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Travel in Singapore: Off The Beaten Path

Travel in Singapore: Off The Beaten Path

When you think about Singapore, you probably think of the array of skyscrapers, concrete roads lined with rows of trees. Being one of Asia’s most important business hubs, Singapore has many 5-star luxury hotels, restaurants and high-end shops on almost every corner, and many other tourist attractions that are bustling with people every day.

But this isn’t all that Singapore has to offer. After visiting said tourist spots, such as Sentosa, Universal Studios and Marina Bay Sands, there are many other places to go. Singapore is, after all, more than just urbanization.

1. Bukit Brown Cemetery 

Located in the central area of Singapore, bordering Lornie Road and parts of the Pan-Island Expressway, Bukit Brown Cemetery (BBC) was the first Chinese municipal cemetery in colonial Singapore. It is a burial ground home to many of the first pioneers in Singapore, making it a historical attraction.

The government has, however, expressed the desire to pave a road though it to widen the expressway. Visit it when you still can (during the day, of course)!

2. Fort Canning Park

Located on a hill, it was once called “Forbidden Hill,” for it was once the seat of royalty for the Malay rulers during the 1300’s. The Park was once the residence of colonial leaders and an important military base in World War II.

Its attractions include The Keramat, which is a sacred burial ground of an unknown Malay revered leader.

3. Bollywood Veggies, an organic farm

For a scrumptious yet healthy dining experience, head to Bollywood Veggies for a down-to-earth organic meal. Once you in the ten-acre organic farm, you feel that you’re no longer in Singapore. It’s a definite fresh change from all the restaurants of the city.

4. Pulau Ubin

Explore Pulau Ubin, a 1,000-hectare island that offers a glimpse of what Singapore used to be. It is home to Chek Jawa, one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems.

Go there a live a life of peace, away from the bustling streets.

5. Dining at home

Travel in Singapore: Off The Beaten Path

For a taste of home, try eating with locals in Singapore at their very own homes. Meet a local family, have a taste of authentic home-made food, and go back home having made some new friends while on a holiday!

Explore BonAppetour for a range of such dining options.

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best places to travel to in november

The Best Places To Travel To In November

As September bids us a fond farewell, we have November just around the corner bringing its own unique promise to different parts of the world. For some, it is the gift of a bountiful harvest, of greens turning to swirls of reds and golds, of balmy days giving way to cool crisp air. For others, it is the very opposite.

November is a great off-peak month to travel, with many flight and hotel deals abound. Right before the December holiday season and after the crowds of summer tourists have abated, you are more likely to be able to enjoy a place in relative peace.

Got some free time on your hands and find yourself browsing through travel guides? Well, check out this list of 5 awesome places to travel to in November to boost your wanderlust!

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1. South Korea

The land of Kimchi gets a vibrant makeover in the fall and has one of the most stunning fall foliage in Asia. Nature lovers are in for a visual treat when they take a hike up the mountains, or stroll through the Seoul Forest.

You don’t even have to break a sweat to participate in this feast for the eyes. Just wander down the streets of Seoul, tour the palaces or cycle around Nami Island, the trees will magnanimously bestow their fiery beauty upon you.

Foodies will fall hard for the autumnal specialties here. Blue crabs, jumbo shrimps and Gizzard Shad (a type of fish) are all in season, flavourful and nutritious. For dessert, the vitamin-packed persimmons are abundant in the fall and are enjoyed ripe, dried or in a fruit punch called Sujeonghwa.

November is an exciting time to be in Seoul. On the first Friday of November to the third Sunday of November, the annual Seoul Lantern Festival is held along the Cheonggyecheon Stream, lighting up the night with a rainbow of colours.

What: Seoul Lantern Festival 2016

When: 4 November – 20 November

Where: Cheonggyecheon Stream

Addicts of the fermented national dish Kimchi should make it a point to attend the Seoul Kimchi Festival where one can register to sign up for events such as kimchi making.

What: Seoul Kimchi Festival 2016

When: 4 November – 6 November

Where: Gwanghwamun Square, City Hall (Seoul Plaza) and Sejongno Park, Taepyeongno, Cheonggye Plaza

2. Thailand

While Thailand does not have 4 seasons, November is notably cooler and the peak holiday crowds have not hit yet. Most people probably head to Thailand for the delicious food and amazing shopping. In November, however, Thailand shines a little brighter than usual during the festival of lights.

Celebrated on the evening of the full moon on the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar, Loi Krathong, which translates to “float a basket,” pays respects to the water spirits. During the festival, the waterways in Bangkok are illuminated with pinpoints of lights, dancing and flickering down the water. The Thais make a wish and float their krathongs made with banana leaves, candles and incense sticks, down the river or canal.

