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"Absolute carnage": Injured Aussie reveals turbulence horror

<p>An Aussie man who was onboard the Singapore Airlines flight that plunged <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/travel-trouble/victim-identified-after-plane-hits-deadly-turbulence" target="_blank" rel="noopener">6000 feet</a>, leaving one dead and dozens injured, has spoken out for the first time. </p> <p>A heavily bandaged Keith Davis told <em>Today </em>that he is still in shock over what happened, and shared graphic detail of what happened straight from his hospital bed in Thailand. </p> <p>"We'd just finished a fantastic holiday in the UK and were one more flight away, nearly home - and this comes along," he said.</p> <p>The flight took off from London Heathrow on Monday night and bound for Singapore with 211 passengers on board. </p> <p>Davis and his wife were among the 56 Australian passengers when the plane was struck by severe turbulence just minutes into the beginning of the breakfast service. </p> <p>"It was absolute carnage, instantly, it was absolutely surreal and there was no warning," he recalled. </p> <p>"When you come into turbulence, there is usually some warning, but this was just a freefall and before we knew it - we were on the ceiling and then bang, we are on the ground."</p> <p>Despite looking battered and bruised, Davis said that his wounds were just superficial, and his wife had an even longer road to recovery ahead. </p> <p>"(My wife) fell into the aisle and she didn't move from then on," he said. </p> <p>"She hit the ground so hard and you know, I leant over her and said, 'hey honey, you're okay', I could see she was breathing and she could speak, but when someone hits the ground, they're going to try and get up and that wasn't happening.</p> <p>"And then I realised I was pouring blood all over her and I thought, wow, we're in a lot of serious trouble here.'</p> <p>Davis said that his wife remained conscious the whole way through, which he said was a blessing as she doesn't have a brain injury. </p> <p>"She's had a severe spinal injury and she has no sensation from her waist down," he said. </p> <p>"She's got all of her wits about her, she's strong and we just just want to get home."</p> <p>Nine Australians remain in the Bangkok hospital, and three are in the ICU with severe injuries. </p> <p>Doctors have also confirmed that a lot of those injured have got spinal issues after hitting their head and landing so hard on the ground, with several of them requiring surgery after showing signs of paralysis. </p> <p><em>Image: Today</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Singapore airline passenger's emotional text mid-turbulence

<p>A mum has revealed the terrifying text she received from her son while he was on board Singapore Airlines flight that <a href="https://www.oversixty.co.nz/travel/travel-trouble/victim-identified-after-plane-hits-deadly-turbulence" target="_blank" rel="noopener">plunged 6,000 feet</a> in a matter of minutes. </p> <p>As turbulence hit the plane 11 hours into its journey from London to Singapore, Josh Barker sent what he thought would be his final text to his mum at 9.10am on May 21. </p> <p>“I don’t want to scare you, but I’m on a crazy flight. The plane is making an emergency landing… I love you all," his text read. </p> <p>His mother, Alison recalled the most "terrifying" two hours of her life after receiving the text, as she waited to hear from her son who was en route to Bali. </p> <p>“It was terrifying. I didn’t know what was going on,” she told <em>BBC</em>. </p> <p>"We didn't know whether he'd survived, it was so nerve wracking. It was the longest two hours of my life.</p> <p>"It was awful; it was petrifying."</p> <p>She said that while her son was lucky to have survived the incident, he was still in “a lot of pain” having sustained minor injuries to his teeth. </p> <p>The aircraft was hit by "severe turbulence" 11 hours into the 13-hour flight to Singapore and was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok, Thailand. </p> <p>71 people were left injured, and one man, British grandfather Geoffrey Kitchen passed away after suffering a heart attack when the turbulence hit. </p> <p>Of the 211 passengers on board, 56 were Australians and 23 were from New Zealand. </p> <p>Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong has issued a public apology for the incident in a video message saying that the airline is cooperating with investigations. </p> <p>"We are deeply saddened by this incident. It has resulted in one confirmed fatality, and multiple injuries," he said.</p> <p>"On behalf of Singapore Airlines, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.</p> <p>"We are very sorry for the traumatic experience that everyone on board SQ321 went through... our deepest apologies to everyone affected by this incident."</p> <p>He also said that 143 people who had been on the flight had been taken to Singapore this morning, while the remaining 85 - including six crew members - were still in the Thai capital. </p> <p>"Singapore Airlines swiftly dispatched a team to Bangkok last night, and they have been helping our colleagues with the support on the ground," he said.</p> <p>"A relief flight with 143 of the SQ321 passengers and crew members who were able to travel landed in Singapore this morning at 5.05am.</p> <p>"Another 79 passengers and six crew members are still in Bangkok.</p> <p>"This includes the injured who are receiving medical treatment, as well as their families and loved ones who were on the flight.</p> <p>"Singapore Airlines will continue to extend all possible support to them."</p> <p><em>Images: X/ news.com.au</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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Victim identified after plane hits deadly turbulence

<p>One man has died and dozens have been left injured after a Singapore Airlines plane encountered deadly turbulence, and was forced to make an emergency landing. </p> <p>The flight was travelling from London to Singapore - a route frequently used to continue on to Australia and New Zealand -  when the plane hit an air pocket while flying over Thailand. </p> <p>The unexpected and extreme turbulence caused the plane to drop over 6,000 feet in a matter of minutes, sending passengers and cabin crew flying around the aircraft. </p> <p>While dozens of people sustained injuries during the terrifying ordeal, authorities said that one elderly man had suffered a heart attack when the turbulence hit and had died onboard. </p> <p>British media named the man as Geoffrey Kitchen, a grandfather and amateur dramatics performer who was on his way to Australia with his wife for a six-week holiday.</p> <p>The 211 passengers - including 56 Australians - and 18 crew on board were diverted to make an emergency landing in Bangkok after the turbulence hit, just a few hours away from their destination. </p> <p>Kittipong Kittikachorn, general manager of Thailand's Suvarnabhumi Airport, confirmed in a press conference that seven passengers were severely injured, and 23 passengers and nine crew members had moderate injuries.</p> <p>Sixteen with less serious injuries received hospital treatment and 14 were treated at the airport.</p> <p>One passenger, Jerry, recalled hitting his head on the overhead lockers when the turbulence hit. </p> <p>"My wife did (hit her head too), some poor people were walking around, ended up doing somersaults," he said, adding that his daughter was also injured and would likely stay in hospital for "a few days".</p> <p>"It was absolutely terrible. And then suddenly it stopped, and it was calm again, and the staff did their best to tend to the injured people." </p> <p>"There were a lot of them, and some of the staff were injured themselves."</p> <p>Another passenger recalled the moment the aircraft had begun “tilting up and there was shaking”. </p> <p>“So I started bracing for what was happening, and very suddenly there was a very dramatic drop,” 28-year-old Dzafran Azmir said.</p> <p>“Everyone seated and not wearing seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling."</p> <p>“Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it, they hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it.”</p> <p>Singapore Airlines said the nationalities of the passengers were 56 Australians, two Canadians, one German, three Indians, two Indonesians, one from Iceland, four from Ireland, one Israeli, 16 Malaysians, two from Myanmar, 23 from New Zealand, five Filipinos, 41 from Singapore, one South Korean, two Spaniards, 47 from the UK and four from the US.</p> <p>In the hours after the traumatic event, Aviation consultant and pilot Tim Atkinson shared his theory on what caused the “very significant” incident.</p> <p>Atkinson told the BBC that in the increase in air turbulence can be linked to climate change, saying “it’s fairly clear” the Singapore Airlines flight “encountered atmospheric turbulence”.</p> <p>He also noted that the area — called the Intertropical Convergence Zone — is “renowned among pilots, and I dare say passengers, for turbulence”.</p> <p>“Despite abundant caution occasionally, there’s turbulence ahead which can’t be identified, and the unfortunate result of an encounter is injury and, very rarely, fatality,” he said.</p> <p>Mr Atkinson also noted that the larger the aircraft, “the worse the atmospheric perturbation, the disruption in the smoothness of the atmosphere, needs to be to cause major problems”. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / Twitter</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Bold idea sees hotel offer thousands in cash back if it rains

