Singapore Expat: Most essential apps to download when you reach the country

Moving to a new city can be fun, exciting and daunting in equal parts. But it helps to know that technology has your back. When we moved here late 2017, we relied heavily on apps and websites to make ourselves feel at home.

If you’ve just moved to Singapore or are just passing through, I guarantee this list right here is gonna be a lifesaver. My husband and I use all these apps on a regular basis, so rest assured these are reviewed and well-loved. This is one of two apps based stories.

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This list includes only the Most Basic and Most Essential apps you will need on arriving in the country. No smartphone in Singapore ought to exist without these all-holy apps. Our second list of Must-Have apps which you can pick and choose depending on your preference.

* this info is relevant as of March 2018. I hope the future me will update the app list! 

Never Get Lost with CityMapper
There’s no use relying on Google Maps in Singapore. What you really really need is CityMapper. Yes, there are other apps to help find your way around like MyTransport and Bus@SG, and I’ve tried them all. But CityMapper comes out on top as a clear winner.

It detects where you are, punch in where you want to go and CityMapper will list out all the possible routes and means of transportation to get there – from bus stops, bus numbers, MRT stations nearby to the exact transit time, which exit to take at the MRT and various heat safe routes. It even notifies you just before your bus stop and tells you which part of the train is emptier. I can’t get over this app!

CityMapper also has a fully functional website which lets you do the same thing.

Con: If I need to walk from the MRT or bus stop, CityMapper shows me the map and directions. Only this bit can get wonky sometimes. Sometimes I’ve got not-so-accurate (longer) routes. To fix it, I usually jump to Google Maps to crosscheck.

Free Internet with Wireless@SGx
Singapore has tons of places that provide free, public access internet to everyone. It’s fast, safe and always functional. Data by telecom providers is rather expensive, so you’re gonna want to download this little app for free internet.

Wireless@SG is is a wireless broadband programme developed by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. If you’re passing by the country, download Wireless@SG where you have to input your number everytime you want to use free public access internet.

If you’re here for a longer time or moving here as an expat, download Wireless@SGx. If you have a local number, you only have to register once and it automatically connects to free public access internet when you’re in range.

Find a flat with 99.co & PropertyGuru
Ah, the dread of the house hunt. Housing hunting can be fun and tiring. If you’re moving here, finding a nice place to live is probably numero uno on your checklist. Apart from FB groups, 99.co and PropertyGuru are the most popular platforms to find rentals. Almost always, the posts are uploaded by agents – which means you might have to pay them one month’s rent as a fee. But sometimes you’ll find homeowners listing their flats too. Both these apps let you call and message the person who uploaded the listing and coordinate conveniently.

Honestly, I’m not sure which of the two platform helped us find our home because we were really really active on both of them. We got lucky because our listing was posted by the homeowner himself, so we didn’t have to pay an agent fee. We just paid the deposit along with the first month’s rent.

There are several new and upcoming websites/apps like hmlet and roommates, but I haven’t really used them. So cannot vouch for them just yet.

Call a cab with Grab & Uber
Singapore is small and has one of the most connected, smooth transport systems. If you want to get somewhere quick or don’t prefer using public transport or are being lazy on a rainy day, then Grab or Uber your way around.
Be nice and use my reference codes that let both of us get free rides. 
Referral Code for Uber: aditig4063ui

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Disclaimer: Not a sponsored post. All views and reviews are mine. 

 

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Pick a Park: How to decompress after work near CBD, Singapore

Tough day at work? Fight that urge to flip your desk and head to the nearest green patch for some fresh air and fresher perspective.

If you’re working in and around CBD, hang on to this list of nearby secret parks and patches to get your zen on.

Note: Ideally, I wanted to use Instagram embeds to show you the parks but WordPress is mean and won’t let me. Since I don’t have actual pictures, we shall have to make do with an assortment of random Singaporean park pictures I took last month. 

Telok Ayer Green
Location: Boon Tat St, Singapore 069620

So, it’s not even noon and the day isn’t going as planned? Take your lunch break at this green pocket sandwiched between two historical structures – the Nagore Durgha Shrine and the Thian Hock Keng temple. With a small water feature and shaded seating covered with vines, this little patch is perfect for quick pacing while you take deep breaths and strategise your next move.
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Good for: Distracting yourself with a history lesson, practising presentations on life-size statues who won’t judge and some quick pacing

Continue reading “Pick a Park: How to decompress after work near CBD, Singapore”

4 Things I Absolutely Love about Singapore

Apart from getting married to D.R.R TrollKill aka the Love of my Life, we made another life-altering decision in 2017. We moved from India to Singapore. And from the word go, we fell in love with this place.

Singapore is a tiny red dot on the world map but it’s big on everything else. This listicle isn’t about fun Singaporean facts or a history lesson (that will come later because who doesn’t love history). It is, however, a lineup of things that make living here truly amazing. We’ve been here for almost three months now and although we have A LOT of exploring to do, we have managed to set up our little nest from scratch. And here’s what we love about this city-state we now call home.
Continue reading “4 Things I Absolutely Love about Singapore”

#Wanderlust: Travelling with an Indian Passport

My New Year Resolution (you can read bits of it here), like every year, is to travel more. But this year, we’re making extra efforts to see this resolution through. I’m writing this post for purely selfish reasons. I’m hoping that by putting abstract ideas into words, it will somehow magically make my resolve stronger and serve as a reminder of sorts. Because let’s face it… resolutions have a nasty reputation for dying a tragic death before the end of Jan.

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If you’re anything like us, I bet you’re feeling a strong sense of wanderlust too (it’s a millennial syndrome). So this year, instead of hashtagging every other picture of your vacay from 2016 with #wanderlust, let’s do something about it. Let’s dream big, plan obsessively, book those non-refundable tickets and discover this third rock from the sun.
Continue reading “#Wanderlust: Travelling with an Indian Passport”

DNA India: How to Travel like a Millennial by Aditi Gaitonde

I am one half of a two member editorial and content development studio called The Short Staff. As a full-time freelance writer and editor, I contribute to a bunch of print and digital publications including DNA India’s DNA Money supplement. Here’s my piece that was published on Mar 3, 2017. Here’s an excerpt and link to the full article.

It’s safe to say that millennials have a perpetual case of wanderlust. The young Indian traveller has evolved from cookie-cutter tours crammed with “touristy” sight seeing. They want more from their holidays than just Instagram-worthy pictures and Facebook check-ins. They want experiences over luxuries, purpose over presentation and stories over stringent itineraries. They want to put to work, leave a mark, get inspired and take away skills and stories.

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Image courtesy The Remote Life

Online travel company Make My Trip’s India Travel Report 2016 revealed that young Indians are the driving force behind the changing travel landscape, and about 66% of the total trips on the website were made by travellers in the age group 18-35 years. Travel entrepreneurs across the country echo the insight but reveal an underlying trend that promises to turn into a movement.

To read the full article, click here.

Postcards from Chor Bazaar, Mumbai

Every photographer worth his/her salt has been here. A bustling corner of Old Bombay, Chor Bazaar is literally translated to Robber’s Market. Allegedly, its original name was Shor Bazaar (Noise Market) but the British couldn’t pronounce it and would end up calling it Chor. Apparently it stuck. Contrary to popular belief (well, with a name like that) it isn’t filled with robbed goods. It’s a crazy busy market where you can find pretty much everything under the sun, from old timey furniture to full sleeve shirts, from “original copies” to real antiques and of course, a few robbed items.

Earlier this year (yes, all these posts are long overdue) I forced myself to wake up at 6.30am on a wretched Saturday and dragged my butt to my very first Insta-walk. Come to think of it, it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a Saturday morning. Most of the market was closed, but the point wasn’t shopping. It was lovely watching a mad market slowly wake up. I think we were there for less than 2 hours, where we saw a sleepy old Bombay come to life. Shops with half shutters still opening their eyes, boys who do odd-jobs waiting around drinking chai, pet goats munching on leaves, stray cats playing hide and seek… it had it all.

Confession. I did shop a little. Bought myself a blue lungi material that I will get stitched into a dress and a “first copy” of Apple headphones for bloody Rs 350. And it’s been over 6 months, still works like a charm!

I wonder how Chor Bazaar looks in the day time, in all its lunatic glory.

I’ve got to do more of these Insta-walks. Have you ever been on one? Would you like to?

I regret not buying this gorgeous tin box
Fresh flowers sold early in the morning 

This beauty was hanging around

Robbed of time

Stone buildings are my favourite. Look at this beauty

It’s too early in the morning to open shop

Iron works

Breakfast prep: Folding samosas for the fryer. This man was a machine. The sheer speed and precision with which he made these stuffed triangles blew my mind

There is just about everything here in Chor Bazaar

Even large cane baskets lying unattended

Like a fortress

These were lying beside a shop. I quietly turned one around and it was a really old portrait of a couple. Before I could react, the shop keeper suushed me away

Not exactly at Crawford Market. But I love this building. Look at the details, the lines and how to perfectly align. They don’t make them this way anymore

This tiny kitten oblivious of her surroundings was playing in-between salvaged items. I tried clicking her quietly but she noticed me. 

There are a lot of old things here. Come to think of it, the few shops that were open only sold old things.

