By Frankie Chee
IN BOSTON WITH...
Robin Low Boon Peng
Occupation: CEO, Greenyarn LLC
Length of stay: Eight years
A well-known college town, Boston is the 10th largest metropolitan area in the United States. With such a large population, it helps that the city has a great transport system.
A 4km historic trail which winds through the heart of the city reminds residents and visitors of the many landmark events the city has witnessed, such as the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston during the American Revolution in the 18th century.
More than 200 years after those battles, Boston is now home to bachelor Robin Low, 33. The chief executive of Greenyarn, a nanotechnology material company, has been living in this city on the East Coast of the US for eight years.
The best way to explore the city is by...
Walking and taking the subway. Boston is a very "walkable" city, and public transportation is great and convenient. The city has lots of people, but it is not as congested as Singapore.
The best time to visit is...
In April, when the Boston Marathon is held. The weather is nice and cool - great for walking and exploring. Early October, when it is fall, is beautiful, too. The leaves on trees begin to change colours and look pretty. The weather is also nice and cool.
Which places in the city excite you?
The Museum of Fine Arts (Avenue of the Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue) has a great collection of artefacts and interesting seasonal displays. The Museum of Science (1 Science Park, www.mos.org) is very big and interesting too, with many free shows that will entertain both the young and old.
There are also lots of bars and pubs in Boston, such as Tequila Rain (3 Lansdowne Street, www.tequilarainboston.com) and An Tua Nua (835 Beacon Street, Fenway).
At the north end of Boston is Little Italy, where a lot of good Italian food and pastry is found, while Southie (South Boston) is where the annual St Patrick's Day parade is held. It has many great Irish pubs. Boston has a large Irish community.
There's also Allston Village, in the western part of the city, which has a lot of local cafes and pubs. Newbury Street is where all the big-brand boutiques and trendy diners are, and Porter Exchange in Cambridge in the Greater Boston area is a Japanese mall filled with food and snacks.
There is a big park, called Boston Common, in the middle of the city, where people hang out in the summer to play frisbee, volleyball and soccer or go cycling. In winter, a frog pond is frozen hard and is used for ice skating.
FOOD AND WINE
Can you find food that is similar to Singapore fare here?
Yes, there is a restaurant in Chinatown called Penang (685 Washington Street) which serves laksa, chicken rice and nasi lemak.
Your favourite breakfast is at...
Trident Booksellers and Cafe (338 Newbury Street, www.tridentbookscafe.com). You can read books while having your breakfast there.
Your favourite eating place is...
John Harvard's Brewery (Harvard Square branch, 33 Dunster Street, Cambridge, www.johnharvards.com). Great food, great beer. I recommend the fried calamari and steak frite to go with the John Harvard's Pale Ale.
The coolest place to chill out is...
The Compleat Strategist (957 Commonwealth Avenue), a shop selling a great selection of board games. Sometimes, there are free demos where you can join in.
What do you think Singaporeans will like most about your city?
The excellent public transport network and the wide variety of food.
For a subway that is over 100 years old, I feel that there are many things in the system that encourage people to take the train.
On Sundays, if you have a monthly pass, a friend can travel with you for free. Whenever there is a big event, the train rides are also free - this encourages people to switch to public transport to prevent congestion in the city.
When the subway system feels like a public transport network that is for the convenience of people instead of a capitalist company focused on profits, it just feels good taking the train even when some of them are pretty rundown.
What is the one place you always take your friends to when they visit you?
The Freedom Trail (www.thefreedomtrail.org). It is a historic 4km red-brick walking trail that stretches from Boston Common to Monument Square.
Preserved and dedicated by the citizens of Boston in 1958, it leads you through 16 nationally significant historic sites. You can start anywhere on this trail which takes you through the streets.
THINGS TO DO
What is the one thing you must do in your city?
Eat lobsters and clam chowder. Since Boston is on the East Coast, the ingredients are fresh. The lobsters are local - from the Atlantic Ocean - and they are generally big, and the clam chowders are delicious.
A reliable place to go for these is Legal Sea Foods (www.legalseafoods.com) which has about nine outlets in Boston. A meal of a lobster and clam chowder costs about US$50 (S$75).
What do you do on your weekends in the city?
There are lots of things to watch - sporting events, plays and concerts. If you want to just relax in a park, go to the Boston Common.
A LITTLE FURTHER OUT
Where are the best places to shop?
There are two factory outlets near Boston: Kittery Outlets in Maine (306 State Road, Kittery, www.thekitteryoutlets.com) and Chelsea Premium Outlets in Wrentham, Massachusetts (www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=10). You can find international brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Gap at these places.
Are there any notable festivals that travellers should look out for?
Boston is famous for the First Night which is from Dec 31 to Jan 1 every year.
A tradition for more than 30 years, First Night is more than just a New Year's Eve event. It is a day-long celebration of the arts in Boston with a wide variety of indoor and outdoor venues featuring theatre, dance, music and film performances.
There's also the St Patrick's Day parade in South Boston on March 15, the Boston Marathon on April 20, the Dragon Boat Festival on the Charles River in June and the Boston Harbor Fest from June 30 to July 5.
Are there things to do or see outside the city?
There are lots of thrills and rides at the theme park Six Flags New England (www.sixflags.com/newengland). Try your luck at two casinos, Mohegans Sun (www.mohegansun.com) and Foxwoods (www.foxwoods.com). And ski and snowboard at Ski Resort (www.skivermont.com). These places are easily accessible by car and are less than two hours away.
Or you can opt for a ferry ride to the beautiful Martha's Vineyard (www.mvol.com), an island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
This article was first published in The Straits Times on February 1, 2009.
For more The Straits Times stories, click here.