2 travel-Singapore

Info on Singapore -> en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore  or   wikitravel.org/en/Singapore

Accommodation - budget

It's dead easy to find middle to expensive accommodation in SIN.   
The trick is to finding cheap but still 'nice' places to stay.  So that's what I'll be looking at here.
For the standard list of places to try click here.      SIN = SIngapore

Rock bottom options for SIN: dormitory's or tiny partitioned offices
In the 1970's I stayed in Bencoolen street. The equivalent of HongKong's Chungking Mansions, now the el cheapo's have moved, and are harder to find, SiN has become expensive to stay and live in.

1) Partitioned offices: tiny tiny one bed cubicles. They take a large office space and subdivide it into a grid with thin plywood partitions. Each cubicle is the size of a single bed with just enough room to get in. About 2meters by 1.7meters.  About $25/night or so. That is really rock bottom. Partitions don't reach the ceiling, they go up to just over head height, so you hear everything in the room.  

Capsule Hotel in Singapore, kind of like a dorm, but a small step up...

2) dorms: these come and go. There are some in Little India. The usual hostels and backpackers are listed here,  Absolute rrrrrrrrrrockkk bottom places $20/night, dorms near Sim Lim Tower area, see below.  click on images to enlarge

There are more reasonable backpacker places such as: http://www.the-inncrowd.com/    see the list further down.   There are two kinds Backpacker places to be aware of: 1) the party scene, with on premises liquour catering to younger Uni student kinds of travellers 20's to early 30's and 2) the quieter get a good night's sleep type. Youth hostels are more type 2.
3) Backpacker joints whiff a bit-a Klass: Sleepy Sam's 55 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199471  +65 9277 4988 ‎ www.sleepysams.com  Google map     more detailed map here....   email sleepysams@hotmail.com
Near Bugis EW12  - or walk a bit more from Little India station.  SGDollars $28 dorm, rooms approx $55 SGD (in 2011) map on right, click to enlarge
From the outside it looks like a relaxed backpackers, but just beneath the veneer, you'll still find that Singaporean rigidity and unbending unfeeling obedience to standard operating procedures.
It started with a little sign on the counter that said back in 15mins. The room was packed with people waiting to ask about a room. We all hung out till the staff returned.
Most of the people left unable to find what they were looking for.
"Can I look at the dorm ?"
"No it's our policy not to let people see ..."
"But you'll be with me, (like I'm not going to steal stuff ok?!) one look and ...fine I'll take it or not." (some dorms are smelly sweat laden holes, most are fine)
"We just work here."
Well yes,  that was kind of obvious.

Nothing wrong with any of that, sensible, but not the kind of response I expected in a supposedly laid back packpackers, it took me by surprise.
Perhaps  also I'd not gotten used to the more clinical way or relating, after 4 weeks of human warmth and real felxibility of Myanmar.
The simple clipped and clear non-negotiable answers one gets in Singapore are like a cold shower after the warmth and interactiveness of Myanmar and similar places. On the other hand the cleanliness and well running facilities of Singapore are a happy thing to experience after weeks/months of broken down busses, and dodgy infrastructure. I wonder it is like that ? that these things seem to go together ? Not just in SE Asia but in Europe and other places on the planet.
Thinking it over, I came up with my 'two kinds of countries philosophy' below.

Look in Lonely Planet's Thorntree forums for the latest tips about cheap dorms and tiny cubicle places in SIN  http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/
Also see the backpacker links here for dorms. Or  just Google "Singapore backpacker dormitory"

4) Economical hotels, two star+
There is also a chain of clean well run  hotels called Hotel81, which is worth a look: http://www.hotel81.com.sg they are probably the best value for anyone NOT wanting to stay in Backpacker kinds of places, - the next level up. Quite ok for biz travel, and the cheapest main stream hotel in SiN I'm aware of.

