Monday, September 24, 2018

OWD at Tioman (21 - 23 Oct 2018)

5th teaching trip of 2018, 28th teaching trip, 8th SSI teaching trip.

Dive #1
Location: Soyak
Max depth: 8.1m
Bottom time: 8.1m (1225 - 1310)

Dive #2
Location: Soyak
Max depth: 6.3m
Bottom time: 50min (1448 - 1538)

Dive #3
Location: Pirate Reef
Max depth: 15m
Bottom time: 28min (1714 - 1742)

Dive #4
Location: Renggis (East)
Max depth: 9.8m
Bottom time: 35min (0935 - 1010)

Dive #5
Location: Renggis (West)
Max depth: 13.0m
Bottom time: 31min (1118 - 1149)



Mandatory Nasi Ayam


Idaman resort


Soyak


Berjaya's jetty




Sunset


Narcosis Burger


Hungry kitty


Turtle at Renggis



More pictures: OWD at Tioman (21 - 23 Oct 2018)

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Kazakhstan + Beijing (21 - 31 Aug 2018)

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Tips for traveling to Kazakhstan

  • SIM card is relatively affordable. 2000₸ (SGD$7.37) is more than sufficient
  • Download Russian keyboard to you smartphone, then use online translation services during the trip
  • Download 2GIS for map that can perform search function offline. It also provides bus information which is better than Google maps
  • Bring USD
  • Bicycle is available in both Astana and Almaty. However, the path may not be very smooth and you may need to bring the bike up and down kerbs
  • Public transport are generally fixed rates regardless of distance (In Almaty, buses are 150₸ and metro 80₸, while in Astana, buses are 180₸)
  • Check the opening hours or operating hours of places of interest (e.g. Cable car at Shymbulak may close as early as 1630hrs)
  • You may want to consider pre-book tours for the following locations because they are quite a distance from Almaty. Last minute booking may not get you on tours which need min number of pax.
    • Big Almaty Lake, Большое Алматинское Озеро
    • Charyn Canyon National Park, Шарын мемлекеттік ұлттық табиғи паркі
    • Kaindy Lake, Каинды
    • Kolsai Lake, озеро Кольсай
  • For non-Singaporeans, you will need to take note of the special rule when entering Kazakhstan. Make sure you have 2 stamps on the immigration card. See also: 

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Flight Details


International Flight from Singapore to Astana via Beijing using Air China

Air Itinerary Details

Outbound
SIN - Singapore, Changi International Airport
Terminal 1
Tue, 21 Aug 2018, 09:00
Boeing 787-900

PEK - Beijing, Capital International Airport
Terminal 3
Tue, 21 Aug 2018, 15:20

Air China
CA 976
Flying Time: 
6hr20min 


PEK - Beijing, Capital International Airport
Terminal 3
Thu, 21 Aug 2018, 17:15
Boeing 737 MAX 8
TSE - Astana, Astana International Airport
Thu, 21 Aug 2018, 21:00
Air China
CA 791
Flying Time: 
5hr and 45min
*Connection time:  1h55m


Inbound
TSE - Astana, Astana International Airport
Thu, 30 Aug 2018, 22:30
Boeing 737 MAX 8
PEK - Beijing, Capital International Airport
Terminal 3
Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 05:30

Air China
CA 792
Flying Time: 5hr*Connection time:  18h40m
PEK - Beijing, Capital International Airport
Terminal 3
Sat, 1 Sep 2018, 00:10
Boeing 787-900
SIN - Singapore, Changi International Airport
Terminal 1
Sat, 1 Sep 2018, 06:30

Air China
CA 975
Flying Time: 
6hr 20min


Tickets Fare

Base Fare
$480.00
Taxes and Fees
$277.50
  • Surcharge (Carrier imposed MISC fee)
  • Airport Development Levy
  • Aviation Levy
  • Passenger Security Service Charge
  • Airport Fee
  • Passenger Sevice Charge
  • $184.80
  • $10.80
  • $6.10
  • $30.40
  • $36.80
  • $8.30
Total
SGD $757.50

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Domestic Flight from Astana to Almaty via SCAT Airline

DV-754 (Boeing 737-300): 23:05 - 00:30 (+1)

₸16,965 (SGD$63.43)


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Day 1, 21 Aug 18 (Tue)


Prepare to take off




Transit via Beijing Capital International Airport 北京首都国际机场


Having the entire row to myself


#Sunset


Domestic flight - SCAT Airline (Boeing 737-300)

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Day 2, 22 Aug 18 (Wed)




Kazakh-British Technical University Қазақcтан-Британ техникалык университеті


Zenkov's Cathedral Свято-Вознесенский Кафедральный собор






Park 28 Panfilovtsev. Парк 28 Панфиловцев.


Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments Музей народных музыкальных инструментов им. Ыхласа


Green Bazaar Орталық Көк Базар


Horse meat

Green Bazaar Орталық Көк Базар Almaty Алматы Kazakhstan Қазақстан - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA





Spices


Lunch


Horse Milk


Almaty Central Mosque Центральная мечеть Алматы

Almaty Central Mosque Центральная мечеть Алматы Kazakhstan Қазақстан - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA



Almaty is also nicknamed as City of Apples


Abylai Khan monument Памятник Абылай Хану


Alma Ata 2 Railway station вокзал Алма-Ата-2




Token for Almaty Metro - Fixed rate at 80 Tenge (SGD$0.30) regardless of distance


Raiymbek batyr Metro station Райымбек батыр бекеті


Zhibek Zholy station Жібек Жолы




Almaly station Алмалы


Moskva Station Мәскеу


Alatau station Алатау


Auezov Theater station Мұхтар Әуезов атындағы театры


Long escalator






Independence Monument Тәуелсіздік монументі




Kok Tobe Cable Car: ₸2,000 (SGD$7.48)




Lamb Shashlik meal at Sololaki 6,500₸ (SGD$24.24)


Almaty Television Tower Көктөбе телемұнарасы


Umbrellas


Ferris wheel


Waiting for sunset






Panoramic


Flowers









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Day 3, 23 Aug 18 (Thu)


Finally a sunny day


ПерекуCity Mixx - A breakfast like this is 440₸ (SGD$1.64)
The ПерекуCity is like a 24hrs canteen that I can have breakfast to late night supper anytime I wish


Big Almaty Lake Большое Алматинское Озеро is about 1hr (35km) from Sky Hostel Almaty








First President park Тұңғыш Президент Паркі


360






Kazakhstan Hotel Гостиница Казахстан - Take a public bus from here to Medeu


Bus 12 from Kazakhstan Hotel to Medeu Cable Car (Screen capture from 2GIS)




Medeu Cable Car: ₸2,500 (SGD$9.35)


Medeu Skating rink






Unfortunately, by the time I am up, the next tier of cable cars to the summit is already closed.












Abay Kunanbaev Monument Памятник Абаю Кунанбаеву


Sunset


Barfly bar/pub/restaurant at 26th floor of Kazakhstan Hotel


Horsemeat steak


Total dinner cost at Barfly: ₸12,200 (SGD$45.62)


Dining at one of the tallest building of Almaty






Even the toilet has a magnificent view


Dolce Karaoke




Night

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Day 4, 24 Aug 18 (Fri)






Revisited Green Bazar






Central Park Центральный парк культуры и отдыха




Dostyk Plaza






Promoters


Mega Park


Satbayev Kazakh National Technical University Қ. И. Сəтбаев атындағы Қазақ Ұлттық Техникалық Университеті


Metro gantry


360 inside the metro


Abay Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater Абай атындағы қазақ мемлекеттік академиялық опера және балет театры


The Museum Of The Rare Books Сирек кездесетін кітаптар мұражайы


300 Tenge (KZT) for a 0.5litre local beer, that's like SGD$1.20...

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Day 5, 25 Aug 18 (Sat)


Waking up with a view of snow-capped mountains behind Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest metropolis. Where else can you find nature so close to a city?




Revisited Mega Park


在哈萨克斯坦也可以看到女神




Snow leopards have symbolic meaning for Turkic peoples of Central Asia, where the animal is known as irbis or bars, so it is widely used in heraldry and as an emblem. A snow leopard is found on the official seal of the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, and the former 10,000 Kazakhstani tenge banknote also featured one on the reverse. (Source: Wikipedia)




Road works in progress


Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan Центральный государственный музей РК - 500₸ (SGD$1.86) for entry








Almaty city mayor's office Аппарат акима города Алматы, Алматы қала əкімшілігі


Independence Monument Тәуелсіздік монументі






Turan University Университет "Туран"


Kishlak Кишлак






Beshbarmak is the national dish among nomadic Turkic peoples in Central Asia and Russia.


Rixos Almaty Hotel






The "Eternal Flame" continues to burn brightly even in the darkest hours at the 28 Panfilov Guardsmen Park - Парк имени 28 гвардейцев-панфиловцев



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Day 6, 26 Aug 18 (Sun)


360 at SkyHostel, Almaty


Works in progress




Alma Ata 2 вокзал Алма-Ата-2



Took a night sleep train from Almaty to Astana for 24,150 tenge (SGD $90) instead of a domestic flight for 17,000 (SGD$64). There's wifi for onboard entertainment. Dining on the train is significantly more expensive and crowded too. Oh yes, the toilet don't go straight down the tracks.


