Monday, August 25, 2014

What is the TRUE Cost of Owning a Car in Singapore?

A car isn’t for everyone – especially in Singapore. While that statement may piss you off a little bit, that’s just the way the system is rigged. The hideously inflated cost of owning a car is meant to discourage the vast majority of Singaporeans from owning a car.
Well, officially prices are at Kaiju-like levels to prevent Singapore’s roads from becoming too overly congested (and to get you to take public transport). That’s why the Vehicle Quota System(VQS) and Certificate of Entitlement (COE) are in place – to crush your dreams of car ownership.
But let’s say that you choose to defy the Gods by saving up all of your hard-earned cash to purchase a car. You buy the car with a 50% down payment and take out a 5-year car loan. End of story?
No my friend – that’s not even the true cost of a car. This is:

Final Note: Buying a car is a huge decision that can have a major effect on your financial situation. Think about the total cost of a car – and imagine all of that money in an investment portfolio earning 8% each year.
Unless you absolutely NEED a car because you have a job that can support the expense, it’s really much better to put that money to work either growing your retirement nest egg. Who knows? You might even be able to purchase a property down the road that you can rent out to start getting passive income!
If a liability that loses 10% of its value every year is worth more to you than building an investment portfolio that earns 8% ever year – well… that’s up to you. But if you want to learn more about investing, give our Investing Learning Center a look.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

12 MUST TRY Taiwanese Street Food

Taipei is well known throughout the world for it’s night markets and street food. The hustle and bustle of the Taipei nightlife does not confine itself to bars and nightclubs, and the night markets stay open till past midnight, sometimes even till the wee hours of the morning.
b2ap3_thumbnail_10601149_10204044318370410_1334231848_n.jpgPhoto Source: toktheham
From the world famous Shi Lin Market (士林夜市) and Xi Men Ding (西門町) to Rao He (饒河街觀光夜市), Jing Mei (景美夜市) and Shi Da (師大路夜市), the many night markets across Taipei itself leaves you in a dilemma from not knowing which one to visit!  
Here is a list of the best 12 Street Food you can find in Taiwan. They can be found at any popular street market and are must tries when you visit Taipei.

1. Oyster Mee Sua 阿宗麵線

Source: @Jeromeromerome
Even though Oyster Mee Sua is readily available in many Taiwanese Street Snack Stalls in Singapore, this is what most people come to Taiwan to eat. What we have here is nothing compared to the ones you get in any of the Taiwan night markets.
It is also extremely cheap, costing just about S$1 a bowl!

2. Oyster Omelette 蚵仔煎

The Oyster Omelette in Taiwan slightly differs from its Singaporean namesake. Instead of the famous Singaporean or luak chili on the side, the Oyster Omelette in Taiwan comes drenched in a thick chilli that is slightly sweet and not spicy at all.
It reminded me more of the sweet sauce you get from Yong Tau Foo, but nevertheless still absolutely delicious. 

3. Lu Rou Fan 滷肉飯 

What I love about Lu Rou Fan is the gravy that the pork is braised in. Salty and flavourful, good Lu Rou Fan is normally cooked and prepared with minced fatty pork. Served with braised egg on the side, this traditional Taiwanese dish is a must try, and at a very affordable price of just S$1 a bowl.

4. Beef Noodles 牛肉麺 

Another dish that Taiwan is well known for is Beef Noodles. Braised beef served with noodles in soup broth that is to-die-for. There are many variations of Beef Noodles you can find in Taipei City. A place I would recommend is Yong Kang Beef Noodles (永康街牛肉面), which is conveniently located near Xi Men Ding
Address: 台北市金山南路二段31巷17號 (No. 17, Street 31, Jinshan South Road Section 2, Taipei. 

5. Chicken Cutlet 大雞排 

Deep fried chicken breast cutlet seasoned with a special salt and pepper powder with a choice of hot chili powder, this is best eaten on a cold Taiwanese winter night. It always seems to find space in your stomach at any time of the year and is one of the more popular Taiwanese street food.

6. Potato Cheese 起司馬鈴薯

Fried mashed potato with ham, minced boiled eggs and German sausage, and finally drenched in nacho cheese sauce. Merely typing this has made me salivate 10 times over. Unhealthy, but very very worth it. We found that it is only available in Shilin and XiMenDing.

7. Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang 大腸包小腸<

b2ap3_thumbnail_10602742_10204044321410486_2136220716_n.jpgPhoto Source: toktheham 
Directly translating to “Small Sausage in Big Sausage”, this was a creation of Taiwanese street stall vendors. The big sausage is actually glutinous rice moulded in a sausage bun, and the 小腸 is a traditional Taiwanese pork sausage. Very nice, but a tad filling.  

8. Grilled Squid 烤魷魚

You can literally identify this unique grilled smell from a mile away. Although it is an acquired taste, the chewy texture and mouth-watering smell of the squid will keep you coming back for more. 

9. Flame Grilled Beef Cubes 火焰骰子牛

I had this about 5 times in 5 days during my recent trip there, and still have dreams about it. The raw beef on the grill may look very unappetizing and you will just walk past it without giving it a try. But enter the fire torch and give it about 5 minutes, what you taste will actually change your life.
Succulent and sprinkled with rose salt seasoning, these once-dubious-looking beef cubes melt in your mouth and excrete beef juices you’ve never tasted before.

10. Smelly Tofu 臭豆腐

b2ap3_thumbnail_1044095_10201173701566784_2067797692_n.jpgPhoto Source: Yong Jing Yi
Many people are turned off by the awful smell that 臭豆腐 produces, and I was turned away by it at first. But after much persuasion I finally relented and put a tiny piece of this horrendous smelling thing in my mouth - I have no regrets.
Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, 臭豆腐 has a very unique taste and the smell really disappears once you eat it. A traditional Chinese/Taiwanese dish, the smell of 臭豆腐 comes from it being preserved and fermented from beancurd.

11. Deep Fried Milk 炸牛奶

b2ap3_thumbnail_Nicoles-Pictures---December-28-2011-------2.JPGPhoto Source: twygee
I don’t think anyone would have ever tried Fried Milk prior to visiting Taiwan. Frozen milk cubes dipped in batter before being deep fried, 炸牛奶 is a very unique to the Taiwan street markets and is absolutely delicious! It is extremely hot and you may have to take many tiny bites to finish one ball, but the tastes that come out of this milk ball is sweet and a must try! 

12. Pearl Milk Tea (珍珠奶茶)

b2ap3_thumbnail_pearl-milk-tea.jpgPhoto Source: Valerie Foo
While there are countless bubble tea shops in Singapore at every corner, what you get in Taiwan is on a completely different level, especially on a sweltering Taiwanese summer evening. 

The Most Powerful Ways to Start a Presentation

The question is: Are first impressions good predictors because they are accurate, or are they simply more influential than subsequent (and contradictory) impressions? Do we see deeply quickly, or are we leaping to conclusions about people and ignoring evidence that contradicts our mental shorthand?
It turns out that our first impressions are not altogether accurate. Scientists call our tendency to leap to judgment the Fundamental Attribution Error. It's an error because how a person behaves in one situation is not an accurate predictor of her behavior in a different situation. We vastly underestimate the role of context in controlling human behavior and instead base our judgments on extremely limited information.
Nevertheless, as speakers, we can take advantage of this human frailty. When we step to the front of the room to deliver a presentation and all eyes are on us, we can take control using the tools at our disposal: physical, vocal, and verbal skills meant to capture the mind of the listener.
There are infinite ways to do this. Here are just a few:
  • Walk to the front of the room, your body filled with purpose.
  • Arrange your materials with concentrated and silent grace.
  • Take up your position, stand still with your weight on both feet, and gaze intently at the audience.
  • Let the silence become the blank canvas on which you will paint your masterpiece.
  • Pick a listener in the back of the room, look that individual in the eye, and deliver your opening line with confidence to that individual.
There are many types of opening lines, too.

A simple statement of your main theme or premise

For instance, Seth Godin gave a speech saying that marketing technical products was too important to leave to marketers. He began his speech by saying, "Marketing technical products is too important to leave to marketers." Pretty good summary headline, don't you think?

Asking for an audience response

"How many of you have ever wondered where your next meal is coming from?" And then wait for the hands to go up, or not.

A brief, gripping description of a problem faced by the audience

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem. Our sales data is locked up in the laptops of our salespeople, and we can't get it out."

Painting a picture of the audience's world when the problem has gone away

"I wish you could have seen me. I had finished the presentation. People were standing and applauding, and my boss came up and said that was the best talk he'd ever seen. All my work had paid off. I was literally a changed person--loose, relaxed, and bubbling with all the attention."

