Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Asakusa Kannon Onsen

I must mention this onsen as it is special.  The onsen is located very conveniently right next to Senso-ji, or actually it is on the temple ground to be more precise.  If you are facing the main hall of Senso-ji, this onsen is on your left.  You can see a 4-5 story building that is covered by ivory leagues.

The onsen facility itself is very run down, very old, very vintage.  The people manning the onsen are also very old, just like the building itself.

I went there twice.  For the first time, when I went in, people were leaving, so I had the WHOLE onsen, not entirely whole really, as I only had the WHOLE men's part of the onsen, all to myself.  There are two pools, one is very hot, the other is hot.  The very hot one is really too hot.  The moment I dipped my toes in, I had to jump out.  So at the end, I still only used half the onsen.

The onsen has very little crowd.  After I came in, only one old man and a young man came in to join me.  The old man was really old.  He was trembling when he was walking.  I am always very afraid of old man in the onsen.  They look so fragile you have no idea when they will just slip & fall.

The second time when I was there, some older office workers were there, but they soon left.  And then two old men came when I was about to leave.  Then it comes to the very interesting point of Asakusa Kannon onsen.  In Japan, there is an unwritten rule that if you have tattoos on your body, you are not welcomed in any onsen or sento (bath house) with very few exceptions.  Tattoos in the older days are symbols of being a member of yakuzi, or mafia in English.  Asakusa Kannon onsen is one such exception.  One of the old man that came in, had very colorful tattoos on his right arm.  Looking at the age of the man, when he was young, for sure tattoos were symbols of mafia.  Does this mean he was/is a member of the mafia?? 

In Japan, before you dip yourself into the onsen pool, you should always clean yourself thoroughly.  However, this man with tattoo simple didn't bother.  He went straight into the pool.  He even happily dipped his long beard into the pool too.  Yucks, I was using that pool just minutes ago, luckily I left just that minutes earlier. 

I was wondering whether he had some glory past, but he now looks week and fragile, slow in motion, numb to the surroundings. 

If you want to see some pictures of the onsen, you can find them at this blog.  Ok, btw, this onsen is one of the oldest in Tokyo, and 'frequent' by both locals & tourists.  As to the effectiveness of the onsen, I was happy.  I went there with a tired body, after 12 hours of intercontinental flight, and many hours of walking along the streets of Tokyo.  The onsen easied my pain in my lower back. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

K's House

K's house is a backpacker's hostel chain.  They have hostels in many different locations.  I stayed at their Asakusa hostel - K's House Tokyo, for my last trip. 

In terms of location, K's house is excellent.  It is 3 minutes walk from Kuramae Station, 7 minutes walk to Asakusa Station (or Senso-ji).  There are many shops, restaurants around.  Very convenient location.

The ground floor is their lobby, reception, pantry, and store room.  The lobby/lounge is very cosy, with two computers available for you to access the internet (you have to pay though, 100 yen for 20 mins). 

However, their dorm is really small.  Do you see all these bunk beds being crammed together in such a small room?  There are a total of 4 bunk beds, for 8 persons in a room smaller than 8 meter squared. 

Most of the people staying at K's house are westerners, or Caucasians, or Asians with an Asian's look, but a Caucasian's heart.

Service-wise, it is the same slow service at almost all the hostels across the world.  They usually only have one staff manning the reception, so patience is a virtue.  

Anyway, for the price of 2800 yen/night in expensive Tokyo, it is not a bad choice if you are traveling alone.  However, if you traveling with a partner or a friend, it will be more worthwhile to consider one of those business hotels such as Toyoko Inn. 

More information about K's house is available at  K's House Website.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sushi Daiwa at Tsukiji

Sushi Daiwa is one of the most famous sushi shops outside of Tsukiji Market.

I don't know who gave that good review about Sushi Daiwa, but anyway I read it from  Along with the same row of shop houses, there are many other sushi shops too.  Just one or two shop space away, it is Sushi Dai, another famous sushi shop.

Out of all those sushi shops, only Sushi Daiwa & Sushi Dai had queues, and the queue at Sushi Dai is long, see all the crowd in the photo above?  They were all queuing up for Sushi Dai.

Anyway, I chose Sushi Daiwa, because the queue was much shorter, and I heard it is just as good as Sushi Dai.

Sushi Daiwa has a set menu which costs 3500 yen for 7 pieces of sushi.


2 & 3

4, 5, 6 & 7

Ok, you have seen all 7 pieces of sushi.  Do they look delicious to you?  Ok, 1 & 7 are tunas, I think.  They were very chewy, definitely not otoro.  2 & 3, can't really remember the taste, must be very average.  4 is not bad, 5 is something I don't know what it is.  6 is raw prawn, so so taste.

After the expensive 7-course sushi breakfast, I was still hungry.  Comparing with the sushi that I had last year in a street side sushi shop in Asakusa, I think that sushi was much better.  I still can remember how tender the conger sushi was.  It melts in your mouth, so smooth and tender & juicy.

I will only give a 3/5 rating to Sushi Daiwa. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tsukiji Market - Part III

Tsukiji Market is one whole spider web of small alleys such as this. 

And here is the loading and unloading area.

There is a special type of vehicle that you can only see in this market.  It roams both inside and outside of market.

Be very careful.  The market is one whole chaotic place.  The fish merchants, the laborers, the 'special vehicles', trolleys, and the tourists, they all tend to bump into each other.  Plus the many trucks loading and unloading at the side of the market, it is a place full of potential dangers.  It makes it even worse with all that wet and dirty and slippery floor.  Take extra precaution while you walk, and be aware of your surroundings when you are happily taking photographs.  

The small alleys are lined up with all different kinds of seafood shops, selling all kinds of stuff from live seafood to preserved salty fish, etc, etc. 


Your eyes will be really busy looking at the people, the fish, & the traffic.  And you know, most of the activities happen before dawn, so everything is under the dim lights of market.

The activities do not limit to the market itself.  Outside the market, there are still many shops selling what the ordinary family needs.  I am aware of there are district 4 & district 3.  District 3 is more for the sushi shops, while district 4 is more for sundry stuff and other related stuff.  There are some food stalls too.

Visiting Tsukiji is quite an experience.  I didn't really intend to visit the market, as I didn't want to wake up 4 o'clock in the morning just to go to some fish market.  Then I think it was kind of fated.  One Caucasian guy set his alarm clock to ring at 4am, and he was not waken up at the first alarm, after he was waken up, he couldn't find his alarm to turn off the alarm.  So you know, all the people in the dorm were waken up by that unexpected 'morning call'.  Ok, since I was already awake, so might as well go to the market, that's how I ended up in Tsukiji at around 6am.  Oh, one more thing, check your train schedule when you plan your trip.  I got to the train station at 5.10am, but the train would only come at 5.35am.  What a waste.

Related Entries:

Part I:

Part II:

Tsukiji Market - Part II

Tsukiji is famous for being a fish market, so how can you just see blue fin tuna there.  There are still a lot more different varieties of fish available.

Now it is test time.  How many of the fishes can you name in the following pictures?  Winner has no prize thought :D


I don't know what about you, for myself, I have seen most of them in some Asian seafood restaurants.  They are considered to be a bit on the 'expensive' side, though.  Do you see that 'elephant trunk' in the first picture, it is one expensive delicacies in Asia.  In my humble opinion, Tsukiji fish market is a bit over-hyped.  Maybe to the western world, it is something new & interesting, but in the Asian world, it is not really that novel.  Well, of course, other Asian markets may not have the much hype blue fin tuna auction, that's quite unique to Tsukiji.  

Related Entries:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tsukiji Market - Part I

Tsukiji market is the central whole sale market in Tokyo.  It is famous for its fish market, but as a matter of fact, the fish market is just one of the many whole sale markets located in Tsukiji.  Look at this map of Tsukiji, you can see they actually have a fruits market too, but just a lot less well-known to the tourists.

