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Strong Eagle
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Post by Strong Eagle » Mon, 15 Sep 2014 9:40 pm

JR8 wrote:To the mods/admins:

I note that the forum has recently started turning simple text, like

Service apartment
property
condo*

... into highlighted hot-links.

I'm finding this a confusing distraction, as I'm assuming that a writer is posting/embedding a URL, of their choice, to illustrate a specific point. I think the routes here into the property search functions were clear enough as they were...



* p.s. just not always it seems hehehe...
A new "feature" of the forums, links added automatically to certain words.

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We have landed!

Post by Usmom » Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:32 am

We have finally landed! The flight was not as tortuous as last time but a 24 hour flight is never fun. We got in last night/morning and are staying within walking distance to Newton Circus Hawker Center. The Service Apartment is clean has decent facilities from what we've seen so far. We tried to get into Frasers but they were booked, but this apartment is bigger and for some reason costs like 25% more. Maybe because we booked last minute. We start condo hunting again and have to do the visa pass stuff next week. Keeping my fingers crossed that the property we liked has a similar unit to the one we liked on previous trip. We're going to spend the weekend trying to recover from jet lag and go grocery shopping to stock up kitchen. Also hoping cargo shipment gets here around a month's time or is that just wishful thinking? How long did it take for your cargo shipments to get here from USA?
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Re: We have landed!

Post by JR8 » Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:58 am

Usmom wrote:Newton Circus Hawker Center.
I've had a couple of very good meals there. It should serve as quite a cultural induction!

For day1 groceries, combined with a brief local outing you could take the red MRT line* direct to Somerset (aka 'NS23'). Just two stops from your local station Newton/NS21. Emerge at Orchard Road by Emerald Hill Road (worth walking up it, to get a taste of days gone by), back to Orchard and then visit the huge pink granite mall called Ngee Ann City (500m up Orchard from Emerald Hill), in the basement there's a good/big supermarket. From there you could amble through the pedestrian subway to Ion Orchard mall, about 250m and have an explore there.... food shops/restaurants again are at the basement levels. Then it's just one stop by MRT back home...





* Take ID with you and you can get a reusable MRT card from the ticket booth.

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Post by rajagainstthemachine » Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:29 am

Also memorize this drink, you'll need it.. forever



Image
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

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Grocery store

Post by Usmom » Sat, 20 Sep 2014 12:11 pm

Went grocery shopping and spent a couple hundred, is that normal? Small stuff sure adds up quick but we have food for days. I don't know if I was expecting too much but hawker center food is just not that great. I guess we need to keep exploring until we find the place that suits our taste. Pepper crab at nosign board is so overrated. Anyways off to the redline mrt to explore.
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Re: Grocery store

Post by JR8 » Sat, 20 Sep 2014 3:10 pm

Usmom wrote:Went grocery shopping and spent a couple hundred, is that normal? Small stuff sure adds up quick but we have food for days. I don't know if I was expecting too much but hawker center food is just not that great. I guess we need to keep exploring until we find the place that suits our taste. Pepper crab at nosign board is so overrated. Anyways off to the redline mrt to explore.
Please keep the day-1 impressions coming, they're interesting for us (they remind us how one adjusts), and you can go and reminisce about them when you feel you have your feet on the ground later on :)

Oof, couple of hundred? What did you buy? Stuff like some decent wine, sliced meats or fish, vine-ripened tomatoes, salad stuff. It racks up, especially imported stuff. Especially when alcohol is involved.

I think you learn to be judicious. You source more basics from local groceries (NTUC etc), and use the expat shops for ... er, key feature ingredients. Fresh anchovies, pate, air-flown beef, and so on...

You can take it to three steps, expat shops for the niche imported stuff, NTUC for basics esp canned or dry goods, then wet-markets for fruit and veg and so on. It might take time to feel your way down the curve. I still don't do wet markets if I'm on my own, the cultural-hassle simply isn't worth it for me...

I remember the first I moved here, when I was on expenses for a month. The week-1 grocery costs were nuts, but I realised it was because I was trying to live, eat, and drink precisely what I would at home. My costs dropped off very rapidly thereafter.