Pointing out what you and your listeners have in common

"I am a professional speaker. I get paid for my performance. I believe you get paid for the same thing, except your performance lasts a year and mine only lasts an hour. Nevertheless, I stand on a stage, you sit at a desk, but we both get paid to perform."

A startling statement

"Every hour in Gaza, a child is dying from artillery fire and missiles."

Telling a story

"About a mile into the woods, my childhood friends and I discovered a hill that was covered with tall, dead trees..."

A personal anecdote

"I called a friend of mine and his answering machine said, 'Sorry, memory is full. Goodbye.' It made me think that many people are so preoccupied these days that they have no time, no space, no ability to listen."

Using a visual aid or prop

"This is a silicon wafer. It is made of one of the most common commodities in the world: sand!"

Using a famous quotation

"Acquisition of skills requires a regular environment, an adequate opportunity to practice, and rapid and unequivocal feedback about the correctness of thoughts and actions."
--Daniel Kahneman, Princeton psychology professor and Nobel laureate in economics

Starting with an intellectual puzzle

"We're always reading that there are literally millions of undiscovered insects in the Amazon rainforest. I'm completely stumped by the variety of creatures that show up on my front porch in suburban New Jersey. Who are they? What are their names? And why on earth are they knocking on my door?"

Using an analogy

"Public speaking is like splitting logs. You have to hit 'em where it counts, be sharp about it, and take a balanced stand on the issues."
If our listeners insist on attributing to us those qualities they glimpse in the first few seconds of our talks, despite subsequent evidence to the contrary, let us employ all means at our disposal to take advantage of their leap to judgment. Let us be masters of body language and wizards of the opening salvo. For speakers, it seems, all's well that begins well!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

HYT H1 “Velvet Gun” (Liquid Time Display)

HYT H1 Velvet Gun

Not a new model, but rather a new purple-hazed titanium case for HYT’s H1.   The minute dial is also given a new look.  Inspiration?  “Lake’s reflections as the [Swiss watchmaking] summer starts, listening to Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze, we dared to step out of conformity and added unique metallic shades on our H1 case architecture giving elegant purple tones.”   It is a little hard to discern the color from the press kit photos, but in the right light the Velvet Gun should show its true colors.  Anyway, I like it.   Available later this month, the HYT H1 Velvet Gun is offered in a limited edition of 50 pieces, 56,000 CHF per ($62k at current f/x).

HYT H1 Velvet Gun

48.8mm x 17.9mm titanium velvet gun PVD with brushed, shot-peened and satin-finished surfaces, black rubber-clad screw down crown,

As a reminder of the basic H1 functionality:  retrograde fluid hours; minutes on the dial (12:00), small seconds (9:00), power reserve indicator (2:30):

HYT H1 Velvet Gun upper dial closeup

hand-wound mechanical HYT caliber — bridges hand-chamfered and adorned with côtes de Genève, rhodiumed bellows (65 hour power reserve)

HYT H1 Velvet Gun bellows closeup
Fitted on a black rubber alligator strap with  titanium velvet gun PVD pin buckle.
For a primer on how the “fluid time” keeping works, please see my in-depth report with pics and video: A Look at HYT Watches and “Fluid Time” Technology

More discovery at

Longines Heritage Avigation Watch

Longines Heritage Avigation

Featured here is a new military-style model added to the Longines Heritage line, a collection which I have repeatedly praised for its many excellent models in recent years.  The new Longines Avigation (not to be confused with the Avigation Type A-7 which I reviewed in-depth about 18 mos. ago ) is based on the design of a model first produced for the British army in 1949.

Like the original watch, the movement is fitted with a soft iron inner cage to protect it against the effects of magnetic fields; the 44mm case diameter is also unchanged.
The black dial – typical of military timepieces – features large, white luminous numerals along with an inner set of red numerals on a 24-hour scale.   The arrow shape directly below the Longines text is refered to as a “broad arrow“, a symbol used in the United Kingdom to denote government property, including military equipment and therefore the watches used by the British army.

Longines Heritage Avigation Dial Detail

Inside is an automatic mechanical caliber, sourced exclusively from ETA, as is typical for Longines.

The Longines Heritage Avigation price is $2,325.

Did You Know?
Avigation – a contraction of “aviation” and “navigation” – refers to a navigation system invented during the 1920s, according to Longines.