Monday, December 30, 2013

JTC equivalent for retail shops?

I think what is very lacking in Singapore now is a JTC equivalent for retail shops. Many of the retail shops are now increasingly being driven out of their shop space due to the ever increasing rents charged by the landowners.

For some retailers, the shop rent could increase as much as 100% per renewal of contract. With this kind of rental increase, how could any small retailers survive, let alone try to expand their business and handle the manpower issue?

In short, they are unable to. That is why it is of no surprise that few Singaporeans dare to venture out to setup their own business due to this insane high rental cost. They cannot afford the capital to seed their venture.

If the retail shop rentals can be controlled, similarly to how JTC charges for the office/warehouse JTC buildings, there might be hope for the Singaporeans who hope to setup their own retail shops. Otherwise, I think entrepreneurship will always take a backseat in Singapore.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Overcoming proverty is a right

I quote from Nelson Mandela:
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Not enough bins and frequency to be reduced?

Recently I've been hearing news that there are talks on reducing the frequency of the collection of the rubbish to contain costs. I was quite surprised to hear this because there is a fundamental issue now for Singapore, which is indirectly causing people to litter indiscriminately. The issue is right in your face. There are just not enough rubbish bins.

It is increasingly difficult to find any rubbish bins in Singapore and that by itself, should have contained the costs because the cleaners now have to collect rubbish from lesser bins. If the frequency is reduced, it's almost certain that most of the rubbish bins in Singapore will start to overflow, which will attract more insects and animals, thereby increasing the chance of people in Singapore catching some new diseases or virus.

It's just that simple. Anyone who will take the time to walk around the neighbourhood during normal hours will see that most of the bins are already full to the brim by the time night falls. Does this warrant for a reduction in frequency?

Not for me.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Inflation is up 2.6%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2013:
January: 3.6%
February: 4.9%
March: 3.5%
April: 1.5%
May: 1.6%
June: 1.8%
July: 1.9%
August: 2% 
September: 1.6%
October: 2%
November: 2.6%  

Healthcare is once again leading the pack, rising by 3.6%, while Education & Stationery rose 3.5% respectively year on year, similar to last month. The difference is that Transport and Housing inflation have been spiking up compared to October. Seems like accommodation inflation has spiked up substantially, causing the overall rise of housing inflation.

December inflation should taper off as mentioned previously, and may fall within the 2.3% inflation rate which I've mentioned back in October. Inflation is being kept down due to the review of the public transport fees. If the fees are going up and there is no revision downwards to any other fares such as the taxi initial rates, then inflation will most probably be up next year too.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Unelected council in Thailand a step backwards

I understand that the Thai's opposition must be quite tired after 20 years of not being able to get the majority and thus lead the government but seriously, asking for an unelected council to replace the democratic council elected by the people is a huge step backwards. In fact, what's the difference between this unelected council and dictatorship?

Think of it this way. What if Thaksin's government are the ones that wish for this unelected council and not the democratic parliament elected by the people? If you think that it's not good for the country, what makes you think that just because it's someone else asking for it, it will be good for the country?

Basically, looking at this issue from a third-party perspective, I see a big disconnect between the opposition party and what the people really want. There must be an important reason why the majority of the Thais choose to vote Thaksin's related party into the government year after year for over 20 years.

The opposition party must be missing something and this is causing the majority of the Thais not to vote for them. However asking for an unelected council is definitely not the way. In fact, the opposition party should start to analyse the root cause of the issue, and not take the easy way out. If you do not bother to listen to the people, then you will not be elected.

It's just that simple.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fight for your own security

I quote from Rose Wilder Lane:
Anyone who says that economic security is a human right, has been to much babied. While he babbles, other men are risking and losing their lives to protect him. They are fighting the sea, fighting the land, fighting disease and insects and weather and space and time, for him, while he chatters that all men have a right to security and that some pagan god—Society, The State, The Government, The Commune—must give it to them. Let the fighting men stop fighting this inhuman earth for one hour, and he will learn how much security there is.

Individual security is not a right and given. You have to action upon it in order for it to happen.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Random Photos at Phuklet

Below are some random photos that I took throughout my short stay at Phuket, Thailand. Enjoy...

A big golden dragon located near the Tourism Authority of Thailand

Phuket Thai Hua Museum near Phuket old town

An interesting dim sum shop near Phuket Old Town, around Krabi road.

Governor's mansion, which is now a cooking school & restaurant, in Phuket old town

Christmas tree at Central Festival Phuket

Interesting postbox at Phuket old town

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Phuket Food!

