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Thrifty in the Lion City: 4 Money-Saving Tips When Traveling to Singapore

lubna@theagendadaily.com'

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In Southeast Asia, Singapore is probably the most convenient and easiest country to travel in, thanks to its well-thought-out public facilities and outstanding infrastructure. That said, there’s a price to pay for these comforts. In fact, the city-state has been at the top of the list for the most expensive city in the world for the fifth consecutive year.

The cost of living does not seem to faze visitors, however, as Singapore attracted around 18.5 million international tourists in 2018, up from 17.4 million the previous year. It’s probably partly because this modern cosmopolitan city provides a lot of opportunities to save money, even for the most budget-conscious traveler.

So, go ahead and book a Singapore travel combo package from Traveloka or any travel booking service of your choice. Get to know this wonderful city that’s full of bright lights, huge green spaces parks, and multicultural attractions, all while practicing these money-saving tips that won’t blow your budget.

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Use Public Transportation

Visitors—and even locals—rely heavily on Singapore’s MRT, LRT, and bus systems when traveling around the city. You can access them using the EZ-Link card, which is comparable to Hong Kong’s Octopus Card, Sydney’s Opal Card, and Tokyo’s Suica Card. The system allows for cash-free transactions using only a physical card that you simply tap on a terminal before getting on the train platform or upon boarding a bus.

As soon as you land on the airport, you should get the stored value card or opt for the 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day unlimited travel card. Aside from the hassle-free payment method, you’ll also save money especially if you’re on a short trip and using the unlimited card.

Dine at Hawker Centres

Eating out in Singapore is actually surprisingly affordable, as long as you dine at the local hawker centres that are ubiquitous throughout the city. You won’t just be saving money there; you’ll also be experiencing an authentic culinary showcase the city is quite famous for.

For as little as SGD 2.00, you could order a bowl of Laksa for a snack or light meal, and for as little as SGD 3.50, you could have a nice plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice for lunch or dinner.

Book Accommodations at Budget Hotels

Besides the flight to Singapore, the accommodation is one other aspect of travel that could prove to be a challenge to budget. Keep this in mind when you book your combo tour package that includes your flight and hotel accommodation.

In Singapore, the average 3-star hotel room can cost an expensive SGD 169.00 per night, but if you do your homework, you can find rates as low as SGD 30.00 a night.

Your best bet is to search for hotels that are a bit far from the more popular areas such as Orchard Road, Marina Bay, and Sentosa. Instead, check out the hotels and hostels in Little India, which is where most backpackers prefer to stay, or Geylang, which is famous not only for being Singapore’s red light district but also as a place where you would probably find the cheapest accommodations in the city. Don’t let Geylang’s infamy turn you off; it’s a place where you can find a lot of great places to eat in, and it’s also quite near the Singapore Sports Hub, home to fantastic sports facilities like the National Stadium of Singapore.

Visit Free Attractions

You can save a lot of money by spending time at Singapore’s free attractions. In fact, you might even have a more memorable experience by choosing free or cheaper attractions. For example, instead of going to Singapore Zoo, where a ticket costs SGD 37.00 per adult, why not see animals instead in their natural habitat at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve for a measly SGD 3.00?

You can also save a lot of money by skipping Universal Studios Singapore and going instead to Marina Bay, where lots of attractions are free, including the Spectra Light Show, the Gardens By
the Bay, and the Merlion Park.

It’s such a satisfying experience to be able to travel to Singapore without coming home a pauper. With the city’s many free and affordable attractions, everyone can have a Singapore vacation that’s right on budget.

