Friday, August 31, 2012

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet in Singapore

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is available in Singapore since August 25th 2012. The price is 798 Singapore Dollars for the WIFI-only version and 998 Singapore Dollars for the 3G and WIFI version. This fast tablet running on a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor is According to Vincent Chang, Samsung expects the Galaxy Note 10.1 to be available in the following Southeast Asian countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines) by the end of September.[1]

Peter Yeo from Today tried and reviewed The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. The performance of The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet is impressive and according to Peter Yeo it is faster than other tablets he has tried:
“Images and videos displayed on its 1280 x 800 screen are fast, crisp and vibrant. And audio - projected through its two front facing speakers - while not mind (or ear-drum) blowing do provide clearer sound over tablets with bottom-facing speakers. 
The quad-core processors also give the device the ability to multitask seamlessly. The tablet's 262mm x 180mm dimensions, which are slightly thinner but wider than Apple's new iPad (which measure 241.2mm x 185.7mm) allow for multiple screens to be opened on the Note 10.1 - well, two screens at least.  
A "third" screen can be added via its Pop Up Play feature (first seen in the Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone), which lets users playback videos in a floating window that can be dragged around the screen and overlaid anywhere. Even with this feature turned on, and the screen split into two, I did not notice any lag in performance.”
Source : Galaxy Note 10.1: The writing's on the wall

Peter Yeo says he is sold to S Pen which provides greater control over picture manipulation in the pre-loaded PS Touch app by Adobe besides its basic drawing and sketching functions. S Pen stylus and the S Note application are the most the notable feature of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. S Note app is impressive in hand writing recognition. Besides converting handwriting into text, the S Note can also convert crude diagrams into shapes and search out complicated math formula through its Formula Match feature.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 can be switched on by pulling the S Pen out to start writing as well as by a switch on-off button.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet is in Singapore

[1] - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 now available in Singapore

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Legoland Johor Malaysia opens on September 15th 2012

Legoland Malaysia, a theme park scheduled to open in Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia on September 15, 2012, will have over 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions and will be the first Legoland theme park in Asia upon its establishment. Legoland Malaysia will be the centrepiece of a 5,5 million sq ft integrated complex in the Nusa Cemerlang industrial park, within the Iskandar Malaysia economic region, consisting of a lifestyle retail centre, offices, hotels, service apartments and residential units.

Legoland Malaysia is divided up into seven themed areas. Each theme area is designed to ensure that guests of all ages will find much to explore and enjoy at the LEGO® experiment centres, roller coasters, water attractions and shows. The whole family can embark on a day-long voyage of discovery and adventure.

Legoland Malaysia map and theme areas
Legoland Malaysia map and theme areas

Hot to get  to Legoland Malaysia? It is in Johor and is very near to Singapore. It is near Malaysia–Singapore Second Link but you can follow Coastal Highway to reach Legoland if you entered Malaysia from Woodlands checkpoint. There will also be a direct coach service from the Singapore Flyer:
"The coaches will depart every 30 minutes during peak periods and arrive at Legoland Malaysia within the hour, it said in a statement to the media. The cost of the bus ride is $20 per person.
Alternatively, the public can also take public transport from Singapore to Legoland Malaysia via the Causeway links. There will be six trips from Jurong East and Boon Lay to Legoland Malaysia, via Tuas Second Link, operating on a daily basis."[1]
Legoland Malaysia Direction Map
Where is Legoland Malaysia?
[1] - Direct coach service from the Flyer to Legoland Malaysia

ZoukOut 2012 will be a 2 days party with great DJ lineup

ZoukOut 2012, the 12th installment of the annual dance music festival held in Singapore since 2000, will be on dates between 7-8 December 2012 at Siloso Beach at Sentosa Island. Day 1 will be December 7 between 9 PM - 4 AM and Day 2 will be on December 8th between 8 PM - 8 AM. ZoukOut is organised by one of the oldest and most popular nightclubs in Singapore, Zouk, and it is one of Asia's biggest music dance festivals. The party is a one of many events of large Christmas in Tropics (CIT) chain of events in Singapore.

This year, partygoers  will enjoy Electro, Trance, House, Techno to Mambo, Hip Hop and Pop from a string of famous DJs. ZoukOut 2012 DJ Lineup include;

Day 1 - December 7th 2012 Lineup
  • English trance music group Above & Beyond,
  • Dutch progressive and electro house DJ and music producer Robbert van de Corput (professionally known as Hardwell),
  • American DJ and record producer Ryan Raddon (professionally known as Kaskade),
  • Musical project by DJ/Producer Diplo, Major Lazer,
  • Blink and Goldfish from Zouk KL (Kuala Lumpur),
  • Sudha,
  • Montreal-born DJ, turntablist Alain Macklovitch a.k.a. A-Trak,
  • Scottish DJ, singer, songwriter, and record producer Adam Richard Wiles a.k.a. Calvin Harris,
  • Australian electro house/dubstep duo Knife Party,
  • and many more ...
This is the second time in the party's history that it will be held 2 nights under the stars. ZoukOut is in its 12th year now and as one of the biggest outdoor beach parties in Asia, it is quite famous around the region. More than 35% of the audience are tourists. ZoukOut 2011 drew around 28,000 people from the region and from around the world.

ZoukOut 2012 7-8 December 2012 Siloso Beach video introduction

Here is a brief highlight of the event on Singapore Tourism Board press release:

Singapore‟s most anticipated annual outdoor dance party at Siloso Beach has been bringing together  night revellers all over Asia for over a decade now. Organised by long-reigning superclub Zouk, this two-night dance music festival features world-class acts that span house, techno, trance, hip hop and electro, and has seen the likes of Carl Cox, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Sasha, David Guetta and other  DJs. 
This year‟s line-up includes big names Major Lazer, Above & Beyond and Calvin Harris and many others. Visitors can also experience some of Singapore‟s best DJ talents at work with Jeremy Boon, Aldrin and Hong spinning the decks.

Zouk (French Creole word for 'party') is one of the oldest and most popular nightclubs in Singapore which also has a sister club in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Zouk is also ranked number 10 on DJ Magazine's list of Top 100 clubs in the world in 2006, 2007 and 2010.[2]

You must be over 18 (and prove this by an identity card) if you like to join the party. Although it is a beach party, swimming is prohibited and no videography is allowed. Here are some survival tips for ZoukOut 2012:
  • Bring something to protect yourself from heavy rain.
  • Put beachwear on and wear sandals.
  • No foods and drinks are allowed from outside and it will sure be expensive inside. So before coming eat full and drink also a little.
  • Beware of theft.

How to get to ZoukOut 2012 party venue?

1 - You can go to Harbourfront or Vivocity. You can use MRT (North - East Line) or Circle Line to go to Harbour Front MRT Station. From there you can walk the Sentosa Board Walk to Enter Resort World. From there you can walk towards Merlion Tower to Siloso Beach. Or you can go to VivoCity and then take Sentosa Express Monorail and alight at Beach Station.

2 - There will be a Zoukout ShuttleBus from Harbourfront Bus Interchange.

3 - You can get there by car. There are 3 carparks you can use : Beach Station Car Park,  Imbiah Lookout Car Park and Cove Arrival Plaza Car Park.

See also Singapore September 2012 Event Calendar for other events in September 2012.