You can easily join in the fun and purchase a krathong from any roadside stall.

Chiang Mai celebrates the festival of lights slightly differently. Coinciding with Loi Krathong, the Yi Peng festival is celebrated there. Instead of floating lights down the water, candlelit sky lanterns are launched into the air, creating an enchanting fairytale spectacle.

What: Loi Krathong / Yi Peng

When: 14 November 2016 / 13 – 15 November 2016

Where: Nationwide / Chiang Mai

3. Tokyo, Japan

Pink cherry blossoms in spring, spiraling powder white snowflakes in winter, dazzling sunshine in summer and reddish gold foliage in autumn – Japan is beautiful through the seasons. Besides April (cherry blossom season), November is one of the best times to visit the land of the rising sun. The weather is lovely, the scenery splendid and the food irresistible (it’s snow-crab season!).

If you’re visiting Tokyo, don’t miss the Tori-No-Ichi, or Day of the Rooster, an annual traditional festival and fair held in shrines around Tokyo. The most famous fair is held at the Temple of Tori in Asakusa. It is held once every 12 days in November.

Experience the unique atmosphere of the fair and fill up on delicious Japanese street food as well. The streets come alive with open-air stalls selling lucky bamboo rakes, or kumade, decorated in items such as gold coins, silver and lucky cats. Kumades are seen as lucky charms for life and business, raking in good fortune and wealth for the owner.

What: Tori-No-Ichi (Day of the Rooster)

When: Nov 11 and Nov 23 2016

4. Australia

Thinking of leaving grey skies behind and spending your November someplace warmer? Australia is as good a place as any, with spring slowly making way for summer. Don’t bother wearing a belt, it’s Good Food Month in Australia, the country’s largest food festival. It is a national celebration of food where a host of food-related events take place.

Don’t miss the signature Night Noodle Market in Sydney and Melbourne where crowd-favourite restaurants take to the streets to form an Asian-style hawker night market. Ditch the wooly jumpers and pack in a good appetite!

What: Good Food Month

When: 1 – 30 Nov 2016

Where: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide

5. Italy

Savour the taste of la dolce vita (the sweet life) in Italy, the country who has bestowed the precious gift of its delectable cuisine upon the world. Apart from the usual staples of pasta, pizza and wine, bring your taste buds for a gastronomic adventure this November. Fall in Italy is the season of white truffle, olives and chestnuts.

Foodies visiting Italy in November should make it a point to visit a truffle fair in Northern Italy. The Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba, or International Alba White Truffle Fair, is one of the biggest truffle fairs in Italy is held in Alba, the gourmet capital of the lush Langhe Valley. The aromatic heady scent of truffles will intoxicate you as you stroll around the fair, loading up with free samples of food and wine.

Truffles are expensive but bargains can be found at the fair with the right combination of a keen eye and patience.

What: International Alba White Truffle Fair

When: 8 October – 27 November 2016, Saturdays and Sundays 9am – 8pm

Admission: 3 Euros

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A Travel Blogger's Guide to Having Authentic Experiences Abroad

A Travel Blogger’s Guide to Having Authentic Experiences Abroad

You travel to experience a new culture, correct? Following the crowd of tourists as they go from their hotel room, to a cab, to the “must-see” destinations almost certainly ensures that you won’t experience the culture—you’ll experience a curated version of it. And after saving and spending your hard-earned money, the last thing you want to do is have regrets about what you did or didn’t see.

The best way to make the most of your trip is to have as authentic of an experience as possible. Luckily, it’s possible to see popular tourist spots and enjoy your destination like a local. Use the following tips to do exactly that on your next trip abroad.

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Don’t Bounce Around

Instead of spending just one day in each country or city you plan to visit, dedicate a few days, or even a week if possible. The more time you spend in one spot, the more you learn about the way locals live. This also gives you time to relax, rather than running from one museum to another to fit everything in one day.

My husband and I spent one week in Paris and this is where we had the most authentic experience. We got into our own little routine of living like a local: morning breakfast of chocolate croissants in our rental apartment, a walk to wherever we were off to that day, espresso at a café in the afternoon and either bought food for dinner on the way home or took the metro out to a small, quiet dinner. My memories from our time in Paris are nothing but blissful, and I believe this authentic experience has a lot to do with it.

If you can only squeeze in two days, spend one checking out the popular tourist stops and then spend the next strolling around, enjoying local parks and restaurants. Check a local event calendar to find events that day or music that night; heading to a local event ensures you’ll have a more authentic experience.

Get Hyper Local: Instead of taking a cab, always use public transportation. You’ll be able to observe locals going about their regular day and take cues from what they’re wearing and how they’re acting. I loved emulating the way women dressed in Paris; it was such a wonderful combination of casual and classy.