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Everything you need to know about flying with a baby

elysee88199@gmail.com'

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Before the flight

Booking

– Fly early in the day! I can’t stress this enough. We have tried numerous flight patterns and times, and without a doubt, this has worked best. Let the baby sleep in the car on the way to the airport, keep him up a couple hours until on the plane, and then let him fall back to sleep for a few hours while in the air. You have to know your own baby to know what will work best for you, but I think in general, the earlier the better.
– Consider upgrading to economy plus for extra legroom. If you’re flying with an airline that offers this (like United’s Economy Plus), check into the price to see if it’s worth it to you. For short 1-2 hour flights, I probably wouldn’t swing for it, but if you’re traveling 3-4 hours? It definitely might be worth the extra $25.
– Make sure baby is on your itinerary as “infant in arms”. You’ll have to call the airline after booking your ticket to have them add this manually. We haven’t figured out a way to do this while booking online via Southwest, so if there’s some trick out there that we’re not aware of, please let me know!
– Check if your baby needs a separate ticket.
 Some airlines require a separate boarding document instead of simply listing an infant on mom or dad’s ticket. You should be able to print this at home along with your other tickets (or get a copy when you check-in).
– Consider investing in TSA Pre-Check.
 Especially if you or your spouse flies a lot for work. That way the whole family can go through the Pre-Check line together as long as you are booked on the same itinerary. Having this perk not only allows you to shorten your wait time at security significantly, but you’ll have some advantages like keeping small liquids and laptops in your bag and not having to take your shoes off.

Baby Gear

everything to know about flying with a baby

– Not sure what exactly you should bring? This list should help:1 large suitcase with clothes, toiletries and a few toys, a stroller, a baby carrier, a car seat (and a travel bag to protect if from dings and scuffs), 1 backpack (partner’s carry on/for electronics, etc.), and 1 baby bag (mom’s carry on/for baby stuff). We only pack enough diapers and wipes to get us to our destination, and then buy more when we get there (have you ever tried to pack diapers in a suitcase? SO MUCH WASTED SPACE!)
– Check with your airline on which baby items can be checked for free. Most US airlines will let you check one stroller and one car seat at no extra charge. And while most don’t advertise it in their policies, we’ve gotten away with checking a pack and play for free on Delta and United as well (we might’ve just had really nice ticket counter agents though, so don’t bank on it!)

Check out more on travel here.

In the Airport

Checking In

– Always check-in online (you do this anyway, right??), so all you have to do at the airport is check your luggage.
– Use the curbside baggage check if you can. You’ve checked in online already, so there’s no need to wait at the ticket counter if you don’t have to. But, for us, those first few minutes unloading are usually pretty awkward. Between getting Evelyn out of the car seat and into the ErgoBaby, and then packing up the car seat to be checked, along with wrangling all of our other stuff, I’m never quite prepared to hop right out of the car and hand all of our stuff away. Someday maybe we’ll get there. But if you can manage, it’ll save you time and your back from having to lug all your stuff all inside.

Security

You’ve made it this far and you’re almost through the worst of it. Stay strong!
– Wear shoes you can easily slip on and off. Because it’s not exactly easy to bend over and tie your shoes when you’re wearing a baby on your chest. If you’re using TSA Pre-Check, then even better, the shoes can stay on!
– Take your bottle/breast milk out of your carry-on for testing. I touched on this already, but to speed up the screening process, go ahead and take these out right away and put them in a separate bin, so security doesn’t have to go rummaging through your bag looking for them (whoops, guilty!).

In the Terminal

You’ve made it to the gate…now time to hurry up and wait!
– If you need to warm breast milk, bring an insulated mug that your bottle can fit inside. Ask the nearest coffee place to fill it halfway with hot water – instant bottle warmer! Most baristas will be glad to help once they understand what it’s for.
– The worst part of plane travel with babies (or kids in general) really is all the waiting. Once you’re at the gate, it’s time to go into full distraction mode. Make sure you have enough different toys, snacks, and (if appropriate) videos stashed on your phone to keep baby happy and engaged.
– Do one last diaper change before boarding. And don’t wait in line for the bathroom. Most airports now have a designated “mother’s room”, but it might be hidden inside the women’s bathroom, so you may have to do some snooping.

ON THE PLANE

Boarding

– If you have assigned seating, wait until the very last moment to board the plane. Although it’s no fun waiting in an airport, it’s 10x worse to be waiting on a plane. Sure you could use the family boarding, but what’s the point? Once your baby is starting to get mobile, the cramped airplane seat will drive them nuts. You don’t want to be on the plane any longer than you need to be. Now, this is not to say you should go off and get a coffee until you hear the final call. Be ready to go, right at the gate, where the attendant can see you.
– Be friendly. While waiting in the gate area and as you walk down the aisle to find your seat, smile and show everyone how CUTE your baby is. 

