Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Home

Finally moved to my new home. The flat is still quite bare. Two of the bed rooms are still mostly empty with nothing. There is no light in the kitchen yet, and no gas supply. Water heater is still absent. Because of that, I have to have cold showers everyday! It is a goal that I wanted to achieve since I was 7, or even younger, but never really did it. Now I have done it, until the water heaters are ready :)

We always think that we need a lot of stuff in life in order to survive. That is nothing but far from the truth. What do we really need? Just a roof over our head to shelter ourselves from wind and rain and sun, you don't even need a bed. Things we thought we need are in fact things we want. Do you really NEED a washing machine? Not really. Hand wash is always an alternative. How about the fridge? Alas, I have not even turned on the power to my fridge.

The place is quite noisy though. Being right next to a main road, and a MRT track, the noise is really an issue. Hopefully I will get used to it after a while. Mmmh, noise, always noise.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Boring Single's Weekends...

A columnist of Sunday Times laments that how boring her weekends are being a single. She does not have as jam-packed weekends as her married friends. To a great extent, it is true. Being single means you are alone most of the time, including weekends. Unless you have a huge social circle with many single friends, you will feel being left alone, especially on weekends; while your married friends have to juggle with all their family responsibilities, feeling jealous of the freedom the singles have.

A novel called 'Wei-cheng' (City under siege) 围城 by a famous Chinese auther Qian Zhong-shu (钱钟书)described this situation very well. People who are outside the city want to get in, while those who are in the city want to get out.

Hahaha... Just like what the Chinese say, you seem to be in a better situation than me in my eyes; while I seem to be in a better situation than you in your eyes. (你看我好,我看你好)There is no need for the singles to feel jealous about the married's life. You should just make your own life more interesting.

Pick up a hobby, or start learning something new seriously, that will take up all your 'boring' weekend time. In the past, I was more engaged in photography. It is a time-consuming hobby, other than expensive. Once you go out for a shoot, it most probably will take up your whole day. Even if you are a lazy bug who does all the shooting at home, your time still literally flies. For example, a simple still life shoot will take up a couple of hours, to the least. And that is assuming you are not a perfectionist, and easily satisfied. The post processing time is not even included.

Or how about study for something. I started reading those study materials for CFA level 1. My gosh, so many reading materials.

How about hitting the gym? Or the swimming pool. There are endless possibilities, but, of course, only if you have the discipline and determination to do all these.

Oh, at the end, I still must say single's life is indeed a bit lonely. A family life will be more fulfilling, but only if it is a happy family.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Rebound

STI continued its uptrend today, up 100+ points at market close. It is pretty impressive. Many investors who fished for bargain during the bull slaughter are now making quite a bit of money. I would expect the market continues its uptrend in the next week or two. STI may have a chance to hit 3300 points.

My broker sms'ed me on Wednesday morning, telling me if I were adventurous, I could buy some good value stocks before the opening of the Hong Kong stock exchange, and hold for a few days. If I had taken up his advice, I would be making quite some money by now. Too bad, I was busy doing up my flat that day. No access to the internet.

Anyway, I am ready to sit out this round. I have no time to take care of the stocks right now. And I don't want to get into the market blindly which I did in the past. I will start participating again, maybe after Chinese New Year. It is actually a bit wasteful. Most probably there will be a small Chinese New Year rally. Good time to scoop some put warrants. Too bad I will out of action, until the rally is over.

Just be content with what I have. Don't be too greedy...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cutting Losses

Today I made the difficult decision to sell off all my loss-making investments in all the unit trusts. Those unit trusts are all bond funds or income funds which are supposed to be 'safe' and a hedge against a stock market crash. Unfortunately in my case, these funds have something more than you thought they should have invested in.

For example, DBS Shenton Income fund in fact has some CDO exposures, and it also invested a substantial amount in REITs. When the REITs were doing well, which coincides with good times of the stock market, the fund did well too, but then when the stock market crashes down, so do the REITs. REITs are, no doubt, defensive. But 'defensive' is just another good name for losing money.