Hotels starting from around SGD $55 up http://www.chanbrothers.com/

Singapore Bed n Breakfast SGD $65-$100 Four flats on the top floor in a residential block have been converted into a B & B.  I've stayed at this one myself, its nice.
Walking distance to China town, and  Outram Subway Station.
Ensuite $100/-  (all in Singapore Dollars)
Double Shared bathroom $80/-
Single shared bathroom $65/-
Run by Jennifer  Hazel  Mobile: +(65) 9689 7348    Email: bnbsingapore@hotmail.com

I found it on  www.Hostelbookers.com - paid a small deposit and got confirmation of booking. If you email her Jennifer will prob ask you pay the small deposit via Hostelbookers.
They can also do Airport Pickup for Singapore $40 or $50 after midnight. The fee is for the one-way trip and not per person.

If  you are ok with using the trains, you can get there for a bout $3-4 from the airport. If you arrive late, or your flight departs early, you have no option but to take a taxi.

After-midnight taxi fare to/from the airport to Outram Station is about SGD $25-30 (including the post-midnight surcharge), so for one person, a better deal than the airport pick-up service offered by the BnB.
If there are two or more of you  then the airport pick up service starts to look better again.

Coursurfing Singapore has posted this list of backpacker and upwards  






from:   www.couchsurfing.org/group.html?gid=415&guidelines=1#1  it has the latest list from above, and some info on Singapore, transport and general introductory stuff. Other posts here.

Expat site:for Singapore (one of many) www.singaporeexpats.com

Accommodation - Expat, flats/condo's/appartments

Collusion by Rental agents in Singapore:

This is what I got from a friend who went through the whole process of finding a flat/appartment/Condo in SiN in 2011/2012.
It works like this:
The owner of a candominium will ask an agent to find tenants for his condo.
The agent directly charged with this task is called the 'first or primary agent' and receives a commission of 1/2 of the first months rent from the owner.
The owner can  also authorize the primary agent to use co-brokers to help find tenants.
The spiel put to the owner would be something like: "This will broaden the number of agents who can find tenants for you...blah blah blah... "

Now here it gets interesting: co-brokers also get a commission, of 1/2 a month's rent but this time the commission is paid by the TENANT who takes the condo/flat/appartment.

The effect of this arrangement is that when a prospective tenant calls the primary agent they are asked to call the number of a colleage, (who is the co-broker).
The primary agent does all the adverstising so the owner can see that 'something is happening'.
But anyone who rings the primary agent is then referred to (via various excuses and ruses) to a co-broker.
This means the primary agent makes his 1/2 months rent as does the co-broker.
If you are a tenant: It is very very hard (impossible???) to deal with a primary agent and avoid the 1/2 month's rent demanded from the tenant from a co-broker.

The arrangement is an example of collusion where the entire rental agent industry has effectively doubled it's commission.
If you refuse to pay commission, strangely enough they just say "bye bye..." and hang up on you.
Call any agent and tell them up front you refuse to pay commission and this is the response.
As long as all the agents cover each other's backs like this it's very hard to avoid paying commission.
I'd imagine if any one agent didn't play by these rules then they would be cut out of the loop and find their business suffering. After all, much of their business relies on colleagues and referrals, and 'co-brokering'.

Rental arrangements are long known for dodgy schemes, this one in Singapore seems most ingenious.

I would image, but I've no direct evidence so far, that any owner who refused to use co-brokers would for some strange unexplicable reasons find it hard to get tenants. Can  anyone confirm or deny this ?

The above example comes from expat type of rentals, of around SGD $1500/month upwards.
It's a good example of human nature, looking out for it's own group. Can't blame them really, but the effect is a bad taste about dogy dealings in the Singapore rental market.
It may not apply to local Singaporeans. I've no information for that group.

Has anyone else had similar experiences ?

Cafes n places to hang out:
- Bussorah Street, Arab Street, and surroundings see google map  on left
View Larger Map  or see this more detailed map here.
- Bohemian Cafe   #01-02, 3 South Buona Vista Rd, Singapore 118136   p: 67785951   
http://www.eguide.com.sg/Companies/Bohemian-Cafe  @@@todo

IT and free Wireless access in SIN
free public wireless network go to   wireless@sg - you can request a free account and a password will be texted to you, - or go in person to register if you don't have a phone.
 sign-up, it´s free, and there is a page on where the hotspots are island-wide.: It will send your login info to your mobile, wherever you are, whichever country provides the service for your mobile.
Register http://www.infocomm123.sg/wireless_at_sg/registration
Overview for the wireless programme, it's a government thing: http://www.ida.gov.sg/Programmes/20061027174147.aspx?getPagetype=36

Cost of living in Singapore
Couchsurfing post about cost of living in Singapore: www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=415&post=5503613

Busses (long  distance) out of SIN to Malaysia.