<p>In a move that's making waves in the travel industry, a posh hotel in the heart of Singapore has rolled out a revolutionary offer: rain insurance. Yes, you heard it right – rain insurance!</p> <p>InterContinental Singapore, a sanctuary for jet-setters seeking respite from both the humidity and the occasional tropical deluge, has unleashed a game-changer for travellers. Dubbed the "Rain Resist Bliss Package", this offer promises to keep your spirits high even when the rain gods decide to throw a dampener on your plans.</p> <p>Picture this: you've booked your suite at this 5-star haven, eagerly anticipating your Singapore escapade. But lo and behold, the forecast takes a turn for the soggy, threatening to rain on your parade – quite literally. Fear not, dear traveller, for with the Rain Resist Bliss Package, you can breathe easy knowing that if your plans get drenched, your wallet won't.</p> <p>Now, you might be wondering, how does this rain insurance work? Well, it's as simple as Singapore Sling on a sunny day. If the heavens decide to open up and rain on your parade for a cumulative 120 minutes within any four-hour block of daylight hours (that's 8am to 7pm for those not on island time), you're entitled to a refund equivalent to your single-night room rate. The package is available exclusively for suite room bookings starting from $SGD850 per night – so that’s around $965 rain-soaked dollars back in your pocket, no questions asked. No need to jump through hoops or perform a rain dance – just sit back, relax, and let the rain do its thing.</p> <p>And fret not about having to keep an eye on the sky – the clever folks at InterContinental Singapore have got you covered. They're tapping into the data from the National Environmental Agency Weather Station to automatically trigger those rain refunds. It's like having your own personal meteorologist ensuring that your plans stay as dry as your martini.</p> <p>But hey, if the rain does decide to crash your party, fear not! The hotel has an array of dining options to keep your tastebuds entertained while you wait for the clouds to part. And let's not forget, Singapore isn't just about sunshine and rainbows – there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you occupied, from feasting at Lau Pa Sat for an authentic hawker experience to retail therapy at Takashimaya.</p> <p>And here's a silver lining to those rain clouds: fewer tourists! That's right, while others might be scrambling for cover, you could be enjoying shorter lines, less crowded attractions, and even snagging better deals on accommodations. Plus, let's not overlook the fact that the rain brings a welcome respite from the tropical heat, making outdoor adventures all the more enjoyable once the showers subside.</p> <p>So, pack your umbrella and leave your worries behind. With InterContinental Singapore's Rain Resist Bliss Package, you can embrace the unpredictable and turn even the rainiest of days into a memorable adventure. After all, as they say, when life gives you lemons, make Singapore Slings and dance in the rain!</p> <p><em>Images: InterContinental Singapore / Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

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This is the best airport in the world

<p><strong>World's number one airport</strong></p> <p>You have the busiest airports around the world and the most reliable airports, but only one can claim the crown of the best airport in the world: Changi Airport. The Singapore airport has been named the top airport in the world for the 12th time, according to Skytrax World Airport Awards. Changi Airport regained its number-one status after losing it in 2021 and 2022 to Hamad International Airport in Qatar (which finished second this year).</p> <p>Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, ranked number three, won the award for the World’s Cleanest Airport, while Seoul’s Incheon Airport, ranked number four, won the award for World’s Best Airport Staff Service. Zurich Airport was cited as having World’s Best Airport Security and Istanbul Airport, the biggest airport in the world, ranked sixth, while Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport was named the Best Airport in Europe.</p> <p><strong>What makes Changi the world's top airport?</strong></p> <p>In 2019, Changi Airport unveiled a $1.7 billion renovation project and the results are absolutely incredible, with so many things to do during an airport layover.</p> <p>The can’t-miss sight at this airport is its multi-purpose facility called the Jewel. Located outside Terminal 1, the 1,300,000 square metre complex features 10 levels of forest-like gardens, an indoor waterfall, a butterfly garden and a rock climbing wall, as well as hundreds of dining and shopping options. Crowne Plaza Changi Airport won the award for the World’s Best Airport Hotel for the eighth consecutive year.</p> <p><strong>What are the top 10 airports in the world?</strong></p> <p>According to the Skytrax World Airport Awards, the top ten airports in 2023 are as follows:</p> <ol> <li>Singapore Changi Airport – Singapore</li> <li>Hamad International Airport – Doha</li> <li>Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) – Tokyo, Japan</li> <li>Incheon International Airport – Seoul, Korea</li> <li>Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport – Paris, France</li> <li>Istanbul Airport – Istanbul, Turkey</li> <li>Munich Airport – Munich, Germany</li> <li>Zurich Airport – Zurich, Switzerland</li> <li>Narita International Airport – Tokyo, Japan</li> <li>Madrid-Barajas Airport – Madrid, Spain</li> </ol> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/uncategorized/this-is-the-best-airport-in-the-world" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest.</a> </em></p>

Travel Tips

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5 most expensive cities in the world

