Step by Step Guide to Open Booking of Flats

Hi, I’m YQ from YQtravelling.

I’m a new citizen in Singapore.

I’m single and 35 years old. This means I can get a subsidized flat from HDB–Housing Development Board.

I tried my luck during a round of Open Booking of Flats in September 2021 and successfully got a queue number.

Read on to find out how I did it and if I accepted the flat.

What is Open Booking of Flats?

Open Booking of Flats is one of the ways you can get a flat directly from HDB.

Open Booking of Flats is the leftover flats from Build-to-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance of Flats.

OBF opens two times a year–March and September. I managed to catch the one in September 2021.

Before you even start your process

Before the Open Booking of Flat, you want to get your HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) Letter If you’re planning to get a loan from HDB.

I was very lucky that my HLE letter was approved the weekend before the Open Booking of Flat exercise.

Do note there’s a difference between a HLE letter for a new flat and for a resale.

I had initially applied for a resale (which caused a bit of a problem during the selection of flat at HDB).

Once or before you have your letter (which you will need if you do have the queue number to head down), find out which flats are leftover for this round of OBF.

I’m unfortunately in the C-word era so many flats developments are stalled and the ones available for OBF for singles haven’t been finished yet.

The leftover flats have lower floors and a very tight ethnic quota. So the houses that I can buy are not very ideal.

But I did manage to look around and found one in Yishun that I would consider.

The worst part was that even the earliest I could get my keys was late 2022. (And that’s being optimistic.)

You can filter the houses according to race and time.

But the flats are definitely very cheap. The one I looked at was only about $110,000–but prices can change depending on the location.

On the day of Open Booking of Flats, you want to have your Singpass app and PayNow payment ready because you’ll need them.

I was already camping at the website at 11.50pm. I think many people had the same idea since the computer hung for many minutes.

When midnight came, I tried logging in my desktop and it didn’t move. I hopped on to my phone but it was very difficult to navigate. So I went back to my computer and by that time, it was 12.06am when I logged in.

Most of the details you need to fill in are those that were from the HLE letter application. You can also use an easy “Retrieve my Info with Singpass” to fill in parts of the form.

I did finally get a queue number and I heaved a sigh of relief.

It was 00195 and the queue was for the next day at 3.45pm.

Before going to HDB to pick your flat

You will need to track which flats are sold out before heading over.

Have a list of which flat units you are ok with so you can actually pick when you’re there.

I knew that I was only considering Yishun Glen (and I didn’t want it that much neither.)

Documents to prepare

Here are the items they require:

  • Identity card(s) of all person(s) listed in your application (bring a copy too)
  • Income documents for latest 3 or 6 months (depending on your nature of employment) — bring 12 months of payslip and CPF contributions
  • Option Fee (payable by NETS)

It’s C-vid season now so don’t bring too many people to HDB with you.

Wait for your queue number and put your option feed down for the flat.

My final decision

At first I planned to put $500 option fee down to “book” a unit while I hunted for resale flats.

Then the HDB lady said that should I decide to pull out, I won’t be able to buy a new house for a whole year.

So I decided not to take the flat this time.

I still have a choice of Sale of Balance of Flats in November, and also looking for a resale unit.

Wish me luck on my house hunting!

How to create Instagram Reels in Singapore

I use Instagram a lot for my woo-woo side hustle @yqmagic previously Tarot Singapore Online.

Since Instagram announced Reel in August 2020, I’ve been waiting not-very patiently for it to come to Singapore.

It’s still not here yet as I write this in September 2021.

But I found a “hack” to create Reel accidentally.

I have a Creator account for @yqmagic. It’s an account type for influencers (lol, am I one). It’s recommended if you want to “[c]onnect with your audience and build your personal brand on Instagram.”

I’ve tried duplicating the steps with my other Instagram accounts. But they don’t work. So I’m not sure what’s happening. (Maybe Instagram really thinks I’m an influencer and is giving me access early.

Accessing the Reel camera in Singapore

Because it’s not officially in Singapore yet, there’s no way to select the Reel camera in the usual interface.

You’ll want to go directly to a Reel, for example my Reel of a rainy 5am.

Or find a creator who has posted their Reel, and hopefully this shows up. Click the link to Watch Full Reel.

You’ll then have access to the full Reel and the Reel camera.

Click on the Camera and you’ll have the Reel interface.

After posting your first Reel, you’ll get the Reel tab too. But non-Reel user won’t be able to access it.

Let me know in the comments if it works for you.

I was in the papers today! Not for what you think it is.

On Tuesday, the Malaysian railway company announced that it was launching a new service called Shuttle Tebrau which will link Woodlands Station to JB Sentral.

A reporter from local broadsheet Straits Times found me through my most popular post and wanted to ask for my comments on the new service. Thankfully, I caught his e-mail in time as my e-mail notification pinged while I was staring at my phone.