Learn the Lingo

Learning a whole new language may be out of the question—especially if you’re working full time, planning for the trip, and still trying to enjoy some semblance of social life. However, you don’t need to speak the language fluently before you go, just a few key phrases and slang terms can make it easier for you to blend and have an authentic experience in when you arrive to your destination.

When planning, research which language(s) are common in the area you’re traveling to. While we all know French is spoken in France, you may not know that it’s also spoken in 31 other countries, including many in Africa. It will only take a few minutes to look up the language and start practicing a few words and phrases.

Get Hyper Local: Check out this Conde Nast guide to slang in other countries so you can speak to people like a local. When my husband and I traveled through Europe, we’d always ask servers about the local slang so we could use it as we traveled around. In places like Paris, where locals are hesitant to speak English, even if they know it, this knowledge comes in handy.

Stay With Locals

AirBnB is an easy and safe way to stay with locals when traveling abroad. Instead of getting a hotel room by yourself, find a house with an open room. Many times, hosts offer to show people around if requested, and may even give a list of the restaurants and sites that locals love to frequent.

In Amsterdam, the host’s son happened to have a boat, and he offered to give us a personal canal tour (as opposed to taking one of the large—and packed—tour boats). The experience was exceptional, and one we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

If you don’t want to stay with a local, you can dine with one for a night instead. Use Bonappetour to browse for hosts in the area you’re visiting, book your “home dinner” and enjoy an authentic meal one night during your stay. Few opportunities allow for as authentic of an experience as this.

Get Hyper Local: Ask the person you’re staying with to take you out for a day and show you what they might do on a nice day off. While not all hosts will be interested in this, some will love the opportunity to show you what their hometown has to offer.

Having an authentic experience abroad is not only possible, it’s actually pretty easy. Use these tips to make the most of your trip and live like a local, if only for a few days.

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Home Chefs Around the World Tell us Why they Cook for Strangers

Home Chefs Around the World Tell us Why they Cook for Strangers

We spoke to our BonAppetour hosts about why they chose to cook traditional dishes for travelers who wanted to eat with locals.

Paris:

 

Florence: “My family has been living in Paris for two centuries. My grandmother and my mother passed on to me the taste and the practice of traditional French cuisine. I like to add to it a touch of modernity. I've been cooking for my family and friends since my twenties and nothing makes me more happy than to share my passion for cooking”

 

Sandra: “Since my teens, I've been told that I can cook well. I have a strong passion for cooking, and I look forward to have the opportunity to share my food, with different people from all over the world. Also, to use this social dining experience as a chance to share some interesting stories together.”

 

Benedicte: “In love with my city I'd like to share a little bit of the Parisian life with guests from around the world”

 

Barcelona

Pamela: “Originally from Italy I’ve lived in Barcelona since 1999. I have travelled all over the world in order to experience and get to know other cultures, so I’d love to offer the same chances to visitors of Barcelona.”

David & Yuki: “For us, cooking is about telling a story, one of the most important features is generosity. What we love about receiving travellers at home is sharing a nice chat with people from different backgrounds during a cozy meal and sipping a nice Catalan wine together.” 

 

Teresa: “I have been all over the world and it is always nice to meet people, the best thing is enjoying a good meal with them. So I want to show you food from where I grew up in Barcelona. My Mum was the person who gave me my love for cooking; after that, the world, life and travel, did the rest.”

 

Rome

  

Alessandro: “I'm a true Roman living very near the Vatican City I've always had a passion for cooking, though I studied and practiced law for a while. I learnt cooking by watching my grandmother, Iolanda and my mother Maria Pia. As a child, I loved experimenting in the kitchen.

It is always a pleasure to cook for guests. I find it relaxing, rewarding and I am always happy when guests love my dishes. I love to experiment with new recipes, starting, by tradition, and then adding a modern touch to it, or even designing completely new delicacies!”

Simona: “It was impossible not to have a passion for cooking if you grew up in a typical Neapolitan family, with two grandmothers and a mother who prepared homemade pasta.  My own kitchen is focused on typical dishes of Neapolitan and Roman tradition. Now I want to share my passion with new people, opening the doors of my home to tourists visiting Rome or anyone who wants to enjoy the taste of tradition in a different way, in a more casual and comfortable atmosphere. I have a degree in law, many years of so-called "normal" jobs behind but when I wake up in the morning and I know I have to organize a dinner I feel happy! Food is culture, tradition and passion!”

Francesca: “It's every time nice sharing our cultures and knowledge and improve my english at the same time too”

 

Singapore:

Regina: I believe that it is important to live a full and authentic life, enjoy new experiences and be true to yourself, by doing what you love. Cooking is an expression of my love for my family, friends, and the good life we have been blessed with.

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