• Singapore

Sin1 Sin2 Sin3

 

Singapore is a country with unique features blending modern civilization with traditions and culture from different ethnic groups; Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian. A dynamic city rich in contrast and color, you’ll find a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture here. Brimming with unbridled energy, this little dynamo in Southeast Asia embodies the finest of both East and West. Singaporeans are passionate about food and eating. In almost every corner of the island, you will find an endless variety of food, served hot or cold, at any hour of the day. In this cosmopolitan and multicultural city, you can experience an endless journey from fine dining to street dining offering flavors from all over the world. Nightlife is also an experience on its own, whether you are looking for a pub to enjoy a glass of tiger beer or an entertainment complex.

LOCATION

Located at one of the crossroads of the world, its geographical location is 136.8 km north of the equator, between latitudes 103 degrees 38′ E and 104 degrees 06′ E. It is linked to Malaysia by two causeway bridges, and the key islands of the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia are just a quick ferry trip away. Singapore, with an airport served by more than 69 airlines, is very much the gateway to Southeast Asia.

PLACES OF INTEREST

Singapore itself is a destination that one must visit, let alone the many sights and activities it has to offer. Some of the favorites would be; the world class Singapore Zoo with over 240 species of animal to view and its famous Night Safari or Breakfast with the Animals; Sentosa Island with its huge range of activities and attractions for the whole family including Universal Studios; the three Quays along the Singapore River that offer all the food and night life one could ever dream of; Orchard Road is the shoppers dream – with almost endless shopping malls it will satisfy the most discerning shopper; and finally Bukit Timah Nature Reserve will allow you to get out of the city and view some pristine wilderness and nature trails with wild monkeys climbing through the trees.

WEATHER

The island is warm and humid all year around with average maximum 31 degrees Celsius and minimum 23 degrees Celsius. Rain falls throughout the year with more consistent rain coming during the monsoon season from November to January. Showers are usually sudden and heavy but also brief and refreshing.

IMMIGRATION AND VISA REQUIREMENTS

Generally, foreigners who do not require visas for entry and are visiting Singapore as tourists may be given up to 30-day social visit passes upon their arrival in Singapore. Tourists, however, should have valid passports, onward / return tickets, onward facilities (visas, entry permits, etc) to their next destination and sufficient funds for their stay in Singapore.

For more information on immigration requirements into Singapore, please visit : www.ica.gov.sg

GETTING AROUND

Travelling around Singapore is a cinch! An efficient public transportation network of taxis, buses and the modern Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail system ensures that getting from point A to point B is hassle-free and extremely affordable.

LANGUAGE

There are four official languages in Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. English is the language of business and administration, and is widely spoken and understood. Most Singaporeans are bilingual, and speak their mother tongue as well as English. Malay is the national language.

MONEY AND BANKING

The local currency is Singapore dollars and cents. Notes come in denominations of SGD $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, and $10,000, while coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and SGD 1.

Banking hours are : Mondays to Fridays: 1000 hrs to 1500 hrs. Saturdays: 0930 hrs to 1300 hrs (some banks are open until 1500 hrs) Sundays: 0930 hrs to 1500 hrs (some banks in Orchard Road).

Most banks handle travelers’ checks and change foreign currencies. However, some banks do not have foreign exchange dealings on Saturdays.

Passports are required when cashing in traveler’s checks A nominal commission may be charged.

POST OFFICE

Singapore Post operates a network of more than 1,300 postal outlets conveniently located throughout the island. These outlets offer a wide range of postal, telecommunication and agency services. Most postal outlets are open Monday through Friday, from 0830 hrs to 1700 hrs and until 1300 hrs on Saturday.

CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR

Light and summer clothing made from natural fabrics like cotton is best for everyday wear. Casual dress is acceptable for most situations and occasions but some establishments may require a more formal dress code. Comfortable walking shoes, sandals are advisable to wear around Singapore.

RELIGION

With its ethnic mix also comes its diverse set of religions. Singapore’s skyline boasts the distinctive minarets of mosques, spires of gothic cathedrals, intricate figurines of Hindu temple gods and distinctive roof architecture of Chinese temples. The main religions are Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism.

EATING OUT AND NIGHT LIFE

Singapore has some of the world’s finest international cuisine and restaurants, at the same time Singapore can offer visitors a chance of eating at the local hawker centers and enjoy a budget meal. Singapore is a place that will cater for all cuisine budgets. Singapore night life can be described as vibrant and exciting with everything from many internationally famous and respected nightclubs through to boutique micro breweries, at the same time one can enjoy your favorite Irish Pub and sports bars. A line of upscale restaurants offer anything and everything from local to Italian, Indian to even Indonesian, Singapore is the haven for satisfying your taste buds. One of the many famous areas for dining is Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, located opposite to each other separated by a river and both host endless choices of restaurants. Dining out in the evening at Clarke Quay is a wonderful experience, combining a delicious meal, sounds of the river boats on the water, colorful lights and an atmosphere that is totally unique.

