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!

Self defense for women travelling alone: Household items edition

spray bottle of self defense

Safety is a very important issue when travelling and even more so for women travelling alone. While you might think that you need to sign up for karate course, actually there are other ways of self-defense that doesn’t require you to be physical.

I do many things when I am abroad to be safe. Before my trip, I read up on dangerous places and avoid them. During my trip, I am aware of my environment and I get the hell out of a place when I feel unsafe.

I also take precaution and arm myself when I go out on the streets. No, I don’t mean taking a gun but taking everyday things that can be used as a weapon. Fortunately, I never had the chance to test of my “weapons” would work in a real threat.

Here are some of the unconventional ways I used to protect myself.

Deodorant spray/ hair spray/ medicated oil as pepper spray

Spray bottle
Spray bottle

Did you know that pepper sprays are prohibited in Singapore? That’s why I don’t have any of it for self defense. Luckily, other daily items can be used as an alternative.

During my very first solo trip in China, I wanted to take a walk in Suzhou at night but I didn’t have company. I looked around my bag and saw that I had a small bottle of medicated oil.

I uncapped the bottle and held it in my palm during my walk. I practiced in my head how I would give the bottle a good flick of the wrist so that the oil would sting the assailant’s eyes.

Bottle of medicated oil
Bottle of medicated oil

You can also use small spray cans to double as pepper spray. Travel-sized deodorant work well too and can leave a scent mark in case you need to identify the baddie.

Pen as stabbing object

Sometimes I hold a pen with its pointy side out (kind of like Buffy) when I am walking alone. I would visualize how I could use the pen to stab any strangers that mean to harm me. Thank goodness I haven’t poked my eye out this way.

[Edit: Works with a key too as pointed out by Ana in the comments.]

Umbrella as a club or eye-poker

An umbrella is a very basic weapon that has many other functions. I carry an umbrella to protect myself against sun or rain but also for protection.

A closed umbrella can be used as a stick to beat off animals. The pointy ends of an open umbrella can be used to poke bad people in the eye but you will need a good aim for that.

Bag of fruits as weighted bag

On one of the nights in San Francisco, I was walking back to the hostel at an hour that I would usually be in. Heck, I’m usually back in the hostel before sundown in case of any bad incidents.

I didn’t have anything that I could use to fend off any possible attackers. The only thing heavy enough that I had was a mesh bag of oranges which I bought from San Jose. A bag of orange in hand is better than a club nowhere.

So I held on to the mesh bag and practiced swinging it like a lasso. The oranges felt heavy enough to cause damage to any assailant that might be stupid enough to come near me.

Of course, I didn’t consider what I would do if the bad guy had a gun.

Whistle as loud noise maker

Some time ago, Debbie pointed this tip from Legal Nomad’s Jodi about bringing a whistle when travelling. Since then, I try to remember to bring a whistle when I travel.

I have only used it once in Egypt when a vendor kept trying to block my way to show me his ware. I acted like a crazy lady and blew on my whistle. He got the message.

Still, my whistle is a sports whistle from the two-dollar shop so I’m not that sure if it would work sending sounds far.

Flashlight as surprise blinding light

I keep a flashlight on my day pack when I travel, this is useful to light up the interior of my bag as well as dark streets. But it’s also useful when you have a strong light that you can shine into an attacker’s eyes and hopefully blind the person momentarily.

Share how you stay safe when travelling:

Well, those are some of the strange things I have used as self-defense when travelling. Do you have other tips to share?

More information:

Around the world with The Overexposed Model

around the world with overexposed model

There’s a side of me on the internet that I’ve not shared on YQ Travelling, until today.

Back in December 2012 when I was in Singapore, I created a Tumblr called The Overexposed Model (OEM) to record ads which I’ve come across that feature an ambiguously raced young lady.

The tumblr was actually a follow up of a blog with a similar goal. The blog was called The Overexposed Big Mouth Model but it disappeared when I was trying to submit my sightings.

Since OEM was in so many ads as the generic smiling women, I thought it was fun to chronicle my discoveries. I shared the blog link with a few friends but I mostly kept it as a semi-private collection.

Then one day, a freelancer from the Phillipines asked if he could interview me about the blog as part of a feature on the model. I can now honestly say that I was in Esquire Philippines (or something like that), however not as a bikini model.

In March, the Singapore media ran out of story ideas and featured The Overexposed Model in various print and web outlets. Some readers started submitting their own sightings of OEM to the tumblr. I put those up too.

Naively, I thought that the tumblr will hibernate while I go on my four-month journey. I still keep seeing OEM.

In the beginning, it was fun spotting OEM but now it feels kind of like a nightmare. Each time I see her, there’s less giddy surprise and more “NOT AGAIN!” Of course, I still obediently take out my camera and snap her photos.

Overexposed Model in Malaysia

OEM selling ulcer medication in Sabah, Malaysia.
OEM selling ulcer medication in Sabah, Malaysia.

My first overseas sighting of OEM was back home in Sabah in a clinic. She was in a ulcer medication ad.

Overexposed Model in Greece

Overexposed Model in an optician ad in Athens, Greece.
Overexposed Model in an optician ad in Athens, Greece.

In Greece, I found OEM hawking glasses in Athens.

Overexposed Model in Argentina

Overexposed Model in Buenos Aires airport
Overexposed Model in Buenos Aires airport

I thought I was safe from OEM but I found her at Buenos Aires airport, selling some sort of travel card.

Overexposed Model in Peru

Overexposed Model on Cruz del Sur website.
Overexposed Model on Cruz del Sur website.

I found her on a bus company’s website, ready to go for an unplanned weekend travel.

Overexposed Model in a clinic ad in Arequipa, Peru.
Overexposed Model in a clinic ad in Arequipa, Peru.

In Arequipa, in a lonely building, I found her in a life size printout. I thought I should stand next to her to prove that I spotted her.

Overexposed Model in the papers in Peru.
Overexposed Model in the papers in Peru.

Then I saw her again in the papers.

Overexposed Model in San Salvador

Overexposed Model in a pharmacy ad in San Salvador
Overexposed Model in a pharmacy ad in San Salvador

When I was out window shopping, I saw her outside a supermarket.

I don’t think I will ever get used to seeing OEM in an ad. It’s funny how she’s featured in so many different countries. Does her looks makes her the everyday person of the countries she’s been featured?

Have you seen the Overexposed Model? Share where you’ve seen her in the comments below.