Let's say that I always wanted to try Pad Thai, Tom Yum and Green Curry in Thailand, mainly because I want to know the difference between what is being sold there and what I can find here. Based on what I've tried so far in Phuket, Thailand, I think the Pad Thai and Tom Yum are similar to what I can eat over here but the green curry is slightly different. In fact, one of the dish that I ate was green curry rice and the taste was more "traditional" than what I find here. It's cheap too. More about that later.

The food that is sold around Kamala beach is quite pricy but the portions that are given out are more generous than the portions you will get if you buy from the traditional food stalls where the local Thais eat. However, do note that most of those traditional food stalls will not have a English translation so getting your food may be a challenge.

I ate at a nice place called Mama Mia near Kamala beach that sells decent food, about 125 THB each for Pad Thai Gai and Tom Yum Gai. In fact, most set meals (including Japanese food) sells for around that pricing. Fast food is slightly less than 100 THB while the local food stalls that I ate sell food for about 40-50 THB. I've not tried the roadside stalls though but it should be cheaper. Soft drinks sell for about 20 THB at 7-11 so you may not want to order from the restaurant if you can help it. :)

Some of the non-local thai food is quite good though so don't only restrict yourself to only Thai food. Below are some pictures of some of the food I ate at Phuket. Enjoy.

Pad Thai Gai from Mama Mia at Kamala beach. About 125 THB

"Banana split" from Mama Mia at Kamala beach. The banana is good. :). Slightly more expensive than the Pad Thai

Oyako Don fron Yayoi. Less than 130 THB. The food is good and affordable!

Hot green tea from Yayoi, served in a very nice teapot, cup and saucer.

Kiss and Kiss waffles from iBerry at Central Festival Phuket. It's very good!

New type of Yuan Yang. It's Green tea and coffee and it's not bad. Slightly less than 90 THB.

Green Curry rice with some small slices of chicken. Only 40 THB, located near the old clock tower at Phuket old town

Monday, December 16, 2013

Phuket Old Town

Whenever I go out for a holiday, I always take care to visit places that I am not able to find here in Singapore. I always target either the nature and wildlife, or urban architecture that is unique to that country. Luckily in Phuket, Thailand, there is a place called Phuket old town that sort of retains some of the traditional elements of how businesses used to be conducted.

I had the chance to visit Thalang Road, Krabi Road and Phang Nga road. Below is a picture of Thalang road, the place "where it all began". Being the lazy me, I chose to take a taxi service which I got from the place I stayed to Thalang road. It helps that I took a map which was available for free at the airport and this road was clearly stated on the map. The cost is about 700 THB from Kamala beach to Thalang road.

The shop houses do not look a lot different from what I can find here but it is what is within that is important. I see many shops that reminds me of the traditional Chinese medicinal shops and shops that are closed using those long wooden planks. It also seems that Thalang road is also closed on Sunday afternoons until late. Didn't really stay that long to find out the difference.

Below is a picture of a more unique shophouse which I saw along Thalang road.

There is a very cute vintage cum souvenir shop cum mini cafe located at the start of Thalang road. Other than items such as tuk tuk made from soft drink cans, they also sell small handicrafts. With the staff's permission, I took a picture of this cute vintage typewriter located within the shop. Pretty neat isn't it?

Below is a picture of the old clock tower at Phuket old town, and you can see a "modernised" red tuk tuk in the foreground. Anything interesting about this old clock tower? Actually, not really. However, it's a recognisable landmark there and helps you to get your bearings. :)

The tuks tuks will horn at you every now and then to ask if you wish for a lift. I did not take up their offer so I'm unsure of how much will it cost for the trip. I was on a budget since it is a rather short trip.

If you're interested, there is a shopping mall called Central Festival Phuket near that area. There are about 5 stories and even a cinema. Around that area there is also a factory outlet mall which I passed by on the way to the airport from Central Festival Phuket. Not sure what outlets are there but I distinctly saw a Rebook outlet shop.

Next related post? Food... Stay tuned. :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kamala Beach

How can you not go to the beach if you're at Phuket, Thailand? :) If you have read my previous posts, you would have known that Kamala beach is right outside my "door step" so as to speak. Therefore, this post is dedicated to Kamala beach.

Being someone who likes to take photos, I also took the chance to wake up super early in the morning to catch the "sun rise". Unfortunately, the sun rose at the opposite direction from the sea so the view was not that magical. However, it's amazing to see some folks waking up so early in the morning (before 7am) just so that they can have their swim at the beach.