Ok, to get to Tsukiji market, you just need to take the subway to Tsukiji station, simple enough, right?  After you come out of the station, turn left, and voila, here it is the Tsukiji market.  Don't follow the crowd.  I made that mistake and follow the 'tourist' crowd after I exited the subway station.  Instead of turning left, I followed the crowd to turn right, and then ended up in the shops outside Tsukiji market, and it took me quite a while to find my way back.  How did I do that, I followed a pair of Japanese boys who obviously were going to the market too :D

The most famous fish in Tsukiji is of course the blue fin tuna.  It is the top material they use for Japanese sushi.  You often heard that freshness of the fish is of utmost importance in the quality of sushi, so you might think that those blue fin tuna are live when they are made into your sashimi.  It is not.  The tuna is deep frozen, and then sent to the market.  You can see many tunas lying around.

And the guys in the market will cut them up into smaller pieces.


The smaller pieces are placed in a chilling facility, waiting for the customers to come and buy them.

That is what you will see in your sushi shop.  

It is eye-opening to see how they handle those giant blue fin tunas.  However, if you not a fish guy, or you dislike any place that is wet and dirty and chaotic, probably Tsukiji is not the place for you :)

Related Entries:

Narita Airport Shopping Experience

My experience at Narita Airport last year was far from satisfaction.  I was traveling with Cathay Pacific and they operate from Narita Terminal 2.  I thought Terminal 2 should be a newer terminal with more facilities, but on the contrary, Terminal 2 is more or less like a bare building.  Really nothing much.  There is no shopping experience to talk about.

This time I traveled with Singapore Airlines which operates from Narita Terminal 1.  The terminal itself is much better, and they have 2 floors of shops to satisfy your spending desire.  The stuff there are not all more expensive.  I know that if you buy those souvenir food items, such as those tea cakes, etc, it is more expensive at the airport (around 150 yen more), but for other items, actually it is more or less the same price. 

I am a lot happier this time.  :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Guy from Leeds

As I was wondering the streets of Tokyo on Monday, I met a guy from Leeds, UK.  It started with him asking me for directions.  Then we started a conversation along the way as we were walking in the same direction. 

He said he had a 6-month adventure in Asia.  He spent some time in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philipines, then two weeks in Hong Kong, 2 months in mainland China.  He actually went to Shaolin Temple to learn Chinese martial arts.  From there, he came to Japan.  He would end his trip in Japan, and flying back to UK on 8 Dec.

I am always very amazed by the westerners' ability to go for long trips.  It is not the first time that I heard some guy is going for a 6-month trip, 1-year trip around the world.  How do they do it?  All that money, how did they come up with so much money?  And in the Leeds' guy's case, he just graduated from university.

Another interesting point is the fact that he spent his entire trip in Asia.  In the past, most people would like to go to countries such as Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand, etc.  If the Leeds guy is any indication, there might be a shift in people's perceptions. 

Anyway, it is always fun to meet different people when you travel.  New perspectives of the world around you. 

Uniqlo @ 313 Somerset

I went to the Uniqlo store at 313@Somerset tonight.  This Uniqlo is THE store in the whole shopping complex.  You don't see that kind of crowd in any of the other stores present in the same shopping complex.

The store is big, and has many varieties, but seems like not exactly the same as what they offer in Japan.  At least I couldn't find the premium down jacket I bought at Narita. 

They are now having an opening sale.  A mouton fleece jacket costs S$39.90 (UP S$49.90), and a thin jacket costs S$19.90 (UP S$29.90).  Their clothes are quite nice.  Feels good when touching.  Most importantly, they are light and dry quickly. 

I would be very happy if I were the owner.  Cash register keeps ringing.  There are about 6-7 cashiers, and yet there were still long queues of customers waiting to pay.  In tropical Singapore, it is really good business for a winter clothes store.   I do hope their business will be substainable in Singapore, then I don't have to travel all the way to Japan to get my stuff. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

HSBC Rejection

This is the 2nd time so far in my life my credit card application was rejected.  I was persuaded by this marketer at AMK MRT station some time ago into signing up for the HSBC credit card and their line of credit facility.  After I submitted my application, I forgot about it and I assumed my application would be accepted as a matter of procedure.

Then I received a letter from HSBC a few days ago, saying they rejected my application.  The exact reason was not given, but in the letter it stated that I am not up to their standard by their score system.  Then I received my debit card from HSBC at the same time too.  This debit card lets me use their line-of-credit facility.  Don't you think something is illogical here?  I highly suspect they just want to con me into using their line of credit, which bears very high interest rate from the very moment you take money out from that evil debit card.  So when I called them up to cancel my debit card, they said I could not do that.  If I do, I would have to pay a fee!   How ridiculous it is. 

Banks are banks, they are never honest or honourable.  Handle with GREAT care!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Uniqlo is a Japanese brand that sells winter clothes, including jackets, thermal underwear, etc.  My first encounter with them was during my trip to Tokyo last year.  They were selling thermal underwear at very reasonable prices.  I got one each for my parents.  Their feedback is not too bad.

When I was shopping around in Narita Terminal 1 yesterday, I found they have a shop on Level 4 too, and they are having some kind of sales.  I found one premium down jacket, very nice and stylish.  The original price is ~10,000 yen, after discount, it is 7990 yen.  How can I miss this opportunity?  Of course I bought the jacket without any hesitation.  Together with the jacket, I also bought my other thermal underwear too.  Just perfect for my upcoming trekking trip.

The even better news is that Uniqlo is opening their doors in Singapore too.  I just checked, the same premium down jacket is going at S$149.00, while 7990 yen is around S$129.00.  Haha.... a small little S$20.00 discount :P

You can find more information about Uniqlo at their website:

I personally like their products a lot.  The design is slim, simple, & stylish.  Give them a try if you are looking for some winter clothing, or any clothes in general.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Movie Marathon on Flight

Taking intercontinential flights usually is my best time to catch up with all those movies that I have missed when they were being screened.  This time there is no exception.  I finished watching G Force, Up, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Accident, and 500 Days of Summer. 

G Force has very cute hamsters & guinea pigs, other than that, it is full of crap, but then it is at least better than Up, which is total crap, nothing but crap.  It just tries to spread the junkie American culture, how they dump rubbish around the world, destroying in the name of preservation. 

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, I can't really say too much about it.  The movie has a boring beginning, and then I slept through the 'important' part, by the time I woke up, it was already at the end.  I had no intention to rewind to watch what I had missed.  This episode somehow has lost its magic appeal.

Accident, starring Hong Kong actor Louis Khoo, is quite alright.  Sometimes, it is hard to differentiate what is the truth, what is the lie.  When you make a mistake, you may make grave mistakes that you can never have a chance to correct.

500 Days of Summer, I previously thought it would be just another American junk, but somehow it appeals to me.  I like it.  There are a lot of things in life that you wanted, but you can never get it; and some things you never expect it, but you get it. 

This is life.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Competitions & Awards

I am not a very competitive person, so I seldom get myself involved in any competitions, and I have never won any awards, either.  Some recent events make me ponder whether I should become more competitive and put in some efforts to win some awards in any competition that is possible.

As I search around, there are numerous competitions, photography competitions I mean.  One interesting thing I noticed is many of the competitions actually charge an entry fee.  The amount varies, but then I saw one competition, the KL PHOTOAWARDS 2010, the entry fee is US$10 per entry for the individual group.  I am wondering, why don't I organize a competition then?  If I can get 1000 entries, then I will get US$10,000 in revenue.  Then I pay out US$3000 for prizes, then I can still have US$7000.  Minus another US$3000 for logistics and other expenses, then I still have a profit of US$4000.  This business is low capital, but not-too-bad profit. 

Again, it makes me wonder the meaningfulness of competitions...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dubai World

The hottest topic in town now is all about Dubai World and their request to halt all their debt repayments.  Once the news came out, it sent shock waves around the world markets (for those that are still open).  For markets that are closed for Thanksgiving and the Muslim new year, hmmm, the next market opening will be very interesting to watch.

Last year's credit crunch saw many US  and UK banks go underwater, with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the entire world was sent into turmoil.  This time round, would Dubai World triggered another round of credit crunch?  Probably not, at least we are not seeing debts amounting to 3-digital billions.  The total debt is said to be only around 59 billion.  Some big mouth then said the biggest impacted banks are HSBC and Standard Chartered.  That sent Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dived almost 5%.  We didn't see such big drops in HSI for a while.