<p>Grab your credit card – you’ll need the extra funds if you want to visit these pricey cities.</p> <p><strong>1. Geneva, Switzerland</strong></p> <p>Get ready to pay at least $250 per night for a hotel and an incredible $33 for a club sandwich. Switzerland has a well-deserved reputation for being super expensive. Economists put the hefty price tags down to the fact that Switzerland pays some of the highest salaries in the world, meaning its citizens have heightened buying power.</p> <p>You’ll pay a premium for everything including transport, food, alcohol, shopping and even tasty Swiss chocolates.</p> <p><strong>2. Oslo, Norway</strong></p> <p>All of Scandinavia is known to be highly expensive, but the Norwegian capital takes the cake. In fact it’s held the top spot in the global UBS Prices and Earnings report on the world’s most expensive cities for the past decade.</p> <p>One night in Oslo will cost you an average of $561 for accommodation, cocktails, dinner for two with wine and a taxi. Even a bottle of water can cost up to $8, so it would be sensible to bring a refillable bottle of your own.</p> <p><strong>3. Singapore</strong></p> <p>The 2016 Worldwide Cost of Living Index ranked Singapore as the most expensive city in the world to live in and it’s not cheap for travellers either. You can still find some reasonably priced hotels and cheap street stalls for food, but overall prices are skyrocketing.</p> <p>Part of what makes Singapore so expensive is that its economy is booming while many others (like Australia, the US and Europe) are on the decline. It’s a trend that’s expected to continue, so Singapore won’t be appearing on the list of great value destinations anytime soon.</p> <p><strong>4. Dubai, UAE</strong></p> <p>A five-night holiday for two in Dubai will set you back almost $4,700, making it the world’s most expensive destination for tourists according to Hoppa, an airport transfer booking service. It also has the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, with an average price per night of more than $360.</p> <p>The city is known for its flashy hotels, huge shopping malls and high-end restaurants, built largely on the back of the country’s huge oil wealth.</p> <p><strong>5. New York, US</strong></p> <p>The Big Apple is easily the most expensive tourist destination in the USA and has been made even more so in recent months by a weak Australian dollar. A night out in the city that never sleeps will cost around $430 for accommodation, a meal, taxi fares and wine for two.</p> <p>Surveys have found that the average cost of a meal in New York is the most expensive of any major city in the US. The city is also known for its ‘tourist traps’, attractions that suck in naïve visitors but don’t offer value for money.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

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Surprise twist in traveller who failed to declare sandwich ingredients

<p dir="ltr">The Aussie<a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/travel-trouble/traveller-slapped-2-664-fine-for-sandwich" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> traveller who was fined $2,664</a> for bringing in a Subway sandwich and not declaring two ingredients has been given an amazing surprise. </p> <p dir="ltr">Jessica Lee was heading back from Singapore to Perth and purchased a footlong sandwich but only ate half and decided to keep the other for the flight. </p> <p dir="ltr">While on the way back to Australia, Jessica did not eat the sandwich and failed to declare chicken and lettuce when she arrived back in Australia.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 19-year-old was slapped with a hefty $2,664 fine and shared the news on TikTok urging others not to make the same mistake she did. </p> <p dir="ltr">In an update, Jessica announced that she was gifted a $2,664 Subway gift card from the restaurant as well as a box of merchandise. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Subway makes my fine worth every single cent,” Jessica said in the new TikTok video.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Looking at positives over negatives always pays off.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She then proceeded to read the letter the restaurant sent her, thanking her for eating from them.</p> <p dir="ltr">“To say thank you for eating fresh, we’ve uploaded a sub card with $2,664 just for you,” the letter read.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We hope this covers all your chicken and lettuce needs.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Love your Subway fans.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Traveller slapped $2,664 fine for sandwich

<p dir="ltr">An Aussie traveller has been slapped a hefty $2,664 fine for failing to declare ingredients in her sandwich. </p> <p dir="ltr">Jessica Lee purchased a footlong Subway sandwich while waiting at Singapore Airport and had half, saving the other half for the flight. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 19-year-old boarded her flight but did not eat the rest of her sandwich. </p> <p dir="ltr">As they neared landing in Perth, passengers were asked to declare items and Jessica did not think to mention her sandwich. </p> <p dir="ltr">Walking through customs, Jessica was then given a $2,664 fine because she failed to declare two ingredients - chicken and lettuce. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Probably will cry. Basically just paid $2,664 for my Subway just from Singapore,” Jessica said in a TikTok video.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It is my mistake but basically I bought a foot long Subway at Singapore airport because I was a hungry girl after my 11-hour flight.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I ate six inches before my second flight and then saved the other six inches for my flight, which they [cabin crew] were more than happy with, they were fine with that.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She said it was an “expensive rookie mistake” and was hit with a double whammy because she quit her job before heading off to Europe. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I am very aware this is my mistake and I do take ownership, I am paying the fine,” she said, urging everyone to not make the same mistake she did. </p> <p dir="ltr">Under the Biosecurity Act, any travellers arriving in Australia are required to declare certain foods, plant material and animal products. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Affordable housing lessons from Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore: 3 keys to getting the policy mix right

