Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some not so popular places to visit beyond Singapore during hoildays!

There are many places(or countries!) you can visit outside Singapore. Many people argue me that there is not much enough places left within Singapore to explore ..yeah! ..I surprise them asking a question "Have you been to macritchie reservoir ?" ..The answer is "Where is that!!". So here you go ..its an myth that being in Singapore for many years you have no new places to go for :).

For the sake of tourists or expats who are here for short duration and want to explore some places around Singapore .this may be a handy list of quick gateways from Singapore ! is my favorite list !:

  • Bintan : I have been to Bintan 2 times and its a good place to start exploring outside Singapore. 45 mins from Singapore you in Indonasia ! ..Its a small Island part of Indonesia and has many many resorts for your to enjoy!. Recommended to at least stay 2D1N to enjoy!. Check out my post on Bintan Island Resorts.
  • Batam : Less than hour journey in a ferry from Singapore get you to Indonesia again!. Again this is a small Island with just some resorts and places to take stroll around!..Nothing spectacular but good to visit once!. 1 Day visit is recommended.
  • Johor : Johor is so close to Singapore that you can really walk across a bridge from Singapore :). Lot of people go to Johor for shopping and buying things in bulk. If you have a car and Malaysian Visa already then this is the place you can try as your first adventure outside Singapore !. If you happen to go in mansoon season, plan to visit to Kota Tinggi. A water fall near Johor. If you do not plan to venture out much beyond Johor, 1 Day is good enough.
  • Pulau Ubin: A small island very near to Singapore. Recommended to go a day trip only. You can do nature walks or enjoy cycle riding around the village!.
  • Malacca: Malacca is 2.5 hours away from Singapore. It is in Malaysia. So if you have Malaysia Visa, before going to popular destinations like KL, Genting. You can goto Malacca to experience historical places in Malaysia. Recommended to spend 2D1N at this place. You can also find 1 day tours conducted by Bus from Singapore to Malacca.If you are interested this could a nice drive from Singapore.
I still thinking about more places ..till then this is a draft post but published!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Use Google Maps to rent a most conveniently located Apartment in Singapore!

Well I got this idea recently when trying to explore Google Street View for Singapore. Many readers ask me this question regarding "How to go about renting flat in Singapore?". I believe the most important question for the new comer in this country is to find good apartment for rent which offers best convenience. As you start living in Singapore, you will understand that living with good convenience is the best thing happened to you. Although all over Singapore you will find all necessities of life close to you. Thanks to excellent infrastructure. Still at a times you are pressed for time and you want to commute faster on a daily basis to your office or do not want to put off the idea to go to a park/mall on a weekend just because the MRT/Bus Interchange itself is 20 mins away :).

You got it right!, I am talking about renting an apartment near MRT/Bus Interchange. It makes a huge different when you have an option to MRT which is 10 minutes away or must wait for the bus to take you there!.

So how Google Maps is going to help you here. The instructions are here :

1. Suppose I decide to rent my apartment in Hougang Area.
2. The area is spanning 5 sq kms. So where do you rent the apartment so that you are just 10 minutes walk away.
3. Goto Google Maps. Search for "Hougang MRT, Singapore"
4. Once you zoom in a bit you will see "NE14 Hougang".
5. Ok you know the MRT, now how do you decide how far I should go from this central point in the map to make sure I am not too far from MRT that I need to take a bus to go there or walk for long time!.
6. Make the NE14 Hougang as your center of the map and zoom in so much that you read : 200 ft / 100 m on the scale shown on the down left of the Google Maps.
7. Now this is the area on the map should become a guide to you for renting your apartment in Hougang. So by taking this example itself, I can either look for apartments in Hougang Ave 10 seen on this map or Hougang Ave 7 seen in this map.

Again this just a guideline. Once you see the area you need to consider other factors like the nearest bus stop, super markets like Cold Storage/NTUC FairPrice etc etc. This is where Google Street View comes to rescue and you can take the advantage of that to become familiar with the areas surrounding your preferred location!

In most cases the MRT stations and Bus Interchange will have a Super Market, Shopping Mall and other facilities like Medical Clinics to serve you!.

I hope this helps !


Moving to Singapore! ..Prepare yourself....

If you have already decided to move to Singapore, this post will help you to plan your move more systematically. What I will share with you all is my own personal experience on moving to Singapore 3 years back. I expect readers share their experience too which will help others.

  • Plan things in advance : This is very important. You need at least one or two months in advance to plan things properly before you can actually take a flight to Singapore!. This also depends on whether you are moving as a bachelor or with family.
  • Create a task list of all MUST do things before you move : I am not big fan of task list, but this one helped me a lot. I used task list to manage all my tasks I had to do before I moved out of India. To start with just list down all things comes to your mind as things you need to manage. This could include things like bank accounts, rental agreements, billing arrangements, selling your stuff or moving to some other place etc. Once you make the random task list go through it to make sure you categorize into 2 labels : Must DO and Optional. Tasks which are must do are the ones which requires your physical presence and important like Bank Accounts, Selling your Car, Settling Employer dues or incoming funds. Optional are stuff which can be managed even if you are not living in India.
  • Money matters first! : Yes give importance to money matters first. If you are leaving your current employer make sure that you give them a date 5 days prior to your actual leaving date from current location. This way if things gets delayed, you have some days to manage those things!. Settle all current bills such as Utility bills, Telephone bills etc. Take stock of all your bank and investment accounts to see what things you need to do.
  • Internet Banking is superb!: Till date if you were not having your bank and other investment accounts internet enabled, please do so immediately. Most of the banks are pretty fast in enabling accounts for internet. So just go to your bank and make sure you accounts are accessible from anywhere in the world!.
  • Selling or moving your stuff : If you are not living in your own house or you do not have anybody taking care of your house then you need to decide on moving or selling your stuff on a immediate basis. There are many ways you can sell your old stuff like eBay, craigslist etc. If you are moving some of the household goods to some other city, keep sufficient time in your hands to manage that as well.
  • Book your Air Tickets in Advance : This is more important if you are paying yourself for your relocation. There are many airlines now fly to Singapore from India like Kingfisher, Singapore Airlines, Air India, Malaysian Airlines etc. Instead of just looking for cheap tickets, look at the value provided by the airlines like check-in baggage allowance, cancellation policies, date change charges etc. I would prefer Singapore Airlines anytime for their flexibility in terms and conditions. One must check the T&Cs before booking. As these keep changing.
  • What to carry to Singapore from India : Well this depends on whether you are moving goods using Air Cargo or just trying to manage stuff with your check-in baggage allowance. As a guideline I will suggest following things to carry if you are a family :
-- Basic Kitchen Utensils : For Indian specially Kadai!
-- Clothes : Formal as well as casual wear
-- Some Kitchen Appliances you are used to : Like a Grinder, Blender etc
-- Avoid carrying woolen clothes except a jacket or 2 in case you need to travel out.
  • School Admissions in Singapore : This one is the most stressful part for parents back in India. Once you have decided, make sure that you make all arrangements with your school in India to get all documents and date finalized with school to get your deposit back!. In Singapore you need not worry too much about admissions in Indian International Schools as there are 3 of them and most cases your kid will admission in any one of them depending on your location preference.
I hope this helps everybody who is looking for some tips while moving to Singapore!.