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Posts Tagged ‘Getting around’

Getting to and from Batam from Singapore

There are many ferries from Harbourfront, Singapore to various ferry terminals in Batam.  If your main purpose in Batam is to shop, it is highly recommended to take a ferry terminal to Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal at Batam.  The main town of Nagoya, where all the shopping is, is only 5 mins away by taxi (IDR$30,000).  If you intend to visit beaches, perhaps Nongsa would be more suitable.  However, my personal recommendation is not to go to Batam for beaches as they are not pretty and can be quite dirty.  It is advisable to go to Bintan for beaches instead.

There are multiple trips everyday running between Harbour Bay, Batam and Harbourfront, Singapore.   Prima Ferries has one ferry departing from Harbourfront, Singapore approximately every hour.  Batam Fast has 4 trips departing from Harbourfront, Singapore per day.  Even if you buy a Prima Ferry ticket, sometimes, you still end up riding a ferry operated by Batam Fast.  Regardless of the ferry operator, a return trip ticket costs SGD$48 nett, inclusive of all taxes.  You can simply show up roughly an hour before departure and buy your ticket.  Ensure that you have the necessary visa to enter Indonesia.

Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal is the nearest ferry terminal to the main Batam town of Nagoya.  From Harbour Bay Terminal, it is only a 5 min taxi ride (IDR20,000) to Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall, the largest shopping mall in Batam.

Getting around Kuala Lumpur by taxi/ cab

Kuala Lumpur has the most dishonest taxi/ cab drivers I have seen, and I thought Bangkok taxi/ cab drivers are bad.  BKK drivers would pretend not to understand English, and resolutely sit there and not give you your change.  Come on, the fare on the meter clearly indicates that they need to give change, but they just sit there, inertly, pretending to be oblivious and clueless.

KL drivers would take you on a ride around the city to rack up the fare.  Even if the distance is extremely short, they would still pretend not to know the way and drive a really long way to send you to your destination.  For example, I took a cab from Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang to back to my hotel at Jalan Conlay.  It is a really short 5 mins drive.  I asked him if he knew where my hotel was.  He said he knew. I took a cab back instead of walking as I was slightly intoxicated. The taxi driver wanted to turn in the opposite direction of where he should be turning.  I said to him, “Shouldn’t you be turning right?”  If he turned right, it’s a simple 5 mins drive.  If he turned left, he would take me on one big round before coming back to Jalan Conlay.  Caught, he mumbled something and turned right.  On Jalan Raja Chulan, he should turn left into Jalan Conlay.  I screamed at him. “Turn here! Turn here!”  He screamed back, “Yes! Yes!” There were no cars and he could have turned in,  but he didn’t turn.  He was hell-bent on taking me for a ride.   We reached a traffic light.  I got out, slammed the door and walked back to my hotel. 

On another occasion, I was travelling to my hotel.  I had my luggage with me.  I got into a red and white cab.  I dictated to him where he should turn and which roads he should take.  When we reached my hotel, the fare on the meter was RM$7 and I gave him RM$10.  He only gave me back RM$2 change.  I was him why.  He hurriedly said RM$1 was for my luggage.  I asked him to show me where on the sticker on the window it says extra RM$1 for luggage.  He couldn’t.  We got into an argument for 5-10 mins.  The hotel’s manager came out, which was of no help.   He asked what was happening. The taxi driver very cleverly switched to Malay, which I couldn’t understand. The manager then repeated what the taxi driver said, that extra RM$1 is charged for luggage. I stood my ground said to the manager to show me in print this regulation. The manager simply repeated what I said back to the cabbie.   Finally, after pretending to search around for a while for a print statement or sticker of some sort that states extra charges for luggage, the taxi driver of course couldn’t and sheepishly gave me my remaining RM$1 change.

At many 5-star hotels, there will be a line of blue executive taxis outside.  These blue executive taxis start from RM$6, as opposed to RM$3 with the normal red and white taxis.  The meters of the blue executive taxis also jump faster.  The executive taxis, though more expensive, are not any more honest.  They will still take the long way to deliver you to your destination.

