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Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Afternoon Tea at Greyhound Cafe @ Orchard

290 Orchard Road #01-25 / 25A Paragon Mall, Singapore 238859
Tel: 6235 4078

What's long and lush and inviting? That's none other than Greyhound Cafe, of course. Housed in a long structure with 100-seater capacity and adorned with greenery as part of its decor, this popular trendy Thai cafe has been in Singapore for a few months already.

I wasted no time getting to know their desserts, drinks and service. The crew was rather friendly, but the manager provided the most personable service of all. Menu comprised of a good variety of Thai dishes with an Italian twist. Oh, by the way, do you know that this cafe evolved from a fashion brand in Bangkok?

In a dilemma over the Classic Chocolate Cake and Mille-crepe Mango Cake, I asked for recommendations from one of the staff. He suggested the former, so I tried the Classic Chocolate Cake (SGD$9.80), drizzled with rich chocolate sauce plating by the side.  The cake was nicely moist, with lovely chocolate taste but not too sweet.

It went perfectly with my Hot Cocoa (SGD$5.00), which fortunately (or unfortunately) was a lot milkier in taste than I had bargained for.

I also tried the Longan Juice - this was sweeter in comparison with the Hot Cocoa above, but I liked the dried longan fruit at the bottom of the drink.

Overall, an interesting place for my business discussion, and a stunning one at that. I shall be delighted to return to Greyhound Cafe to try the other dessert that I had been eyeing, as well as some of those delectable-looking Thai dishes on the menu.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

6 Tips for Real Estate Salesperson (RES) Exams Preparations

You are all geared up for the upcoming RES (Real Estate Salesperson) Exams, which takes place every 4 months now (February, June, October), and under the regulations of the Council For Estate Agencies (CEA). Presuming you don't know how or where to start studying for it, allow me to let some of these facts and tips sink in, and hopefully help you along your journey to passing of the RES Exams.

Step 1:  read all the guidelines and information about the exams
Yes, I mean all that you need to know, and understand about the examination format, syllabus, topics covered, passing rates, requirements etc. These information are more important than you would expect. A good source to start would be the CEA Website

Step 2: believe that it is one of the most difficult exams you have ever taken
This is coming from someone who holds certifications from many different regulatory bodies, as well as academic institutions. Yes, I love studying and obtaining certifications; learning never grows old. I failed at my very first attempt because I refused to believe in its difficulty level (I studied while playing movie clips in the background), believing that a combination of textbook knowledge and common sense would get me through). It is only when you are down at the exam halls, you'd realise the questions are formulated not in a straightforward manner, but they ask a lot of questions on scenarios, to ensure that you really understand a concept and are applying it. 

Step 3: attend RES Course under a recognised provider
Attending RES Course under a recognised training provider is mandatory, and each course attended is valid for 2 years. Meaning to say, you have 6 attempts at the exams before needing to re-take another RES Course. I heard merits about a few training providers and trainers - so do your research before signing up. I took mine under Hastor - where the trainers provide nearly round-the-clock support and assistance via Whatsapp group chats.  You can claim training fees via SkillsFuture credits or if you are an NTUC member, via UTap.

Here is a list of recognised training providers (info correct as at March 2019):

Photo Source:

Step 4: additional reading materials
Attending an RES course gives you the basic fundamentals of understand the real estate markets, rules and regulations etc in Singapore. On top of that, there is a lot of reading up on other legislations because anything can come out (trust me).  It also depends on the notes and training materials given by your course provider. Some notes are less informative or inclusive than others.

You can start with some information here at Mdm. Celeste Ng's website.

On top of these, other reading materials may include:-

4. Basic knowledge obtained from the various authorities' websites such as HDB, CPF, MinLaw sites etc

Step 5: lots of practice 
As the anticipated questions are an enigma, lots and lots of practice is vital. Mock examination papers can be purchased online - whether you prefer to attempt online or use hardcopy mock exam questions. I learned a lot from practice papers because they also test on knowledge outside of my course notes, such as commercial subletting ratio, showroom guidelines, etc. 

On top of that, you can also join revision classes to strengthen and fortify your knowledge. There are paid revision classes by the course providers, as well as free revision courses conducted by property groups under PropNex, Huttons, ERA etc.  Attending revision courses is also a good way to meet and interact with students from other training courses - who may have questions or information to share with you that your course provider did not furnish.

Personally I wrote a lot of my own notes and drew mind-maps because writing them down myself, made me remember the information better (lots of memorisation is involved). 

