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Day Trips in the City Food Living in Singapore

Hygiene Standards at White Sands McDonald’s Are Lacking

I went to the McDonald’s at White Sands Mall in Pasir Ris last night and I was disgusted by the lack of proper hygiene and knowledge of simple concepts of cleanliness I encountered.  This was the second time I’d seen the same behavior, so I took the time to send a feedback message to McDonald’s Singapore.

This is that message:

To Whom It May Concern,

I’m concerned about the standards of hygiene that are being implemented in your White Sands, Pasir Ris branch, and possibly all of your branches if this one location is any indication.

Last night I approached the service counter for ice cream and asked the young man behind the counter for a hot fudge sundae.  He was polite enough, but when he presented the sundae he set the plastic spoon down on the counter.

This is completely unsanitary as nearly every customer that makes a purchase at this counter puts his or her hands on it, and puts money on it.  People’s hands have been in places that I don’t want to think about, and the money they’re handling has also been in many unsanitary locations, including the ground in some cases.  For example, I paid 1.50 for that sundae.  The 50 cent piece I used to make that purchase came from the floor of Tampines Mall where I found it just prior to leaving and getting on the train to head to Pasir Ris.

To make matters worse, when I told him I didn’t want a spoon that had been placed on the counter, because the counter is dirty, he gave me a new spoon, but immediately afterwards picked up the first spoon from the counter and put it back in the container with the clean spoons.  Seriously?  I just said I didn’t want it because it was dirty from being on the counter, so why contaminate all of the other spoons?  It makes me wonder if the replacement spoon was even clean.

The employees at this branch need some lessons in proper hygiene and proper handling of eating utensils.  If this is how they handle utensils then I’d hate to see how they handle the food.

Please.  Train your employees.  This is McDonald’s in Singapore, not a hut in the middle of a jungle somewhere, where cleanliness and hygiene is an alien concept.

I look forward to your response.

Regards,

Bradley Farless

Update: The manager for the outlet called me on my mobile phone and apologized for the poor service. He said that this is definitely not the standard that McDonald’s Singapore wants to set and told me that corrective action would be taken to ensure that it didn’t happen again. He asked for a description of the employee, and then asked me if there was anything he could do to compensate me for the bad experience. I told him to just make sure it doesn’t happen again. I wasn’t trying to get free stuff out of this. I just want to know that when I go to McDonald’s, the food I’m eating is clean and the utensils are clean. I’m glad to see that McDonald’s takes this issue seriously.

Categories
Thoughts

McDonald’s Steals Money? No Wonder Ronald’s Smiling!

Somehow I’m not really surprised.  I’ve been to fast food places before and had them leave out something I ordered.  It was something small enough for me to not want to waste my time going back, but if they did it often enough it would add up to a lot of “savings” for them.

From now on I’ll be double check my orders and make sure I get everything I paid for.

Update: Found out this was a fake.

Categories
Food Living in Singapore

Singapore McDonald’s Seaweed Shaker Fries

From what I’ve seen, the McDonald’s menu is tailored to the country it’s in, to appeal more to the locals.  In the Philippines there is a longganisa (Filipino sausage) and rice meal, for example.  Up until today I hadn’t noticed anything too different about the meals in Singapore, except for the choice of drinks.  There are different teas offered here, rather than the sweet iced tea you might be accustomed to in the US.

Today though, I saw something that was a big deviation from the norm.  Seaweed shaker fries.  They give you the large fries and a packet with some sort of seaweed flakes / flavoring in it.  They also give you a small paper bag.  You dump the fries and the seaweed flakes / flavoring into the bag and shake it up.  Then you enjoy your ‘seaweed shaker’ fries.  Sounded kinda gross to me, so I passed.  I don’t do the whole ‘up-sizing’ thing anyway.  The regular sized meal is full of enough calories, fat and grease as it is.

Categories
Travel

3 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Part 10: Heading Home

Before we knew it, our short 3 day trip in Kuala Lumpur was coming to an end.

