Saturday, February 4, 2017

SQ vs United: Direct flight to SFO

Just in this year, I ended up flying to SFO twice. So my first flight was on SQ while the current one (havent returned yet) is on United.

SQ is running Airbus A350 while United is going with Boeing 787. No fancy photographs, or too much details but a first hand experince from my own perspecrive.
  • Flight: My vote goes to United (787)
A350 is rather new and the pitch is 32" and width is 18" (vs 32" & 17.3 in United).  I still doesnt understand why there are single hand rests and especially in this flight it was more like a stick and I will not call it hand rest. It's pretty thin, and I cant even rest my arm properly. The plastic feel of a350 was not good as well. The humidity / pressure levels are certainly better in 787.

  • Service: I will go with United (787)
Don't get me wrong. United service is horrible and ice cold. Probably that's why I felt they are efficient. SQ service is getting worse in terms of service and its very inconvenient and you end up feeling very tired. The lunch/breakfast service was started around 0900 and they concluded around 10:45. Similarly the dinner/supper was from 1000 to 12+. All this time, we ended up stuck in the seats and can't move, sleep or enjoy the little extra space we have. Did I say, that the lights were on all the time?
Then the robotic service from the SQ is becoming very obvious; and the PA system can be thrown out to in the ocean. Why can't the voice can be gentle or keep the volume down. It's like as if they are trying to burst our ears. 

  • Punctuality, Overall E2E time: (neutral)
Both were good. Early to SFO. 
  • Entertainment: SQ (350)
United does have few hundred titles but either they are too old, or never heard movies. SQ - Clear winner. 
  • Cleanliness & Other Misc: SQ (350)
If United is smart, they should vacuum / clean the flight. The reduced weight can easily save the costs of employing the cleaners. That's how dusty it was. Toilets were good at the beginning but not when we landed at SFO. 
SQ - Spectacularly clean.

  • Value for money: United (787)
With the price I paid vs the service I received, there is no doubt I would go with United. Did I say the SQ price was almost double yet I got 50% miles loaded in my Krisflyer? While the cheaper and better (in my case) United gave me 100% miles. 

While, I am going to fly SQ for sure I really want SQ to

  1. Accelerate the meal service. Especially during night trips
  2. Normalize the PA volume. No point trying to blast your passengers ears.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

It pays to return your tray but to whom? I hate this campaign after realising the outcomes

Source: Strait times


As you can see the Foodcourt owners can implement a system to promote tray return by investing 280,000+. Now the big question is where is the business case for investing. I wish the food court owners are getting the business case from somewhere else.

What I have seen in other places (near office/home) is since the campaign on Say YES to Tray Return, the number of old uncles/aunties been reduced. So the poor cleaner uncle who used to get his pay with dignity is now jobless and getting help from the Gov (Comcare). May be its a coincidence or there was really a retrenchment.

But overall, I don't like the idea of pushing some novelty item or whims of some business person on masses. This is what it is in Asia for centuries and the service culture doesnt need to be changed because of some ideas originated from western world. There could be many reasons why US or EU does this but for Asia/SG - Do we really need to follow the values and norms of western world blindly?

I don't think so.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mobile Internet Data Costs across region... Brunei is most affordable, India is on the other end

Source: Tech In Asia, Socialmeediaweek.org

According to above sources, the most affordable mobile internet is in Brunei, followed by Singapore while the most expensive are Timor, India, Philippines.

I think the study is good but if possible there should be some points need to be considered. Especially the bottom of pyramid folks who occupy the bottom half or more in India, timor etc. If we focus on Mobile Data subscribers that would be a good measurement.

i.e. Take the sample and calculations from those who subscribe to Mobile Data. In that case there would be a huge different IMHO.

I am sure Indonesia, Thailand would be more 'affordable'. 

This is the real FREE Wi-Fi. Kudos to Changi Airport, living up to the credentials and rankings

One thing which frustrates me throughout the world is "free wifi" logo and "unable to connect" or "try after some time" messages.

I will try to take some screenshots from places like SFO, LAX, HKG, NRT where the WiFi experience  is killed by unnecessary advertisements, and clicks. ICN is different but plz take note my korean friends that very few travellers transiting /traveling in ICN international can read korean. Places like CGK, BKK, DEL, BOM, MNL are as good as trying to get free wifi in an US motel. So no point talking about them.  Out of these, CGK used to be the better one but recently the lack of maintenance or increased user traffic started to kill the experience. BKK is shine and shine outside and no substance inside so no comments on that. DEL, BOM: they are interested in your money, so never ever pay for the WiFi (which I did so naively) after the first 30 min free wifi. It doesnt work and they can double charge your credit card.

