Singapore – What to Know Before Traveling

MapSingapore is an Island nation which is one of the few countries where the capitol is same as the country. It is around 750 square kilometers including all new reclamation, with the east-west length of around 40 km and north-south length of around 20 km. Here are some important facts for the first time travelers to the Garden Island, Singapore.

Visa

Singapore offers On-arrival visa  for many nationalities. You can check further details from following link. Make sure to keep the last part of the boarding document given as it may be required to produce whenever necessary. You can find the list of countries who have On-Arrival visa here.

Weather

Singapore has almost constant weather activities all around the year. As it is located near the equator the climate is bit warm. There will be a drizzle in the afternoon which will be over in about an hour, So better be prepared if you are planning to walk or visit a park. You can use an weather app just to make sure.

Transport

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Main three transportation methods in Singapore are MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), Buses or Taxis. Singapore highly promotes the usage of Public transport. Therefore, you can experience one of the best public transportation systems there. There are even driver-less MRTs. If you are planning to travel more on public transport, it is recommended to buy a Singapore Tourist Pass, which will save you a lot!

MRTs are the cheapest option for traveling. Singapore has a good train network, covering almost every place you need to go and it is further evolving. You need a ticket to enter the MRT platform. If you don’t have a Tourist pass you can purchase a ticket from the automated machines at each MRT station, which you still can recharge and reuse to get discounts on your 3rd and 6th rides.


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Buses are the next cheap mode of transport. Traveling in the Buses will be tricky if you don’t have that re-chargeable card. Then you will need the exact amount of bus fare as there is no bus conductor. So better be aware of the bus fare and recheck your wallet for change before getting in on a bus.

Taxis are common in Singapore, but may cost you more than public transport. There are Taxi stands at common places where you can get one by being in the queue. Else you can use services like Uber.

Other than above modes of transport Walking and Cycling are the best ways to explore Singapore. Some places rent bicycles for daily basis. But with the hassle of  finding a place to safely park the bicycle I would prefer walking. Singapore has this amazing concept of sheltered walkways, which they said to have constructed shelters above more than 50% of the walkway length.

Communication

You can always use roaming facility of your mobile service provider. But I strongly suggest to purchase Starhub, Singtel or any other SIM which you can find every corner. They come with complementary Data allocation which you can use to make calls through Viber or similar methods cheaper than the standard roaming charges.

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Singaporeans are generally very open minded people. They do not have conservative mindset like most of other Asian countries. There are many ethnic groups living together in peace and harmony. There main language is Malay, but all speaks English fluently. There are certain areas named according to the ethnicity of the people who live there. China town, Little India and Arab Street are examples. But Singapore encourages people to live as mixed ethnic groups, they even try to maintain the racial balance in apartment buildings! Singaporeans don’t try to talk much, but they are social and a kind crowd. They respect their elders and take special care of the young. They are very conscious about physical health and most of them spend their evenings in a gym, working out or in doing cardio in walking tracks.

Food

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Singaporean cuisines are rich as they have all Malay, Chinese and Indian influences. There are Open areas with many food stalls called Hawker Centers everywhere you go.  Singapore encourages small scale food stalls by low rentals on Hawker center food stalls, so that they can sell meals at a lower price. That way even people with lowest incomes can survive. There are all kinds of international food chains in Singapore, but people tend to give lower preference to those as they have many more to choose from. There are middle level restaurants that the price can be high as two times the Hawker center and small scale restaurant prices and High end restaurants that you can spend a fortune for a meal!

“Do”s and “Don’t”s

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  1. Do offer your seat for elders, pregnant ladies and people with infants when you are traveling in public transport.
  2. Always use the pedestrian crossings or over passes to cross the roads.
  3. Always use the designated bins to throw garbage, else you will be fined.
  4. Singaporeans admire silence in Public transport, try not to shout.
  5. Don’t consume Chewing-gum as it is prohibited in the country, you will be fined.
  6. Don’t use or keep Drugs as it is prohibited. Singapore give death penalty to drug traffickers.
  7. Don’t eat or Drink in Public Transport, you will be fined.
  8. Don’t take Dooriyan to Buses or MRTs, you will be fined.
  9. Don’t leave tips at restaurants.

Must Visit Places

  1. Gardens by the Bay (Trip report will be uploaded soon)
  2. Marina by the Bay (Trip report will be uploaded soon)
  3. Sentosa Island (Trip report will be uploaded soon)
  4. Jurong Bird park
  5. Singapore zoo, River Safari and Night Safari (Trip report will be uploaded soon)
  6. China Town, Little India, Arab Street (Trip report will be uploaded soon)
  7.  Singapore Botanical Gardens and National Orchid Gardens (Trip report will be uploaded soon)

Special Articles

  1. Singapore Food Hunt (Trip report will be uploaded soon)
  2. Shopping in Singapore (Trip report will be uploaded soon)

