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Bandara Polonia Medan – Medan Airport

The Bandara Polonia Medan or Polonia Airport in Medan is the airport that served International and domestic flights in and out of the city of Medan. When my plane landed on the airport, there was no aerobridge available. So to alight from the plane, everyone had to use the stairs to walk down to the tarmac of the airport. Then the passengers had to walk from the tarmac to the arrival hall. The arrival hall reminds me of the time of old airport that was built in the early 1980s – small, very simple and basic facilities. I had read that Medan is currently in the process of building a new airport for their city, which is definitely the right thing to do.

You have to walk on the tarmac from the plane to the arrival hall.

The Customs and Immigration clearance in the Polonia Airport was surprisingly quick and efficient. There is a counter specifically for those passengers who need to purchase Visa on arrival and then a few counters opened to clear the immigration process. There were some passengers who needed to have their fingerprints scan on a compact scanning machine; and there is a camera mounted on each immigration counter to have the photo of travelers taken. The whole process of immigration clearance took less than 15 minutes and I am out of the airport arrival hall.

The arrival hall at the Bandara Polonia Medan

The conveyor belt for the luggage is a very short one. Do pick up your luggage as quickly as you can and do not allowed any stranger to help you with your luggage. Just hold on to your luggage and walked to the custom clearance counter where your luggage would be scanned in the machine. After I had walked out of the arrival hall, I had to face a continuous harassement by touts. These touts would asked me where I am going and do I need a taxi? I simply walked to the nearest cafe and sat down for a drink. It gave me an opportunity to observe the entire area outside the arrival hall and at the same time enjoying a delicious avocado fruit juice or called apokat juice in Indonesia.

The Polonia Airport in Medan is an old airport with basic facilities.

There is two ways to take a cab from the Polonia Airport in Medan to the city. First, I had a choice to take a taxi by going to the taxi counter outside the arrival hall and the charges was steep for a ride to my hotel in Jalan Surabaya – which was Swiss Belinn Medan. I was quoted a fee of Rp55,000 and was non negotiable. The second option was to walk out of the airport itself and go to the Petronas Petrol staion. Do not walked directly to the Petronas Petrol station as it is fenced. The easiest way to walk was from the entrance and exit point for vehicles at the airport, the Petronas Petrol station is on the right. Over at this Petronas petrol station, there were a couple of Blue Bird taxis which runs by meter parked there. However, if you are carrying heavy luggage or with children; it is advisable not to walk to the Petronas petrol station as the traffic in Medan is notorious. For myself, I choose to pay at the taxi counter Rp 55,000 and board a designated taxi. The reason is that the savings of only Rp25,000 if I do not used the taxi at the airport was not worth the time, effort and risk. Besides, when you use a meter taxi, the taxi driver could easily bring you in a merry go round just to cloak the meter higher.

This is the Petronas petrol station which is just outside the airport. If you want to save money by not taking the taxi from the airport, just walked to this petrol station and you can board a Blue Bird taxi over there.

For departure from the Bandara Polonia Medan, just inform the taxi driver whether you are going for international or their local domestic flight. The cab driver would then drive you to the correct gate. For international, it is Gate 1 if I can recalled correctly. It is advisable to check in early as the departure hall is again basic and messy. Again there would be a few people approaching you asking to see your passport – do not hand it over to them. There was a guy who was persistence in asking me details about my destination. I simply ignored him then he walked away reluctantly.  Do not give money to anyone in assisting you to pay the airport tax. I sat at the departure hall for an hour, as I was early and the booth for Valuair was not opened yet. The touts are those guys from the counter that provide the service that laminates and secure luggage. During the one hour sitting at the departure hall, I saw 2 guys from the same counter that secures luggage harassing passengers. I saw vulnerable passengers handling cash and passports to them. I do hope that the Medan airport officials would kicked out these touts from the departure hall if they are serious about promoting Medan as a tourist destination.

Outside the arrival hall of the Polonia Medan Airport. There are many touts out here, just ignore them. Taking a taxi from the airport is more costly, but it is relatively safe. Just book a taxi from the taxi counter.

