All posts by Vago Damitio

Vago Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. He jumped ship from a sinking dotcom in 2000 and decided to reclaim his most valuable commodity, time. He bought a VW bus for $100, moved into it and set out on a journey to show the world that it was possible to live life on your own terms. That journey took him from waking up under icy blankets in  the Pacific Northwest to waking up under palm tress in Southeast Asia. Three years later, his first book, Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond was published. After diving into the Anthropology of Tourism and Electronic Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (with undeclared minors in film and surf) he hit the road again in 2008. Since that time,he's lived primarily in Morocco and Turkey, married a Moroccan girl he couchsurfed with, and become a proud father. He's been to more than 40 countries, founded a successful online travel magazine (this one!), and still doesn't have a boss. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

Happy New Year from Vagobond

Welcome to 2015!

I’m not sure what 2015 holds for but I do hope that it’s a great year for you and your travels.

As for me personally, I will not be doing much travel this year. With a 3-year-old and two businesses on the Oregon Coast – this isn’t (most-likely) going to be a year where I go out and see the world – but there is certainly still plenty to write about. This year on Vagobond I plan to

1) Re-visit many of my travels from the past fifteen years

2) Look at destination planning and exploring some destinations I would like to visit in the future

3) Talk about some stategies for getting more from your travel through spending less, seeing more, and really getting into the places you travel.

Every Friday, I will post a new story and through the week, I will repost popular articles and stories from our archives. It’s far from the days when there were two new stories per day on Vagobond, but perhaps by the end of 2015 we can be back on track for that.

I wish you a very Happy 2015!


Singapore Hotels and Hostels

Singapore is just one of those places that you have to visit at least once in your life. In terms of travel, nothing could be easier. Everyone speaks English, it’s modern, and it’s easy to get around. You can fly there from all over the world or if you are in Malaysia you can take an easy bus ride for about $30 U.S.

singapore hotelsI went with First Coach out of KL and enjoyed the ride. Comfortable, air con bus with a stop for food at a big roadside plaza.

Once you arrive you will realize that there are literally hundreds of hostels and hotels in Singapore to choose from.
As you know, one of my odd hobbies is wandering in and out of hotels and here are a few that are worth taking note of. The 1929 Hotel was right in the heart of Chinatown and at first looked like a classic Victorian style hotel, which I like – but when walking in I found that there was something ultra-modern about 1929. I toured the rooms and was blown away by the glass walled bathrooms and the iPod docks in the rooms equipped with Wi-Fi, a Jacuzzi on the roof and a nice garden. The restaurants smelled delicious though I was full on street food so didn’t stop to sample.

Another amazing boutique hotel in Singapore is Wanderlust. Wanderlust is clearly a hipster concept hotel and it is a place for 29-50 year old people who have some money (that’s not me by the way, but I still admired the concept) For those who don’t know wanderlust is a noun that means an irresistibly strong desire or an impulse to travel far away and explore different places. I felt like this hotel was worthy of the name.
boutique hotel room
From their site:

Wanderlust is a left-field and totally experimental boutique hotel set to draw madcap voyagers and curious travellers to its doorstep. Located in Little India – a bustling cultural enclave where Indian immigrants once settled, and the building was originally an old school built it 1920s.

With four thematic levels of 29 rooms by award winning Singapore design agencies, each group was given full creative freedom.
– Lobby Level – Industrial Glam by Asylum – A juxtaposition of the surrounding’s setting and contemporary design.
– Level 2 – Eccentricity by :phunk Studio – Colours everything from the walls to the neon lights and the rainbow corridor leads to a outdoor deck with a customised mosaic-tiled jacuzzi.
– Level 3 – Is it just Black and White by DP Architects – Walk across the black corridor and enter into the contrasting white rooms to discover Origami and Pop-Art works.
– Level 4 – Creature Comforts by Furious – Get cosy with friendly monsters in each room that presents a different vibe and be assured of a fantasy-filled experience.

Those looking for a less eclectic high end experience can simply head to the iconic Marina Bay Sands where they can swim in the pool that pours over the edge of the odd spaceship thing docked on top of the three towers. This is an integrated resort like nothing else you’ve ever seen and even if you aren’t staying there, it’s worthwhile as a tourist stop.

Skypark pool at Marina Bay Sands

Now, I’ve gotta admit, I’m a sucker for names and when I heard the name of the Celestial Resort Pulau Ubin Singapore, I just needed to check it out. Then I looked online and said….eh…not so much. Reviews included the words bloodstained, worst service ever, mosquitos, and hell. I decided to pass since it was a bit out of the way. If you check it out, let me know.

