Prepaid GSM
Getting around

Singapore, KL, Teluk Intan, Cameron highlands

22.12: Bangkok -> Singapore
23.12: Singapore
24.12: Singapore
25.12: Singapore -> Teluk Intan
26.12: Teluk Intan
27.12: Teluk Intan, Cameron Highlands
28.12: Teluk Intan -> KL
29.12-2.1: KL  -> Munich

Overview and overall impression

This is a report of a brief 10 days trip to Singapore and Malaysia. Arriving from India, we spent three nights in Singapore, then took the bus to Teluk Intan (Malaysia) to the house of my wife's parents. Teluk Intan is a town 150 km north of Kuala Lumpur in the Malasian state of Perak. From there we made a short trip to the Cameron Highlands, then drove to Kuala Lumpur.

The hotel in Singapore cost 140 SGD per night, the one in KL 160 RM. Costs in Singapore are a bit in line with a developed country, although food in restaurants is cheap. Malaysia was quite cheap due to the high Euro (the Malaysian Ringgit is coupled to the USD and the Euro/USD exchange rate was very good).

Money  / Exchange rate (December 2004)
1 Euro = 1.32 US $ 
1 Euro = 2.18 SGD (Singapore dollars)
1 Euro = 5.01 RM (Malaysia Ringgit)
1 Euro = 51.7 THB (Thai Baht)
The cheap dollar (all the above currencies were more or less tied to the USD exchange rate) made our holiday less expensive. For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.

Internet access
Internet access is cheap and available everywhere in Singapore and Malaysia. In Malaysia typically one hour of Internet access costs RM 4.

Tropically warm and humid, with mostly overcast skies, but also several hours of sun. It rained every now and then.

Health / Vaccinations

I took the usual  set of tropical vaccinations (polio, tetanus, diphteria, Hep A + B, typhoid). I didn't take any anti-malaria pills (not even as a standby medication).

VISA / Entry requirements
No visa required for EU nationals as well as nationals of most developed countries.

Very high level of security in Singapore and Malaysia.

Getting around

In Singapore we used taxis (cheap, if compared to what taxis cost in Germany) and the underground (fast and cheap). To travel to Malaysia we used a bus, then from Teluk Intan to KL we rented a taxi.

(continued from the India Travelogue 2004)

22.12: Bangkok -> Singapore
Hotel Allson, 101 Victoria Street, Singapore, www.allsonhotels.com. 145 S$ (=125 + tax) for a smallish double with furniture, TV, phone, A/C, bath with good shower. The room is ok, except that it's small, the furniture is old and decoration is non-existent (the Bangkok room of the previous night was much better).
Weather: sunny, no clouds, tropical warm in Bangkok; sunny with some clouds in Singapore, warm. No rain.

I get up at 8am after a night with not so much sleep and have breakfast at 8:45am. I manage to leave the hotel at 9:30am with a taxi and the funny driver first drives for a while in the opposite direction, then makes a U-turn and drives to the airport with the toll road. Needless to say, the final total expense is higher than yesterday.

At the airport everything runs smooth, even if I'm checking in with an electronic ticket and only have the printout of the email of the travel agency. The SQ 63 flight is delayed, because the aircraft arrived late, but we land in Singapore on time at 2:40pm local time.

After that I book a hotel at the airport hotel reservation counter, get some cash from the ATM and take a taxi (18 S$) to the hotel. Shirley also arrives around 5pm and we leave the hotel some time after that.

We take a taxi to Orchard road (7 S$) then walk around a bit and have some food. Singapore is in full Chistmas retail sell mode - everywhere there are Xmas decoration, everywhere there things for sale, everything looks like a Disney wonderworld.

Singapore is a paradise for men. Everywhere here there are girls dressed in the most sexy way - miniskirts, dresses which accentuate the body shape, sleeveless shirts and tank tops, lots of skin put on display. It's as if girls here dressed on purpose to please men. Most of these girls have a great body shape and lots of them are really pretty. If you are a single male and need somebody, come to Singapore.

Around 5:40pm we have some food in a food court and after that I check my emails in an Internet cafe until 7pm. We spend the rest of the day walking around. Around 9pm we have some more food in a place along the Singapore river, then walk back to the hotel.

23.12: Singapore
Hotel Allson. Good buffet style breakfast with Asian and Western food.
Weather: tropical, sky partially overcast, partially sunny, but mostly overcast. No rain. Windy in the afternoon.

We get up at 9am, in time for the breakfast which closes at 10am. After breakfast, at 11am we take a taxi to Little India, an area of Singapore where there are several Indian shops (but that's all for the Indian component - we just see one Hindu temple, the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple and the Abdul Gafoor mosque).

