Personal Security Tips While Traveling Abroad

~ Posted on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 9:39 AM ~

My brother in-law travels often and every now and then will be sharing his experiences good and bad. In this article, I'll be sharing his personal security tips while traveling abroad. He has given his blessings for me to copy his tips and share his article out, I'm only touching up a wee bit of typo and using freestock pictures, otherwise I'm crediting this article to his name.

Let's read and learn together, shall we?

Take just enough cash for the day spending

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In Spain, we pre-researched that we might need EUR30 per day per person for lunch, refreshment, dinner, shopping & admission fees. So I took 3 notes of 10 EUR, and separated them into 2-3 pockets (pants, shirt) and only 1 credit card. No wallet, No handbag, No carrybag, No belt punch. I only have a compact knapsack to store water, snacks, a woollen jumper, mobile phone, and medicine. The rest of the holiday cash and passports are in the hotel room safe or hotel main safety box.

Watch for people watching you – scan your surroundings

Generally, in developed countries, the locals do not have a habit of staring or looking at you, it is impolite – even if you are dressed outrageously. Whenever we are descending into a train station or bus station, we scan the surroundings – to see who is looking at us.

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In Barcelona (we pre-learned) how to recognise professional pick pockets – they are usually the ones looking at other people and their belongings; they don’t seemed to be waiting for trains or looking at the train notice board, and they ain’t reading anything – not even their mobile phone (this is a dead give-away). We saw a few – and we avoided them. In Barcelona, a pickpocket if caught is not charged unless you can prove that they stole more than EUR 300.

What if the hotel is budget type and storing in room doesn’t feel safe

We put all cash, cards and passports into a thick envelop, close it, doing these inside our room before going down to the counter. And at the counter, we store it into the hotel counter safety box - each box usually have a dual-key system. We do not give our things to the person on the counter to keep it into the box – we do it together in our presence.

What if the hotel is so budget that even the room safety box or counter safety box looks iffy

First, not worth to stay in such a hotel. Secondly, paying slightly more is for some measure of security. But in the event you don’t have choices, and you must take your valuables out with you on your body, make sure the (example of) 30 EUR (3 notes in 3 pockets); the rest, tightly packed into the deepest section of your knapsack firmly against your body.

Knapsack, Knapsack, Knapsack – just 1

Knapsack, Knapsack, Knapsack – and hug it in your front

Buy a very inconspicous uncomplicated boring but firm knapsack, with 2-3 deep sections preferably with inner zip. And always all the time, especially in crowded areas, specifically: airports, train stations, taxi & bus stations, lifts, elevators, street markets, inside trains & buses – HUG your knapsack in the FRONT of your body.

Honeymooning couples are usually bodily glued to each other everywhere they go, with knapsacks behind them, and bags all over the place – they are a thief and pickpocket heaven on earth. We do not carry more than 1 bag per body (maybe, max max 2 – 1 roller suitecase, 1 knapsack – for long holidays.)

If you’re carrying a knapsack, handbag, iPad, shopping bags, camera bag, waist pouch, pants wallet – you stand out like a "Come-Rob-Me-Please" beacon begging them. Robbing just you would help meet the thieves’ daily quota, or even weekly.

Do NOT count on numbers

Just because you are surrounded by family members, friends, colleagues, male members of the travelling entourage – Number is NOT safety. Do not count on others to watch your valuables. In 2 separate incidences, a male colleague was in the check-out queue of a 5 star hotel with other male colleagues, and the cctv later picked up a well-suit bespectabled bearded man casually walked up along him and lifted his notebook bag – with all the whole week site reports in there (!). A neighbour lost her notebook in a spanking new airport which she had transited so many times, this time surrounded by her family members.

Number is not safety.

It is like a stalking tiger deciding which gazelle it wants to pounce upon out of the many grazing gazelles mistaking security in numbers.

Jewelleries, Handbags, Wallets, Watches, Necklaces

Whenever I’m the group leader, I conditioned that all members must leave all burdensome & valuables things at home – we don’t need them to impress people or travelling companions to the places we’re heading. Specifically : branded handbags (or all handbags in general), all jewelleries (from every bodyparts except those already nailed onto the body) with exception of one’s wedding ring (of which the wife would be very unhappy not to see it on her husband’s finger) – on the otherhand, tai tai should abandon their 36 carats diamond ring at home – and no need to bring along to impress. You'll always end up paying more to the very people you’re trying to impress.

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Try driving a Mercedes to the durian seller – you’ll be charged more. And men, expensive watches – leave it at home. Needless to say, necklace is so easy to grab. I once was waiting at a traffic light, on a bright sunny day, I saw something shiny flew across my windscreen ... it's so surreal like slow-mo movie... it fell on the road kerb, the owner a toughie ganster looking type picked up his thick gleaming gold chain ..and started to chase the 2 motorcycled snatch thieves.

Things You Can Leave at Home

Driving licence (unless you will be renting a car) and National Identity Card. Your passport** and visa are the only document you’ll need – for entry at Customs, hotel, car rental, etc. Pants wallet especially those bulging with cards and cash makes pick pocketers glee with joy and praising their patron god. So, I seldom use or keep valuables in a pant-wallet.