Hawker centre food, there are great stalls, and then ones you vow never to return to. You just have to figure which are which. As stalls turn over over time, this is an ongoing process. I've just embargoed two places, a new Thai stall (in a food-court) who are ridiculously mean on the amount of chicken in their green chicken curry, and a Indian chicken murtabak place (hawker stall) that load their food with so much MSG it gave me my first experience of MSG-overdose... seriously not funny! :cry:

So you'll find places that you like, and places that FAIL and you immediately don't. If you do a little research via resources like http://www.hungrygowhere.com/search-res ... xact_match you should avoid most fails. Observe the reviews for that place... :o

This leads on to the next challenge, sifting quality food, from the wannabe but disappointing. There are plenty of poor but expensive places here, so much so I started off a topic a while ago roughly on the theme of 'Expensive, yes, but well worth it!' as such places are like rare gems that will come to cherish, and come to depend upon for things like birthday or anniversary dinners.

Have fun, and good luck!

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malls and cellphone plans

Post by Usmom » Sun, 21 Sep 2014 7:15 pm

Went back to a grocery store to buy some items we missed getting the first time. This time we went to cold storage and holy cow the prices were just a little shocking. A small bottle of laundry detergent was $19.10 but it was a brand I recognized. I was expecting 2 to 3 times the price we could get it in the U.S. but 6+ times the price? and then my alcohol loving husband telling me that some of the wines he could get for $3 in u.s. were selling for $30. but again, cold storage had lots of brands we recognized. We bought a few items and it was $30 total, just some cheese and pasta.
We went to plaza singapora and it was so crowded and so was the mrt at douby ghout. It was like sardines in can. Also, I've noticed that lots of people/strangers have no problem standing right next to you or even brushing by you. I guess differences in personal space. It seemed like everyone was at the mall, what else is there to do? We went to the mall maybe once or twice a year if that in the states.
Now the next mission is to get me on a phone plan. Husband has a company cellphone, but the family plan that singtel offers the company employees for their family is really bad. We are thinking of just going with a sim card plan with star hub. The minutes are low but every minute I go over is just 5 cents. I will only need phone to get some data while away from home internet and to make calls to doctors, husband, etc.. We are buying international calling cards to call the states when needed. We are also using facetime with those who have it. Any suggestions for our phone situation?
Lastly, is it just me or am I wrong that most singtel/star hub employees don't know much about the plans they offer? We had to tell them that yes your website says this and that, and still some of them kept saying no until we showed them in their own company's website or pamphlet, then they were like ok. Anything other than the simple plan they've sold over and over and they seemed lost.
Usmom

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Post by movingtospore » Sun, 21 Sep 2014 7:38 pm

LOL. Welcome to Singapore. Employees here, generally speaking, never know anything about what they're selling. Worst of the worst are local companies a la Starhub, Singtel etc. You best bet is to go in fully armed and don't hesitate to stand your ground when they're wrong. The usual answer here, when presented with something they don't know and/or can't be bothered to find out about, is no, not cannot lah. Can not!

It's exhausting but it is what it is. Top down management style that doesn't share information, or have a clue about training and motivating employees + low unemployment and sense of entitlement = all round cluelessness.

Good luck.

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Post by movingtospore » Sun, 21 Sep 2014 7:39 pm

PS per JR8, after you get settled, you will figure out - buy your groceries at fair price finest (ie, NTUC) out in Bukit Timah. Just go to cold storage for the odd bits. Your bill will still be 2x what it was at home but at least it won't be 4x...

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Post by GSM8 » Sun, 21 Sep 2014 7:57 pm

As JR8 wrote, costs can be high if one sticks to US brands, but there are local brands that adequately serve the purpose, and will result in grocery costs only slightly above the US (think of Cold Storage as Whole Foods though). Hawker food gets old quickly if one resorts to it day in and day out. Liquor is expensive so I use trips out of Singapore to bring that back in. It took me 3-4 months to figure things out after moving here last Dec.

