Bacall Associates Travel Singapore: Innocent Hand Gestures You Should Never Use When Traveling Overseas

Several gestures are cool and fun in the United States that mean something completely different and offensive in other countries. Avoid these 10 hand gestures when traveling abroad!

Thumbs-Up

The thumbs-up connotes approval or like in the U.S. and on Facebook. However, in Afghanistan, Iran, parts of Italy, and Greece, it means up yours. Next time you are trying to hitchhike in, Tuscany, you should reassess before sticking out your thumb.

Peace Sign With Palm Facing Inward

The peace sign gesture is what we often do when we want to wish someone peace, or when we want two. In the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, or New Zealand, make sure that when you do the peace sign, you have your index and middle fingers pointed up in the V shape and your palm is facing outward. Or else, you are giving the equal of the middle finger.

The OK

Making a circle with your index finger and thumb is not OK in several countries. In France, the gesture, for example, connotes zero or worthless. In Venezuela, Turkey, and Brazil, it symbolizes a vulgar slang that will insult anyone you show it.

Finger Summoning

The finger summoning gesture is what we do when we want someone to come closer or come over. In the Philippines, doing this using the curled index finger is perceived as rude. People there view the gesture as reserved for calling dogs. In places like Japan and Singapore, this act signifies death and calling bad luck.

Left Hand

In the Middle East, Sri Lanka, India, and Africa, people who are left-handed are traditionally viewed as filthy or unclean. The people in these places associates left hand as the one used in cleaning yourself in the bathroom, says Cracked.

Crossing Fingers

Crossing your index and middle fingers will not bring you good luck in Vietnam. In Vietnam, doing this gesture is very rude. Traditionally, this connotes a part of the female anatomy and is considered as very impolite when flashed at another person.

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Bacall Associates Travel Singapore: Eight Ways to Save on Travel in 2017

Saving on flights, hotels and other aspects of travel is a question of how much you value your time versus hours and energy spent. You can scour the internet for low prices on rooms and airfares, but at some point you just have to pull the trigger so you can start planning your trip. Keeping that in mind, there are still some great, relatively easy ways to get more bang for your travel buck in the new year. Here are eight things to think about as we boldly forge into 2017.

1. SAVE MONEY without thinking about it. Spending less money on that next trip is all fine and good — but what if you don’t have any money socked away in the first place? The Digit app is trying to make saving for that next special excursion (and saving in general) an effortless experience. The free app analyzes your financial situation and spending habits, then pulls a few dollars from your checking account every so often and deposits them into a separate F.D.I.C.-insured savings account that Digit opens for you. You can tweak the app’s savings habits, chatting with it in a text thread and telling it to be more or less aggressive depending on how quickly you want to save. (Digit is confident in its algorithm and offers overdraft protection, as well.) While it might be scary to have a robot taking money from your checking account seemingly at random, reviews from users have generally been positive.

2. CONSIDER BRITAIN I don’t always feel good about exploiting the weakness of a nation’s currency — but with the United Kingdom (and London in particular), you’ll forgive me for having no such qualms. After Britons voted to leave the European Union, the pound sterling, which was exchanging at over $1.60 just a couple of years ago, plunged to around $1.17 in October, making Britain one of the best travel values in the world right now. Suddenly, that £5 cappuccino on Oxford Street is no longer cause for outright alarm. A quick look at the travel aggregator Trivago shows hundreds of hotel rooms available for under £100 a night for a weekend in mid-April. While London will never truly be a bargain, if you have always wanted to go, this may be as cheap as it’s going to get. As for feeling guilty — an argument can be made that American tourist dollars are exactly what an ailing economy needs.

3. IT’S THE WILD WEST for airfares. With European low-budget carriers like Norwegian Airlines and Wow Air aggressively expanding their routes stateside, there is no better time than now to go with whatever company rolls out the lowest prices. And there are some truly head-scratchingly low fares out there: As I write this, Norwegian is offering $585 round-trip, nonstop fares between Los Angeles and London in April, and I just found a $306 round-trip flight from Newark to London on Wow Air (with one stop in Iceland), also in April. Even the larger carriers are slashing fares: I’m currently able to find round-trip flights from Boston to Beijing on Air Canada for a mere $485.

4. OR, PICK AN AIRLINE, any airline — and stick with it. There is another side to that coin: Sometimes allegiance to a particular airline can pay off. The turning over of the calendar year resets the accumulation of qualifying miles and dollars that airlines track to assign status, so if you’re planning to stick with a particular carrier to reap the potential benefits of loyalty, January is the time to start. A new year gives even modest travelers a chance to shoot for low-level status on a major airline.

