Singapore

All posts tagged Singapore

The last night of the trip I stayed within Changi Airport because if I had stayed in a hotel room, I would’ve missed the returning plane departing at 7:10 in the morning. Fortunately, Changi Airport opens 24 hours a day, and it doesn’t close at midnight. Because UA check-in counters were closed until 4:30 am, I had to stay on a bench on the departure floor.

However, sleeping on the bench wasn’t successful. When I lay on the bench, security guards came to wake up and said, “There’s no oversleeping here, sir.” I moved to another bench and slept hiding from them, but I couldn’t sleep very well, just slept only for an hour, because every time I heard the sound of somebody’s footsteps I was afraid that the security officers came to wake me up. Later I saw guests in the coffee shop on the same floor sleeping very well. I should’ve done it!

At 4 am, I saw the UA check-in counter open and began check-in. Although there were automated check-in machines, it became error while processing. I finally was led to a human-operated counter by UA staff and managed to have a boarding pass.

Soon I entered into a departure gate. I was surprised to see that there was just a screening machine for luggage, no security gates nor screening officers. Its security check was effortless. After luggage screening, there were immigration counters, where a piece of the disembarkation card I had got at Woodlands Checkpoint was taken away, and a departing stamp was stamped on my passport.

While in a restricted area, I went in front of the boarding gate for UA804 to Tokyo and opened my laptop to surf the net, because duty-free shops were closed until 6 am so I had nothing else to do. I was disappointed that there were no free WiFi spots even in the boarding gate areas in Changi Airport, unlike other international airports. Priced WiFi operated by StarHub was all in that airport. Even if I tried to pay for the WiFi by my credit card, the authentication of the credit card failed. I found that if I sent an SMS by a Singaporean mobile phone, I had an SMS by StarHub with user id and password. I tried to do it and once successful, but ten minutes later, the connection became unavailable. That’s why I rate Changi Airport as very badly in international airports in the world.

At 6 am, the duty-free shops began operation, but we had not so much time to shop because the boarding on UA804 was to begin at 6:30 am.

Departure gates
More than that, there were strict security checks at the entry of the boarding gates while there were simpler screening at the departure entrance, so I had no time to take a rest in front of the gate.

UA804 to Tokyo
Anyway, the aeroplane arrived at Narita at 3:10 pm, just on time. I managed to return to Japan alive 🙂

I wanted to walk to MRT Tanjong Pagar station from KTM Singapore station, but I could not find anywhere any signs leading to Tanjong Pagar station. I followed the people walking, but all of them went into a car park because they parked their own car there. I, having no my own car, had completely lost my way. Even if I asked the ticket counter staff of Singapore station how to get to the MRT station, all she answered embarrassedly was “Over there, 15 minutes’ walk.”

I walked to the direction as she said “over there”, but I lost my way walking for a while. The Lonely Planet I carried with me had no such maps. My iPhone didn’t show the map because M1’s prepaid sim card stored in the iPhone didn’t have enough balance. I walked on dark streets managed to get to Tanjong Pagar station 50 minutes later, sometimes losing my way.

The Lonely Planet and any other travel guidebooks I know have no clear maps or instructions between KTM Singapore station and MRT Tanjong Pagar. There are no signs to guide you to the MRT station anywhere in the Singapore station building. Then I’m the first person to guide you the correct way from KTM Singapore to MRT Tanjong Pagar. I’VE BEATEN THE LONELY PLANET!!

  1. First, get out of the station building on Cantonment Link, and you’ll see a road sign indicating the direction of “Tanjong Pagar.” Follow the sign and go ahead on Cantonment Link.
  2. Walk forward on Cantonment Link and then you’ll see an interchange of Cantonment Rd. and a road sign indicating that Tanjong Pagar is on the right. DON’T FOLLOW IT! Just walk ahead.
  3. You’ll get to an intersection of Anson Rd. Turn left on Anson Rd.
  4. You’ll see an entrance to MRT Tanjong Pagar station.

Or:

  1. Get out of Singapore station building, walk along on a wide road under an elevated highway, to the direction opposite to the station building.
  2. You’ll see a FUJI XEROX building, and turn left on Anson Rd.
  3. You’ll see an entrance to MRT Tanjong Pagar station.

That being said, the Singapore station should distribute guide maps at ticket counters or information booths and should build a taxi stand to let taxi cabs gather there to pick up passengers to the MRT station. It’s one of Singapore’s disappointing points, even if Singapore is one of the cleanest and most sophisticated cities.

I purchased a prepaid SIM card with 3-day broadband service at the M1 counter in Changi Airport. Unlike normal mobile phones like Nokia, iPhone didn’t receive an APN or other network setting information needed for internet access. The M1 counter lady said I needed to bring the iPhone to the M1 shop at Paragon and have it installed settings there.

MRT Changi Airport station
MRT Changi Airport station

I asked the MRT station staff where I could get to Paragon, and she answered I should go to Orchard station, so I took the MRT train to Orchard.

Paragon
Here’s Paragon. It was huge.

M1 shop was on the B1 level. When I waited in line in front of the shop, a shop-girl came to me and asked what she could help me. I told her I wanted to activate internet service for my iPhone. Then she led me to the front of counters in charge of activation or other services and gave me a paper printed a queue number to let me wait until the number was called. Tens of minutes later, I was called by a counter girl. The activation took a little more time because my iPhone hadn’t been purchased at the M1 shop but in Hong Kong. Anyway, the activation was successful, and I could have access to the internet with my iPhone.

After activation, I went to Little India.

Little India
There were dozens of gold jewellery shops on the streets selling golden stuff and buying items with gold. I wonder if there are many such stores in Asian cities.

There were plenty of Indian restaurants as well. Below is one of the local restaurants. People were eating foods put on a banana leaf by hand, as people in India do.

Because Singapore is very close to the Equator and today was the almost autumnal equinox, the Sun passes the top of the sky. This video is when the Sun was on the top at solar noon. Vertical sunshine can never be experienced in Japan.

I’m going on a trip to Singapore and Malaysia until next Thursday because we have the “Silver Week” in Japan, with two national holidays (next Monday and Thursday) and three days of leave. For me, this is this year’s second trip to foreign countries. As I have 20,000 miles of United Airlines’ frequent flyer program, I can get a round-trip ticket from Japan to South Asia. I chose Singapore because Singapore is the country where I enjoyed six years ago, and I have looked forward to visiting again. This time, I’m going to visit Johor Bahru and another city in Malaysia because they are close to Singapore and maybe I can have easy access to those cities.

I’ll bring unlocked iPhone bought from Hong Kong other than regular cell phones I use daily, to use it at cheaper costs by replacing Softbank’s SIM card I always use in Japan with prepaid SIM cards I’ll get at destination countries. Skype is installed on the iPhone so that I can receive calls at any time regardless of countries I’ll be in, even if a phone number will be frequently changed.

UA803 to Singapore
United 803 to Singapore

The plane departed Narita at 1735 and arrived at SIN at 2330. It was earlier than scheduled. Seven hours’ flight in the economy seat of United Airlines was kind of tough, and I had severe back pain when I got off 🙁

Arrival gate
Arrival Gate

Changi Airport immigration
Immigration

Arrival level
Arrival Level