Thursday, January 28, 2016

Zika Virus Singapore updates


Update Jan 29th 2016: Zika virus is spreading explosively says World Health Organization today. According to a WHO scientist there may be 3 to 4 million cases in Latin America in the next year.

Update Jan 28th 2016 : Pregnant women are urged to not travel to Latin American and Caribbean countries where zika virus is spreading fast. This warning also includes women who plans to become pregnant.

The virus is linked to microcephaly, a rare and brutal condition that shrinks the brains and skulls of the newborns. Babies with microcephaly have an abnormally small brain and skull for their age, in the womb or at birth, with varying degrees of brain damage as a result. It has many potential causes: infections, viruses, toxins or unknown genetic factors.

Right now the list includes Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, and Venezuela. Here is the update list of countries with zika virus outbreak : Zika Travel Information.

If you're pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, avoid traveling to places where the virus is circulating (Source : Vox)
Zika virus, a virus related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses, has been a major public health concern since the possible link between the Zika virus infection in pregnancy and microcephaly in fetuses and new borns. Although zika–microcephaly link is not scientifically proven yet, most experts agree that it is highly likely that there is a link. Microcephaly is defined as abnormal smallness of the head and is a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development. Zika–Microcephaly link came to light when the microcephaly cases jumped to thousands compare to a few hundred in previous years.

Before zika–microcephaly link was put forward, zika virus was not a concern at all because in adults, the virus causes mostly no symptoms or symptoms are mild.

What makes Singapore vulnerable is the aedes mosquito population here. This is the same mosquito responsible for the transmission of the dengue virus. Zika virus scare came at a time when 2016 aedes mosquito population and dengue fever cases exploded due to warmer than usual rainy season. The Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency (NEA) of Singapore is now introducing measures to guard against the Zika virus taking hold in Singapore.

Currently there is no detected cases in Singapore but the passenger traffic between the effected countries is large and Zika virus is already detected in many tourists returning from Latin America to Europe. It doesn't help that in South-east Asia, some zika cases have been detected in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, East Malaysia and Thailand in recent years.

Zika virus Singapore - aedes mosquito (aedes aegypti)
Females of Aedes aegypti a.k.a  yellow fever mosquito is the principal vector for dengue fever. Aedes mosquitos are also vectors for zika virus.
Once established, zika virus would be very difficult to eradicate from an area since aedes mosquito is constantly present here. NEA says "There is a high risk of subsequent local transmission, as the Aedes mosquito vector is present here. As such, the virus may become endemic in Singapore".

Singapore authorities have advised returning travellers from affected areas to seek medical attention if they develop symptoms of Zika such as fever, skin rash, joint and muscle pain, headache and red eyes. But 80% of the adults with the virus shows no symptoms at all, so it will be a difficult task to isolate the infected people. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Dengue in Singapore


Warm weather conditions have caused significant increase in dengue cases in Singapore in January 2016. In the week ending 16 January 2016, 628 dengue cases were reported which is higher than the cases in the same week in 2013 (last major outbreak in Singapore was 2013 dengue outbreak).

Warmer weather conditions are causing faster breeding and maturing cycle for aedes mosquitoes and there is thus an increase in the mosquito population.

What is Dengue Fever?

 Dengue Fever and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (a more severe form) is an illness caused by infection with a virus transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. There are four serotypes of this virus (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4) which can infect you.

There is currently no drug for dengue but there is an intense effort to develop a dengue vaccine. Most cases follow a classic, non-fatal virus infection but in a small proportion of the cases, the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.

Aedes aegypti a.k.a  yellow fever mosquito

Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito within the genus Aedes, principally Aedes aegypti. The mosquito can be recognized by white markings on its legs and a marking in the form of a lyre on the upper surface of the thorax (see below image). Also follow the link if you want to check out how does aedes mosquito looks like.

Aedes aegypti a.k.a  yellow fever mosquito
Females of Aedes aegypti a.k.a  yellow fever mosquito is the principal vector for dengue fever.
Active Dengue Clusters in Singapore

Singapore government hangs these big banners with red, green and yellow dots in dengue clusters *(see color coded dengue alert system) but these are easy to miss. Checking active dengue clusters in Singapore in National Environment Agency's Dengue page can help you to do simple plans to reduce your chance to have dengue. Today for example, I have realized that my workplace, my house and my kid's kindergarden are all just next to active dengue clusters only after checking the active dengue clusters web page. This means no outside park play around my house and kindergarden as well as using bus instead of walking from work to MRT.  

