney is blessed with numerous beaches, both Harbourside and Oceanside so depending on what you want, you choose. Many of the beaches are inner city and easy to get to with public transport; others require a car. Parking is not easy at the beaches for the most part, but if you get outside the city, you will find beautiful ocean beaches where parking might be easier. I have never failed to find parking immediately at Newport Beach.

Why Harbourside or Oceanside? Depends on whether or not you want real waves or calm water. Some of the Harbourside beaches also have shark nets which is a big criteria for some folks. Yes, the Pacific is home to sharks and we invade their territory. There are shark sightings in Sydney and on many beaches an alarm will sound if one is in the vicinity. Watch how fast people move getting out of the water!

Like Tel Aviv, Sydney beaches tend to attract different sorts of people to different beaches. There are surfer beaches, family beaches, dog beaches and nude beaches. You take your pick. Some of the inner city beaches will have cafes and restaurants across the street from the beach, Bondi and Manly in particular. Other places might only have one or two fast food outlets or you might have to walk down to the main street of the town if you are technically out of Sydney, and find a few places with food.

Beaches are patrolled by surf-lifesavers which is a big organization in Australia. You will know them by their distinctive red and yellow swim caps or shirts. What you won’t find is shade unless you happen to choose a spot that has trees at the back of the beach; you won’t find chairs or umbrellas for rent so you need to bring your own which is a problem if you are a tourist. There are so many beaches in Sydney, it’s hard to choose which ones to talk about but here are a few.

Manly Beach
I love Manly Beach for a lot of reasons. You can drive there and park in municipal parking—yes, you pay, but you can also get there by ferry if you are coming from the other side of the harbour. Just head down to Circular Quay and take the Manly Ferry which is a nice ride. Why do I like Manly? Its beach fronts the Oceanside, but you are still in the city. The Corso is a promenade which is always packed with people. Watch out for the rollerbladers! Lots of cafes and restaurants and shops along the Corso so you won’t starve and you will find a variety of cuisine. The beach is lovely, nice waves, well patrolled and more beach volleyball nets than you can count. It’s a fun atmosphere at Manly, almost feels like a carnival without the rides. Just plain happy vibe. There are lots of little beaches like Fairy Beach in the Manly area but you do need a car to get there. I personally prefer Manly to Bondi which I find very crowded and just a personal opinion, but I think the beach is nicer at Manly but that’s up to you. Bondi is also a city beach and easy to get to—good luck parking! And, it is also along a strip of other beaches and beach walks. It does have a real fame, has a salt water pool and you might see the Bondi Icebergs—the folks who swim in the winter as well as summer. Remember, summer in Sydney is December to February. Weather can be hot and humid but usually cools off in the evening. This also means that an Aussie Christmas is likely to be spent at the beach because it is hot. Yes, you will still see Santa, roasting in that hot suit in the summer. It might seem strange to Northern Hemisphere people but that’s how it is Down Under.

Pay attention to weather reports in Sydney—the direction of the wind will tell you what the weather might be. For example, a “southerly buster” is wind coming from the south—ie the South Pole so it tends to cool things off. A “northwesterly” means it is going to be hot air coming from the desert so it’s going to be hot and dryer. Really hot sometimes and since summer is bush fire season, people pay attention to wind direction since the wind can carry fires. This should not concern you at the beach—lucky you.

Going To The Dogs

There are several dog beaches in Sydney, specifically set aside for our canine friends. I know Sandy Beach at Clontarf is one of them, but haven’t been there personally. I have been to Pittwater which is north of the city. You will need a car to get there which you probably want anyway with a dog.

This is lovely for the dogs. Plenty of parking and you just walk onto the lawn which is set aside for the dogs. It’s fun to let them off leash and run around in a safe area and the dogs who love the water run down the small slope to the water and in they plunge. I have often seen owners in there with them tossing Frisbees for the dogs to chase. My dog isn’t a water canine, he just sat and watched that spectacle and looked at me like, “You’re kidding me, right?” But, he had a great time running around the lawn with the other dogs. YES you are expected to clean up after your pooch which is fair enough.

There are some benches on the lawn so you can sit back if you want, chat with the other dog owners and watch your doggy pal run around and make friends and remember he or she is a dog, not another person in the family. There are dog parks in Sydney, but this is specifically a beach for dogs and fun.

Back to Nature

Nudity is not illegal in Australia but if you want to go back to nature at the beach, you have to choose one that permits it. There are several in Sydney, the one I know about, not from experience but from hearing about from other people, is Lady Jane Beach. I remember meeting a couple of lady tourists who were heading to the beach and the bus driver kept asking if they were sure they were looking for Lady Jane Beach. Apparently, they didn’t know about the nudity and got a big shocker when they arrived. They made tracks fast and found another beach and laughed it off. If this is what you are looking for, well, head on down. You might also hear it referred to as Lady Bay Beach.


Aussies love surfing so if that’s your thing, your best bet is to head north of the city to Curl Curl and Dee Why Beach. You might catch some waves at Narrabeen which is also along the same road leading north out of the city. If you can’t get there, you can try Tamarama which is along the cliff walk from Bondi. The water can get rough so be careful if you head there. Finally, you can try Cronulla on the South Shore which attracts surfers too.

Swimming in calm waters

Some of the city beaches have shark nets which can be very reassuring. You have the sense of feeling safe because there are shark sighting in Sydney and there have been a few terrible attacks. Not common but I guess that doesn’t matter if it happens to you. Balmoral Beach has a net so the water is calm and it’s a nice family sort of beach. You see all sorts of people at Balmoral,–families, older people and teens who also walk along a promenade on the beach which is a nice walk. Parking is not easy; you will have to drive around forever until you get lucky and catch a spot You will catch one but you do have to be patient. Balmoral is in the Mosman area so you are really in the city, or more correctly the North Shore city suburbs, but it’s a nice relaxing place. Not a lot of places to eat so if you are planning a whole day, bear that in mind.

I want to be on television

If you are a fan of the Aussie soap, Home and Away, then you should head up to the most northern beaches, a good hour if not more, away from Sydney, until you get to Palm Beach. It’s a nice ride and a nice beach but the soap is filmed there so you might happen to catch them filming some episodes. Don’t count on being enlisted as an extra but you never know, you might get lucky. Rather, go with the idea that you will have a lovely ride, enjoy a beach that is not too crowded and have a nice day out.

I could talk about a lot more Sydney beaches—there are heaps of them, but this should get you started.

And finally, what do you wear on a Sydney beach, (other than Lady Jane where that is not a problem!)? Anything goes but you will see many women wearing sarongs over their “cossies”—Aussie lingo for bathing suits, probably from the British term “swimming costume.” You might also hear “swimmer” used too. Grab a sarong and you will fit right in whatever cossie you are wearing.

Where’s our next destination? It’s Cartagena, Colombia—the jewel of the Spanish Main.

Here’s your quiz:
The pirate who succeeded in raiding the city was:

Jean-Fancois Robeval
Francis Drake
John Hawkins
Henry Morgan

The dance most closely associated with Colombia is:
The cumbia
The samba
The rumba
The merengue

A common snack in Cartagena is:
French fries
Coconut fries
Yucca fries
Fried green tomatoes

The opening of Romancing The Stone with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas is supposed to be Cartagena but was actually filmed in: