Trip Notes: 2 Nights In Singapore And Back Home On A Korean A380

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Continued from: Trip Notes Maldives: The Longest Flight In The World And 2 Nights In Paradise.

We arrived in Singapore from the Maldives on Friday morning.  Thanks to the ghetto upgrade (lie-flat seating in coach thanks to an empty row of 4 seats in the middle of the Singapore A330) we were ready and raring to go.

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Living on the edge.

 

More after the jump…

I had already done my research thanks to the Singapore thread on DDF as well as the Lonely Planet Singapore guidebook.

Taxis in Singapore are relatively inexpensive, though pricing rules are complicated with higher fees depending on the time of day.  There is a 25% surcharge over the meter for trips starting 6am-9:30am and from 6pm-midnight.  There is a 50% surcharge for trips starting from midnight-6am. Nicer cars may have a flag drop of $4 (US $3.20) instead of $3 (US $2.40) though the other rates are always the same.  If you pay by credit card there is a 10% surcharge.

Singapore also has an excellent Subway system, though you should study the map as it may be cheaper and more effective to travel by foot or taxi.

The temperature in Singapore is muggy and in the upper 80s all year-round. There are no seasons here.

Our taxi driver from the airport was a great ambassador for the city, showing us which sites to see, and giving us a free history lesson along with the highs and lows of Singapore living.

He pointed out landmarks as we passed them like the Singapore Flyer:

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The Marina Bay Sands hotel:

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And the landmark, Raffles Hotel:

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Singapore is a city-state, meaning that the entire country consists just of the city of Singapore.  It is a financial hub and feels very western with English being the primary language.  For some reason it all feels a little fake, like a giant Disneyland though suitable for both adults and kids.  You don’t feel like you’re getting an authentic Eastern experience like you do in China, Japan, or Hong Kong.  Rather this is the sanitized version that the tourism directors have created.  Not that you can’t have an awesome time in Singapore as long as you understand what you’re in for. Just don’t try to bring in any drugs or gum :D

We stayed at the Fairmont Singapore, where I have a lifetime of free suites and spa treatments. The hotel is undergoing renovation and we couldn’t be confirmed for a suite.  Lower floors still are not renovated, but we went with a low floor due to being in the hotel for shabbos when we would have to use the stairs.  The room itself was extremely dated and customer service was lacking.  While they promised us a suite to change into for Saturday night they reneged on that offer when we came to take them up on it.  We did get lounge access at least.

While the main doors of the hotel are electric there are manual doors at the side of the hotel as well, so that worked well for shabbos.  It’s also only an 8 minute walk from the Sephardic Maghain Aboth Synagogue, which is administered by Chabad.

Our first stop was the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.  While they charge $20 for non-guests to reach the observation deck you can just ask for a pass to the KU DÉ TA bar and you’ll be in the Skypark area, a floor above the observation deck, for free! If you’re a good talker (or tipper?) you may be able to access the Infinity pool, one of the coolest in the entire world.  Officially it’s only for hotel guests though.

 

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View of Gardens by the Bay from the Skypark.

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View from the Skypark.

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View from the Skypark.

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View from the Skypark.

 

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Hot tub in the Skypark

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No it’s not really as scary as it looks from those angles, as you can see from the bar:

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We also went to Arab Street where you can pickup tichels galore.  You’ll have to bargain, but the patterns and material quality are awesome and prices are better than in Israel.  As it was Friday morning the Sultan Mosque was closed to non-Muslims.

There is 1 kosher restaurant in Singapore, Awafi.  It is located on the 6th floor in the Jewish community center next door to the shul.  Unfortunately on Friday they don’t operate their normal menu and only had grilled chicken or Shnitzel, though it was quite tasty if not slightly pricey:

 

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There is a kosher, though non-cholov yisroel, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf next door to the Jewish community center. They used to have cholov yisroel milk powder like the Coffee Bean in Los Angeles on Beverly and Alta Vista has, but they no longer carry it as there was insufficient demand for it. The cholov stam baked goods there looked fantastic, though all we could do was gawk at them.

 

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From there we walked to Orchard Road, home to literally dozens of malls.  There’s more retail shopping here than you’ve seen in your entire life.  You can’t possibly check them all out, so this is where a guidebook is helpful to determine where to go.

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Walking to Orchard road.

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Art in the ION Orchard mall.

Next up was the Singapore Botanical Gardens.  They’re free and they’re gorgeous.  It’s an amazingly serene setting in middle of the city and definitely worth a nice stroll.  There is a charge to see the orchid gardens and you can even buy orchid jewelry that are actual orchids dipped in gold.  Items like gold dipped orchid earrings and headbands are under $100 ($80 USD)

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We made reservations to eat at the shul for Friday night.  There is no eruv so I brought my davening gear there before shabbos and left it there until afterwards.

The Chabad rabbis lead a slow Sephardic style davening that is not what I’m used to.  The last time I had that experience was when I was in Kobe, Japan back in 2005.  Thanks to American’s AVNYC promotion I was able to fly twice from NYC to Florida for under $200 and get a free ticket from Sao Paulo to Dallas, NYC, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Miami before heading back down to Brazil.  Those were the good old days  back when I was getting 5 visits a day on my blog instead of 50,000.

The shabbos meal itself had a very eclectic crowd and I got to shmooze with other travelers, local businesspeople, students in school hoping to get into high finance, and discuss the intricacies of the different seats on the 19 hour long all-business class flight between Newark and Singapore with Diamond Joe Gutnick.  The food was not as good as I had in Chabad of Hong Kong Island, downtown Melbourne, Paris, or even Venice over shabbos but I don’t think anyone left hungry.  On shabbos day after another lengthy davening the entire community eats together and it’s quite nice as well.  Again, the food was nothing to write home about, but thanks to a decent cholent (something I’m told they don’t always have) we didn’t go hungry.  The restaurant isn’t open on Saturday night, so we filled up at shalosh seudos which had surprisingly good food.

That night we were off to the Night Safari. Wildlife Reserves Singapore runs a world famous Zoo and a separate Night Safari park.  What I had read is that the animals were much more free and open than at other zoos though at least at the Night Safari I didn’t really find that to be the case as they seemed mostly confined to me.  We started with a tram ride tour of the park where we did see all kinds of nocturnal animals though the commentary was very heavy-handed on the environment.  As we passed each animal we were told how our kids and grandkids may never see them as humans are destroying the earth, etc.  And as we exited the tram we were told how the entire park may not exist in the future due to changing climates…it was all repeated a bit too much for me.  Afterward we walked around the park and like the rest of Singapore, it is all very clean but that superficial feeling nags at you.  I had expected more.

Perhaps the Zoo would have been the better choice, where apparently monkeys swing in the trees above you.  There is also a River Safari that just opened this month.  Be sure to show your Singapore Airline boarding pass to get a nice discount and don’t buy tickets from the hawkers-go straight to the main ticket counter where they take credit cards and can process the discount.

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Night Safari Entrance

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Leopard, Night Safari

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A serene lake at the Night Safari

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But is his name Rocky?

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The Jurassic Park name and font. Where’s Newman?

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Hyena, Night Safari

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Lost in translation…The Bridge of Suspense!

On Sunday morning we went to the Asian Civilizations Museum.  Museums aren’t really my thing, but this was very highly rated and had a nice discount with a Student ID.  There were neat artifacts and stuff, but still museums just aren’t my thing.

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Asian Civilizations Museum.

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Asian Civilizations Museum.

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A random neat looking sculpture

Then we jumped on the subway to check out Chinatown.  The subways are nice, spacious, and clean.  Plus you can walk all the way from the front to the back without going through any doors.

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Chinatown

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A great souvenir or gift for someone back home.  Be prepared to bargain though or you will be ripped off!  They’ll ask for $40 for this sign to be painted and laminated but accepted $15 ($12 USD).

Chinatown is also the place to buy items like the Singapore Airline’s flight attendant uniforms or other small gifts for cheap…if you are a decent bargainer.