<p>Affordable housing is a critical problem for Australia’s biggest housing markets. Five Australian cities are in the top 25 with “severely unaffordable” housing in a <a href="http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf">2019 Demographia survey</a> of 91 major metropolitan markets. Sydney was <a href="https://www.mortgagebusiness.com.au/breaking-news/13059-australia-s-housing-market-remains-severely-unaffordable">ranked the third least affordable</a> of the 91.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.realestate.com.au/news/meet-australias-oldest-person-to-buy-their-first-home-this-spring/">average age of first-time buyers in Sydney has reached 38</a>. And, <a href="https://www.finder.com.au/how-much-of-our-wages-do-we-spend-on-rent-in-australia">on average, tenants spend more than 30% of their income on rent</a>. Those who entered the <a href="https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/housing/help/applying-assistance/expected-waiting-times">Sydney market 10-15 years ago are more likely to find their housing affordable</a>.</p> <p>Cities with housing affordability issues have introduced various policy packages in response. This article compares the policies of Singapore, where housing is relatively affordable, Hong Kong (the <a href="http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf">world’s least affordable private housing market</a>) and Sydney. Our review shows a need for coherent and coordinated housing policies – a synergistic approach that multiplies the impacts of individual policies.</p> <p>Housing has direct impacts on people’s well-being. A housing market that works well may also enhance the economic productivity of a city. If not handled properly, housing affordability issues may trigger economic and political crises.</p> <p>Our review covers several aspects.</p> <h2>A balance of renters and owners</h2> <p>First, an affordable housing system needs to be about both the rental and ownership sectors.</p> <p>In Singapore, <a href="https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/about-us">public housing provided by the Housing and Development Board</a> makes up 73% of Singapore’s total housing stock, which includes public rental and subsidised ownership. HDB flats house over 80% of Singapore’s resident population, with about 90% owning their homes. The average waiting time to get public housing is three to four years.</p> <p>Public housing is also important, although to a lesser extent, in Hong Kong. In this city, <a href="https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/society/article/2182106/why-public-housing-shortfall-will-remain-thorn-hong-kongs#targetText=Public%20rental%20housing%20estates%20found,cent%20of%20Hong%20Kong's%20population.">44.7% of the population live in public housing</a>. The <a href="https://www.housingauthority.gov.hk/tc/about-us/publications-and-statistics/prh-applications-average-waiting-time/index.html">average waiting time is three to five years</a>, depending on household type.</p> <p>In both cities, subsidised rental and subsidised ownership are an integral part of the public housing system, which aims to improve housing affordability.</p> <p>Sydney takes a very different approach. <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/hou/296/housing-assistance-in-australia-2018/contents/social-housing-dwellings">Social rental housing provides only 5.56% of housing</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/focus-on-managing-social-housing-waiting-lists-is-failing-low-income-households-120675">covers only low-income households in “priority need”</a>. The average waiting time to get into social housing is <a href="https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/housing/help/applying-assistance/expected-waiting-times.">five to ten years</a>.</p> <p>Although there are other policy measures to support home buying and rental (such as the National Rental Affordability Scheme), these are not integrated with the public housing system in Sydney. Rather, the goal of these policies is to support the private housing market.</p> <h2>It’s not just about housing supply</h2> <p>Second, housing affordability needs to be backed up by demand-side policies – i.e. policies to help tenants and owners to develop financial capacity.</p> <p>Despite its heavy state intervention, Singapore’s public housing stresses the responsibility of individuals. The <a href="https://www.cpf.gov.sg/Members/AboutUs/about-us-info/cpf-overview">Housing Provident Fund</a> is a <a href="https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/03/15/singapores-mechanism-design-approach-to-housing-policy/">form of forced savings</a> for housing, retirement, health and education, among other things. It is <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/84e6/28299b345dcba34d328112424990cf1cabc2.pdf">integrated with the pension system to enhance the efficiency of savings</a>.</p> <p>Forced savings are not available in Hong Kong and Sydney for housing purposes. Since 2017 <a href="https://theconversation.com/budget-needs-a-sharper-policy-scalpel-to-help-first-home-buyers-76791">first home buyers in Australia have been able to draw on their voluntary superannuation contributions</a> for a deposit.</p> <h2>Work-life balance matters</h2> <p>Third, action on housing affordability needs to take employment and its location into account.</p> <p>Ultimately, the reason people find it hard to afford housing in certain locations is because they need to achieve a work-life balance. Both <a href="https://www.citymetric.com/transport/no-hong-kong-has-best-transport-system-world-mtr-trams-boats-4148">Hong Kong</a> and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Singapore#Public_transport">Singapore</a> have developed extensive public transport systems. These offer affordable options for people to travel efficiently to and from work.</p> <p>In Hong Kong, the average daily commuting time by public transport is 73 minutes. Some 21% of the residents have to travel for more than two hours a day. In Singapore, average commuting time is 84 minutes, with 25% exceeding two hours.</p> <p>In Sydney, the average time is 82 minutes, but 31% take more than two hours. This means a significantly <a href="https://moovitapp.com/insights/en-gb/Moovit_Insights_Public_Transport_Index-1678">larger proportion of Sydney residents spend more time on public transport</a>. Among the <a href="http://theconversation.com/another-tale-of-two-cities-access-to-jobs-divides-sydney-along-the-latte-line-96907">worst-affected are white-collar workers from the city’s west and southwest</a>.</p> <h2>Lessons from the 3 cities</h2> <p>So, what we can learn from these cities’ experiences with housing affordability?</p> <p>Cities take very different approaches to these issues. Each approach has its own merits and issues.</p> <p>A key argument against public housing has been that it might give the tenants less incentive to save for housing. It might also not be popular with mainstream voters because of the cost to taxpayers.</p> <p>Singapore’s approach seems to be a midway solution. The government plays a bigger role in providing housing, but does not waive individual responsibilities. Providing public housing and at the same time demanding individuals and employers contribute can send a strong signal: people are encouraged to join the labour force.</p> <p>So far, Singapore faces the least housing affordability issues. Hong Kong and Sydney are much more liberal in their approaches to housing.</p> <p>In Sydney, only the poorest benefit from the public housing system. The younger generation is struggling to get on the housing ladder.</p> <p>In Hong Kong, people are forced to buy housing in the commercial market if their income is even just above the eligibility line for public housing. The severe unaffordability of private housing in Hong Kong, even for young professionals, brews social discontent.</p> <p>Combining these three perspectives, Sydney’s housing, savings and public transport systems are far from well synergised to offer a competitive package of affordable housing. The <a href="https://www.greater.sydney/metropolis-of-three-cities">30-minute city plan</a> prepared by the Greater Sydney Commission might improve the situation. However, similar to Hong Kong, current policies are weak in building the capacity of young people to own homes.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/123443/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/youqing-fan-483837">Youqing Fan</a>, Lecturer, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bingqin-li-425950">Bingqin Li</a>, Associate Professor and Director of Chinese Social Policy Program, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chyi-lin-lee-368009">Chyi Lin Lee</a>, Associate Professor of Property, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/affordable-housing-lessons-from-sydney-hong-kong-and-singapore-3-keys-to-getting-the-policy-mix-right-123443">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Bill Roque/Shutterstock</em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

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The Singapore-inspired idea for using super for housing that could cut costs 50%