If you travel even somewhat regularly between a few predictable destinations, you can achieve the lowest tier of status on one of the major carriers by the end of the calendar year. Flying round-trip every six weeks between New York and Los Angeles, for example, could be enough to reach the lowest status (silver) on Delta Air Lines. What does that get you? Quite a bit: Free access to Delta Comfort Plus, which could ordinarily cost you $120 on each leg, along with priority boarding and a free checked bag. (Don’t expect any upgrades to first class, though.)

5. GET FLEXIBLE. “If your travel plans aren’t 100 percent finalized, learn the rules of your preferred airlines in relation to holding a ticket before purchasing it,” said Mark Orlowski, a travel contributor at Marketplace Morning Report. Sometimes it can actually help to do a bit of research and use a different partner airline that is part of the same alliance. For example, if you have Chase points and are looking at redeeming a United Airlines award flight, consider transferring those points to Singapore Airlines instead of United. Why? You can use Singapore miles to book awards on other Star Alliance airlines (including United) while benefiting from Singapore’s more generous fee policies. Changing an award ticket booked with United miles could cost you a whopping $125. If redeemed through Singapore, changing that same award ticket would cost you only $20.

6. TRACK YOUR PRICES after a purchase. Citi Price Rewind is a service that will refund you up to $500 an item, and $2,500 per year, if you buy an eligible product (think jackets and sleeping bags) with your Citi card and the price drops within the next 60 days. The best part? It will do the tracking for you automatically when you register your purchase (made with a Citi card, naturally) on its database of retailers. You can search, too, and if you find an advertised price that is lower, you can initiate a refund request. It’s a painless way to avoid the stress of wondering if you’re getting a good price. (Other cards offer price protection as well, but Citi makes it easy.) You can also do some monitoring on your own: The site Camelcamelcamel tracks items on Amazon and offers data on price history, which can help you decide when to buy.

7. FOCUS ON POINTS, not miles. Legacy loyalists who have hoarded their miles over the last several years have learned this lesson the hard way: Miles are getting less and less valuable. Frequent-flier programs at all three major carriers have gone through changes that have left many travelers less than pleased, to put it generously. If there is a bright side to this, it’s that credit card points are more plentiful and valuable than they have ever been. “The trend I see is more focus on nonairline/hotel branded cards and more focus on transferable points cards that allow for more flexibility when booking travel and don’t have blackout dates or capacity controls,” said Brian Kelly, the founder of the website The Points Guy.

There are some incredibly generous credit card sign-up bonuses available now, including 100,000-point offers from certain Chase and American Express products. While you certainly shouldn’t take opening a new line of credit lightly, those bonuses alone will be enticing to many: 100,000 points can be worth as much as $2,000 when redeemed directly for travel.

8. CHECK OUT PROJECT FI. Sick of switching SIM cards or paying outrageous overages to your phone carrier while overseas? Google’s Project Fi charges flat rates of $20 per month for unlimited talk and text, as well as $10 per gigabyte of data. Even better, Project Fi offers unlimited messaging and no roaming data charges in over 135 countries. You can use your phone as you normally would — provided you’re using a compatible phone. (You knew there would be a catch, right?) Officially, Project Fi works only on Google’s Pixel, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. At least it will transfer over your existing number if you decide to make the switch.

BIG IN BORNEO AT BACALL ASSOCIATES TRAVEL ON EXPERIENCE TRAVEL GROUP LAUNCHES BRAND NEW HOLIDAYS

Unique itineraries enable travellers to explore the lush natural jewel of Southeast Asia

Bespoke travel experts Experience Travel Group are excited to launch their first programme of holidays to the beautiful island of Borneo. Despite being the world’s third largest island, Borneo is still relatively undiscovered by tourists and has much to offer. Shared by Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, the island boasts dramatic landscapes, breathtaking beaches and is a must-see for all wildlife lovers – a vast number of exotic species such as orangutans and pygmy elephants call it home. Having quietly designed holidays to Borneo for repeat clients for several years, Experience Travel Group has steadily built up an expert Borneo team and created the exciting new experiences that form the basis of the new full programme of Borneo holidays.

Experience Travel Group’s new Borneo holidays are truly bespoke, covering all bases from in-depth adventures around the whole island to highlights tours that combine astounding wildlife with exotic beaches and cultural hotspots. The following three tours demonstrate just some of the unforgettable experiences on offer.

