Off Duty Pharmacist

Pharmacist sharing travel experiences and adventures with husband B along for the ride.
Living in: Queensland, Australia
  • Day15

    The last hurrah!

    March 16, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ 🌧 30 °C

    Today we headed back to Gardens by the Bay as I really wanted to go on the autorider. It’s a 6 seater fully automatic driverless vehicle that takes you on a short tour of the gardens. Watching all the safety features (such as slowing when it detects someone or something 1.4m away from the vehicle and ringing a bell when it turns a corner) was pretty cool. I think it’s the worlds first driverless vehicle being used to transport passengers ($5 each). We then went through the cloud forest and the flower domes before catching the MRT to Rochor/Little India for some roti prata and curry. We had two rotis, one chicken curry and one murtabak (filled roti with egg, onion and chicken) for $10 and two calamansi lime juices for $2.50ish. The stall we planned to go to was shut so I had to choose another - the chicken in the curry was still on the bone but so tender. The curry itself was quite liquidy (common here) and was spicy and delicious. I really like the curry sauces here, totally different to home. We then got the MRT back to Orchard where we had an iced milo and egg tart snack (free, we used vouchers included with our hotel stay) before walking back to the hotel. After an afternoon rest we headed out for dinner to Wisma Atria shopping centre. We shared a laksa and tried some Otah otah ($7.50 for both). Then B had some pau and I got us some Kueh Tutu, a Singaporean sweetish steamed cake, filled with a coconut or peanut filling (5 for $3.50). The process of watching these be made was amazing. We then wondered back to the hotel and packed our bags! We are off home tomorrow. We’ve loved exploring Singapore and trying many bucket list foods. If you are still reading along, I hope you’ve enjoyed our latest holiday blog. Stay tuned for more the next time I am the Off Duty Pharmacist.Read more

  • Day14

    Islands and gardens

    March 15, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Today we had breakfast at Ya Kun Kaya (toast and iced coffees) before heading to Sentosa island. We wanted to visit the SEA Aquarium ($40 per person). It was a good aquarium with the biggest tank I’ve ever seen! It could have done with more infographics and less pushy tourists (B almost got pushed over). We then came across a VR arcade where you could go on VR rides and also play in a two person zombie shooter game which was quite cool and unique ($30 per person for three VR activities ). Next we saw the trick eye museum which we thought would be fun, and it was, we had fun posing for all pictures ($37.50 for two, we got a discount for having a Citibank card). We went to Chilis for lunch, a favourite of ours in Singapore and it was as good as we remembered! The monorail to Sentosa was $4 and we were able to pay it with our EZlink card (contactless transport card). We made a stop on the way back at Vivo City as I had seen a shoe store I wanted to go on, and then we made a stop at Somerset to buy B’s shoes (a must do when in Singapore). We walked back to the hotel to rest up a little. At 6:30pm we headed off to Gardens by the Bay to watch the light show at the Supertrees (free). We then had dinner at Marina Bay Sands before heading back to the hotel. B had chicken rice and I had beef and rice, both were alright. Tired, we made it back to the hotel at about 10pm.Read more

  • Day13

    Neighbourhoods and parks

    March 14, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    After a sleep in and breakfast we made our way to the neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru, infamous for its big apartment blocks. Here we wandered down laneways and found some interesting book stores and a cafe to have a drink stop at, Plain Vanilla. We continued down the heritage trail to the corner where bird cages used to be hung for all to hear their songs. We stopped off at the Food Market for some lunch... 2 pau for B (also called bao, it’s a steamed yeast bun with filling) and some chicken rice for me, plus 2 drinks ($7 total). Next we went to Vivocity for some shopping before heading to Fort Canning Park for the Battlebox Tour (underground bunker). The tour was $20 each and quite good, wish we had longer to explore the bunker and read the information plaques. The grounds of Fort Canning Park are lovely, I really enjoyed it. We headed back to the hotel to rest up before heading out to Satay Street behind Lau Pa Sat market. At 7pm, the stall holders drag tables and chairs out to the middle of the street to create a food street, it really was a sight to see! We got 30 mixed satay sticks (chicken/beef) for $21, a plate of garlic veg for $10 and a beer and lime juice for $8. Delicious, great atmosphere and you could order at the table and they brought it to you. Loved it. We then walked down to Bitters and Love, a unique bar a few streets over. We had a great time here - one of the servers gave us some pointers of places to try, I had a Kaya toast flavoured cocktail, B had a cinnamon spiced rum cocktail and a gin fizz style drink with lemonade and whisky. Singapore definitely isn’t a cheap drinking destination but for the experience, we loved this place! ($74.80 for the three drinks, mine was practically a dessert 😂). We then made our way back to the hotel to finish off a great day!Read more