**before the trip, we photocopy all our passports, and credit cards .. and leave the photocopy inside our hotel safe in case anyone loses their passport or card - and we hv this copy to refer or make report.

Remember, when travelling in groups – especially if everyone are close friends or family members : if one member exposed themselves to be robbed and pickpocketed, or lose their travelling document or money – it clouds the entire holiday mood for everyone (remember my own Brussels-London trip?) So, in taking precautions and freeing ourselves from being robbed – we are actually preserving the happy mood of travelling together.

Go light, go easy, go safe.

Planning A 2-Day Trip In Johor Bahru

~ Posted on Monday, December 19, 2016 at 12:38 AM ~

Nothing feels better than planning for a trip to a new place that promises all sorts of fun and experiences. However, in this haze, it is easy to overlook some crucial factors in your planning. Moreover, without a clue about where to visit, where to stay and the best means to get there, your trip can turn chaotic even before its commencement.

We are pretty much familiar with the offerings from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur that are the cities that are deemed more exciting but little did we know Johor Bahru is basically a hidden gem that one should not miss. This lovely city brings together a touch of both modern and traditional urban jungles. That said, often when you travel to Singapore, you should take some moment and explore Johor Bahru that will guarantee you a memorable memory with your loved ones.

First stop: Legoland

You can start your journey with the direct express bus from Singapore to Legoland where you can easily book your ticket from http://www.easybook.com/en-sg/bus/booking/singapore-to-legoland/. The first of its kind in Asia, the theme park has more than 70 hands-on rides, slides, shows and attractions.

It has a wonderful kids water theme park specially designed to allow kids have unlimited and unforgettable fun. It’s also home to the famous LEGO City and LEGO Kingdom. Besides that, the other attractions include Miniland, Land of Adventure, Joker Soaker, LEGO wave pool and many more.

Second stop: Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple

Probably the oldest temple in Johor Bahru, this old Chinese temple dates back to the 19th century and was established as a way of honoring 5 deities that held much significance to Chinese society. Its peculiarity is unmistakable with its characteristic red and white colors.

There are 3 beautifully designed prayer halls in the temple and on top of that, you will find a small museum in the temple premises. On display are idols of various gods, photos of the temple and many temple antiques.

Third stop: Jalan Wong Ah Fook

Named after one of the founder of Johor Bahru, this is one of the busiest main streets in Johor Bahru. Your food-hunting quest will never get better when there are plentiful of shops, cafes, restaurants and food stalls lining along the street. One must visit Hiap Joo Bakery and Biscuit factory to try on their banana cakes.

The short walk from the City Square will expose you to amazing delicacies, desserts and local recipes all at a pocket-friendly price. Don’t get hungry on your expedition, pass through Jalan Wong Ah Fook and have a food moment to remember.

Fourth stop: Istana Besar

Istana Besar aka Grand Palace is the royal residence of the King of Johor. The palace is a fine amalgamation of Anglo-Malay architecture with a dome roof colored blue and overlooking the skyline. The palace also houses the Royal Abu Bakar Museum. On display are royal heirloom, rare artefacts and records of the history of the state's royal family.

Fifth stop: Angry Birds Theme Park

As the name suggests, Angry Birds Theme Park has a lot of interesting games and zones designed around the popular game Angry Birds. The park has taken into consideration that not every person may be amused by the theme and as such has put in place other activities and attractions around the park such as restaurants and bars.

Sixth stop: City Square and JBCC Mall

Johor Bahru is expanding rapidly and what comes with the expansion are the numerous shopping areas for all types of products. City Square and the new JBCC Mall have always been the shopping heaven for Singaporean shoppers with the search of bargains and great food. Walking in to City Square from the Johor Custom, you can find the best nyonya kuih stall. The variety of the kuih will get you hyped and excited with the abundance of delicious food you are getting in the trip.

 

A 2-day visit to Johor Bahru can feel like a few minutes, which is why it is proper to have a good idea of exactly where to travel and how to get there. With these guidelines, you can be sure to have a smooth and wonderful 2-day trip experience.

15 Must Try Food in Singapore

~ Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2016 at 11:18 PM ~

Singapore is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Its blend of different cultures, iconic colonial buildings, modern high-rises and street markets will is enchanting and surely will fascinate the travelers. These entire great attractions aside, this multicultural city has emerged as one of the top food destinations. One of the expressions that have been used to describe Singapore is “a foodie paradise” and this has helped enhance the city’s reputation as the place to go for those who love to eat.

The best thing is that you don’t need to go into a fancy restaurant to find these food varieties. Being that eating is Singapore’s national past time, the places to eat this food vary from high-end restaurants to hawker or street-food stalls. For as little as $3 you can get a taste of the best food that Singapore has to offer.