Movie theatre seats. I love them. I also love how Sirawon’s shoe laces are in complete contrast with everything else around it. Such vibrancy

Postcards from Kolkata

I traveled to Kolkata city for 2 days earlier this year. It wasn’t a leisure trip but I did manage to escape for a few hours before my flight out. Hell, I couldn’t leave without trying a few puchkas (Please note: Bombay pani puri is the best. This Kolkata puchka I had was strictly whatever), seeing a tram, watching a boatman row and laying eyes of the Howrah bridge. Quintessentially touristy things that I could cramp in 3 hours.

I was there on work with a few complete strangers. We reach mid-afternoon and ventured out hunting for food. We walked for a good hour and were finally told by some helpful strangers to turn left to go to the famous Chinatown. At 4.30pm on a weekday, Chinatown looked a lot like a war zone – Grey walls as high as 10 feet, doors and windows shut tight, an occasionally biker who wouldn’t stop to help. Finally stumbled into a shady but character-filled typically Chinese restaurant for lunch at 5.30pm.

Next day before we left, we decided to take a long cab ride into the city. We passed through the centre of the city where narrow lanes where overflowing with hand rickshaws, tram tracks and people minding their own business. It is almost trapped in a time capsule and sometimes looks like a scene from a period movie.

I hope I can visit Kolkata again, leisurely this time so that I can wander through streets no one writes about, taste authentic Bangla cuisine made by a true blooded Bengali, explore a culture so rich, so proud.

Also, Bengali folks are my favourite. #JustSaying

The iconic Howrah Bridge

Apex of the Victoria Memorial

A man takes a dip in a lake on a summer afternoon

Edges

A boatman at work

All traffic singles have these loudspeakers, singing songs of Rabindranath Tagore

The city’s iconic yellow taxi cabs

The ever beautiful Howrah bridge

A couple takes a boat ride at sunset

A rickshaw drivers takes a breather

Postcards from Dadar Market, Mumbai

Being the very centre of a cosmopolitan like Mumbai can take a toll on an area. Dadar, is and always was, the very core of hustle-bustle. It is never empty, never quiet, never dull here. The large marketplace sees vendors from across the city buying their produce in bulk. The streets are lined with leftover food the scent of which can wake up the dead, the sheer number of people buying things creates a noise so loud it touches din and the railway station being the junction of all four lines is perpetually overcrowded. But somewhere in the middle of this chaos there are fleeting moments of utter beauty. Visuals of fruits that make you wonder about colour, sight of flowers that intoxicate your senses and elements of architecture that trace back to a simpler time. So, the next time you are sitting in a cab cursing the traffic…stop. Unthink, unfeel, slow down and look around you. Your city will surprise you.

Like this photowalk in Bangalore, pictures were taken during a rather rushed errand at 7.00am on a Sunday. All images were clicked from an iPhone 4s, so pardon the lack of DSLR like quality.

A lot like love
The Great India Weighing System

Allergies, anyone?

It’s a (zodiac) sign

String Theory
The weighting scale tips every so gently. Have you ever watched it move?

This errand turned out to be extremely fruitful

Postcards from Pottery Town, Bangalore

One of the best places to explore is your own home. Don’t get me wrong, every square inch of the countryside is stunning but do you really need to travel far and wide in search of beauty? There are so many nooks and corners in the cities we live in that are equally dumbfounding. All we need to really do is slow down and stare. Living in a city like Bombay is far from easy and the eye longs for allurement, symmetry, vibrancy and character. I try my best to capture the maximum city in all its minimalism on my Instagram.

In retrospect, I think this stemmed out of a photography class I took at my University in Bangalore. One such photowalk involved visiting a place called Pottery Town where (surprise, surprise) they made pots. Although all my pictures are taken from a phone camera or a point & shoot, these particular ones were click on a borrowed DSLR. I am saving up right now to buy myself my very own semi-pro DSLR. Any suggestions? 
Earthen pots laid out to dry in the unforgiving sun

I remember this was still wet. I touched it to check. You see that spot over there, that’s my doing.

Still in the kiln. Such symmetry and order makes my heart melt

Going somewhere?

We didn’t speak. I asked him for a photograph in a universal language. We signed to communicate. 

A torn, worn and rusted door. Wonder where this goes? 

In an endless sea of earth

All Images by Slow Motion Thoughts 

Postcards from Jaipur: Part 2

Even though we were there for a couple of days, I managed to click several picture and make numerous memories in Jaipur. That’s the thing about Rajasthan, whatever you like…however you click it, its bound to look regal and absolutely fabulous. Where ever you look, you will set eyes on something you’d want to remember for the rest of your days. From its rich food to its ever richer history, there is so much to do and see in Rajasthan. It’s strange how the barrenest of lands can birth the most colourful experiences.

Here’s more of Jaipur…

Wanderlust: Oman

The Middle East always caught my fancy. Oman, in particular, encompasses the true essence of Arabia. It’s refreshingly modern while continuing to be rooted in past, celebrating each moment of its bygone era. Exorbitantly rich in culture, there is so much to explore, so much to unearth in this land of contrasts. I admire how proud Omanis are of their homeland and the passion with which they have preserved their history.

