A Travellerspoint blog

My 2008 Travel to Singapore, KL and Thailand

Singapore Leg Part 2

sunny

While on board the MRT East West Line, I realized that about 1/3 of the route was built underground as the train sped up into an underground tunnel the same way that majority of the train lines in Hong Kong are also built underground. This really fascinate me as back home in Manila the only underground portion of our MRT is that less than half a kilometer stretch on Aurora Boulevard in front of National College of Business and Arts. Yet, 30 years ago, we considered Singapore and Hong Kong as economic laggards as we regarded ourselves as one of the leaders in the region. But the reverse is true today, we are left behind economically!

I got off at the MRT Tanjong Pagar Station and asked around for directions going to the Singapore Railway Station. It was only a 10 minute walk from the MRT Station. It was surprising because only a few Singaporeans knew where the Singapore Railway Station maybe because they have not been using the old locomotive train as means of transportation anymore. However, I decided to take this train for my trip to Kuala Lumpur the next day for security reasons. I felt safe traveling by train than by the faster bus. You see, the speed of the locomotive train is controlled while one will be at the mercy of the bus driver having control over the bus! By the way, there are al\so available flights from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur via the Malaysian budget fare airline – Air Asia. This is of course more expensive than the bus or train fares but it is a lot cheaper than the fares of the other airlines.

After completing my booking for the train trip to Kuala Lumpur, I took a bus to the Harbour Front still using my EZ-Link card! I window shopped at the Vivo City – a big mall in the harbour area. It is a big mall that houses famous expensive signature shops. It has an area that provides an overlooking view of the harbour and the Sentosa Island Resort. I enjoyed watching the view of the cable cars that runs from the Sentosa to the mainland, the train line and the passing ships.

I went back to my Hostel using the bus and MRT line. I always consider an efficient public transport system as a key indicator of the economic status of a country. I have to admit, our country is way behind in this aspect. While even during rush hour (5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) the MRT trains and busses in Singapore are not crowded, in Manila, it is normal to see a crowd of MRT passengers on the stairs fighting their way to the ticket booths.

I slept soundly in my room at Frankel Hostel. I woke up late and after I packed up my baggage and had placed it in an unlocked storage room I took the MRT train to Orchard Road. I had breakfast in a Mc Donald’s restaurant in front of the Standard Chartered Bank. My Mc Do breakfast was only 5.90 SGD. While I was sipping my coffee, I enjoyed the sight of the pigeons and myna waiting for their chance to swoop down on the left-overs. Poor Mc Do waiter all he can do was to spray the birds with the water sprayer to drive them away!

I spent the rest of the afternoon window shopping on the malls along Orchard and the nearby areas. I returned to the Frankel Hostel to pick up my luggage from the unlocked Storage Area. Without anybody manning the reception area, and the storage room was unlocked, nobody touched my luggage which I left behind. I took the MRT train again to Tanjong Pagar Station to catch the KTM Train for Kuala Lumpur. While on the MRT train before it finally went underground, I took a last glimpse of the scenery of Singapore – clean, orderly, beautiful, peaceful and more importantly a real strong economy.

(Note: This easy reading article and more are also posted in my blog. Visit it regularly:www.inbetweentakes.com)

To be continued…

Posted by E. Sandalo 07:46 Archived in Singapore Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

My 2008 Travel to Singapore, KL and Thailand

Singapore Leg Part 1

sunny

I totally disagree with what my friend told me that one should not travel to foreign countries if he or she does not have enough budget to spend for a luxurious trip. I have always been a true believer that aside from formal education that one gets from schools, traveling is the second most effective tool for learning, for acquiring new knowledge.

The paucity of budget should not deter anybody from traveling for the following reasons: there are now available low budget plane fares in the market, there are available affordable accommodation or hostels where one can stay in foreign countries and with the internet one can easily become his own travel agent to make his own travel bookings that will suit his budget and taste.

It boils down to how one put importance to traveling as a tool for learning (and of course as a means to relax and remove stress) over other personal expense items like say gambling or playing golf or drinking! If one could spend few thousands pesos on these, I see no reason why he or she would not try to save for a low budget foreign travel at least once a year considering all the benefits that he or she would get from it.

It is on the above framework or mindset that I anchored my personal resolution to have a foreign travel at least once a year.

As early as March this year, I made my travel plan and booked for the plane and all the accommodations all through the internet. The travel was set from 27 July to 03 August and it was for Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Last 27 July, we landed at the Changi Airport Budget Terminal as scheduled at 10:00 a.m.. The airport terminal is dedicated to handle budget fare planes including the plane I took - Cebu Pacific Air. I saw a bank and I immediately had my US dollar changed to Singapore Dollar. The Singapore Dollar is a strong currency with an exchange rate of 1.00 US Dollar to 1.3360 Singapore Dollar (SGD). For my 100 USD I got 133.60 Singapore Dollar. We took a free shuttle bus to terminal 1 of the Singapore Changi International Airport where we were dropped off at the train station. As soon as we arrived at the train station, I immediately looked for the counter where I asked for a train ticket. This easy reading article and more are also posted in my blog.ww.inbetweentakes.com. The man at the counter readily pointed me to the vendo ticket machine. I had a difficulty trying to buy a ticket using the vendo machine! I asked for assistance. A good Samaritan told me to go back to the man at the counter and buy an EZY- LINK CARD. This is similar to the unlimited train ride card for three days in the Hong Kong MRT. I paid a total of 15 Singaporean Dollar (3.00 for the deposit, 5.00 as non-refundable card cost and 7.00 for the stored value that you can use). The good Samaritan then taught me that using the vendo machine, I can add value to the card if it will be depleted as I will be using it.

Using the card, which was simple being flashed on the magnetic panel on the entrance chute leading to the MRT platform, I took the East West MRT Line to the Kembangan Station. The first portion of the MRT East West Line is above ground which gave me a vantage view of the series of medium rise residential housing projects on both sides. The medium rise tenements are very pleasing to the eyes because of they are well-designed and well planned functional architectural work. In between the housing projects are green belts and schools with open spaces for recreational and athletic activities. I have not seen a single informal dweller shanty in Singapore unlike in our country where the shanties and squatter colonies continue to proliferate even in the middle of private subdivisions for instance along Scout Borromeo St. near the ABS-CBN compound.

I dropped off at the Kembangan MRT station and walked for about 5 minutes towards my hostel – Frankel Hostel located between Frankel Avenue and Changi Road.

Frankle Hostel is located on the third floor. Good exercise, since there was no elevator! Mr. Lee who is the in charge of the Hostel ushered me to my room which was air conditioned, with hot and cold shower, bedding and towel. The hostel has a personal computer with internet access located at the reception area which is free for use. It has also a washing machine where one can wash and dry clothes for a minimal fee. For these amenities, I paid only 54.00 SGD for one day stay (the 10% deposit of only 4.63 USD I paid using my credit card).

Since I would be checking out at 6:00 p.m. the following day, I asked Mr. Lee if I could leave behind my baggages after the 12:00 noon check out time. Mr. Lee told me I could leave behind my things at the Hostel’s storage room.

After checking in, I had a quick lunch at the restaurant located at the ground floor of the building. I went back to the MRT Kembangan station and I took the MRT to Tanjong Pagar Station which is the closest station to the Singapore Railway Station to pick up my KTM train ticket for Kuala Lumpur.

To be continued…

Nagmamahal,

Edgar Sandalo

Posted by E. Sandalo 07:29 Archived in Singapore Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

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