Below are some pictures of the Kamala beach when I arrived some time in the afternoon. As you can see, the beach is pretty shallow at some parts and it is also cordoned off so that you will not stray too far off into the ocean. You can also choose to "rent" a bed and an umbrella at the beach if you're in for a bit of sun tanning. In addition, they also provide massage service right at the beach.

Below are of the pictures of the Kamala beach that I took around sun rise. It was also low tide so I could take the chance to go up right close and personal with the boats littered around the beach.

Below is the picture of the small road leading to Kamala Dreams. This road is off the main road and is quite small. I guess if you have a GPS, this should not be an issue but I will not dream of traveling around Phuket without a GPS. It's suicidal as many of the road names are in Thai and the English words, if any, are quite small.

If you wish to buy cheaper food, you can walk all the way to the main road where you can find a typical Thai meal for about 40 THB each. However, do note that everything is in Thai and it may be quite difficult to know what you're ordering. No pictures too as far as I can see. However, you can't go wrong with Tom Yum Gai (Tom yum with Chicken) or Pad Thai Gai (rice noodles with chicken). :)

I will have another post on the food I ate in this short trip so stay tuned for more related posts about Phuket.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Kamala Dreams

I stayed at the Kamala dreams during my short stay at Phuket, Thailand. The main entrance is not something to shout about but the back gate leads you directly to the Kamala beach.

The room is surprisingly quite big and comes with both the aircon and fan as shown below. The power is controlled by the key that you're issued with so take note that the power will be cut off once you take the key with you. You only have 1 key issued to you. :)

As you can see in the picture below, the door is the typical kind of door you see in the bedroom. Yes, it behaves exactly like that so please remember to lock the door from the inside before leaving the room. The room doesn't "auto-lock". :) They have a microwave oven, a small fridge and a sink. There is a 7-11 nearby so if you wish, you can microwave your own food. :)

The picture below shows the toilet. Big and comfy. :)  The hot water was working quite well for me too. Towels and face towels are provided too.

The balcony as shown in the picture below overlooks a small mini pool and of course, Kamala beach. Near sunset, I see many of them sitting at the balcony, facing the Kamala beach.

Below is a picture of the Kamala Dreams from the back entrance.

The stay comes with free ala-carte breakfast, where you can choose from the set. However, the food is the typical home cooked style and in my opinion, a little bit too oily. The poached egg does look like it is poached though so I would say breakfast is ok. Coffee is good. :) That was the only meal I tried there so I cannot comment on its other dishes.

Stay tuned for more of my posts about Phuket.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back from Phuket

Just came back from a short trip to Phuket, Thailand which I could just summarise with 3 words, beach, food, and water sports in that order. :)

Phuket is the place to go if you're into the beach, the sea and of course water sports. As my trip was quite short, I did not explore much on the other aspects of Phuket such as the nature trails, elephant trekking, etc but so far from what I observe, those 3 words summarises Phuket quite nicely.

Traveling to Phuket is now a breeze, mainly because there are flights that bring you direct and there is no need to transit via Bangkok. Visa is not required if you're Singaporean. I did not see any ASEAN members requiring visas but I might be wrong.

Immigration will not be so time consuming if you know which queue to follow. Each queue will branch out to 2 counters if both counters are manned. Therefore, choose the queue where you can see both counters are being manned. The queue will be much faster. Believe me... I chose the wrong queue. :(

Going out of immigration will bring you direct to the baggage claim area. There are digital signages around telling you which belt you're to go to claim your baggage. Take note of the belt number early because it will disappear after a while.

After getting out of the baggage claim area, you will see a counter where you can get taxi service. If the place you're staying is not in the main city centre or well-known, I suggest that you take the taxi service within the Phuket airport. Even though my resort is facing the beach, the taxi driver was not familiar with the location.

Do note that there are 2 kinds of taxi service, one is the mini-van which is ideal if you have groups of up to 8 people, or a limousine taxi service (I was in a Toyota Camry). Obviously the limousine taxi service is cheaper. The people there directed me to the limousine taxi service when the initial price that quoted was too expensive. The cost is about 750 THB to go to Kamala Dreams, taking the limousine taxi service. For some reason, the trip from Central Festival Phuket only costs 600 THB even though the timing is similar. It may be because I was traveling on the "main road" instead of the winding road near the coastal area.

If you take a limousine taxi, I believe it will stop at a location near the airport for them to"process" your ride and a "friendly" guy will ask you if you're interested in a package tour whereby your taxi ride will be "free". Just politely decline and he will not ask further. If you're interested in getting a return taxi ride from the same taxi driver, you can arrange there if you wish.

