A Changi Recommends Story

Earlier today, in my haste to catch my flight today, I forgot to pick up a couple of items that I had purchased from Changi Recommends, I  only realised after I’d cleared departure immigration.

Now,  Singapore does not mess around when it comes to rules. (This is one of the things that appeals to me so much about Singapore). They’re also very helpful when you own up to an honest mistake.

Incidents where passengers clear immigration and come out only to clear it again will draw the wrong kind of attention, unless you have a very valid reason to do so. (Not too long ago, a couple of folks made the news for trying to circumvent the system to buy duty-free iPhones from the airport).

I approached the immigration duty officer who directed me to the information staff opposite the immigration gates, who were very helpful and got these items delivered to me in person while I waited. It helped that I had a few hours in hand before the departure of my flight.

This is yet another example of why this is hands down, the best airport in the world. Also a big thank you to Eric and his team at the information desk for helping me get these delivered, so that I can focus on enjoying my trip.

A great deal on a cuppa

As a Melburnian, I have been somewhat spoilt when it comes to choices for coffee. You can get amazing coffee in a range of different mom-and-pop operated cafes in Melbourne for about AUD4. This is not the case elsewhere in the world. I have heard that coffee in Europe can run about $12 for a cup. Singapore is not particularly expensive for coffee in the scheme of things, but it’s not cheap either. A regular skinny flat white will run you about SGD6 (or AUD6).

Recently, I signed up for a DBS Credit Card that I’ve tied up to my Apple Pay account. It turns out that Starbucks is running a promotion where they’ll take $2 off every order that is paid for via Apple Pay on a DBS Visa or Mastercard. So a venti skinny flat white is now effectively SGD5.90 for me every morning. As a result of this, I have become the most popular person in the office for morning coffee runs. (If you’re smart, you and your friends can just place separate orders and pay with a single individual’s credit card that qualifies for the promotion). I’m told that the promotion lasts for 150,000 instances for each outlet. Earlier today, when I picked up a coffee from Starbucks at Ion in Orchard (one of the busiest Starbucks in the city), they told me that they no were no longer offering the promotion there, and what the limit per outlet was.

So, if you’re a coffee drinker, and use a DBS Credit Card via Apple Pay in Singapore, you can pick up a cheap coffee while the going is still good!

Arriving in Singapore: First impressions

I’m here! Courtesy of an 8-hour flight on Qantas Airlines QF35, I have touched down in my new home (at least for the next couple of years).

It’s different from being a tourist. I now have to familiarise myself with things like medical clinics, post offices, banks, and grocery stores. I also have to set myself to a routine which will become part of my life for the next couple of years. So here are a few observations that I have made of Singapore so far.

  1. The train system is supremely efficient. There’s usually a train every two to three minutes. The stations are clean and well organised which is great since it is such a core part of everyday life for the general population.
  2. Shops open late and are open till late. This was one of my pet peeves in Australia of everything closing down at 6pm. No such issues here, where it is common to find shops open till 10pm.
  3. The days can be oppressively hot and humid, but the evenings are balmy and offer cool relief. The best time go out in Singapore is after the sun goes down and the lights come on. The city takes on a different feeling after dark.
  4. It’s safe. There is very little petty crime, and local laws crack down hard on misdemeanours making it very unattractive for one to even consider breaking the law.
  5. Locals are warm and polite, especially for foreigners. In a nation which has no natural resources, Singapore’s economy is based on being a business hub and tourist destination. I get the sense that locals have been ingrained to make foreigners feel welcome here, both for short visits, and to do business and invest.
  6. The food is awesome! The best food is found at hawkers markets, and it’s cheap! Lunch typically costs me about $5 to $8 with more food than I can eat.

Big Fish at Tanglin Village

As part of my relocation package with my employer, the relocation company assigned an agent to show me around Singapore for a few places that may be of interest.

One of the places that really stood out to me was Tanglin Village. I’ll write a more thorough write-up about the location in general in a future post. We had to pass by a pool which was home to a few fish, including two very large fish that are native to the Amazon. Continue reading “Big Fish at Tanglin Village”

Bike sharing in Singapore

This has recently appeared here in Singapore. It’s a black sharing program run by a couple of private enterprises. The two bicycles that you see here are run by an organisation called O-bike. It’s Singapore’s first station less bike sharing program. They have their own app I have which uses can locate a nearby bike, and then check one out for their own use that they pay by the hour.

The bicycles are available around most MRT stations, HDTVs, and shopping centres. Riders can locate one using an app, and drop them off at any designated area.

I haven’t tried using one yet, but having considered getting a bicycle, and then questioning how often I would use one, this appears to be the perfect solution.

I will have more to share after I take one for a test drive (no pun intended)!

Cab rides in Singapore

I made a pleasant discovery during my first two weeks here in Singapore about cab rides. You can actually ride cabs for free every now and then!

Singapore has several major taxi companies. Their vehicles can be identified by the colour of their livery. The major ones are Comfort Taxi (Blue), CityCab (Yellow), SMRT Taxis (Brown), TransCab (Red), and Premier Taxis (Silver). I’ve had a good experience with all of them. Premier remains my favourite – they’re a bit more expensive than the rest, and tend to have nicer and better maintained cars. Cabs here are so well run, that Uber has almost no impact here.