We can expect STI will be impacted next Monday, and the most impact might be on the banking sector.  Hmm, not very good.  I suppose all the 3 local banks will have to come out to clarify how much exposure they have to their Middle East investments.  Hopefully not much. 

Gold price is down, finally.  Hard to tell whether it is just a healthy pull-back or a major correction.  If it is a major correction, some analysts say the price may go down to US$900-1000/oz.  That's good news for those who had been left out.  I don't know about Gold, I can only hear what the analysts say.  For Silver, probably the spot price will go back down to US$16-17/oz before it resumes its up trend.  Probably means no guarantee lah, act on your own risk.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Go Karting

Wow, today for the very first time I tried my hand on go karting. Once when I was in Bangkok, my friends tried it, but I didn't. I was too scared and had no idea how to operate whatever that distantly looked like a car.

Today at least I had the guts to try and I actually did some homework before hand by watching some YouTube videos on how to do corners, etc. It is quite interesting, although I find that it is a matter of how daring you are. If you keep stepping on the accelerator, you should go pretty fast, but if you are like me, a more conservative guy, who will accelerate and then release to let it decelerate on its own, you are not going to be very fast or furious.

Go karting is fun, but a bit too expensive. $30 for 10 minutes! What a precious 10 minutes.

Anyway, I enjoyed the game very much today, although my speed was really low :P

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Buying from eBay - My Experience

I recently made two purchases from eBay USA, and the experience is quite different.

For the first case, the seller dropped me an email to say the item had been shipped. I waited for 2 weeks, nothing arrived. I emailed the seller, he asked me to wait for another week, if I still didn't get the item, let him know. The very next day, the item arrived in perfect condition. I was very satisfied, I was a happy customer.

With this pleasant experience, I happily went on for my second purchase. The seller also emailed me once the item was shipped. Great! And to my surprise, only after one week, the item arrived. I was very happy. However, when I open the package, I became unhappy. The item is a Canadian silver maple leaf bullion. It is supposed to be in its mint condition, or at least no scratches, etc. The one I received has 3 small dent marks on the chin of QEII, and there is a long scratch line across her face. I was like, what the hell?! I emailed the seller on the same day, and showed her a picture of the bullion. The next morning, I got a reply. Guess what she said? She said she shipped a bullion in its perfect condition to me, the scratches must be a result from the custom's inspection which she has no control of. Based on my experience from the first purchase, I know if the item is packaged properly, there won't be any such scratches! And the seller's none of my business attitude really disappoints me, and she is a top-rated seller in eBay. Her top-rated seller icon is one of the reasons why I bought from her. This is disappointing. I left her a 'Neutral' feedback as giving her the benefit of doubt. One additional point, when I checked her listing of the item again, then I noticed she didn't actually show the head-side of the bullion, only the tail-side. The head-side is exactly the side where the dents and scratches are.

Two purchases, two different experiences. Buying through the internet sometimes really is a matter of luck. You will never know what you will get actually.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

$1.50 Chicken Rice

I walked pass Sembawang MRT station this evening and found this chicken rice stall selling at S$1.50 a plate of chicken rice. Out of curiosity, I ordered a plate.

S$1.50 a plate of chicken rice, it is like only in 1990s then you could have this kind of price. Even then, S$2.00 is more like the 'normal' price, and S$1.50 was where you could find in some older estates or markets.

The taste of the S$1.50 is not much different from those S$3.00-3.50 a plate ones in the food courts. Heavy use of MSG seems to be norm with any chicken rice in Singapore, and the after effect is you feel thirsty. The rice itself is typical of the hard to chew, can't tell whether it is fully cooked or half cooked style.

Somehow I still feel good about the S$1.50 chicken rice, maybe it is because it brings back the memory of the happier, younger days, and more hardworking days :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Clear Shampoo

I don't know whether just me or it is common to many of its users, I recently use the Clear shampoo, the one that you see Korean star Rain in the ads, yes, that one.

After I used the shampoo, my brain feels bad. The smell makes me feel headache, and for the whole day, I feel something is attacking my scalp. It simply feels terrible.

I bought the shampoo last year, and only used it when I went swimming. Nothing wrong at that time. Then I left it in my bathroom, and then only recently I took it out and use it again. Then every time I use it, I feel terrible with my head. I couldn't think properly with that smell. It feels like I am suffocating.

No choice, I can't bear with it anymore. At the end, I decided to throw it away. I can't let my head suffer anymore. And I am disappointed with this brand of shampoo, unlikely I will ever buy that brand of shampoo anymore.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Singapore True Ghost Stories

Singaporeans somewhat love ghost stories, and so I will share with you here two of my recent encounters, the true Singapore ghost stories.

The first one happened at home. I was in my study, and there was this strange sound. Sounded like the voice a human, or humans, very coarse, like with lots of noise in the background. At first I thought it was my neighbour's radio or TV, but then when I listened carefully, no, the noise is not from my neighbour next door, or above, or below. Scary, isn't it?

The second incident happened at Causeway point. I was riding the escalator up from ground floor to 1st floor. This escalator is a new addition, a very narrow one, wide enough only for one person. As I was riding up, I heard very loud foot steps behind, as if someone was rushing up the escalator. Our of curiosity, I turned my head and looked back, nobody was there! Very scary, isn't it?

Maybe there are true ghost stories out there, but more often than not, it is because people are a bit ignorant. For the first encounter, I later discovered that I forgot I was streaming a TV drama in the background, and I forgot I plugged the earphone in my computer. The sound is coming from my earphone, and that sound was from the TV drama conversation lah.

For the 2nd encounter, I only found out when I reached the end of the escalator, and a young boy rushed past me. He is so short, no wonder I didn't see him.

Haha... Did you get scared by my stories? :P

You're the Power

Title: You're the Power 自己就是力量
Author: Chen Xian-ming 陈显明
Call #: 158CXM

This book is another book that may change your life, or at least your view on life. It tackles the problem of low self-esteem.

We have been taught in school, at home some 'noble' virtues such as putting society before self, family before self, others before self. These are all noble virtues, and there is no question about their correctness and nobleness. However, such noble ideas, more often than not, will subsequently lead to low self-esteem. We surpess our own feelings. We dare not to speak out. Why? Because we are afraid other people will be unhappy, have bad impressions on us, etc, etc. Over time, we get more and more timid. We lose ourselves to become one total uncharacteristic Dick, Joe & Henry. This book teaches us to live your life your own way, the way you want it to be, the way you like, the way you feel happy. There is no contradiction between living our life our way and putting society before self.

The second point this book advocates is we are the source of own happiness, nobody but ourselves. Our mentality determines whether we are happy, we are sad, we are successful, we are victimized. Lord Buddha said everything is made up by your heart. (万法唯心造). The author's advocate basically is the real life application of Lord Buddha's teaching.

The third point is to get closer to mother nature to purify yourself, to seek your true self. Nature's many great and little wonders will become your inspiration, your motivation.

This book is definitely worth reading, many many times.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Precious Metal Investment in Singapore

Gold has just reached a record high of the year, and historical record high ever. People may start looking around for ways to invest in precious metals such as gold and silver in Singapore. Such investors may be disappointed. There are, frankly speaking, very limited options in investing in physical precious metals here.

For gold investment, other than buying gold jewellery from your friendly goldsmith, the only other way is to buy from the Gold Department of UOB. You have choices of buying American Eagle, Canadian maple leaf, and 3 other less common choices. Even that will not guarantee you will get what you want. Since the gold price skyrocketed, there has been reports saying UOB is constantly out of stock of certain types of gold bullions that they sell. The 1 oz version was even sold out for some time.

For silver, the choices is even more limited if you want to buy from a 'reputable' institution such as a bank. UOB only offers silver certificates, but not physical silver. To get physical silver such as Canadian silver maple leaf, or American silver eagle, you may have to buy from overseas, such as eBay, or Kitco, and a pay the cost of shipping. There is one private company in Singapore selling those silver bullions and bars too, but I have not purchased from them before, so I am not sure about them. Ok, that's about all the options you have in Singapore to invest in physical precious metals.