A quick subway trip after that and we were in Little India.  As it was Sunday it was teeming with people though the wares didn’t really interest us too much.  If you’re in the mood to hunt for a pair of jeans though…

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Ah yes. The very rare AHA airlines Airbus 757 :D

After lots of running around for a Sunday morning it was time for some grub at Awafi.

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The chinese Sizzling Beef was delicious.

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And the fried rice was fantastic as well.

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Kuay Teow with beef, a local dish, had flavors I had never had before.  It’s worth a try!

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Mee Goreng with Beef was also something that’s worth a try while you’re here.  The flavors are definitely unique if nothing else!

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Yes I did ask if they were homemade. I seem to have a thing for getting stuck with the frozen onion rings.

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Spring Rolls with sweet chili sauce were great

Afterwards we headed off to Sentosa Island, home to the W hotel and some of the priciest real estate in the world.

You could spend days on Sentosa and not be bored though your wallet will be significantly lighter.  Sentosa is home to beaches, a Casino, and dozens of attractions for adults and kids like Zip-lining, 4D movies, cable car rides, and more.

We went on the Skyline Luge where you navigate your luge down a trail and come back up via Skyride to try a different pathway down.  The best deal and the ideal amount of times is the 3 pack for $20 (USD $16).

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Luge

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Those checkpoints make sure you’re not going to fast in the beginning, but be sure not to go to fast around the curves or you’ll get hurt!

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Taking the Skyride back up.

Running out of time, it was back to Awafi for dinner:

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Sizzling Chicken was excellent

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Sichuan Chicken was very good as well.

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Lamb Sambousik was a bit dry.

Finally we capped off the trip with a ride on the Singapore Flyer.  We tried to time it so that we’d be able to see sunset but we didn’t make it.  Don’t forget to bring your Singapore Airline boarding pass here as well for a nice discount.

The views were just awesome and we even got to see a light show going on at the Marina Bay Sands from afar:

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We could have easily spent 4 nights in Singapore without being bored.  There are also lots of great hiking opportunities as well that we didn’t have time to touch and there are other islands to visit as well.

The return flight was booked in First Class on Korean via Seoul.  That trip is 95,000 Korean miles plus about $300 in fuel surcharges.  Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer instantly 1:1 to Korean and award availability is phenomenal, the best in the industry.   You can even fly from JFK to Tel Aviv via Seoul if you wanted :)

The Singapore airport is fantastic, there are tons of great retail stores that can keep you occupied for hours if you don’t want to wait in a sterile lounge.

The Singapore to Seoul 6 hour redeye flight was on a 777 and the Seoul to JFK 14 hour flight was on an A380.

The A380 completed my Airbus run as I flew on an A319 from Cleveland to Newark, an A340 from Newark to Singapore, and an A330 from Singapore to Male.  Though I still didn’t fly on that AHA Airlines Airbus 757 :D

It was the 2nd A380 I’ve flown on, though it can’t compete with the Singapore A380 experience.

I found the first class service to be slightly overbearing, I mean do I really need 4 flight attendants letting me know what the flight time will be?  Also they are very strict about getting up to go to the bathroom when the seatbelt sign is on…and it was on for a long time.

So while I can nitpick about how the service can’t compare to Singapore, it still is very good.

The flight to Seoul had full meal service but there were no pajamas on the regional flight. The seat however is very similar on the 777 and the A380.  It’s no suite like you can find on Asiana, Emirates, Etihad, and Singapore but it is very nice.

The A380 flight was a real treat.  A big roomy cabin that had only 2 other passengers on-board and really comfy pajamas, slippers, and an amenity kit were handed out as well.  Plus kosher parve Macadamia nuts to snack on.

The bedding on the A380 flight was great and much more substantial than on the 777, though I had a hard time sleeping due to the warm cabin temperature, even after I asked and they turned it a little cooler.

The A380 had an open bar where you could help yourself to Blue Label with a gigantic round ice cube.  There was single malt available for the asking as well.