  • Day12

    Chinatown

    March 13, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ 🌧 32 °C

    After a late start (we slept till 9:30am...and for us that is crazy!) we had a small breakfast at the hotel and then travelled by MRT train to Outram Park. From there we walked to Pinnacle at Duxton, a residential apartment complex with a 50th storey rooftop garden. Cost for admission was $6 each an you need a reusable MRT card to allow access. We had to pay the $6 in cash so after getting the money changed we paid and were off on the lift. It’s not super well known and it definitely looked like a side business (it’s run by the apartment management office and when we got there the guy said he was on the phone to a resident and we’d have to come back in 15 minutes). Anyway it was still good to see the views from the top. After that we walked down to Maxwell Food Centre to try the Michelin starred chicken rice from Tian Tian (made famous by the late Anthony Bourdain). $5 got us the most tender poached chicken breast with delicious rice and fiery chilli sauce. Yum! Definitely the best I’ve ever had. Was so hungry we didn’t take a photo. We also got some kway teow noodles to share ($4) and a lime juice and a pineapple juice ($3.80 for both). We then went next door to the City Gallery (free admission). Unfortunately the majority of the gallery was under reconstruction but I snapped a picture of a man working on the 1:43 city scape model. We headed back to the hotel for a little while to cool down and rest (B has a cold). At about 5:30pm we ventured down to Food Opera in ION Orchard for dinner. Beef noodle soup, 10 chicken satay sticks, 2 iced milos and 1 ice kachang (dessert) for approx $25. Everything was delicious, especially the satay sauce (not creamy like at home which is always good for me). We strolled back up to the hotel for a drink in the restaurant to finish off the day.Read more

  • Day11

    Family breakfast

    March 12, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Today marks B’s most anticipated part of our holiday. Breakfast with my relatives (orangutans) at Singapore Zoo ($35 each). We got a taxi out to the Zoo (taxi $26, zoo entry $40 each with unlimited tram rides). The breakfast itself was quite good and we had an awesome spot. Everyone got a few chances for photos which was good. Definitely an experience we will remember! After that we explored the rest of the zoo. It’s massive, well spaced out and has some cool exhibits including an orangutan exhibit you can walk through as they swing above you. We saw an elephant show and were able to feed the elephants which B loved, he had a massive grin the whole time. They had a rainforest walk through section with peacocks, flying fox, rainforest deer and a toucan so close you had to move to avoid running in to them. It took us about 4.5 hours to see most of the zoo but we didn’t see the main shows as we’ve seen similar before. We had lunch on the cafe before coming back to the hotel by taxi because we were tired ($16 and a terrible driver). Revived a bit we went downstairs for a snack and drinks (including in room rage) and then strolled down to 313@somerset to see what stores they had there. I bought a card wallet and we window shopped in a few stores before strolling back to the hotel at about 8pm. We are both looking forward to a sleep in tomorrow!Read more

  • Day10

    Back on solid ground

    March 11, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    It took us about 30 minutes from the ship to the taxi rank including clearing immigration, collecting our bags and clearing customs. We got to our hotel just after 11am and our room was ready. We unpacked and relaxed for a bit before heading out for a stroll down Orchard Road. B got two Xbox games for $130 (would have been $200 at home) and he also got a book from our favourite bookstore, Kinokuniya. It’s massive! We also found these cute plush toys in a compromising position. Back to the hotel before we headed out for our booked dinner. We got a 800g chilli crab, stir fried Chinese greens, crispy chicken, 6 buns in total for mopping up the sauce and 2 sprites ($140). This is always a pricey meal but we budget for it. Food was great and the crab was juicy. Service was a bit average, the guy told us he didn’t have any small crabs left so we could only get the larger size but then offered the people next to us a choice of sizes...I don’t like being fooled. After dinner we went for a stroll through Chinatown before heading back to the hotel on the MRT (underground train system). The MRT cost was 93c each.Read more

  • Day10

    Cruisin together

    March 11, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Here’s a summary from our 7 nights at sea on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas!