At 1pm we're done visiting Little India and we take a taxi back to the hotel (we're a bit tired, after walking for two hours in the heat). We take a short rest, then get out again and fetch a taxi to the Somerset MRT station near Orchard road. There at 2pm we meet Huey Bing Lim, a moderator of the photography forum I run. We have a lunch and a chat in a Chinese restaurant in one of the shopping complexes on Orchard road. In Singapore there is a restaurant or food court or stall every 10 metres - you could spend the whole day having a small thing in a place then walking to the next place.

It's 3:40pm when we leave the restaurant. After buying some groceries in a supermarket, we take the MRT to the Chinatown station. Drinks are not allowed into the MRT, so I have to finish my soft drink, but then there is no rubbish bin nearby. A bit of a problem, because there are heavy fines for littering in Singapore. After looking a bit here and there I finally solve the problem by putting the empty glass into my backpack.

By the way, you can only buy MRT tickets at the vending machines, and these machines only take coins and 2 S$ notes - no 5 or 10 or larger S$ notes. This is a problem, because we don't have enough small change to buy the tickets. In the end it turns out that you have to go to the customer service counter and change the money there.

Shortly before 5pm we are finally in Chinatown. The buildings are all restaurated and nicely painted - this part of the town is very photogenic. We visit the Jamae (Chulia) mosque and the Sri Mariamman Hindu temple, then stroll across the market (they sell souvenirs, fake branded goods etc.).

At 6pm we leave Chinatown and take the MRT to the City hall, which is near the Allson hotel. There there is also the Raffles City shopping complex, where we make a brief stop. At almost 7pm we get back to the hotel and take a rest. At 8 something pm we get out again and I have a sandwich for dinner (Shirley will have something else later). Then we walk to a nearby Internet cafe (in the Capitol building, fast connection, approx. 1 S$ every 10 minutes) to check my emails. At about 10:30pm we are back in the hotel.

24.12: Singapore
Hotel Allson
Weather: like yesterday, the sky alternates between overcast and sunny. No rain and tropical heat/humidity. More or less windy over the day.

We get up in time for breakfast, then leave the hotel by 11am. We first walk to the nearby Sri Krishnan Hindu temple and to the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho (Goddess of Mercy) temple. Both temples are nice but not too impressive. Lots of people in the Chinese temple by the way.

At 11:45am we take a taxi to the Golden Mile complex, where there are several sales agents for buses to Malaysia. After some searching we find a company offering a bus trip to Teluk Intan, even on a comfortable 24-seater. The only problem is that this is a night bus, leaving a 9:30pm and arriving at 5 or 6am in the morning. Since we are unable to find a seat on a day bus to Teluk Intan, we buy a ticket for a 9:45am bus to KL. We'll try to get on a bus to Teluk Intan once we're in KL.

After that we walk to the Arab Street area, where after having had a small thing in a soya shop, we walk a bit around. I visit the Malay Heritage Centre and the Masjid Sultan Singapura mosque (very nice from outside), while Shirley does some shopping. The area around the mosque is also quite interesting.

Around 1pm we take a taxi to the Marina bay, to the place where there is the Lion snake statue spitting water. We spend some time there, then at 1:40pm fetch the metro to Orchard road, Somerset station (which we reach at 2pm). Shirley wants to buy something in a shopping complex there. After some shopping, we have some food in a restaurant, then I check my emails in an Internet café. Around 4pm we are back in the metro, this time heading to the Harbour Front station, from where we want to get the cable car to Mt Faber.

At the cablecar ticket counter there is a long queue and just one open counter, with a very slow employee. We have to wait for 15 minutes to finally buy the ticket for the cablecar (18 S$ for two - overpriced actually). The cablecar trip turns out to be a bit disappointing, because it is very short and Mt Faber is a small hill with a not to great view of Singapore (it is not like Victoria peak in Hong Kong).

At 5:45pm we get back to the hotel, where we arrive at 6:40pm. I have a swim in the quite small hotel pool, then take a taxi to Marina bay to get some more shots of the business district in the evening, all this while Shirley takes a rest. At the Esplanade there are some events, because today it's Christmas. There is a concert with some Singapore girls singing German Xmas songs (!).

At 8:20pm I'm back and we go to Japanese restaurant of the hotel. The bill turns out to be surprisingly high, considering that we took only a soup and a drink each. After that the day is basically over, because we are both quite tired.

25.12: Singapore -> Teluk Intan
Hotel: at our in-laws
Weather: sunny with some clouds in Singapore in the morning. Some rain in Malaysia, but mostly dry and partially cloudy.

We get up early at 7:30am, in order to be able to catch the 9:45am bus to KL. After checking out, at 9:10am we take a taxi to the Golden Mile complex where we bought the bus tickets yesterday. The bus leaves from there a bit before 10am. Half an hour later we are at the SIngapore immigration, then we go through the Malaysia immigration. At 10:50am the bus finally leaves the Malaysian immigration and drives to KL.