So, here are some measures you can take to protect yourself:

        1.       If you take a taxi from KL Sentral, please, please, please use the taxi coupon counter.  In KL Sentral Station, just take the escalator up till you see the Hilton/ Le Meridien.  Standing in KL Sentral station, facing the Hilton, Le Meridien, the taxi coupon counter is located on your right.  You queue up, tell them where you want to go and you pay for your taxi coupon. The taxi coupon from KL Sentral to Bukit Bintang cost RM$13.  Right outside, there is a line of taxis waiting.  With your taxi coupon, you just hop onto the next available taxi.  I never have to wait.  I can always get on a cab immediately.  Show your coupon to the driver.  He will tear and retain half of it to claim his fare later on.  With the taxi coupon, the taxi driver will not take you a ride around the city.  After all, you have already paid.  He will drive you as fast as possible to your destination and dispose you so he can pick up his next fare.

        2 .       Get your hotel to arrange complimentary transport to pick your up. If your hotel arranges a metered taxi to pick you up, most probably you will be taken for a ride.

        3.       Take public transport.  Pick a hotel that is close to a monorail or subway station.

        4.       Pass off as a local or at least an expat who’s lived in KL for many years.  With your luggage (like I was), they immediately know you are a tourist and you become a prime target.

        5.       Familiarise your route.  Get a map.  Mark out on your map the exact route you want him to take.  Along the way, remind him where to turn etc.  Yes, you have to twist their arms and micro-manage.

        6.       Know your stuff.  If it’s not in print, it’s not legitimate.  Supposedly, the blue executive taxis do charge extra for luggage and it’s in print on the sticker of the window.  I’m not sure, as I have not taken a blue executive taxi while with luggage.

        7.       Stand your ground.  Don’t be a pushover.  Locals tend to side with locals.  Hotel staff would tell you to come inside and they will settle it for you, even at the top hotels in KL.  Inside, they will just say things to appease you and the taxi driver would have driven away.  Do you really want to let him get away with it?  They will tell you to note down the number plate and make a complaint.  But do you think anything will come out of it?

        8.       Negotiate a fixed fare beforehand.  This is a bit tricky and I don’t really recommend it unless you have travelled the route many times before and you know the metered fare.  If you do, and you managed to negotiate an okay fare, then the driver would drive really fast to dispose you so they can pick up their next fare. 

Hoi An, Vietnam Aug 2013


Hoi An is a very pretty historic old town. 

Strongly recommended is to stay at a beach resort in Danang and make a day trip from Danang to Hoi An.  That way, in the evening, you can still go back to Danang and enjoy the beach/ pool. 

To get from Danang to Hoi An, most hotels provide their own shuttle.  You can also take the public bus (yellow bus) which runs along Le Duan street (towards the river) and along Tran Phu street (cathedral) to go to Hoi An.  The official fare is 18,000 dong.  Locals pay that.  But the bus conductor charges 30,000 dong for foreigners.  I even heard they charge up to 50,000 dong for foreigners.  On the way to Hoi An, I stood my ground and paid only 18,000 dong.  On my way back, I stood my ground again and the conductor was about to tell me to get off the bus.  Another passenger (local) paid the difference for me.  I don’t see why I should pay more.  It costs just as much to ferry me to Hoi An as the next person, perhaps even less as the locals upload boxes and boxes and boxes of goods on to the bus.  The bus stops along Le Duan and Tran Phu streets are not obvious, so keep your eyes peeled.  There is a bus stop right outside the cathedral (opposite Green Bamboo Hotel).  I was told the last bus from Hoi An to Danang leaves at 6pm.       

To get from Hoi An Bus Terminal to Hoi An Center (where the preserved site and all the action is), it is a 15-20 min walk.  Or you can ride on someone’s motorbike (without helmet) for around 15,000 dong.  I recommend going on foot so that you can stop and take photos if you see something interesting. 

Hoi An Heritage Site consists of 3 pedestrian-only streets.  The preserved houses are all painted a sunny yellow.  There are many restaurants and art galleries.  There are also museums and Chinese clan assembly halls.  You can buy a ticket for USD$6 or 120,000 dong to visit any of 22 sites.  The 22 sites include craft workshops, assembly halls, old houses, communal houses, museums etc.