Other means of investing precious metals will involves financial instruments such as options, futures, which are all paper.

Precious metal investment vehicles may be one of the many areas that the Singapore government can look into for opportunities. I am sure many from our neighbours would like to have their golds and silvers in Singapore for safe keeping.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Close Shop for the Year

Yesterday I sold off my last significant open position and come to an end of trading for this year. I have missed 3 recessions and the subsequent exponential recovery, this time I must keep studying and keep an eye on the market. I must not miss the 4th one. When will the 4th one come? Nobody knows.

Anyway, ending the year with a tiny profit. Tiny it is, at least I spent time and effort to improve myself. Most importantly, I finally realised the reason why I had kept losing. I am working on my psychology and improving. Bright future ahead...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Guardians 20% Discount

Walked past the Guardian store in Funan yesterday, noticed there is a 20% storewide discount on-going. Out of curiosity, I went to the Guardian store near my place to take a look. So it is a 20% discount storewide for purchases S$30 and above, except those items for babies.

Hohoho...I had wanted to buy some stuff from Guardians for my Nepal trip for quite some time. I kept pushing the purchase back because I don't want to buy unnecessary stuff and stock them up in my home. They take up space and collect lots of dust :P And I was thinking whether I should buy those items from Watson's as there is a 3% rebate if you pay by POSB Everyday Card.

Anyway, today is a good time then. I quickly snapped up all those 'essential' items I will need, including 3 packets of medical paste just in case my back makes noise during the trip.

The 20% discount ends tonight, so you still have a few hours to make your last minute purchase :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

BP511A: Original vs 3rd Party

I got myself a third party BP511 camera battery from Cathay Photos. This is the first time I realised how big the difference in price is between the original Canon battery and the 3rd party battery.

A 3rd party BP511 is S$28, an original Canon BP511A is is S$138!!! With the price of 1 original battery, you can get almost 10 3rd party batteries!!! OMG! In terms of quality, 3rd party batteries are about the same as the original. In the past, I bought a 3rd party battery, and it works just fine, the cost was only S$30. The new 3rd party battery has a capacity of 2800mAh, while the old one has a capacity of 1800mAh.


作者: Lynda Field
译者: 田婉芹
Search Number: 158.1

This is a book about how to build up your self-esteem. In this book, a lot of the past concepts/beliefs we learnt in the family, in school are all wrong. We learnt to supress our own feeling, put others first, self behind. All these 'noble' virtues are nontheless causing all our grieves. Another world view changing book.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I don't know what is the difference between Pilate & Yoga. The two of them look like the same to me. They both do some strange funny poses and supposed to train your flexibility.

Out of curiousity, I started my 1st Pilate lesson today. The poses are simple and easy to understand, but not easy to do! It is the very first lesson, and my hands, arms, legs, everything is already trembling like some resonance. The simple and slow movements are pushing me. OMG, it is kind of torture.

Luckily the lesson is only one hour, and that is before lunch. If I do it after lunch, I think whatever I eat during lunch will all come out :P

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Length & Width

My friend told me today she has no control of the length of her life, so she can only try her best to increase the width of life. It reminds me of this song the long distance run of life. I only found the Mandarin Chinese version in YouTube, but I know there is a Cantonese version too. The video quality is not very good because it is a really old song. Easily more than 20 years old. Anyway, I would like to share it here with you.

The lyric says everybody has the same starting point. When you were born, you are at your starting point, no matter whether you like it or not, no matter how difficult life and situations are, you have to start your journey of life. Everybody has the same ending point too. When you come to the end of your life, you have to stop, no matter how beautiful the scenary is, no matter how attached you are to this material world.

Our life is limited, but our capability is unlimited. Time has been wasted in self doubt, hesitation, worries, and fear. It is high time I gone out to experience to the full of life.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Body Worlds

What is Body Worlds Exhibition? Simply put, it is an exhibition of dead bodies in a tasteful manner. The bodies have been preserved and put into different lively postures.

Dead bodies inevitably will make people feel uneasy. The exhibition organizer has done it in such a way that they mostly portrait the beauty of human body, with special emphasis on human muscles. The bodies are preserved in such a fashion that as if they were still alive. You can 'feel' the movement of their muscles in various situations, such as playing basketball, dancing, doing gymnastics.

Another portion of the exhibition emphasize the importance of taking good care of our own body. There is a display of two lungs, one from a non-smoker, another one from a smoker. The constrast is obvious and shocking. The smoker's lung is black as tar.

Singapore Science Center hired some Exhibit GUIDEs and they are available in the exhibition to answer visitors' questions. The guides performance varies quite drastically. I saw a total of 3 guides. One guy was enjoying the exhibition himself, waling from one exhibit to another, looking curiously at the exhibits. One girl was just walking around, and didn't see her much. The last one was the best one. It is his first day on this job, and I think he is from some medical-related studies. He patiently explained to the keen visitors the mechanisms in the body. The artery, the veins, the nerves, the muscles, etc. He made the dead exhibits lively, and the exhibition a lot more interesting than just looking at the captions and guess on your own.

The exhibition is on till March 2010. You can find your details at

It is an exhibition worth visiting if you are not in the medical profession. The exhibition came to Singapore once back in 2003/2004, but I didn't have the guts to pay it a visit alone. I missed that chance, but now I have the chance to make up. It is one of the sources of my many sore points, setbacks, upsets. Now I have the chance to face up the source, and I will get up from where I fell down. Thanks to the exhibitor who has brought this exhibition back to Singapore!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wong Kok, Again

Ended up having lunch at Wong Kok Char Chan Teng at JB City Square again. I used the coupons that we got the last time. For October, we got a free set of French Toast.

The French Toast came simmering in butter, looks really greasy. Inside, the filling is peanut butter, so much better. Smells good, tastes not bad too, just a bit too unhealthy.

For drinks, I ordered almond tea with egg. A fresh egg is poured into the hot almond tea. It looks not bad, but the almond is really bitter. I have to add in suger to soften the bitterness.

Main course for me was baked rice. Baked rice seems to always come with lots of cheese. The rice always tastes a bit strange. Anyway, not too bad to fill a hungry stomach.

Maybe it is time for me to move on to some other eateries to try out some other stuff.

Ez-Link Reload

Last year and before, I used the Citibank SMRT credit card which doubled as an ez-link card. If offered the auto-topup facility (at a price of $0.25 per auto topup) and the credit card gave you a 1.7% rebate on the total topup amount.

All was well until somebody wanted to make more money and forced everybody to change to the new card. That's when my nightmare started.

For some reason, my SMRT card was replaced. The new card came with an auto topup amount of only S$30. It makes no financial sense for me to have that topup amount. I will have more number of topups and pay more convenience fee. I called up Translink to tell them I wanted to change the topup amount. They happily informed me that they couldn't do that because they were going through the ezlink card replacement exercise. I had to wait from March to July, then I could change the topup amount. When July came, they told me September. Finally when September came and the credit card company issued me a cepas compliant credit cum ezlink card, Translink asked me to contact ezlink to settle that, not their business. When I contacted ezlink, they asked me to deactivate it and reapply through their website after 7 working days. I did exactly that, and 2 days ago, I found out my application was rejected!

What the f**k! I again called them up, the lady there happily informed me that I reapplied earlier than the 7 working days as required. I could only reapply after 19 Oct. Hello, when I called them, it was already 24 Oct! And I was very sure that I reapplied only after 7 WORKING days! I wrote to their feedback unit.

This morning, I received an email notification saying my application has been approved. In the afternoon, an email from their customer service saying my application had been approved. Sorry for the inconvenience. SOP replies.

What is very unacceptable to me is their manner of treating their customers. I called them up, I was put on hold as all operators were engaged at the time. Fine, I can hold, I can even hold for an hour, 2 hours, no problem. Guess what, after some time, the automatic answering machine told me to leave a message, and then hung up the phone!

I am really frustrated with ezlink, and I has just written my feedback to LTA. I don't know how useful my feedback will be, but then at least I have voiced my opinion. Ezlink's current service standard is below standard.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dairy Farm Nature Park & Singapore Quarry

Went for a nature walk in the morning with Lu J in Dairy Farm Nature Park yesterday. This park was opened just very recently.