[1] - Are You Ready To Party At Zoukout 2012?
[2] - Zouk (club)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Singapore September 2012 Event Calendar

COMEX 2012
30 August - 02 September 2012
Comex is Singapore's biggest IT Show which draws 800,000 people every year with over 830 exhibitors. These exhibitions are popular with their latest and hottest consumer technology gadgets, promotions, freebies, lucky draws and promotional models a.k.a booth babe. Comex 2012 will be held on 3 entire show floors of Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre. 

STGCC (Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention) 
1 - 2 September 2012
STGCC (Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention) combines the best of pop culture from East and West, uniting the worlds of comics, anime, manga, toys, collectibles, games and movies. STGCC 2012 will be held at Level 1 of Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands. Entrance is not free, the price of tickets are S$15 for 1 day tickets and S$25 for 2 day tickets.

Sentosa Big 40 Party
September 1st 2012
Sentosa, the popular island resort in Singapore, turns 40 this year and its birthday is celebrated by a party on September 1st 2012. The island, once known as Island of Death (Pulau Belakang Mati), was renamed "Sentosa" (peace and tranquility in Malay) in 1972 and redeveloped as "Island of Entertainment". The day The Sentosa Development Corporation was formed and incorporated  to oversee the development of the island,1 September 1972, is considered as islands new reincarnations birthday. Activities, games and performances will take place in  five zones: VivoCity, Sentosa Boardwalk, Merlion Plaza, Beach Plaza and Palawan Beach. Admission will be free.
Sentosa current events

Race Me - A MediaCorp Soap Box Derby
1-2 September 2012
This soap box race, organized by MediaCorp, will take place at Singapore Expo Hall 6 between 11am and 8pm and offers S$1,000 for the winning racer and entertainment for all. There will be other fringe activities like mini Sasuke challenge, giant inflatables, trampoline bungee, mini soap box race, racing simulator
Race Me - A MediaCorp Soap Box Derby

The Dark Knight Triology IMAX Marathon
1 September 2012
To mark the epic conclusion of the Dark Knight trilogy, Warner Bros Pictures Singapore and Shaw Theatres will be showing all three films in Imax — Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises —  for the very first time in Singapore. The venues will be Shaw Theatres Lido (starting 10am) and JCube (starting 1030am). Tickets prices will be S$50.

The Games Xpo (TGX) 2012
7th to 9th September 2012
The Games Xpo (TGX) 2012 will be held in Singapore Expo Hall 5A and expected to bring 150,000 gaming enthusiasts together from around the region showcasing the latest offerings the gaming industry has to offer. The events include TGX Arena: Regional e-Sports Tournaments where the best gamers from around the region competing in games from various genres across multiple platforms.
The Games Xpo (TGX) 2012

ZoukOut 2012
6-8 December 2012
ZoukOut 2012, the biggest and the most famous Asian outdoor party, will be a 3 day party this year with great DJ lineup and 2 days of party under the stars. ZoukOut is organised by one of the oldest and most popular nightclubs in Singapore, Zouk, and it is one of Asia's biggest music dance festivals.The first night of the party will be held in Zouk Club where Swedish DJ AVICII will kick-off the 3 day party and then the party will move to Sentosa for the remaining 3 nights. This is the second time in the party's history that it will be held 2 nights under the stars.
ZoukOut 2012 will be a 3 days party with great DJ lineup

Singapore Mid Autumn Festival 2012
September 11 - October 10 2012
Mid Autumn Festival also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival or Zhongqiu Festival, is a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people. This years mid autumn festival will be between 11 September to 10 October 2012. Although Chinese celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival on the 15th day of the eighth Chinese lunar month when the moon is at its fullest (October 3rd this year) the events start in September this year and in Chinatown you can see festive street light-ups and bazaar stalls selling mooncakes, pomelos, tea and an assortment of festive goodies.
Mid Autumn Festival 2012

THIS Buddhist Film Festival 2012
September 22 - 29 2012
Themed “Open your mind”, THIS Buddhist Film Festival 2012 will present specially selected films that reflect the cultural, social and religious aspects of Buddhism, told through 16 original, thought-provoking films from 11 countries, including China, Sri Lanka, France, Indonesia, Japan, Sweden, Thailand, and the US.

Souls of Zen - Buddhism, Ancestors, and the 2011 Tsunami in Japan will be
shown in THIS Buddhist Film Festival 2012

F1 Singapore Grand Prix Night Race 2012/2013
21 - 23 September 2012 (Fri to Sun)
The FORMULA 1 SINGTEL Singapore Grand Prix 2012/2013 will be held between 21 - 23 September 2012 from Friday to Sunday. Being the first night race in Formula 1's history, F1 Singapore attracts many international tourists to Singapore (so if you are planning to come to Singapore for something else, Singapore grand prix week is probably the worst time for you to come to Singapore). Singapore F1 GP tickets prices will be between S$128 - S$1,688 and are already on sale. This years event calendar includes concerts of  Jay Chou (September 21), Maroon 5 (September 22), Katy Perry (September 23), Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds  (September 22 and 23), Bananarama (September 22 & 23), The Proclaimers (September 21, 22 & 23) and Pretenders (September 22 & 23).

Singapore F1 Night Race 2012 - Maroon 5 and Jay Chou to perform in the thrilling F1 Night Race

Friday, August 24, 2012

Corporate bonds in Singapore are in demand

Singapore dollar corporate bonds issued by companies in Singapore are providing a safer investment alternative for investors amid the uncertain and volatile stock market environment. And recently, record number of them are issued and demanded by both local and international investors. According to DBS Bank data, investors have bought $22.7 billion of bonds issued by major firms year to date. The numbers will probably end higher than the previous record year, 2010, which saw $24.68 billion.

Corporate bond is a bond not surprisingly issued by a corporation. Unlike common stokes, corporate bond carries no claim to ownership and pays no dividends. Corporate bond holders have payments priority over stockholders. These debt instruments provide a fixed cashflow catch with these bonds is that a corporate bond is a safer investment than common stock in the same company.

This year the biggest issuers of corporate bond were Genting Singapore, DBS Bank, Housing Development Board (HDB), United Overseas Bank (UOB), OCBC Bank, NTUC Income and Mapletree Treasury. Genting Singapore issued $1.8 billion and then $500 million of perpetual bonds with coupon rate of 5.125% , DBS Bank issued $1 billion 10 years bond with 3.3% and then another $1 billion of 11 years bond with 3.1%.

The popularity of perpetual bonds are unprecedented. According to Reuters more perpetual bonds were sold in Singapore in the first three months of 2012 than in the previous decade and a half! This popularity, especially the interest of retail buyers, has caught the attention of The Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Singapore based banks and companies are not the only ones issuing perpetual bond here. According to The Straits Times, Industrial Development Bank of India has recently sold $250 million of bonds which saw $3 billion subscription.

AAA rating of Singapore is one of the reasons these corporate bonds are consistently oversubscribed. And according to experts, demand for Singapore dollar corporate bonds will increase as more foreign issuers will come to Singapore.

Justin Lee scandal photos and sex videos

Chinese speaking half of the world is rocked yet by another leaked photo scandal. The son of a millionaire, Justin Lee, (李宗瑞 Li Zhongrui) allegedly filmed himself raping or having sex with dozens of models and actresses. Investigators uncovered films of many woman having sex with him. And as if this is not ugly enough, some of the women looked unconscious.

