I am a big metro fan, I am irrationally attached to metro rides! I mean what is really there to it? You get inside the train at one end and emerge somewhere else! And yet that gives me a high! I love using metros across the world. I use #themetroproject to capture my own social media updates! But I took a long time to write about my Singapore Metro (MRT as they call it) experience.
On second thoughts, I like the metros and trams because they are cost effective too. I shudder to think what would happen to my bank balance if I ended up taking taxi rides instead of the metro to explore a city!
I used the MRT extensively to get around in Singapore. I was there for the #escapers17 event. I had a few days to myself before the event which I devoted to roaming around in Singapore. My joy was double as I could reach everywhere using the MRT. Singapore has an amazing public transport.
I bought the Singapore Tourist Card and loaded it for 3 days! It took care of all my public transportation needs. I did not return it as I like to collect the metro cards. I can use the Singapore Card the next time I am there as a normal metro card.
As I was staying at Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen the nearest MRT station was Bugis. It was convenient for me as it was on the downtown line. Many attractions are on the same line.
I found changing the lines and reading the maps easy. It must be the use over different countries that gave me confidence. Otherwise I can get lost in a telephone booth if it has two exits! I saw school kids coming back home using the metro. It must be considered really safe. I asked a reader if I could click a picture of his book and he readily agreed.
A lot of stickers that I noticed, my local friend didn’t even look at them once! The stickers ask the users to be polite to each-other. Singapore Metro is a driverless system (at least the sections that I used) so if you board the first or the last car you can look out! I did it a lot. Photography is allowed on the Singapore MRT. Some of the stations open in malls. And then you walk a lot to emerge out of the station!
Singapore was my first trip abroad way back in 1999. I was impressed by the infrastructure and the people then, I am impressed by them now!
I am happy that I could use the MRT on my own extensively. A good mass transport system makes exploring Singapore so easy!
I walk with a spring in my step towards any metro station! My kind hosts FlyDubai gave me pre-loaded metro cards to use and explore the Dubai city! I was on cloud nine, I was going to explore Dubai by Dubai Metro on my own! I have always liked metro trains, undergrounds, trams and other such modes of transportation but the obsession with them is recent.
I Love Metros
I have a theory about my I like metros so much. Given my poor sense of direction, metro is heaven sent for me. They usually drop me close to an attraction and I can always keep the station in my sight! It makes my life simple.
I have now used metros in 4 countries India (Delhi), Thailand (Bangkok), UK (London) and Dubai but I have retained only three cards, I returned the Oyster Card in UK. As and when I use it the next time, I will keep that card as a souvenir too. Other than the Delhi Metro, photography is allowed on the others listed above.
Dubai Metro is Driverless!
Dubai Metro is the longest driverless metro system in the world! Because it is driverless if you board the first and the last coaches you can look back at the tracks. This is not possible on the Delhi Metro as the first and the last block is for the drivers. I discovered this quite late into my Dubai trip. I still manage to take a few pictures and make a video. There were many other excited tourists doing the same in the coach. One of the coaches (not sure if it is the first or last) is the first class cabin which has a higher priced ticket, do remember not to enter it unless you have a first class ticket.
Look at the color of my card, it is a gold card. But I did not realize it while traveling in the metro. I did not enter the first class cabin even once!
Dubai metro was inaugurated by the King of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum on 09/09/09!
There is a Women and Children Only Coach
In Dubai Metro, like the Indian metro there is a coach reserved only for women and children. I traveled both in the general and women and children only coach.
More than once, men along with their family or girl friends entered the coach. More often than not, they were tourists. They were always asked to leave the coach politely by the fellow passengers. There is a fine of 200 AED if you enter the wrong coach and if you get caught.
The General Coaches
Women can board any coach and I did it several times. People are well behaved, I never felt insecure or unsafe. I boarded the general coach more than the women and children coach without any problems.
You need to purchase NOI cards to travel in the metro and pre-load them. There are cards for tourists too. As my card was pre-loaded by my hosts FlyDubai with a generous amount of money, I did not need to top it up again. As my friends did not use their cards, I had two with me. When I was low on money on the first, I simply used the second card. There are ticket counters and personnel at every station, so help is nearby if you need it.
Red and Green Lines
There are two main lines on Dubai Metro- Red and Green. The closest station to my hotel, Melia Dubai was the Al Fahidi station on the green line. The one way taxi fare to the station was 12 dirham. I could change to the red line at the next stop Bur Juman. The other interchange station is Union but I never managed to reach there. I was told I could get the buses to Abu Dhabi from Union but I simply didn’t had time. I have noted it down for the next time.
You can see a map of Dubai Metro here.
Bur Juman- The Most Beautiful Metro Station in Dubai
If you would ask me Bur Juman is the most beautiful metro station on the Dubai Metro. Even though I have not seen them all but I am sure that it is. It was my interchange station for the Red Line so I crossed it more than once and I was happy for it.
The Dubai Metro gets crowded during the office hours, the women and ladies coach felt as crowded as Delhi Metro in the evening.
The Places I Went
I explored Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Mall of Emirates, Ibn Batuta Mall and the Festival City Mall by Dubai Metro. By the list of destinations you can see Dubai is a city of malls. Except for the Festival City Mall everything else is on the Red Line. The malls are so huge that I could not walk end to end even in one single mall, even though I love walking.
I later realized that my nephew used to work at Mall of Emirates for his internship. Had I known it before, I would have gone into the high end furniture store he used to work at!
