Thursday, 12 December 2013

0 Driving to Singapore: Misadventures and First Timer Guide

I see how rundown my blog is since me attending the 3 weeks Mathematic  courses in Penang between last September and October.. The aftermaths of the Course was overwhelming and I remember of dreaming of my vacation in Singapore and Bali long before they happened.Every night . I actually had to keep reminding myself that before all that vacations happened I had to finished my jobs first. And then, before school holiday started and I was on pre holiday mood where I was on my way writing about my Penang stay, I was called for a course, the Continuous Profesionalisme Development that was meant for all teachers that held the DG41 grade. 

So, when I was started to write about Singapore, then, I remembered I had this one blogpost about Penang that I forgotten and I stuff it with related photos and published it right away before this very blogpost started. 
The trip to Singapore was actually a last minute one for me as I never go anywhere before it was planned like months before the trip made. I surprised myself though by accepting my cousins invitation on this. She insisted that I check in daily basis the Air Asia ticket price either to Johor or direct to Singapore. Boy , it excites me and shivered me as this trip to Singapore ends just a day before my honeymoon trip to Indonesia with Steven. The results was exciting 2 weeks holiday. Also lots of laundry to do besides overwhelmed with the memories of all the beautiful and ugly places I went and saw.  I convinced myself that this will passed with times. Huarrh. I still  have few more weeks before the 2014 school session started. ( errrk... forgive the mumbling)

The holiday in Singapore was quite short as we ( mom, Chris, my cousin, and aunt) only had one full day in Singapore. The rest was the journey to this republic from Malaysia, all the misadventures when driving in a foreign lands. Mostly of troubles with depending 99% with electronic devices, I mean GPS in my smartphone. We had to drive round and round the city when we've missed that junction just when you only had few hundreds meter to reach your destinations, you had to go all around again for another  kilometers  before reaching the destination because of the road directions.

I learnt the hard way that for a person who is direction blind,   I should not travel without a soul who knows the place well or three powerful powerbank to supply for my smartphone. The journey can become stressful for everyone involved and fights over petty matter could happened anytime in the car. Trust me, because I've been there.But, respect to each other is topmost element we need to maintain patience whenever pressure arises when on holiday. Holiday can be fun but, finding directions with bunch of people with similar syndrome  would not help much. It is not that I want to complain about my companions here but,we always have to prepare mentally and emotionally especially when you are going anywhere into foreign lands without guides.

The bright side about it is you will have plenty to laugh about when returned home. Driving into Singapore is nothing like driving into Brunei from Sabah to Sarawak and vice versa. Because you were there to stay. Or not. So, if you're a Malaysian's car you have to make that you have all of these with you:
1. Passport, of course.

Two kinds of Autopass card. One with chip on it and the one without chip. Both had same functions.

2. Autopass card.Pay close attention to this if you plan on driving in Singapore.  If you have none, go check your road tax make sure that it is valid for at least 6 months after your departure from Singapore. Then, capture it with your smartphone , go to some Toll  office nearby the Singapore's immigration plaza,  ( do not fret, the officers by the  counter who check on your passport will tell you what to do next). Payment for the Autopass card is SGD 10.

This card will be used when you park your cars , for the VEP, and the ERP which you will see signboards telling that you are entering the ERP areas. The fee is SGD 5 for every entry regardless of how many times you go in and out the area in a day.

If the Autopass card is new, then you'll  enjoy waive from the VEP for about 10 days. After the grace period,  you'll be charged for the VEP for SGD 15 per day if you continue to drive around Singapore.

Remember to topup the Autopass card at 7 Eleven , I think that's the most convenient way since the 7 Eleven stores could be found anywhere in this republic. The balance from the Autopass could be redeemed once you settle all the payment when you 're departing from Singapore by filling in some form. You could ask the officer by the Toll if you wish so.

Thank you for not asking what 's the VEP and ERP because I would not know the full of these abbreviations. By the way, when you buying the Autopass card you can get a brochure that will answer all your questions about this Autopass card.

Sounds complicated? Well once you were there, you will not feel like it anymore. Actually I personally think that this is an efficient way to manage vehicles in this republic.

