Introducing Discover English, Melbourne, Australia

Moving to a foreign country to learn a new language is an exciting but challenging experience. Even something as simple as opening a bank account may become a difficult task in a new country. Fortunately, Discover English have kind and caring support staff from a range of language backgrounds to help you with any problems you might encounter. DE support the students in many areas including day-to-day life in Australia, finding your way around in a big city, and anything at all relating to housing, medical issues, activities, your studies and counseling.

Discover English (DE) was the first school to offer an extra 10 hours per week of free optional classes to students. This includes 5 hours of study assistance and 5 hours of electives classes. Among the elective classes, you will find one hour job seminar, in which students can get help with resumes, CVs and cover letters. Discover English also organises social activities 7 days a week so students have plenty of opportunities to speak English in a fun environment with their classmates.

10 reasons to choose Discover English

Students’ academic skills are evaluated regularly with weekly progress tests. They are able to try the level up test any week when they are ready and meet the requirements. Teachers give feedback on all skills areas and use a range of strategies to help students improve. Below is the general guidelines for students who are thinking about the skills emphasis of different courses in Discover English

STUDENT CENTRED APPROACH

Students are at the centre of the school. DE provide flexibility and choice to ensure that each individual student is doing the course that’s right for them. Students are free to meet with Discover English staff throughout the day to discuss their course options. The Academic Management team will help you to select a course based on your specific needs, be they academic, professional, skills-based or for communication. Besides, the school has an open-door policy which means they always have time to help you reach the next step in your educational goals. The school welcome students to trial other classes and there is an efficient procedure in place if students wish to change course. DE have two timetable options in order to provide students with the freedom to choose what best suits their lifestyle and work commitments.

Students are free to choose morning or afternoon time slot according to their personal preference

OUTSTANDING TEACHERS

The teachers at Discover English are truly remarkable people who bring their own unique style and individual flair to their classes. Amongst them you’ll find artists, musicians, writers, actors, filmmakers, academics, athletes and more who have lived and travelled all over the world. Teachers are placed in classes best suited to their experience, qualifications, strengths and personalities. They regularly take their classes on fun and educational excursions, take the time to connect with their students and can give advice on the best places to see in Melbourne. At Discover English, they aim foster a culture of openness and honesty – students are very welcome to give feedback directly to their teacher regarding anything that happens in their class.

Discover English Campus Features and Facilities

Discover English offers a variety of courses. You can find all the course information of Discover English here. Below is a course map according to your skills level.

Focuses of different courses offered in Discover English

Besides the traditional courses offered such as General English, Business English, and EAP program, Discover English also offers ENGLISH + HOTEL INTERNSHIP, ENGLISH + DEMI PAIR, and ENGLISH + HOSPITALITY. These programs are normally longer and targets students who wants to work and study over there for 4-6 months.

Besides the courses, students in Discover English enjoy a vibrant school lives. They get to participate in the VOLUNTEERING Teaching Assistant Program. In the program, you get to experience Australian schools and culture by assisting a teacher in developing and delivering bilingual language lessons. As a native speaker of the target language you will be of great help to the teacher and the students. You will also improve your conversational skills and build confidence in a professional workplace.

The Conservation Volunteer Program

Join other students and local Australians on various environmental and wildlife conservation projects. Volunteering on these projects is a fantastic way to experience Australia, see regional Victoria and have close contact with nature. Engage with the local community and meet volunteers of different nationalities and ages!

ENGLISH ONLY Policy in school! What’s the best way to improve your English? Use it all the time! What’s the best way to make friends from other countries? Speak English with them! What’s our fantastic policy to help you do both? English only! The entire campus is a dedicated ENGLISH ONLY ZONE and Peggy the Piggybank is always listening for other languages so she can gobble up your spare change. Speaking only in English is an essential part of your educational and social experience here in Melbourne so we encourage our students to really try their hardest – even when no teacher is around to remind you!

You get to join STUDY TOURS where you will have an unforgettable educational experience for international groups, providing a unique combination of tailored English language classes and fun, exciting activities and excursions.

ACADEMIC SUPPORT

At Discover English students always come first. We offer counselling and advice to assist you with your academic studies. The Academic Department has an open door policy and you can talk to them about courses or future studies whenever you like.