The most famous face in the Justin Lee scandal photos was Maggie Wu Ya Xin. Police have confirmed that 28 years old Taiwanese actress and model who had a relationship with Justin Lee is one of the women featured in the recently leaked Justin Lee scandal photos photos. "An identification that led the 29-year-old actress (Maggie Wu Ya Xin) to experience a major emotional breakdown, according to Jayne Stars".[1] It is not known yet that Maggie Wu was raped or was a willing participant. Although she has appealed to public not to spread the Maggie Wu sex photos,  a quick search in Google images for Justin Lee scandal photos shows some of the photos leaked from the scandal photos. And her name Maggie Wu, Maggie Wu scandalJustin Lee scandal photos, Justin Lee sex photos kind of searches are trending up. An unidentified netizen uploaded 9 more photos of Justin Lee’s pornographic photo collection and a 1-minute and 13-second video clip on PTT Bulletin Board System, Taiwan’s largest community forum.[2]  These photos are later removed. Yesterday, a lot of more photos of Justin Lee with his victims surfaced online, these were proven to be photoshopped. But later, sexually explicit photos and videos were uploaded on the Internet which were free to download and many looked for words like Justin Lee Maggie Wu sex photos, videos or film download kind of searches to reach these photos and videos to download.

Justin Lee has been sentenced to almost 80 years in jail for raping and secretly filming more than a dozen women. According to the witnesses, Justin Lee was shocked and shaken when he heard the verdict. He vowed to appeal his conviction.


Justin Lee has finally appeared in the court and although he has admitted wrong doing, he has pleaded "not guilty" for the alleged drug and rape crimes.

Justin Lee has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. Guilty verdict is given on October 19th after he has admitted to purchasing date rape drugs online, which he purportedly also used on his own stepmother, who is also one of his drug-facilitated rape victims.


With the investigation regarding Justin Lee sex scandal still going around, it was revealed that the Taiwanese Police have been making several arrests.

As reported on Asianbite website, the Police apprehended 12 people, including several university students in Tainan, for allegedly circulating and distributing videos and photos of that were recorded by Taiwanese socialite Justin Lee - earlier arrested for date-rape cases involving over 50 women, including several Taiwanese celebrities and models.
Source : 12 arrested in Justin Lee rape case

UPDATE 2: New photographs and videos showing Justin Lee having sex with several women have been leaked online. Some cencored ones can be seen here but a quick google search reveals the leaked sex photos and videos in many sites even accessible for download.

UPDATE: More allegedly Justin Lee (李宗瑞) sex videos have been circulating since August 27th, with investigators saying it was difficult to prevent the videos from spreading:

"At least 10 new sex films apparently related to the Lee case have entered circulation on Monday.
In those films, someone resembling Lee is seen engaging in sexual acts with several young women.
The films were shot in the same room, which is believed to be a room in Lee’s residence.

Lee, who has been accused of drugging and raping a number of women, among them celebrities, and filming the acts, turned himself in to prosecutors on Thursday after three weeks on the run."
Source : More alleged Justin Lee sex videos surface

The events leading to the scandal has been fired when Next Magazine alleged that Mr Justin Lee, the son of Lee Yueh Tsang, has raped many celebrities and filmed the act. Stars such as Maggie Wu, Terri Kwan, Bianca Bai and Ruru Lin were quick to protest but police has later revealed that they have been investigating Justin Lee since July 2011 for suspected date rape and filming of his sexual acts. According to Taipei Times, "prosecutors began pursuing the case in July last year, when a pair of twin sisters accused Lee of drugging and raping the elder sister and filming the process". The findings now points to more than 40 women filmed and the case has attracted widespread attention since some of these women are show business performers, models and A-list actresses.

Justin Lee scandal photos and sex videos
Justin Lee scandal photos leaked. The Justin Lee sex photo scandal involves 60 celebrities who
were allegedly filmed doing sexual acts by Taiwanese millionaire's son.
Justin Lee went missing after the news were broken and after 23 days of disappearance he has turned himself on August 23rd. He has been detained on the spot and charged with drugging and raping several celebrities and other women, as well as filming the acts. The socialite, often photographed with women in night clubs claimed that he all the actions filmed were consensual and that he did not secretly film the acts or circulate photographs or videos.[3]

Back in 2008, Chinese speaking world was rocked by Edison Chen photo scandal when his sex photos with many celebrities were recovered by a technician from a laptop he has sent for repair. Although that included no rape, many celebrities including Edison Chen himself had to remove themselves from entertainment world temporarily or permanently.

One important aspect all these two scandals is that some of these women are stupid enough to let their boyfriend film the intimate act on them. Although it is against the privacy of these people to leak and distribute these photos, still it is absolutely stupid for a woman to let someone they date to film these acts. Even if the man himself does not leak the photos, another idiot can criminally leak them out as it happened with Edison Chen's case.

See also Top 10 Asian celebrity victims of nude photo scandal and;

In a separate scandal, Taiwanese Lai Ying Yu's
nude photos are leaked

[1] - Maggie Wu one of Justin Lee's victims
[2] - Justin Lee Sex Scandal: More Photos Leaked
[3] - Justin Lee denies rape charges: Prosecutors
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Singapore society is kiasu, competitive, self-centered and elitist finds survey

According to a survey conducted among Singapore residents (Singaporeans ans Singapore PRs), the society in Singapore is kiasu, competitive, self-centered and elitist. They have chosen top 10 values and behaviors defining the society here today as:

  1. Kiasu (scared to lose to others)
  2. Competitive
  3. Self-centered
  4. Material needs
  5. Kiasi (scared to die)
  6. Deteriorating values
  7. Elitism
  8. Blame
  9. Uncertainty about the future
  10. Security

Being a very limiting and potentially full happiness draining value, kiasu, top value; 8 of these 10 words are limiting to societies well being says Chief Executive of the Barrett  Values Center, one of the firms behind the survey. Singapore residents want to see the following in the society:

  1. Affordable housing
  2. Caring for the elderly
  3. Effective healthcare
  4. Caring for the disadvantaged
  5. Compassion
  6. Concern for future generation
  7. Quality of life
  8. Equal opportunities
  9. Social responsibility
  10. Employment Opportunities
Singapore society and its perceived values
How Singapore residents perceive the Singapore society as it is today - Source : Yahoo SG
MP for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng, who was at the briefing, said:

“The top few behaviours and values reflects the state of society today. The potentially limiting values like kiasu-ism and self-centredness show that people are being self-critical that we acknowledge our shortcomings. At least we are open about that.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NATAS Fair August 2012

NATAS Travel Fair August 2012 will be held in Singapore Expo, Halls 3B, 4 & 5 between 24 - 26 August 2012 (Friday to Sunday this week). NATAS (The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore) Travel Fair is held twice in a year – one in February/March and the other in August/September. Ticket price for adults will be $4.00 (valid for one day) and admission is free for children below 12. The fair will be open to public between 10:00 AM and 09:30 PM.