<p>During the past four decades in which home ownership among Australians aged 25-34 has sunk from around <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/home-ownership-and-housing-tenure">60% to 45%</a>, home ownership among the same age group in Singapore has climbed from around <a href="https://tablebuilder.singstat.gov.sg/table/TS/M810401">60% to 88%</a>.</p> <p>There’s a good chance that’s because Singapore is doing something right.</p> <p>What Singapore has that Australia does not is a public housing developer, the <a href="https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/homepage">Housing Development Board</a>, which puts new dwellings on public and reclaimed land, provides mortgages, and allows buyers to use their compulsory retirement savings (what Australians call superannuation) for both a deposit and repayments.</p> <p>There’s more to it than that. It limits eligibility by income and age, requires owners to hang on to the property for five years, and limits their resale to only other eligible buyers.</p> <p>Eight in ten of all the dwellings in Singapore today were built over the past half century by the Housing Development Board.</p> <p>In a new paper released this month I suggest an Australian version called <a href="https://osf.io/nxq2u/">HouseMate</a>, that could halve the cost of buying a home.</p> <h2>Introducing HouseMate</h2> <ul> <li> <p>Housemate would build on underutilised crown, council, and federal land, land acquired by compulsory acquisition, or land purchased at market prices, and by tenders from private developers</p> </li> <li> <p>HouseMate would sell the dwellings at a discounted price (A$300,000 on average) to Australian citizens aged over 24 and in a de facto or married relationship and to single citizens aged over 28 and over, where no household member owns property</p> </li> <li> <p>HouseMate would offer loans underwritten by the federal government for up to 95% of the purchase price, charged at one percentage point above the cash rate, which at the moment would be 1.1%</p> </li> <li> <p>HouseMate buyers would be permitted to use their superannuation savings and contributions for both the deposit and ongoing repayments</p> </li> <li> <p>HouseMate buyers would be required to occupy the home, with limits on leasing and resale for seven years. They will own the home freehold, paying council rates, insurances, and having responsibility for maintenance and body corporate representation</p> </li> <li> <p>HouseMate owners could sell after seven years. But if they sell to the private market instead of another eligible HouseMate buyer, that would trigger a waiting period of seven years before the seller became eligible for another HouseMate home, and a fee of 15% of the sale price</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Homes for half price</h2> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440816/original/file-20220114-25-qr9hwk.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440816/original/file-20220114-25-qr9hwk.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://gameofmates.files.wordpress.com/2022/01/housemate_jan2022_vpublish.pdf" class="source">HouseMate, a proposed national institution to build new homes and sell them cheap to any citizen who does not own a home</a></span></p> <p>My calculations suggest building these homes on land that would cost little (perhaps A$50,000 averaged across all types) would by itself cut the price 20-35%.</p> <p>The lower interest rate, and the use of superannuation savings for both the deposit and repayments would cut the “after super” cost saved by as much again, cutting the “after super” cost savings 50-70%.</p> <p>The use of superannuation savings where available makes sense. Home ownership does more for security in retirement than does super.</p> <p>Because the use of super would be quarantined to new HouseMate homes, it would be unlikely to push up the price of existing homes.</p> <p>No other housing policy change would do anything like as much to make homeownership cheaper, or to free up income for families at the times they need it most.</p> <p>The changes to tax arrangements often talked about, including changes to capital gains tax and negative gearing, might on my estimate at most cut prices by as much as 10% - enough to reverse only <a href="https://www.corelogic.com.au/news/housing-values-end-year-221-higher-pace-gains-continuing-soften-multi-speed-conditions-emerge">six months</a> of the past year’s price growth.</p> <h2>There would be critics</h2> <p>Because HouseMate would divert first home buyers away from private markets, private sellers would find reasons to argue it would be bad for the people it helps and somehow financially reckless or unsustainable. Banks would argue the same thing.</p> <p>But because the non-land cost of HouseMate dwellings would be mostly covered by the purchase price (and 15% of private resale prices) and the other costs would mostly be covered by the interest margin, the budget cost would be low - on my estimate peaking at A$1.7 billion after seven years and shrinking to $640 million after 20 years.</p> <p>The $1 billion or so per year would provide 30,000 affordable houses per year. Compared to the A$100 billion spent on the COVID JobKeeper scheme, that cost is a rounding error. Australia spends $125 billion per year on healthcare.</p> <p>Each year about <a href="https://www.fresheconomicthinking.com/2016/06/the-great-australian-town-planning-give.html">$11 billion</a> is given to private landowners through rezoning decisions. Taxing those value gains could fund HouseMate ten times over.</p> <h2>We have got the land</h2> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440817/original/file-20220114-27-1sf1klu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440817/original/file-20220114-27-1sf1klu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">The Australian Capital Territory has developed land for decades.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Google Maps</span></span></p> <p>The New South Wales Land and Housing Corporation has four times the net assets of Singapore’s Housing Development Board at <a href="https://www.hdb.gov.sg/-/media/doc/CCG/HDB-Financial-Statements-for-the-year-ended-31st-March-2021.pdf">$54 billion</a>. Queensland’s Housing and Public Works has <a href="https://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/6160/15financialstatements.pdf">$10 billion</a> in land assets. Victoria’s Department of Families, Fairness and Housing has <a href="https://www.dffh.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/202110/DFFH%20annual%20report%202020-21.pdf">$17 billion</a>.</p> <p>We could start by upgrading and selling existing public housing to its tenants under HouseMate rules.</p> <p>The Australian Capital Territory has operated this way for decades, developing low or zero cost rural land for housing and selling the homes at cost, although in recent decades it has acted more like a private developer, maximising revenue at the expense of putting people into homes.</p> <h2>To start with, there would be bottlenecks</h2> <p>HouseMate would be overwhelmed at first. I have suggested lotteries to allocate homes until the system ramps up.</p> <p>Just as Medicare didn’t displace but operated alongside the private health system, HouseMate would operate parallel to the private market, adding to overall supply rather than increasing demand in the private market.</p> <p>I’ll finish with a story. I met a Singaporean resident recently who moved to Australia to study social work. She said they don’t really have homeless people in Singapore because the Housing Development Board provided an option for almost everyone.</p> <p>To find homeless people required moving to Australia. I think we ought to try it. What’s the worst that could happen?<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/174401/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cameron-murray-172480">Cameron Murray</a>, Research Fellow - Henry Halloran Trust, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-singapore-inspired-idea-for-using-super-for-housing-that-could-cut-costs-50-174401">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Real Estate

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British man bitten 26 times by otters thought he was going to die

<p dir="ltr">A British man who was bitten 26 times by otters “thought he was going to die” during the attack.</p> <p dir="ltr">Graham George Spencer was walking through the Singapore Botanic Gardens early on November 30 when a group (or ‘gang’) of roughly 20 otters “went crazy” and began biting his ankles, legs, and buttocks. Spencer’s friend, who he was walking with, scared the animals away by screaming at them, and the pair then went to the visitors centre for help.</p> <p dir="ltr">Spencer believes the otters were scared by a passing jogger who may not have seen them as it was still dark. Spencer said, "Because it was very dark, he never saw them. And he just ran straight into them. And he was treading on them.” As the jogger continued and Spencer passed the group of otters, which included mothers with their pups, they “went crazy” and attacked him.</p> <p dir="ltr">Spencer was given bandages by guards and later went to the hospital, where he required stitches and was given tetanus shots and oral antibiotics. He was discharged later that day.</p> <p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for the Botanic Gardens told<span> </span><em>The Straits Times<span> </span></em>that “volunteers and staff monitor the movements of the otters” and “educate the public on the importance of observing them from a distance and not interacting with them.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">A handful of Otters started appearing in Singapore's waters couple years back. Today there are Otter gang wars.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tiredearth?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tiredearth</a> <a href="https://t.co/vArGjsK2uV">pic.twitter.com/vArGjsK2uV</a></p> — Rebecca Herbert (@RebeccaH2030) <a href="https://twitter.com/RebeccaH2030/status/1442766006133436427?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 28, 2021</a></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">The group director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Dr Tan Puay Yok, said that the National Parks Board that manages the gardens advises visitors to observe otters from a safe distance, and avoid feeding or approaching them, especially “when there are pups as the adults can be protective over their young”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Otters are native to Singapore but the population virtually disappeared as a result of major development in the 1960s and 1970s destroying their native habitats and polluting the waterways. They returned in the 1990s after the government cleaned up the rivers.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Cameron Rutt</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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How Singapore’s water management has become a global model for how to tackle climate crisis