Remember Warrent Buffet's investment rule #1? NEVER LOSE MONEY!!!

With the appalling performances of all the funds, I have lost all my faith in them. I want to have an income fund? I will build my own income fund! A growth fund? I will build it on my own, too! I don't want to pay the fund managers to lose my money.

If I fail, what is the worst case scenario? I will lose ALL my money. But if I leave my money in the fund manager's hands? They still will lose my money, and I have to PAY them to do that! It is outright ridiculous!

Cutting loss is a painful experience. I didn't sell all those funds off when they were making money, my greed. The current rebound in the stock market gave me a good opportunity to sell off at a smaller loss.

Anyway, I am looking forward to a better future, without the fund managers!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

NTUC's Service & My First DIY Attempt

I got my water heaters from Fairprice Xtra at AMK hub, and paid for the installation service as well. This afternoon, two guys came and looked around, then told me they could install the water heater for me.

Ok, never mind. I asked for the reason. The guys said I don't have the proper piping, neither proper electrical wiring. I pointed to them where the water pipe is, which is right below where the heater is supposed to be, and the electrical point right above. All they need to do was to run a short wire, and a short pipe to connect up.

The answer? Oh, we don't do this. The piping is plumber's work, electrical wires plus the conduit cost additional S$30.00 for a 3 feet long wire. All that they would do is to connect up if all wires and pipes are there. My foot! If everything is there, why do I need you to come and do an INSTALLATION!

Too bad, I had already paid for the 'installation' service. No choice. I went to buy two new taps - the 2-way taps, and two flexi-hose, which cost me S$87.00! (I must have been ripped off by the convenient store lady)

With the instructions given by my big brother, I managed to turn off the water supply, removed the old tap, screw in the new tap and the flexi-hose. Done. 10 minutes work. So because of those useless installation guys, I changed a water tap for the first time in my life. Somebody's teaching says love your enemies, and those who make life difficult for you. Yes, indeed. If they didn't make life difficult for me, I will never learn.

After Chinese New Year, I will continue the electrical work. At least give it a try. Knowledge is GOLD. It is always true!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Spectacular Dive

STI held up pretty well in the morning, hovering around 3000 points. Then the fireworks came after lunch. All of a sudden, the STI dived down by 80 points, then 100 points, by the time market closed at 5pm, STI already went down by 187 points, ended the day at 2917 points. Wow... That is really something. Just a couple of days ago, people were still talking about strong support at 3000 points, a technical rebound maybe coming. Then we started the week with a big crack in the 3000 points support level.

What next? Once the 3000 support level is broken, the next support level is 2700 points. As the sold-down today was too massive, to drastic, I would expect some rebound in the next few days, at least in the morning. However, I was also told there are many margin calls to cover in the next few days, so tread carefully. Medium to long term, still DOWN!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Environmentally Unfriendly

As I am packing my stuff for a move, I found I have loads of brochures from all the different banks, credit cards, Easy Credits. They send me finely printed promotional materials, discount catalogs which I didn't even open to take a look. It is such a waste of paper.

I would like to send them for recycling, but where I live does not seem to have any recycle bins, so the only out is to chunk them into the rubbish chuke, and let nature take care of it. I feel guilty. This should not be the way we should treat Mother Nature.

Our torture to her has already led to consequencese we have to bear. Last year, the prices of natural products, including agricultural products, oil started to have shortage in supply. Mother Nature can't continue to meet our wasteful lifestyle's demands.

Let's all work together, from small little things in our daily life, to help save our Mother Nature for ourselves, and many generations to come...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Social Imbalance?

As I am doing up my flat, I found something that is quite unreasonable, from my point of view. One sofa set costs S$1600.00, while the combined cost of a fridge, a washing maching, & 2 water heaters is only S$1400.00.