If you wish to go to the Festival City one way to do it is to go to the Creek Metro Station on the Green Line. Walk out and go to the Water Taxi Station. For 50 dirham you can take a canal tour or for 2 dirham (one way) you can cross to the Dubai Festival City. I went to the Festival City. It was sunset time and I enjoyed a drink at the Crowne Plaza sky lounge on the 7th floor. I was actually chasing the sunset (the first picture in this post) but then it would have been too rude not to order anything and walk away after clicking pictures! By the next time I go I hope they have something really high up in the sky.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Dubai by Dubai Metro. I hope my journey on the metro trains will continue in 2017 too!
PS: My trip to Dubai was sponsored by FlyDubai
I realized that I was in love with the London Underground on my recent trip. It also reminded me that Delhi Metro is my preferred mode of transport in my own town. So when the opportunity came to visit Thailand I decided to extend my stay. My sole purpose was to explore Bangkok by BTS on those extra days. And what fun it was!
I have been to Thailand 8 times, 7 times with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, including the present trip. I feel comfortable out there. But this was the first time when I was staying back, extending my trip and roaming around on my own. I am glad I did that.
My trip started at Bangkok, I went on to Amphawa, Hua Hin and Kanchanaburi and then came back to Bangkok at the end of the trip. While I was the guest of Tourism Authority of Thailand I was staying at Courtyard by Marriott. It has two BTS stations close to it Chit Lom and Ratchadamri. For one night I stayed on my own and I shifted to a less expensive hotel Studio Nana in the Nana area. I picked the hotel for the sole reason that is was 260 meters away from the Nana BTS.
When I was all on my own, the first thing I did was, I went to Chit Lom and bought a day ticket for BTS. Bangkok has three lines the BTS (sky train), the MRT (underground) and the Airport Express line. But the trick here is that unlike Delhi Metro smart cards and Oyster Cards in London, the lines here have separate cards. The day card for BTS will not work on MRT or the airport express line.
I used the BTS the most. A day pass costs hundred and twenty bahts which is roughly 240 Indian rupees. From what I understood it give me 140 entries to the BTS. Every time I would complete a journey, it would detect 1 baht from my account which meant I could enter and exit hundred 140 times during the day. It is much more than you would ever be able to use in a day.
Bangkok.com has an excellent post which lets you click on each of the stations and see what to explore nearby! I relied on it heavily to find my way around the stations.
All the BTS stations has staff at the ticket counters as well as on the platform. At the platform there is always security. I found the staff courteous at all the times. The security would initially get a little confused as to why I was staying on the platform and not exiting! But then I would point out to my camera and everyone would be smiles. All the BTS stations have maps and directions. I only took trains in wrong directions twice but that is just me!
I knew from my previous experience that Saphan Taksin was close to Asiatique (you need to take a ferry across) and the riverside activities. However I have done all that on my previous visits. This time I just strolled around and went back to the BTS.
My adventure was to visit Udom Suk which has a quaint local market. There was no tourist other than me, hardly anyone spoke English. I bought rice cakes and like all street food in Bangkok they were excellent. There was a lady in the market who spoke English but as we started chatting, she got customers. And business comes first.
My point was just to go around, explore, get down at any BTS that caught my fancy. I know you must be thinking what kind of a mad person would do that but that is just me!
There was a young boy who was reading a comic book in the BTS and I asked him if I could click a picture. He was happy to let me click. There were times when I was the only tourist in the entire train but that was because I was moving out of the tourist areas. If you remain within the main attractions, many tourists use the BTS. It makes a lot of sense as you can easily bypass the legendary traffic of Bangkok.
However at the peak hour the BTS gets crowded like anywhere else. It no longer remains a joy ride. At the peak hours you can still use it because people are courteous and polite, people queue up. But use it only to go from point A to B. It is no longer a joy ride!
On my last day I took the Airport Express link by changing from BTS at Phaya Thai. Even though I had a day pass for BTS, I had to buy a separate ticket for the airport express line. Not every station of BTS has elevators or escalators. There was an escalator at Nana to lug my heavy suitcase up the station. But I could not find any to get down at Phaya Thai. The Airport Link has escalators and lifts.
I had an interesting conversation with a boy from Germany on my way to the airport. He asked me if I am an Indian? I said yes and he asked- “so do Indian women travel solo?” So I told him about the story about me being a travel blogger and how I was hosted and how this was the first time I was extending my stay in Bangkok. Otherwise I never took the airport express, I am treated like a princess by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, dropped to the airport in fancy cars.
But it was fun to explore Bangkok by BTS on my own. It is pocket friendly too. It helps you to avoid traffic jams. Only at the peak hours the BTS gets crowded. So next time when you are in Bangkok, buy a day pass and explore Bangkok by BTS. It is super fun and it will take you beyond the regular tourists spots too. I could touch one terminal station Bearing this time. The next time, I am going to do better! Next time I am also not going to return my Oyster Card, I am going to keep it as a souvenir.
PS. I was invited by Tourism Authority of Thailand on a FAM trip. However, I extended the trip to explore Bangkok by BTS on my own.
I wonder what my fascination with the London underground is! I discovered it in 2007 on my first visit to England! I was mesmerized with ‘mind the gap announcements.’ I think I wrote about it then as well.
Let’s move forward to my recent visit to England this year. I had an Oyster Card and Google Maps; I was ready to go! I bought a data card to use Google Maps but then I had enough