The contrast between the preserved heritage site and the market immediately outside the preserved site is amazing.  The heritage streets, despite teeming with tourists, are quiet, cheerily yellow and relatively manicured.  The market area is noisy, dirty and smelly.  

Vietnam is one of two countries I never want to visit again (the other being the Netherlands). The place is just too backward and full of pushy bumpkins.  The females are bossy, stubborn, can’t speak English that well but think they know it all.  In other words, they think they are all that but are really incompetent.

Hoi An, though pretty, when you get down to it, is not that special nor really unique, since there are other UNESCO sites around (two in Malaysia—–Malacca and Penang).  I’m not sure if Hoi An is so unique that it’s a must-visit destination.


Hoi An es una bella ciudad histórica.

Es recomendable hospedarse en un resort en la playa de Danang y hacer una excursión de un día desde Danang a Hoi An. De esta manera, en la noche, todavía tiene tiempo de volver a Danang y disfrutar de la playa/piscina.

Para llegar desde Danang a Hoi An, la mayoría de los hoteles cuentan con su propio servicio de transporte. También puede tomar el autobús público (autobús amarillo) que se encuentran a lo largo de la calle Le Duan (hacia el río) o a lo largo de la calle Tran Phu (la catedral). La tarifa oficial es de 18,000 dong, la cual pagan los locales. Sin embargo, siendo extranjero el conductor del bus puede cobrarle 30,000 dong, e incluso he oído que cobren hasta 50,000 dong para extranjeros. En mi camino a Hoi An, fui duro y solo pagué 18,000 dong. De regreso, intente pagar solo 18,000 dong pero el conductor estuvo a punto de decirme que me bajara del autobús cuando un pasajero (local) pago la diferencia por mí. No entiendo por qué tengo que pagar más. Le cuesta igual transportarme a mi a Hoi An como a cualquier otra persona, de vez en cuando hasta menos pues la gente local viaja con cajas y cajas de mercancía en el bus. Las paradas de autobús a lo largo de la calle Le Duan y Tran Phu no son tan visibles, así que toca ponerle mucho cuidado. Hay una parada de autobús justo afuera de la catedral (frente al Hotel Green Bamboo). Tengo entendido que el último autobús desde Hoi An a Danang es a las 6pm.

Para llegar al centro de Hoi An (donde esta la ciudad histórica y se encuentra la acción) desde el terminal de autobús, tiene que caminar unos 15 a 20 minutos. También puede montarse en la parte de atrás de una moto (sin casco) por alrededor de 15,000 dong. Es recomendable irse a pie pues tiene a libertad de parar y tomar fotos si ve algo interesante.

El Patrimonio de la Humanidad de Hoi An consta de 3 calles peatonales. Las casas que se conservan están pintadas de un amarillo quemado. Hay muchos restaurantes y galerías de arte. También hay museos y casas de clanes Chinos. Usted puede comprar un boleto por USD $6 o 120,000 dong para visitar cualquiera de los 22 sitios. Los 22 sitios incluyen talleres de manualidades, casas de ayuntamiento, casas antiguas, casas comunales, museos, etc.

El contraste entre el patrimonio y el mercado justo afuera del patrimonio es increíble. Las calles del patrimonio, a pesar de estar llenas de turistas, son tranquilas, alegremente amarilla y relativamente organizadas. El mercado es ruidoso, sucio y maloliente.

Vietnam es uno de los dos países al que nunca quisiera volver (el otro es Holanda). Es demasiado atrasado y lleno de gente agresiva. Las mujeres son mandonas, tercas, no puede hablar Inglés muy bien, y piensan que se lo saben todo. En otras palabras, ellos piensan que lo son todo pero son realmente incompetentes.

Hoi An, aunque bonita, al llegar a fin de cuentas, no es tan especial, ni única, ya que hay otros sitios de la UNESCO muy cerca (dos en Malasia – Malaca y Penang). No estoy muy seguro de que sea un destino que toca visitar.