Reduce cost of car ownership in Singapore


Car is an expensive item to buy and maintain but if you think you have to buy one in Singapore, consider the below tips to reduce your purchasing and maintenance cost.

Use HDB parking - There are plenty of housing areas around the island and there are usually enough number of available parking lots in HDB car parks. If you are traveling a lot for work, familiarizing yourself with nearest HDB parking lots will save you a lot of money. HDB carparks are free in the weekends and it costs only 10 Dollars for an all-day parking ticket.

Buy a pre-owned car - An affordable pre-owned car will be usually cheaper to buy. 10-year ownership of a new car in Singapore will have much higher monthly car loan payments. This is because a new car will be more expensive than a used car.

Pay your car loan faster - Singapore car loan rates is around 2.78% at the moment and early payment will provide better savings in the long run. This is because accumulated interest rate of car loans will be much higher for a longer loan repayment period.

Buy a fuel-efficient car - A Renault Kadjar uses only 3.9 litres per 100 km which amounts to 826 SGD per year compared to a more "normal car"which can use 2,683 SGD (assuming 20K kilometers per year usage).

Know your car - Using your car to the book and maintaining it in optimum conditions (regular engine oil checks, gentle driving habits, right tire pressure, keeping your car lightweight) will save you tonnes of money in the long run.

You do not need to drive every day - This seems financially obvious but when you have car, you can think of maximizing its usage by trying to use it everyday. This may be costly. For example a family trip to a nearby mall can be faster, cheaper and more comfortable with a taxi in a weekend than driving.

    

Monday, November 23, 2015

GrabTaxi deactivated my account due to suspicious(!) activity


I have started to use GrabTaxi approximately 1 year ago and initially I liked an alternative way to call a taxi (in Sengkang, it is difficult to find a taxi, even if you call the lines). But since then, I have not used it frequently for several reasons such as Uber, the rude behaviour of taxi drivers (when booked from GrabTaxi) and so on. Last time I remember was months ago.

Then last week, I suddenly got this message from GrabTaxi :

"We found suspicious activity after an analysis of the validity of your booking history. As this is against the code of conduct, we have to deactivate your access to the GrabTaxi app. You can appeal via this form: ...."

Suspicious activity? What? I don't remember anything. But then i googled for the message and found out a few people who had the same message after they did not take the car they booked. So I remember the last one.

I wanted to go from Compass Point to city and booked a taxi by GrabTaxi while I was in thw queue. Then the queue moved fast and I found a taxi and took it (it was very urgent). I opened GrabTaxi app but could not cancel the booking (the button simply did not work!). I tried many times and after that I called the taxi driver and apologized. He did not seem to bother a lot (queue for taxi behind me was long anyway). Maybe he was cheerful in the call but complained about me.

The only other problem I had was with a driver months ago which I did not bother to complain (instead I stopped using GrabTaxi as the first option to get a taxi). My daughter was sick with 39 degrees C fever and she was vomiting so we decided to go to KKH. I used GrabTaxi to call this guy. He came late, he stopped behind the apartment and insisted us to walk to him instead of him driving to lobby (later he drove to the lobby). He was rude and then when we wanted to put a bag on the front seat and he refused, we decided to pay him and left the car after going only 50 meters. Maybe it was not enough for him and after leaving a sick kid with 39 degrees fever, he also wanted to complain about me.

I realized the taxi drivers care much less about the service quality when they are called from GrabTaxi. So I started to use it as a last resort. But still it would be nice to have it.

Anyway, I filled in the form but in internet I can see that they do not bother to reply you. If the "suspicious activity" is only the last transaction where I could not cancel a booking because of their app (I will assume this is the case until they reply my message), then I prefer to not use them. Anyway, I loved Uber and I started to use it instead of GrabTaxi long time ago. Hopefuly their customer service is not as bad as GrabTaxi's. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

iPhone 6S in Singapore : Prices, Release Date, Contract Plans and specs


iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus will be released in Singapore on September 25th 2015.The new iPhone 6S prices are also released. iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models will be approximately $60 more expensive than iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S Plus.

SingTel, M1 and StarHub all released their price plans for this newest iPhone from Apple.

