Tuesday, 22 December 2015

My first budget air to Penang

It's year end school break, and whole family went to Penang for a short holiday. I had travelled on budget airline for work, but as family, this is first time. We chosed Airasia as it has the better timing compared with the others. Here's my thoughts about using budget airline.
Booking changes
Due to some unforseen circumstances, we have to change our original travel date. This means that we have to pay the additional charges for the changes, and in the end, I can travel to as far as Bangkok for the total cost. Travel on budget is attractive provided the airfares that you have chosen is on promotion and that you dont make any changes after.
As part of the so call value added service from these budget airlines, they will offer total booking, including hotels and insurance. Please compare on those, as I found out mine, for the same hotel, it cost lots more than my booking with the hotel. Remember there is no free lunch.

As it's a budget airline, this means that you have to travel light. I used to travel without even bother to weigh my luggage, but this trip, I have to make sure that our luggage is not more than 7kg. I mean this is crap, but then again, they have to make money from somewhere. Before the trip, I read in some forum that they are strict with the weight. However, on this trip, I did not encounter any check at any of the checkpoint in the airport.

That's all for my after thoughts with budget airline, below was my 4 days Penang travel itinerary, nothing fantastic, just slow and easy as this is not our first trip there.

Day 1:
  1. Arrive and check into Goldensands at Batu Ferringhi. 
  2. Wasted no time and got a taxi to Gurney Plaza
  3. Had late lunch at Xuan Xin Ramen Kitchen and food was good. 
  4. Started shopping after late lunch at Gurney Plaza
  5. Left and went back to the hotel to rest early as everyone was tired.
Day 2:
  1. Had nice breakfast in the hotel
  2. Book a taxi for 6 hours at a reasonable price to bring us to the following places. We found this taxi uncle, Mr Ho, by chance, He sent us back to hotel from Gurney Plaza on Day 1 and found him to be honest. Thus we ask and booked him for our day 2 trip. If you need a driver, you can call him at 016-490 4756:
    • Kek Lok Si Temple
    • Lunch at Tek Sen, really good food
    • Penang Mural hunting, including a visit to Chew Jetty
    • Bought Tau Sa Piang at Ghee Hiang
    • Back to hotel
  3.  Dinner at KFC before turning in early for night after a tiring day. KFC tastes nicer in Malaysia somehow, so this is one of our usual meal that we will have.
Day 3:
  1. Took the free hotel shuttle bus to Georgetown for local food hunt
  2. went to joo hooi cafe at Penang road for our usual local fix. Quite disappointed as we found the standards (Char Kway Teow and Assam laksa) have drop compare to many years ago. 
  3. There are 2 stalls selling Chendol at the side lane, one is usually the longer queue and the other fairly quiet. I tried both, and they taste the same to me, thus I dont understand why bother to queue at all.
  4. Continue shopping and went back to hotel for swim.
  5. Had dinner at the ship restaurant. Been in Penang so many times, and first time dining there. Food is not bad and good experience.
That's it for the relaxing trip to wrap up 2015.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Retail reits - Are they still worth looking?

It's a festive month and many people are in the mood of spending for their love ones or themselves. There are many reits listed on SGX, who owns large shopping malls, is it worth looking at them now. Before you look at these reits, do take some time to read these articles below first, and it might change your thinking.
Alibaba Singles Day sales;
1. Alibaba busts Singles Day sales record
2. Alibaba rings up record sales
3. Alibaba tops Singles Day sales despite slowing China economy

Amazon's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales;
1. Amazon gains the most on record-high cyber monday sales
2. Amazon capturing big slice of US online shopping
3. Online sales hit record

In the coming months, will this be the trend as to how Singaporeans will be shopping or has it already started?

Sunday, 13 December 2015

My first online shopping experience

Well, actually it's not really my first time buying stuff from the internet. Its just that the last time I bought stuff from a online merchant was more than 5 years ago. Recently, during the black friday and cyber monday, I bought some stuff from Amazon, and here are my thoughts after buying them.
With the USD getting stronger, it is no longer that appealing to buy stuff from the US. It only makes sense economically if  you get more than 50% savings. On the item which I had purchased, I managed to get 70% of savings off from the same item here. Recently, I saw the same brand having some 20% promotion locally, and if I were to buy here, the savings from my online purchase reduced to 45%. However, this is before shipping.

I used a local shipping provider, and because I was their new customer, they gave me a $15 off from my total shipping costs. With the shipping cost included, now my savings from my online purchase reduced to 30%.

At the time of writing, it's been 8 days and I have not received my "goods". This is because I used the free shipping option from Amazon, and it takes about 5 to 6 days to transport to the local provider's US address. It takes another 5 to 6 days for the local provider to transport my stuff into Singapore.

Banking Charges
I also just realised that I have been slapping with some banking charges known as dynamic currency conversion fee. At first I didnt know what is this, then I realised it was the conversion from USD to SGD which Amazon has offered me.

Now that I learned (the hard way) of all the charges involved, the item must have a substantial savings before I will shop online again. It also has to be stuff that I dont need urgently and can wait for at least 2 weeks shipping time as I only use the free shipping option.