Being a small city state in one of the best tourist destination region, every holiday travel in Singapore is an international holiday travel (except the popular staycation holidays) and Singaporeans like to travel whenever they have time and budget for it. One of the best way to extend the travel budget is to visit these 2 annual fairs by NATAS. NATAS travel fairs are very popular in Singapore since it is one of the best place to buy great travel promotions and packages. Last February, 62,871 visitors came to NATAS Travel Fair and spent around $100 million Singapore Dollars for many destinations offered. People usually rush to the fair early to grab the freebies and the best travel deals and form super long queues. Europe, China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea were top 5 sought after destinations in the last fair so expect that the best travel deals for these destinations will be quickly sold out.

The fair does not only offer travel deals; you can also find best deals for airfare, travel insurance, car rental for your travel destination. A quick and useful tip: Since there are credit card specific promotions, bring all the credit cards you have from different banks to  benefit from a promotion for specific bank's credit card. You can then take a chance to win in many lucky draws for freebies such as suitcases and grab a very good deal specific to your credit card.

For those who have not been to the location of NATAS Fair, Singapore Expo yet, you can get there by taking the East-West MRT Line (Green Line) and alight at Expo MRT Station. But you need to change train in Tanah Merah MRT Station and get to the one which works between Singapore Changi Airport - Singapore Expo and Tanah Merah MRT Stations. Expo MRT station is behind Hall 6 so you will need a short walk to Hall 3,4 and 5.

Monday, August 20, 2012

SingTel will launch 4G tablet service with Prestige 75 plan

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) is launching 4G service for tablets in Singapore starting from August 28th 2012 which will allow its users to access speeds more than three times faster than current 3G services. The 4G service for tablets will be paired with a new subscription plan, the Prestige 75. Singapore's first fourth-generation (4G) tablets will be Asus Transformer Pad TF300TL and Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 (Long Term Evolution - LTE). They will be available at all SingTel stores by August 28th.

The Prestige 75 plan has a theoretical maximum speed of 75Mbps. But this speed can be hardly achievable in everyday usage. SingTel  promises a minimum download speed of 3.4Mbps and a maximum of 12Mbps.

SingTel Prestige 75 plan subscription plan will cost either 49.90 Singapore Dollars or  64.90 SGD per month depending on the size of the up front payment for the tablets:

For ASUS Tranformer Pad TF300TL 49.90 Singapore Dollars with up front payment of 549 SGD and 64.90 SGD per month with up front payment of 429 SGD.

For Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 (LTE) 49.90 Singapore Dollars with up front payment of 449 SGD and 64.90 SGD per month with up front payment of 329 SGD.

All these plans are for 10 GB bundle and $5.35 per GB (w GST) 1 July to 31 Dec 2012. $10.70/GB (w GST) from 1 Jan 2013. $94 (w GST) cap applies. [1]

[1] - SingTel to launch 4G service for tablets
[2] - SingTel launches Singapore's first 4G service for tablets

Firefly Airlines

When Firefly was launched in April 2007, many aviation heavy weights, i.e. AirAsia's boss Tony Fernandes, dismissed it as a joke.  But 5 years on, FireFly has proven to be a success and is serving quite well on a short haul point-to-point business and tourism travel to secondary destination. FireFly, based in Subang and Penang, flies to 20 mostly secondary destinations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore with 12 ATR72-500 turboprops. It is not a suprise that they have been a financial success since they can fill 80 percent of the seats and use and aircraft which can still break even with half the seats empty.

Firefly flies from two hubs, Penang and Subang in Kuala Lumpur. The domestic flights from Penang are Langkawi, Kota Bharu, Subang, Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan 2 flights daily, as well as to Koh Samui and Phuket in Thailand a daily flight. The flights out of Subang are Penang, Langkawi, Alor Setar, Johor Bahru, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu, Singapore, Koh Samui in Thailand and Pekanbaru in Indonesia. However, Firefly announced on March 8, 2009 that flights from Penang to Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu, Koh Samui and Kuantan have been temporarily suspended.[8] In 2011, the routes to Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu, and Kuantan from Penang have been reinstated.[1]

FireFly flies from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (Subang), Kuantan and Ipoh. Its Singapore - Kuala Lumpur service is especially popular with bussiness travellers since the airline flies to Subang Airport, only 20 minutes from Kuala Lumpur city center. Other than being nearer to city compared to KL International Airport in Sepang, it also takes less time to get to plane and get out of airport in Sepang. FireFly also started to fly from Singapore to Kota Bharu.

A FireFly ATR72-500 in Langkawi Airport
A FireFly ATR72-500 in Langkawi Airport
Firefly has been launched on April 3, 2007, as the first community airline in Malaysia. The airline is operated by MAS Sdn Bhd (346606-K) formerly known as FlyFirefly Sdn. Bhd, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysian Airline System Berhad. Operating out of the Penang and Subang hubs, Firefly provides connections to various points within Malaysia, Southern Thailand, Singapore and Sumatera of Indonesia, aligning itself with the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) agenda.

 [1] - Firefly

Singapore Property Affordability Sentiment Survey Q2 2012

PropertyGuru conducts Singapore Property Affordability Sentiment Survey every quarter with the aim of determining the property sentiments of those looking to buy, sell, rent or invest in property. The last one for Q2 2012 has recently been released. According to the survey, Singaporeans are increasingly thinking that the property in Singapore is expensive and unaffordable but too small; prices are rising to unreasonable levels and COVs (Cash Over Valuation) are high. The key findings of the survey are:

  • More people think property is more unaffordable compared to 1Q 2012 and 3Q 2011
  • People are dissatisfied with the Real Estate Climate in 2Q 2012
  • People expect that the prices to go up in 3Q 2012

Overall 31% of consumers are dissatisfied with the current Singapore real estate climate in Q2 2012 - a big jump from 20 per cent in Q1 2012 with a rising pessimism on the affordability of Singapore property. On the other hand many still believe that the both HDB and private property prices will increase in the next 6 months. Also, 42 per cent of those polled (2300 people) think that the COVs will continue to rise. The survey also found out that there has been a 7 per cent rise in negative public sentiment towards the Singapore Government due to growing concern of escalating property prices.

URA Property Price Index of Residential Properties as of 2012
URA Property Price Index of Residential Properties as of 2012
Singapore is struggling with a giant property bubble fed by massive triple money printing machine : FED, ECB and Chinese Central Bank. The artificially low borrowing costs and persistently high inflation combined with ridiculous interest rates on deposits forced many to invest their money into property and as a result Singapore private property index has reached an all time high. Although this 2012 obviously looks like a peak (see the chart above) many are still buying private property with the expectation that Singapore private property prices will always head north no matter what happens. This sentiment has been fed by ineffectiveness of rounds of property cooling measures introduced.

Source : Singapore Property Affordability Sentiment Survey

Friday, August 17, 2012

Karisa Sukamto will represent Singapore in Miss World 2012

19 years old Karisa Sukamto will represent Singapore in Miss World 2012, Inner Mongolia, Ordos today. Born in Hawaii, she has moved to Singapore as a baby and she has grown up in Singapore since then.

Local media has mostly focused on her height (1.60 meters). Back in July 2012 at Miss Singapore World 2012 in Orchids Country Club, she was crowned as Miss Singapore World 2012 and surprised many. The decision came after a significant delay and since judges were 50-50 split among 1.71m-tall Michelle Koh and Karisa Sukamto:

"The problem was that it was a 50-50 split and while half thought that Michelle had the looks and poise, they felt that she had to work on the way she tackled questions. "Those who supported Karisa said she had the charm and personality, but was just lacking in height.