If you are getting ready to get on a bus to Singapore, here is a list of 15 foods that have stood the test of time that you must try:

(1) Bak Kut Teh

source: https://cinnamonsin.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/founder-bak-kut-teh-restaurant/

This is one of the most iconic dishes in Singapore. It is prepared with simmering meaty pork ribs in a liquid mixture of herbs and spices of garlic, white pepper and salt. Bak kut teh is consumed along with strong tea in the belief that this will help dissolve the grease in the soup.

(2) Hainanese chicken rice

source: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/08/hainanese-chicken-rice-set-recipe.html

This dish was adapted from the early Chinese immigrants who came from Hainan province in the southern parts of China. Considered one of Singapore’s national dishes, the chicken is prepared by immersing the chicken in boiling water and then then dunking it in an ice bath before slicing it. The hot water that has some of the skimmed chicken fat is used along with garlic and ginger to prepare the chicken.

(3) Hokkien Prawn Mee

source: http://www.sgfoodonfoot.com/2014/02/xiao-di-fried-prawn-noodle-serangoon.html

Not to be confused with Hokkien Char Mee, this is a mixture of rice noodles and egg noodles fried in a fragrant stock that has prawns, fried pork fat, fish cake and squid. In some cases, pork strips are added to enhance the flavour.it is served along with some lime juice and sambal chilli to give you that extra zing.

(4) Tau Huay

source: https://hazwanifyp.wordpress.com/chinese-foods/

This is a Chinese dessert made using beancurd tofu that has been sweetened with some sugar syrup. Its traditional version is soft and soaks in the syrup to be taken together. Sometimes soya bean milk or grass jelly is added as well. You can either eat it hot or cold.

(5) Biryani

This dish has a heavy Indian Muslim influence. The fried rice dish is made using long grain rice. It is flavoured using cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and bay leaves. The biryani can be beef, chicken or fish biryani depending on the meat used.

(6) Nasi Lemak

This very versatile rice dish used to be considered as a breakfast item but people now take it for lunch or dinner too. The rice has a sweet fragrance due to the coconut cream used to steam it. There are different variations of Nasi Lemak and they offer a wide variety of ingredients such as drumsticks, fried chicken, sotong balls and luncheon meat.

(7) Roti Prata

This South-Indian bread is very popular in Singapore. It is made by frying thinly flattened dough that has been flavoured with ghee. Usually served with mutton curry or fish, roti prata never disappoints. While the classic variations were either plain or mixed with egg, menus now have eccentric variations including chocolate, cheese which has turned rotti prata into a dessert.

(8) Rojak

Rojak is a fruit and vegetable salad made by mixing dough fritters, beancurd puffs, pineapple, radish, cucumber, bean sprouts and roast peanuts with prawn paste sauce to come up with a harmoniously tasty blend. Its ingredients are a reflection of the cultural diversity that Singapore has to offer.

(9) Char kway teow

This noodle dish is very popular in Singapore. In fact Singaporeans consider it a national favourite. It is a combination of flat rice noodles and a sweet dark sauce. Stir-fried at very high temperature with fish cake, egg and Chinese sausages, the original intention was always to load the dish with fats as labourers needed a cheaper source of energy.

(10) Chai tow kway (Carrot cake)

This is a popular Singapore dish that can be found at almost every food place in the city. It differs from your typical Western carrot cake that has been made with orange carrots. Singaporean carrot cake actually has no carrots at all. It is made using rice flour and daikon radish which are fried in pork lard and eggs.

(11) Wanton Mee

This combination of wanton dumplings, some boiled vegetables, yellow egg noodles and small slices of char siu. The dish is best served in a hot broth together with shrimp wontons the texture and tangliness of the egg noodles is what makes this such a refreshing dish.

(12) Durian

This is considered as the national fruit of Singapore. While a foreigner is likely to be turned off by its strong smell, locals adore its flesh and they use it to make cakes, desserts, tarts or even shakes. Nowadays there are many newer popular strains that have an even stronger fragrance.

(13) Duck rice

The best places to find good ducks are the shops that specialize in duck rice only. The dish combines plain white rice together with roasted duck and flavoured with braised sauce. There is a different version that uses braised duck meat with yam rice with some eggs, peanuts tau pok on the side. While the two versions have different taste profiles, they are both equally yummy.

(14) Curry puffs

These are a favourite midday snack for many people in Singapore. It is simply a miniature pie that has been filled with curry. The pastry shell is baked in the semi-circular in shape. Most of the times, the fillings are chicken curry and potato. But there are other variants that can also be used such as chilly crab or tuna curry.

(15) Popiah

This fresh spring roll is very popular in Singapore. The ingredients are rolled up using a thin wheat crepe that is paper-like. Hoisin, a sweet sauce, is smeared on the laid out wheat crepe before the fillings are added. Most of the times, ingredients in a Popiah include boiled eggs, lettuce, Chinese sausage, small prawns, lettuce and filled with turnip strips and cooked carrot.

There you have it, 15 must have local delicacies in Singapore. Besides completing your trip with the abundance of top destinations, you must not forget to indulge in these delicious local treats! Then, only you can claim to have completed your Singapore trip!