WELFARE SUPPORT

The dedicated Student Support Services staff is here to help you if you feel homesick, have personal problems or just want to talk.

BEGINNER BOOSTER

Learning a new language is very challenging – fortunately we have a special class to provide extra help to our Beginner students. Beginner Booster is provided for free to students who need personalised support.

DAILY ACTIVITIES

At Discover English, learning is not just about the classroom, it is also about meeting people from other countries, social activities, Melbourne life and Australian culture. Discover English has regular fun activities and tours to suit a range of interests. Students can sign up for weekend tours including; Yarra Valley winery tours, a surf lesson, trips to the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island and much more.

JOB CLUB

Discover work options with our weekly Job Club! It is a free session to assist students with finding work or looking for alternative work. Our two timetables mean students have greater opportunities to find work that fits in with their study commitments.

Come and join Discover English for an unforgettable English Learning Journey in Australia

Students’ Lives in Melbourne, Australia

There is no city quite like Melbourne! Melbourne had been voted the Most Liveable City in the world for six consecutive years. Melbourne is an exciting and vibrant place for everyone. Here you would great outdoors ambience at Melbourne’s beautiful parks and pristine beaches. You will find culinary delights from all over the world. Stroll around the street anywhere and you will discover artistic culture at many unique galleries, museums and fashionable boutiques. Explore the world of sports with major international events such as the Australian Open tennis championship, the Formula One Grand Prix and the Melbourne Cup.

Sunset View from the Library@Dockland

Most of the touristic spots and language schools are located in the centre of the Free Tram Zone. Which means as a tourist, you could literally spend NOTHING for the local transportation! Yes, that would include visiting the iconic landmarks such as Federation Square, Queen Victoria Market, Flinders Street Station and Docklands — All for FREE! You will findsome of the best coffee walking around the Degraves street.

Free Tram Zone at the City Center of Melbourne

ESTIMATION OF COSTS of living in Melbourne is a reasonably low among the major cities. As a guide, you will need a minimum of AUD$19,830 (Around USD $15,610) per year to cover accommodation, daily living costs, health services and other expenses.

Estimated cost of living in Melbourne, Australia

Learning English in Melbourne

Every year, tens of thousands of students arrive in Melbourne from all over the world to improve their English or to further their education here. Australia has one of the best education system in the world. Our Foreign Study took a tour in the major language schools in Melbourne and discover that a lot of them has the followings in common:-

  • Friendly staff and teachers
  • Modern and Bright Classrooms
  • English Only Policy in Campus
  • Free Study Tours
  • Further Study Pathway
  • Volunteering Opportunities
  • Weekly Activities organized by the school
  • Job Club to help students find a part time job to support their living expenses here

Accommodations in Melbourne

Most of the language schools in Melbourne offers Homestay services and student residence (private or shared) to the students.

 

Homestay allows students to stay with the local family and to further understand the local culture by immersing themselves into the local hosts’ lifestyle. There are normally two options of Homestay available: HALF BOARD (includes breakfast and dinner weekdays and 3 meals on weekends), and ROOM ONLY (single room with no meals, but students have access to the kitchen).

Homestay in Melbourne

Student Residence (Private) offers single-studio apartment type rooms for students who want to have an independent lifestyle. Most rooms are furnished and include an ensuite bathroom, bar fridge, microwave, work desk and TV. For those looking to cook a meal, there is a communal kitchen area. Short term to long term stays available

Le Student 8 Student Residence

Shared accommodation offers opportunities to live with other students from different nationalities. There are various options from single, twin share to dorm rooms. Other facilities include dining room, kitchen, coin laundry, gym, entertainment area and library. Short term to long term stays available.

Matilda House Shared Accommodation

However, most schools would charge an accommodation placement fees which costs around AUD $200-300 to help you to find accommodation. With the rise of short term rental sites such as Airbnb and Agoda etc, a lot of adult students had started looking for the accommodation through these sites while studying there.

HOLIDAYS

Most of the language schools in Melbourne closed for two weeks over the Christmas/New Year period. There is also no class for all National and State Public Holidays including: Australia Day, Labour Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, ANZAC Day, Queen’s Birthday and Melbourne Cup. Do take note that a full week’s tuition is payable in weeks comprising public holidays, no refunds or discounts will be offered due to shortened weeks.

** Public holidays in Victoria for 2017-2018**

Holiday 2017 2018
New Year’s Day Sun 1 Jan and Mon 2 Jan (additional day) Mon 1 Jan
Australia Day Thurs 26 Jan Fri 26 Jan
Labour Day Mon 13 Mar Mon 12 Mar
Good Friday* Fri 14 Apr Fri 30 Mar
Saturday before Easter Sunday Sat 15 Apr Sat 31 Mar
Easter Sunday Sun 16 Apr Sun 1 Apr
Easter Monday Mon 17 Apr Mon 2 Apr
ANZAC Day* Tues 25 Apr Wed 25 Apr
Queen’s Birthday Mon 12 Jun Mon 11 Jun
Friday before the AFL Grand Final Fri 29 Sep Fri 28 Sept
Melbourne Cup Tue 7 Nov Tues 6 Nov
Christmas Day Mon 25 Dec Tues 25 Dec
Boxing Day Tues 26 Dec Wed 26 Dec

Have any question regarding studying in Melbourne? Feel free to approach our friendly staff at Foreign Study.

Surviving the long haul Flight on AirChina Beijing to Vancouver Experience

In my last post, I shared with you the first leg of my AirChina flight experience from Singapore to Beijing (As a transit before flying to Vancouver). Today I am going to continue sharing the Air China experience from Beijing to Vancouver.

But not before giving you a glimpse of the Air China First Class Lounge experience in the Beijing International Airport.

As mentioned in my last post, it seems that migrating and foreign property investment are the biggest business here in China. You can find ads on property investment to other countries everywhere. Here in the Beijing International Airport I found another ads about investment in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, a city across the strait from Singapore. Looks like the rich Chinese are really finding all ways to get out of their countries..

Anyway, here I boarded the flight bound for Vancouver. I always thought that flying from Beijing to Americas or Canada means flying across the great Pacific Ocean. Only after 2 hours in, I realised that we were still pretty much flying across the land, I started checking on the route. And I found that nope, we are not flying across the pacific ocean at all! We are flying across the Alaska!

Flying route from Beijing the Vancouver across the Alaska

Why is that a surprise you might ask? Well for any traveller who rely on google map a lot like me, you are so used to the gmap suggested route that looks like this!

Flying route suggested in Google Map

Looking at the flying route from the 3D map in the airline, I then realised flying across the pacific ocean is the longer route! The world is round! And google map flatten the map to make the northern parts of the earth looks bigger than it is, thereby making the distance appears to be further than it really is! This issue of the world map being wrong has been reported by dailymail.

Well, the bonus part of flying through the Alaska mountaineering area is – I get to see all the beautiful view of the Alaska!

After having the dinner served by Air China, which is so-so, it’s time for sleeping.

Somehow, my brain was too excited to sleep. So I just kept looking out on the window, figuring out where I was on earth. It’s at that time that I realize Asia and America continents are actually quite close to each others (At least from the plane!) It seems like they are just separated from each others for a narrow strait of sea at the closest northern point, not the entire pacific ocean!

View of Alaska from the Plane, crossing the Asia continent into the America Continent.
View of Alaska from the Plane – All white / snow/ Ice

While I was awe-ing over the view of Alaska, the broadcast was saying that it’s time for breakfast. Look what we had!

Seafood, Yogurt and salad are good. Don’t order their chicken! It smells weird.

Most importantly, we arrived Vancouver – on time, safe and sound!

Thank you Air China for giving us a safe trip!

AirChina to Vancouver Experience (Part 1)

There are more and more Chinese airliners competing for the airspace bridging travelers from various destinations of Asia to Americas. Air China, China Eastern Airline, China Southern Airlines, just to name a few. Just like all the middle eastern airliners – Qatar, Emirates etc that are bridging the long haul flight passengers from South /South East Asia to Europe, all the Chinese airline companies seem to finally realise their strategic locations for the long haul flights – connecting travellers between Far East/South East/South Asia and the West Coast cities of America continents, such as LA, San Francisco, Vancouver etc. Armed with huge populations as the demand base, they often are able to come out with prices that are much cheaper than most of their competitors.

A quick search on the cheapest return flights to Vancouver from Singapore. Almost all the cheapest flights are run by Chinese companies

But make no mistake, the cheap price doesn’t always equate to the sub-optimal qualities of the flying experience. It’s true that the service quality of Chinese airliners are still far behind those from the top-notch services quality companies such as Singapore Airlines, JAL, Emirates, Etihad etc. But it’s catching up, in a faster-than-wind speed.

Today I am going to share with you the flight journey of Singapore to Vancouver, transit via Beijing on the Air China Flight. It’s my first experience taking Air China. So I am feeling intrigued and couldn’t stop myself from taking photos documenting this journey. Once I stepped into the plane, I honestly don’t feel any dramatic difference between this Air China flight compared to other airlines such as Emirates or Qatar. It seems equally clean and neat and spacious, even for the economy class. (Well, partially thanks to my tiny body size, economy class to me is like  a business class). Also partially because I didn’t expect too much knowing that it’s Air China.

The first leg of my flight is from Singapore Changi Airport to Beijing International Airport. It’s a midnight flight departing 00.15am in the morning from Singapore and will arrive Beijing at 05.50am. For the midnight flights, some airlines provides breakfast (Singapore Airline) while others provides the supper (Air China). I honestly feel that providing breakfast makes more sense for this flight because people normally just want to sleep when they are boarding at this hour. Don’t you think so? Or some might be too excited for the journey and couldn’t sleep on the plane haha.

I was one of them. As I was so excited for the journey, I could barely sleep in the short 5 hours flight. While I was waiting for other passengers to board, the entertainment system is not up yet, I just browsed through the airline magazines and I found this – A page advertising about migration to Euro countries using 2 million Euro, and they will be able to buy a mansion in one of the resort islands in Aegean sea and get a Euro passport from Greece in 6 months. 2 million euro – a small piece of cakes for those rich Chinese. I bet many of them are rushing through..

2 million euro, investing in properties in Greece, migrating to Greece for the Greece passport

While I was munching the magazine, the flight took off and the entertainment system is up. I browsed through, lucky for me, I speak Chinese. Found many channels and movie selections in Chinese. Not so lucky for my travel buddy Noriko, as she doesn’t speak Chinese and that literally wipe out 50% of options for her movie selection. Moral of the story – learn Chinese (:-P)

2 hours of eating + 3 hours of movies/drama watching – Almost time for arrival to Beijing international airport.

Where I experienced one of my best airport lounge experience – AirChina First Class Lounge in Beijing International airport here.

Oh one important tip – don’t request for wine in the Air China flight. Their wine sucks!! Order beer instead. It’s more bearable! You are welcome!

The red wine provided by AirChina is disgusting

Next up, the journey from Beijing to Vancouver via AirChina!

 

Lima International Airport – The airport you don’t want to transit at

For the budget travellers, spending a night or longer in the airport is part of the journey for various reasons. Some might not have the visa to enter into the country for the transit. Some might find their transit period at night and there’s simply nothing to do outside the airport. Some might simply find the Airport hotel expensive. Whatever the reasons are, you want a reliable airport to stay at as a budget travellers.

There are 3 most important criterias to fulfil for the airport in order to fulfil the budget travellers needs. For the airport that fulfils such needs, I would gladly give them an “ONS” Star which stands for One-night-stayable.

  1. Stable source of drinkable water

It’s the basic human needs to drink water all the time. When you come out from the airplane, waiting for another flight, chances are you don’t have any potable water with you because you have to clear the water prior to airport security clearance. Hence, a stable source of drinkable water is especially important if you are going to stay a night there. For most of the European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, and Japan, this is not an issue because their tap water is drinkable to a certain extent. For all other countries, the first thing I would look for is the following “drinking water fountain”.

A drinking water tap should be a standard in all airports around the world

It’s located beside or nearby the toilets/restrooms. When I was travelling in most parts of USA, I found the water fountain easily and hence it’s not a big issue there as well.

Now, comes to Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport, Peru.

First of all, there’s no sign of drinking water fountain at all. In such case, I would assume it should be cheap enough to buy a bottled water since the tap water is not drinkable graded, there’s no water fountain, and drinking water is such a basic human needs. Tada.. guess what a bottle of drinkable water costs in a normal groceries store in the Jorge Chavez International Airport? It costs USD 3.00 for a bottle of 500 ml water.  (For the International departure lounge). Yes you are hearing it right, USD 3.00 which is equivalent to PEN 10.00 (The local currency Peruvian Soles).

You might think that this isn’t a lot of money. Now look at how much does a bottle of similar drinkable water cost outside of the airport? It costs USD 0.30 (PEN 1.00). So the airport charges 10 times more expensive than the going rate in the market? Second, it is even more expensive than what a bottle of water costs inside the airplane. I was taking the budget low cost airliner Sky Airline. Guess what, buying a bottle of water costs USD 2.40 inside the plane.

Prices of the drinks and waters sold in the plane of the Sky Airline

I guess I don’t need to compare or say more. The airport water price is a ripped-off. At least in the international transit area. (Editor’s note: The going rate for a bottle of drinking water in the domestic transit area is PEN 5.00, or half of the price sold in the international transit area, 50% cheaper but still 5 times the market going rate).

The price of a bottle of water is slightly more reasonable in the domestic transit area – PEN 5.00 or USD 1.50

I wonder how the locals go with it. Seriously drinkable water should be a right in the airport not a privilege. You want my advice? Try to avoid transiting in Lima International Airport as much as you can. If that’s not an option, try to bring some dry fruits/cheese/mint (I think that’s allowed) that can stop your thirst. Or prepare to spend USD 3.00 for a bottle of 500ml water.

2    Reliable WIFI connection

Being able to connect with the world wherever you go has become such an essential human needs especially for the seasoned travellers. Imagine exploring a place without google map or other useful apps? Yet most budget travellers would not have a local SIM which gives them 4G or even 1G network to go online. Imagine the needs to search for a hostel or guesthouse for an impromptu backpackers like me who do not decide where to stay or what to do until reaching the place? It’s for this reason that I put a reliable WIFI connection as the second most important criteria for the airport to be graded “One-night-stayable – OTS”. Most airports in the world now offers free WIFI (Some even offers unlimited and fast WIFI such as the Singapore Changi Airport).

Now back to Lima International Airport, they offer 30 minutes of free WIFI, provided you survive their super slow sign up procedures. For 30 minutes (The custom clearing time), you really can’t expect to do much. Not even enough time for you to clear the custom, get your baggage, and call for an uber that can drive you to….I don’t know, wherever that offers you a WIFI connection.

3    Restaurants/Cafe/Groceries stores that open 24 hours.

For a budget travellers who want to spend a night in the airport, most of them would have prepared some snacks or food with them wherever they go. Most likely these food can pass through the custom if you know how to pack. It’s for this reason that I put the need for food in a transit airport as the 3rd basic needs, after water needs and WIFI connection needs. Still, the availability of food source is important considering that you are going to spend a whole night in the airport. Most of the restaurants / Cafes in the Lima Airport transit area are closed after 10pm. Hence you really can’t expect a pleasant night stay here.

In conclusion, if there’s 5 stars in the ONS scale, Lima International Airport will receive only 1 star or no star at all. This is my two cents about LimaJorge Chavez International Airport as a transit point for budget travellers who plan to spend a few hours to a night transiting there. Please feel free to comment if you found any information inaccurate or if you have other opinions.

Thank you for reading.

First Class Lounge Experience in Air China using Priority Pass

I always felt so jealous of people having access to the nice lounge during a transit flight. Needless to say you need to be a first or business class passenger in order to enjoy the usage of such lounge as an exclusive privilege. You can’t even pay to access it unless you have some super duper exclusive membership card such as the AMEX black card. Well not anymore. Looks like these lounges are opening up to more people now.

It was February 2017 when I received a call from a telemarketer from DBS trying to convince me to sign up for their DBS Altitude Credit Card. She mentioned “You can have unlimited access to the lounge around the world as it comes with a free Priority Pass membership, with first 2 visits free!” This line caught my attention and I decided to sign that up in just 5 mins.

Got my Priority Pass card in Feb!

I finally have the chance to use it for real when I was having a long layover in Beijing International Airport from Singapore to Vancouver. There were a few lounges under Priority Pass membership, such as BGS Premier Lounge, Air China Business Class Lounge, etc. I chose to go for the most expensive looking one – Air China First Class Lounge.

Let’s have a tour around the facilities in the lounge.

