Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Travel from Singapore to KL in Train : Economy Trip !

Recently we did a train journey from Singapore to KL using the KTM Train. We were exited to travel by train first time outside India!. In India I have traveled almost entire India by Train and it was good experience overall.

For traveling from Singapore to KL via train you have 2 options to book your travel :
  1. Using the internet via the URL :
  2. Goto the Malaysian Railway Station in Singapore
So for those who would like to book Singapore-KL Ticket for their onward journeys and not in Singapore, using internet is good idea as you get e-tickets!.

Many people ask this question on Yahoo Answer or on other forums about purchasing Singapore-KL ticket in Malaysian Rinngit(MYR). Well this is very much possible using the Internet website, but not the complete journey fare!. So to discover this economy path we did our booking in 2 steps(Again the entire hassle of booking in 2 steps is only worth if you have many people traveling!) :

  • Booked Johor Bahru To KL Ticket on Train # 12: EKSPRES SENANDUNG MALAM
    • This train departs from Singapore and goes till IPOH
    • When we did this journey it departs from Singapore @ 22:00
    • Booked this ticket in MYR
    • So the deal is that whenever on Internet you specify a From Location within Malaysia, the fare is in MYR,whereas if the departure location is Singapore the fare is in SGD. The fare is same always, just the currency changes :)
    • For example the fare for 1 adult for Johor Bahru to KL was : MYR 37.00 and if I book Singapore to KL ticket using the same website and same train # 12 the fare shown is SGD 38.00 :) - Internet is smart and flips the currency when you are going from Singapore.
    • So the website is smart - Now the other option to save money is to Book 2 tickets - 1 from Singpore to Johor in SGD(which is SGD 6.00). Well the website do not allow you to do that!. They knew that passengers globally are smart too and would do this.
  • So now for Singapore to Johor Bahru Ticket
    • You need to visit the Train Station located in Singapore personally(or you can ask your dear friend in Singapore to do that for you!)
    • Well here is another catch. Now this is something I did not find on internet when searching for the similar information and that's where icare2share :)
    • On the ticket counter if you ask for the Singapore to Johor Bahru Ticket the person at the counter knows your intentions!. So they do not allow you to book this SG-JB ticket more than 1 day in advance - smart huh!
So there you go ..You have bought 2 tickets for the complete Singapore To KL(read as SENTRAL KUALA LUMPUR on the KTM website) on almost 50% discount. For example if have 10 friends going to a Singapore to KL Trip on Train - look at the savings !

10 SG to JB Tickets : SGD 60.00(approx MYR 144)
10 JB to KL Tickets : MYR 370.00

So the total is MYR 544 instead of SGD 380(approx MYR 908). There u go! ...You have saved MYR 364 which is decent money in Malaysia to enjoy with - figure out what you can do with this savings on your trip to Malaysia!. Well as already mentioned, the savings are good only more than 4+ passengers are traveling together.

No comes the hard part of playing this game! - Which is saving money and loosing your sleep!.

When you board the train at the Singapore station, you need to goto the seat which is given on the SG To JB ticket!. Which could be compartment L1(first from the engine) and your JB To KL ticket could have alloted you L5 compartment which is 5th from the engine!. So to avoid this choose the First possible compartment in the Train on your JB To KL Ticket and pray! - but most likely the SG to JB ticket would be in L1 ...again no idea how this works.

Train starts from Singapore at 22:00(10:00 pm). It was pretty much on time that day. You need to clear immigration(part1!) at the KTM Railway Station in Singapore before boarding, so to save time and hassle of writing in low light of platform please do fill up the immigration forms before reaching the immigration counters.

After immigration(which is actually just a stamp on your form that you are leaving Singapore by this Train # 12). You board the Train and it starts and roams the entire Singapore for almost 1 hour before reaching the Woodlands Checkpoint!.

You need to get down at the Woodlands Checkpoint from your train(you have an option to keep the luggage at the train itself(unattended!). Do the Immigration at Singapore Checkpoints and get back to your trains(this time don't forget to go back to your Singapore-JB Seat as you are still not in JB). The ticket checker comes sometime in between Singapore to JB journey to check your tickets.