I prepared for the interview by reading on the background of the new service. I even jotted down “juicy” quotes that would make me look slightly unhinged but endearingly colorful to the audience.

The reporter called and we had a 12-minute chat during which I sounded bipolar. I was totally against the service at one point, talking passionately about its cons but at another point, I discovered its merits. I couldn’t make up my mind.

Still, the reporter summed it up in two sentences and made me look like a very practical traveller (which I am).

I did request that he use “travel blogger” as my job title as “marketing exec” seems like a totally irrelevant commenter on this subject. He obliged. Thank you, good sir.

Liau Yun Qing in the news as travel blogger
My sister sent this this morning.

The report came out on Page A2 on Straits Times and also on My Paper. I can now officially say that I was on the news as a travel blogger. 

You can read the full report and my not-juicy quotes on My Paper “New JB-Woodlands train service from July 1”.

Shanghai: My first solo trip destination

I’ll be travelling to Shanghai this long weekend. Thought of bumping up this old post that talks about my first solo trip.

YQtravelling

Prompt #2: When, where, what, and with who is the story of your travel origin?

I used to hate travelling when I was a kid. I didn’t like that I couldn’t sleep in my bed. I didn’t like having to meet strange new adults whom my mother seem to know.

I rarely went for any sleepovers while I grew up so I ended up terribly homesick in the first year in university. Almost every evening, I would secretly cry in my room.

It was a tough time. Then I decided to end it. Enough was enough. Crying is a tiring business and I really need to stop.

So I did. I stopped crying for home and decided to enjoy life.

My very first solo trip was when I was on student exchange in the second half of my second year at university. I was studying in the south of China…

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Top 5 cities to go for its food during long weekends in 2016 (Singapore travellers)

Have you heard the good news? Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has announced 2016’s public holidays.

The news outlets reported that there will be six long weekends in 2016. But if your workplaces gives you off-in-lieu for Saturday public holidays (not all companies do), you actually have eight long weekends (nine if you take leave on 8 August, Monday).

2016 long weekend singapore yqtravelling

I really love weekend travels. Even though this means that my trip is short, I don’t want to use my work leave. I’m a hoarder even when it comes to annual leave.

If you are planning to go for more weekend travels in 2016, I recommend these locations to go for their yummy yummy food.

Ipoh, Malaysia

I would visit Ipoh again and again for its food. It might not be as famous as Penang for its local food but that little town serves really good chicken.

Ipoh Beansprout chicken
Beansprout chicken feast in Ipoh.

How to reach Ipoh from Singapore: 

Long-distance bus (7 to 8 hours)
Several bus companies run Singapore – Ipoh routes.

Train (6 + 2 hours + waiting time)
You can take the night train from Singapore/Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur. From KL, there is high-speed train to Ipoh, but the price isn’t budget friendly.

Airplane (1 hour 35 minutes)
Firefly and Tigerair has flights between Singapore and Ipoh. Remember to research on the timing.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Pronounced as “Jogjakarta”, the town on the Java Island is home to gorgeous historical sites such as Borobudur and Prambanan. But the food is fantastic too.

Nasi gudeg Jogja
Nasi gudeg

I was deceived by nasi gudeg the first time I ate it. I thought the dish had a surprisingly generous serving of beef boiled so soft that I don’t have to chew it like a cow. Later found out that the “beef” is actually young jackfruit. I was disappointed but it’s still a very tasty dish.

mie nusantara siomay
Mie and siomay

I also had the best mie while in Yogyakarta. It was in a noodle shop inside the main shopping mall. The noodles were springy and seasoned lightly with soy sauce.

How to reach Yogyakarta from Singapore: 

Airplane (2 hours 15 minutes)
AirAsia flies to Yogyakarta at a rather good timing. But the flight back leaves in the morning which is annoying.

If you find the flight timing for Yogyakarta terrible, your second best choice is Jakarta since it is the capital. There you can drink all the avocado juice you like.

Bangkok, Thailand

I went to Bangkok for my birthday in April, spending a three-day weekend there. I ate normal stuff like pad thai, I didn’t eat enough food. I still haven’t tried Mango Sticky Rice.

Pad Thai
Pad Thai

How to reach Bangkok from Singapore: 

Airplane (2 hours 25 minutes)
Loads of budget airlines fly from Singapore to Bangkok. Pick those with good departure and return timings so you can maximize your trip.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

When I was in university staying in the dorm, my Vietnamese neighbors would cook with fish sauce. The potent smell wasn’t to my taste so I avoided Vietnamese food.

Then I went to Vietnam and I discovered that fish sauce is kind of like durian–stinky when you smell it but delicious when you taste it. I also discovered many other deliciousness that doesn’t involve fish sauce.