Singapore lion cityOn the budget end of the scale there are a lot of options. Most of them I saw were on the level of Backpackers Inn – Chinatown. Not that clean, not that fun, not that interesting. I can’t particularly recommend any of them since River City Inn offered me a free nights stay but when I was delayed by a day sent me an invoice and Ark 259 was cheap and had rooms but was perhaps the loudest hostel I’ve stayed in. Here is a list of all the hostels in Singapore.

And for those looking for something more enjoyable,here is a fairly complete list of hotels in Singapore.

What hotels do you recommend in Singapore?

Modern Wonders of Singapore

My grandmother used to tell us about how wonderful Singapore was. She would rest and relax there for months on end while my geologist grandfather opened oil wells in Sumatra. My grandparents in Singapore about 1965We never did figure out why they weren’t rich, but maybe it was their mutual love for Singapore hotels and casinos. In any event, one thing is certain, my grandmother loved Singapore. If anyone knows where the bridge above is located in Singapore or the history of it, I would love to know. The people on it in the picture are my grandparents. The year was 1974.

That’s partly why I chose to visit the Lion City in mid March. The other reason was simply that I happened to be nearby. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the budget to stay in the many fancy boutique hotels the city offers to the jetset, nor did I have the inclination to indulge in the many touristic opportunities the city offers. What I did have was a desire to wander around this magnificent city-state and get a sense for what it has to to offer. My conclusion in brief: my grandmother was right, Singapore is a wonderland.

Singapore Resources
Singapore Eyewitness Guide
Singapore Travel Insurance
Singapore Hostels
Singapore History

Each day it seems, Singapore offers something new and innovative to those who are looking to have a unique, adventurous, or just relaxing holiday. As a city it is ultra-modern, easy to get around, exotic, and (here’s a big bonus) nearly everyone speaks English. Singapore is safe for families and solo travelers and it offers plenty to do whether you want to take thrill rides, soak in history or culture, or get pampered and spoiled in the many spas and boutiques.

From Sentosa Island to the Skyline Luge there is something for everyone in Singapore and the weather is almost always perfect for a holiday. For those looking for thrills, the Skyline Luge offers some serious adrenaline. Essentially, it’s taking a bobsled down a concrete track through the jungle. It’s up to you how fast you go down the 650 meter track. On the way down you can watch for monkeys or just check out the views of Sentosa Island and the newly revamped Harbour Walk.

Singapore SkyparkIn my grandmother’s time it was the gardens and the sea that drew the most attention, but these days the architecture of Singapore is equally as exotic. The incredible Marina Bay Sands is composed of three 55 story towers with a huge banana spaceship perched on the top. Since 2009, this modern wonder has been captivating visitors. Especially when they go to the amazing Skypark which fills the banana.

Singapore SkyparkWith the theatre, the casinos, the innovative Art Science Museum, and the many flowers in the city, you will be forgiven if you didn’t happen to look up and see the Skypark, but just in case you did, here is the lowdown. Completed in 2009, the Skypark holds a 146 meter long pool that sits just about 190 meters in the air. Nearly 400,000 gallons of water surrounded by restaurants, botanical gardens, and nightclubs.

The whole complex sits on movable joints connected to the three hotel towers so that if the ground shakes or the wind shifts the buildings, the Skypark will adjust and flex. If you take a swim in the infinity pool, you will no doubt note that the water seems to be falling off the edge of the park…Getting in isn’t cheap (not much in Singapore is) but $20 Singapore dollars is a small price to pay to experience this modern wonder of the world.

Singapore MerlionOf course you are going to head to Sentosa Island while you are in Singapore for the restaurants and more. Sentosa is also called Pulau Belaking Mati, or Death Island. Ohhh…scary. But in fact, Sentosa (the name since the 1970’s) is anything but scary except to your wallet. To get there you take a ten minute cable car ride. After that you can play in the water at the Wave House, visit Universal Studios, or take a walk through some carefully managed rainforest. Of course, if you prefer to zip through the jungle, there is a fun looking adventure park too.

While some people turn up their nose at it, the Singapore Flyer is a must see and must ride for many travelers. The Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest observation wheel and while it may not look like it is moving from a distance, that is because the thing is just really really big (and it moves pretty slow).

world's largest observation towerThe ride takes 30 minutes and passengers sit inside one of twenty eight air con capsules. Each capsule holds twenty people so that means that the Singapore Flyer holds a whopping 784 people. Wow. It was built by Japanese architect Dr. Kisho Kurokawa. It took more than two year to complete and stands 165 meters high. On the ground it takes up more space than not one but two football stadiums. From the top when the weather permits it is easy to see both Indonesia and Malaysia.