Airport tax for international departure from the Polonia Airport in Medan is Rp75,000. Go to the check in counter first to get your boarding pass and check in your luggage. Thereafter, turn around and there is a small counter opposite the rows of  airlines check in counter. Walk to the counter and you can see a notice been pasted on the window of the counter – that it is an counter for airport tax and the tax rate that you have to pay for International and domestic flight. Just queue up at the counter and when it is your turn, hand over your travel document and money to the staff. The counter staff would paste a airport tax sticker at the back of your boarding pass and hand back the travel documents back to you. After this, you are good to go – just need to clear the immigration and customs and later wait at the departure waiting area for your flight.

The Medan city center from the Polonia Airport Medan is just about 15 minutes away. However the notorious traffic jam on the road is what makes a simple trip becoming a time consuming journey.

 

One of the small cafe in the Bandara Polonia Medan that served hot meals and drinks. It is a nice place to relax and have a cold drink – as Medan is a very hot and dusty city.

 

This is the Apokat drink or avocado with chocolate drink which I ordered at the cafe at the Polonia Airport Medan.

 

 

Wearing Perfume to Work

I wonder whether there is any company or organization in Indonesia that prohibits the wearing of perfume at workplace?  I think wearing of perfume, cologne and scented lotion is an acceptable practice,  as I have seen many people wearing perfume in offices, banks, government offices and shopping malls in Jakarta. The sale of perfumes is a booming business in Indonesia and there are countless perfume counters and shops in almost all shopping malls in Jakarta. As people spend more money on grooming and personal appearance, I believe this would lead to more people wearing perfumes in Indonesia.

A friend of mine has a mild allergy to certain perfumes. He would sneeze or develop symptoms of  blocked nose if comes into contact with it. Fortunately for me, I do not have such problem. But sometimes my nose do feel irritated by the smell of certain perfumes – especially those which have strong musky smell or smelling too sweet. I think the problem is that some ladies and men tend to put lots of perfume on their body; so the smell of the perfume tend to be extra strong. You can in fact smell them even if they are a few cubicles away in the office. Now imagine having to put up with the smell 8 hours a day, five days a week with a co-worker who wears a perfume that irritates your nose. If the fragrance from the perfume affects the sensitivity of the co-workers, the employer should step in and educate the worker concerned. I think if a person wears a perfume lightly, there should not be a problem as the smell would not be overwhelming throughout the office.

Wearing Perfume to Work

I think it is difficult to implement a fragrance free policy in the office or workplace in Indonesia. Besides, it may not be practical to enforce such a policy especially in a workplace where you have visitors or the public have accessed to it – for example hotels and shopping malls. In such instance, the employer can reduce the smell by installing an air purifier machine and through better air ventilation system. Personally, I am not against the policy of people wearing of perfumes to workplace; neither am I for it. I think whether you choose to wear perfume or be fragrance free is a personal choice. However, it would be nice if people who wear perfumes understand that all they need to do is to put a little ( a few drops ) perfume to smell good.

Beautiful Perfume Bottle

Fried Prawns with Macadamia Nuts

I went to a Chinese restaurant recently and was looking at the menu for some seafood dish in the menu. I saw a dish called Fried Prawns with Macadamia nuts – this is something that I have not tried before and so I decided to order it. When the dish arrived, I saw prawns with the head , legs and shell removed and deveined as well. I think this is good because it is troublesome to remove the head and shell of prawns when eating them. The prawns looked fresh and clean on the plate and I saw some slices of vegetables being added. However I was also eagerly trying to find the Macadamia nuts in this dish.

Fried Prawns with Macadamia Nuts

The prawns tasted fresh and the meat was firmed. The Macadamia nuts were roasted and it was crunchy and slightly sweet and salty as well. Overall I liked this dish and would probably tried to cook it in my home. I understand that Macadamia nuts is good for our health. It contain many minerals, proteins, fibre and monosaturated fats; which are good fats which helps to reduce the body bad cholesterol levels. I think the roasted Macadamia nuts taste better as it is more crunchy. However it may be less healthy as perhaps salt and sugar has been added to enhance the taste.