I am sure the review of this park will be quite different from different people. Some will say there is nothing to see. True enough. There is no great scenary in sight at all in this park. What you see is just roads, trails, and lots of green, trees, bushes, etc.

Some may say this park is great. There are lots of insects, birds hiding deep in the greens, and you can hear their music in the morning. There are also many different typical tropical plants, producing fresh O2 for the visitors. It is such a natural oxygen bar, free of charge, all natural, no chemicals involved. It is really nice.

Singapore Quarry is one highlight in the nature park. You can still steep cliffs, peaceful quarry lake, and the colorful visitors and inhabitants of the nature - birds, fishes, and many more.

See this big a*s lens and the big a*s tripod from our bird lovers. It seems like Singapore Quarry is one popular spot for our local bird lovers. It is quite understandable. For the short time that I spent there, I saw some really nice and colorful birds fly by, resting on trees.

In Chinese paintings, you frequently see a bird resting on a lone stick by the water. Only today then I realised where the painters got their idea. It is all natural. I saw it with my own eyes today.

Tebrau City, JB

This is my third visit to Tebrau City, JB, but the very first time that I spent some time there to take a closer look at the shops.

It is a bit disappointing. The shops are very similar to the shops in other shopping centers in Malaysia or Singapore. They have a Harris Bookstore there. A new bookstore huh? Actually it is just another brand name under the Popular Bookstore group. Oh, at least they are selling books that are different from what they sell at Popular.

The anchor tenant in Tebrau City is of course Jusco Departmental Store, which is more well-known than Tebrau City. Jusco occupies many levels of the building, lots of stuff for you to shop till you drop. Price-wise, I don't really see any bargains worth spending my money there yet.

Very few shops are having any kind of sales right now. I ended up coming home empty handed. I couldn't find any bargains. They are all expensive, similar price to those in Singapore.

Level 4 is where all the eating places are. Many restaurants. Next time, I would like to try out that sizzling stonegrills. It looks nice, price seems to be cheaper, but I have not really checked it out yet.

On the way back to JB custom, we took a taxi at Tebrau City. The other cab drivers all asked for RM20.00 minimum, then one Chinese lady cab driver offered to fetch us for RM18.00. It seems like the cost of parking at Tebrau City is RM1.00, the meter fare is about RM15-16.00 (not sure whether the meter has been tampered), so RM18.00 is not that bad. By bus, it is RM2.50.

Tang Shifu @ Tebrau City, JB

Found this small little restaurant at Tebrau City, JB yesterday. It is part of a Chinese medicine shop selling Chinese tonics such as Bird's nest. They leverage on the Chinese tonics and provide customers with Chinese dishes that are cooked with Chinese tonics as ingredients, which are called 'Yao Shan' (药膳).

We were there around 4pm, not really a good time for dinner, so we only ordered some side dishes. My order was Snow Jelly with Ginkgo. The dish was served with a standard white soup bowl. The taste is not very strong, a bit tasteless I must say, while it is supposed to be a bit more sweet. My friends ordered LuoHanGuo Herbal Jelly (罗汉果龟苓膏). Their feedback was also that it was a bit lack of taste. However, their tea eggs were not too bad.

Next time, if I go there again, I will like to try their main dishes and set meals. They look pretty nice. One thing about YaoShan in Malaysia and Singapore is that they are getting a bit 'high class'. 'High class' I mean the dining environment is very good, the utensils are clean and clear, the soup is more health conscious so there is much less salt, much less sugar, sometimes it ends up to be completely tasteless. And to cater to the local taste, many dishes are served cold (they chill it before serving, not left-over). Once chilled, the taste is getting even less obvious.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pedometer at Work

I put my new toy, the Omron-005 pedometer to work today. First, I went for a walk in the Dairy Farm trail. Total number of steps is only around 8000+. Followed by a short walk at Upper Pierce Reservoire, another 2000+ steps. Voila, I achieved my minimum daily quota already.

Afternoon, it was another kind of walk. Walking in the shopping centers. First stop was JB's City Square, then Jusco at Tehbrau City. We walked around 4 out of the 5 floors in the shopping complex. Somehow I find it more tiring walking in shopping centers. I get tired easily, but not in the nature walk case. I figure it must be the air. Some merchandises in the shopping malls have some very unpleasant smells, especially those plastic stuff.

Back to our topic. After one whole day's walk, my grand total is 23,366 steps! Wow, what a great 'achievement'. I finished two day's work in 1 day! :P Does this mean I can spend the whole day idling in bed tomorrow? :D

Omron HJ005 Pedometer

Haha... Got myself a new gadget on Friday night. It is an Omron HJ-005 pedometer. Yes, it is that small little device that will count the number of steps you have walked.

There are two models available, one is the HJ-005, the other is HJ-113. HJ-005 is a simple model, it does nothing more than counting your steps, and steps only. It does not offer any data management, or total fat burnt, etc, which HJ-113 has. Price-wise, HJ-005 is only S$19.25, while HJ-113 is S$40. Never mind, I don't really care how much fat has been burnt, I just need to know how many steps I have walked.

Once I got the pedometer, I put it to the test. As recommended by the user manual, I carried the pedometer and walked 100 steps, then checked the pedometer reading. For the first time, the reading was 114 steps, a bit on the high side. I adjusted the adjustment knob, and did the trial again. Ok, this time, the reading was 102 steps, within the +/-5 steps expected error.

It is recommended that everybody should walk at least 10,000 steps everyday to keep a healthy heart and to burn fat. It is important for me, as I don't seem to be able to get rid of my tummy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Not So "First Class' First Class Mails

I bought something from eBay USA. The seller sent out the item promptly on 7 Oct via 'First Class' mail by US postal service. I waited and waited for 2 weeks, and the item still had not arrived. I got worried, so I droped the seller a message. He came back to say 2 weeks is not that long, maybe to wait for another week. And he gave me the US postal service's website.

I took a look at the US postal service website. It turns out their 'First Class' mail is something like the 'Normal' stream in our Singapore's education system. 'First Class' is actually not so first class. It is basically at the bottom of US postal service hierarchy. For 'Priority Mail' service, which is one notch up than 'First Class' mail, it takes 6-10 days to get delivered. I understood then why it takes so long for my 'First Class' mail to arrive.

Ok, anyway, luckily the item arrived safely today at my mail box. It took a total of 16 calender days. Next time you order something from the US, be prepared for the wait :P

Protective Stops

It is very important to have protective stop orders in place to protect yourself from large drawdowns. I don't have any automatic protective stops in place, so I am looking around for options.

DBS Vickers is one lousy broker. When I called them up to enquire about such a feature, the guy answering the phone just bluntly said no such feature, even if I am willing to pay for such feature, there is none. DBS Vickers has been in business for such a long time, yet they don't have something so vital to their customers. Or they simply don't understand the business? Another possible reason is they want to benefit their own remisiers. They want their remisiers to be that 'protective order'. Mmmh, I don't know.

Philips Security offers protective order through a paid service called 'pro trader'. The cost is S$80.00 per quarter (3 months). I think comparing with the potential loss, the S$80 is really nothing. However, their protective order is not fool-proof. You may still end up with big losses.

As I understand from my friend who uses ProTrader, the stop-limit order works this way. For example, if you have sell stop-limit order, the stop price is set to S$0.70, and the limit order is set to S$0.65. If the price drops below S$0.70, the order will be triggered, and your shares will be sold to a price that is higher or equal to S$0.65. If the market price drops below S$0.65, your order will NOT be executed. Philips limits your limit order to be maximum 7 ticks below the last done price. In this case, if your share's price goes into a free fall, say gap down from S$0.72 the previous close, to S$0.55, then you still face a huge loss.

Another disadvantage is you must set your stop-limit orders everyday. It is very inconvenient when you go traveling and don't have internet access through your own computer! ProTrader requires you to download an application to your own notebook computer to work.

CMC Markets has a much more advanced order system. Their orders more or less covers almost all your needs. Then the bad thing is they are not dealing with 'real' stocks, rather they are more in the derivatives business.