On the morning of the third day we were there, we got up at 9 am to make sure we wouldn’t be late.  We really had no idea how to get back to the airport.  On the way to Kuala Lumpur, the buses were in an obvious location, right along with the taxis and stuff, but it’s not as much of a “no-brainer” when going back to the airport.

The first thing we had to do though was… eat of course!  Since it was a day for traveling we didn’t want to risk eating something that might mess up our stomachs, so we went to McDonald’s.  My wife had the sausage biscuit again, which seemed fitting.  That’s what she had on the first morning, when we were at the Budget Terminal at Changi International in Singapore, waiting on our flight.

After eating, we went back to the hotel and checked with the lady at the front desk for directions.  We specifically wanted to know how to get on one of those cheap buses again.  Why pay more when you don’t have to?  She told us that the best way to get there would be to go back to the Pasar Seni train station and ride to K.L. Central.  She said there were buses there that would take us back to the airport for 8 ringgit each, which is what we paid the last time heading into the city.

That seemed simple enough, and it didn’t take us long to get to K.L. Central.  The place was bigger than we expected though so we had to stop for directions again.  Unfortunately, the guy behind the counter told us it would be “better for you to take fast train to airport.”  Of course… that’s what we didn’t want to do.  The fast train he was talking about is fast, but it’s also 35 ringgits per person.  I couldn’t see spending that much more just to shave 30 minutes or so off our trip.  We wound up getting the right directions from a guy working at a sales stand.  All we had to do was go downstairs.

When we got downstairs the bus we wanted was right in front of us.  It was yellow, just like the one we had taken from the airport, and just like the one we had taken from the airport it was indeed only 8 ringgit.  It was called Star Shuttle (see the ticket stub on the left, which was from our trip into the city on the 1st).  We double checked with the guy selling tickets to make sure it was going to the airport and then paid and got on board.  We got on the bus at about 11:30 am, and about 20 minutes later the bus pulled off from the curb and got on its way to the airport.  I dozed off for part of the trip again.  My wife was kind enough to let me know I was knocked out and had my mouth hanging open for quite a while.  Oops!

We left Kuala Lumpur early because we weren’t sure of the way back to the airport, so when we did get there, we got there early.  Really early in fact.  We had two hours to kill before we could even check in, so we went to the McDonald’s there and got some coffee.  I tried to log into the free wireless but either it was acting up or my phone was, because I kept getting a “no reply from gateway” error.  Thinking about it now, it had to be my phone if I got the same error in two different places.  Since we couldn’t get the internet to work, we found a bench to sit on.  My wife pulled out a book, and I fell back asleep for about an hour.

When the time came, we checked in, got our boarding passes and then went through the immigration and security checkpoints.  While in line we realized that we hadn’t taken the time to stop for Dunkin Donuts.  There aren’t any Dunkin Donuts stores in Singapore.  I have no idea why, because the donut stores that are in Singapore aren’t very good.  We were both kinda sad about the whole thing, because we love their donuts.  Fortunately for us, there’s a Dunkin Donuts just past the immigration checkpoint.

We had just enough ringgits left for four donuts, so we chowed down!

The rest of our trip home was fairly uneventful.  The gate was a bit crowded and the flight left a bit late, but we were back in Singapore by 5:45 pm.

Categories
Travel

3 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Part 2: Our Flight

Like I said before, we wound up leaving the house late.  We had planned on being out the door by 9 am, but there were so many last minute things to check over, pack, and rearrange.  We had to put away most of the things in the room, into drawers or the closets, and the closets had to be blocked with heavy furniture.  In other words, we had to “cat-proof” the place.  It wouldn’t do to come home and find our place completely decimated due to feline boredom!

We got going at about 10:30 am or so and walked up to the shopping center to try to find something to eat.  The only restaurant that we remembered seeing at the Budget Terminal at Changi Airport is Han’s, and the prices there aren’t exactly… Budget.  Doesn’t make sense right?  To put a very expensive restaurant in the Budget Terminal of an airport?  The people flying through that terminal obviously are trying to maintain a smaller travel budget and can’t afford to spent 3 SGD for a can of soda, or 7 bucks on a packed sandwich!