Fried Prawns with Macadamia Nuts

The Fried Prawns with Macadamia nuts is a simple and yet delicious dish. It is easy to prepare and cook. All you need are fresh prawns – with shells totally removed and deveined. Then add some vegetables – in the photos you can see carrots, mushrooms and slices of green pepper being added. I think the Macadamia nuts should be added last when the dish is cooked or almost done. I would want to add the roasted Macadamia nuts last in the cooking process – let it fry for 1 to 2 minutes together with the prawns and vegetables before serving it up. For those who does not liked Macadamia nuts, perhaps you can substitute it with roasted Cashew nuts which I think is also great.

 

Online Surveys that Pay You Money

I remember a few years ago when I first started on internet marketing and blogging, I was also browsing on the web looking for any simple tasks that I could do that pays me money. One of the thing that I stumbled upon was online surveys. I saw that there are quite a number of survey websites that promised big and easy money for participating in surveys. But there was a catch of course – I have to pay these so called companies money first before I was allowed into the club membership to participate in these lucrative surveys. Or other websites would want you to pay them first before they reveal to me the name of the survey companies that I could joined to earn money.

I was not prepared to pay money to any of these websites that promised big and easy money for online surveys simply because I was skeptical. There were too many websites in the internet where the sole purpose of their activities was to scam the public. So I continued on my own to search for legitimate survey companies that were free to join and pay me for my time in participating their online surveys. I finally found 2 such survey companies, and if you interested in trying them out, just follow the link below to my blog which I have wrote on this matter –

Making Money from Online Surveys

Below is a portion of a email that a survey company sent to me when I have sufficient points to redeem it for cash. How much money you could make would depend on how many surveys you have completed successfully. For this survey company, the minimum sum for the cheque that I received was about RP420,000 – not bad for something that you can do at home leisurely at your own pace.

Hi Kuan,

We have received your request to redeem 1000 MarketPoints. You’ve been working hard and we really appreciate it!

You will receive a check in your local currency within 4-6 weeks if you live in the United States, and within 6-8 weeks if you live outside the U.S. We appreciate your patience while your check is processed and mailed to you.

So go ahead and try it out if you can keen on making some extra cash at the comfort of your home with online surveys.  Your kids can also joined in too if they are at least 14 years old for some survey companies. For your convenience, here is the link to my blog regarding joining online survey companies that pay you money –

Making Money from Online Surveys

 

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Buy Cheap Properties in America and Jakarta

Went out with a friend for lunch today. He casually told me that he had seen a couple of properties in Jakarta and was keen to buy an apartment or condominium in Jakarta.  However he said that property prices were too high right now and was adamant in his belief that it will fall in one or two years time. He went to view a condominium in Menteng, a studio unit of about 40 sq. m on the high floor with a asking price of U$76,000.  He mentioned that he would loved to buy a property for investment if it is reasonably cheap.

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Buying Properties in Jakarta

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I told my friend that there are properties in the United States going very cheap; in fact he could get a home for a price of a set dinner in a good Chinese restaurant – that is One hundred US dollars or approximately RP885,000. He was shocked and though that I was joking until I explained the facts to him. If you looked at Detroit which is the largest city in the state of Michigan, there are thousands of properties that are under foreclosures and even abandoned properties. Why would the owner of a property be willing to sell you his home for just US$100? That is because he is in debt and is unable to pay the property taxes for his home. So instead of incurring this property tax every year, he would rather sell it off cheap. But beware of buying such properties, because most of it are in very bad condition and in areas where it is either crime ridden or in abandoned neighbourhood. Property tax are high in the state of Michigan and are payable in advance of the year in which they are due. The property tax is calculated based on State Equalized Value ( SEV ) which is normally half of the assessed value of the property. Bear in mind that just because your neighbour’s home in Detroit is paying say US$2000 in property tax, it does not mean that your property next to him will be the same amount.

My friend then asked me whether there are good investment properties in Michigan. I explained to him that there are plenty of good value properties in Michigan. The key is not to look at the assessed value but focus on the cash flow. When I focus on the cash flow, I am looking at the rental income generated from the property which I have purchased.  Take the annual rental income and less of all expenses such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance, management fees, etc and if it still gives you a positive cash flow of above 7%, then I would consider looking into this property. In Detroit, there are plenty of good valued properties being sold at US70,000 onwards but you need to do your homework. You would want to buy a property in a prime location so that you will enjoy capital appreciation of your home once the economy picks up.