3. Embarkation card . If you do not receive any from the Malaysian's immigration or anyone particularly used with going in and out Singapore, you will get one once you arrive at the Singapore's immigration. Just fill it in and wait for your passport, you'll good to proceed.

I really hope that this will help you if you are wondering and determined to drive in Singapore. Dedicate this to a first timer. And to myself just in case I need to recall it if I were to be back again to Singapore.

FYI, traffic in Singapore was okay. For a stay of 2 nights there, I never experience bad traffic there. All was smooth until smartphones ran out of battery and powerbank charged too slow.

Til my next entry. Happy holiday and Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

0 Penang Hill, Gurney Drive and Sunset in Batu Feringghi Beach

After the long steep ride to the top of Penang Hill, walk about 20 steps ahead, you'll find a signboard says, " You've never been to Penang unless you've been to Penang Hill."

Such a statement because Penang Hill and the train ride to the top of the hill definitely a must-go place if you are about in Penang. The ticket for a two ways ride was cheap considering the technology used and the clean and comfortable train used to go up and down the hill. There is not much to see when you were up the hill but, they do have a restaurant called, Sky Terrace which I was not quite attracted enough to go pay a visit, but I heard that they got some good Penang Laksa there. You could see almost the entire Penang from top of the hill  and of course you would not missed the Penang Bridge that connected the island to Sebrang Prai. It was spectacular enough to see one bridge but, two bridges? The second bridge was on its way completed now which also connected the island the main land but the bridge was extended from Batu Maung. You could see that the second bridge was longer that old one. 

The only thing that attract me to go to Penang Hill was the train ride , the rest was quite common. However, the fact that the whole place is well-maintained is surprisingly amazed me because nowadays it is very rare to see such a long operated tourist attraction in Malaysia are still in good conditions and was recently upgraded. As I was told by Steven and few friends that used to attend Penang local universities that the trains, the gate and the counters got an upgrade. Good job Penang State Government. 

Steven told me  that the old train moves slower and noisy. Hmm the new was quite faster and less noise and the ride was smoother. 

Penang Hill could be a different experience but I was ever anxious about food hunting in Penang. There were few shops and stalls that I found had outstanding meals around the island but, my favorite  was the stalls at the Gurney Drive. There were many stalls selling all kinds of street food from Chinese's, Malays and Indian's here. There were quite crowded on Saturday nights but the energy there was intoxicating makes me wanna eat whatever others had on their tables. During Steven's two night and one day stay in Penang, we went here for supper, everytime. Having hard time choosing what to stuff into the mouth so that we could be fulled in a 'smart' way, everytime. Since both of us had large appetite and we came there like we haven't eat for 10 years, I thought that I must be fulled quicker than usual as I am a quick eater type of human. 

I am sorry for not having any food porn here. It is irony though I always think myself as a food lover but, I rarely had any food porn in my site. Hardly any, even on my Instagram. (chuckled). But, the best street food that I will always love is the Char Kuey Tiaw...I know there has been few good coffee shop that serve good char kuey tiaw aroung Kota Kinabalu too, so whenever I miss this fried noodle, I don't have to fly half around Malaysia just to get one.

 Another typical thing to do is visiting the flea market . There are amazingly longest night market I've been in Batu Feringhi Beach that opened from 7 in the evening right until past midnight I think. There were some watersport to enjoy there too  but , for some reason , I was there twice , first with colleagues but we were there more for the fun of shopping at the flea market and watching the sunset. They sell ranges of women's and men's clothing , accesories and handbag, watches, toys and can even get good bargains there. Second time with Steven was an unplanned trip. As we made up our mind to go to Feringghi before sunset, on our way, it rained heavily. We turned back to the city and even back to the hotel. But, just when we were back to the hotel, the rain stops and we decided to give it a go for Feringghi again. This time we made it but, it was hardly passed sunset so, we were practically there for the flea market alone.

We were literally waiting for the sunset and for anyone that looked kind that will take our picture together to catch the sunset. But, as the sunset came we were still tongue tied to ask for anyone's favor. So, here we were, taking our picture , I think almost perfect using the self timer itself. Man, I was the one responsible to set the self timer shoot and running on the sands are no joking matter. Was tiring even for few meters run. First shot was all good. And we decided like, why not one more shot?

Second shot with lighter sky, full bodied shot . Off we went to the flea market afterwards.



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