There were a few other Orthodox Jews I bumped into in the First Class lounge in Seoul who also had used their Chase points to enjoy Korean First.  One was a big DansDeals fan and we chatted for quite some time and he even had me chatting with his friend to answer some of his questions and prove he was with me :D

I had considered spending a night in Seoul, but wound up bypassing it after not really finding much to do there besides for traveling north up to the demilitarized zone.

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First class checkin.

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Singapore Harbor

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Singapore Airport

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Shower in the Premier Lounge.

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Korean 777 First Class

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Korean 777 First Class

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Korean 777 First Class

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777 First Class Sink with temperature control and motion sensor.  If only all airplane sinks were like this…

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…and had cloth towels.

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Hermolis Dinner, SIN-ICN

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Hermolis Dinner, SIN-ICN

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Hermolis Dinner, SIN-ICN.  The stuffed chicken was delicious!

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Korean Liquor List

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Korean First Class Lounge, Seoul

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Korean First Class Lounge, Seoul

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People sleeping the night away in Seoul

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Korean A380 First Class

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Korean A380 First Class

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Korean A380 First Class

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Korean A380 First Class

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Korean A380 First Class

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Duck and Single Malt for lunch, Hermolis ICN-JFK

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Poached Sole, Hermolis ICN-JFK

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Korean A380 Bathroom

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Open Bar, Korean A380 First

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The flight left Seoul at 10:20am on Monday and got to JFK at 10am earlier that day, so I got to check time travel off my bucket list, even if it was on an A380 and not a DeLorean.  As there was nightfall on the plane I did daven shacharis for a 2nd time on Monday and wound up putting on tefilin 7 times that week.

The American flight from JFK to Cleveland didn’t have award availability so that meant switching airports, but I took advantage of the 5 hour layover to rent a car, daven shacharis at the Rebbe’s Ohel, and then catch lunch with 6 DDF guys at Amsterdam Burger Company that was arranged beforehand on the NYC DO thread.  The Mushroom And Caramelized Onion burger and the BBQ Pulled Beef Sandwich were great!  Well, not as good as Clubhouse Cafe, but that place is long gone unfortunately.  A couple guys got the Breakfast Burger which they raved about.

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I may only have been away from home for a week, but this was a trip that I’ll never forget!  You don’t need to be away for a long time to have a trip around the world that will create a lifetime worth of memories.

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38 Responses to “Trip Notes: 2 Nights In Singapore And Back Home On A Korean A380”

  1. moi Says:
    1

    WOW!

    ReplyReply
  2. Devorah Says:
    2

    Great trip report! Keep ‘em comin’!

    ReplyReply
  3. Yehoshua Says:
    3

    Amazing TR!!! Sounds like an awesome trip!

    ReplyReply
  4. Dov Says:
    4

    Wow! What a trip! Thanks again Dan for another wonderful and detailed trip report. You should continue to have positive experiences.

    ReplyReply
  5. Yosef_S Says:
    5

    Dan, it seems like that isn’t just any old AHA Airbus 757, according to the fuselage that’s actually the ‘consummate model’! I don’t think I want to know what going down on that plane!! ;-)

    ReplyReply
  6. Dan Says:
    6

    @moi:
    @Devorah:
    @Yehoshua:
    @Dov:
    Thanks for the feedback guys!

    Though I think my favorite feedback was from the guy who recognized me in LA and proceeded to describe how he did every last thing and ordered every last dish from my Paris trip report :D

    @Yosef_S:
    Oh my…at least I hope there are suites on the Airbus 757 :)

    ReplyReply
  7. Smay Says:
    7

    You never cease to amaze me! Thanks for all the information you share.

    Stu

    ReplyReply
  8. Savingsbigtime Says:
    8

    Thanks Dan , for the llongggggg awaited tr !!

    ReplyReply
  9. Smurf Says:
    9

    That Pic followed by
    “More after the jump…”….

    ReplyReply
  10. sam Says:
    10

    looks cool. By the way the coffee bean in los angeles is cholov yisroel only if you hold cholov yisroel is hidur. If you hold it is a din like chabad then it is not considered cholov yisroel as the kailim would need to be koshered.

