Monday, July 27, 2009

Driving from Singapore to Sibu Island's ferry terminal

After getting our car in Singapore, we set off to travel to Sibu Island. Because we had some little ones with us, we decided to stay on the mainland rather than on the island. Our experience staying on Malaysia's islands has been pretty broad over the years, so we knew that getting a reliable, comfortable hotel for kids (one is below 2 years) could be a little iffy. You can get great places, but you can also be unlucky enough to get spots that don't have water or electricity for some reason or another. If you're on the mainland, you've always got the choice to drive on until you find a nice spot to stay. Taht isn't true on the islands.

So, we decided to drive to Tajung Leman and stay there, taking a boat out just for snorkeling during the day. Our drive was fairly smooth, but there were three little hiccups along the way.

The first came at customs, where we were stopped and the 4 members of our party who were carrying US passports were asked to go have their temperature taken because of the H1N1 scare. All had been in Singapore for more than a month, and one had not been in the US since 2008. But still, that was the requirement. (Never mind that one of the Singapore-passport-holders had been in the US more recently — she was exempted!) It was not a big deal, but did slow us down a little.

The second obstacle we met was a very heavy rain. Traffic was pretty slow, and the downpour was very heavy. Nothing much you can do about the weather, but it, again, put us coming in later than we had hoped.

The third thing was the most irritating of the 3. I had found road directions online, and they said that the signs from Singapore to Tanjong Leman were clearly marked. That is true, except for in one spot where the signs direct you to turn off earlier than you should. There are actually 3-4 different spots where you can turn off from the main highway and get to Tanjong Leman, and the first one (coming from Singapore) seems to take the longest. We ended up turning into a palm oil plantation and having quite a long drive (much of it in the rain). It doesn't have to be that way, as the later turnoff is really good.

Anyway, the trip from Singapore should take roughly 2 1/2 - 3 hours, and we stretched it up to around 4 because of these 3 hiccups. Not a bad trip, but a part of the journey that could have been a little smoother. We were able to make the trip home much more quickly, so it is possible.

If you head up that way from Singapore, do check out the best directions you can get. And beware of the tricky signs on the highway.




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Friday, July 24, 2009

Road Trip to Malaysia — where do I get a good deal on a car?

Well, it has taken me longer to get my computer fixed than I thought it would, and so my report on my recent trip to Malaysia is somewhat overdue. All the same, here it is (if a little late). Let me start my report with where the trip started — getting a good deal on a car.

There are lots of car rental spots in both Singapore and Malaysia that can get a vehicle for you. Prices can vary, but overall, it isn't hard to find a decent deal. Getting good service can be a different story. Knowing who to trust is the key here, as good service will make the whole experience a lot more pleasant and comfortable.

I prefer Chan's Car Rental to all the other companies I've used. In fact, the competition is nowhere close. Chan's is a family business, and they obviously take pride in the family name. I have used them at various times over the years, and was very pleasantly surprised this time around when the father, Mr. Chan himself, came out to greet me by name. The business is mostly run by the two younger Mr. Chans now, his sons, and they were equally friendly and helpful, as they have been over the past 15 years of our acquaintance.

Chan's offers good prices on their cars, and the vehicles are all very well maintained. For repeat customers, there is a discount available (and of course, there's the added touch of that personal greeting!). I was able to get our vehicle for 8 of us to travel in for around $300 for the 2 days that we needed it. That's a very reasonable price, and the car was very comfortable and provided a nice driving experience.

There are other car rental companies in Singapore, of course. I've had to use them from time to time when I could not get a vehicle at Chan's for some reason or another (though that doesn't happen often). From my experience, Chan's is still the best, with good vehicles, good prices, and outstanding service. If you need to rent a car, truck, or van, I can highly recommend them. For this recent trip, they've maintained the standard I've come to expect from them, earning full marks once again.




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Saturday, July 04, 2009

I'm Back (I hope)

Apologies for the long break blogging here. I've had some trouble with my network. I think/hope it is resolved now, but one can never quite be sure... At any rate, if it is taken care of, I should be back to a more normal blogging schedule around here.

I've also just returned from a short snorkeling trip in Malaysia. I'll be posting the breakdown of our trip over the next week or so, so check back over the next few days for more on Sibu Island.




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