<p>Singapore is at the forefront of nearly all countries that have formulated a long-term plan for managing climate change and is steadfastly implementing that plan.</p> <p>The small island state of 6 million people was among the 40 nations invited by the US President Joe Biden to attend his leaders’ summit on tackling <a href="https://www.state.gov/leaders-summit-on-climate/">climate change</a> last April.</p> <p>Singapore is one of <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/most-densely-populated-countries">most densely populated countries in the world</a>. It faces the twin challenges of ensuring sustainable water supply during droughts as well as effective drainage during intense rain seasons amid climate change.</p> <p>Much of Singapore is also as flat as a pancake and stands no more than <a href="https://www.nccs.gov.sg/faqs/impact-of-climate-change-and-adaptation-measures/">5 metres above the mean sea level</a>. This puts the country at risk from rising sea level due to climate change.</p> <p>But thanks to its water system management, Singapore has been a success story as a resilient and adaptable city.</p> <h2>Water-resilient Singapore</h2> <p>The country has to be prepared for when rights to draw water from Malaysia <a href="https://www.mfa.gov.sg/SINGAPORES-FOREIGN-POLICY/Key-Issues/Water-Agreements">end in 2061</a>. Singapore draws up to 50% of its water supply from the neighbouring country.</p> <p>For over two decades, Singapore’s National Water Agency, PUB, has successfully added <a href="http://bwsmartcities.businessworld.in/article/Harvesting-Every-Drop-The-Singapore-Water-Story/16-03-2017-114513/">large-scale nationwide rainwater harvesting</a>, used water collection, treatment and reuse, and seawater desalination to its portfolio of conventional water sources, so the nation-state can achieve long-term water sustainability.</p> <p>The agency has been collecting and treating all its sewage to transform it into clean and high-quality reclaimed water. As a result, the PUB has become a leading exponent of using recycled water, dubbed locally as NEWater, as a source of water.</p> <p><a href="https://www.pub.gov.sg/Documents/PUBOurWaterOurFuture.pdf">In 2017</a>, NEWater succesfully supplied up to 40% of the total water demand of 430 million gallons per day in Singapore. As the projected demand will double by 2060, the PUB plans to increase NEWater supply capacity up to 55% of demand.</p> <p>Under the plan, desalinated water will supply 30% of total demand in 2060 – a 5% increase from its share in 2017.</p> <p>The remaining share of the country’s water demand (15%) in 2060 will come from local catchments, which include 17 reservoirs, and imported water. The country does not have the land area to collect and store enough run-off despite abundant tropical rains.</p> <p>To increase the economic viability of these plans, much of the PUB’s current <a href="https://www.pub.gov.sg/resources/publications/research">research and development effort</a> is aimed at halving energy requirements for desalination and used water treatment.</p> <p>Other than that, reducing carbon emissions from water treatment and generating energy from the byproducts of used water treatment have become essential for Singapore.</p> <h2>Embracing ‘life and death’ matters</h2> <p>Based on this success story, the Singapore government applies the same approach of long-term planning and implementation to tackle threats of climate change, including rising sea level.</p> <p>In 2019, Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, described the country’s seriousness in treating climate change as <a href="https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/national-day-rally-2019-100-billion-needed-to-protect-singapore-against-rising-sea-levels">“life and death matters”</a>. The government estimates it will need to spend US$75 billion, around 20% of the country’s GDP, on coastal protection over the coming decades.</p> <p>The government has tasked PUB to lead and co-ordinate whole-of-government efforts to protect these coastal areas. The agency is working hard to ensure Singapore does not become a modern-day Atlantis, Plato’s famous sunken city.</p> <p>PUB’s first order of business is to develop an <a href="https://www.pub.gov.sg/news/pressreleases/2021pr001">integrated coastal-inland flood model</a>. This will allow it to simulate the worst-case effects of intense inland rainfall combined with extreme coastal events. PUB expects its flood model to become a critical risk-assessment tool for flood risk management, adaptation planning, engineering design and flood response.</p> <p>The agency has also undertaken coastline protection studies of different segments. The first study began in <a href="https://www.pub.gov.sg/news/pressreleases/2021PR003">May 2021 along City-East Coast</a>, covering 57.8km of the coastline. This section had been identified as prone to flooding and has various critical assets such as airports and economic and industrial districts.</p> <p>Other segments to be analysed are in Jurong Island, in southwestern Singapore, with the study to begin later this year, and the north-west coast, comprising Sungei Kadut and Lim Chu Kang, starting in 2022.</p> <p>Rather than mere adaption to coming crisis, protection measures will be designed for multi-functional land use. Nature-based solutions will be incorporated whenever possible, to create <a href="https://www.pub.gov.sg/news/pressreleases/2021PR003">welcoming spaces for living, work and play</a>.</p> <p>For sure, whatever Singapore does in climate mitigation will never move the global needle. But it is a very good example of what a country can do to successfully adapt to the dangers of climate change through good planning.</p> <p>If its policies are duplicated in other countries, these combined efforts will most certainly cause the needle to move significantly.</p> <p>After the United Nations High Level meeting on climate change, COP26, just completed this month in Glasgow, UK, Singapore can be considered to be a very good model of how countries can successfully adapt to the dangers of climate change in the coming decades.</p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/asit-k-biswas-361607">Asit K. Biswas</a>, Distinguished visiting professor, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-glasgow-1269">University of Glasgow</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-singapores-water-management-has-become-a-global-model-for-how-to-tackle-climate-crisis-162117">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Swapnil Bapat/Unsplash</em></p>

International Travel

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Singapore-Australia travel bubble on the cards

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak across eastern Australia, Qantas has announced plans to restart international flights as soon as Christmas.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The national airline has struggled during the pandemic, with CEO Alan Joyce describing trading as “diabolical”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first stop on the airline’s international itinerary will be countries with high COVID-19 vaccination rates, with Singapore coming in first on the list of eligible countries.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Until now, Australia has opened one successful travel bubble with New Zealand, however borders have since closed at the time of writing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, with a Singapore-Australia travel bubble in our future, here’s everything you need to know about how it will work when it opens.</span></p> <p><strong>When will Australians be able to travel to Singapore?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Qantas is planning to restart travel to the nation by mid-December, 2021.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Australian government has also been discussing the opening of a travel bubble with Singapore, though an official date is yet to be set.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CQf7JHfBlB4/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CQf7JHfBlB4/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by VisitSingapore (@visit_singapore)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The bubble would allow residents from Singapore and Australia to travel between the countries without undergoing mandatory quarantine.</span></p> <p><strong>Will I need to be vaccinated to enter Singapore?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The short answer: yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many countries are introducing vaccine passports to travel, with Singapore instituting a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) that only allows vaccinated travellers into the country.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Plus, Singapore will be requiring potential visitors to apply seven to 30 days before they plan to enter the country, with applications available from September 1, 2021.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though the chances of contracting COVID-19 in Singapore are much lower than other destinations, the Delta variant has triggered a surge in outbreaks - highlighting the need for travellers to be vaccinated.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Visit Singapore / Instagram</span></em></p>

International Travel

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ScoMo announces major Pfizer win

