Sunday, 1 February 2015

Countries Mr. IPO visited

I have a passion to travel and am already planning for my next trip in June this year.

It's my way of keeping myself motivated at work by having something to look forward to and feeling "deserved" that I have earned it. 

When I am younger, I will want to cover as many places as I can. As I aged, I prefer to do it more leisurely and independently from tour groups. The idea of someone telling me what time to wake up, where to go and what to have for dinner is just not too appealing.

The countries i visited are compiled here. It is to be updated each time i visit a new country but at the rate where i keep going back to the same few countries... i think my progress will be pretty slow. I have been visiting Japan almost every year for the last 8 years and this year the Yen/SGD rate is one of the most attractive ever!

On that note, no bonus points for guessing where i will be heading this June. The Euro is trading at 5 years record low and i have started to convert some Euros for my upcoming trip. If you want to get more bang for your dollar, it may be good to keep tab on movements in the forex market too ^_^

I received a pleasant surprise recently. I had previously blog about my Uber experience and why you should use it when you are in USA. Now someone actually used the code rotib when they downloaded the app! Thanks to whoever you are, i received an email from Uber saying that i have earned a free ride! :) 

I have decided to create a tab called "Freebies for readers" for this blog and if there are freebies pertaining to the relevant blogs, i will create those tabs as well. Maybe next time you will see "free stock tips if you sign up for ABC" Lol

Time flies and it is Feb 1 already! As usual, i am overwhelmed with work and below are some of the pictures from my recent working trip to Hong Kong.  

Flight to HK

The menu looks good but... the roasted pork is as hard as a rock.....

This should be called roasted "Jiok Tao"

Cheese anyone?

View from hotel and local breakfast

As usual, the HK hotel is full and they put me in a suite knowing I will be gone first thing in the morning. I hate suite. It's pretty scary when you are travelling alone. Hahaha. I would rather have a smaller room anytime. 

Local breakfast at "Kam Fong"

I started with the egg tart. No good. 

I have to say... even the standard for milk tea has fallen off the clift. It tasted bland. Must be a bad morning for the staff

Now at least this instant noodle tasted yummy. Maybe because I have a weakness for runny egg. The luncheon meat tasted great too!

Happy travels! You only live once :)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Uber then!

I apologize for being so "quiet" for a while. I have been travelling quite a bit, plus of course, the market hasn't been too interesting and I am wary of a black October crash looking at how volatile the markets are lately. 

I had the chance to tick off one of my bucket list in October where I was in transit for 7 hours in San Francisco for a business trip but the experience is probably half baked and disappointing. 

Golden Gate Bridge

Some of my to do items including a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge and to Alcartraz. My client who is a local in SF advised that Alcartraz is probably like our Changi Prison. How can it be?! So he said to me, "why not we do it this way. I take you to the coastline, send you across the harbor and you take the ferry back. You will get to "see" the bridge and the Alcartraz at the same time."

Sounds like a plan for a short transit trip. The coast line is quite scenic and you can see the whales migrating when it is in season. 

Wow I crossed the famous Golden Gate Bridge seen in the movie Monsters and Gozilla? Anyway this bridge is featured so many times in Hollywood movies that I was quite disappointed. It wasn't as impressive as I what I have imagined. Probably due to the heightened expectations caused by Hollywood movies. 

I didn't realize SF is quite foggy on one side and clear and sunny on the other side. So if you stay on the left side of the bridge, you are covered in fog quite a bit. 

Anyway to cut the long story short, I missed the ferry at 6pm and watch it moved away. I have to wait for the next ferry at 7pm by which time it is too dark to see the bridge and the Alcartraz from the ferry :(

Might as well enjoy some fresh calamari and a glass of wine while waiting for my ferry :-P

Here comes the ferry at 7pm and I was crossing the bay like one of the locals. The one way trip cost US$11 and I see no bridge and no Alcartraz. Urrggggg... Too dark. 

Fisherman wharves

One good thing about Google and Internet is information is at your fingertips. I visited Alioto for dinner and it is like the "must eat place" here. Probably locals will not go and cater to tourists like myself. Hahaha. Alioto was started by Italian family that migrated there and you can probably Google the information yourself. 

Eating alone for business trip can be an art. You either love or hate it. I like to do it once in a while but not too often. 

Anyway I am a "crab" fanatic. Haha. This is the local Dungeness crab caught off the SF bay. It is hotly baked and tasted sweet with a dash a lemon. Simple and nice. 

What has the title got to do with my post so far?

Uber then?

Today I am going to share with you the art of saving money in USA if you are travelling there. 

After my dinner, it's time to go back to the airport to take the flight back. This is the first time I am trying uber. 

With a simple click of the button, the app accurately pointed the place where you are waiting for the cab and magically one Toyota Pirus with the face of the driver appeared in 3 minutes. 