In terms of complexity, how many times more complex is a fridge, a washing maching or a water heater. The design and manufacturing of such goods requires professional knowledge, years of university education. It is true that sofa manufacturing requires professional knowledge as well, but it is not on the same scale of any of the electrical applicances mentioned above.

This explains well why very few Singaporeans want to go into engineering. Everybody wants to go into business, finance and/or banking. The amount of hard work required for engineering simply out-weighs the reward.

Our policy makers should seriously look into this issue, or in the near future, you will find no engineers, or good engineers available anymore in Singapore.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


有人曾说 “你跟人讲情义, 十个会有九个当你是傻子”。

I never thought this would be true in real life, and then I only got to taste the bitter fruits for not believing such a good teaching.

You whole-heartedly do something for somebody, then the person does not really appreciate your efforts. Instead, he/she will start to suspect you have some vested interest.

When they reap the benefits from your efforts, they will only consider that as their own merits.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another Farewell

Today, a friend of mine called me from the airport. He is going to board the plane and leave Singapore for good. I wished him all the best, but I don't really feel good in the bottom of my heart.

So many of my friends had left Singapore. Their destinations are diverse, from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, to France, Denmark, mainland China & Taiwan. But all of them have the same objective which is to seek better lives. I am getting more and more alone & lonely in this island.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Place to Call Home

I got the key to my flat today. Finally, I have a place to call my home. I can do whatever I like there, do it up to my taste, not anyone else's. I am happy.

The living room is not as spacious as the one I am living in now, but should be big enough to host some still life photo shoots if my photography buddies are ever interested :) And I should have a room for my guests. My international friends who happen to drop by now can have 'free' accommodation, and I can have the opportunity to be a 'good' host, finally.

Buying a flat at a property market uptrend is not really that favourable. The price went up quite a lot when I bought it. It becomes even worse coupled with rising inflation. Everything, from furniture to electrical appliances, to whatsoever that you can think of are rising in price. The service you receive is also worse. Not that they are rude to you, but they are simply overwhelmed by the number of customers. Business is thriving.

Now I can pamper myself a bit more, too. Feeling happy...

Monday, January 14, 2008


I just opened a shop at It is just a basic shop, trying to sell some products that are derived from my photos.

It is my second attempt. The first attempt was not successful at all. Hardly anyone visiting my shop. I don't know how successful this time will be, but at least I give it a try. No harm trying, right?

There are two types of shops at Cafepress, the premium and basic. A basic shop has a lot of limitations, usual tactic to make you upgrade to a premium shop, which you have to pay $$$.

Come visit my store on CafePress!

Taiwan Legislative Yuan Election

The election for a new Legislative Yuan (立法院)is finally over. Kuomingtang (Nationlist) party has 81 seats, the ruling DPP has 27 seats out of a total of 113 seats in the new Legislative Yuan.

Well, at least the people in Taiwan gave the ruling DPP a clear signal to express their unhappiness with DPP's performance.

Whether to be part of China or becoming an independent country is only significant to the few elites in power; as that decides who will be recorded in the history textbooks as heroes. For the general public, what matters more is their daily life. How good their life is, how easy to make a living under the ruling party.

Look at what DPP did in the past 8 years? They provided lots of bad taste entertainment to people in Taiwan, as well as the rest of the world. They had lots of promises, but did they deliver any? They are only interested in cutting ties with mainland China, did they ever care about the lives of the people in the street? Any economic policy that they came up to make Taiwan prosperous?

The utmost important task of whoever in power is to make sure people have a good life. Whoever forgets this important task will be dumped, in any democratic society.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

CDO and Subprime

Collateralised Debt Obligation (CDO) and the subprime crisis have been the most talk-about topics in the past year. I am reading some materials on CDOs today. From the face of it, I don't think CDOs are bad. If I were offered such structured securities, most probably I will grap them.