<p><span>Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed a major Pfizer win, telling Australians 500,000 doses will arrive within the week.</span><br /><br /><span>He said the extra doses have been secured in a new “swap deal” with Singapore, meaning Australians will receive Pfizer vaccines set to shortly expire.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7842792/pfizer-nurse.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/1b2fdb682d0741069acc1222f51dd33b" /><br /><br /><span>The vaccines will roll out across the nation and will be shared equally among all states and territories, based on population.</span><br /><br /><span>The agreement also stated the Federal Government will send half a million Pfizer vaccines to Singapore in December, when Australia is expected to have ample leftovers.</span><br /><br /><span>"That comes on top of the some 4.5 million that we already have planned for September and the 1 million Moderna doses and the many other millions of doses available from our AstraZeneca production to ensure we can continue on in September with the strong surge that we had over August," he said.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.6666666666667px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841162/pfizer-vaccine.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c8d5a427721f4fb3aad36614c52e646d" /></p> <p><span>"It's a dose swap deal which simply means we're taking the 500,000 they have now, so we can put that into our distribution this month coming in September and we will provide them with 500,000 in December.</span><br /><br /><span>"That means there are 500,000 doses extra that will happen in September that otherwise would have had to wait for several months from now accelerating our vaccination program at this critical time as we walk towards those 70 per cent and 80 per cent targets."</span></p>

News

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Australia and Singapore agree on plans for travel bubble

<p>Scott Morrison has reached a deal with Singapore to work on the conditions for a travel bubble that would initially allow students to return.</p> <p>The Prime Minister visited Singapore on Thursday to speak to his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong.</p> <p>It was the first stop on his way to Cornwall for the G7 leaders' summit, as well as trade and security talks in London and Paris.</p> <p>Over the past week, Singapore has recorded an average of four local COVID-19 cases a day, with its vaccine rollout well underway, restrictions easing and rapid test kits about to go on sale to the public in pharmacies.</p> <p>Morrison said Singapore had done a "tremendous" job in tackling the virus and it was time to put systems in place to enable the two countries to open up in a similar way to the Australia-New Zealand bubble "when we are both in a position to do so".</p> <p>"There is nothing impeding us - as we discussed today - from getting on with the job of putting systems in place that will enable such a bubble to emerge between Singapore and Australia," he said.</p> <p>Students from Singapore would get priority when the bubble is established.</p> <p>At an int media conference, Mr Lee said the world was now transitioning into the "next phase of the fight", in relation to the pandemic.</p> <p>The "safe and calibrated" air travel bubble would start with mutual recognition of vaccine certificates, he said.</p> <p>"When ready then we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides," he said.</p> <p>The two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding on health care and health technology and agreed to begin talks on a "finch bridge" which would make it easier to cooperate on financial technology.</p> <p>After the G7 summit, Morrison will meet with British PM Boris Johnson in London and hold talks in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.</p> <p>"There has never been a more important time for Australia to be at the table with the world's largest liberal democracies and advanced economies," Mr Morrison said in a statement.</p> <p>"The global pandemic and the recession it has caused means like-minded countries and businesses need to work together to lead the global recovery to restore lives and livelihoods.</p> <p>"There is a lot at stake for Australia, the region and the world."</p>

International Travel

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The last surviving village is a portal to the past

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nestled across three acres of land in north-eastern Singapore lies Kampong Lorong Buangkok, Singapore’s last surviving village where fragments of the 60s are still kicking on.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Unlike Singapore’s towering skyscrapers and urban sprawl, the squat bungalows of the village remain as a snapshot of how the city used to look.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">kampong</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> - meaning “village” in Milay - is made up of about 25 wooden, single-storey dwellings with tin roofs scattered around a </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">suaru</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (small mosque).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Native flora that has since disappeared from the city - such as the </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">ketapang</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a native coastal tree - grow freely around the kampong.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though Singapore is now known for its soaring skyline and iconic landmarks like the Marina Bay Sands towers or colourful Gardens by the Bay, up until the 1970s kampongs were found everywhere, with researchers from the National University of Singapore estimating there were as many as 220 found on the island.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CF7WSk1p5to/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CF7WSk1p5to/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by William Ong/Singapore (@ongwill)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now, a few still exist on surrounding islands, but Lorong Buangkok is the last on the mainland.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As Singapore underwent industrialisation, hundreds of traditional villages were bulldozed to make way for high-rise flats and skyscrapers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lorong Buangkok escaped the fate of many other kampongs partly as the area surrounding it was less desirable for development than elsewhere in Singapore.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The other reason is Sng Mui Hong, who has lived nearly her whole life in the village and has a resolute commitment to preserve the sole surviving kampong.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since the end of Singapore’s lockdown, local guide Kyanta Yap has noticed growing interest in Luong Buangkok.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s not that surprising since no-one can travel, and this is a unique local tourist spot,” he said. “There are also many who visit on their own; the general public, bikers, joggers and even groups organised on Meetup.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though the Singapore government has attempted to redevelop the area in the past, an uproar of objections have seen the government grow to appreciate the rural relics and culture the village represents.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“When the time comes for us to finalise our plans for the entire area, the government should work closely with relevant stakeholders to ensure developments are carried out in a holistic and coherent way,” Desmond Lee, the Minister for National Development, has said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This must involve deep engagement with the kampong families living there at that time, to understand and consider their needs and interests.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nassim, one of the kampong’s residents, said: “It’s good the government now sees the importance of our kampong.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“You need to leave something behind that reminds our young of how this country came about. We came from these humble huts.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Grps / Wikipedia</span></em></p>

International Travel

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5 amazing swimming pools from around the world

<p>You’ll definitely want to add these unbelievable pools to your bucket list once we're allowed to travel again.</p> <p>These pools aren’t your average run-of-the-mill rectangular hotel pools. With jaw-dropping views, unique concepts, and even terrifying experiences, curiosity will definitely get the better of you when it comes to pool time. Here are some of the most unique pools our world has to offer.</p> <p><strong>Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa</strong></p> <p><strong><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7837842/the-blue-lagoon.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/a7eedfbcba354178a76e85a1fe9bc1da" /></strong></p> <p>In Grindavik, Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous spots in the country because of its transcendent geothermal features. Heated water is vented naturally from the ground and remains at around 37 degrees Celsius. Some say that the water has healing powers for various skin diseases.</p> <p><strong>San Alfonso del Mar</strong></p> <p><strong><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7837843/san-alfonso-del-mar.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/959e6a7358a0466684d1cf029809f20c" /></strong></p> <p>Chile’s San Alfonso del Mar is a private resort in the beachside city of Algarrobo, and boasts one of the world’s largest man-made swimming pools. Spanning over 1000 metres, the deep end plunges to 35 metres. The annual maintenance fee is said to be over US$3 million.</p> <p><strong>Ubud Hanging Gardens</strong></p> <p><strong><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7837841/ubud-hanging-gardens.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c112f69b256f4d29ba0d96e4d92b7d33" /></strong></p> <p>Sharing its name with one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens swimming pool in Ubud is located in a luxurious Balinese resort. The pool clings to a precipitous edge of the densely forested valley, allowing swimmers to overlook the trees from the elevated waters above.</p> <p><strong>SkyPark, Singapore</strong></p> <p><strong><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7837844/skypark-singapore.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/800c1b25927f41caa556aaff97f26b87" /></strong></p> <p>Skypark at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore boasts an infinity pool 55 stories above ground. At the world’s most expensive hotel, the water flows over the edge of the building giving swimmers a jaw-dropping view of the city.</p> <p><strong>Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Africa</strong></p> <p><strong><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7837840/devils-pool-at-the-top-of-victoria-falls.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/1826629db2144f90a7839aed3af37f78" /></strong></p> <p>At the top of Victoria Falls in Africa, one of the largest waterfalls in the world, this natural formation called Devil’s Pool can safely hold swimmers and give them an amazing view of the natural wonder. A rock wall sits at the edge of the pool preventing the water from pulling swimmers over the side.</p> <p><em>Written by Emma Taubenfeld. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/12-amazing-swimming-pools-from-around-the-world">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our <a href="https://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">best subscription offer</a>. </em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

