Category Archives: Singapore



WTF I will post about Indonesia soon, but it was not a great time. I decided to head back to Thailand as I had never seen the north and from there go see Myanmar and Laos.  While booking a flight I had a layover in Singapore.  I haven’t been to Singapore in 28 years so I decided to stay there for five days and booked two flights.

Arriving in Singapore I found a hotel on Agoda and took a taxi there.  By this time it was 11:00 at night.  I was issued room 420.  420 hotel room signs are not stolen here as they are in the US and Canada.  My $100 a night hotel was a surprise, despite being highly rated, the elevator walls were galvanized steel. I used something similar underneath a course grained wire floor for my rabbit hutches.

The floor was unfinished concrete and the walls reminded me of those of a self storage building.  Prices are insane. $45 for lunch, $2.50 for half a liter of water at a convenience store.  Gum is illegal to sell.  I exchanged $100 US for $100 Singapore with the agreement that I would repay the hotel in Singapore dollars and get my US money back.

Across the street from the hotel was a food mall.  Several dozen vendors offered Singapore fast food twenty four hours a day.  I ordered a beef noodle soup from an irritable man.  I simply pointed at what he had served the previous patron and held up one finger.  He scowled, perspiration dripping down his face through the clouds of steam emanating from the various broths.  I wouldn’t have been happy either.  A lady came up behind me and spoke to the man in chinese and then told me she had ordered for me, also telling me that it wasn’t me, a lot of these people are just plain unhappy.

Back to the room, I sent messages to people in Ukraine, Romania, Brazil, Australia, Panama, Israel, Russia and China.  I get lots of messages.

What the hell am I doing here?  I went online to change my reservation, but Chase bank did it’s usual and wanted me to use their Verified by Visa system which popped up a window and then closed without asking me for my password, which was never created for this card anyway and then my reservation change was declined due to a problem with payment.  I detest Chase Bank.

The hotel offered two poached eggs for $19.  I walked across the street, and had what was called an omelette.  Mix half an onion with two eggs, whip and make a thin overcooked pancake like thing and you can reproduce this culinary masterpiece.

I tried to change my flight online, but Tiger Air invoked the dreaded “Verified by Visa” service that never works.  A window “Verified by Visa” flashed, never asked for a password I never assigned, disappeared and notified me that my payment was declined by my bank.  I have never successfully used “Verified by Visa” with this card.

Fifteen minutes of wandering the streets and I found a money changer, changed $200 US to $248 Singapore, returned to the hotel, exchanged $100 Singapore for $100 US, called a cab and headed to the airport to change my reservation.

I explained to the driver that I had spent $200 in 14 hours in Singapore and just wanted to leave.  \When we got to the airport the meter read $15.  I unloaded my bags and said the driver “It’s a free ride today for a weary and worn out traveller, right?” and I gave him a smile.  He replied, “It’s free today for my friend.” and turned to get into the car.  What? What?  Wait. I gave him $20. He thanked me, smiled and bowed.

Off to the Tiger Air ticket counter.  I was told the additional fee was $180 to fly.  Great.  It’s a $60 ticket.  Oh and there is a $50 departure tax.  I could get a refund if I called the service desk, I needed to buy a SIM for my phone. I went to a money changer and told the woman I was buying the SIM to make one phone call, she told me to just give her a dollar and she would give me change and I should use the pay phone if it was a local call.  I attempted that but the phone said “Invalid Number, Card Required.” Back to the ticket counter.  She told me again that I needed a SIM, I could not make the call from a public phone.
Back to the money changer I bought a SIM an struggled through a low quality call and for $60 change fee and an additional $60 fare change upgraded changed my $60 ticket to fly today. I gave the girl my Indonesian SIM to give to the next person buying Rupiah.

I immediately checked in to make sure everything was ok, cleared security and roamed around.  The Changi airport is amazing, there are five gardens, free high speed WIFI that works everywhere, 100 MB/s computers with nothing but a browser available, no software is installable (actually they are running XP as declared by the browser user agent), rooms with computers loaded with internet games for free, free console gaming kiosks,  four different tours of different areas of the City for free, a swimming pool, a gym, plenty of comfortable chairs everywhere. For every four chairs there are three electrical outlets and two USB charging outlets.  There is a movie theatre, but I don’t know how many movie offerings it has.  Shopping for anything from way overpriced electronics. My Samsung phone was over twice what it costs in Vietnam or the Philippines.

Chase Bank

Original Message Follows:
This Verified by Visa thing just doesn’t work. Any site
that requires it pops up a window that doesn’t work and
then I get declined on the payment.

I have missed many booking opportunities for flights. By
the time I go to the airport to book, the flights have
gone up hundreds of dollars. I never asked for it on this
account. Please just turn it off. And please don’t ask
me to call you, there is no addiitional information I can
tell you.
Dear James Schmidt,

Chase’s expected insipid reply

Thank you for contacting Chase about the Verified by Visa

I apologize for the inconvenience caused due to this. For
additional assistance, you can call us at 800-654-9214.

If you have any further questions, please reply using the
Secure Message Center.

Thank you,

Nidhi Agarwal
Customer Service Specialist
2:55 Called 20 rings no answer
3:03 Called 20 rings no answer
3:27 No answer
3:33 No answer

Fuck you Chase.


I roamed around from terminal to terminal looking at the gardens, wandered through the shops, chatted online with girls from Thailand, Croatia and Russia.  I wrote a few blog entries and edited some pictures, mostly by culling.

A two and a half hour flight and I was in Bangkok.  After clearing customs one may buy SIMS from five different phone companies all 299 baht for 100 minutes of phone calls and unlimited internet for a week.  I picked up a 3GB SIM for DTAC and headed downstairs to the train station.

About 30 baht bought me fare to Makkasan where I grabbed a cab to Sukhumvit.  I gave the driver the address.  He had no clue. I showed him where it was on the map.  He had no clue. I showed him the route. The dude couldn’t read a map.  I just waved him on and pointed right and left when he should turn.  We arrived twelve minutes later.   I don’t know how people travel without smart phones.