    ReplyReply
  11. TravelBloggerBuzz Says:
    11

    Other bloggers would have made this a 24 segment post you know;-)

    ReplyReply
  12. Dan Says:
    12

    @Smurf:
    ROFL!!!!
    #UnintendedButHysterical

    @TravelBloggerBuzz:
    Part 16: Should you wear Bose Headphones on a Maldivian Seaplane?
    Part 47: Fairmont King Room
    Part 48: Fairmont Corner King Room
    Part 49: Fairmont Junior King Room
    Part 50: Fairmont Lounge
    Part 51: Fairmont Willow Stream Spa
    Part 52: Activities in the Fairmont hotel
    Part 73: Are Taxis in Singapore expensive?
    Part 98: Singapore First versus Korean First Pajamas

    On second thought, I’m happy to give my readers an overview of a city and how I got there in one post.
    All the info you need to start planning your own trip on one page.

    Sure it’s nice to have content for weeks on end, but if I lose interest after reading endless installments of a trip why would I expect anything different from my readers?

    ReplyReply
  13. whYME Says:
    13

    Great TR as usual.

    Though it should say 14 times for the tefillin :)

    ReplyReply
  14. Dan Says:
    14

    @whYME:
    Can even be 28. Just depends on how you run the math ;)

    ReplyReply
  15. harry Says:
    15

    nice TR.

    did you shlep the baby?

    ReplyReply
  16. Igor Ivanovich Says:
    16

    Dan thanks for filling us in!

    ReplyReply
  17. Question Says:
    17

    Dan, non related question, how often after closing a Chase Spahire account, can you reapply for a new one?
    Also if you have a chase saphire mastercard, can you apply for a chase spahire visa?

    ReplyReply
  18. Adam Says:
    18

    Dan, I can’t agree more about how well done your trip reports are. Concise, and to the point, but enough content to get a real feel for the activities/places/hotels/lounges/etc. Big LOL at your banter with @Travelbloggerbuzz

    ReplyReply
  19. zvi Says:
    19

    Only with people like us can you find more pictures of the food than of the museums. Dan , thanks, somewhere sometime I’ll be seeing you en-route.

    ReplyReply
  20. Yosel Says:
    20

    Dan u r the BEST

    ReplyReply
  21. Jacob Says:
    21

    Amusing that you apparently eat from any hechsher under the sun, but cholov stam you can only gawk at. To each his own.

    ReplyReply
  22. tmm Says:
    22

    @Jacob: Amusing that you care about hechsherim but have seem to have no idea about respect and ahavas yisroel.

    ReplyReply
  23. Dan Says:
    23

    @harry:
    Nope.
    Subjecting a baby to 3 days of flying to the Maldives may warrant a visit from Child protective services.

    The farthest we’ve gone with Rafi has been Buenos Aires and Hawaii.

    That was back before he was 1 and didn’t move around yet. Now he’s at an age where he needs to be constantly moving and isn’t yet entertained by Sesame Street or an ipad for hours on end.

    @Question:
    DDF was created for non-related questions…

    @Adam:
    Thanks!!

    @zvi:
    Jews and their food :)

    @Jacob:
    “apparently eat from any hechsher under the sun”
    Care to be more specific as I have no idea what you’re referring to?

    @tmm:
    Someone has their head on straight.

    ReplyReply
  24. BRT Says:
    24

    @Jacob: Can I get your number? I am looking to hire a mashgiach for a yeshiva? Someone that know how to give mussar in public, and someone that has their own hashkafa? I feel that you meet this criteria.

    ReplyReply
  25. Yitzy Says:
    25

    JEALOUS… :)

    ReplyReply
  26. Joe Says:
    26

    The flight from MLE -SIN was part of the way there or way back? Why don’t you post what car they gave you as chairmen?

    ReplyReply
  27. Dan Says:
    27

    @Yitzy:
    No need to be jealous, open a few cards and do it yourself.

    @Joe:
    The way there.

    You get any car you want as a Chairman. Though last time in NYC they gave me a QX56, which is probably the worst car for NYC.