You reach JB at around 23:00(11:00 pm) or so. Once you are at JB, you can get down and walk towards your JB to KL Seat! - Now this is the hard part if your seat before was at L1 compartment and now in L5 compartment...but then you always wanted to save some money for more fun in Malaysia :)

The train journey is good overall with no snacks options @ JB carry something with you. Also our luck was bad the train stopped at JB for more than hour due to crossing of another train(wow this is a single track to KL!). It still reached KL at around 7am in the morning. So it was ok!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sending Photo Diwali Greetings to India !

I just sent Photo Diwali Greetings to my parents and friends in India using Its an excellent service. I have been using their photo printing services regularly since the launch of their website. The Photo print quality was always superb. I always liked their service and user friendly website design(some improvement needed though!)

Sending Greeting card costs just Rs. 95.51 including shipping!. Which translates around SGD 2.80 and USD 1.95 !. If you plan to send greetings to India, this is the cheapest I have ever seen. There are many services in India now offering photo printing, greetings cards etc. The features I liked about are :

  • Simple User Interface
  • Good Credit Card payment service - They are using ICICI Payment gateway now - I am more particular about payment gateways.
  • Prompt Service  - delivery within 4-5 days - They use either Speedpost or DTDC.
  • Fast Photo uploading with simple software.
Improvement Required
  • Once the preview is seen for the greeting card and added to the cart, there was no way out to see the preview again :(
  • Also more options for fonts and custom colour should be provided.

Please let me know if you have experienced any other service which offers good service. It will be of great help to all ! ..Note that they accept International Credit Cards too. 

Enjoy !


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bintan Resorts Island Trip Advisor

Singapore offer many attractions within Island. But still many feel that they need to go beyond Island and try some new places. Which is good thing!. So there are many places around Singapore like Bintan, Batam, Pulao Ubin etc ..

I went to Bintan Island twice recently and the post is much awaited!. So I thought i will share some experience and information so that it helps my readers.

About Bintan Resorts Island
Bintan Resorts Island is just 45 mins away from Singapore via high speed ferry. The Island is part of Indonesia. There are many resorts in Bintan catering to different style and luxary needs!.So you going to a Island with just many resorts around.Bintan Offers good beaches with clear waters. So if you love to relax in a resort style and like to soak yourself in clear sea waters Bintan is the place. Also it offers various food options ..but all this is within the resorts!

Getting there
Bintan Island is just 45 mins away by Binan Resort Ferries(BRF). You need to board this ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. You can checkout the schedule at Bintan Resort Ferry Schedule . The 2 way fare for Adult in Peak period is around SGD 59.20 and SGD 46.20 for child. There is a off-peak fare too which is around SGD 10 less. Ferry is comfortable and enjoyable journey by looking at passing cargo ships!

Booking Resorts at Bintan
This is the most important part of your Bintan Island Trip!. As there many resorts and all have different amenities, one needs to decide the type of vacation and budget and then book the resort. Remember not to go by wonderful photo's shown by the some of the resort brochures.

We stayed at the Villa in Bintan Lagoon Resort. It was excellent option as we had kids with us. If you are a family with kids or few singles together wants to enjoy Bintan Resorts, Villa option offers great facilities like Kitchen, private swimming pool,barbequeue, buggy to go around the resort etc.

Resort Recommendations for Family

Nirwana Resort Hotel

I have been to Nirwana Resorts Hotel. This is good place with moderate budget and still want to enjoy the Island. It offers rooms and suites. Food is good. Even Indian Food is offered here on request and I was surprised with the quality.

Regular Fare :
  • SGD 220 for Superior Rooms
  • SGD 270 for Delux Rooms
  • SGD 500 for Suite
Internet Fare :
  • SGD 145 for Superior Rooms
  • SGD 185 for Delux Rooms
  • SGD 300 for Suite
As per my observation around the world, there is not much difference in Superior and delux. So always go for superior rooms. If you still doubt that you are going to mix something exotic, go ahead and take a look at the delux room in the same hotel! Suites to be taken only when somebody else is paying for you ! or you are on honeymoon :)

There are other resorts offered by the same resort this is confusing !. So go checkout the site yourself. These are some of the so called theme resorts like Banyu Biru Villas, Nirwana Beach club, Indra Maya Villa etc ..They all share the similar beach and clear water take your guess!