    Cabin: we had cabin 6680, a balcony cabin on the port side of the ship, practically at the back. The room was larger than expected, though maybe I prepped myself for a tiny room. We had a balcony with two chairs and a table, a king bed, a three seat couch, desk area and bathroom. Plenty of storage...too much for us! We never heard any noise from next door, above us or below us. Our cabin steward was a ninja, we never saw him but he did a great job! B: 7/10, Ali: 8/10. B says it’s a bit dated, which is a fair comment.

    General food: we had breakfast in both the buffet and the dining room, depending on the day. Our first time in the dining room was nothing short of terrible. Lucky we gave it another go, because it was better. The buffet had lots of options but was a bit too hectic for us. Lunch we usually had a lighter meal at the buffet, though one day we had the speciality restaurant, Johnny Rockets. The lunch buffet was quiet on the two Phuket days and they had some good options, I liked the choice of different veggies every day, done in different styles. Dinner we had on the dining room all nights except one where we were at a cooking class in Phuket and another we went to the Italian restaurant, Giovanni’s. The food seemed to get better each night, though across the whole ship, desserts were average. Asian dishes were a safe and delicious choice for dinner. B: 5/10 and Ali: 6/10. It was good food, just not amazing and a bit below our expectations.

    Dining room experience: we had a retired Brisbane couple on our table who came to three nights of dinner and a 30’s couple from Texas who we really got along with. We went to a few shows with them and had a few drinks with them so we are really glad they were on our table. Our waitress was.. a bit average. She never gave menu suggestions despite asking, she didn’t ask where we were from and didnt ask our names. She also asked us to rate her service on the survey after the cruise, hinting that 10 was what we should put because it was the company standard and can lead to promotions...so I felt that was a bit off. She was nice though, and her service got better. The first night we were in there for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

    Speciality dining: Giovanni’s Italian was amazing! We loved everything we ate. We had pasta and scallops, veal, lamb chops, tiramisu, panna cotta and cannoli. Dessert was good, the panna cotta excellent and the others were passable. The savoury items though! They really were the next level and the best food we had for the whole week.
    Johnny Rockets is a burger place we went for lunch. It was pretty cheap and just what we felt like. Burgers were great, milkshake was yum! Would go again. B: 10/10, Ali: 9.5/10

    Activities: we did shore tours in Penang and langkawi, Penang was the stand out, our langkawi shore excursion was not a great choice, but still good to see some of the land. On the ship we played bingo, various trivia’s every day, sudoku challenge, mini golf, basketball, ping pong, watched people on the flow rider and enjoyed live music in different venues. Some shows were great and some were average but there was a good mix of styles. A comedian would have been good. B: 7/10, Ali 7/10.

    Demographics: so I was a bit surprised when we were checking in that there were a very limited number of Chinese people, I was sure there would be a big cohort. A few staff members mentioned there are usually more Singaporean’s on that cruise also, so not sure what happened! The British were the number one nationality, followed by Australians. There were a far amount of Europeans and also Americans. B and I think the average age was about 65. Very different to what we expected. It wasn’t bad but was surprising.

    All in all a great cruise, we enjoyed cruising though the trip was very port intensive (we only had one sea day). I think we’d enjoy a few more sea days on a trip. We both finished a book each though, so still found time to relax.

    Overall cruise experience B: 7/10

    Overall cruise experience Ali: 8/10.
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  • Day3

    All aboard!