As always, Singapore is different. Here is a screenshot taken sometime ago at Changi :) Only downside or improvement they can make is the removal of OTP. It can be a registration or certification issue for past visitors (device ID/MAC may be or SIM authentication)




Taking Uber in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to City

Uber is so popular in US, EU and other developed countries where taking a taxi means you need to extremely lucky to get it first, then prepare a fortune, make sure your sense of smell is dead, and finally be humble to get robbed in the forms of tips. 

In asian countries, taxis are not bad and probably you don't need a uber in places like Korea, Hongkong and Singapore. The raid hailing apps or private car sharing apps like Uber, Grab getting plenty of attention in Indonesia, Malaysia & Thailand however. Reasons are mainly due to lack of discipline and professionalism. Be it faulty meter, taking wrong turns, or not going in that direction or cant understand language etc etc. 

So this is my experience during a recent trip to BKK. I saw the taxi queue which was going through multiple rounds and I tried Uber. There is a fixed price for Uber from Airport to City area and the charges shown was THB 355 including tolls. This is great actually as the traffic conditions are unknown in BKK just as in CGK. 

So the app asked me pickup location which I took the "Level-2, Arrivals, Gate-08". So this is just at the same floor after collecting baggage and you need to get out of the place. There is no strict "arrival pickup" place there but just hang-on there. One small tip is to call the driver and share that you are outside the place. Get a local SIM card and this will be very useful. 

The car came in 4 minutes (GPS/App was showing driver was 4 min away) and the car is in much better shape than any taxi. It was a Mazda-3 and the driver can speak basic english which is again a rarity in bangkok. I don't really know why, but the driver choose not to follow the GPS and made few turns here and there before bringing me to my destination. It was on the express way and its a fixed fare so i didnt really bothered. 

Total time it took was around 40 min and THB 355 including tools was the damage. Compared to regular taxi during non-peak hours or no-traffic hours of  THB200-250+THB55 toll+THB50Airport fee, Uber is much cheaper and most importantly this was charged to my credit card. What was not measurable in $ is the service and the feeling of beating hour long queue and able to converse with the taxi driver in english :) 




Friday, January 29, 2016

new direct flight from Singapore to San Francisco. Hurray

Source: CNA

Finally.. That's my feeling. With the large, and comfortable flights the long-haul flights should be a reality but thanks to sky high oil price, the justification failed it. Thanks to shale, or whatever now this is becoming a reality and I am really looking forward to reach my destination in less than 20 hours.

Ofcourse I still wish Concorde is here and I could potentially reach in 8 hours but doubt that is going to happen. Supersonic passenger flights are really a dream for current generation. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

SG Bloggers did a great job by writing an e-book (Investing your first 20,000 dollars), but no recommendation for CPF?

Came across this at work while having a nice cup of coffee to throw the bad feelings on the first monday morning of the year.

http://thefinance.sg/2016/01/04/free-ebook-investing-your-first-20000-by-singapore-finance-bloggers/

This is a good book and the suggestions are wonderful. Probably these young & mature investors are way better than my banker or myself or my friends when it comes to personal finance. But when I looked at the details, and surprisingly one thing is missing.  So the gist of the book is to invest 20K and have some brain dumps.

* you have 20,000 which you do not need for a long time
* No debts and no emergency needs.

Most of the bloggers ended up recommending investing in Index funds or REITs. I am surprised that not even a single soul thought of recommending CPF which is probably the best 'fund' for us according to CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/30/singapores-cpf-saving-plan-beat-markets-in-2015-with-steady-returns.html

If one were to start at 25, and by simply putting 20,000 in CPF and getting a 4%-5% interest would turn this in to 80,000 after 35 years which would be quite sufficient to cover the Medisave :)

Furthermore, there is no headache of worrying about index funds or REIT out of world asset valuations.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Indian students saga - Why students are deported from USA and common misconceptions about VISA

Recently there is a huge issue in Indian state of Andhra pradesh (& a bit in Telengana) about the ill-treatment by USA. As usual the media tried to blow it out of proportion and put emotional headings such as treating students like terrorists, keeping them with some unwanted people (??).  News articles here, here, here, here & here

But if one notices and do a simple search about what is a US VISA, one can clearly see,

http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/frequently-asked-questions/about-visas-the-basics.html

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry, and the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration inspector authorizes or denies admission to the United States

Similarly, many nations have a 'disclaimer' stating that the VISA doesnt guarantee an entry. Singapore recently became popular with certain nationalities and specific profiles. ICA even explained in an article here

So in a nutshell if someone need to take the blame and be responsible it is none other than the students themselves & their families. First of all, they are just trying to exploit the system of United States and trying to enter under the context of education but with a different motive. It is very clear to any layman that why people are going for studies but with less than $5 in their pockets and with dubious financial arrangements (e.g. my friend will pay first, then i will repay. This was an actual statement from a student).