When I moved here, Starhub had a 6 months free promotion ongoing, then $40/month, for 100 Mbps cable, basic TV (which is okay if you are never going to watch it), and landline with unlimited local calling. I believe Starhub and Singtel have similar promotions these days (may need to clear browser cookies and google for it, then call them, as their call center staff are often more knowledgeable than the casual part timers at the stalls). They also give a discount on mobile plans with their company

With Singtel mobile, prefix 019 to call US (and a slew of other countries) as local calls. I believe Starhub has something similar with prefix 018.

MRT is crowded during peak hours, but if one has a half hour extra to spare, buses on the same route can be less crowded.

Hope some of this helps, I am single so can't give the family perspective though

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Post by JR8 » Sun, 21 Sep 2014 9:11 pm

- A lot of things you buy here will seem to come in ‘small sizes'. Same way when many visitors go to the States, everything there seems ‘huge’. To me (UK), the US is cheap, and SG is expensive. So you’re experiencing the double-whammy in that regard.

- ‘my alcohol loving husband’ – I see a theme developing... I get the same from my wife :)

- Sunday. The day most maids/’Domestic Helpers’ get off. And some of ‘workers’, i.e. indentured Sub-continental Labour. Where do they head > downtown. They used to congregate en-masse in thousands on the bare patch of grassland at the top of Orchard that is now Ion mall. Now there isn’t really any open grassland like that so they hang out in malls. => Crowds on Orchard, and crowds on transport. Sunday is busy/crowded like this even out in the suburbs, for me it’s a day to avoid going downtown, and if possible even avoid going down to even the suburban mall as the shops will be packed.

- Personal space. It varies by country. I remember living in the US and visiting Norway and being freaked out how people in the supermarket stood next to you, even brushed against you, leant across you (thinking: what is this some complex wallet theft scam going on?). If you’re from the US, the proximity thing here is out the window... the denominator in play is mainland China or India. You will get used to it in time.

‘It seemed like everyone was at the mall, what else is there to do?’ – You likely don’t realise yet quite how squarely you hit the nail on the head with that observation.

- Mobile. I use Pay As You go/Prepaid. The phone came with me from Europe (compatible technology), so all I need is a local SIM and some phone credit.

- Calling cards. There are many. At home I prefix calls with 0021 rather than 00. I think that comes through on the one household phone bill. I forget but it’s much cheaper. What I do know is if you dig about you can get some very cheap ways in to call the US/EU etc., if the time you spend on the phone makes the research worth it.

- ‘Lastly, is it just me or am I wrong that most singtel/star hub employees don't know much about the plans they offer? ‘ No it’s not just you. Welcome to SG. Welcome to service staff who know less about their product than even you do. ‘Anything other than the simple’ – sums it up. That’s why there are so many foreign people working in SG. The fact that said disinterested locals resent foreigners being here at all is something that might come to perplex you further down the road.

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Re: malls and cellphone plans

Post by zzm9980 » Mon, 22 Sep 2014 7:01 am

Usmom wrote:Went back to a grocery store to buy some items we missed getting the first time. This time we went to cold storage and holy cow the prices were just a little shocking. A small bottle of laundry detergent was $19.10 but it was a brand I recognized.
So Tide? :p Try a local brand. You'll quickly go back to the brand you know and trust. :)

If you plan to use mobile data on your phone and have anything that supports LTE (phone made in the past ~2-3 years) you'll need to go with M1. Only their pre-paid plans support the better data speed, and probably cost less than the 'other guys'.

I always had the Singtel plan that was about $55/month. Seemed sufficient, but mostly only used it for data. But I make my calls and everything via data.

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Re: malls and cellphone plans

Post by the lynx » Mon, 22 Sep 2014 9:25 am

Usmom wrote:Went back to a grocery store to buy some items we missed getting the first time. This time we went to cold storage and holy cow the prices were just a little shocking. A small bottle of laundry detergent was $19.10 but it was a brand I recognized. I was expecting 2 to 3 times the price we could get it in the U.S. but 6+ times the price? and then my alcohol loving husband telling me that some of the wines he could get for $3 in u.s. were selling for $30. but again, cold storage had lots of brands we recognized. We bought a few items and it was $30 total, just some cheese and pasta.