    March 4, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Another early wake up followed by a relaxing morning. Breakfast was 2 savoury pork bao and iced kopi (coffee) for B and 2 boiled eggs, kaya toast and hot kopi for me ($12.80 total). We went back to the hotel to relax some more and pack our bags. We checked out at 11:45am, left our bags and walked over to Bugis to grab a quick and small lunch from Bread Talk (same concept as Bread Top), total $3.40.
    We originally planned to get the MRT to the cruise terminal but decided to take a taxi, which was under $10.
    I had read the cruise terminal was the most disorganised place in Singapore, and when we first got there, I could see why. We dropped our bags off so lined up outside for the security check. There were two ships boarding at the same time which apparently they don’t usually get, hence the chaos. They seemed unprepared and people were cutting in front of the line because they didn’t know where to go, only to be sent back. Once in the terminal, we lined up for security which was more organised. The Aussies behind us asked if we were English because I was so pale 😂 B really enjoyed that! Through security, check in, fully automated immigration where Singapore once again verified my thumb print. Onto the gangplank where a nice man politely stole our passports! Luckily I read about handing your passports over, we were laughing that the Australian Government would ask us how we lost our passports and we would have to explain we willingly and happily handed them over to a nice man 😊 once on board we walked around, checked out our room, unpacked, had some coffee and tea and a snack and finally made it to dinner, 8pm. Samosas,
    Sweet and sour pork and chocolate almond cake for me (7/10) garlic butter scallops, prime rib and peach and blueberry crumble for B (6/10).
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  • Day2

    Glam strolling

    March 3, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Unfortunately we both woke up at 5:30am this morning, wide awake. After a relaxing start we headed out at about 9am to get some breakfast. We found a Ya Kun Kaya branch and settled for 2 kaya toast sets, one with steamed bread and one with regular toast. The sets come with the toast, soft eggs and choice of coffee or tea; we opted for iced coffee ($11.20 total). Kaya is a coconut based jam that is flavoured with pandan leaves and is seriously awesome. If you get the chance, give it a try! Now the eggs look under done, but that is how they are always done here... you can also add a bit of soy sauce and pepper. I’ve been a bit worried to try them before now, but they weren’t as ‘goopy’ as I expected and were silky smooth. The toast dipped in the egg was simply amazing. We wandered along to the MINT museum of toys which was really unique and we both really enjoyed it. We then walked down to Kampong Glam (the Arab quarter) to enjoy the street art, beautiful view of the mosque and the atmosphere. Great spot! We then headed back towards Bugis and walked through the shops, looking for the Nike store for B, but it wasn’t there! It was 12pm so we headed back to have a rest at the hotel. Just after 2pm we headed out for some chicken rice for lunch ($8 for two) with a barley drink and an iced milk tea ($3 for both). The chicken rice was good but we continue on our search for excellent chicken rice. I really love the chilli sauce, I think it’s got some ginger in it...need to find out what it is so I can buy some, I’ve never had anything like it back home. We continued down the street to the National Museum of Singapore. The regular exhibit was impressive, it was time based and walked you through the different Singapore eras. Really enjoyable and probably one of the best exhibits I’ve ever seen in a museum. After a few hours in the lovely air con we walked back to the hotel to rest up for dinner. We walked down to food republic which is similar to 8 street at Westfield Garden City if you’ve been there, all little themed shop houses with different food. B settled for smoked duck with rice, I got a chicken curry noodle dish and we shared a lime juice and an iced milo for about $20. We tucked in before I remembered to take a photo! My phone says we walked over 11km today, I think that’s a conservative estimate!Read more

  • Day1

    Ahhhh singapore

    March 2, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Today we travelled from Brisbane to Singapore on Qantas Flight 51. It was a good flight, we both managed to watch a few movies. We were sitting on the middle section of 4 with a spare seat next to me which was lucky!
    Arrival in Singapore was efficient and we were at our hotel, Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen, an hour after landing which was 7:20pm local time. Taxi from the airport was about $28. We got settled in to our room then headed out around the corner to the Albert place hawker centre (open air food court). Most of the stalls were closed but we chose one which had a long line. I got some noodles with pork and veggies and B got the pork and onion with rice. Both meals were pretty good and $4 each, bargain! We went for a wander and found an ice cream sandwich wafer stand. I got mint choc chip and B went for red bean which was sold out so settled for vanilla choc chip. $1.20 each. There was a nice breeze blowing tonight so we wandered some more before returning for the night. I plan to blog every day again this holiday, but lack of internet on our cruise will mean a bit of a wait.Read more

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