Conclusion? Close all your positions before you go for a tour! You can enjoy your life more and you will not risk yourself coming back home to face a huge financial loss.

Mobile One - Follow-up

As planned, I disposed of my M1 shares today at S$1.79. I made a loss on this trade. I am lucky that the risk is controlled and limited. It didn't balloon out of control.

As I checked the price today for Starhub. OMG, there is another bloodshed there. The price has gone down from ~S$2.00 to S$1.90 in 2 days. Again I feel very lucky that I did stick to my plan and cut my loss on Starhub when the news of Starhub lost its EPL rights to rival Singtel. The loss was bigger than I had planned for, but if I didn't cut my loss then, I would be facing an even bigger loss now. I would have been a lot more upset by now.

These two cases are good examples of cutting your losses short, and never argue with Mr. Market. If Mr. Markets says you are wrong, then you are wrong, admit it and quickly get out of your positions. Count yourself lucky if you can get out breakeven, or a small profit. A stubborn trader/investor will only be rewarded for more losses.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mobile One

I bought some shares of M1 on 14 Oct, acting on a breakout signal from my systems, and also from the chart formation of an ascending triangle. All my technical indicators showed it was not bad.

A few days later, I received an ad newsletter from ChartNexus. The example they used to show the effectiveness of technical analysis is M1! And they are drawing a conclusion which was directly opposite to mine! M1 is their prime candidate for shorting. They also explained their reasons, using patterns on the technical indicators. I hesitated, but M1's price droped a couple of cents, but remained relatively stable.

Today, just after the pre-close, the price droped sharply to below my stop-loss level. As the market has already closed, I can only act tomorrow.

One market guru used to teach us: Always be humble in the market, no matter how successful you are. When you are in the market, you are competing with the best brains this world may have ever produced.

Through this incident, I learnt a new way of looking at my technical indicators. A lesson learnt. Lucky thing is I control my risk tight. As long as tomorrow the price does not go free fall, I shall have no more than my expected loss at entry. Wish myself good luck.

Get Up From Where You Fell Down

KT always said what you're most afraid of, will keep coming back to haunt you. I developed a sore spot about 10 years ago when I was studying down under. In general, I do quite ok in exams and tests, all kinds. Looking back at my past performance, I have never failed any major exams or tests. But then I have this sore spot, I simply couldn't get a feel of it. The shadow of this sore spot keeps a lot of fear in myself, hinders me to move forward. It is like a glass ceiling, I push outwards, but always get bounced back.

I avoided this sore spot for 10 years, 10 full years. I thought I could get through it, without having to face it again in my life. However, it proves to be wrong. This sore spot is definitely considered to be a basic skill in modern life. Without it, you may find you are being stranded in a place of nowhere.

10 years ago, of course, money was a big problem. No income, all expenses and living off savings. Now money is no longer such a big problem. I think I have to pick myself up and face the problem, tackle it directly. I should overcome the phobia, instead of letting the phobia overwhelm me. The process may be long, it takes at least a couple of months to get there.

I must keep fighting, until that phobia is gone, forever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Red FM

Red FM, what do you guess it to be? Haha... Not some communist stuff lah. It is actually an English language Malaysia radio station that I just discovered yesterday.

I found this station when I was playing around with the old old radio that SYK left. Somehow I like this station, they sound better than the Singapore ones. I can't tell why, somehow their DJs seem to have pretty nice voice, or maybe the songs they play are older :P You will hear something like Everything I Do, I Do It For You. Very old song heh...

And then they are promoting a special party - A school uniform party in Port Dickson. Sounds weird, isn't it? Guess what is the most common color of school uniforms in Malaysia?

Anyway, I always find it a pity that Singapore and Malaysia don't integrate their services and have some synergy. Guess how much more business activities will be if there is a high-speed train link between Singapore and Kuala Lumper. The two cities can have the same day travel just like Taipei & Kaosiong. Too bad, we don't have it now, and won't have any such high-speed links in the near future.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Super Trader

Title: Super Trader
Author: Van Tharp

This is Dr. Van Tharp's latest book on investment, hot from the shelf. It is a small book which has only 200+ pages.

It serves as a skeleton of all of Van Tharp's work on trading, with special emphasis on trading psychology and position sizing.

Reading this book won't make you a super trader, but if you can follow his advice, you may become one. However, as the material in this book is just a summary of Dr Tharp's work, if you really want to follow his advice, you need to get some of his other works. For example, to really work effectively on psychology, in my opinion, you should get his Peak Performance course.

Dr Tharp's advice is both simple and difficult. Simple as you just need to have the right psychology, and good position sizing, then voila, you are on your way to great trading success. Difficult in the sense that we all have that small little devil in ourselves. We will have fear, greed, and emotions, which are all enemies to your own success.

I highly recommend this book to all who want to be successful in investing.

Soaring Temperature

Today is a hot summer day! Around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the temperature in my room was 32 degree C! Oh my, my room's temperature usually hovers around 30C, but today it was 32C! The seemingly small 2C makes a huge difference. It was hot. Even the wind blowing in from my lovely window carried hot air, instead of a breeze.

For people who still argues whether there is really a global warming happening, they should come over to have a feel.

L & L's Wedding

Lau TS and Lin CB finally got married yesterday. Lau was in a silver-colored suit. The first time I saw him wearing a suit. His close to 1.9m figure fits really well with that suit. The bride was wearing a red-colored night gown, with an 'umbrella' bottom. Ok, I don't know what is the proper word for it, but that's the type you see those queens and noble ladies wearing in the older days in Europe.

The dinner was at Bukit Batok's Civil Service Club's Crystal Ballroom. The club has a very nice setting. The buildings are built on a small hill, among lots of greens. It gives you this jungle feel. Quite fascinating that in a concrete jungle, you have this 'real' jungle. Chandlers were hanging down from the high ceilings of the ballroom. The entire atmosphere was perfect for a wedding.

Food-wise, nothing fancy, but quite ok.

1. Ping Pan
2. Sharp's fin soup
3. roast chicken
4. Fish
5. Fo bo piao xian (Yam)
6. cereal prawn
7. abalone
8. noodle
9. dessert

Standard menu. I like the roast chicken in particular. Usually roast chicken is a bit too dry, the taste is like chewing rubber. In this case, the skin was crispy, but the meat is still very tender and juicy.

Another dish worth mentioning is the noodle. They use the yellow-type of noodle, which has very strong bitter taste. My standard procedure is to leave the noodle alone, I don't like it. But yesterday's noodle was not bad. Very tender, and didn't have the bitter taste!

Ok, so many comments. Anyway, wish our L & L live together ever after and have many children :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Delicacies Poisons

We had a company lunch today at Vivo's No Sign Board Seafood. The dishes were not bad. Just to name a few, we had lobster salad, shark's fin soup, steamed sea bass, drunken prawn, white pepper crab, chili crab.

I don't know whether it is because I am getting old, or whatever, I am increasingly feeling it is more of a pain than a joy to eat all those stuff. Yeah, they are no doubt delicacies, but if you eat too much, then it might do more harm than good to your body.

To make things worse, I had been having high calorie lunches for about 3 days this week, all thanks to the visit of our American customers.

Our lunch ended around 3.30pm. I didn't have dinner today. Still feeling too full to have any appetite for anything.

Nowadays, plain rice plus some vegies are what I prefer more. Occasionally I will also crave for meat, that usually happens after a good work out; otherwise, I would rather stick with vegies, maybe some small portions of meat or fish.

To get rid of all the excess, went for a jog in the neighbourhood. It feels good to sweat and make my muscles work. It helps my body to remove all the toxins, and shed all the stress.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Personality and Life

三岁定终身,听起来有点不可思议。 其实嘛, 也就是说人的性格决定人的一生。 有的性格就是不适合某种工作。 要和客户打交道的人,就一定要懂如何讨客户的欢心,让人觉得满意。这不是光靠技术,还要靠技巧,软功夫。 我就做不来这种工作。 估计我特别适合做皇帝,独裁者之类的不用讨好人的工作,可能还要是那种有‘暴君’恶名的那一种。

为了糊口,一天到晚要带着假面具,阿谀奉承,拍马屁的事,要我去做,不如叫我去死。 这样的钱,赚来了,会开心么? 这世间会有一种工作是可以凭自己的真诚, 努力,和技艺而成功的么?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shopping Spree

I am in general not a shopping guy. Great Singapore Sales usually have nothing to do with me. Can't be bothered to rub shoulders with all the aunties. However, recently I find myself start to shop more and more.