Probably the Gov need to educate the people and perhaps put a exit visa for students as a sanity check. Be it the people going to middle east on "tourism" visa and end up as workers under horrible conditions (??) or students been deported from USA (may be UK, AU next). But knowing the way India works, it is going to be a dream. Wish, this new year some of my dreams will come true. :)



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Too much over action by Prime Minister Tour organising committee

See the below list. Now, I am not sure I even want to read it. Forget about going to the event. I am expecting a total chaos at the meeting and venue with the too much over action. Is this happening in Singapore? We have various country leaders meeting people in Singapore, and never see such laundry list. Anyway, no food allowed and expect people to sit for 5 hours inside the expo, or you can't even leave the place. Good luck with that.

Thanks for wasting tax payers money, but no thanks Mr. PM.




  1. Entry Passes/Invitations are NON TRANSFERABLE
  2. Please bring a print out of the Entry Pass bearing your name.
  3. Please bring the identification that you provided upon registration for the event i.e. NRIC/FIN/Passport to the venue. We will require original identification card for verification. Photocopies will not be permitted.
  4. Please note that only individuals with Entry Passes/Invitations and the relevant ID will be permitted to enter the venue. NO ID = NO ENTRY.
  5. There will be airport class security at Singapore EXPO and all the rules that apply for airport security shall apply here as well. 
  6. Please arrive early as the event has free seating and the average screening time could exceed 30 mins.
  7. Please do not bring any of the items listed as “not permitted” on your Entry Passes/Invitation:
  8. a)     No outside food and drinks or water bottles are allowed. Water and snacks will be provided free of charge inside the Halls.
    b)     Umbrellas, sharp objects, cigarette lighters are NOT allowed.
    c)     Still Cameras and Video Cameras will NOT be permitted.
    d)     Mobile phones are allowed. No selfie sticks will be allowed.
    e)     Small ladies’ handbags are allowed.
  9. You will be asked to dispose of any items that are not permitted before being granted access to the Halls.
  10. There is limited food available at the EXPO and as mentioned, food and drink will not be permitted inside the Halls. Water and snacks will be provided free of charge inside the Halls however we advise you to eat and come!
  11. Once you enter the Hall, you will not be able to leave until the end of PM Modi’s speech. Restrooms are accessible from inside the Halls and additional portable toilets will be available towards the rear of the Venue.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Income tax collections: A very good lesson India can learn from Singapore

Source: CNA

Singapore shared that in FY2014/15 the Income tax collections grown by 16% and hit SGD 8.9 Billion. This is close to 2.1% of the nations GDP.

On the other hand, India tax collections for FY13/14 it stood at 242856 crores or SGD 53.9 Billion and budgeted for FY14/15 are at 63.1 Billion. From GDP point of ratio this is approx 3.3% of the GDP.

If we see the maximum income without paying any tax in Singapore is SGD 20,000(after deductions), and in India it is INR 250,000 or SGD 6,000.

However if we take the median income of a person in singapore, the effective tax rate is less than 10%. For the same, in India it is higher than 20%. By the way the common man on street in Singapore get "potable tap water, fresh air (except the few weeks of haze contributed by Indonesia) and never go hungry". On top of it there is heavily subsidised healthcare, education and scholarships. I didn't even have to mention the safety & security in the country.

I can easily say (my deduction could be challenged and I am no way posses any insider knowledge) the problem in India is the tax system itself is designed to be backwardish and not for an asian economy. We have to keep it simple and we have to make it easy, and transparent. Unfortunately the people who are honest and paying income tax will end up paying from their noses while those so called business man, big industrialists, and many other unorganized industries end up paying zero tax.

Finally the IRAS (Tax collection body in Singapore) shared another interesting fact.

" It cost 0.8c to collect $1 in tax revenue and they owe this to using technology and simplifying the process".

That's probably the best every anybody could hope for. But knowing Singapore, they would reduce it next year by few percentage points.