Greetings from Singapore! We know that some of you haven't yet registered for the first annual OpenMRS Worldwide Summit, but are planning to attend, so wanted to share this information that was just sent out to registered attendees. If you are planning to attend and haven't yet registered, or if you know someone that hasn't yet done so, don't delay! Register today at: http://omrs15.eventbrite.com/
As a reminder, optional tutorials will be held 8-9 December (registration is still available!), our conference will run 10-12 December, and a developer hackathon will happen 13-14 December (additional free registration required; space is very limited).
Early next week, we'll be sending registered attendees a participant information packet to review and bring along as you travel to Singapore. You may also want to review the Wikivoyage entry on Singapore for more travel information. Meanwhile, please take note of a few things:
Arriving at Changi Airport
Singapore Changi Airport is consistently rated one of the world's best, and is very easy to navigate. Currency exchange, ATMs, and SIM cards are available inside the airport, on the lower level near the ground transportation area. They offer reasonable rates as well, although you pay a small premium compared to the city.
If you need a SIM card for your GSM phone, we recommend using Singtel. Through 31 December, you can buy a "hi!Tourist SIM Card" for SGD $15 (good for 5 days) that includes 100GB of local data, 500 minutes of local calls, 100 local SMS messages, and 30 minutes of international calls. A SGD $30 plan (good for 10 days) is also available and adds unlimited local SMS & calls, and 90 minutes of international calls. At the airport, you can get these at the 24-hour "Changi Recommends" shops located in each terminal. You can also obtain this promotion at selected 7-Eleven & Cheers convenience stores as well as all Singtel shops around the city. Remember that Singapore uses Type G (also used in UK and Hong Kong) power outlets at 230V 50Hz; you may want to buy an adapter before you travel.
From the Airport to the city centre
From the airport, there are a number of ways to get into the city. Be sure to have the name & address of your hotel or hostel with you to ensure you get to the correct place.
The MRT light rail connects to Changi Airport via its East-West line. The station is located between Terminals 2 & 3, and is well indicated from Terminal 1. When going to the city, you'll need to change trains at Tanah Merah station – exit on the left hand side door and cross the platform. Use Google Maps Transit to determine which station is closest to your accommodations. The 30-minute ride to City Hall station costs SGD $1.90 plus a refundable SGD $1 deposit. Trains run from 05:31 to 23:18.
A shuttle bus transfer can be booked at the Ground Transport Desk in the arrival hall at all terminals. The shuttle costs SGD $9 per adult and will take you to most downtown hotels.
Taxis are available by following the signs after clearing customs. Meters are always used in Singapore. A trip to the city during the day will be between SGD $20–30 including a SGD $5 airport surcharge in effect 17:00 Fridays to 23:59 Sundays and SGD $3 at all other times. An additional 50% surcharge applies 00:01-05:59. By law, only a maximum of 4 passengers can use one taxi. Be aware that there may be "premium" taxis available at a higher rate.
Public transportation bus terminals can be found in the basements of T1, T2 and T3. 06:00-23:00 only. Fares are less than SGD $2.00, exact fare required (no change given) if you pay cash. Bus number 36 directly goes to the city centre, which takes roughly 50 to 60 minutes travelling on expressways through the East Coast to City Hall and Orchard Road. It has luggage racks at the front of the bus.
Be ready for the weather
Be prepared for rain and warm weather, drink plenty of water, and dress accordingly!
Singapore is hot and humid, with December average temperatures of 32°C (86°F) daytime and 25°C (76°F) at night. Rain falls almost daily, usually in sudden, heavy showers that rarely last longer than an hour. Spectacular thunderstorms can occur any time during the day, so it's wise to carry an umbrella at all times, both as a shade from the sun or cover from the rain.
The high temperature and humidity, combined with the lack of wind and the fact that temperatures stay high during the night, can take its toll on visitors from colder parts of the world. Bear in mind that spending more than about one hour outdoors can be very exhausting, especially if combined with moderate exercise. Plan to bring a water bottle and stay hydrated. Singaporeans themselves shun the heat, and for a good reason. Many live in air-conditioned flats, work in air-conditioned offices, take the air-conditioned metro to air-conditioned shopping malls connected to each other by underground tunnels where they shop, eat, and exercise in air-conditioned fitness clubs. Follow their example if you want to avoid discomfort in the searing heat and humidity of Singapore.
Remember, there is no formal dress code for the OpenMRS Worldwide Summit, so wear whatever feels comfortable to you. Singaporean locals often wear short trousers and flip-flops, so you won't look out of place if you wish to follow their example.
About the event format
The OpenMRS Worldwide Summit is a new event, and we will experiment with a variety of event formats. In addition to large group "plenary" gatherings in the mornings, we'll also have smaller breakout talks and unconference sessions in the afternoons. Please add your ideas for session topics online at http://om.rs/ideas to help us in organizing the event! All OpenMRS, health IT, or emerging technology topics are welcome. Session rooms will be available in small and large sizes, and projectors will be available in all rooms.
New to unconferences & want a quick overview? Need a refresher? Check out this 3-minute video:
That's it for now. If you have any questions about logistics or the event, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll see you soon!