If you pay a little bit of attention, you might find some good bargains. We are still in a recession, shops want to get rid of their older stocks and recover as much as possible their capital. Never before can you see some items are going for 50-70% discount.

There is this sports apparel shop in Suntec, where I bought two pairs of speedo swimming trunks for less than S$5.00. In another occasion, I got a PUMA flight bag for less than S$40, at a deep discount of 50%.

Last week, Surfer's Paradise dry-fit t-shirt was going for S$15.00, while the original price is S$29.90 at John Little.

When the economy is good, usually I tend to refrain from going shopping. Everybody is rich during boom times. They can pay. Money is not a problem. At the end, everybody are being overcharged. When recession comes, every single cent matters, and the price for the same good goes down. I like be a shopholic! If I can get twice the amounts of goods for the same amount of money, why not?


An Italian colleague's wallet was stolen yesterday around Sim Lim Square area. When we heard the news this morning in the office, some were quite surprised. As pick-pockes are rare in low-crime Singapore.

For my many years stay in Singapore, I had only heard of one such incident previously. My FYP partner's wallet was stolen in a crowded supermart just before Chinese New Year. Ever since then, today's case is the 2nd one that I have heard of from people I actually know.

Then a Singaporean colleague said his mother's wallet was also stolen a few months ago in Chinatown area.

Mmmh, it does not really sound good. Does this mean our low-crime rate is going north now? This also reminds me of one video clip showing a woman stealing another woman's handbag in a hawker center/food court.

As the police say, LOW CRIME DOES NOT MEAN NO CRIME. We should never be complacent. We are still in a recession, some guys may want to get some quick bucks.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Hike in Bukit Timah Hill

Went for a leisure hike in the Bukit Timah Hill this morning. It has been quite a number of years since I last visited this nice nature reserve in Singapore.

I must say I am a bit annoyed by the fact that more and more luxuary condos are being built right at the foot of the hill. They are so close to the surviving natural forest. I am not sure whether one day I will wake up and find our lovely hill becomes a hill of concrete jungles.

That aside, it took me around 15 mins to go all the way to the summit. Great! That's my 'normal' speed of reaching the peak following the main road. The first 100m or so is the most tough, as the slope is steep, but after that, everything is easy.

I didn't want to spend 2 hours traveling on bus to/fro Bukit Timah Hill just for this 15 min hike, so I decided to take on some side treks on the way down. Without obvious reason, I took the track to Dairy Farm Hut, which is on the north side of the reserve, and at an altitude of ~60m, and right at the boundary of the reserve. You see, if you have the instrument but not using it, it is as good as you don't have it. I didn't use the altitude meter or the digital compass on my watch, just simply walked. I descended from the summit of 163m, down to 60m. Finding no way back to the visitor centre, I took the North View Hut track and ascended from 60m back to 140m!

On the ascend to the North View Hut, I was like going to die. The steps were endless, I was out of breath. If I continue, I felt a lot of pain; if I stop, I still felt a lot of pain. My lung was craving for oxygen, lots lots of it. I knew if I could walk on a levelled track for a while, I should be fine, but I was stuck in a small 2m by 2m platform, and must choose to continue to ascend, or start to descend, or stay put. I decided to continue my ascend, slowly. And then I finally got to North View Hut, but disappointingly there is not much 'view' to talk about. At this moment, I started to use my altimeter, 140m! I was like, my gosh, 40 mins walk and I only descended like 25m? I didn't know I actually descended from 165m to 60m, and back up to 140m! After North View Hut, I soon found my way back to the main road, and everything from there was smooth and easy.

Bukit Timah Hill is one nice place to trek, and you will see some interesting people. I saw one Malay guy in his 30s?, he was walking very fast, and he was carry a baby on his back! Power, man! And then you see many people obviously came here to do their conditioning for mountain trekking overseas. They wear nice hiking boots, with big backpacks, some even with trekking poles.

Ok, after today's experience, I think I will need to do more conditioning before the trip to Nepal in Dec. I was trekking at an altitude of 160m only, yet I was panting like hell, how do you expect to trek at the high of 2-3000 meters?

Proper trekking attire and gears are needed too. I wore my hiking sandals today. It provided good cushion to my feet, but not my ankles, especially during descend. The impact on my knees is not something to be sneezed at, either. Clothes that can dry quickly are essential too. I was sweating like hell this morning. My dry fit T-shirt became wet-fit, sticking to my body like nobody's business.

Feeling very tired today, but very happy too. So refreshed after shedding all that sweat, together with whatever toxic stuff that came out with your sweat. The body feels so much lighter.

You can find more information about Bukit Timah Nature Reserve here

Protrek Altmeter - Continued

This is a follow-up of this entry. Formerly all my altitude meter readings were compared with my gut feelings about the actual altitude, I couldn't decisively say whether the Casio Protrek's altimeter is actually correct.

So, what can I do? Of course compare it with a known altitude lor. Where can you find a place with a known altitude? Bukit Timah Hill lor, there is a stone with the altitude of the peak of Bukit Timah Hill ingraved.

I went all the way to this 'sacred' stone here. The height is stated as 163.63m. I took a reading on my Protrek 80, guess what the number came out? 165m! OMG, it is really accurate, just within the +/-5m accuracy as stated by the watch's manufacturer.

With this, I get a lot more confident about the altimeter's readings. Mmmh, this is before I bring this watch to the office, which is badly polluted by all the electromagnetic fields, from handphones, to computers, and the deadly magnets used in HDD.

Anyway, I am a lot more happier now :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Protrek PRG80 - Altitude Meter

This is a follow-up entry of this entry. I further tested the altitude meter of this Protrek PRG80. The reading seems to vary quite a lot, depending on the weather conditions.

What I did was I put the watch at exactly the same location, which is atop my bookshelf and near the window. I took a number of readings over the day. Below are the results.

1. Temp=28C, Alt=35m
2. Temp=30C, Alt=55m
3. Temp=31C, Alt=70m
4. Temp=30.8C, Alt=65m

It seems like the altmeter reading varies. Of course, in this experiment, the watch was left on the shelf, instead of being worn on a wrist. According to the user manual, to get accurate altmeter reading, you should wear it on your wrist so as to minimize any temperature fluctuation. On the other hand, if you want to get an accurate temperature reading, you should remove your watch from your wrist to minimize the influence of your body temperature.

And then you are not supposed to wear this watch near electronic gadgets such as computers, TV sets, etc. That's quite a pain.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

但愿人长久 千里共婵娟

Today is Mid-Autumn festival in China, Korea & Japan, all the ancient Chinese-influenced countries. This is the time for the family to have a union dinner, with the whole family sharing the joy of being together. It is something very Asian. For the westerners, maybe it is something they don't bother. They seek solitary life, living alone, and try to spread that disease to the east.

As it is such an important day, I will just dedicate this song by Teresa Teng, and the lyrics were written by the famous Song Dynasty poet Su Dong-po, to all the people who celebrate this festival, and wish everybody a happy family, happy family union and a happy life :)

Xmen Origins: Wolverine

This is the 'pre' episode of all the X-Men movies, and it is obvious centred around Wolverine. It explains how he got those metal blades, why he has no memory of the past, he isn't sure who he is, blah blah blah.

The dialogue to action ratio is about 50:50. Sometimes the dialogues drag too long, too boring.

Story-wise it is interesting, as least I can't predict the ending and the process right at the beginning. It manages to draw your attention to the movie, not other things :)

My rating: 3/5

Protrek PRG-80L-3V

Finally got my dream Casio Protrek 80L 3V watch. Yes, it is great. It has a digital compass, a thermometer, a barometer and an altitude meter, a world time, and the standard functions such as stop watch, alarm, etc. This watch runs on solar energy, so there is no need to replace battery (theoretically only).