Settling In

– Take a window seat for the most space and privacy. I by far prefer a window to an aisle with a baby. You have a little bit of a buffer if they get wiggly and you can pull up the window shade for an easy “peek out of the window” distraction. Baby can also easily sleep in your arms without having to worry about their hanging their feet into the aisle or getting bumped by the drink cart. Some will say that an aisle seat is better, because you can easily escape in case you need to walk the aisle or change a diaper in the restroom. Maybe that’s true on longer haul flights, but personally, I don’t feel those advantages outweigh giving up the extra space.

-Try to snag a whole row. Although this is becoming less and less of an option (with flights nearly always being oversold these days), it’s worth a shot. Start by asking the flight attendant if you’re on a full flight. If there are several open seats, head for the back of the plane with you and baby on the window and your spouse on the aisle. Chances are, your middle will be left open (seriously, who wants a middle seat in the back of the plane next to a baby) and you’ll have more room to spread out. If someone does come foil your plan, your spouse can just slide over to the middle. The flight attendants will even nonchalantly try help you with your cause, so don’t worry about being “sneaky”. They see it all the time and would prefer to give you that empty seat if they have a choice.
– Once settled in, take your baby out of the carrier. You aren’t allowed to “wear” them during take-off or landing, but you can during the flight (no idea where that logic comes from).

– Ask the flight attendant for a small bottle of water if needed. And right away when you board, no need to wait for the drink cart.
– But, hold onto your bottle as long as you can. I never realized just how much time was spent boarding and taxiing until I flew with a baby. It is true, what they say, that giving a bottle during take-off can help baby’s ears adjust to the pressure changes. So if they are content for the moment, wait to give them a bottle until you a cleared for take-off. That said, never hold off your baby so long that it upsets him. A hungry baby is far worse than a baby with hurting ears.

In the Air

– Tether small toys to your wrist so they can’t be dropped and be prepared to alternate between them frequently. Now’s not the time for teaching patience. Break all the rules! Eat lots of snacks. Watch TV. Rip the pages out of the in-flight magazines. Bash together a couple bags of peanuts for an hour. Whatever keeps baby occupied and happy.
– Have your phone stocked with baby videos or games. This obviously doesn’t apply to little bitty babies.
– Scope out the bathrooms. Some planes have changing tables in every bathroom. Some only have them in the front or the back. And some really small planes don’t have them at all. Ask a flight attendant beforehand so you can prepare your game plan. In a pinch, changing a diaper in your seat really isn’t so bad (and can actually be easier for small babies).
– And finally, don’t use the water! Don’t use it for rinsing a bottle or paci and definitely don’t use it for drinking. I never realized how bacteria-infested airplane bathroom water was until one flight attendant nearly went into a panic when she thought Matt was going to rinse Evelyn’s bottle in the lavatory. Flight attendants will be more than happy to give you lots and lots of bottled water for rinsing, or you can use these Dr. Brown’s wipes to clean bottles or anything else that hits the floor.

That’s everything! Gear up and have a safe, well prepared for flight!

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“Magnificent Emeralds: Fura’s Tears” exhibition comes to New York, featuring the world’s largest gathering of important emerald specimens

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Wilensky curates a provocative, historic show in the heart of the Chelsea gallery arts district.

If art is an expression of beauty, then the exquisite minerals at the Wilensky gallery are the highest form of aesthetic that nature has to offer. This fall, set in their Chelsea gallery, Wilensky will exhibit the greatest collection of emerald mineral specimens ever assembled. This breathtaking exhibition will embrace the undeniable transformative power that emeralds hold on the human imagination. “Magnificent Emeralds: Fura’s Tears” will open on Thursday, September 26th and run through Monday, December 30th, 2019.

A human obsession for over 5,000 years, emeralds have been worshiped as a talisman, cut for ornaments and jewelry, and have inspired countless fashion runway shows with their color. Over the centuries, a myriad of writers have honored their history, geology, and gemology. A touchstone for artists, and a springboard for art, emeralds are timeless and live in many expressions. This exhibition is a prelude to that metamorphosis, a celebration of the specimen as it emerges from nature.