Those mortgage-backed CDOs give investors a fixed income based on the money generated from mortgage loans. Houses, which are brick & mortar, serve as collaterals. What can be better than such an investment? If the mortgage lenders stick to the established credit rules in the past, this investment will remain as AAA investment grade investment.

CDOs turn sour only when the subprime factor comes in. That is when some become greedy. On the one hand, they inflate the true value of the houses that serve as collaterals; on the other, they asked people who were not previously qualified for mortgage loans to take up loans, which is the source of all evils of the current subprime crisis.

I suspect I had indirectly fallen prey to the subprime crisis. A fixed-income fund that I have had dropped quite a lot in the past few months. The fund is managed by a bank in Singapore, which has the largest CDO exposure.

Let me pray...

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Today, they revamp the Straits Times Index's component stocks. The total number of stocks is reduced from 45 down to 30. Some smaller counters have been kicked out and 3 new counters were included in the new 30-component STI.

1st day is always a bit chaotic. Many financial websites displayed erroreous STI numbers. For example, at Yahoo! Finance Singapore, the STI was displayed to be 3344, and the change is in green 3344 points! Wow, how I wish STI would go up 3344 points in ONE day! Haha....

AsiaOne's webpage removed the STI display. Some security firms such as DBS Vickers & Philips Security also removed the STI display from their websites until further notice. I wonder, what's wrong with those guys? They had been informed of the change quite some time ago, yet they still couldn't get things ready when the change happened.

A new STI, unfortunately, did not bring new life to Singapore's stock market. The new STI went down 33 points and ended at 3311 points.

One interesting observation. The last time they changed the component stocks of the Straits Times Index was in 1997-98 during the Asia Financial Crisis. The previous old STI went all the way down to 800+ points. Then the previous old STI was revamped and the new STI went up quite some points.

Looking back, I should have bought shares back when STI was at 800+. A good friend of mine did advise me to buy at that time, but I was too naive, believing in many stupid teachings & principles. I am still naive now, otherwise I would not have missed again the bull market that had been running for the past 3 years or so.

It is always bitter to see your own mistakes. It is even more bitter if you didn't learn from your own mistakes and committ the same sin twice. Hopefully I will learn this time...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Life & Death

STI ended the day at 3344.53 points, up 6.26 points. The number really tells a lot. 3344, in Cantonese, it reads as Life Life Death Death! It is a matter of life & death at 3300 points. Once the 3300 points support is broken, STI will go straight down to 3000, the next support level.

STI dipped below 3300 points at start, then it slowly but steadily recovered. In the afternoon, boosted by the optimism with the 500 points rise of Hong Kong's Heng Seng Index, STI gained 6 points before market closed.

The new report season will start this Thursday (Singapore time), how good the big brothers such as Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Goldman, etc, will influence which direction STI will go. STI is weak, flirting with both life & death.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bull vs Bear Round 2 - A Draw

DJIA went up 68 points, then went down 68 points in the first hour of trading last night, then finally it ended up 27 points for the day. STI went up in the morning, as usual, then went down in the afternoon, with a long tail, as usual. It ended the day with 14 points down.

The bull and the bear are fighting fiercely again after the non-farm payroll data released last Friday appeared to be dismal. For this round, it is only a non-exciting draw. The market did go down a bit, but not very drastic, then it rebounded. Technical rebound, or dead cat rebound, or whatever you want to call it. It seems there is still a lot of money floating around, in investors' pockets, just waiting for the right time to release their power.

From this novice investor point of view, Ah Ben should not simply continue to cut rates. I don't think cutting rates is the right solution. Chinese saying "Cure the head for headache, cure the pain in the feet when there is pain in the feet", it will only cure the symdromes, but not the root cause. Just imagine you cure the syndromes of a cancer patient, but not the root cause, what good will it do to the patient? Oh, yeah, to improve the quality of life of a terminally ill patient.
But you put that in a macro economy, it will only delay the cure, and prolong the suffering.