I check out the digital compass function, more or less the same data as my magnetic compass. The thermometer reading is similar to my stand-alone thermometer reading. Not too bad. Barometer reading, I have no idea :P The altitude meter reading is a bit interesting. When I stand on the group floor, the altitude is still 55m above sea level. I wonder where the sea level is, Singapore is this high in altitude meh? Mmmh, need to check it out one day. Must go to the seaside and then take the reading.

Everything looks great on this watch except the followings:

1. Size. Size matters, and the size is really big for this watch. The watch face is bigger than my wrist.

2. Complicated functions and controls. There are not that many buttons for you to press, but there are many different sequences for you to remember. I don't think I can remember all the functions. Luckily the basic functions, such as the altitude meter reading, etc, are easy, just a one button press and voila, you get what you want. The other functions are a lot more sophisticated, and the time pressed on a button counts too.

Ok, other than these two, I have no other complaints. The size maybe is actually an advantage if you are in some harsh natural environment.

I got my watch at the Bencoolen, May-May watch at S$226.00. This is cheaper than what the shop at AMK Hub offered (S$278.00). The same model in eBay goes somewhere between S$217 to S$240.

I don't know why this version (with leather strap) is cheaper, but the other version (with metalic bracelet), it is actually more expensive (S$320 vs AMK Hub's S$310).

I didn't know the difference between the 1V, 2V, and 3V models, but I figure they are referring to different colors, and there is a price difference (although small).

The warranty is 12 months by Casio.

I am quite excited with this watch. For those who have not already known, all those barometer, altimeter, etc in the watch are using semiconductor sensors. It is the MEMS technology. Can you imagine they actually build a mechanical system in that tiny piece of sand? Does this prove what Buddha said "one sand one world" is correct? :P

You can find the review on this watch after my field trip here.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Yesterday was PRC's 60th anniversary. Dedicate this Song by Lisa Wang to a country that went through unimaginable sufferings in the past century, a country that managed to get up, dust off and catch up with the rest of world.

我们一定要坚强。 认定了目标,就要全力以赴, 勇敢地走下去。 路途可能很远,可能很崎岖。 一路上也不可能总是风和日丽, 也会有狂风暴雨,但只要我们每天都向前走,那么我们每天就离我们的目标近一点。弯路也是会有的,不进反退也是会有的,但只要目标明确了,它就会像夜空中的星辰,大海中的灯塔,指引我们前进。 我们一定要意志坚强,勇敢前行。。。

东西丢了,那就丢了吧。 没有必要为倒了的牛奶而懊悔。 只要人还在,我们就可以创造出更好的,钱财毕竟是身外物,生不带来,死不带去,快乐人生才是人间正道。

September: A Bad Month for Stocks?

Some research says that in general, September and October are the worst months in the year for stocks. For that reason, I told myself to stay away from the market for these two whole months. Then, I was influenced by someone, and changed my mind.

As a result? You can expect. Heavy loss! Yesterday came the biggest blow. Starhub lost its exclusive rights to televise Barclays Premier League, and ESPN Star sports channels to its rival SingTel. Starhub's price plunged from S$2.17 the previous close, to close at S$2.03, with 39 million shares changed hands. Then today, at a low of S$1.94, I dumped all mine, total damage is over a thousand dollars.

With this, my total loss for September amounts to well over S$1000, wiping out a significant portion of my small profits of the year.

The Starhub episode serves as a good lesson for me.

1. I didn't do my homework properly. Didn't pay attention to the date on the BPL bidding, although I was aware Starhub had this issue hanging above its head. And I didn't expect it to lose the rights.

2. I didn't react quick enough to cut my losses. When I noticed a sharp drop in Starhub price, and came to know that they lost the rights, I still hesitated and dragged until today to dump all my shares.

3. I deviated from my original plan of staying away from the market for the whole of September and October.

The medicine is bitter, but if it can cure your illness, you have to swallow it. Looking for good health ahead. :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

ShutterStock: US Sources vs Non-US Sources

I just discovered today that ShutterStock had added a new 'feature' called 'payout history'. In the payout history, it lists down all your past records of payout, the date and amount.

What is interesting is it also distinguishes the sources of downloads. It shows you how many of your images are downloaded by people or entities from the US, and how many are from non-US sources. The reason is for revenues from US sources, you are subject to 30% tax withholding.

In my case, I don't know whether I shall say it is lucky or unlucky that only ~10% of my revenues are actually from the US, while the remaining 90% are from non-US sources. As a result, the 30% tax withholding rule has a much smaller impact on me than previously thought. What a relief!

Earthquake.Tsunami and Tremors

Just watched a movie about earthquake and tsunami, then a real earthquake occurred, and tsunami warning issued. What a coincident!

The 7.9-magnitude earthquake occurred at 5.16pm local time in Indonesia (6.16pm Singapore time). I was sitting at WJ's place, and all of a sudden, the whole office was trembling, as if somebody was pushing the building. The walls and floors look like made of paper, and displayed no strength. Based on past experience, the tremor will subside very soon, which was true. But the tremors came in waves. People in the office started to evacuate. WJ was the fastest, he disappeared in a blink. I figured the trembling had stopped, and took my time to pack up, took my bag, and then walked down.

The open space in front of our office was full of people. As it was already after office hour, people started to leave. I tompang EY's car to Sembawang. Along Serangoon North Ave 5, we saw people along the way, all evacuated from their respective office buildings, but nobody from the HDB blocks. There was a small traffic jam too along Ang Mo Kio Ave 5.

It is a bit worrying that the earthquakes are getting stronger and stronger. Although Singapore is said to be in a 'safe' zone, but then you will never know. Our building is also shaking more and more violent.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Awards and Prizes

Reading somebody's blog today, and the blogger got an award in the blogsphere. Congratulations to him! Look at myself, it seems like I am not fated with any awards or prizes.

First, let's look at lucky draw prizes. I seldom got any lucky draw prizes. The one and only time was maybe at our department's 20th anniversary dinner, I got a small little oven from the lucky draw. That maybe is the one and only time I got a lucky draw. There is no repeat occurance of such good luck so far :)

Second, awards at any competitions. So far, I got nothing worth mentioning. In the first place, I was not 'qualified' to join any competition of any significance whether it was during school time or after I came out to work. For those competitions that don't need to get 'qualified', I don't get any awards anyway. I am always a member of the background, or in the audience, to show how important or grand the competition is and how great the winners are.

All these come back to my non-competitive mentality. I am afraid of competitions. Whenever I hear the word 'competition', my legs become numb, my palms start to sweat, my mind goes blank :P My colleague CT then will always say 'It is psychology, you need to have the right psychology.'

This is life :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Minimum Payout Amount Changed at BigStockPhoto

More and more changes are happening these days. BigStockPhoto just changed its minimum payout sum.

Previously, the minimum amount to get a payout is USD$30 for paypal/money booker, and USD$50 for a check. Now, it seems like everything has been increased. For paypal/money booker, you need to reach USD$50 before you can request for a payout. This is in addition to the already troublesome wait of a minimum of 7 working days after any download to avoid internet fraud.

This change is not going to affect the big players, as they most probably will have commissions way above USD$50, but for the hobbists and amateurs, or people with a small portfolio, this change means harder, longer to get anything at all from BSP. For BSP, it is a good thing as it will improve their cash flow.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tsunami at Haeundae

Tsunami at Haeundae is the first Korean disaster film, and itself is a disaster, a flop.

Hard to tell the good points, easier to pick the bad points.

1. Too much dialogue. The movie is shot in the same manner as the Korean soap operas. The conversations are long & dragging, although sometimes humourous. The dialogues between characters take up too much time.

2. Lots of tears & screaming. It seems like the only weapon the director has to move the audience is to make the actors & actress to scream, to cry, lots and lots, so hopefully the audience will cry and scream too.

3. The tsunami scenes take up only about 1/5 of the whole film. It does not give audience the tense sense. It is more like "oops, it comes, and it goes".

4. The special effects are not too bad, judging by Korean or Asian standard, but comparing with Hollywood standard, our Korean friends still have a lot of room for improvement.

My rating: 2.5/5