"So it was a debate on whether language and answering skills could be honed and that height is something one can't change. But in the spirit of Miss Singapore World, where we don't have a height restriction, I told the judges just to look at the marks they scored for each girl, and the girl with the higher marks won."[1]

Although the media in Singapore wrote that at the end charm and personality won. If you read them without seeing a photo of Karisa Sukamto you may think she is not cute enough. In reality, she does not only have the charm and personality but she is damn gorgeous and very cool when talking.

Miss World 2012 Profile -  Karisa Sukamto - Singapore

[1] - Miss S'pore World is only 1.6m tall

All-in-one hotel residence in Singapore: Capri By Fraser Changi City

Capri by Fraser Hotel Residences, a brand new chic addition to Singapore's luxury hospitality market, has just opened its doors to business travelers who are looking for a short term accommodation in Singapore. The hotel is a hybrid of a hotel and a serviced apartment so it is called a hotel residence.  It has 313 studios with kitchenettes and the hotel offers facilities like fully-equipped gym overlooking the pool, steam room & sauna and spa suite with ofuro-style private baths. All studios come with free WIFI and the hotel allows guests to hold their work meetings at the outdoor areas of their premises.

The hotel residence is just right next to Singapore Expo and is 10 minute taxi ride from Singapore's Changi Airport. This also makes Capri by Fraser a good airport hotel alternative which is just right next to a shopping mall with many amenities. The hotel is in Changi Business Park Central and is very convenient for business travelers who comes to visit one of many companies in this business park.

Capri by Fraser Hotel Residences near Singapore Changi Airport
Capri by Fraser Hotel Residences provides studios with
small kitchens focusing on needs of business travellers
According to Chief Executive Officer of Frasers Hospitality Choe Peng Sum "while regional travel stays are becoming shorter, usually between one to two weeks, they are also becoming more frequent with professionals working longer, irregular hours across different time zones. So a personalized space for these business travellers where they can prepare their own meals at 4 am or have their own laundry whenever they can is important and Capri by Fraser is focused on enhancing the work-life balance of these guests."[1]

Between 15 August - 15th November 2012, Capri by Fraser is offering an opening promotion package from S$198++ per night. The hotel residence currently also offers other promotions such as Stay 3 / Pay 2,  The Early Bird and The Trailblazer.

See also these hotels near Singapore Changi Airport.
Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi AirportSanta Grand Hotel East CoastLe Peranakan HotelChangi Village Hotel by Far East

European Economic Crisis: France is the lion in the Grass

John Mauldin, a renowned financial expert, a multiple New York Times best-selling author, and a pioneering online commentator whose weekly e-newsletter  Thoughts From The Frontline reaches a million+ people, was in Singapore last month and he has given a speech  for OCBC Bank, called "The Lion in the Grass." In his article with the same name, The Lion in The Grass, he summarized this speech (follow the link and subscribe to his newsletter, he is one of the few unbiased economists in the world to get some good information).

What John Mauldin says is that the lions we can see are not the real problems, we still have some chance to take action against them. The problem is the lion we do not see. The lion lying camouflaged in the grass and waiting for the time to attack and kill (see the photo below).

How many lions are there in this picture? 2? Look carefully and find the lion in the grass. There are 3 lions in this picture (look careful to the middle left).
- Source : The Lion in the Grass
We can now all see the lions, large and small, of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and now Cypress and Malta. These are the visible lions of European debt crisis and attracts nearly all the focus. But Mauldin says that the real killer is the lion we cannot see, the lion lying in the grass. And that lion is France:

"Don't look now, but the lion that lies hidden in the grass is France. Yes, the France that is supposedly a big part of the solution to eurozone woes and Germany's stalwart partner in guaranteeing all that debt. AAA France. Rated that way by the same people who turned the nuclear waste of subprime CDO squareds, composed 100% of the worst sort of BBB junk, into gold.


It won't be this year or even in 2013 (I think), but within a few years we will be writing about France in the same way we are writing about Greece and Spain, et al., today. And French banks are massively larger than French GDP (some four times, or so I seem to recall). France cannot backstop its banks any more than Spain can.
Source : The Lion in the Grass

50 Year Home Loan: Should take or not?

There are two ways to gauge the affordability of a house: one is a deceiving one and another is a real one. The deceiving one is looking at the ratio of monthly payments of loan to your household income. Although this is used by many as the gauge, it is deceiving in a near-zero interest rate environment like the one we are having now since they make people to think that they can afford a house even they can afford it only under low interest rate environment. Combine this with a seemingly never ending increase in property prices you will have a fat, ugly property bubble waiting for the next interest rate increase to explode.

One phenomenon which seems to repeat itself towards the end of bubbles like this is the introduction of very long term mortgages. For example 50 Year Mortgage were introduced in California in 2006 just before the bubble was about to burst and 100 year multi-generation loans were introduced in Japan before their property bubble exploded painfully. So when a 50 year home loan package is by United Overseas Bank (UOB), a debate started: What does this mean for Singapore property market?

I personally believe that it is a sure way to financially suicide to take a very long loan at the peak of property price cycles. Although this peek may not trend downwards, it does not look to have a lot of support other than a hope(!) for a fresh round of money printing in USA, Europe and China.

The catch is simple: Monthly payment for a $800,000 loan is about $2,100 for a 50-year loan, and is about $3,000 for a 30 year loan. But the experts warn about the dangers:

"While longer-term loans are alluring for their lower monthly payments, the interest paid to the bank at the end of the loan period can be substantial, said director Timothy Kua of, which advises home buyers on the suitable mortgages available."

At the end of the loan period, interest paid will be about S$466,000 for 50 year home loan while it would be $264,000 for 30 year loan. Most of Mr. Kua's 50,000 customers go for 30 to 35 years loan.[1]

But everybody knows that whoever goes for 50 year loan does not plan to keep the home for that long. These people will assume eventually the property value will appreciate or they will earn more and refinance the property with a shorter term loan. Well, this assumption has its obvious dangers when European Debt Crisis is creeping through the financial system to become a full fledged economic depression.

After 50 year home loan news hit the media, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan criticized the 50-year housing loan as a “gimmick”, and urged prospective home buyers not to fall for it.

Romesh Navaratnarajah says the prices are still too high even with 50 year home loan. He also writes that it is increasingly becoming impossible for fresh graduates to afford a home in Singapore.

[1] - 50-year home loan not advisable: Experts

Cheap Singapore Hotels - Value Hotel Balestier

208 room Value Hotel Balestier in Singapore is one of the cheap and decent hotels you can consider to stay if you are budget conscious or simply does not pay a fortune to an overpriced Singapore hotel. With standard rooms starting from 99 Singapore Dollars per night (US$ 85) and its relatively central location, the hotel offers excellent value-for-money.

Value Hotel Balestier is at the  intersection of Balestier Road and Thomson Road and is walking distance away from Novena MRT Station of North South MRT Line, which is only 2 stations away from Singapore's shopping street Orchard Road and 6 stations away the Raffles Place, Singapore's Central Business District. You can either take a bus to the MRT station from the bus stop is just in front of the hotel or walk 5 minutes down to the station. Balestier Road area is an attraction on its own; it is  known for its food such as bak kut teh, chicken rice and tau sar piah and is home to many budget hotels in Singapore.