List of busses and where they depart from in Singapore http://www.singaporemalaysiabus.com/kuala_lumpur.html
The main bus departure points are:
  1. Beach Road, Golden Mile see map on right,
  2. Lavender Street Junction Off Kallang Bahru (I haven't checked myself, but i think this one has busses running all the time, whenever a bus is full, it leaves, they don't have a website, no booking, just turn up. Also the cheapest, so perhaps not the highest quality. - Something to check@@@ see  site )
  3. Queens Street bus terminal (corner Arab Str) busses to Malaka and KL
Subways & transport.
Subway map http://subway.umka.org/maps/singapore.gif    and a very large detailed map of transport in Singapore http://www.vidiani.com/maps/maps_of_asia/maps_of_singapore/large_detailed_subway_map_of_singapore_city.jpg

Electronics bits n pieces in SIN city
1) SIMLIM TOWER . close to Bugis MRT  map
2) RS Components Pte Ltd31 Tech Park Crescent, Singapore 638040 p: 68653433 http://singapore.rs-online.com/web/
3) Farnell Singapore
thanks to CS post.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
a) Singapore - http://www.mfa.gov.sg/internet/idx_foreignVisaFor.html
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tanglin, Singapore 248163
Email : mfa@mfa.gov.sg
Tel : (65) 6379 8000
Fax : (65) 6474 7885
MFA One Call Centre: 1-800- 476 8870
(Toll-free for calls made from Singapore)

Philosphizing corner:

I my experience there are two kinds of countries:
those where people and human feelings come first, and those where the system, the rules comes first.

Each has it's plusses and minusses. Neither is better or worse, though I have my personal preferrences.
Heaven would be the best of both - hell would be the worst of both.
No prizes for guessing which one Singapore fits into.

No place is entirely one or the other, there is mix of both, though it might be 60:40 mix or a 10:90 mix.

In the  'feeling first' countries deadlines and times are flexible and rubbery, any rules are subject to negotiation. The people are friendly and easy to relate to and helpful to strangers. If there is a problem there is always a way to solve it humanely.
If you break a local rule, people understand and smile or at least cope.

You feel connected, cared for, there is a creative solution to every problem.

chaos and going round in circles achieving little tangible output.

In the 'system first' countries the rules count above all else. The people believe that the rules protect them from horrible lawless chaos that would destroy all.

Stuff gets done, things work, busses and planes leave on time.
You can find out about how things should be and if you do it the 'right way' all is generally fine.
If you break a local rule, people will send bad vibes at you or tell you off.

The system can easily dehumanize people, and take away their sense of empowerment and even  responsibility in some areas.
- "I'm just doing my job"
The power of the system to mould and affect the way people feel and behave is beautifully showns in the Stanford prison experiment, documented in detail http://www.prisonexp.org/
for a caricature of the worst of the 'system first' mentality all  those Word War II movies making fun of my home-country, featuring manic rules obsessed and stupid Nazis is a pretty good illustration.

Further thoughts:Live and let live....(grumpy old man rant an rave)

Actually the rules in Singapore are mostly reasonable looking but underneath is this almost manic germanic love of rules, which seems hard to replace with some commonsense and the ability to see beyond the surface.
I'm not talking about breaking rules, I'm  talking about going above them. Seeing the original intent behind a rule and make a human exception when it is needed, because that honours the rule at a deeper level. Yes, people aren't allowed through here, but a lady with 2 kids and a prams (huge rarity  in SiN) well she needs some help. Get real.
Many such examples abound.
Ironic that when I visit my homecountry, Germany, that manic slavish obedience for which my countrymen are known from World War 2 movies, seems to have mellowed to something quite nice. So there's hope for Singapore, perhaps it's just an evolutionary stage.... something to transcend, but which they have to go through ?