Pattipola – Nuwara Eliya – Kandy Bike Ride

UntitledCrew : 4

Transportation : Train and Mountain bicycles

Duration : Two Days

This time we thought of extending our previous route and ride from Pattipola to Kandy. We took our bicycles to Pattipola by Train and went Pattipola by Kandy – Badulla Night mail train. It left Kandy at 3.30 a.m. and It is one of the most beautiful scenes that i have seen, the dawn through cold misty mountains on the way to Pattipola. The train reached Pattipola railway station around 10.30 a.m. and it took another 30 minutes to clear our bicycles from the station. A drizzle started as soon as we entered the road, we decided to stop for a while. But started riding again in the rain because the rain didn’t stopped. We had our brunch in a roadside cafe and realized Roti, pol sambol and tea are the perfect match for the cold and rainy weather.
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There are two roads from Ambewela to Nuwara Eliya. one is Peradeniya-Badulla-Chenkaladi (PBC) Highway (18.3 kms) and the other is Blackpool-Ambewela-Pattipola-Hortain plains road (15 kms) . Since we had to ride in the rain as any of us hadn’t brought rain coats and the Blackpool-Ambewela-Pattipola-Hortain plains road had a better scenic view, we decided to use that road. We stopped many times to rest because the road had more climbs than downhills. It was like a completely different country there but the sadness is any of us couldn’t use our cameras in the rain because they weren’t waterproofed. We stopped at Ambewela farms dairy shop and had chocolate milk and fresh yoghourt. We saw some local visitors throw empty yoghourt cups to the road while there are several dust bins few feet away.
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On the way one of our bicycles had a trouble with the free wheel and we had to take it to Nuwara Eliya by a Three Wheeler. We arrived Nuwara Eliya around 6 p.m. and went for the dinner after a rest and a hot water bath. Dinner was great and the whole day cycling made the food tastier.

After a long sleep we started our second day of the journey. First thing we had to do in the morning was to repair the bicycle with the freewheel trouble and we found a place with a skilled and a kind owner near the St.Xavier’s Church, Nuwara Eliya.  After that we had our breakfast, bought rain coats and then started the ride. As first couple of kilometers from Nuwara Eliya town to top pass (Nuwara Eliya town limit) is the steepest climb of the entire ride, it was around 10.30 a.m. when we reached top pass. We have mounted our cameras to bicycles and then started down hill cycling. Unfortunately the rain started again and the whole world around us covered in a thick layer of mist that we couldn’t see even few meters ahead. We had to slow down and follow a queue of vehicle lights until Mackwoods tea center. We waited there sipping tea and having chocolate cake about an hour until heavy rain stops. Then we all checked and adjusted our brakes again and started downhill ride. The mist was thicker this time and ice cold rain drops managed to hit right on our faces. We took very few breaks because we were already late due to the rain and mist. It was around 7 p.m when we reached near Peradeniya and had a rest @ faculty of Engineering , University of Peradeniya. I was exhausted  because it was the first time that i have been on the mountain bicycle for consecutive two days but was happy to be back on the bicycle.

If you are planning to ride from Nuwara Eliya in a rainy season it is better to have a rain coat, riding glasses and a mountable torch in case u have to ride in the misty weather. And be completely confident about your bicycle, specially the breaks and gears because a drizzle can drastically reduce the grip between break pads and the rim as well as reduce the lubricity on gear wheels and the chain causing the chain skip between gear changes.

photo credits : Sarith senarath and Kalhara jayasinghe

Downhill cycling video :

 

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…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..  DSCF5210Good morning!

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Nuwara Eliya – Kandy bike ride

mapCrew : 4 and 10

Transportation : Lorry and mountain bicycle

Duration : Two Days

There are 76 kms from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy and the road is in a good condition. It is better not to ride your bicycle all the way up to Nuwara Eliya from Kandy, which will be an exhausting tour. But if you are experienced you can try the up hill ride which once my two friends did. They started to ride from Kandy at about 4 a.m. and reached to Nuwara Eliya town at about 2 p.m. We arranged a lorry to take our bikes to Nuwara Eliya and enjoyed the lorry ride. 😀
The lorry driver and the helper were very friendly and they only charged a little for transporting us and the bicycles. It is better to arrange accommodation earlier, otherwise you will be facing difficulties in finding a proper place to stay at night in a long weekend, when visitors are frequent. There are good, a bit high priced places to eat in Nuwara Eliya town as well as around the Gregory Lake.

We started our journey from Nuwara Eliya  at about 9 a.m. Though Kandy has a low altitude than Nuwara Eliya, there are several places we have to ride up hill. The first 4 kms are the hardest from those. We had to ride about 80 meters higher than the starting point at Nuwara Eliya, which is around 1920 meters above sea level. After that, the journey become more easy and interesting as we have to ride our bicycles downhill. Only things to be concerned are  our speed limit and the vehicles coming towards Nuwara Eliya. Since the road has many blind and extreme bends it is better if you are 100% sure about your brakes and tires. On the way, my bike had a tire punch and as we didn’t carried a pump but only a tire tube I had to ride few kilometers with that tire punch until Blue field Tea Factory. People there was very friendly and they were kind enough to let us use their compressor to fill the tire.

After Ramboda there are several climbs but not harder compared to the climb we started with.  From Gampola the road is almost flat but need to turn your attention more to the road traffic. Finally we arrived to the Faculty of Engineering at about 5 p.m. and rested for a while before going back to our homes.

Photo and Video Credits : Sarith Senarath, Pradeepa Senanayake

Video : Downhill cycling near Macwoods, Labukale

Video : Downhill cycling

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