The few advantages are:
1. You can have a fee estimate of how much the fare will cost you before clicking that you want a cab. 
2. It will cost you $15-30 cheaper than a regular taxi. 
3. No tipping is required and no cash changed hands. You will get an email for the trip thereafter. 
4. Simple to use and your first trip is heavily subsidized. My trip to the airport cost me about $5 after netting off the $30 first time use promotion. 
5. The car is very new and clean compared to the cabs I have taken in the past and it is "safer" due to authentication requirement. You know exactly who you are expecting to pick you up as you will have his name and a picture. 

Promotion for my readers

Anyway here is the promotion for you in case you are interested to get a discount of your first ride. Just key in roitb when you book the cab via uber. 

Pls note that the amount 10,000W is in KRW is because I first downloaded the app when I was in South Korea this year. I had wanted to try out the app back then. 

Uber is pretty controversial

Uber has been a very controversial app because the cab companies and taxi drivers couldn't handle the impact of the app. 

According to the uber driver, it has put many taxi companies out of business. Singapore has also been trying to restrict the use of the app citing that it is illegal. 

The driver is financing his new Toyota Pirus with side income from Uber. He receives 80% of the proceeds he make and get paid once a week. The income can be pretty substantial and he works only when he is free. 

Actually if uber is successful, many of us can have a side income and the taxi system can be really efficient. 

Imagine you using your own car to send someone home when you leaves office and get paid for it? This will give you a side income but for the consumer, it will also mean a faster ride home and at a much cheaper fare than a regular taxi. 

This app will revolutionize how people travel but only if regulators are able to accept this change and the impact it will have on taxi drivers livelihood. 

Will it change the world and how people travel? I will be keen to know but for sure I will be using the app the next time I visit USA and countries that support this. 

If LTA accepts Uber, maybe I can earn some side income too!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The most exciting football league kicks off tonight.

The most exciting football league is going to kick off tonight. Why do I say so? In most league, you have one or two clear favorites running for the title. 

I have shared with your previously the CEO (aka as the Manager) is very important. Look at what David Moyes has done to a Championship team and you will know what I mean. 

This season, I think it will be hard to predict who will be the league winner and that is what makes this league such a money spinner.  

Manchester City was the defending champion and played attacking football last season. The team remained mostly intact. The coach is low profile and very effective. Won the title in his first season so you really have to give it to him. I would rate it as a title contender. 

Liverpool was second but unfortunately, despite the good work done by Brendan Rogers, I don't think they managed to find a replacement for Luis Suarez. Whether the proceeds from the sale of Suarez is well spent remained to be seen. With Championship football back, they will not be able to focus fully this time. I think they will drop out of the top 3. 

Chelsea was third and has bought well during off season with one proven goal scorer in Diego Coasta and one proven mid fielder in Cesc Fabegras. I think they will be a title contender this season. 

Arsenal is a perennial no. 3 or 4 for the last few seasons. This Arsene Wenger is too much of a value investor and in recent years have finally be enlightened to spend more money on proven players. Their football is always exciting but can never have enough injury free players to last through the season. If the manager is willing to "invest" more, I am sure they will become a title contender. 

Manchester United is not to be ignored. The Louis Van Gaal is a genius and yet full of guts. He will be a great coach for Man United after seeing how Holland was unbeaten at the World Cup. With no champions league to distract them, the coach will be able to get his act together. I will rate Man United a a title contender again. (You see how I rated David Moyes last year). A good coach is half the battle won. 

Tottenham will be the dark horse this season with a new CEO in place. However, don't expect him to create magic overnight. 

My prediction as follows:
1. Manchester United (new CEO plus no champion league distraction)
2. Chelsea (even Jose needs to give face to Louis)
3. Manchester City (no more hunger)
4. Arsenal (jinxed)
5. Liverpool (no bite left after Suarez left). 

Here you go. The unbiased predictions from Mr. IPO. Mr IPO declare that he has no vested interest and does not punt. Je is also not a die hard fan of any club. He firmly believes that a CEO ("manager") is one of the most important success element and as in any organization, the top sets the tone.

Happy BPLing. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York

I pop by the MMOA last evening. It was first set up in 1870. 

It's my lucky day. Free today. ^_^ but I made a $10 contribution of the usual $25 ticket. 

You can see many visitors to the musuem. According to the website, it is one of the most visited museums in the world. These are private collections that were contributed by rich prominent businessmen over the years and I have to admit the collection are awesome. 

To be honest, I walked away from the musuem having mixed feelings. Why is that so... 

You see this mummy above? It is contributed by JP Morgan. Yes the famous JP Morgan which you know. But aren't these treasures supposedly bought from tomb raiders in Egypt?

There is the bronze portrait of Alexander the Great with many other Greek treasures. It also feel ironic that many treasures of Egypt, Greece, China etc are found elsewhere rather than the country of origins. The price to pay for losing wars?!

You will need to spend days here if you intend to go in depth into each section of the museum. 

They even brought the entire temple back to United States, but at least in this instance, it was a legitimate gift from that country at that time. 

The museum is huge with many treasures on display. I only managed to cover the first floor. The second floor consist of East Asian artifacts and other relics. I am sure I will see more treasures here but will not try to dwell into how these treasures were acquired. You have also read for yourself how our Asian Civilisation museum got into trouble for buying allegedly stolen relics from supposedly trusted sources. 