在岘港的旅馆多数都有提供往返会安的接驳服务。你也可以乘搭穿梭于Le Duan Street (通往河畔)以及Tran Phu Street (通往大教堂)的公共巴士前往会安。公定车资是18,000越盾,是当地人所支付的,然而车长却会向外国人收取 30,000越盾。我听说他们甚至曾经向外国人收取高达50,000越盾的车资。在前往会安的路上,我态度坚定所以只付了18,000越盾。回程中我再次坚守立场,就差点儿快被车长赶下车时,另一位乘客(当地人)上前替我付了差价。 我不明白为什么我得付较高的车资。我想载我的成本不会比载任何一位乘客的成本来得高,说不定还比当地人运上车那一箱又一箱的货物来得低。 在Le Duan Street 和 Tran Phu Street 之间的车站并不明显,请务必留意,而在大教堂前就有一个车站(绿竹酒店对面)。据我所知,从会安到岘港的末班车于傍晚六点发车。

从会安巴士总站到市中心(既古城及繁华之处)大约需要步行15 到 20 分钟。或者,你可以花 约15,000越盾乘坐当地人的摩托车(不包括安全帽)。我会建议大家步行,在看到有趣的事物时可以停下来拍照留念。

会安古镇有三条行人街道,在那儿,受保留的建筑物都漆成亮黄色。那里有许多餐馆和画廊,也有博物馆和会馆。你能以6美元,或120,000 越南盾,购买一张参观22个景点的套票。这22个景点包括工艺坊、会馆、旧屋、公共房屋及博物馆等。



会安虽然漂亮,但是真正体验后发现它并不是那么特别,也不是独一无二的,何况其他世界文化遗产就在不远处 (马来西亚就有两个,分别在马六甲和槟城)。我不认为会安是一个非到不可的旅游景点。




在峴港的旅館多數都有提供往返會安的接駁服務。你也可以乘搭穿梭於Le Duan Street (通往河畔)以及Tran Phu Street (通往大教堂)的公共巴士前往會安。公定車資是18,000越盾,是當地人所支付的,然而車長卻會向外國人收取30,000越盾。我聽說他們甚至曾經向外國人收取高達50,000越盾的車資。在前往會安的路上,我態度堅定所以只付了18,000越盾。回程中我再次堅守立場,就差點兒快被車長趕下車時,另一位乘客(當地人)上前替我付了差價。我不明白為什麼我得付較高的車資。我想載我的成本不會比載任何一位乘客的成本來得高,說不定還比當地人運上車那一箱又一箱的貨物來得低。在Le Duan Street 和Tran Phu Street 之間的車站並不明顯,請務必留意,而在大教堂前就有一個車站(綠竹酒店對面)。據我所知,從會安到峴港的末班車於傍晚六點發車。

從會安巴士總站到市中心(既古城及繁華之處)大約需要步行15 到20 分鐘。或者,你可以花約15,000越盾乘坐當地人的摩托車(不包括安全帽)。我會建議大家步行,在看到有趣的事物時可以停下來拍照留念。

會安古鎮有三條行人街道,在那兒,受保留的建築物都漆成亮黃色。那裡有許多餐館和畫廊,也有博物館和會館。你能以6美元,或120,000 越南盾,購買一張參觀22個景點的套票。這22個景點包括工藝坊、會館、舊屋、公共房屋及博物館等。





Hoi An est une très jolie vieille ville historique.

Il est fortement recommandé de rester dans une station balnéaire à Danang et faire une excursion d’une journée de Danang à Hoi An . De cette façon, le soir , vous pouvez toujours revenir à Danang et profiter de la plage / piscine.

Pour aller de Danang à Hoi An , la plupart des hôtels offrent leur navette. Vous pouvez également prendre le bus public ( bus jaune) qui longe la rue Le Duan ( vers le fleuve ) et la rue Tran Phu (cathédrale) pour aller à Hoi An . Le tarif officiel est de 18.000 dong .  C’est ce que les habitants paient. Mais le conducteur de bus charge 30.000 dong aux étrangers. J’ai même entendu qu’ils chargent jusqu’à 50.000 dong aux étrangers. Sur le chemin de Hoi An, j’ai tenu bon et j’ai payé seulement 18.000 dong . Sur le chemin du retour , j’ai tenu bon à nouveau et le conducteur était en train de me dire de descendre du bus . Un autre passager (local) a payé la différence pour moi. Je ne vois pas pourquoi je devrais payer plus. ça coûte autant de me transporter à Hoi An que la prochaine personne , peut-être même moins car les habitants chargent des boîtes et des boîtes et des boîtes de marchandises sur le bus . Le bus s’arrête le long des rues Le Duan et Tran Phu qui ne sont pas évidentes , donc gardez les yeux ouverts . Il y a un arrêt de bus juste à l’extérieur de la cathédrale (en face du Green Bamboo Hôtel ) . On m’a dit que le dernier bus de Hoi An à Danang part à 18h .