SingTel iPhone 6S price plans are not surprising and mainly follows the previous years. The cheapest monthly contract plan Combo 1 offers iPhone 6S 64 GB for $858 and iPhone 6S Plus 64 GB at $1,008 while the monthly payments are $27.90. The most expensive SingTel iPhone 6S contract is named Combo 12 and it offers all iPhone 6S and 6S plus types freely while montly payments are $239.9. SingTel iPhone price plans can be found here : SingTel iPhone 6S Price Plan.

M1 iPhone 6S price plans are also released and you can access them here : M1 iPhone Plans & Prices. M1 prices are $1 per month more pricier compared to last year.

For StarHub iPhone 6S price plans you can check StarHub iPhone 6S / 6S Plus Price Plan.StarHub’s 4G 3 plan would be the cheapest amongst all Singapore telcos.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kids party planner Singapore


Birthday parties are an important way to celebrate your children. E MAGICAL MOMENT – a kids party planner in Singapore offers some of the most memorable and fun-filled party experiences in Singapore. We have something to indulge the passions and dreams of almost every kid, and those who are kids at heart. Let our experienced entertainers bring magic and creativity to your next birthday party.

We will amaze both kids and parents with our magic show. Magic brings a sense of wonder and can transport you to worlds full of imagination. This interactive, entertaining show is a real crowd-pleaser, and vibrant music adds to the energy. Plus, the birthday boy or girl will get to play a special role assisting the magician, and is sure to remember that experience for years to come.

We love to play and are ready to entertain even the youngest kids. Our birthday party packages activities are fun and energetic, and we do all the work! Enjoy Singapore's best balloon artists as they make balloon sculpture for each party guest, and then show their skill with some truly impressive designs that will keep everyone wide-eyed with wonder. Our magic show also include a comedy-filled magic show perfect for little ones. The magician will take part in the birthday cake-cutting ceremony as well, making this special tradition even more memorable.

Our birthday party packages are a great choice, and you can choose one that best suits your party needs, budget and time frame. Packages can include games, magic and games, and variety options. Choose from face painting, glitter tattoo or caricature as part of the variety package. We can also customize a birthday party that is perfect for your kid, and look forward to working with you to create your dream party.

Kids Party Planner Singapore

Find out more here at Singapore Kids Party Planner.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 release in Singapore


Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smart phone will be released in Singapore on saturday 15th August 2015 and the basic model price will be $1,088. This is different from the previous releases since Samsung was announcing new Galaxy Note models in Septembers and shipping them in Octobers (Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was announced in Berlin in September 2014).

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 features a 64 bit quad core CPU, 5.7 Inch QHD Super Amoled display, Android 5.1.1. Lollipop and comes in 32 GB / 64 GB memory and 4 GB RAM. Unlike the previous Galaxy Note models, Samsung Galaxy Note 5 will not have removable batteries and will not feature microSD cards. And like Samsung Galaxy S6, this Note 6 model has glass and metal chassis.

Samsung has created this phablet market (large screen phones) but is losing ground to Apple's IPhone 6 Plus and some cheaper Android phablet producers.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Samsung Galaxy Note 5  

Thai women charged for insulting sexy dance in front of a temple


Two Thai women performing a sexy dance in front of a historical Thai temple,  Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, charged for performing 'insulting' sexy dance. The five-minute video clip, which is posted on YouTube, shows Ms Thannicha Nampanya (27) and Ms Nitikarn Chotthanapongsathit (30) dancing in front of the Unesco World Cultural Heritage site. The women turned themselves in after the video went viral and charged with violating a section of the Ancient Monuments, Antiquities and National Museums Act.

The video shows both women wearing short red dresses and according to Rawat Prasong, the assistant governor of Ayutthaya, both their dance and attire were inappropriate.
Thai Police escorting the women to the temple for re-enacment. Photo Bangkok Post

mh370 latest news



The seemingly routine redeye flight of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370/MAS370) from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8th 2014 has turned into a tragedy and one of the greatest mysteries of aviation history. MH370 has diverted from its route, crossed Malaysia and flew south into the wast South Indian Ocean. Since then only one sign of the flight appeared : a Boeing 777 flaperon found on Reunion Island has been confirmed, according to Malaysian authorities, from flight MH370.