If I could travel there, I would spend every waking minute absorbing all that this beautiful country has to offer. I do have a draft of things I would love do. 
1. Shutterbugging
An Iphone and a digital camera in hand, I’d set out into country and explore. I’ve already thought of a hashtag #PostcardsFromOman. Those colours and that light, I wouldn’t have to look far for beauty. I’ll be surrounded by it. 
2. Dunes Dancing
I’ve always been a beach person. I’ve been to Rajasthan only but once and I can safely say, I love the dessert. I would sink my feet into the melting sand and let it take me where ever it’d please. I’ll swirl with the wind, make sand angels and sit still as the sun sets kissing the sky goodbye.
3. Souk Searching
Ah, I’d wander little alleyways and smile at my fate of being in heaven. You know how I love to shop, almost as much as I love to travel. The mesmerizing merchandise will find its way to my Instagram account in real time. I’ll buy exotic memorabilia for myself and my friends back home. There will be bargaining, I won’t lie…I’ll bargain my little heart out. 
4. Haze of History 
I’ll spend the better half of a day at old Muscat or Sur, strolling through the Sultan’s palace and gawking at Portuguese fort. Starry eyes will admire even the minutest of ornate details. When no one is looking, I’ll run my hands along with walls and imagine century old Omanis doing the same years and years ago.  
5. Turtles and Treasure
I’ll find my way to Shaqiya region or the beach at Ras al Jinz to watch turtles in their natural habitat. I’ve always thought turtles have a strange aura of wisdom about them, like they are about to say something rather profound and meaningful. 
6. A Good Hike
To end the journey, I’d hike up the Western Hajar. When I get as high as I can, I’d sit back, sip of tea and look back on my #PostcardsFromOman with fondness. 
7. Food Finding
One of the best ways to understand a culture is by eating their food. I’d stuff face with Harees, Kahwa, Maqbous and everything in between 

This post is written for a “Beauty has an Address!” contest held IndiBlogger and the Ministry of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman 

Postcards from Jaipur: Part 1

I happened to go to Rajasthan the other week and I stayed at the Fairmont Jaipur. The short two day trip to the dessert land left me mesmerised. The nights are darker, the stars are brighter, the sun is stronger and the wind howls louder. Although I didn’t get out much, I loved every minute of my stay. Here are some snapshots…

Bright like the scorching sun, these slip ons could walk a thousand miles

At 46 degree Celsius, waves of heat welcomed us. Fairmont Jaipur’s facade resembled an old
stereotypical Rajasthani fort that stretched towards the cloudy blue sky
Corners and look outs made for ideal vantage points. Birds lazed about, waiting for visitors 
Silhouettes are stunning 

Dreamy corridors that continued forever

Ceilings murals of an intricate nature

Heavenly patterns that could please an atheist  

Carved out of marble, bed time was a regal affair

An all white twin bedroom flooded…with sunshine

This little guy was perched beside my bed

Reflections that make you think
Fresh flowers that smile and wave

 All images by Slow Motion Thoughts

Postcards from Goa

Vacation withdrawals have consumed me. I can barely function without day dreaming about the soul touching sounds of the sea and the undeniably salty taste in the air. What better a time to reminisce about my mid-summer vacation than when I am feeling particularly low.

I like to think the universe conspired to send us on a much-needed trip. It all started with a game of American roulette at the Turf Club. We took a chance and made it…winning a trip to Goa, almost all expense. The small weekend trip this April ended sooner than I could get turn around and whine about my tan but I’m not complaining. Ok fine, I am complaining a little. I wish it lasted forever *grumpy face*.

It was blissful, warm and memory-making. We drove around on bikes, tried our luck at casinos, dipped our feet in the scorching ocean, trekked up to forts, walked hand in hand to what seemed like a million miles and even silently watched the sunset. It didn’t really matter that two out of those three days were dry in the most boozy state in the country because of election… our fresh lime sodas paired perfectly with the calamari fry.

Simply posting this makes me feel better. Well, at least I’ll have these postcards and those glimpses I see when I close my eyes…

Preferred mode of transportation. I have always loved boatrides

Sights like these are not uncommon. Head to the numerous vantage points…
forts, cliffs, lighthouses. 
Need em hats. Bigger the better. 

Boohoo: Dry days are overrated. Yes, things get interesting with some alcohol but crying over
spilt rum doesn’t get you anywhere. We made hay and settled for lime soda with extra lime.
Flee markets are insane. Head to Aupora’s Satuday Night Flee Market and go wild. If you are
on a budget trip and don’t wish to splurge, still head there for some food and free gigs. 
Sunsets are magically. We drove around chasing the sun and headed to the lighthouse
next to Aguada fort for a view of a lifetime.