I'm going to Singapore after my holiday in Thailand and hear that Singapore is also renowned for its food.
Can you recommend some places where I can sample the local favourites? Thanks, Meiji
Eating in Singapore is as much fun as in Thailand, as the city state offers a wealth of flavours ranging from Chinese, Indian and Malay to Italian and French. Singaporeâ€™s multi-cultural diversity has given rise to a variety of local cuisine, with many of its Chinese, Malay and Indian dishes influenced by westerners who arrived in Singapore a century ago. Look for Singapore specialities like Bak Kut Teh - Chinese pork ribs soup cooked in herbs and eaten with rice as well as with fried dough and salted vegetables. Worth checking out are Ng Ah Sio on Rangoon Road and Leong Kee on Beach Road. I'd also recommend the wonderfully fragrant Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is popular for both lunch and dinner. You'll find it at stalls all over the city, as well as at Heng Ji Chicken Rice in Chinatown and Boon Tong Kee (Katong) on East Coast Road. For a grand dinner dish, locals enjoy Chilli Crab, which is covered with rich tomato gravy and eaten with fried buns. Favourite restaurants for this dish are Long Beach and the No Signboard Seafood restaurants. Both have several branches citywide. You should also try Satay, Roti Prata (Indian "pizza"), Hokkien seafood noodles and some of local desserts like Ice Kachang, ice flavoured with red bean and jelly. Head to Maxwell Road Hawker Centre for tasty food on a budget.
If you're not quite sure where to start, you might want to contact Tony Tan, who runs Food Walk Singapore (www.BetelBox.com). The "eating marathon" takes you through an old neighbourhood of Paranakan shophouses. Billed as a Walking Wikipedia, Tan will show you the real Singapore both on and off the plate.
I'm going to be in Bali at the end of February, spending four days in Ubud then three days at the beach, I'd like to do some diving and chill on the white sand. Where do you recommend? Sam P
Bali has many great beaches - some are good for surfing, some for swimming and others for sunbathing. It also depends on the season. In Bali, the wet season runs from November to March, while April to October is considered the dry season. The trade winds tend to blow from the east during the dry season and the west during the wet. So the west coast beaches like Kuta, Seminyak, Jimbaran and Legian in February can have a lot rubbish on them, blown in by on-shore winds, but are calm and clean during the dry season. So Nusa Dua and Sanur on the east coast offer better beach quality in February. As for going in the wet season, there is nothing to worry about, as the weather in Bali is often fine through the day with showers in the morning or night.
If you want to include diving, look at Padang Bai in Klungkung, which has some good beaches on the east coast. The most popular one is called Blue Lagoon and has a small white sandy beach and the other is White Sand Beach or Secret beach, as it sometimes called. Scuba diving and snorkeling sites are accessible by boat as are the nearby islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. Further north, Tulambem and Amed offer great WWII shipwreck diving just 50 metres off the shore, but you will have a black sandy beach instead of white.
The best white sandy beach in Bali is Mengiat near Nusa Dua's five-star hotels and between Nusa Dua and Geger beaches. It's protected by an offshore reef, which prevents waves from breaking on the beach. It has a clean white stretch of sand and clean blue water with waves small enough to make it very safe for swimming. Enjoy Bali!