Tag

slider

Browsing

The chances are high that you use a smartphone on a daily basis to speak with friends, to look at the weather forecast and to access your email. You could very well be employing this very same device to purchase products and services throughout the online community. The rise of digital sales has become one of the most important industry trends throughout Singapore and this movement is expected to gain pace in the coming years. This brings up an interesting question. Might there come a day when physical retail outlets are no longer viable options for the average consumer? What does this mean for the entire marketplace and how might this impact your finances? These are all very important questions that deserve a bit more clarity.

Let’s take a look at what some of the experts have to say.

The Rise of the Digital Sales Experience

There is no doubt that virtual sales solutions are on the rise. It is now possible for you to purchase a product with a swipe of your finger. Transactions take place within seconds and the presence of massive online shipping services such as Amazon ensure door-to-door deliveries within a timely fashion.

Of course, all of these trends are very attractive to the average consumer. There are two main reasons for this observation. The first involves an undeniable sense of convenience; especially for those who lead busy lives. The second is associated with cost benefits. As the amount of online competition continues to grow, the average retail seller will be forced to cut prices in order to retain his or her client base. These very same entrepreneurs will employ modern e-commerce platforms such as Shopify Singapore to create a seamless consumer experience. This is why customers are taking advantage of what the online community has in store.

Getting Back Down to Reality

All of the observations mentioned above are quite compelling for those who believe that brick-and-mortar sales may soon go the way of the dinosaur. However, this hardly signifies that such establishments will disappear overnight. The fact of the matter is that countless consumers still prefer a hands-on experience when purchasing a product or committing to a service. This is why we are likely to witness another interesting trend.

Traditional retail establishments will be looking to bridge the proverbial gap between a digital presence and their physical outlet. In other words, they will take advantage of online promotional tools in an effort to entice clients to visit their store. This double-pronged approach should produce stellar results and many owners will be able to vastly increase their existing client base. The Internet is not nearly as much of a threat as some of us have been led to believe.

We are nonetheless living in extremely interesting times. The notion of virtual sales was fictional only 20 years ago. This is why it is rather difficult to predict what the future may have in store. Either way, those who are able to stay ahead of the curve should enjoy success.

Hi there! How are you doing? Today, I thought about doing some throwback on my recent trip, but then I realised I’ve already done that. I wanted to do some review on some island in the Philippines, but then I was not in the zone yet to cover that story. So, while I was going through a mini writer’s block, I went online and saw some news on Jetstar.

Suddenly, it clicked!

I haven’t been doing airline reviews for quite a while, so, why not spice it up a bit right? So, come with me on this journey to discover the Jetstar flight experience up close and personal. Okay, maybe not too up close and personal because I can’t get you on the plane now. Just use your imagination for now!

Where Can I Find Jetstar Flight?

That’s a good question! Nowadays, you can easily find best Jetstar flights online because as technology advances and develops, so does the opportunity for businesses that are connected to an online system. There are two places you can get cheap flight booking online for Jetstar – the airline’s official website, OR the various online travel companies, which there are plenty to choose from.

What Does Jetstar Offer?

A LOT.

Okay, bear in mind that Jetstar is a low-cost budget carrier; hence, don’t expect to be served a bottle of fine champagne when you’re on board. Heck, I would be the first in line to go for that if it’s available.

My first Jetstar flight experience in 2006 (13 years ago)!

Comfort Packs

I don’t care if it’s a short-haul or a long haul flight because all I really want is to stay comfortable throughout the journey. So, Jetstar has this wonderful idea of assembling what they call “Comfort Packs” where inside, you will find all the necessary travel essentials that will keep you extremely comfortable throughout the flight. Now, these packs do vary between flights but you might more or less have the things listed below:

  • An inflatable neck support pillow
  • Lip balm and hand cream from Zenology cosmetics
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Earplugs
  • Socks
  • Eye mask (gift from heaven!)
  • Jetstar pen
  • Take-home blanket (another gift from heaven!)

Oh, the list is courtesy from Jetstar’s official website, so don’t call me out for plagiarising.

Entertainment

Apart from reading a book or heading to sleep, Jetstar has got a large collection of entertainment to keep you company.

The in-flight entertainment includes children shows (a big help for those travelling with children), games, music library, plus the latest movies from all over the world. So, you wanna know what’s currently in the movies department? Well, they have Aquaman, Captain Marvel, The Lego Movie 2, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – good fun for the kids!

Lounges

For passengers who are in Economy Starter Max or are members of the Qantas Club, travelling will always be comfortable for you even if your flight gets delayed for several hours. Why? Because you get to cosy up in the lounges, of course! But of course, if you have deadlines to meet and got delayed; yeah, I don’t think a first-class lounge will help cool down those frustrations.

Anyways, here in the lounge, you’ll be able to enjoy the unlimited food and drinks, the bar service, free Internet access and many more. If you are rolling with the Business Class, then, I bet you will get access to the highs and ups. Does anyone remember that fine champagne which I mentioned earlier? Maybe wishes can come true after all.