Step 6: the  battle begins...
By now, you should be equipped with a lot of information on real estate in Singapore, the market and marketing strategies, rules and regulations, legislations etc. This includes remembering the various tax rates (buyer's stamp duties, additional buyer stamp duties, seller stamp duties, the various types of property tax, HDB housing financing schemes such as housing grant, additional grant & special housing grant, registration fees for RES and agencies, professional indemnity insurance required, etc).

Personally I did not buy or use a Financial Calculator at all during the examination because I found the formulae too complex for me. I skipped all the calculation questions but you shouldn't try to do that - in case a certain Paper 2 bases many questions on loan / mortgage calculations.

Have a good night's rest, remember your coffee shot or chicken essence in the morning for energy; bring along your NRIC and examination confirmation printout, 2B pencil, eraser, calculators and a sweater lest the exam hall is cold. 

All the best for your RES Exams!

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Eyelash Extensions, Tummy Slimming Massage & Manicure @ Ease Beauty Spa

131 Jurong East St. 13, #01-251 Singapore 600131
Tel: 6255 5781

Ease Beauty Spa is a one-stop ladies' only beauty spa, conveniently located at Jurong East within the banking district. The founders are 2 young and beautiful Singaporean ladies with many years of experience in the beauty sector. Ease Beauty Spa provides many services including facials, massage, manicure, pedicure, eyelash extensions, eyebrow embroidery etc - basically most of the beauty treatments that we females enjoy so much.

I tried out several services at their parlour, since it is a one-stop service. The first was the Tummy Slimming Massage (SGD$68.00), an intensive massage targeted at the reducing tummy fats by way of methodical series of kneading, etc. Pure Ginger Oil is rubbed on the abdomen area before the massage commenced, evoking a lovely warmth that makes me confident that my fats were being burned up surely. I also would like to comment that I was surprised at the vast spaciousness of their Treatment Room.

my natural eye lashes before the eye lash extension

eye lash extension in order

Next service I tried was the Eye Lash Extensions (SGD$60.00 onwards). I have seen many friends doing eye lash extensions, and the elongated lashes looked so beautiful. But I have also witnessed some of them in pain during their extension treatment sometime ago (elsewhere), so I have never thought of trying it until now. Zeris is a good persuader. :)

The Eye Lash Extension session took around 1.5 hours, a meticulous lash-by-lash attachment that emitted zero discomfort at all. I must have fallen asleep during the session itself, because when I was woken up, I noticed long, fluttery lashes that did not feel heavy at all; in fact, they did not feel any different. Yet whenever I look into the mirrors I could not help smiling because these beautiful lashes made my eyes look larger, and I saved so much time now that I do not see the need to use eyeliners and eye-shadow.

Finally, I also did Gel Manicure and Gel Pedicure with them. They use really comfortable massage chairs here so we could enjoy a lovely back massage while getting our nails treated. For my toenails, I chose a simple silver color.

For my fingernails, I tried the currently trendy Cat's Eyes Gel Manicure, where the colors look dark like reflections from different angles. The special design (and claimed to be the only nail salon offering this design) is the floral design that looked really good and feminine.

Updates: went back for another round of Gel Manicure in these pretty princessy hues.

Overall, I enjoyed the beauty treatments here and the warm hospitality of Zeris and crew. I will be back to do an 6D Eyebrows aka "Misty" under Ease Beauty Spa again soon.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Outfit of the Day - black cold shoulder blouse with gold rose

"Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. 
All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with 
others, drink the whole bottle." - Paulo Coelho

Black cold-shoulder blouse with netted neckline and gold rose embroidery details, making a bold statement. Suitable for casual outings, events, hanging out with the ladies and travelling.

Black blouse: Kiyo (SGD$59.90)
Earrings: BeDazzled

Monday, 6 May 2019

The House-Hunting Series [i] - Seeking The Dream Home

I hope you enjoyed The Nuptial Series (read them here) when I was planning for,  and preparing for my wedding between 2015 to 2016. The series detailed our research and hunt for wedding photographers, the proposal, wedding venues, wedding gowns, leading right up to the Big Day, and even what to expect of married life.

The series was followed by The Honeymoon Series (read them here), detailing our honeymoon - how we planned it, who we engaged, what to prepare for the long trip, and the actual tour across Europe and Dubai, UAE.

1 year into the marriage, we began our house-hunt, that's when I began writing this House Hunting Series, sharing the process of selling, securing and moving into our new place. I hope you find this short series of real life experience useful in your own hunt for the dream home as well. Have fun reading!

Like most couples in Singapore, our first matrimonial home was a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat right after marriage - ours was a comfortable, mid-floor, spacious flat located in the West of Singapore. I wanted a brand new home for us, before we started our own little family, so the house hunting began.


There were so many choices to choose from - a brand new Built-To-Order (BTO) flat, resale flats (which gave us even more choices, including "endangered" housing such as maisonette, jumbo flats etc), Executive Condominium (EC) flats, or a private Condominium unit.  We tested waters a little here, assessing our options based on income, CPF savings, cash savings, and bank loan available.

I am not a fan of anything that's 2nd-owned or "pre-loved", so that eliminated our options of resale flats or resale condominiums. It helps to have some kind of filters, of course, so that we can be more focused on our search.

As we currently have an older HDB flat, we weighed our options for the new home. Would we be able to retain this flat for rental purpose while we purchase a new private property? Or do we sell this flat for cash proceeds to fund the new dream home?

Because there were so many choices for us to choose from, so many newly-launched projects as well, we spent some time visiting show flats to understand each project better.  We also went to HDB website to check on the newly-released BTOs and Sale of Balance Flats. On top of that, we also visited newly-TOP condominium units where existing owners had no intention of moving in. These exercises helped us a lot so we knew the type of amenities, facilities and layout etc we could choose to have, both within and around the new dream home.

However, we did have a dilemma - to remain in the West or to move to the East? Most of our family members have moved to the Eastern part of Singapore, so it would make sense for us to move there to, to be closer to families. But most of the new EC flats (during the time we were hunting for our dream home) were located in the Western part of Singapore, or at least, the North-western areas.

What was the time-frame we gave ourselves to move? That was also an important consideration for us. If we could afford to wait for 3-4 years, then a new BTO flat or new Condominium project would be ideal for us. I wanted us to start a family within these 2 years, and to be honest, I hated our current flat because it had been used by his family members for 15 years prior to me moving in, so it was, in a way, "second hand". 

With that, we further eliminated new BTO and Condominium launches, and focused on the pool of newly-TOP Condominium units where owners were not looking to move in. We also decided to focus on the East of Singapore, for that matter. This made our house hunt a lot easier, as I concentrated on fixing viewing merely for projects that obtained TOP between 2017 - 2018, but were listed as "brand new" and "not lived in" by their respective agents.

We more or less determined on the exact project we wanted to move in, because of its resort-like theme, and there were about 5 swimming pools in the premises. We made offers on a couple of units, and got a top floor with lush greenery views! 

If you are buying a Condominium (be it EC or private), what are some factors to consider?
  • size and layout of the unit
  • location and views of the unit (i.e. far from main / side gate? Pool view but do many people pass by your ground floor unit? Are you facing BBQ pits? Etc)
  • developers' reputation and past records (i.e. are projects by them deemed "problematic"?)
  • pricing, of course
  • facilities within the condo premises (swimming pools? gym? tennis courts? KTV? squash courts? billiard? what do you need?)
  • amenities around the condo location (food centres? shopping malls? MRT station? nearby construction sites? good schools? etc)

The next few weeks were a blur of visiting the conveyancing law firms, signing agreements and other paperwork, getting the bank assessment and loan secured, etc.

For bank loans, do check out different banks and their rates. Some offer fixed rates throughout, whereas others offer floating rate options. You can talk to a range of different loan bankers to share these information with you, or engage a Loan Broker who has access to all the banks and can help you take care of the comparison.

We also settled the mortgage insurance just in case something happens to one or both of us. This is VERY important - especially if you have young children (wouldn't want to leave them homeless, would you?). 

Of course, now we also had to start selling the existing HDB flat, and shop for furniture for the new home.   

Stay tuned for The House-Hunting Series Part 2 and Part 3 for these details. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Tackling Thailand - playing in Phuket

Conquered another part of Thailand recently, besides the usual Bangkok, Koh Samui and Pattaya. This time, we headed to Phuket Island, which has its own airport, so it made travelling more convenient. The flight was around 1 hour, 30 minutes. What did we do in Phuket, where did we stay in, and what dishes did we feast on this time round?

Phuket is a very scenic island with lots of lovely beaches such as Kata Beach, Karon Beach, Phatong Beach, etc. Besides beautiful views to take strolls or chill out against, water sports also form part of the itinerary. We went island-hopping during one of the days so we explored more than our fair share of gorgeous seasides.