Cruising

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Second coronavirus wave hits Singapore – and why it could be even worse here

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Singapore has decided to extend its partial lockdown by another four weeks after reporting thousands of new coronavirus cases in recent days, according to Prime Minister Lee Hsien.</p> <p>Singapore reported 1,111 new cases on Tuesday, increasing its total to 9,125 and marks the second straight day of over 1,000 new cases.</p> <p>Foreign workers who were staying in crowded dormitories accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the new infections and was a result of aggressive testing, including those who were asymptomatic.</p> <p>“Many will be disappointed by the extension of the circuit breaker, especially our businesses and workers, who are hurting greatly,” Lee said in a televised<span> </span><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.news.com.au/world/asia/coronavirus-singapore-extends-lockdown-as-virus-cases-spike-in-second-wave-of-infections/news-story/c4346931d285c16b05fe043ce493f9da" target="_blank">speech</a>.</p> <p>“But I hope you understand that this short-term pain is to stamp out the virus, protect the health and safety of our loved ones, and allow us to revive our economy.”</p> <p>It comes after ABC health correspondent Dr Norman Swan warns that it’ll be harder to get the Australian community to comply with lockdown restrictions if a second wave of the virus were to hit the nation.</p> <p>He also admitted that the current lockdown is “unsustainable” on<span> </span><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/why-a-second-coronavirus-wave-could-be-a-lot-worse-032726523.html" target="_blank">ABC Breakfast TV</a><span> </span>on Tuesday morning..</p> <p>“People are going to get frustrated and driven nuts by the kids at home, and something has got to be done.”</p> <p>“It is unsustainable.”</p> <p>The restlessness of the population puts the federal and state governments in a tough position as introducing restrictions the second time around might not have the same level of compliance from the public.</p> <p>“If you do it too soon and you get a second wave, this is what business fears,” Dr Swan said.</p> <p>“There's plenty of businesses that don't want it to be lifted too soon, because the worst thing that they can imagine is then two or three months’ time, they have to shut down again. And that's going to be very hard for government to do.”</p> <p>Dr Swan warned that the second wave of coronavirus infections “could be much worse because you're probably going to find it very hard to convince people to go back into lockdown.”</p> <p>There is a “disturbing factor” that could stop lockdown restrictions from easing in four weeks’ time.</p> <p>“Disturbingly, there's about 10 per cent where we don't know the contact of people getting infected, albeit at very low numbers,” he said.</p> <p>“But we really could get down to almost zero very quickly, and if we could just hold our water for another couple of weeks, we could be really in a very good place to lift things much faster and in a more sustained way.”</p> </div> </div> </div>

Travel Trouble

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Japan tops 2020 list of world’s most powerful passports

<p>Japan has once again topped the list of the world’s most travel-friendly passports for 2020.</p> <p>The <span><a href="/henleypassportindex.com/passport">Henley Passport Index</a></span>, an annual ranking of the most powerful passports in the world, has released its first report for the new decade.</p> <p>Japanese passport took the number one spot, offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 191 other countries and regions.</p> <p>Despite this advantage, the Japanese seem uninterested in going overseas – only 23 per cent of the population hold a passport in 2019, <span><a href="https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Japan-has-world-s-best-passport-but-few-go-abroad"><em>Nikkei Asian Review</em></a></span> reported.</p> <p>Singapore came in second with access to 190 countries. South Korea tied with Germany in third place, allowing holders to visit 187 destinations without visa.</p> <p>Italy and Finland placed fourth, while Spain, Luxembourg and Denmark tied in fifth.</p> <p>Australia and New Zealand held joint ninth place with Malta, Czech Republic and Canada.</p> <p>On the bottom of the list was Afghanistan passport, which allows the holders to make a visa-free visit to only 26 countries.</p> <p>“Countries that embrace this new reality of global mobility are thriving, with their citizens enjoying ever-increasing passport power and travel freedom, as well as the array of benefits that come with it,” said Dominic Volek, Henley &amp; Partners' head of Southeast Asia and manager partner.</p> <p><strong>Top 10 most powerful passports of 2020:</strong></p> <ol> <li>Japan (191 destinations)</li> <li>Singapore (190)</li> <li>Germany, South Korea (189)</li> <li>Finland, Italy (188)</li> <li>Denmark, Luxembourg, Spain (187)</li> <li>Sweden, France (186)</li> <li>Switzerland, Portugal, Netherlands, Ireland, Austria (185)</li> <li>Belgium, Greece, Norway, United States, United Kingdom (184)</li> <li>Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Czech Republic, Canada (183)</li> <li>Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary (181)</li> </ol>

International Travel

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Passengers infected with gastro outbreak on way to Singapore

<p>A cruise ship that left Perth earlier this month has ended its journey to Singapore with some unhappy passengers who were infected with norovirus.</p> <p>It is understood by <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/2000-passengers-on-cruise-ship-evacuated-after-gastro-outbreak/news-story/79883406ce57d3e382db8c5d2c8ef0ff">news.com.au</a></em> that at least 16 passengers on board the ship had symptoms of the virus before everyone disembarked on the final day of the trip in Singapore.</p> <p>The ship had 2,000 passengers on board.</p> <p>Symptoms of norovirus generally last between one and three days. Medical experts recommend regularly washing your hands to avoid contracting the disease.</p> <p>A spokesman for Carnival Australia said that despite initial reports, the vast majority of passengers on board the ship were not impacted by the norovirus.</p> <p>“The vast majority of the 2000 guests on Sun Princess were unaffected but it takes relatively few cases of illness to be reported for on-board sanitation measures to be increased,” the statement provided to news.com.au read.</p> <p>“Creating and maintaining a healthy on-board environment is always a priority with the highest public health standards employed based on best international practice. On-board sanitation was swiftly stepped up following some guests reporting gastrointestinal symptoms confirmed as being due to Norovirus.</p> <p>“Out of an abundance of care and in line with best practice, extra cleaning of the terminal was also carried out on Wednesday.”</p> <p>Carnival Australia’s cruise ships feature casinos, pools and sporting facilities.</p>

Travel Trouble

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