Beach and Wildlife: The Classic

From £2,990 per person, including all accommodation, experiences, entrance fees, guides, transport, flights and a number of meals.

This 15-day itinerary enables travellers to explore the exotic flora and fauna of Borneo, while also allowing plenty of time to relax on its beautiful beaches. Visiting the states of Sabah and Sarawak, this holiday starts in the city of Kuching and finishes at the stunning Gaya Island Resort, taking in Bako and Mulu National Parks, Kota Kinabalu and the Kinabatangan River en route. Highlights include getting up close to orangutans in Kuching and exploring the majestic Mulu caves. With accommodation in the best hotels included throughout, this trip takes visitors off-the-beaten track and into the wilderness, without compromising on comfort.

Borneo Adventure

From £2,650 per person, including all accommodation, experiences, entrance fees, guides, transport, flights and a number of meals.

A unique 16-day tour of Borneo with some truly magnificent adventures, this itinerary allows travellers to get a true feel for the depth and variety of Borneo’s wildlife, village life, culture and tradition. Highlights include a five-day adventure in Mulu National Park, incorporating the adventurous 11.5km ‘Headhunters Trail’, which follows the route taken by the Kayan headhunting parties as they launched raids on the Limbang people; scaling Mount Kinabalu; and exploring some of the world’s biggest caves. Accommodation ranges from traditional longhouses to basic lodgings during the treks, but there is a chance to relax in high-quality hotels too – especially at Pantai Dalit Beach, where the holiday concludes in very comfortable surroundings.

Borneo Encompassed

From £4,249 per person, including all accommodation, experiences, entrance fees, guides, transport, flights and a number of meals.

This three-week in-depth adventure takes in Borneo’s finest natural wonders and is as inspiring as it is relaxing. From traversing rainforests and cruising down rivers and mangroves to exploring caves and relaxing on sun-drenched islands, this itinerary has it all. Whether it’s hearing the call of gibbons, seeing orangutans swinging in the trees or spotting dolphins, travellers will be taken aback by the incredible wildlife throughout the trip. Highlights include a night safari in Tabin National Park and a trek through the stunning jungle of Danum Valley – and an optional visit to Selingan Island to learn about turtle conservation. Accommodation ranges from basic lodges to the stunning Bunga Raya Resort.

Find out more about Experience Travel Group’s new Borneo holidays here.

Experience Travel Group specialises in bespoke holidays for passionate travellers. Offering adventures in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Borneo, Indonesia and India, Experience Travel Group expertly tailor-makes trips that enrich their clients’ travel experiences.

For more information about Experience Travel Group, please visit the website, or find out what the team has been up to recently by checking out their blog or Twitter page.

Insider Tips from a Local by Bacall Associates Travel Singapore

When I visited Singapore for the first time I instantly fell in love with this city-state: its futuristic design, the combination of different cultures and the diverse food. I was lucky to meet Jaclynn Seah there, who is from Singapore and writes on her blog „The Occasional Traveller“. She showed me around and we had a great time. She tells you her insider tips for the Lion City – the best time to travel there, accommodation, restaurants and sights.

Jaclynn is The Occasional Traveller, a Singaporean girl with a full-time day job who loves to travel. She started her blog in 2010 to encourage fellow deskbound wanderlusters like herself to remember to take that time off and get away. She is always looking forward to that next trip!

Here are her insider tips for Singapore:

Why should everyone travel once in a lifetime to Singapore?

There’s nowhere in the world quite like Singapore!

When is the best time to visit it?

Singapore is hot all year round and we hardly have any seasons. Year end tends to be cooler but also more rainy, though really it can rain any time of the year.

June and December are school holiday periods in Singapore so your tourist attractions will be more crowded with families, so you might want to avoid those periods.

Which attractions of Singapore are worth to see?

The Marina Bay area (which you usually see on TV during the F1 Grand Prix in September) is a tourist hotspot but for good reason – Singapore is prettiest in the evening when the buildings are all lit up.

I recommend starting from the Esplanade, walking clockwise around the bay area across the Helix Bridge until you reach Marina Bay Sands.

Other tourist attractions that I think are worth seeing are Gardens by the Bay (18 Marina Gardens Dr) – the alien-looking Super Tree Grove is mostly free (unless you want to go on the Skywalk, a rickety walkway suspended near the top of the tree structures).

But it is worth going into the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest as well – beautiful and cool, a good way to spend your time ‚indoors‘ if Singapore is being all humid or rainy.

If you want a proper outdoor garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens (1 Cluny Rd) is centrally located in the downtown area and was just awarded a UNESCO award.