113/1 Moo 6 Tambon Paklok, Phuket, Thalang Phuket 83100, Thailand
Tel: +66 76 336 200
Website: http://aopograndmarina.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aopograndmarina

A beautiful and halcyon marina where one could enjoy the views, charter a yacht out to the seas, take photos or just chill at the Port of Call Restaurant or Deck Bar located right at the marina itself. I don't know about you, but I could stare at the yachts at the marina for hours. We booked an Andaman catamaran boat under the operator Blu Anda, which brought us island-hopping.

Nong Thale, Krabi Town, 81000 Thailand

Koh Hong Island is nestled on crystal clear waters and has two stunning twin bays at its side; high cliffs and white sands also add to its picturesque beauty. We tried snorkeling here, as well as some swimming.

Nong Thale, Krabi Town, 81000 Thailand

A small isle located behind Koh Hong Island, between Koh Yao Noi and Krabi Coast, this remote paradise is a popular spot for island wanderers. Its peculiar dome-like shape is covered with thick lush foliage and links to a thick strip of sand that seems to divide the waters. When the tide is high, the waters would cover the entire strip of sand, merging into one.

I couldn't find the address for this small little mysterious fisherman's village that we visited- had thought it was Koh Panyee but it did not have the crafts shopping section. It should be in the Krabi district, near Koh Hong and Pak Bia Island for sure, since it was our in-between stop.

It was here that we were exposed to the many types of sea creatures, got to hold some of them (such as the puffer fish and lobsters, had lunch surrounded by cooling breezes, and had fun kayaking in the waters. This was part of the island-hopping itinerary.

Yot Sane 1 Chaofa Road, Karon (Chalong), Mueang Phuket 83100, Thailand
Tel: +66 81 891 3827
Website: http://phuket-big-buddha.com
Opening Hours: 6.00am to 7.00pm
Admission is free of charge.

Located at the Chalong district on Nakkerd Hills, this 45 metres tall Buddha statue is created out of concrete and adorned with white Burmese jade marble. From this temple, one can glimpse the beauty of Southern Phuket island. At the side of this white Buddha statue, there is a beautiful golden Buddha statue as well.

195 Rat U Thit Road, Jungceylon Mall, Patong 83150, Phuket, Thailand
Tel: +66 08 69 422 226
Website: http://www.pimnaraspa.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PimnaraSpaThailand

I believe that one shouldn't leave Thailand or a resort holiday without a good massage, therefore we headed to Pimnara Spa for a good 60 minutes classic massage at only 500 baht! Clean settings and polite uniformed staff endeavor to deliver a good bone-cracking massage that lets you feel rejuvenated and relaxed at the end of it.

187/1-4 Thanon Ratuthit Songroipi Rd, Tambon Patong, Amphoe Kathu, Chang Wat Phuket 83150, Thailand
Tel: +66 63 081 5992
Website: http://30mintoescape.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/30mintoescape
Opening Hours: 11.00am to 10.00pm daily
Fees: Adults 690 Baht / Children 370 Baht

Be an investigator for 30 minutes as you and team are locked in a room (Robbers or Temple) trying to break the code that enables you to escape from the room. Pretty exciting, and good game for teamwork for sure.

59/26 Moo 5, Si Sunthon Thalang Phuket 83110, Thailand
Tel: +66 76 617 747
Website: http://www.atvphuket.com

An exciting and different way of touring the island, cutting through rough roads, farms, plantations and rainforests etc, on these steady 4-wheeled vehicles that are automatic, safe and easy to operate. Plus, they will have staff members riding alongside your entourage to assist and steer your ATV back on track whenever necessary.

To me, no holiday is complete without shopping, and that makes Phuket no exception. We were exposed to a variety of shopping environment - larger malls, smaller malls, and night market for our buying needs.

Wichit, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000, Thailand
Tel: +66 76 291 111
Website: http://www.centralfestivalphuket.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CentralPhuketFanpage

If you are familiar with Central World Shopping Centre in Bangkok, this new multi-storey mall should be no stranger to you. Spacious and containing many retail shops as well as cafes, restaurants, etc - be prepared to hang out here for hours. Familiar names such as H&M, Aldo, Charles & Keith, Segafredo, Bebe etc are all here for your shopping and cafe-hopping pleasure.