    ReplyReply
  28. mattloo Says:
    28

    Hi Guys,

    for your info, two new awesome places of interest have opened in Singapore, jsut thought you would like to check it out when there

    I love the singapore river safari where you get to see Giant Pandas from China: http://www.zoo.com.sg/

    and the Sentosa’s new aquarium which apparently is the largest in the world: http://www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/Homepage/ThingsToDo/MarineLifePark/SEAAquarium

    ReplyReply
  29. Idea Says:
    29

    From the story about the guy you met in L.A., it sounds like you can go by the title of “Dealzer Rebbe” – you already have the shpitz chasidim!

    ReplyReply
  30. eve Says:
    30

    just curious do u take your son on all these trips? im trying to imagine how you got to do some of the activities with him and a stroller etc…

    ReplyReply
  31. tq Says:
    31

    Great review. I will be in singapore next month so that was timely! I am Hilton diamond and Starwood plat – where would you have stayed if you did not have the fairmont deal?

    ReplyReply
  32. Yaakov Says:
    32

    How can I book a flight TLV-JFK on Korean using Chase Ultimate Rewards? Koean says “There is no direct flight service on the selected itinerary. Please choose your origin / destination again. “

    ReplyReply
  33. josh Says:
    33

    whats up with the mixed swimming for a haymishe rid?

    ReplyReply
  34. Dan Says:
    34

    @eve:
    See comment 23.

    @tq:
    Didn’t research it any further, sorry.

    @Yaakov:
    Probably need to buy a ticket JFK-ICN and then ICN-TLV.

    @josh:
    I didn’t swim.

    ReplyReply
  35. Yosef Says:
    35

    i am so jeulous of all the trips you do. its amazing what opening up tens of credit cards and being able to make purchases to earn the resulting rewards/mileage can do. I don’t mean to sound frum, but a relative told me a prominent rav with whom he is close with in Eretz Yisrael told him that one davens only once per day, even if he changes countless time zones (for example, the day you flew from seoul from jfk, according to this rav, only requires one shachris, mincha, and maariv). if you ever need assistance with davening time on planes, go to chaitables.com. Happy travels

    ReplyReply
  36. Dan Says:
    36

    What do you consider a day?

    Flying from Newark to Singapore you leave on Sunday night and arrive Tuesday morning. The entire 19 hour flight is nighttime.

    The flight from Seoul to JFK departs on Monday and lands on Monday but the sun sets and rises while you are on the flight.

    Care to explain when you would daven hachris, mincha, and maariv on these 2 flights?

    The answer I was given is that it goes on your own personal sunset and sunrise, thus I didn’t daven Shacharis for Monday on the way there (as I never had a Monday) and davened shacharis twice on Monday the way back (in the airport in Seoul on Monday morning and upon landing in NYC on Monday morning after experiencing a sunset and sunrise on the flight.

    ReplyReply
  37. harry Says:
    37

    Dan,

    on the ewr-sin flight you need to be VERY careful and take note of what route you are flying. If the pilots decide to fly through Europe, then you won’t end up losing a day but rather have a small day of just 2-3 hours of daylight where you will need to fit in shacharis and mincha and maariv again (all on the one flight). so if you leave on Sunday night you WILL in fact have a Monday also. There is no way of knowing before hand which route they will take. They supposedly decide depending on the winds.

    ReplyReply
  38. Yosef Says:
    38

    as a disclaimer: I am not trying to argue with whichever rav you dicussed the situation with, but due to my curiosity and extreme interest in all aspects of air travel, i am bringing these halachik issues to discussion.

    I had my relative ask Rav Yitzchak Berkowitz, a well known rav in Yerushalayim, his opinion on the matter. I had him ask the rav regarding “personal sunset” and your flight schedules and how davening should be approached. The rav said that despite the details of the seoul-jfk flight, you still only daven once halachik, not personal, day. My guess is that he would say for ewr-sin you cant daven shachris b/c you are never near sunrise. but from seoul to jfk, you would still daven only once b/c all the while it is still monday for you (i.e. you can daven mincha/maariv on plane then not in new york at all or vice versa). I am interested to hear feedback.

    ReplyReply

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