Saturday 30 September 2023

Month of September 2023

For my school going children, this must be one of the best months in recent years. Their holidays began on 1 Sep (due to Presidential Election) and lasted till 11 Sep. Then there were other days where it's either HBL or PSLE sessions, therefore necessitating that they stayed at home. To make life more interesting, we decided to go on a quick getaway. So I had already done the search for flight and hotel deals a month before and came across a good one with Scoot flight to Phuket for an average of $188 per head, including luggage. Finding a hotel was more difficult not because of availability but rather for the right price. In my mind, I had settled on Kamala beach area and the options were quite pricey for the better locations. One fine day, I was browsing online and found a suitable two bedroom apartment at Hyatt Regency. I didn't expect such a luxury choice and was excited on the arrival day.

We landed in the evening and were shuttled to the hotel. Check in was smooth and we wanted to have a quick dinner before resting for the night. When we got to the apartment, a shock awaited as the two bedrooms actually had a shared bathroom in between them, meaning if one was to shower, two sets of doors needed to be closed. The wife's face turned further pale upon realizing the doors had no lock and it was too late to do anything. She had to endure sharing the bathroom with a bunch of messy boys. Our concern was made known to the reception after breakfast the next day. The shift manager came over, checked the computer and promptly offered to transfer us to interconnecting rooms. Thereafter, we proceeded to Kamala beach for half day soak in the sun and sea. The boys enjoyed frisbee and just bobbing in the waves. A simple meal later and we were back to the hotel. The wife was much happier after moving into the new rooms and the sea view was a plus point. After shower, around 5pm, the day turned better as we wind down at the hilltop Regency Lounge which presented a breathtaking view of sunset as we munched on a buffet of food and drinks, all free! Our third day was spent lazing at the hotel pool followed by a visit to Patong area for massage. It was crowded with beachgoers dressed casually (maybe too little at times), hanging around cafes and roadside stalls. The last day was a very early morning flight back, so we had to miss the delectable hotel breakfast. All in, this was an enjoyable vacation with a great hotel, food and pleasant weather throughout. The timing was about right as it's 70% tourist capacity and the monsoon season has yet to begin. Total expenses came up to $3000. We are already contemplating whether to do the same next year, in separate rooms of course.

Soon after, I had to go on a one day business trip to KL. Finished walking an exhibition, met a few new people and caught up with old friends. The atmosphere was lively and a working day was over just like that. The most interesting thing I ate was at Din Tai Fung (halal certified) as I ordered their signature dumplings. Instead of pork, the filling used chicken which was alright but I prefer the original recipe. Simply based on the food bills, it's clear that average locals would be tight on budget, much like Singapore's situation.

Tip: Michel Genet Blanc De Blanc 2014, fantastic find with balanced stone fruits, a crowd pleaser

Friday 15 September 2023

Finance Investment Movement 37

Two months ago, I wrote about food inflation (see here). Now, I'm sad to find out that my favourite wanton mee stall has closed for good.  There was no notice pasted during my final visit. Then when I walked past later, the spot was already vacated. The owners (mother and son) decided to retire. They chose not to inform and kept it low profile. This loss of a two decades relationship was too sudden and I would have loved to thank them properly for feeding my family. In its place now is another wanton mee stall (the irony) but this one comes with a "branded" name that operates many branches across the island. The ongoing cost of running a business is not easy. In the industry where I work, there's a message floating around that contains a list of companies with late or missed payment recently, indicated with one to three red flags. Among them, there are well known names as well as those with a long history. Something doesn't feel right. For all the reassurance that Singapore would not go into recession this year, to me, it's like a gradual decline in that direction. Next year will highlight the effects that one year of high interest rates have on our economy.

For many months, I have been investing on the safe side by putting most funds into SSB, T bills and fixed deposits. Occasionally, I do a few trades on options. These will likely remain the strategy for the rest of the year as I look to save cash and dip into high yield dividend shares when the price corrects. The Aud fixed deposit was renewed for one month at 2.81%, a terrible rate as I was hoping for closer to 3%. Then RHB came out with a 4.55% offer which is the deal I have been looking for. Unfortunately, I do not have a bank account with them and the money is already committed. Next month, I face the issue of having to park excess cash from SCB Esaver to somewhere as the current interest rate promotion will expire.

Tip: Tenbu Junmai Ginjo, fruity melon, savory rich with a medium body