Enter the disruptor… Grab Taxi, or Grab as it is now known.

They’ve got a similar concept to Uber where private vehicles driven by their owners can be hailed using a taxi hailing app, and will take you from one part of town to the other.

The difference is that the Grab App can be used to hail both Grab cars (which are driven by owners of private vehicles), and standard taxis as well as a range of different premium options from Grab.

Get $8 off your first ride

Sign up for the Grab App now!

This is where it gets better. Occasionally, Grab runs promotions where they give away rides that start and end within the Central Business District between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for free! (The caveat is that you need to use Grab pay where you provide the app with your credit card details).

This was a handy bonus for me during my first two weeks in Singapore. They ran the promotion for the first two weeks of April. Every morning, I would hail a Grab car at around 6:45 a.m. and would be at work by 7:00 a.m. in the air-conditioned comfort of a vehicle ride that was free! Come 5:00 p.m. in the evening at the end of the day, I would do it all over again. I went for a full two weeks without any commuting costs!

If that wasn’t good enough, among some of the vehicles that I got driven in were an Audi A4, a Volvo S70, and a Jaguar XJ6. Not too shabby for a ride sharing service.

Even if you’re visiting Singapore, I highly recommend that you use the Grab app to catch your rides around town. Click the link above to get $8 off your first ride, or use the referral code debashis75188 when signing up via the Android or iOS app which you can download via the respective App Stores.

Grocery shopping made easy

Grocery shopping is one of those things that must be done in life, but is not the most enjoyable of chores. . When I discovered the ultimate online grocery store for Singaporean residents, I was all over it.

RedMart is an online grocery store that will deliver groceries to your doorstep for you. If you exceed $50 on your purchase, the delivery charge is waived. They even allow you choose a two-hour window between 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m during which your groceries will be delivered.
Continue reading “Grocery shopping made easy”

Maiden Drone Voyage

I’ve gone airborne!

It was only a matter of time. I had been contemplating getting a drone for several months now. Last week, I finally took the plunge and ordered a DJI Mavic Pro. It arrived on Tuesday. I promptly unboxed it, and charged all the batteries.

It wasn’t until yesterday, Saturday the 28th of October, when I finally got a chance to take it for a spin. I headed down to Clarke Quay where they have a nice open field. I’ve seen other people fly drones here in the past, and knew that I would be on the right side of the law if I flew here.

I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it is to fly one of these things. I spent the next 25 minutes launching and landing the device, and sending it up to 60m before bringing it down for a safe and soft landing. It is a ton of fun. This short video shares some of the footage that I shot.

Singapore has some regulations that have now come into effect when it comes to flying drones. These guidelines are clearly documented on the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’s official website. In a nutshell, as of Sunday the 29th of October 2017, the rules are that you do not need a permit to operate a drone if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The Total mass of Unmanned Aircraft, including payload is 7kg or below
  • The Unmanned Aircraft is flown at 200ft AMSL* or below
  • The Unmanned Aircraft remains outside of restricted, danger, protected, prohibited areas and not within 5km of an aerodrome / airbase.

They also have a map marking restricted, danger, protected, and prohibited areas, and areas within 5km of an aerodrome / airbase on their website. In order to operate within these areas, one needs to secure a permit for which they can apply for.

Nerd culture in Singapore

I can fit into this place! Singapore definitely has a nerd culture, and is proud of it!

It is not entirely surprising. The Lion City has gone through a series of phases of reinvention over the last few decades. In the absence of any natural resources, it had become a service-based economy. It is now going through a transformation of becoming a knowledge based economy.

Singaporeans place a high value on education. It is hence quite normal that a nerd culture is alive and well in this city. I have barely scratched the surface, but among the things that I have discovered are

  • a decent number of table-gaming establishments (like Dungeons and Dragons and the more elaborate games),
  • a high popularity of video games and computer stores aimed specifically at gamers,
  • shops dedicated to a range of different genres of comics,
  • stores with all sorts of memorabilia from your favourite sci-fi and superhero comic movies and TV shows,
  • and LAN parties hosted in a big way with cosplayers to boot!

If you’re into this sort of thing, this city will definitely not disappoint.

And on a day when you’re feeling like building the ultimate PC, the sheer selection of establishments that will offer you parts will leave you spoiled for choice!

Nerds are definitely well represented here!

Online takeaway delivered!

As a busy professional, I sometimes just do not have the time to put a meal together. In Singapore, there is an awesome food delivery service called Deliveroo. There app is available on the app stores for both iOS and Android. Based on your delivery location, they’ll allow you to place an order from local restaurants which will deliver freshly cooked food from their menu to your doorstep in approximately 30 minutes.

Get $10 off your first order

Sign up for Deliveroo now!

I’ve had a really good experience with Deliveroo so far. They have been my go-to option every time I have been under the weather, or just too busy to stock up for groceries.

My most pleasant interaction with them was on one evening when they were 9 minutes later delivering my food. I got a call from them minutes after receiving my delivery where they apologized for being late, and voluntarily offered me a $15 credit towards my next order. Now that is what I call service!

If you’re new in Singapore, I highly recommend using their services. They also operate in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, , Spain, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates.