Travel Tips

When we travel to a place for the first time, not everything happens as planned. We make mistakes, get over-charged, miss trains and buses, get robbed, remain hungry; but these experiences only make us shrewd. Here is a list of things you should know to reduce your chances of running into a row of unfortunate events.


It happened to me when I was in Singapore in June, 2015 with my family. We had hired a taxi to go from Suntec City Mall to Bugnis Street which is less than 2 km. After a while it felt like we had travelled a lot more than 2 kms and still seemed nowhere near Bugnis Street. I checked on my phone’s GPS and found out that we had been travelling ‘away’ from the destination. I asked the cab driver about it (who was a native Singaporean) and he kept quite. I asked him again (in a slightly raised voice) and he still remained silent. He took a U-turn from the next cut and drove towards Bugnis Street. On reaching the place, the meter showed SGD 10. I took out SGD 5 and offered him without saying anything. This is when things got ugly. The cab driver shouted at me ‘SGD 10’. My Dad had had enough and he shouted back ‘We will call the police!‘. After a couple of high pitched exchange of words, the driver snatched the 5 dollar note from me and drove off. We were definitely not expecting this to happen in Singapore. Good thing was – lesson learnt.


We were returning back to India from Singapore and at Changi International Airport, Malaysian Airlines’ system had no records of us flying from India to Singapore; which, as per the airline correspondent, implied we had travelled illegally to Singapore. One simple way to prove our ‘innocence’ was to show the onward journey boarding pass. We were having trouble finding our passes as it was stashed somewhere inside our luggage. Eventually we found the pass and showed it to the operator and were given the green signal. But had we discarded our boarding passes, we would have to go through a long ordeal to give proof of our travel.


Most of the international airports have a cell phone sim card counter where one can purchase a local sim card at the usual rates. It’s a simple process to register. All you need is your ID proof and passport size photograph. Top-up counters are also available at various places within the city just in case one needs to add more money to the account.

On the other hand, if one buys the sim card from Matrix, the procedure of registration takes place in India itself and the company provides the sim card before your travel date. There is no ‘Matrix-sim-card’ as such; the company has tied up with telecom companies in other countries and simply provides their sim card. Matrix charges a security amount which is refundable once you return their sim card.

I had bought a sim card from Matrix when travelling to Singapore and it was a big disappointment. Reasons:

  1. It turned out to be a very expensive transaction. I ended up using very little of the free calls/data under the scheme that I had bought.
  2. The ghost of calling up customer care services kept haunting me for more than a month. To get back the security deposit, I had to call Matrix multiple times, explain my case each time.
  3. While making calls using their sim card, one has to dial a prefix code, only then will it be registered as a ‘call within their scheme’, else it would be chargeable at the ISD tariff. So, I had to be conscious every time I dialed a number.

Bottom line, it’s not worth the money.


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