Emerald on Calcite, Fura's Tears
Emerald on Calcite, Coscuez Mine, Muzo Municipality, Vasquez – Yacopí mining district, Boyacá Department, Colombia. 9 cm height. (currently in the collection of the Rice Northwest Museum

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“The Yamile Emerald” Emerald on Calcite,from the Coscuez Mine,
Boyaca, Columbia. (formerly in the Víctor Carranza Niño collection, and
currently in the collection of Ms. Lyda Hill)

“This exhibition is focused on natural emeralds, as found and preserved in specimen and crystal form. By bringing together many of the world’s finest known examples of natural emerald specimens, we can better understand all emerald specimens. Important emerald stones and jewelry can be found in every gem collection around the world. The same cannot be said about exceptional natural emerald specimens. We estimate that there are less than twenty-five in the world that would qualify. Of those twenty-five, half of them are here on exhibit,” says Stuart Wilensky, President of Wilensky.

emerald new york agendadaily
Emerald on Calcite , from the Coscuez Mine, Boyaca, Columbia. (currently in the collection of Dr. Stephen Smale)

The significance of having half of the world’s finest known emerald specimens all in one place cannot be overstated. This has never happened in the history of mineral collecting. Wilensky invites the viewer to experience wonder and emotionally connect to the profoundly exquisite qualities of emerald specimens.

Amongst mineral collectors, emeralds are one of the most difficult specimens to acquire. Likened to the world’s greatest works of art, each emerald on display is a masterpiece. Elements of connoisseurship confirm significance, including: provenance, color, luster, and composition. Internationally renowned for building one-of-a-kind collections for many of the world’s most influential collectors, Wilensky is uniquely able to curate and elevate an emerald show of this caliber.

Exhibition highlights include an emerald on calcite from the Muzo Mine, formerly in the James Horner collection. One of the greatest mineral collectors to have ever lived, his matrix emerald is that which all others are measured against. It has the ultimate deep rich color, with a large, thick, double terminated crystal sitting atop a complete whitish to clear calcite crystal. Finding a specimen where the emerald crystal is attached to an attractive crystallized matrix is extremely unusual. Another highlight is an emerald on calcite from the Rice Northwest Museum, also unearthed in Muzo, which displays a rare group, or spray, of emeralds. Over twenty emeralds fan out from the matrix; it is one of the most significant specimens in this style.

Emerald Crystal, from the Muzo Mine, Colombia (currently in the collection of Dr. Eugene Meieran)

Gene Meieran, President of the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, says, “It is a rewarding experience to be able to see so many of the great uncut emeralds, from so many mines and found over so many years, indeed centuries and millennia, in one place. Like a gathering of Rembrandts or Van Goghs, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Emerald, a mineral important enough to be regarded as a biblical gemstone, and yet now is used as a modern laser….wow! It is an honor and pleasure to have some of my specimens included in Wilensky’s exhibit.”

Emerald on Calcite, from the most famous of all emerald mines, Muzo Mines, Muzo, Boyaca, Colombia.
5 cm. tall by 5 cm. wide

Connecting to the mythological tale of Fura and Tena, from the now extinct Muzos indigenous people of the Colombian Andes, the exhibition narrates emeralds through their creation story, where the tears of Fura’s infidelity begot the beloved green rocks. The seductive connection between nature, beauty, legend and art are explored through the mesmerizing green of the specimens.

Exclusively featuring historic emeralds in the contemporary gallery space, “Magnificent Emeralds: Fura’s Tears” will run from September 26th through December 30th 2019, Monday through Saturday, from 11:00 AM-6:00 PM at Wilensky, 173 10th Avenue, New York, NY, 10011. For questions regarding exquisite minerals or sales, contact the gallery directly at info@wilenskyminerals.com, call 646-822-0837, or visit www.wilenskyminerals.com.

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Sport

Surfing The World’s Longest Wave In Brazil

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The indigenous people who live along the Amazon River in Brazil have a word for the tidal bore that rushes in from the Atlantic Ocean. They call the wave Pororoca, which translates to “big roar”. Find out how surfer Serginho Laus has mastered what is one of the longest waves in the world.

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