200 Tambon Patong, Amphoe Kathu, Chang Wat Phuket, 83150, Thailand
Tel: +66 76 600 111
Website: http://www.jungceylon.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JungceylonFanpage

A huge mall with Robinsons, cinema and lots of shops within its building, and many retail shops, restaurants, cafe and beauty parlours making up the tenants, this mall is another pulse of the city, allowing visitors to be kept entertained within its walls for hours.

104 Moo 5 Chalermprakiet Ror 9 Road, Rasada, Muang, Phuket 83000 Thailand
Website: https://www.phuket.net/directory/shopping/tesco-lotus-supercenter

A 3-storey shopping centre whose anchor tenant is Tesco, a huge supermarket where we bought all our groceries and foodstuff for the next few days of the villa stay. There are also smaller shops and push carts retailing clothes, shoes, manicure services etc, as well as familiar brands such as Watsons and Starbucks. There are also quite a few restaurants for one to fill their stomachs.

Patak Rd, Tambon Karon, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket 83100, Thailand
Tel: +66 98 885 6306
Website: http://www.phuket.com/shopping/karon-shopping.htm

A small night bazaar comprising many stalls retailing local goods - clothes, ornaments, crafts and some food stalls. We thought the variety was not impressive, but what really put us off was the attitude of some of the vendors. One lady was loudly singing in English to her stall neighbor that we were probably "Only shopping, no buying". Damn right lady, with such an attitude, you can be sure that you merchandise won't move.

There are plenty of choices to stay at Phuket, from seafront hotels and villas to smaller hostels for the backpackers. We put up at this super-new villa located at Kata Beach area, pretty secluded, and enjoyed the stay tremendously. The owner is a pretty lady who, together with her female crew, ensured that we had a good stay throughout.

Photo Source: http://baan-st-tropez.com/3-bedroom-villa

Photo Source: http://baan-st-tropez.com/4-bedroom-villa

12/19 Patak rd, Soipatak10, T.Karon , Kata Beach Phuket, Karon, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83100, Thailand
Tel: +66 86 364 2269
Website: http://baan-st-tropez.com

Baan St. Tropez Villa has a variety of different housing - villas with 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms. All villas come with its own pool overlooking the lush foliage and further beyond - the sea. Facilities are complete, as are kitchen-ware. The villas are clean and rather tastefully-decorated; housekeeping takes place everyday.

Here at Phuket, Thai food and seafood were our main cuisine - we got to experience Thai food and "local cuisine" referring to Southern Thai food, which makes up traditional here at Phuket.

Photo Source: https://www.facebook.com/baanchomviewkata

69/15 Kata Noi Road, Kata Noi Beach, Phuket 83100, Thailand
Tel: +66 95 352 5836
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/baanchomviewkata

Views were magnificent at this restaurant, overlooking Kata Beach and offering breezes throughout the evening. We had good Thai cuisine and seafood dishes here, such as Green Curry, Garlic Prawns, Basil Chicken, Clear Tom Yum Soup, to name a few.

Rawai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83100, Thailand
Tel: +66 76 381 212
Website: http://www.kaneang-pier.com

This restaurant was a surprise for us, having entered through the super vintage-looking main entrance, expecting the interior to be just as traditional. But what greeted us was a beautiful pier, sea view and natural alfresco dining settings. It was here we enjoyed some delectable Southern Thai cuisine, the best being the Yellow Crab Curry, Papaya Salad and Red Tom Yum Soup. The staff crew provided superb service too - attentive; they even took the trouble of retrieving a balloon dropped accidentally into the pier while we were dining!

104 Moo 5 | Tesco Lotus Extra Phuket, Phuket Town, Phuket 83000, Thailand
Website: https://www.mkrestaurant.com/en

Always a favorite restaurant of ours when we are in Thailand, we stumbled upon MK Restaurant at Lotus Tesco Super Center, and had lunch there. We shared the Wanton (meat dumpling) and Roast Duck Spinach Noodles, as well as the Roast Pork Noodles.

Photo Source: http://bluanda.com

None supplied - seems the only information I got about this restaurant is from Blu-Anda website. A hut-like restaurant where we had our breakfast and buffet dinner during the island-hopping trip. While out at the floating fisherman's village, we were served set meals "pin-to" style (what we probably call "tingkat" in Singapore) - round metal tiered tins of food. One could choose seafood, poultry or vegetarian.

Overall, our Phuket trip was very gratifying and pleasurable; I was glad to be able to try out so many activities I wouldn't have gotten to try usually. The first day was a rainy one, as well as the morning of our 2nd day - but none of these days dampened our moods, because there were myriad of activities to keep one entertained even if we had to stay indoors.