The hotel is basic and the rooms are clean. Hotel provides free highspeed WIFI internet in the room if booked room online. If you cannot stay in a windowless room, insist on a room with a window since some rooms in this hotel comes without window. Value Hotel is a hotel chain and there are 3 Value Hotels on Balestier Road: Value Hotel Thomson (at 592 Balestier Road), Value Hotel Nice (302 Balestier Road) and Value Hotel Balestier (218 Balestier Road). So if you are taking cab to there do not forget to mention the address (218 Balestier Road) otherwise you may end up in the wrong one.

Cheap hotel in Singapore - Value Hotel
Value Hotel Balestier

All of the 208 rooms are air conditioned and come with coffeemakers, cable TV, iron and ironing boards, phones, hairdryers, and bathrooms. The hotel offers on site parking available. Although the hotel does not have an onsite restaurant, in Balestier Road you really do not need a hotel restaurant.

As a person living in Singapore for a long time, a lot of people ask me for advise for a budget hotel to stay in Singapore. This hotel is one of the hotels in my recommendation list for both business and leisure travelers since for only a cheap 99 SGD per night, it is really difficult to find a central and clean hotel in Singapore.

North-East Line suffers disruptions, SBS transit says it will repair the line after service ends

3 days ago on August 14th, there was an MRT breakdown on East-West Line which was probably not major enough to find its way to media. And today, North East Line (NEL), operated by SBS Transit, suffered disruptions and I had a very long journey on the line today. Although they announce the breakdown will just add 10-15 minutes to the travel time, the actual delay was as long as 40+ minutes at some times as Sbs Transit mentioned in its press release:

"Train service on the North East Line (NEL) has been delayed by an average of 20 minutes in both directions since the start of service this morning. At certain times, the delay was longer - at up to 50 minutes."

According to SBS the initial delay was coused by a fault in the traction power system where a stainless steel U-shaped bolt holding the cantilever arm of the overhead power cables broke in the northbound tunnel between HarbourFront and Outram Park Stations:

"As a result of the breakage in the bolt, power wires were misaligned. To avoid the risk of damage to the trains and overhead power wires, a section of the tunnel was closed. This meant that trains could only turnaround at one point in the tunnel - instead of two normally. 
To restore the Line to normalcy, the traction power system has to be shut down, thereby enabling engineers to enter the tunnel to replace the broken bolt. This however means that there will be no train services on NEL between HarbourFront and Dhoby Ghaut for a period of time - resulting in massive inconvenience to commuters. Management has therefore decided to undertake repair works, which are expected to last about two hours, after revenue service ends today. At about 2.45pm, a new fault in the signalling system was discovered. That resulted in a further delay of about 30 minutes in train services. Our engineers are currently working to repair this fault to ensure that service delays are minimised. 
We deeply apologise to all affected passengers for the inconvenience caused."
Source : Delay in the North East Line Train Service Due to Two Faults - A Power Fault and a Subsequent Signalling Fault
UPDATE : According to SBS Transit, normal train services on NEL resumes by Saturday morning:

The North East Line will commence operation this morning according to its regular schedule.
Engineers had worked through the night to replace the broken bolt and conducted realignment works and inspection of the overhead power cables. In all, 30 technical staff and 4 LTA engineering staff were involved in the works which took about 2 hours. 
During the delay on Friday evening, a total of 210 Goodwill Ambassadors were activated to assist in crowd control and assist passengers with enquiries. 85 shuttle buses were also deployed from to provide commuters with an alternative to the train service that was operating at 7.5 to 8 minutes frequency. 
We apologise once again to passengers who were affected by the delay.
Source : Delay in North East Line Train Service Update 2
Singapore's 20 km North-East MRT Line 
The North East Line (NEL), also known as Purple Line in Singapore, is one of the world's first fully automatic underground heavy rail systems. The MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) line is operated by SBS Transit. The NEL has previously suffered breakdown twice: In 2006, a NEL train headed for HarbourFront MRT Station has stalled in the tunnel due to a loss of traction power and On 15 March 2012, up to 90,000 commuters were affected during a peak hour train breakdown between Dhoby Ghaut and HarbourFront MRT stations, caused by faulty overhead power cables at the tunnel of the Outram Park station that had snapped.[1]

[1] - North East MRT Line Disruptions

Gold prices may rise above $2,000 an ounce says Juerg Kierner

Juerg Kierner, chief investment officer for Swiss Asia Capital in Singapore, sees 24% upside for gold prices and he says gold prices may rise above $2,000 an ounce. "Owning a credit risk free asset in your portfolio is the key and how much is the question" says Kierner. "For some people it is closed to zero for most it is less than 1% and we think people should boost it up in order to have risk free asset in their hands"

Although gold prices now are 10 per cent down compared to their 2012 highs, they have gone up 11 years in a row and will probably close 2012 in a positive territory. Current ongoing economic crisis is in the heart is the crisis of fiat money which is printed like no tomorrow and this process is supporting gold prices:

"Gold prices firmed on Thursday on speculation that central banks may be set to launch more bullion-friendly stimulus measures to boost growth, though mixed U.S. data that dampened expectations for imminent Federal Reserve action kept prices in a range. 
They broke above $1,600 in late July on talk that both the Fed and the European Central Bank would take steps to stimulate their economies, but contrasting reports on the state of the U.S. economy have since kept it in a narrow range. 
Further monetary easing would benefit gold by boosting liquidity and maintaining pressure on long-term interest rates, keeping the opportunity cost of holding bullion at rock bottom, as well as fuelling inflation fears and weighing on the dollar."
Source : Speculation over ECB, Fed action on growth lifts prices

High end condo rents in Singapore set to fall

Potentially good news for private property tenants came from The Straits Times this weekend: More than 4,000 units of new private property are expected to be completed in the second half of 2012 which will add pressure on the runaway rental prices:

"Landlords of newly completed upmarket homes are being warned that they may have to be prepared to accept lower rents. More than 4,000 private homes are set to be completed in the second half of the year - with many of them in the city center and city fringe regions - possibly putting further pressure on rents of posh apartments that have already been softening. 
Data from property consultant CBRE shows at least 20 projects, with 4285 units, are due to be ready in the six months to December. About half are in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11 and the central business district."
Source : New homes put pressure on high-end rentals

Singapore's District 9 (Orchard, Cairnhill, River Valley), District 10 (Ardmore, Bukit Timah, Holland Road, Tanglin) and District 11 (Watten Estate, Novena, Thomson) traditional expat choice rental locations whose rentals were ridiculously inflated in the past 5-6 years by overly generous expat packages. The rental prices here are already feeling the pressure of shrinking housing allowances and expat packages without housing packages as well as the slowdown in the financial services industries.
"The rents of high-end non landed residential properties tracked by Savills also showed a four-month consecutive fall. The average monthly rent dipped to $5.03 per sq ft per month in the second quarter, sliding 3 per cent compared with the three months before. On a year-on-year basis, prime rents fell by 8 per cent."
Source : New homes put pressure on high-end rentals

Marina Bay Suites at District 1 is among the projects to be completed in H2 2012./

Tan Kok Keong, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee, highlights that the vacancy rate for the city centre went up from 7.8 per cent to 8.2 per cent q-o-q in Q2 2012 and this is mainly due to lack of expansion in the financial sector.