So, instead, we stopped at the bakery at the shopping center we usually eat at and selected two breads (hotdog w/cheese and sausage/tomato).  We also bought two cans of juice from the discount store a few doors down from the bakery.  With food in hand, we stepped up to the curb and flagged down a taxi.  We had initially planned to use the bus and then the train to get to the airport, since we didn’t have any luggage to worry about, but we were running out of time.

The ride to the airport was fairly short.  My wife was telling me how much she wished she could have McDonald’s for breakfast when we pulled up in front of the Budget Terminal and saw… McDonald’s.  When did that get there?  The last time we flew out of the Budget Terminal was 3 months ago, when we went to the Philippines.  We remembered that part of the building being under construction, but who would have guessed they’d be doing something smart and putting a budget restaurant in a Budget Terminal?  There was also a small cafe called Hani’s.  I wonder if that’s different from Han’s?  We didn’t stop to look at it.  My wife was really disappointed, because she wanted a sausage biscuit.  I told her to go get one, and I would eat the breads we had bought.  She liked that idea.  (She hates the idea of wasting food, so was planning on eating the bun she had picked from the bakery.)

With that decided, we jumped into the line to check-in.  We didn’t want to miss our flight, and the last time we’d flown out of that terminal, we waited in line for about an hour.  This time it was better.  We only had to stand around for about 20 minutes.  My wife went ahead and got her sausage biscuit while I held our spot in line, and immediately after check-in we sat down to eat.  I had a medium coffee and the breads from the bakery, and she had her McDonald’s breakfast.

After finishing up our meal we leisurely walked outside to enjoy a cigarette before our flight.  Well, it was leisurely until I glanced down at my watch and realized it was 11:30 am.  Where had the time gone!?  We dropped our cigarettes and rushed back inside.  We were lucky.  There was a very short line at customs, and no line to speak of at the security check.  While going through the security check, we heard the last call for boarding for our flight.  So, we rushed through the small shopping area between security and the departure gates and down the hall.  As we got closer to our assigned gate, we saw a large crowd of people strolling in at a steady pace, so we slowed down too.  There were quite a few people still going through the door to get on the plane, and they certainly weren’t going to slam the door in anyone’s face.  Ten minutes later we were on the plane.

The actual flight was really short.  The itinerary said we could expect to be in the air for 55 minutes, but by the time the plane leveled off and I got started on the immigration and customs forms, the descent had already started.  I think the total time the plane was in the air was about 30 minutes.  When we touched down at Kuala Lumpur Airport we had to wait on the runway for a while.  I think the plane arrived early, because there weren’t any available parking spots!  It wasn’t long though before it pulled in to a parking area and we were deboarding.  Less than an hour after stepping onto the plane in Singapore, we were in Malaysia.  I still love that about Asia.  Everything is so close together and convenient for traveling to!

Kuala Lumpur Airport itself is a lot nicer than what I was expecting.  It wasn’t fancy by any means.  I got the impression that the terminals used to be warehouses that had been later linked together as the airport grew.  It was clean though, and there were a few shops here and there.  Also, the place was packed.  There were a lot of locals around and there were even more tourists.  We kept a firm grip on our bags and gave everyone around us a careful looking-over before they got too close.  No sense in getting robbed at the airport after all, and Malaysia is supposed to be dangerous.  Johor Bahru certainly seemed dangerous when we went there last November!

[Update: I was informed that the terminal we landed at was KL’s version of a budget terminal.  The bigger international terminal is, according to a friend, very very nice.]

The first thing we did after getting off the plane was to rush to the bathrooms, which are along the left wall in the above image.  The flight was so short that there was never much of an opportunity to get up, and the coffee and juice we had at Changi’s Budget Terminal were starting to work on us.

After that, we stepped outside and had a smoke before figuring out how to get to our hotel from the airport.