So whether you are buying properties in Jakarta or in United States, the important issue is not the valuation of the property, it is not the selling price of the house or the economy, it is just the cash flow and potential capital appreciation. I want to know what type of tenants can I get and how much is the net rental income ( after deducting all expenses ) per year. As for capital appreciation, prime location will also be the first to appreciate in prices when property prices moved up.

 

Prawn and Mushroom Omelette

I would normally ordered omelette for breakfast whenever I stayed in the hotel. Most of the hotels will offer either the usual butter omelette or mixed vegetables omelette. In Singapore, the fried oyster omelette is a popular food among the locals. I do order this food occasionally and I would instruct the stall owner to make sure that the oyster is well cooked because eating raw or half cooked shellfish like oysters can caused Hepatitis A. There is one omelette which I love to eat but is not found in the menu of many restaurants or food stalls; and that is the Prawn and Mushroom Omelette. The Prawn and Mushroom Omelette is very easy to prepare and cook and many of my friends said that it is delicious and wholesome meal. In this blog I would liked to share my style of cooking this dish.

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Prawn and Mushroom Omelette

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The ingredients for the preparation of Prawn and Mushroom Omelette are as follows:-

a) 4 fresh eggs

b) 8 medium sized prawns – peeled, deveined and you can have it whole or sliced in half.

c) 4  fresh mushrooms – cut it into small pieces.

d) a few slices of ginger, carrots and spring onions.

e) sliced chilli or red pepper – this is optional.

1)  break the eggs in the bowl and mixed it well with a fork and add some pepper. Some people beat the eggs which is fine. But beating the eggs tends to make it over mixed. I do not add salt because it is healthier or you can add some soya sauce.

2) put some oil on the frying pan and heat it up. Get a medium size pan, because if you cooked it using a small pan, the eggs would become too thick and spongy.

3) put the fresh mushrooms and vegetables into the pan and stir fry it just for a few minutes. Then add the prawns into the pan and stir fry it until the prawns become pink in color.

4) when the mushroom and prawns are cooked, quickly pour the eggs into the pan. Make sure that the eggs are spread evenly on the pan. You can do this by tilting the pan till the eggs are spread evenly on the pan. Wait for a few minutes, then flip the eggs over and let it cook for another 2 minutes. The omelette should looked golden in color.

5) put the Prawn and Mushroom Omelette on a plate and it is ready to be served.

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Prawn and Mushroom Omelette

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The Prawn and Mushroom omelette is a easy to cook and is good to eat. In fact there are times when I cooked this omelette as a quick lunch for myself. If you are creative, you can try adding different types of vegetables such as thin slices of lettuce, onions and garlic. One thing to take note is that try to use fresh prawns instead of frozen prawns when cooking this dish, as it will taste much better.

 

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Shoes Made In Indonesia

Recently I read the news that the Governor of West Java had ordered all his civil servants to buy and wear shoes that are made in Indonesia. Governor Ahmad Heryawan started this campaign to support the local shoe industry; and was reported to give all his civil servants one month grace period before taking actions against anyone flouting his order. Thereafter if he find any civil servant wearing foreign made shoes, he will punish the offender with 200 push ups exercise. Really his campaign of Made in Indonesia shoes are very amusing to me.

Many international brands of shoes such as Nike, Reebok, Adidas and many more are made in Indonesia. So it means that Indonesia has the capacity and skills to made high quality shoes. Then why is it that the shoes with local brands are not in hot demand with the local Indonesians? I think the taste and the aspirations of the Indonesians have changed over the years. Many Indonesians especially the young are fashion trendy and with more money to spend. These young people are fashion and brand conscious, and they won’t want to be caught by their peers wearing local brand shoes or clothes -in their view this would be an sheer embarrassment. Even Indonesians in their forties and fifties are now increasing buying foreign brand shoes, clothes and accessories. When we go to any upscale mall in Jakarta, consumers are buying foreign brand products, eating in foreign brand restaurants, buying foreign brand home appliances and phones.

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Hush Puppies Shoe

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My view is that if you want more Indonesians to buy local products such as shoes, the manufacturers must first improve upon the quality, design and the brand of the product. When I go to Bandung for shopping, there are locally made shoes that are quite attractive in design, but the quality seems to be lower. I will not hesitate to buy local products so long as it is of good quality at affordable price. The local manufacturers and distributors must have a more competitive business attitude if they want to succeed in capturing the local consumers market.