A sleeping Cupid for you before I end this post. You can see that I mix business and leisure pretty well :@P

I will be going on holiday soon and clearing off one of my bucket list this time round. Will keep you guessing for now but the picture above will give u a hint of my next destination. 

Happy holidaying.  

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Namsan Park - Seoul

If you are staying at Grand Hyatt Seoul, there is a park just outside the hotel which you should not miss. I think it's worth taking an hour jog and stroll into Namsan park. 

There are nice pathway with trees, stream and bushes along the way and you should head towards the Seoul TV tower. The journey is probably 3-4km to and fro. 

The way up is not easy as it can be pretty steep at times but there are many benches along the way for you to take a breadth and enjoy the scenery. 

You can get a great view of Seoul as you head upwards towards the Seoul TV tower. You can see Grand Hyatt in the background. 

Seoul TV tower is the target and I am only half way there. 

You can see some old walls along the road side.

The tower is the reward at the end of your walk but this is also the place where you will meet hordes of tourists who came up by buses and missed smelling the flowers along the way. 

At this point, you can either take the lift up to the top of Seoul Tower or you and your loved ones can "lock" your love in the trees. 

The locks are for sale inside the shops!

Seoul long. Don't miss this walk if you are staying at Grand Hyatt. ^_^

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The CEO of a Company is critical!

If you remember my post last year at the start of EPL Season, i predicted that the top 5 teams will be

1. Chelsea
2. Manchester City
3. Tottenham
4. Manchester United
5. Arsenal

I only got 3 out of the 5 correct but interestingly there are some management lessons to be shared.

3 of the teams have a new CEO (aka Manager) last season - Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United. If you are a Man U fan, i am sorry to say that a wrong CEO was chosen from the start. The shoes was too big for him to fill. His mid-table mentality can never make it. 

I always respect Managers who have the winning mindset, who can bring out the best in its players and most importantly, win it with style. I have to say that this year, i think both Manchester City and Liverpool managers deserve credit for trying to do it the "right" way.

Pretty disappointed with Chelsea for employing the "parking the bus" tactics and stifling creative play. Since Manchester City probably bought their way to success, i would have preferred to see a Liverpool victory but she has already exceeded all my expectations. Liverpool wasn't even in my top 5 prediction. Similarly in your pursuit for financial freedom, remember to do it with style and taste, don't live life like a miser - you will never be happy and do whatever you need to do before you watching a premier league match live if you have the opportunity.

Similarly, the CEO of a Company is absolutely critical The top sets the tone. This is always the case. Invest in a Company whose management you like and trust. However, having said that, it is always the most difficult assessment to make. If you haven't read the book on Steve Jobs, go read it. It is quite a easy to read book and give insights as to how he wanted Apple to become and he sets the creative tone. One of the most important philosophy he has that stuck with me was that "A performers only want to work in a team of A performers. If you condone a "C" performer in the team, the A performers will feel unappreciated and leave and you will be left with a team of C performers"

Handpick your CEO and invest wisely! ^_^

Saturday, 1 February 2014

China biz trip

Think I am having a overdose of flying these days. 

Morning 830 SQ flight to HK

Flying to HK followed by BJ. Having a bad experience with Air China last time where my flight was delayed by 2 hours, this time I will try Dragon Air for my HK-BJ sector instead. 

The menu today was brunch but I have to tell you I have the most disappointing breakfast on SQ. Won't pick this choice for main course again. 

Starts with a fruit platter followed by yogurt. 

The main course was a wrong choice. Pls pick the grilled pork next time. The passenger beside me choose that and it looks good. 

One look you know the noodles taste like rubber band. With all due credit, the air stewardess offered to change for me when she saw that I didn't finish my food but maybe I am just too overdose with flying... 

Dragon Air 7pm flight to Beijing

I have to say that Dragon Air offered better food and service than Air China! Unfortunately my experience was marred by another flight delay where my 7pm flight only took off at 915pm and i reached Beijing after midnight. 

The food was so much better in terms of both presentation and taste. 

The appetizer was scallops and prawns. Followed by steam rice with beef. 

Then it ended off with a few choices of Hagen Dazz ice cream and I picked the mango flavor. Yummy. 

Shangri-La World Summit

It was always ironic. I get to stay in good hotels but never get to enjoy it 

The lobby is at 64th floor so you can imagine the view outside. 

Nice his and hers washing basins and the toothbrush comes with Colgate. 

Nice bathtub which I am too tired to use. 

Welcome fruit basket and chocolates which I didn't get to enjoy. 

A very comfortable bed which I only get to sleep in at 2am and my meeting is at 9am the same day. 

This room is huge but I think the corporate rate was reasonable at RMB 1580 before taxes. 

Don't know what to say about the view. It feels so dirty and polluted. The PM2.5 is for sure more than 100 and that is on the low side this morning. 

A day full of meetings after meetings and I caught the last flight out at 00:10 feeling exhausted but just in time for my CNY eve dinner...

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