Free things to do in Changi Airport

I blame my stinginess to being a Taurus. I love bargains and cheap buys. But most of all, I LOVE free things.

For this fortnight’s Travel Local series, I’ll be sharing some of the free things you can do in Changi Airport right after you land (or before you fly off)!

(Most of these are available in the posher terminals and might not be present at the budget terminal where airlines such as Tiger Airways leave.)

Changi Airport lost to Hong Kong International Airport for Best Airport 2011. I’ve not been to HK’s airport but can it really beat all the free stuff you can get at Changi?

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Upcoming trip: KL light bulb trip

I’ve bought a return trip ticket to KL for the Feb 11 weekend. This will be my first time taking the overnight train in Malaysia.

I named the trip the “KL light bulb trip” because I’m joining N and her boyfriend (whom I’ve not met) who are both coming in from overseas. “Light bulb” in colloquial Chinese means a third person among a couple. (Coincidentally, my first overnight train trip in China was with N.)

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Skip JR Pass, take long distance night bus

During my first trip to Japan in 2008, I bought a 7-Day Japan Rail Pass–JR Pass which currently costs 28,300 yen/US$ 367.90–and took the Shinkansen from Fukuoka to Tokyo, stopping in the Kansai region for sightseeing.

While the Shinkansen was speedy and comfortable, I decided not to buy the JR Pass during my last trip to Japan in October for four reasons

  1. JR Pass is really expensive even for one person, imagine splurging for two.
  2. We were in Japan for a 10-day trip and the JR Pass came in only 7-Day, 14-Day and 21-Day form so it wasn’t economically wise.
  3. We only planned to visit the Kansai region. If we were travelling a lot farther, I might have gotten the JR Pass or flew.
  4. By travelling by bus at night, I could save on accomodation but still get to my destination. My cheapest accomodation during the trip was my Tokyo stay at 5,300yen a night while Kyoto’s was 7,980 yen.

Read: Round the world with NT$100,000

Great book: Round the World with NT$100,000

This was the book that inspired my round-the-world trip dreams. By inspired, I mean “to really make plans” instead of just jotting it down in my mental bucket list. I actually borrowed it twice from the library.

Long story short, Taiwanese indie traveller 943 shares how she went on a RTW in 80 days by only spending slightly more than NT$100,000 (US$3,340). She used point-to-point flights instead of a RTW ticket.

She flew from Taipei to Singapore to Europe (overnight at Bahrain) where she hopped around a bit. Then she flew to the US then to Central and South America where she took long distance buses. She then flew back to US where she flew home to Taipei.

I think it’s absoluteley brilliant that anyone can do a RTW with less than US$10,000! Speaking of which, here are a few examples of how much other people spent on a RTW.

From what I’ve read, she mostly saves money on lodging (which is a killer!) by bunking with Couchsurfers. She also does her research to make sure that she’s using the cheapest transportation. It’s chock full of indie travel gems if you read Chinese. Besides being full of tips, her book is quite humorous. I laughed at many parts.

During her Central and South America trip, she deliberately not learn Spanish beyond numbers 1 to 10 and the word for toilet (baño–pronounced ban-nyo, if you are interested). Instead, she experimenting if she could get by with body language. Apparently, it worked.

Other travel related tips that I really like from her book are her sample Word and Excel files for pre-trip flight/accomodation/transport comparison, during-trip schedule. I’ll be testing out both tips for my trip to Yogyakarta in April and share how that tip helps me.

I’d totally buy this book if I see it on offer. Yes, I am that cheapskate.

How to peel a mango

My mom was peeling mangos one day and I thought it would make a good blog post since it’s one of the best tropical fruits around.

Wikipedia told me that the “hedgehog” style is a common way to eat mangoes. But I can assure you, none of the people I know actually eat it that way. (Trust us, we have mango trees in our yards.)

I’m going to teach you another way of peeling a mango. Using this method, you are able to eat two different parts of the mango: the juicy flesh and the fibrous flesh around the stone.

You will need:

    Ripe mangoes
    A knife
    A spoon
    Bowl for peeled mango

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399 days to my round-the-world trip

I use a Web app called “Countdown to Disney” to track how many days there are left to my round-the-world trip.

But I must admit. I have not done much in preparation of my round the world trip, except thinking up which locations I want to go and telling people who are willing to listen that I am going on a round the world trip.

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Peeling Chinese water chestnuts easily

Did you know that you can peel water chestnuts easily with a fruit peeler? Well, I didn’t and only found out after I peeled at least 9 using my finger nails and a small knife.

This is how it all began. I was tasked to peel the water chestnuts for this Chinese New Year eve’s reunion dinner. My mom gave me instructions but I forgot them when she left.

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Shopping for vintage clothing in Kota Kinabalu

If you are planning a trip to Kota Kinabalu (or KK–pronounced “keh keh” locally instead of “kay kay” the non-local way–for short), you probably would have sun, sea, mountain in mind instead of vintage clothing.

OK OK, I’m stretching it a lot when I say vintage, it should be second hand clothing.

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Going home for the new year

Happy Chinese New Year! AirAsia gave me some surprise angpow packets–nice touch considering it’s a budget airline.
I found the staff canteen at Terminal 1 of Changi Airport. Food here is local and cheaper than the restaurants at the airport. (Actually, airport food here isn’t as inflated as other countries.)
I’ll be home for a week to rest/eat/spend time with family. To be honest, I didn’t bring any new clothes with me (not that I have much to begin with). The red (festive) dress I have with me is about three years old!!

5 free touristy things to do in Singapore

Flag Day

Unlike its neighbor countries, Singapore–my current adopted country–can be a lot more expensive if you factor in the currency exchange.

If you’re on a stopover here heading to Thailand/Indonesia and do not want to break your budget holiday streak, here’s a list of 5 touristy things you can do for free on this sunny island.

When I say touristy, I don’t mean it in a negative way such as “This is not what a local would do so it’s not an authentic experience.” I actually wish more people would get around and do some of the stuff because travelling doesn’t only mean getting away.

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