Still, experts say landlords are not expected to cut rents immediately but over the next 6 months rents will come down.

A large enough fall in high end private property rental prices would also have significant effect on the lower tier rents since many expats moved to this tiers and inflated the prices here as a spillover effect (actually the high rentals in high end properties even spill over to HDB rents). 

Monday, August 13, 2012

14 August 2012 MRT Breakdown on East-West Line

Yes, SMRT did it again! I was just trying to go to a late morning meeting today using East-West MRT Line and when I went all the way up to the Bedok MRT Station platform there was this big "surprise": An MRT train bound to Joo Koon direction is on the platform, its doors are closed and people are evacuated from the first car (later the doors were open). Many people on the platform and yes another massive breakdown again: No MRT train will operate in the next few hours to Joo Koon direction. Yes yet another big  train disruption. Luckily it was just a little after the peak hours but still it will effect many.

One big problem is that SMRT does not put enough warning signs and you climb all the way up to the platform to find out that something is wrong. Ok I am not expecting a warning message to my phone (not a bad idea indeed) but when you head to the platform, TV screen shows all the MRT Lines are having normal service and the train has arrived for Joo Koon direction and the next will arrive in 3 minutes! This is when one of the busiest line is not having a normal service at all and the train arrived is stuck in the station and the next one will not come for a while!

Update : 3 days later, North-East Line (NEL), operated by SBS Transit has suffered disruptions.

When this happens, you have nearly no chance to get a taxi since thousands of people are calling one. You need to find a bus and head to where ever you are going. I have missed a very important meeting today and I am writing this from a bus which will arrive to my office in 1.5 hours.

Unfortunately, Singapore's overloaded, under-maintained MRT systems failures have been a part of life in Singapore recently and it seems like it will be here for a while. In December 2011, two massive MRT breakdowns let people to walk in tunnels to reach the MRT stations and caused massive transportation disruptions. Later SMRT was fined for 2 million SGD by LTA due to its failure, among other things, to exercise due diligence and vigilance expected of a public transport operator, and to maintain its network in good and efficient working condition.[1]

[1] - SMRT fined S$2m for December train disruptions

Costa Victoria Sets Sail to Enchanting Far East from Singapore

This winter, Costa Victoria – Costa Cruises’ largest ship yet to be deployed in the region (75,200 gross tonnage and 2,394 total guests) – invites holidaymakers to experience the enchanting Far East and indulge in its “Italy at Sea” theme along the way.

A first for Costa Cruises, short itineraries are available from Singapore of 3-, 4- and 7- night cruises to Malaysia and Thailand, throughout the period November 2012 to January 2013. Costa offers the best deal in town now and guests can enjoy up to 64% discount.

The enchanting journey begins in the warm, tropical city of Singapore. Thrill seekers can visit the exciting world of Universal Studios Singapore, featuring 24 movie-themed rides and attractions, 18 of which are unique to Singapore. Or, guests can feast their eyes on an unforgettable view over Singapore, from the Sands SkyPark. The bustling boulevard on Orchard Road boasts expansive shopping malls, boutiques, restaurants and bars, while Marina Bay offers an equally impressive retail shopping experience.

Discover historical wonders (3-night cruise)
For a brief escape from the humdrum of everyday life, a 3-night cruise to Port Klang and Malacca in Malaysia is ideal. Malacca offers historical gems and stories behind each of its century-old buildings and narrow winding streets. The Stadthuys, known as the oldest-surviving Dutch building in the East, tops the list of sightseeing spots in a city steeped in heritage.

Sailings depart from Singapore on November 21, December 5 and 19, and January 2, with fares starting from only USD 269 now (brochure price USD 499).

Relaxing and sun-drenched vacations (4-night cruise)
With a Saturday departure, Costa invites guests to set sail on a long weekend to Langkawi and
Penang, Malaysia. While Langkawi is home to many beautiful beaches, it is also an ideal destination for adventurous travelers. Eagle-feeding is one of the must-do activities on this island, where guests can experience a close encounter with some of nature’s wildest eagles. Or, go on a journey through the dark and mysterious Bat Cave where vampires rest!

Sailings depart from Singapore on November 17, December 1, 15 and 29, with fares starting from only USD 349 now (brochure price USD 769).

Costa Victoria cruise ship (above) is deployed in Far East this winter with "Italy at Sea" theme.
All-in-one trip packed with relaxation, shopping, and sightseeing (7-night cruise)

A 7-night cruise to Kuantan in Malaysia, Bangkok and Koh Samui in Thailand offers an extensive break complete with relaxation, shopping spree and sightseeing. Previously home to the King of Thailand, Bangkok’s Grand Palace is a must-see attraction. This city is awash with luxury and high-street fashion, at affordable prices, and a variety of cuisines. Guests will then experience the sandy stretches and vibrant island life of Koh Samui, a time to truly relax.

Sailings depart from Singapore on November 24, December 8 and 22, with fares starting from only USD 549 now (brochure price USD 1,479).

While boasting a diverse selection of destinations and excursions offboard, Costa Victoria ensures

that the onboard journey is just as fulfilling for its guests.

Star-studded entertainment tailored for both adults and kids
Due to an overwhelming response for Costa Victoria’s exclusive “ICE as Michael Jackson”, the show has been extended and will be available onboard until the end of January next year! For those who have yet to see ICE, the world’s most renowned Michael Jackson impersonator, grab this last chance to see him up close as he perform MJ’s greatest hits, or even learn to “Moon Walk” like him!

The entertainment does not stop here. Italian cooking demonstration, Italian arts & crafts classes, variety shows, dance performances, games and theme parties complete the day and night onboard experience in Costa Victoria’s disco and 10 bars. While, the more discerning fashionista can indulge in this seasons ‘must-have’ items through the ship’s two-deck theatre fashion show.

“Italy at Sea”: an indulgent shopping experience
For Asia, Costa Victoria is the very first cruise with designer fashion boutiques selling luxury brand
products at duty-free prices - featuring some of the world’s most desired brands, cosmetics, watches,
sunglasses and accessories.

Singapore's Downtown from past to present

There is an interesting 2 part article named From water to Green site to Skyscraper City in the New Downtown  in Good Morning Yesterday blog which shows how Singapore's downtown changed dramatically since late 70s. A must read!

In the below photo, shot from a plane taking off from Paya Lebar Airport, you can clearly see the landfill in progress. Between 1976 and 1985, hills and elevated plains on current Tampines New Town were leveled and material from this place is used to fill the downtown area (as the hills of Bedok was used for East Coast). Singapore once was not as flat as it is now!

Below, you can clearly see the Marina Bay area landfill (where Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By The Bay stands now). Note that the plot on which Gardens By The Bay sits now does not exist yet. Also on the right hand side, you can see the reclamation in progress for Millenia Walk area.

Singapore Downtown in 1980 -  Source : Good Morning Yesterday

In the photo below, you can see the land reclamation in progress.

Singapore Downtown in 1980s - Source : Good Morning Yesterday
Fast forward to 2002. Actually Just until 3-4 years ago, the site where Marina Bay Sands Casino Complex stands now was a large vacant green area as you can see in the photo below (taken in 2002).