There are plenty of nice cushioned seats across a large floor area for you to sit and relax while waiting for your flight. Different designs for different areas as well.

There’s a tea house that offers a discreet enclosed area for people to discuss business over Chinese handmade tea!

Or simply for tourists like us looking for an exotic Chinese experience. I certainly feel like a VIP having someone there to make the tea for you.

TV/Cinema corner where the seats are so comfortable that it can be changed into a bed for you to take a nap. However, there isn’t much option for the TV channels though and it’s mostly Chinese channels.. Felt so bad for all those non-Chinese speaking people. But it seems bothering no one as travellers were mainly here for the nap!

TV corner in the Air China first class lounge

Magazine Corner is kinda a no-brainer, almost all lounges have it. Wonder who still read those magazines besides nerds like me..

Private room to rest for some of the premium card members. But the design of the seats don’t look appealing to me. Looks like a smoking or KTV room, dark and dirty. I would rather stay outside honestly.

Private room for premium member

One thing people enjoy the most for the lounge usage is definitely the unlimited supply of refreshment and food. There’s a nicely designed dining area.

The food they serve definitely match their name – First Class!

I had my breakfast and lunch there. 8 hours transit felt too short for me to enjoy this lounge!

Who can resist the free flow of alcohol in the bar?

Noriko certainly can’t resist the wine!
Neither could I. Beer and wine for brunch? Yes that’s called life!!

You can have the same experience too!

Info- Just apply for DBS Altitude Signature Card. Then register for Priority Pass membership, it will auto link to your DBS Altitude Signature Card upon registration. Then download the app and search for the available lounges in your next visit.

First 2 visits every year = free.

Subsequent visit – USD 27 per entry per person. For the free flow of alcohol and food and the facilities, does it worth it? Well that depends on you.

Vancouver here I come.

See you in the next post. Ciao!

Travel Insurance (Part 2) – The one that costs money

In my last post (Travel Insurance Part 1), I shared a few types of travel insurance and went on to explain in great details the complimentary travel insurance offered by credit card companies. I mentioned that these complimentary can be seen only as bonus and they seldom give enough coverage for your overseas risks such as risks of injury and subsequent medical bills, baggage loss etc. The good news is getting a proper travel insurance with comprehensive coverage will not normally cost that much. It ranges from SGD $10 for Single trips to SGD $500 for annual travel insurance plans.

Type 2: Standalone Travel Insurance Policy

Example: AIG Travel Guard, Great Easter TravelSmart 

For these insurances, as you can see they provide detailed coverage for different travel incidences. I used to buy AIG Travel Guard and it normally takes only 3-6 weeks for the claim payout. There was once my baggage was not delivered on the way from Finland to Norway. What you needed to do in such situation is simply to keep your boarding pass, report loss of baggage to the airline crew and obtain a slip of “Baggage Abnormality Report”. Keep all the proper record. Then go to google the respective insurance claim form, and fill up the form, mail to them. As I used to get the insurance from the agents I know, it’s even simpler, simply pass all documentation to them and they will help you to claim, just sign on the form.

You have 60 days from the date of incidence / travel to claim the payout. Within 3 weeks, I got a cheque payout for my travel incidence.

For people who are not familiar with cheque (I do realise that cheque is quite a British thing and my friends from Japan and other non-commonwealth countries normally don’t get what a cheque is), simply turn the cheque to the back, write your bank account number, your name and contact no, and drop it into the cheque box of your bank. Then the money will be deposited into your account.

Type 3: Insurance bundled with airline tickets or any other tickets. 

If you purchase online tickets often, you should be very familiar with the following picture that reminds you “it’s recommended to buy a travel insurance” with a checkbox normally checked automatically to add the travel insurance with your flight ticket purchase.

I always go the extra miles to uncheck them. Personally I have never purchased these insurance and I do not recommend them. The principle of getting an insurance is for the peace of mind. However, when these insurance are offered by the airline, you don’t know who the underwriter of the insurance company is (The airline normally collaborates with other larger insurance provider for the insurance offered instead of providing the insurance on their own). Chances are the insurance provider is from the home country where the airline company is based. In case of insurance claim, they normally require original documents. That means you have to go through the hassle of mailing the original receipts etc to a country you are not familiar with from your country of residence? Besides, terms and conditions of each coverage of insurance is so important because the insurance is basically a guarantee of certain incidence. I definitely would not be in the mood of reading these long t&c in the midst of airline ticket booking (There’s also a time limit set to the booking purchase window which lasts only 15-30 minutes). Also, when incidence happens, you are in distress situation, you need to know immediately who to call and what can you expect upon calling. I don’t think a foreign company you never deal with is good for these situations personally.

Type 4: Personal Accident Insurance

There’s another type of insurance not normally known by people which can be used as a great coverage for travel accident – the Personal Accident Insurance that covers worldwide accidents.

Example: AIA Solitaire PA Plan

This insurance covers worldwide accident. Meaning if you have an insect bite or food poisoning in Mozambique, it’s covered as well and you can claim the full medical bill incurred for the accident (subjected to the upper limit of claim of your plan).

There was once, I twisted my ankle while ice skating in Taipei. I went into the local clinic for emergency aid and the bill was around TWD 2200. I simply kept the receipts. When I went back to Singapore, fill in the claim form, within 2-3 weeks, a cheque of SGD 98.44 was mailed to me. (The insurance company will apply their own currency conversion rate). It works!

These are 4 types of insurance I know that will cover for travel. I believe the benefits of getting these insurance surely are bigger than the costs. The primary reason is the peace of mind. It helps when you are in a distressed situation and lack of judgement ability. I heard of some stories of people who died during travel because they didn’t want to go for medical check up while feeling discomfort overseas. With enough insurance, you can be like “Give me the best doctor you have I don’t care about the cost!” Of course the usefulness varies as it really is depending on your luck and accessibility to the healthcare services / security locally.

Anyway, next time when you travel, don’t forget to get yourself covered!

Safe travel to all the wanderers around the world!

**An update to the post: I purchased Great Eastern TravelSmart insurance in April for my trip to South America. Had a small bacteria infection in Uruguay and a flight delay from Cusco, Peru to Quito, Ecuador. Managed to get the full coverage of the medical bill in Uruguay and S$100 compensation for about 10 hours of the delay. Total payout? S$362.35. The cost of my annual insurance plan? Around $250. It covers my worldwide travel for a year. Wise choice haha!

PM me if you want to get the insurance agent’s contact. (Disclaimer: I’m not an insurance agent and I don’t get any benefit from her)

Travel Insurance (Part 1) – Complimentary from Credit Card

Travel insurance is always recommended for people who travel regularly because accidents do happen. You can avoid some travel disease such as taking some travel vaccination but you can’t quite avoid accidents. I still remember my first experience of baggage stolen was back in 2011, when a laptop was stolen from my bag on the way back from Macau to Singapore. Years of memories were gone and hours spent wasting making police reports etc all to no avail and no compensation. Since then, I always got myself a travel insurance wherever I go as much as possible. I had been able to claim for the baggage delay in Norway for 19 hours, and got myself compensated SGD $600 (The cost of the travel insurance was $70) and also got myself fully covered on the medical bill for an insect bite while I was in Taipei. All in all, it’s highly recommended to get one for your trip. Today I wanna compare a few insurance options made available for people residing in Singapore.

Type 1 – Complimentary Travel Insurance bundled with credit cards

There are a few credit cards offered in Singapore that claims the benefit of having complimentary travel insurance. However, it’s worth noting that those insurance benefits are always very limited to only major catastrophic events such as death. In the case when they do offer compensation for the baggage loss, it’s normally very small (Usually $200-$400) and it’s not a cheque payout, but a reimbursement based on your expenditure with your credit card (NOTE: You must pay by the specified credit card to claim) within certain period . Let’s look at some of them:-

Option 1: AMEX Krisflyer Credit Card

As described from the site, it provides Up to S$350,000 Travel Inconvenience & Travel Accident Benefits. Does it mean it compensates you up to $350,000 for travel inconvenience & Accident? If you think so you must be new to the insurance schemes. (**Note: I always heard a lot of people telling me that insurance are scam, they promise this and that but when you claim you can’t. The problem is not about what they promise, it’s about the terms and conditions. Did you read their T&C carefully? What are the coverage and what are the exclusions? You can’t expect to buy an apple and have a taste of strawberry). So I dug further to find the T&C of the complimentary insurance benefits from Amex Credit Card.  To summarise, this insurance covers SGD $350,000 in the case of death and Total and Permanent Disability (TPD), 50% payout if it’s partial disability. The accidents that qualify for this payout is during the flight while you purchase a ticket with it, not during your entire trip.

Besides, it reimburses the cardmembers up to S$200 (Take note of the “up to”) for the missed connection for more than 4 hours and/or luggage delay for more than 6 hours, and up to S$500 for the luggage loss. Double the amount if you are traveling with families. Only certain expenses are qualified for the reimbursement such as essential clothing and meals, and the credit card company has the final say of the definition it seems.

Most other Amex Credit cards also offers the complimentary travel insurance, just different value of coverage, such as this and this and this and this.

Option 2: DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card

Although DBS Altitude Visa signature card offers up to S$ 1 million insurance coverage, the coverage is only for death and TPD, with partial coverage on partial disability, occurs while you are riding a common transport such as flight, bus, ferries etc and the full charges of the ride must be paid by this card. No payout for any travel inconvenience such as missed connection or luggage loss. T&C is here.

Option 3: OCBC 365 Credit Card

OCBC 365 credit cards’ complimentary insurance offers are similar to the ones offered by AMEX mentioned in option 1, except the value for death is $200,000 and it covers all common transports on land, sea and flight (Whereas in Amex case only for flights). The T&C of this insurance is here.

Overall, we should definitely see the complimentary travel insurance offered by the credit cards as only a bonus or in case kinda thing. It’s definitely not a comprehensive coverage and I will strongly recommend getting another proper travel insurance to get yourself covered for injuries, unexpected medical conditions, loss of personal belongings etc.

In the next post, I will explain in greater details on the travel insurance I will recommend.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

It’s the time of the year again! Spring is coming. Trips, travels, vacations are all waiting. This spring, I am planning my long awaited trip to South America. As a Malaysian citizen, the bonus of traveling in South America is that most countries allowed us to travel visa free! Damn US and Canada! The costly visa application awaits but I will share more about the visa application process to US and Canada in another blog.

Look at that map, almost all greens in the South America! My favorite color!

The only 2 countries in South America that needs visa from us are Paraguay and Bolivia. Not sure what Paraguay is famous for. Plus their visa application process seems tedious. Will just ignore for now.

Paraguay Visa requirement for Malaysian

Bolivia is definitely a place I wanna go! The Uyuni Salt Lake – the biggest natural reflection mirror is located in Bolivia are you kidding me?! How can I leave that out.

Photo Credit: Youtube Channel: agr92

Although it seems that we can easily obtain visa on arrival from the Bolivia Embassy website, I notice something. We need the yellow fever shot! Although while I surf some other blogs, I found that some travellers manage to go into Bolivia without the yellow fever cert (They simply told the visa officer they are only going to the cities). But if they put it as a visa requirement, the chances of getting the disease should be serious enough right?

Not wanting to take the chance, I started googling the place to take yellow fever vaccination in Singapore (Where I live). Turns out it’s pretty easy and straight forward. You can just take it at the travel clinic of SGH. I called them and they said no reservation is needed, simply go to the hospital and register on the spot. There’s a very clear indication of direction leading you along the way from Outram Park MRT to the Diabetes & Metabolism Centre (DMC) in SGH.

Photo Credit: SGH

When you reach DMC, go straight to level 4, there’s a registration counter right beside.

Just tell them you wanna do a Yellow Fever vaccination, fill in the form, and wait for the doctor to call you.

Once the doctor calls you in, they will do the usual routine of consultation and the shot. In 5 minutes, you will walk away with a yellow booklet with the certificate saying that you have done the yellow fever vaccination. (I wonder if they design it yellow because it’s yellow fever? What color of booklet will I get if I do other shots? :P)

The whole process will take you less than 30 minutes from the time you walk into the hospital (I did it on Friday afternoon, the time varies depending on how many patients they have got I guess).

Most importantly, it costs SGD 215.71 including GST, service charge, doctor consultation etc (As of April 2017) for the overall vaccination.

A bit expensive but thinking that it could be used not only for traveling in South America but also Africa in the future, plus it lasts for a lifetime, it’s worth it I guess.

Hope you find the sharing useful.