Bintan Lagoon Resort

We stayed in one of the villas in this resort and it was good experience. This is again pretty similar to what Nirwana Resort Hotel Offers except the Villa stuff. The beach is near by and has good clean water. That was the best part I liked !

Fares :
  • SGD 110 to 220 for Superior Rooms
  • SGD 175 to 330 for Delux Rooms
  • SGD 400 to 1078 foe Villas - Depending on no of bed rooms, private swimming pool, buggy etc etc.
There are again many offers to confuse, like if you have DBS, Amex card or package with lunch/dinner or breakfast free!

Food is expensive in both the resorts. You would need think as if you are dining in good restaurent in Singapore :)


Visa on Arrival fee is USD 10.00. Can be paid in Singapore Dollars too!

Bintan Island is a great place and you enjoy many things like Water Sports, Golf, Nature etc.

I hope you like this post and please leave your comments to share your experience with Bintan Island ..Well that said Bintan Island offers something else other than the resorts ..that is one of a kind Shopping experience ...which was what i was looking for too will post about that in next post!

Enjoy Bintan!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reader Mailbag # 5 : Cost of Living in Singapore posts!

Sorry for not being able to update my reader mailbag for sometime. Also I would like to request my readers to have more detailed information in case they want a specific query to be answered. This is my best attempt to answer what I feel about the query and should not be taken as it is. Do your own research before taking any decisions.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and get some value out of it. Please feel free to comment and share your experiences with other to help them out!

Will 60000 Singapore dollars per annum sufficient for a couple to live in Singapore and save some pennies for home.....

I believe it is good salary to start with if you are looking for a change and would like to move to Singapore from India. Although as I have said earlier, the cost of living depends on many factors and it is important that you do your own math before classifying anything to good, decent or fair. As that helps you to set the expectations right and no surprises when you land in new country with changing times. Please go through my earlier Reader Mailbags and posts to find more.

Hi Sandeep ,

I am looking for 2 bedroom hdb now , but not getting anything less than 2k.

I do have any details on what rent prevails in which area in Singapore. But if you give more details probably I can help out. I personally feel that rents are coming down a bit in some areas in Singapore. Also rent in any area depends on many factors like renovation in the flat, proximity to MRT, Malls. You need to give some hard try before reaching any conclusion. As I have speak to many people who come to Singapore ..I find that they do give up on searching and settle on something they have found. This happened to me as well. So do some more search and you should be able to find a HDB flat in your budget. ..good luck !

Hi Sandeep,

Thanks to you for so informative blog. Just wanted to know, whats the difference between a Condo,a HDB and Landed accommodation. I also find that people give on rent their single rooms.Is that a common practice in Singapore.

Also what are the central locations in Singapore. Please advise. Regards.

Thanks for reading my posts and commenting. A Condo privately build gated apartment complex with security and also amenities like swimming pool, gym, party hall etc. HDB aparments do not have gated security and other amenities attached to apartment but at same time offer good accommodation and proximity to schools, malls, MRT and Bus stops. Landed property is a row house or a independent India we call it Row House or Bungaow or Villa!

Yes it very common practice to get Single rooms like Master room or 1 bed room by families. It is cheaper and good option if you a bachelor.

Singapore is built nicely all over to provide all amenities to public. By central if you mean the Business District, then it is Marina Bay, raffles place, suntec city, river valley road etc etc ...

Hope this helps!

Enjoy ..Sandeep

Monday, October 06, 2008

Best Medical Insurance Policy for Senior Citizens in India ?

This is a question to my readers(I hope they are reading!). I am looking to compile responses and make a post regarding "Best medical insurance policy for senior citizens in India". Please help me with your responses.

I have read about Bajaj Allianz and National Insurance. But need to know more details from people who have taken and also availed some benefits out of it.