SHOPPING

Singapore is a shopper’s heaven. Any item can be found in one of the many department stores or along the local markets scattered throughout the country. A good number of department stores and some smaller shops are open daily from 1000 hrs to about 2100 hrs, or even 2200 hrs. Singapore is one of the few countries in the world it is reasonably safe out in the streets even late at night. As long as basic precautions are taken, you can shop in peace. There is always a reason to celebrate discounts throughout the year, but the best and most suitable time to visit Singapore for shoppers are in the month of June-July, when the Great Singapore Sale is on!

Mustafa Centre in Little India is the only department store in Singapore that is open 24 hours a day, every day!

DRINKING WATER

It is perfectly safe to drink water straight from the tap in Singapore. However, for those who prefer bottled mineral water, local supermarkets and grocers usually carry a sizeable selection.

SMOKING

Smoking is not permitted in public service vehicles, museums, libraries, lifts, theatres, cinemas, air-conditioned restaurants, hair salons, supermarkets, department stores and government offices. Offenders can be fined up to SGD 1,000. While it is an offence to smoke in air-conditioned eating places, smoking is permitted in air-conditioned pubs, discos, karaoke bars and nightspots.

More information on Singapore can be retrieved from www.visitsingapore.com

  • Timor-Leste

Timor1 Timor2 Timor3

 

Timor-Leste is known as Asia’s newest nation, located in the bio-geographically diverse area of Wallacea, a unique area between South East Asia and Australia. Timor-Leste is a small nation that only has an area of 14,000 sq/Km and a population of 924,000 people; most of whom live and work in rural areas. The Timorese people have been known to offer a warm and friendly welcome to all. Located 2660 km from Singapore it’s within easy reach of some of the best shopping in the world.

Timor actually has a history of human occupation that dates back to 35,000 years ago.
Timor-Leste has some of the most amazing wildlife on Earth including the Tokay Gecko that grow to 30 cm, the very bright Green Tree Pit Viper, Reticulated Pythons that grow to 8 m, over 240 species of bird with some 31 species only seen on Timor and its surrounding islands, an incredible diversity of marine life that is truly world class, this region is actually known to some as “The Amazon of the Seas” even Dolphins and Pilot Whales can be seen on diving trips.

Timor-Leste’s potential existence of undiscovered flora and fauna alone really does make this a great destination to visit. Andisuari Dewi

PLACES OF INTEREST

Timor-Leste has so many amazing and spectacular sights, we cannot fit them all in here, but some of the favorites would be; natural sanctuary of Jaco island with its white sandy beaches and offshore coral fringe, swimming or relaxing on the un spoilt beaches of Dollar Beach and Tutula Beach, visiting the 3,500 year old red ochre drawings at the windswept caves of Ile Kere Kere, Scuba Diving the world class dive sites of Com, Dili Rock, K57 and Ata’uro Island, an adventurous trek on the 2986m Mt Ramelau that soars above the valley below and is the biggest mountain in Timor-Leste and finally the brilliant bird watching areas of Conis Santana N.P. and Tasi-tolu wetlands is a must.

WEATHER

As Timor-Leste is located in the tropics it has two main seasons, the dry season from May to October and the wet season from November to May. Timor-Leste has an average temperature of 19.c in the evening to 30.c during the day. At altitudes above 600m once can expect daytime temperatures to sit around 24.c. As Timor-Leste has mountains exceeding 2500m, one can expect cool temperatures down to 5.c so you should allow for this if embarking on an adventurous mountain trek.

HEALTH

It is strongly recommended to consult a specialist travel clinic (TMVC) to get up to date information on the region 3 to 6 months prior to departure to Timor-Leste. The usual travel precautions to mosquitoes apply to Timor-Leste as does drinking clean bottled / boiled water.

The Australian Embassy has a health clinic established for Australian Passport holders only. For other emergencies one should get in contact with the National Hospital Guido Valadares (Ph 112 Emergencies Only) in the capital Dili. Otherwise there are a number of health clinics and pharmacies open throughout Dili.

For Scuba Divers we strongly recommend divers insurance with D.A.N. (Divers Alert Network) as the closest facilities for diving emergencies are in Darwin, Australia or Denpasar, Bali. Others who choose to undertake day hikes and mountain treks should they carry sufficient water for the trip ahead.