An example of a successful Indonesian brand is Teh Botol produced by the Indonesian company Sosro. Teh Botol is a sweetened Jasmine tea that is very popular in Indonesia. I loved drinking it just as I also enjoy drinking Jasmine tea produced by Pokka. Drinking Jasmine tea from a glass bottle is unique to Teh Botol and in this instance, the company has a successful marketing strategy. Another example of a successful product and brand in Indonesia is the Bintang Beer. It is a very popular local brand of beer in Indonesia and I drink it all the time when I am in Indonesia.

I do own and wear shoes made in Indonesia but at the same time I also wear foreign branded shoes. I hope that the Governor of Java would not be too harsh on his subordinates. Perhaps he could just made it mandatory for his civil servants to wear local made shoes once a week – like every Monday which is the start of the working week. He could also worked with local shoes manufacturers and distributors to get special discount for his subordinates when they buy shoes made in Indonesia.

How Safe is the Hotel Safe?

My friends and I were having a light discussion last week on the topic of safety while staying in hotel and also on the topic of hotel safe in the room. Of course we were aware of stories from travelers who had lost their valuables in the hotel rooms or items placed in the hotel safe. So the question is how safe is the safe in the hotel room? I think this is not an easy question to answer; or there is no correct answer at all. Personally I have used and placed my travel documents and money in the hotel safe on many occasions and it was totally fine and safe.

Let me just start off by saying that generally the safe in the hotel room is safe. That is based on my personal experience traveling for so many years and staying in many hotels. There are certain precautions that I normally take when I choose a hotel. First, I always do my homework on the location of the particular hotel before I do the booking. I would find out whether is the hotel located in the sleazy or crime areas/spots of that particular city or town. If it was so, I would not stay there. Secondly, I would normally booked a hotel and not a motel. I know that motel and small hotels are cheaper than established hotels; but I am prepared to pay more for added security and peace of mind. Thirdly, are the lifts in the hotels using card access and similarly on the rooms? That would be my preference as card access lifts and rooms are strong security feature in the hotel.

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Hotel Safe

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Now moving on to the room itself. Normally in an established hotel, the door in your hotel room is solid, strong and fire retard with strong lock features. I have seen the doors in smaller hotel and motel rooms that are cheap, thin and with cheap locks. You can literally hear the commotion on what is happening next to your room or outside the corridor. In such instance, the safe in your hotel room is not safe, as it is easy to break into your room. In many good hotels, the hotel safe in the room are bolted down to the cabinet or very heavy. There is no worry of house keeping workers coming in to clean up your room as they do not have the master key or the secret code to open up the safe. If you have forgotten the password to your safe, only the management or the security staff personnel are authorise to help you in opening the safe.

As a precautionary measure, I do not placed all my money in the hotel safe – only a portion of it. I do not wear jewelery or expensive watch when I travel – leave it at home. If I see the housekeeping team cleaning the adjacent rooms in the morning, I would asked them to clean my room while I am still in the room. I would always check that the hotel safe is securely locked and thereafter checking the main door is properly locked after I leave the room. I would also leave the TV and lights on when I leave my room if I am staying on the lower floor of the hotel. Most of the time I would request and get to stay at high floor.

So my answer is that the hotel safe in the room is safe provided that the hotel has strong security features installed and implemented; and that you have taken all precautionary measures to make your room safe. There is no such thing as a 100% theft free hotel but you can take measures to minmise this risk.

Bill on Foreigners Buying Properties in Indonesia

The Indonesia government is still pondering on a bill that allows foreigners to buy properties in Indonesia on a longer lease that range from 70 to 90 years lease. This is to boost the demand on the property market especially on major cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya. Allowing foreigners to buy on a longer lease period will increase the revenue of the government through tax and investment. The current status is that foreigners are not allowed to buy land or landed properties, and also not allow to buy any building or apartment build on freehold land. I think this status will remain in force with the exception of apartments build on leasehold land.