Also I have seen increase in the trend of Health Cards in India now a days. In fact seen some agents trying to sell Health Card from Hospitals than the Medical Insurance Policy. I would try to post some experience on that too later.

waiting for your inputs!

Mutual Fund Investing / Personal Finance when Sensex is < 12000

I generally read regularly to educate myself about Indian Stock Markets and especially Mutual Fund happenings. Read this story "Make Informed Decision". Nice thing to read about. In short what auther is saying that you need to be informed about whatever you are doing in the Stock Market specially as it moves faster than you think!. My strategy for current situation after seeing new Lows for Sensex today is :

  • Stop reading : Yes please do that you will find tremendous simplicity in your life and also stress will be less :). Most of the stories are crap there and the opinions change every minute!
  • Create a Networth Statement NOW : Yes do that today itself. In most cases you would be having 2-3 savings account and 2-3 credit cards, 1-2 loans, 10+ Mutual Funds and probably 20+ stocks !. To create a net worth statement and consolidate all this information will not take you more than 1-2 hours.
  • Stop the SIP in Mutual Fund NOW : This needs to be done asap if not done already. I am not against SIP and also believes in the fact that the market needs not to be timed at all. But when fact is seen on weekly/monthly basis that with more negative news coming from global markets. Our Indian Stock Market is also in a downturn and Mutual Funds are taking the most beating here. So it is wise to stop the SIP now and start investing in the market little later when markets are seen stabalized(after some months of no -ve news or some months of +ve news!). If you are adventours it is worth buying Index Fund as it will go up sharply whenever market moves upword.
  • Make some extra payment towards your loan : If you have not done this before. Start putting little more towards your home loan or car/bike loan now. This will help a lot in long term. There are lot of tools available on Internet to assess the impact of extra regular payments towards your loan.
  • Do not take Personal Loan if you can avoid: This is not the time to take personal loans. Live life in simplicity and defer your decisions to buy something with personal loan if you can.
Update : Fully agree to what Koushik Gala is saying now at GalaTime : This too shall pass

Friday, October 03, 2008

Saving time with Internet Banking in Singapore

I remember my days when I first got my ATM card in 1998 in India from ABN Amro Bank!. Wow.I was so exited I showed it to everybody I met after that for few days !. Well it sounds crazy but now people have more credit cards and ATM/Debit Cards they ever need. ATM / Debit Cards saved lot of time as you would never need to goto Bank Branch to get cash!..also it made people spend more too :)

After that came Internet Banking and that saved more time. Also enalbed us to do more with ease any time any where ;)

So now how this is in differnet in Singapore? here u go ...

Adding post dated Fund Transfers or Payments
  • This seems to me the best feature I have ever seen in Internet Banking after coming to Singapore in DBS iBanking. I am sure it would be there in other banks too. This saves lot of time for me as I can put my Utility or Rental Payments by setting a future date on it and it get tarnsferred on that date! It also enables me to schedule my payment activities in one go.
Setting up Maximum Limit on Transfers
  • This feature for some faint hearted who feel that if they do some automated payments via Internet banking one day due to some software code malfunction bank would transfer all of their money to someone including some more in over-draft!. You could think of this scenario but essentially we need to keep good faith in the system and legal stuff so that Banks and other Institutions can improve their softwares to provide more sofisticated features to their customers. I heard there is a feature too by which you can open an non-transactional Internet Banking account too - that sounds cool!
Pre-defined list of companies for GIRO and Payments
  • Again this is a cool feature which provides you list of most of the companies to which you would ideally pay like - Supermarket, Income Tax Authority, Utility etc. So with few clicks you can select the Payee and do your work quickly.
  • GIRO(It is Inter banking payment facility). Again I hear about this term more in Singapore only. This is what is Electronic Clearing System(ECS) is all about.The best part I found is that when I do a GIRO ..I can cancel the GIRO arrangement anytime by going to my Internet Banking portal. Similar systems are in place in I guess most of the countries. But the feature is only good if it is fully automated. For example ..Indian Railway has excellent online tickting portal but when you need to cancel the ticket you need to visit the counter!
Enjoy Internet Banking!