Let's see what will happen next. It is gonna be interesting.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Face . Mask

The crown prince said: "The best actor wears his mask all day and all night."
"The Best actor wears no mask at any time. His face is his mask." Replied the Queen.

-- A conversation recorded in The Banquet (夜宴)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Iron...

I hesitated a bit whether I should write this. For sure you have heard of Iron lady, Iron man, Iron fist, etc, etc, but have you heard of IRON GROIN? A video clip is circulating in the Chinese internet community recently showing a man using his genital to pull the weight of a skinny teenager, then he uses his genital to pull a stone drum.

The man is said to be a kungfu monk called Shi Yan-Wu (释延武) from the famous Shaolin Temple, a master of authentic Shaolin Kungfu. When the media contacted Shaolin Temple, they acknowledge there is such Shaolin Kungfu known as Iron Groin (铁档功) and some of the Kungfu monks indeed are master of it; however, they deny Shi Yan-wu is a Shaolin monk. Interesting.

Many have used the Shaolin title to mislead people into believing they are secular disciples of Shaolin Temple, although they are not. The sole purpose is to use the name to profit for themselves.

The video is made like a news broadcast on TV, but the last few minutes which includes contact numbers for people to call (just like those TV ads) makes it look like an advertisement.

What do I say? 无语。

Anyway, the link to the video clip is below.

Warning: Male nudity, enter at your own risk and for 18 yo and above only!

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I want to find out more information about the ROSKOPF PATENT pocket watch as shown in the photos above, but so far to no veil. Anyone can help me on getting information on the value & history of this watch? Any help will be appreciated, as this pocket watch has special meanings to me.

I only know it is a Swiss made watch made by a German watch-maker. This is what I got from the internet.

Georges Frederic Roskopf was born the15th March of 1813 at Niderwiller .In 1829, at the age of sixteen, George travelled to La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland, where he undertook a three year apprenticeship as a sales clerk with Mairet & Sandoz, a firm selling hardware and watchmaker sundries.Later, in 1834, he became apprenticed as a watchmaker to J. Biber, a firm also in La Chaux de Fonds.In 1835, financed by his wife, he set up his own watchmaker business on Leopold Robert Street. This firm worked as "etablisseur", - a company that buys watch components and assembles them. A son, Fritz Edouard was born the same year.
In 1855, again, Roskopf set up his own business together with his son, Fritz Edouard and Henry Gindraux as ROSKOPF, GINDRAUX & Co. Roskopf was an idealist who dreamed of making good quality, low cost watches for the working man. After two years, his son left him to open his own watch business in Geneva while Gindraux left him to become director of the watch making school of Neuchatel.
In 1860 G.F. Roskopf began to design a watch that could be sold for 20 Swiss francs (then a week's pay of an unskilled laborer) and still be of excellent quality, simple and solid. He called this watch "montre proletaire" (laborer's watch). At first, Roskopf met indifference and hostility among the watchmakers of the area, who were still working as a home industry and who did not wish to make a watch, suitable for mass production.
It is said, that in 1866 Roskopf ordered two boxes of ebauches (= raw watch movements) from Emile Roulet and asked Gustave Rosselet to make escapements. Both refused to take his orders. He finally succeeded in producing his watch in 1867, using ebauches and cases from the MALLERAY WATCH CO., and parts from many other makers, and having them assembled in Damprichard, France, by M. Chatelain. The original order to MALLERAY was 2,000 watches. By the end of 1867 he was in business and by 1870 he had ordered 20,000 ebauches.

Here is the entry for Georges Frederic Roskopf in Wikipedia: Georges Frederic Roskopf. It says he died in 1889, while the pocket watch was said to be made in 1896 (if 1896 on the back of the pocket watch actually indicates the manufacturing year), so this watch must be from one of his successors.

By the way, the pocket watch is still working, although not too accurate. It becomes about 5-10mins faster in a day's time :)

To my frustration, I couldn't any photo showing exactly the same pocket watch as the one in pictures above.