We arrive in KL at the Pudu Raya bus station at 4:15pm, and immediately check for buses to Teluk Intan. There is one at 5pm, but by the time we try to get the tickets it's already full. So we get tickets for a 6pm bus, and then go for some food to the nearby KFC restaurant. After checking my emails in an adiacent Internet cafe it's time to board the bus.

By the way, the Pudu Raya bus station in KL is a major SHIT HOLE. It's an unbelievably dirty and smelly place, which is also extremely hot, because there are only some fans but no A/C and all buses below keep their engines running and emit very hot air and diesel exhaust fumes - which find their way to the upper level, where the passengers have to wait. Unbelievable that after all these years the local government hasn't found the funds to clean up this place, install A/C and air filters. But perhaps the best idea would be to simply tear down everything and rebuild it from scratch.

It takes over three hours to reach Teluk Intan and in fact we are there at 9:30pm, because the bus left KL with some delay. At our in-laws Alissia is waiting for me (haven't seen her for over a month).

26.12: Teluk Intan
At our in-laws in Teluk Intan
Weather: quite hot, dry, no rain, partially cloudy

Day spent not doing much. I finally find the time to download all email to the computer and reply to all emails (some were on hold since I left Germany). In the afternoon Shirley brings me to a friend, where the lady applies a facial skin treatment (creams, massage etc.).

27.12: Teluk Intan, in the afternoon return trip to the Cameron Highlands
At our in-laws in Teluk Intan
Weather: hot, partially cloudy/sunny in Teluk Intan. Sky mostly overcast in the Cameron Highlands and it rains for about 10 minutes; not cold despite the altitude (2000m asl)

I get up at 9am, have breakfast and check my emails. Around 11am I decide to visit the Cameron Highlands after checking a map and realising that they are only 80-90 km away. We organise a taxi which will bring us there leaving at 1pm; cost is 170 RM for the return trip.

We then drive into town where I withdraw some cash, we have lunch and do some shopping. A bit after 1pm we leave for the Cameron Highlands.

At 3:10pm we are at the Bharat tea plantations where we make a stop. It starts raining almost immediately, so we wait at the cafe, where we have some tea. At 4pm we drive to the next place, the Butterfly farm, where they also have a collection of weird insects (leaf insects, stick insects, huge beatles etc.). It takes half an hour to reach the Butterfly farm, which is after Brinchang. We are there until almost 5pm, then drive back to Teluk Intan. After a few stops for taking photos we reach the in-laws home at 7:15pm. In the evening we have a dinner in a cafe.

28.12: Teluk Intan -> KL
Cititel Hotel, Midvalley shopping complex, KL. Tel. +60-3-22961188, www.cititelhotel.com. 160 RM for a tiny room with a bed, table, chair, TV, fridge, phone, small bath with hot shower (not enough space in the shower to have a proper shower). No cupboard fot clothes. This room is overpriced at 160 RM because it is very small and the hotel is far away from town. I have to stay here, because my wife doesn't want to stay in downtown KL, but the hotel sucks. Room is definitely too small for two people with a baby - we ask for a baby bed and they are unable to provide one. We try to change to a larger deluxe room for 235 RM, but these room are all fully booked. The room sucks, sucks and sucks again. Impossible to take a shower properly unless you are a thin dwarf.
Weather: tropically warm, mostly overcast sky with some sunshine every now and then. No rain.

In the morning I don't do much, then manage to be ready by 1pm after a brief lunch with -just for a change- chicken rice. We leave at 1:05pm by taxi (Teluk Intan - KL is a very reasonable 120 RM, given that the distance is 190 Km; the car is a 20 years old Mercedes Benz) and reach the Cititel hotel around 3:30pm. After that we check in, complain about the room, but end up staying here because there is no alternative. We spend the whole day in the hotel and the attached shopping complex. In the evening we have a dinner in the Sushi King restaurant  in the lower level floor of the Midvalley shopping complex (food is not good).

29.12 - 2.1: KL -> Bangkok -> Munich
Cititel Hotel in KL until Jan. 1st, Ebina House Hotel in Bangkok for the night from Jan. 1st to 2nd (1600 Baht for a room with bath, A/C, fridge, telephone, TV etc. Less luxurious than the Rama Gardens, but breakfast included and cheaper; transfer to and from the airport (15 min.) included.
Weather: in KL mostly overcast with very little sun, in Bangkok sunny with no clouds; tropically warm and humid

I spend the last days in KL not doing much. On January 1st the Air Asia flight AK 884 from KL to Bangkok is delayed by four hours (22:30 instead of 18:45). Unlikely I will fly again with this airline. On January 2nd the Thai flight TG 924 leaves at 14:15 instead of 13:30 (apparently it has been merged with a Lufthanse flight, although the in-flight personnel is Thai). I am finally back in Munich at 10:10pm. Everything seems fine...

Copyright 2005 Alfred Molon