August 13th 2015 - Zaaim Redha Abdul Rahman, a satellite communication expert, told Malaysia News Agency Bernama that he believes MH370 is largely intact and lying somewhere beneath the southern Indian Ocean. He believes the Boeing 777 sank into the ocean in one piece after probably floating for a while.
Speaking to Bernama in an interview recently, Zaaim Redha said his theory that the plane probably "glided down" was supported by evidence in the form of the integrity of the two-metre-long flaperon, which was discovered on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and confirmed to be part of the missing MH370 plane. 
"It (the flaperon) was only slightly damaged and was just encrusted with barnacles. Its appearance indicates that it was not violently torn off from the aircraft's main body...it does seem that it got detached pretty nicely at its edges," he explained.
Source : MH370 Plane Sank In Indian Ocean In Almost One Piece, Claims Satcom Expert
 If this was what happened, it would probably mean that someone has glided MH370 down to the ocean surface since a fuel deprives aircraft without pilot or auto-pilot would spiral down and nose dive into the ocean. A pilot should be in control because even with the presence of an experience pilot, the ocean surface landing of a large aircraft would be a devastating as seen in Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 crash video. The plane was hijacked and forced to divert to Australia. Although the pilot tried to explain the hijackers that the plane do not have enough fuel to fly to Australia from Africa, the hijackers forced the route. When the plane was out of fuel, the pilot tried to land it to the beach. The following sea surface landing was devastating because the plane did not have power to deploy flaps to reduce the landing speed. Of 163 people on board, 50 still survived the crash.

MH370 flaperon debris found on Reunion Island
9M - MRO, the missing Boeing 777 of flight MH370 seen above. Recovered flaperon is circled.
August 13th 2015 - Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) has confirmed that Boeing 777 flaperon found on Reunion Island is from flight MH370. The wing part was discovered on July 29th. On August 6th, Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak confirmed that part of the flaperon found on the island was part of the aircraft.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

How to get to Singapore Zoo?


Singapore Zoo is probably one of the best tourist attraction Singapore offers to its visitors. Nested on 26 hectare wild park which is set in a larger rainforest reservation area on a peninsular in a large water reservoir, Singapore Zoo hosts many wild animals and attractions.

The easiest and most convenient way to get to the Singapore Zoo is Safari Gate. For $7 per adult and $5 per child you can get from city center to Mandai (where the Zoo is) and for $5 per adult or child from Mandai to the city. It passes through some popular and central Singapore hotels like Orchard Hotel, Marriott Hotel, Mandarin Hotel, SVC@Orchard, Orchard Plaza, Rendezvous Hotel, SAM/Carlton Hotel and Raffles City/Swissotel.

For Singapore Zoo bus time table and details of Safari Gate, you can visit Safari Gate web page.

Singapore Attractions Express (SAEx®) Service is another convenient and  popular way to access Singapore Zoo. 2-way trip between city and Singapore Zoo costs $10 per adult and $5 per child and you can also only purchase one way trip. SAEx buses passes through Orchard Hotel, DFS Galeria, Sheraton Towers, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Mandarin Orchard, Concorde Hotel, Hotel Rendezvous, Little India Arcade, Gemini Travel, Farrer Park MRT Station, Quality Hotel and Ibis Singapore Novena.

For Singapore Zoo bus time table and details, you can visit SAEx Service web page.

Singapore Zoo is deep inside Singapore island but it can be relatively easily reached by public transport network. If you are planning to go to Singapore Zoo, you need to get at minimum an MRT ride and then change to a bus to reach to the Zoo.

The nearest MRT stations to the zoo are Ang Mo Kio MRT Station (NS16) or  Choa Chu Kang MRT/LRT Station (NS4/BP1) on North South Line (or the Red Line as popularly known in Singapore). If you are coming from the city, the best is Ang Moi Kio MRT Station. This station is adjacent to a bus interchange from where you need to take Bus 927. The bus you need to take from Choa Chu Kang is 138.

On Sundays and public holidays, bus 926 also buses from Marsiling MRT Station (NS8) and Woodlands MRT Station (NS9) which are also closed to the Singapore Zoo.

Another way to access Singapore Zoo is to mix public transportation and SAEx (see above) and go to Farrer Park MRT Station and then get a SAEx bus.

If you are heading Singapore Zoo by taxi, you can calculate the cost by taxi fare calculator. Currently, taxi fare calculator shows a 24 minutes taxi trip which costs 15.28 Singapore Dollars from Orchard Hotel (a central hotel) to Singapore Zoo at normal flag down fare (no peak hour).

A sample taxi fare calculation for Singapore Zoo