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Bill on Foreigners buying properties in Indonesia
Bill on Foreigners buying properties in Indonesia

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Does this bill look attractive to foreign investors? In a way it is a beginning of a process to liberate the property market in Indonesia. It would be better if the leasehold period is 99 years instead of the maximum 90 years lease. That will make it look more attractive to foreigners. The bill should also make it easier for foreigners to borrow money from local Indonesian banks up to a maximum of 70% from the purchase or valuation price of the property. This will help to boost the business of the local banks as well. Laws with regard to rights of foreign ownerships to the purchased properties, taxes and duties, the right to resell and transfer should also be made transparent and clear. The problem with Indonesia is that it is a country with too many loose laws and by-laws, making it so confusing for foreigners and even local Indonesians. Foreigners purchasing these apartments should also have the right to lease it out immediately, the right to resell and the properties should be free from emcumbrances.

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Foreigners Buying Properties in Indonesia
Foreigners Buying Properties in Indonesia

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Gradually the Indonesian government should looked into the ownership of freehold property by foreigners. They could start by imposing strict restriction in terms of rights to resell only after say 10 years from the date of purchase, capital gain tax ( to prevent speculation ) and restriction such as allowing foreigners to purchase only high end properties – such as properties above US$300,000.

Ways to Prevent ATM Robberies in Jakarta

Recently there has been an increase in the number of ATM robberies in Jakarta. The police had asked the banks to increase the security of the ATMs by employing more securing guards in shopping malls and convenience stores. The police had also recommended the installation of more closed circuit television ( CCTV ) around the compound of the ATM. I think most banks will comply to enhance the security of their ATMs. However we must not just leave the issue of security to the police and the banks. I believe there are things that we can do to prevent ourselves from being a victim of robbery at the ATMs. Let me just share some tips and steps which I personally use whenever I need to use a ATM machine to withdraw cash.

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Steps to take to prevent ATM Robberies
Steps to take to prevent ATM Robberies

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1) No all ATM machines are safe. Remember just because a ATM machine is there doesn’t mean that it is safe to use. ATM machines that are in remote area/quiet or hidden by walls, pillars, large trees or any obstruction are not safe to use. If you really need to use them, asked 2 of your adult friends or family members to accompany you.

2) Use ATM machines that are in crowded open area ( along a busy walkway or street ), well lighted and with heavy traffic. For example I would normally use ATM machines that are installed within the bank premises, beside a supermarket, inside a crowded shopping mall or ideally even beside a police station.

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Use ATM machines that are in the bank and on busy streets.
Use ATM machines that are in the bank and on busy streets.

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3) If you are withdrawing a large sum of money from the ATM, get 2 adults to accompany you and use a ATM that is safe ( as mentioned above). Alternatively make multiple withdrawals within one or two days so that you don’t withdraw lots of money at one single time.

4) Do not use the ATM during late night as most robberies happened during the night. You may make a safe withdrawal from a ATM at a supermarket, but you may be robbed as you leave the supermarket to your car or along the pedestrian walkway.

5) Look out for suspicious people hanging around the ATM machine. Scan the area for people loitering within 5 metres of the ATM machine. If you see a person sitting in his car/bike, or someone just loitering around be more alert. If you do not feel safe at that time, move on. You can find alternative ATM machine to use.

6) keep a list of ATM machines in your work or home areas that are safe to use. This list will come in handy just in case you need to make an emergency withdrawal of funds.

7) If you see someone suddenly approaching you while you are in the middle of a transaction, terminate the transaction straight away. Asked the stranger sternly what is it that he wants from you? Remember to remove the bank card and put it safely in your pocket. If the stranger refused to moved off, raised your voice to attract attention or simply walked away from the ATM machine to a crowded area.

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Use ATM machine during the day and on high traffic area.
Use ATM machine during the day and on high traffic area.

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8) most robberies occur after the ATM cash transaction has been completed. Once the cash had been withdrawn by the victim, the robber would moved in quickly to grap the cash. The robber would normally warned the victim that he has a concealed weapon in his pocket. Do not fight with the robber, just hand the cash over to him and remember his features. When you are safe, immediately asked for help from strangers and call the police.

The above are the steps that you can take to ensure safety when using the ATM machines. ATM machines are now part of our daily life and we used it without much thought. With a little planning and an awareness to safety, we can ensure that the cash that has been withdrawn from the ATM machines safely goes into our wallets.