It's that human, genuine warmth I miss in Singapore, it seems to have been legalized and homogenized out of of most of the population. I suspect you'll  find hidden in closed circles, clubs and social groups ?
The place runs like clockwork, and that seems to be the price to pay. That invisible sense of humanity has evaporated.
There is an unspoken attitude of:  "This is my RIGHT F***** off !!"  "don't touch my space, my rights, my............."
"You gotta follow da letter of da law, even if it makes no sense, even if it's stupid. Even if it is unfeeling......... "
Being envied becomes a substitute for being admired and liked, - envied for stutus and priviledge. The flip side is a manic and mutual policing of each other to make sure that no one gets away with more than anyone else, well not unless it's officially in the rules.
Interesting perspective here  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiasu  (talks about Singapore) though its equivalent not "losing" and not being a "loser" is also a large part of American society.

The warmest smiles and friendliest faces I've found in SiN have come from Singpore's silent, little acknowledged underclass, all those maids from poorer countries, all those constructions workers from Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka etc.... the people who do the heavy lifting (literally) and the cleaning, and 'menial' jobs that keep the city working and the wheels oiled and turning over.

There is a silent unspoken fear of repression, that is invisible and not mentioned, not talked about. It hovers invisibly everywhere and regulates people's walking speed, dampens down any spontaneous outbursts of feeling and channels life into well defined paths that promise safety and security (from what ? - from that horrible lawless chaos, the antithesis of a 'system first' country).

The benefit is that you can walk virtually anywhere, at night. Women friends tell me they are not at all afraid to be out alone at night.
Then  again that pretty much applies to Myanmar too.

Ok enough blah ... blahhh.... blahh.......... each  to their own...
Live and let live !

Later additon: The above reaction is typical of a my own personality type. Singapore as a group of people, is a personality type best described as http://www.personalitypage.com/ESTJ.html    using the Myers Briggs Type system.

A friend responded to the above in this way:
I believe that Singapore prefers the ESTJ type, such as this one http://www.personalitypage.com/ESTJ.html
Meaning that those who don't fit with it are under constant pressure, and develop their own ways of coping, which may come across to others as unfriendly, uncaring, rude and rigid.

We are all different, so are cultures, some cultures match better with us, like Feeler cultures give people with preference for Feeling the badly needed warmth, that is if Feelers are depending on it, and can't find it within. It can be a protest if one hasn't been considered. 

Appreciating and accepting the differences in this world, the different preference provides me with a new perspective. I suddenly understand that they don't mean bad, that they are not bad, that they also have feelings, but live in this world completely different. Building bridges is possible, but who goes first? Do I insist on my preference, my wanting to be considered, to be heard, to be understood, before I understand? Is that us or is that the traumatised child in us, the traumatised child that transforms to old grumpy men?

Update 17Mar12
pathwork lecture 174 puts it like this:

You see, my friends, the life that is inherent in nature is also in you. Bare will and intellect is sterile, as you well know. Only the feeling of life, the natural life, can indeed bring you the fulfillment without which life is a sorry affair indeed. This is what we have been talking about and aiming for on this path. Now why has humanity lost touch with the source of its own life, the source of its feelings, the source of its instincts, the source of its own nature, deep inside the self? Only because you are so terrified of your destructiveness and do not know how to handle it. So civilization has for millennia denied the instinctual life in order to preserve itself from its dangers. But by doing so humanity has cut off its connection with the essence of life itself. It had not realized that there are other ways to eliminate the distorted, perverted, natural forces, ways that need not deny life itself. The instinctual life has always been wrongly equated with destructiveness. Only as humanity matures is it capable of learning that the instinctual life does not need to be denied in order to avoid evil. Indeed, it should not be denied, for doing so defeats life every bit as much as the feared evil itself. Only within the deep core of the instincts can God be found because only there can true aliveness be found. Thus humanity must find another means to handle its destructive instincts if it is not to annihilate itself by different but just as fatal ways as giving vent to those negative instincts.

- excerpt from "pathwork lecture 174 Self esteem"

To me that says it all. Sums up the who paradox of tense control to prevent something destructive emerging and yet that tense control is more of a threat than anything else... . I guess I need to write this up as a proper essay or book.... ?
The key idea being that the instinctual life is not the danger. This applies to personal as well as the life of a civiliation, for "as within, so without" (and vice versa).