One thing to note about Phuket is that so far, I did not really see anything that looks like an expressway. Therefore, the average speed of the car is actually quite slow. Do not trust Google's estimates because there is always perpetually a mini jam, especially so if you're going to the beach area. The roads there are small and winding. For example, it took me about 40mins - 60mins to reach Kamala beach.

Do note that if you do not have time to get souvenirs, there are plenty of souvenir shops at the airport near the departure area. I counted at least 3 souvenir shops at terminal 1, and many food shops such as Burger King, Subway, Chester's grill and Bill Bentley pub so that you can grab a bite before taking your flight. There is only a small souvenir shop at terminal 2 and since terminal 2 is not that far from terminal 1, it's better for you to do all your shopping before checking-in and going through immigration, which is located at terminal 1.

Stay tuned for more posts on my short adventure at Phuket. :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Singaporeans need to re-think about themselves

I was out of town and was quite surprised about the riot that happened in Little India. Kudos to the police for settling the issue without firing a single shot. However, what is truly disappointing is some of the comments made on this incident.

I'm assuming those who made the comments are Singaporeans and I find that it is ridiculous that they are not even supporting our fellow Singaporeans who were attacked by others. Many of our own were attacked by others and yet we get stupid comments about them being attacked.

There are rules that need to be followed. If everyone becomes trigger happy just because of any incident, then I think those people can jolly well go to those countries who think that bringing guns everywhere, even where kids can have easy access to it, is a right thing to do.

I'm thankful that guns are not allowed here in Singapore and there are rules that govern on when it can be fired.

People who live in Singapore need to respect all the laws and rules that come with it. It's simple as that. If you do not intend to do it, then go home. Regardless of the situation, I do not welcome anyone who doesn't respect the host country and think that they can live by their own rules.

For your information, I do include those thoughtless Singaporeans who made stupid comments on our own Singaporeans being attacked by others. Ridiculous.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The world is a reflection of your own thinking

I quote from Byron Katie:
When you do the work, you see who you are by seeing who you think other people are. Eventually you come to see that everything outside you is a reflection of your own thinking. You are the storyteller, the projector of all stories, and the world is the projected image of your thoughts.

The world is different from everyone because everyone perceives that goes on around us differently. You decide how the world is going to be like. If you want change, make the first step.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Product obsolesce is natural

Product obsolesce is something that people think is a trick to get consumers to buy more.

I do admit that some companies think that way and the products that they produce only works a few times before it does not work. Thankfully these companies do not last long because customers are not stupid.

However, this phenomena is actually quite natural because of a simple fact... Customers demand more.

In the olden days, people think more simply. For example, when we want to buy a radio, we only want to listen to radio stations. Nowadays when you buy a radio, they give you bluetooth capability to connect to external devices, connection to other music player devices, etc. My trust Aiwa radio receiver is still working after close to 20 years.

The rule of thumb is that the more capabilities you add to a device, the harder it is for the components to work longer as "they" are working harder. These components are also much more prone to damages. One small drop or even exposure to moisture will render the components useless.

Standard rule of thumb is for the devices to last about 5 years. If you can make it last longer, usually it means that some thought was put in to ensure the product lasts as long as possible, provided the owner takes good care of it.

Technology is moving quite fast though. The device that you have might be usable, but the new devices that come out will provide more features that you may think it is useful. Some devices that are designed with more thought in mind may be upgradeable via a firmware upgrade but even that has its limits.

Drawing an analogy, if the computer only supports 640KB of memory, there's a limit on what it can do. Do not bash product companies unnecessary.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Is IT strategic? I don't see it

The buzz word for all businesses is that IT is now strategic, and it's critical for the survival of the business. However, the actions that the businesses do is contrary to what they say.

The reasons are very simple. If IT is strategic, the first rule of thumb is that it should not be outsourced. You will need a good internal team in order to build up the capability to support and drive the internal operations.

Finding people can be difficult but other great companies out there have already programmes that allow them to fund scholarships so that they are able to attract people to work in the business. This sponsorship allows businesses to get people in and ensure the inflow of professionals.

However, this sponsorship should never be used as an excuse to throw these people into jobs that no one wants to do. The sponsorship bond is for the companies to prove to these students that this company is worth staying in. Talent has always been a 2-way traffic.

If IT is really strategic to the business, put those words into actions. Outsourcing your entire IT out makes you no different from other businesses.
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