Vacant Area on where Marina Bay Sands Casino Complex is built - Source : Good Morning Yesterday

Below, Marina Bay Sands is under construction:

Marina Bay Sands under construction - Source :
The area today:

Singapore Downtown

Friday, August 10, 2012

new iPhone 5's look disappoints many

Apple's new iPhone, iPhone 5, is expected to be released in September 12th 2012[1] but before it is officially released, its supposedly real photos traditionally leaked from an Apple parts supplier and repair company. And the "new" iPhone looks exactly the same way the iPhone 4S looks, which is almost identical to iPhone 4!

As expected many are unimpressed with the photos supposedly belonging to next iPhone:

But it's not a major change, and some reviewers are saying the iPhone is starting to look dated.
Forbes Magazine says Apple appears to be "phoning it in" if these photos are to be believed.
Fox News says it looks "small and chubby" compared to newer phones.
- And CNET says "gadgeteers will be disappointed" if this is the final phone.  
The problem, many say, is Samsung's new Galaxy 3, which is sleeker and thinner, with a much bigger screen.  The Galaxy raises the bar the way the iPhone used to, three or four years ago. 
Source : New iPhone photos leave many unimpressed

And this time users have one more important excuse to directly upgrade from their current iPhones to Samsung Galaxy SIII: New iPhone is expected to come with a smaller connector plug which will basically make current chargers and zillions of types of docks useless (if they do not allow some space for a converter.)
iPhone versus Samsung Galaxy S 3. Henry Blodget says
Galaxy SIII looks like a next generation phone while iPhone looks old now.
Source : Business Insider
Some like Henry Blodget even went further to say that it will be a disaster for Apple if this photos really belong to the new iPhone. henry Blodget wrote in Business Insider that if the iPhone 5 really looks like this, Apple may be screwed:
"And I can't be the only potential customer who is deflated by what they see. In fact, I'll go far enough to say that, if the iPhone 5 looks like the pictures that have recently appeared, Apple may be screwed. 
Because the "iPhone 5" looks pretty much like the iPhone 4S. Which looked exactly like the iPhone 4, a phone that is now two years old. In the meantime, Samsung and other manufacturers have come out with phones that make people's jaws drop, such as the Galaxy S3, which has a (relatively) humongous screen. Although the Apple faithful may start hyperventilating about things like the movement or elimination of a button, most phone buyers couldn't care less. Now that most phones do the same things and work pretty much the same way, the most obvious (and, arguably, important) difference between them is the screen."
Source : If The iPhone 5 Really Looks Like This, Apple May Be Screwed...

Henry Blodget argues that Apple's decision to move the release of last year's iPhone from the summer to the fall, and then to release a phone that was only a "refresh" of the prior generation, had allowed Samsung, et al, to catch up.[2]

[1] - Apple Will Announce The iPhone 5 And iPad Mini On September 12
[2] - Here's How Apple Blew It On The iPhone

Redang Island

Redang Island, Pulau Redang, is one of the most beautiful holiday spots Malaysia offers for both local and international tourists. This 7 km x 6 km island is 45 km off the coast of Kuala Terengganu, and is the largest of nine islands dotting South China Sea off the Terengganu coast (the other islands are Pulau Lima, Pulau Baku Besar, Pulau Paku Kecil, Pulau Kerengga Besar, Pulau Kerengga Kecil, Pulau Ling, Pulau Ekor Tebu and Pulau Pinang (Pulau means island in Malay language).

The island is a skuba diving, snorkelling and swimming heaven with its magnificent corals and marine life, crystal clear waters and clean white sandy beaches. The island and its immediate surrounding is a Marine Park which allowed Malaysian Government to protect the environment as much as possible. The island has only 3 roads all connecting to the airport and other than these roads, there is no transportation connectivity on the island by road. In that sense it is like popular Tioman Island, you basically go to your resort, travel around by boat and if you are adventurous, take jungle walks on the island. But the main activity here is snorkeling, and taking a snorkeling tour is a must on the island.

The most popular stretch of Redang Island is the 800 meter Long Beach. It has one large resort and many smaller chalets lining the shore.

Must do activities in Redang Island
  • Snorkeling at the Marina Park (Do not forget to rent an underwater camera! Check availability with the place you are staying)
  • Diving (there are 31 diving sites around the island. Best time to dive in the East Coast is March to October)
  • Walking along the Long Beach
  • Swimming
  • Beach volleyball
  • Jungle walk to see monkeys, squirrels and birds 

Getting There

Redang Island Berjaya Air from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur
Berjaya Air flies to Redang Island directly from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur
The easiest way to get to travel Redang Island from Singapore is to take a  turboprop plane operated by Berjaya Air between Singapore Changi Airport and Redang Islands recently opened an airstrip near Taaras Beach and Spa Resort (you can view the other hotels near Redang Airport here). The flight takes 55 minutes from Kuala Lumpur (Subang Airport) to Redang and 1 hour 15 minutes from Singapore. 

The traditional way to arrive Redang Island is by boat. during the peak season  of March to October, you can take ferries directly from the Shahbandar Jetty in central Kuala Terengganu to the Berjaya Jetty on the south side of the island. The journey takes 1 hour 15 minutes. Although the ferries are operated by Bejaya Resorts and they are for their guests, they'll take non-guests on board if there's space available on the boat. The main boat departure point for Redang is main jetty at Merang ( 30 km north from Kuala Terengganu). You should talk the boat alternatives with your resort before heading to Redang.

The waters around Redang Island offers perfect skuba diving locations and almost all resorts on the island have diving shops.
Redang Island diving locations map
Redang Island diving locations map - Source : Life at UGL Malaysia

Hotels in Redang Island
Most of the redang hotels are lined up along 800m Long Beach (Pasir Panjang), the most popular stretch on the island and arguably one of the best stretches of beach in all of Malaysia. The stretch offers many accomodation alternatives from large resorts to chalets.

Here are some places to stay on Redang Island:

Laguna Redang Resort is the largest and one of the newest of Redang's resorts. It has 212 rooms with pseudo-Thai style. Rooms are all set in large 2-floor wooden buildings and some are quite a distance from the beach.

The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort offers 191 luxury suites and rooms plus a 5 bedroom Private Villa overlooking the ocean and resort from a cliff. The hotel is closed to the dive sites of Big Mount, Pulau Paku Kecil, and Boulder Dash. The resort has the location, view, service but is one of the most expensive on the island starting from 280++ USD per night for rooms.
"This tropical island resort, located 45-kilometers off the coast of Terengganu, is close to 30 popular dive spots. Guests will enjoy a tropical ambience that is unique to Redang Island. The location offers guests unprecedented access to a myriad of amazing natural recreation areas, including one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world, ideal for sport divers. Within a close proximity of the hotel are the dive sites of Big Mount, Pulau Paku Kecil, and Boulder Dash. The hotel also features a vast selection of on-site dining choices that offer a compilation of international and authentic local dishes in a romantic ambience. The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort is the perfect property for travelers who want sensuous tropical atmosphere, a vast selection of on-site facilities, and a myriad of recreational areas near by."
Berjaya Redang Resort, a Malaysian-style resort, is located in the town centre and offers a wide range of recreation activities.

Other island resort escapes from Singapore:
Dive with giant turtles in Tioman IslandParadise Island just 3 hours away from SingaporePrivately owned paradise Nikoi Island