SECURITY

Timor-Leste has had in the past a turbulent history but more recently safety and security have improved. All travelers should be aware that their personal property must be secure, motor vehicles locked, personal possessions secured as should hotel rooms. Advice should be sought when travelling to some areas or locations particularly at night and we recommend you obtain as much information prior to travelling and consult with your government and foreign affairs for up to date advice and information.

GETTING AROUND

It is recommended to use Taxi’s to get around the main town area of Dili. Taxis will usually operate 4km route between the Airport and Dili when flights operate. You can organize mini buses for trips to other parts of Timor-Leste.

There are a few car rental companies and one motorcycle Hire Company established in Dili. Driving in the mountainous inner can prove difficult in the wet season so we recommend discussing this with the hire company beforehand. Consult the UN Mission or UN Police in Dili for more information on driving and general travel outside of Dili.

The new 50m Roh Nakroma ferry does trips to the famous diving and snorkeling island of Ata’uro and other Timor-Leste ports. One can also negotiate a charter speed boat to go to other areas if needed. A number of tour operators exist for both land and sea activities; so please ask us for advice at the time of booking.

LANGUAGE

The official language of Timor-Leste is Portuguese. The local language is Tetum which is a Malayo-Polynesian language. Indonesian and English are also widely spoken. There are various indigenous dialects spoken in Timor-Leste.

IMMIGRATION AND VISA REQUIREMENTS

Welcome to Asia’s newest nation. Visas are required for most international travelers; this can be done on arrival at a charge of US$ 30 for a 30 day visa and if required they can be extended in Dili for US$ 35 for an additional 30 day stay.

RELIGION

Timor-Leste is one of only two countries in Asia with a predominantly Christian population, the other being the Philippines. Roman Catholics make up 91% of the population, with the remainder being Muslim, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist and traditional local minorities.

MONEY AND BANKING

The local currency is the US Dollar. Local centavo coins are used, but these cannot be used outside of Timor-Leste. Credit Cards are accepted in most mid-range to upper-range restaurants and hotels and some large supermarkets. Both ANZ Bank and Western Union have offices in Dili along with BNU and Bank Mandiri. ATM’s can be found in most banks so those wishing to take funds out via Debit/Credit Cards should ensure these cards have Cirrus/Maestro facilities – often on back of cards. ANZ Bank has a number of ATMs in Dili.

POST OFFICE

Timor-Leste’s mail is handled by Correios in Dili. DHL, TNT and FEDEX have offices established in Dili to handle freight.

COMMUNICATIONS

A small number of basic internet cafes exist in Dili with a few offering broadband services, broadband can also be found in the better hotels throughout Dili. Timor Telecom operates the phone services and unlocked mobile phones should be able to accept a Timor Telecom Sim Card with prepaid phone slips. One can also keep in touch with the latest news by listening to Radio Australia on 106.5FM Dili.

Timor-Leste’s country code is 670 and the international access code is 00. The emergency service number is 112.

CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR

Clothing should be cool and comfortable. Conservative dress is recommended for women and nudity by anyone in public places is considered very offensive. Light weight long pants and long sleeve shirts are useful at night to protect exposed skin from mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are known to dislike bright areas so light colour clothing could also be useful. Smart casual is required for most restaurants especially during evening meal service.

Closed light footwear is best for around Dili and solid trekking sandals also be useful, but for walks through the jungle or bush, sturdy shoes are a must. Reef shoes are advisable for snorkelling and diving.

A fleece top and wet weather gear is highly recommended for those wishing to undertake a mountain trek.

EATING OUT AND NIGHT LIFE

Timor-Leste grows one of the finest coffees in the world; the high altitude Arabica Bean with its original flavor characteristic it’s not to be missed. Dili has a local tradition of finding a spot by the beach to watch the sun go down over Alor islands whilst enjoying your favorite beverage.

Dili and its surround have a wide range of international cuisine that is influenced by Portugal, Indonesia, China, Japan, Australia and its other neighbor countries. Australian quality meat can be found and the local Tofu and Tempeh dishes come highly recommended. As one might expect with a Portuguese influence one can find some delicious sweets at the Timorese bakeries.

Dili has many bars with some offering live music and entertainment. We would recommend you get hold of the free publication Guide Post Magazine for all the local information.

SHOPPING

Timor-Leste is widely known for the beautiful local craft of producing Tais (Traditional cloth) – a local product that represents the Timorese identity, Tais is normally woven with fine cotton by hand in many different designs on simple wooden looms.

Dili has a number of supermarkets that stock a wide range of western supplies from Australia and Singapore, local family shops stock the essentials and can be found to be open late into the night.

Head off to the Taibessi Market to find your local products (Tais, wood carvings and other local crafts).

For more information on Timor-Leste please go to :
www.visiteasttimor.com,www.smartraveller.gov.au or www.islandexplorer.com.au