Singapore Backpacker Hostels, First of Two Lists

A recent development in Singapore – if you will allow ‘recent’ to stretch back three years – has been a range of inexpensive, tidy, and cozy accommodations for the budget traveler. In 2004, they were popping up at the rate of one a month, according to a Straits Times report. Now there are as many […]

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The US$280 (plus S$10) Singapore Haircut

Ever since my first barbershop haircut at Jack’s in Vernon, Texas, when I was just a wee Midwestern tyke, I have had allergic reactions to the kinds of places I have to go to get a decent haircut in Bali. In fact, I haven’t yet had a decent haircut in Bali. I’ll accept that maybe […]

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Singapore Hotels, A Short List

Singapore is by far the most convenient place for a visa run. Tickets to and from Singapore (Garuda price about US$230) usually cost less than fares to Bangkok, visa processing is slicker than in Kuala Lumpur, food is inexpensive at most hawker stalls and food courts, and public transport, like everything else in Singapore, is […]

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Singapore Backpacker Hostels, The Second List

Staying in Singapore on a budget no longer means a seedy two-star hotel with no character and charm. Last time I reviewed backpacker hostels I had given the once-over, eyeball test. Now I’ve pulled backpacker hostels off the Internet, pleased by their name, their location, their prices, some intangible aspect of their Web presence. Call […]

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Days and Days on KL’s Trains

Kuala Lumpur’s commuter train system is quirkier than Singapore’s efficient MRT network, but if you’ve got no interest in the quickest trip from A to B, the KL trains offer better value. I had read what a mess the system was to build, with four different companies winning development bids. There was no disappointment: it […]

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A Morning’s Jaunt in KL – Rice Porridge & Books

KL’s sightseeing attractions include the world’s tallest flagpole, the fifth tallest radio tower, the Petronas Towers – once the world’s tallest buildings, now surpassed. All are hyped as unrecognized wonders of the world. Well, okay, the Petronas Towers are impressive, but they are, after all, just two more pillars of glass and steel, and the […]

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Not Just for Visas Anymore – Bangkok, Part Five

Bumrungrad Hospital – that “marble-floored mecca of the medical trade” – had 55,000 American patients in 2005, a 30 percent increase over 2004, according to an article in the July 31 issue of Time magazine. Total foreign patients at Bumrungrad in 2005 were 400,000, and Thailand as a whole is expecting one million medical tourists […]

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To Your Health in Penang Hotels – Penang, Part Three

Walking out in Penang on a Sunday afternoon, when Georgetown is considerably more traffic-free than it is during the week, my friend and I entered the lobbies of a couple of interesting looking hotels to find small crowds of dark-skinned Indian and Sri Lankan women looking at us hopefully. These old, rundown places seemed to […]

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I Go Only for the Culture – Bangkok, Part One

If Penang is Singapore stuck in the 1970s, then Bangkok is Singapore on a steroid-Viagra combination. It has the mega malls and the public transport of Singapore and so much more. Something in the water anyway keeps the citizens from just taking whatever is dished out by the authorities. Then there are the girls-girls-maybe-a-girl establishments, […]

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The ‘Home Leave’ Visa

The best advice on getting Indonesian visas in America or Europe is, “Don’t do it.” Arrange your travel so that you pass through Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, or Singapore, where it is the usual three-day, no-muss-no-fuss, in-and-out (one day if you pay the ‘express fee’ in Bangkok and Singapore). Not to say there can’t be complications […]

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