I'd echo what most posters have said. Cheap supermarkets (Giant, Fairprice, Sheng Shiong) for household items like toilet roll, cleaning supplies. Expat-targeted ones (Cold Storage and Fairprice Finest - on the lower end, Jason's, Marketplace) for something you'd be familiar with back home, also loosely translated to expat's premium items. For skincare and beauty products, half of them can be found in Watsons and Guardian, the other half you can either ship online or contact local suppliers. For example, I use a local supplier for Real Techniques make up brushes via bulk order (because it is more affordable that way than ordering myself online). You will also notice that your skincare/make up products have different formulation/consistency compared to the Asian equivalent of the same brand here. We can talk about it later.

We went to plaza singapora and it was so crowded and so was the mrt at douby ghout. It was like sardines in can. Also, I've noticed that lots of people/strangers have no problem standing right next to you or even brushing by you. I guess differences in personal space. It seemed like everyone was at the mall, what else is there to do? We went to the mall maybe once or twice a year if that in the states.

Shopping is the locals' favourite past time, whether window-shopping or not. Shopping malls here are more like lifestyle destination, where you have restaurants, cinemas, day care centres, spas, playground, postal services, pubs, etc under one roof. Usually it will take one or two years of honeymoon period for an expat before s/he runs out of things to do around Singapore and ends up heading to shopping malls to unwind on weekends or after work.

Now the next mission is to get me on a phone plan. Husband has a company cellphone, but the family plan that singtel offers the company employees for their family is really bad. We are thinking of just going with a sim card plan with star hub. The minutes are low but every minute I go over is just 5 cents. I will only need phone to get some data while away from home internet and to make calls to doctors, husband, etc.. We are buying international calling cards to call the states when needed. We are also using facetime with those who have it. Any suggestions for our phone situation?

I don't know how bad the family plan from Singtel but I'd usually got for the regular postpaid plan (2 years with new phone). If you're not interested with a new phone that comes with the new postpaid contract, you should go for prepaid.

Lastly, is it just me or am I wrong that most singtel/star hub employees don't know much about the plans they offer? We had to tell them that yes your website says this and that, and still some of them kept saying no until we showed them in their own company's website or pamphlet, then they were like ok. Anything other than the simple plan they've sold over and over and they seemed lost.

This is characteristic of customer service in Singapore, when especially handled by locals. Having said that, I've seen just as bad customer service rendered by foreign employees. So it makes no difference who is rendering the services. You are very sure to find good services in expensive places, because obviously they are paid better. You will get used to it. Have low expectation and arm yourself with information beforehand to avoid either disappointment or scams, or both.

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Post by Girl_Next_Door » Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00 am

A few suggestions.
- Take the train to Novena, there is a NTUC in Square 2 and a Cold Storage in Novena Square (next building). You can pick up the cheap necessities in NTUC and food that you are more familiar with, in Cold Storage. There is a butcher "Mmmm" next to the NTUC as well, so you can get reasonable cut (not the best though) beef there.
- Most calls we make back home are via Skype. Depending on where you stay, you might want to get OneRepublic for internet. It allows you to access to some US tv shows.
- Once you are settled, you can use Redmart for groceries delivery.
- For cheaper wines, you can try wine connections. You won't get $3 wine, but there are quite a number below $20. It is really expensive to get drunk in Singapore.

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Post by JR8 » Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:17 am

Girl_Next_Door wrote:A few suggestions.
- Take the train to Novena, there is a NTUC in Square 2 and a Cold Storage in Novena Square (next building). You can pick up the cheap necessities in NTUC and food that you are more familiar with, in Cold Storage. There is a butcher "Mmmm" next to the NTUC as well, so you can get reasonable cut (not the best though) beef there.
There's another NTUC, an NTUC Finest IIRC hidden away in a mall right next to the Marriot/Orchard.
'SCOTTS SQUARE, #B1-03 to 07 and #B1-10, Scotts Square, 6 Scotts Road, Singapore 228209'

Quite unexpected as the ground floor is all high-end Euro designer goods. A quiet mall in general. Downstairs even quieter!

We spent a few nights in the Marriot and would pop by that shop to stock up the room fridge.

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