Boarding


Cabin for four at 24,150₸ (SGD$90.30) per pax


Bar area


Dining


Common corridor


Sunset


Screen capture of on board entertainment (connected with wifi to your smartphone)


Free games

Route 701Ц Almaty → Astana
Station
Arrival
Stop

Departure
Distance

Journey time
Almaty-2


18:36
0 km

Almaty


18:36
0 km

Sary-Shagan
01:17
10 m
01:27
624 km
6 h 41 m
Karagandy
05:39
10 m
05:49
1086 km
11 h 3 m
Karagandy Pass
05:39
10 m
05:49
1086 km
11 h 3 m
Astana (all stations)
08:20


1321 km
13 h 44 m
Astana-Nurly Zhol
08:20


1321 km
13 h 44 m


Overview of train route (source: Google Map)

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Day 7, 27 Aug 18 (Mon)


Arrived at Astana Nurly Zhol Railway Station ЖД Вокзал "Нурлы ЖОЛ", public buses are available from the railway station which makes travelling to the city area easy.


Multiple public buses at the Astana Nurly Zhol Railway Station that brings you to the city area (Screen capture using 2GIS)


National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan Қазақстан Республикасының Ұлттық музейі


McDonald's Double filet-O-Fish, with potato wedges and coffee - 2100₸ (SGD$7.83)


Triumph Триумф гостиница


Hostel Forum, Astana - 9000₸ ($33.64) for my 3-night stay


Circus Столичный цирк КГКП


Keremet Public Bath Керемет монша




Duman Aqua Park


Inside a Kurt


Ethno-memorial complex Map of Kazakhstan Atameken "Атамекен" этно-мемориалды кешені


Model


Zenkov's Cathedral Свято-Вознесенский Кафедральный собор


Astana city




Astana Tower




This bridge is a gift from Atyrau region to the 20th Anniversary of Astana. Built with love to their city by the BI Group. Designed by Askhat Saduov








Astana Bike


Easy use


The locations of bike stations


The Astana Bike App enables you to know which stations have empty slots or how many bikes are there




Transport Tower




Bayterek Tower Бәйтерек монументі


Bayterek Tower: ₸700 (SGD$2.62)




Twilight


Night




Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center




GPS log

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Day 8, 28 Aug 18 (Tue)



Breakfast


Колесо обозрения AIland


Park U Muzeya Парк у музея






The Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Қазақстан Республикасы Тұңғыш Президентінің Музейі




Kazakhstan Military History Museum Қазақстан Республикасы қарулы күштерінің Әскери-Тарихи музеиі




EOD


Space






Underpass mural


Monument to the Defenders of the Motherland Монумент Отан Корғаушылар


Apartments that looks like North Korea


Hazrat Sultan Mosque Әзірет Сұлтан мешіті


Kazakh National University of the Arts Қазақ ұлттық өнер университеті


Monument Kazakh Eli Монумент "Қазақ Елі"




Palace of Independence Тәуелсіздік сарайы




Palace of Peace and Reconciliation Бейбітшілік пен келісім сарайы


Astana Music Hall


Ishim River








Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center Хан Шатыр


Astana Opera Астана Опера


Колесо обозрения AIland


GPS log

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Day 9, 29 Aug 18 (Wed)


Qabanbay Batyr Ave


Nur Astana Mosque Нұр Астана Мешіті


Beijing Palace Soluxe Hotel Astana




Transport building


Panorama


Self-cooked dinner


GPS Log

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Day 10, 30 Aug 18 (Thu)


Wefie with the Hostel crew




Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport Нұрсұлтан Назарбаев Халықаралық Әуежайы


Domestic Terminal


Farewell


Sunset


International Terminal


Immigration stamp


Vacuum packed Horse meat


Horse milk


Total distance cycled using Astana Bike

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Day 11, 31 Aug 18 (Fri)


Sunrise




Baidu map


OsmAnd map enables GPS plot to be correctly plotted (unlike Google Map). Most importantly, it can be used in offline mode.


#ForbiddenCity #Beijing #故宫 #紫禁城 #北京


Admission fee of 60¥ (SGD$12)








朕今晚翻你牌子




St. Joseph's Wangfujing Church 王府井天主堂


王府井


银河 Yinhe SOHO


Metro






Lama Temple 雍和宫 - 25¥ (SGD$5) admission










Hutong


Recycling station to topup the Yikatong 一卡通


Airport Express


Fridge magnets from the entire trip - Approx SGD$43.86

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Overall expenses - SGD$1,435.60



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More pictures:
- Almaty (21 - 26 Aug 18)
- Astana (27 - 30 Aug 18)
- Beijing (31 Aug 18)