Vietnamese Pho

Vietnamese Pho

Declious banh mi in Saigon
Declious banh mi (Vietnamese baguette)  in Saigon

Extremely addictive Vietnamese Coffee.
Extremely addictive Vietnamese Coffee.

How to reach Ho Chi Minh from Singapore: 

Airplane: (2 hours 5 minutes)
Loads of budget airlines fly from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh. As usual, pick those with good departure and return timings so you can maximize your trip.

Shanghai, China

I would travel to Shanghai for just a weekend so I can eat the food. In fact, I’m doing it at the end of May.

My tongue still longs for the taste of shengjianbao: dumplings fried on one side ’til crispy. Take a bit and the soup flows out so you have to slurp it up fast. After two slurps, you can eat the meat along with the crunchy part.

The most delicious tiny buns/dumplings: shengjianbao
The most delicious tiny buns/dumplings: shengjianbao

小笼包 (xiao long bao)
Can you look at these delicate 小笼包 (xiao long bao) and not feel like licking your screen?

The home-cooked style restaurants in Shanghai are fantastic too. The soups come in porcelain basins and the servings are gigantic. I loved Grandma’s Place (a chain restaurant) when I was in Shanghai.

A feast at Grandma's Place.
A feast at Grandma’s Place.

How to reach Shanghai from Singapore: 

Airplane (5 hours 25 minutes direct)
Choosing a plane with a good timing is critical. I am taking Malaysian Airlines so I will reach Shanghai early at 7:30am on my first day and leave at 2pm-ish on my last day.

Another good alternative is Taiwan if you don’t want to fly that far to Shanghai.

Check out all the Weekend Travels posts:

 

 

YQtravelling with mom

Mother’s Day is this weekend. Pamela from Pam Goes Traveling has a Mother’s Day feature and my guest post is in it: Mothers’ Day Special – Travel with Mum featuring YQ.

yq mom epheseus fb

Besides reminiscing my travels with my mother, I also share tips on how to survive a trip with  your mother (as in the plural “you”). You should also check out the previous guest blogger on Pamela’s website, Agnes, who has really good tips on how to travel with your mother.

Read the full Mother’s Day feature on Pam Goes Traveling.

Side-trip to Kamakura, Japan

(I had this blog post in my draft since July 2, 2013. I’ve decided to just post this up despite the lack of text. A picture speaks a thousand words, I guess.)

Act I: Reaching town

The trip to Kamakura in 2012 was totally impromptu. I was planning to head to Yokohama with my N’EX and Suica package but changed my mind when I saw that the ticket covers Kamakura.

Despite being a city person, I love old towns more than cities. The trip to Kamakura from the airport was quite long. I fell asleep on the train.

The sky was cloudy when I reached. It took me a while to find an empty locker to store my luggage.

Continue reading “Side-trip to Kamakura, Japan”

YQtravelling is back in business… Whatever business is

Hey folks,

Remember last year when I hadn’t been travelling much? Not really? Well, my bad since I didn’t write that much about it.

I’m happy to announce that I will be travelling more frequently in the coming months. Hurray!

Continue reading “YQtravelling is back in business… Whatever business is”

Why we need a travel role model

This Friday, I’m flying to Ho Chi Minh city and travelling to My Tho for my friend Nguyen’s wedding.

Nguyen is a very important person in my journey to being an independent travelling woman. I can’t find a right term to describe her impact in my travelling life but the closest I can get is “travel role model”.

Nguyen and I met while I was on exchange at Xiamen University in China. She was in graduate school while I was an exchange student who was supposed to take journalism and advertising classes.

I was the first batch of exchange students at Xiamen University. There was another guy who was in Engineering so we had different classes. The staff at Xiamen University didn’t know how to handle exchange students so they dumped me at the Overseas Education College.

It was a complete mess. Instead of being assigned to real lectures, they expected me to take random classes for the students who were there to learn about the Chinese language and culture. Eventually, I sorted out half of the problem and had to solve the rest of the problem by taking extra modules back in Singapore.

But thank to the mess, I met Nguyen. I took a totally random class on singing and met her there. She was extroverted and joked with the teacher a lot. I’m quite the opposite.

At the end of the class, I invited myself to her dinner. She graciously accepted my self-invite.

Continue reading “Why we need a travel role model”

How to use improv to survive Chinese New Year reunion

Hi folks, I’m flying home for the Chinese New Year holidays today!  So I thought I would leave you with a Chinese New Year-related post.

You might know from my Facebook post that I’ve been taking improv classes with The Improv Company (Facebook). I want to share my improv love with tips on how you can use improv to survive Chinese New Year. (I don’t mean hiding in your room watching improv all day on Youtube.)

Some of you might know about improv from Whose Line is it Anyway . While improv is very fun and entertaining, did you know that you could apply improv skills in real life? This branch of improv is called applied improv and is useful for the workplace and life in general.

Continue reading “How to use improv to survive Chinese New Year reunion”