Pour aller du terminal de bus de Hoi An au centre de Hoi An ( où se situe le site préservé et toute l’action se passe ) , il faut marcher de 15 à 20 minutes . Ou vous pouvez monter sur la moto de quelqu’un ( sans casque) pour environ 15.000 dong . Je recommande d’y aller à pied, de sorte que vous pouvez vous arrêter et prendre des photos si vous voyez quelque chose d’intéressant .

Hoi An classé patrimoine historique se compose de 3 rues piétonnes . Les maisons conservées sont toutes peintes d’un jaune soleil. Il y a beaucoup de restaurants et galeries d’art . Il y a aussi des musées et des salles où les clans chinois se réunissent. Vous pouvez acheter un billet pour 6 $ ou 120 000 dong pour voir un des 22 sites . Les 22 sites comprennent des ateliers d’artisanat, des salles d’assemblage, des vieilles maisons, les maisons communales, les musées, etc

Le contraste entre le patrimoine préservé et le marché juste à l’extérieur du site préservé est incroyable. Les rues historiques, en dépit des flots de touristes, sont calmes, gaiement jaune et relativement bien entretenues. La zone de marché est bruyante, sale et malodorante.

Le Vietnam est l’un des deux pays que je ne veux plus jamais visiter (l’autre étant les Pays-Bas ). Le endroit est tout simplement trop en arrière et plein de ploucs arrivistes . Les femmes sont autoritaires, entêtées, elles ne parlent pas bien Anglais, mais pensent qu’ elles savent tout. En d’autres termes, elles pensent qu’ elles sont tout, mais sont vraiment incompétentes.

Hoi An, cependant jolie, quand vous commencer à la connaître, n’est pas si spécial ni vraiment unique, car il y a d’autres sites de l’UNESCO autour (deux en Malaisie —– Malacca et Penang ). Je ne sais pas si c’est un incontournable destination .

Chi Lang Stadium, Danang Vietnam Aug 2013

Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand, 29 July 2013

The Grand Palace is seriously pretty.  There are no BTS or subway stations nearby, so you probably have to take a taxi to come here if you stay at a city hotel (ie located in Silom or Sumkhumvit).  I happened to by staying at a riverside hotel.  There is a public pier right beside the Mandarin Oriental pier.  At this public pier, you can catch tourist ferries that go up and down the river.  Get off at Tha Chang pier to get to the Grand Palace.  The Grand Palace is only 3 mins walk from the pier.  The tourist ferry is 40 baht per person per trip but there are also day passes available.  On my way to the Grand Palace, I actually hopped onto a public ferry that costed nothing.  The Mandarin Oriental had informed me that the fare is 15 baht but no one came around to collect any money from me.

I am not sure if the river is the best way to get to the Grand Palace though. All the piers are seriously rotting.  They are crowded, noisy and chaotic.  I didn’t see any sign in English.  It was never clear to me which ferry is for whom.  Hence, prepared to be shooed roughly away by the people working the boats (since there is no sign in English).

The alternative to go to the Grand Palace is to take a taxi.  However, I was told by Mandarin Oriental it can take up to 45 mins to travel from a riverside hotel to the Grand Palace in the event of traffic jams.

Once you get to the Grand Palace, the ticket costs 500 baht, inclusive of entrance to Emerald Buddha, Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, all within the compound of the Grand Palace. 

The Grand Palace is very crowded, full of tourists of everywhere.      

If I had to choose between the Grand Palace in Bangkok and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, I would say the Grand Palace is prettier. Some architecture of the Grand Palace is decidedly western, unseen in the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.

This place is highly recommended simply because it is so pretty.

Take an umbrella in case it rains. There is next to no shelter in the Grand Palace.