Friday, January 4, 2008


When I arrived in Guangzhou on 20 Dec 2007, it had been two months since it last rained. The province was facing a severe drought in recent history. Farmers are having a hard time this year. Many agricultural produces are expected to have a poor harvest this year.

Water levels are dangerously low in rivers, reservoires almost dried up. People feeling the pinch of the drought while food prices are hitting their pockets.

Should we blame global warming for the drought? Mmmh.....

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Wealth Protection

Inflation in 2007 was high in China. Having experienced such inflation back in 1980s, people in China are very aware of wealth protection by buying real assets, to hedge against the fall of the otherwise useless money.

All real assets, especially those non-renewable assets, such as jade, precious & semi-precious stones are in high demand. The hard currency - gold, is in high demands, too. Swiss gold bars are hot stuff in China. They sell like hot cakes.

In contrast, people in Singapore tend to complain a lot of the recent high inflation, but few seem to have anything to hedge against inflation, other than their investments, which are stocks, bonds and other financial instruments. Of course, they have CPF too. However, the question I have is, if there is ever a high inflation caused by unstable political scenarios, or imminence of war, do Singaporeans have any real assets to protect their wealth?

People here like to buy consumables, such as electronics. The latest handphones, latest computers. We all know electronics will only depreciate, rather than appreciate, over time. In time of war, how much would your compute fetch? Would anyone be willing to exchange some food or water with you for your computer? or your memory card? or your handphone? Indians and Malays may still do well. The gold chains, bracelets will help them get through, for a while at least.

Many think they have lots of money, in the banks. But hey, those money nowadays is nothing more than a couple of numbers formed by some pixels on that LCD screen. If there is a war, the numbers die together with the LCD screen.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Pirates & Fakes


A year ago, there were lots of people and shops selling pirated DVDs in the streets of Guangzhou. It was not uncommon to see shops with pirated DVDs piled from floor to ceiling. They did it openly, nobody seemed to be bothered. Then there were people who lined the main streets with a portable table or something, again selling pirated DVDs. It would be difficult for you NOT to bump into one pirated DVDs seller when you walked down the streets.

In just a year's time, things had changed. You can still get pirated DVDs, the pirated ones are still as good as the originals, or as updated as the originals, but you hardly see anyone selling pirated DVDs along the main streets. There are no more shops. You have to go into the side streets to hunt for them. They are still aplenty, but some hunting is needed. Some provision shops will just place a small box outside their shop with pirated DVDs in it. Only when people approach them, the sellers would then come out to serve the customers. Some shops don't even display the pirated DVDs. Only the 'insiders' can come and ask for some sources.

I am not very sure whether there was some change of policy in the past one year, or the law had been enforced. The scene is vastly different. Hollywood movie producers should be at least pleased to see this, although a lot more has to be done to meet their demand.


In general, I don't have the habit of checking whether the money is genuine or not, especially when I get my changes. A couple of days ago, when I was sorting out the bunch of loose changes I had in my purse, I found a special piece of 50 cents note. My attention was attracted to it when I touched the note. So smooth! Flawless! I took a closer look. It was a 'brank new' banknote. I touched the surface again, very smooth. Then I took out another 50 cents note and touched it. You could feel the textures on the surface.

Do I need to tell you what happened? Probably you already know I got a fake 50 cents banknote! My gosh! I never expected people will be this mean to actually produce fake 50 cents banknotes! Read carefully, 50 CENTS! NOT 50 YUAN!

Living in mainland China is a challenge. You never know when and how you will be cheated.

Just a reminder to myself, in the next few days, I will write about how I got cheated when I bought some small items, and wealth protection as well as inflation in mainland China.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

First entry of year 2008. Just want to say HAPPY NEW YEAR to everybody. Wishing everybody a fruitful year ahead.

I will write more about what I did, what I saw during my holidays in the coming days.