Frequent Flyer

I think this is not something that you will find surprising. If you are a frequent flyer, you will get the VIP treatment that you want. The good thing is, Jetstar’s loyalty programme allows you to benefit from travelling frequently. With Jetstar, you will find varieties of flyer partners like the Qantas Frequent Flyer, Emirates Skywards, JAL Mileage Bank and Lotusmiles.

With quite a big net to collect and spend your points whenever you need it, I must say that this is quite a good reason to take Jetstar.

Alrighty then, I think I am at my wits end with this one and I’m already tired haha but that doesn’t mean you won’t be hearing from me any time soon. I have plenty of other adventures coming in the future and I cannot wait to share my experience so that YOU could pack your stuff and go experience it for yourself.

Until next time, bye-bye!

A decade ago, I used to fancy Hatchbacks because they are small, practical, and rather efficient. As I move on later in life, Hatchbacks are no longer practical because they just can’t fit everybody inside. While Sedans are more spacious and have a bigger boot space, they too can only accommodate a maximum of 4 passengers and 1 driver.

This is where MPVs (Multi-Purpose Vehicles) / 7-seater cars have an edge in the automotive scene.

In recent times, It seems to me that there is a surge of people driving MPVs (Multi-Purpose Vehicles) / 7-seater cars and very often, I ask myself this rhetorical question, “How often do all these seats get occupied?”. When an airline opens a new route or operates an existing flight, every seat is measured in dollars and cents. Similarly, I often wonder what is the benefit-cost ratio of driving a 7-seater and what I should be looking out for if I were to buy one.

I have driven and sat in a couple of 7-seaters and they include the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, Volvo XC40, Toyota Vellfire, Kia Carnival, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienta, and more recently, the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition). Now, all of them have got its own set of pros and cons and in this article, I will be sharing about my driving experience with the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) and what I think about it.

Design

Traditionally, MPVs/7-seater tend to be rather boxy in shape but in recent times, they have become rounder and more curvy. Even then, if you were to compare the designs of the different MPVs/7-seater in the market, you would notice that the continental ones tend to be more stylish and tastefully designed. However, preferences for style and design can be rather subjective because it depends very much on the individual.

Is the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) a head-turner? Probably yes but in fact, most MPVs aren’t; at least unlike the coupes, convertibles and SUVs. However, the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) does make the driver feel good because of its big profile and it’s distinct badge at the front.

Stylishly designed and sporting a bold and dynamic appeal with its sculpted lines, striking dual-tone paintwork, sculpted C-shaped LED daytime-running lights and hallmark rear 3D LED Edge Lights, the design of the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) is definitely one of its kind.

Comfort & Convenience

The Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) has a couple of features that would make the driving experience very comfortable and convenient.

Some of the features include the handsfree key card with walk-away auto lock, the BOSE premium sound system, the ample number of storage compartments, and the front-row electric memory seats with massage function.

Now, what I really like about the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) would be the BOSE premium sound system because it just makes the driving experience feel more upbeat when I leave home to work and vice-versa. Having said that, I personally feel that the massage function on the electric memory seats is quite an overkill unless you have to drive for long hours/long distances to Malaysia on a regular basis.

From a passenger’s perspective, one thing that I dislike about the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) in terms of comfort would be the last row of seats. They are pretty tight and cram and would probably be more comfortable and suitable for children than adults.

Safety

The Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) is packed with lots of safety features and that includes the Blind Spot Monitoring System Electronic Stability Control, Anti-Slip Regulation Traction Control, Hill Start Assist, 6 airbags (front, side and curtain), and Isofix child seat and anchorage points.

Though Handsfree Auto-Park Assist (perpendicular, parallel and diagonal park assist modes) is also available, I prefer to trust my own judgement (pretty much the same reason why pilots do take-offs and landings manually) than to rely on the Handsfree Auto-Park Assist.

Driving Performance

The Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) is mated to a 1.5L turbo diesel engine with 260Nm of torque and a 7-speed Efficient Dual Clutch gearbox. Because of the diesel-powered engine, running costs would definitely be way cheaper than a petrol-powered car. Speed pick-up from standstill is a breeze but not so at the higher speed range; hence overtaking and cornering at the start would be more ideal.

Features

One feature of Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) that I also like is the retractable full-colour heads up display that displays all the relevant information that I need to know; including current speed, navigation commands, and driving aid instructions. These information are displayed comfortably within my line of sight and can be adjusted higher or lower as required.

What I Wish The Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) Would Have

While the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) packs a bunch of features such as a smart sliding centre console, a premium BOSE sound system which consist of 11 speakers and subwoofer, electric front seats with massage functions, and many more; I really do wish that the 7-seater would have other wonderful features such as an automatic power sliding door for the passengers and an automatic open/close car boot/trunk system. After all, most MPVs in the market have this added feature.

Overall

The MPV/7-seater market is a very competitive one and where the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) would stand out is its design and extra mileage per dollar. If design and lower operating costs are at the top of your list, the Renault Grand Scenic (Bose Edition) is a perfect choice.

There’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep, but for many of us, this can be hard to achieve and as rare as a pearl in an oyster. Your body and brain need that rest in order to repair and refresh your whole being for the new day. However, if you spend the night wrestling with sleep in close combat, you greet the morning grumpy and ill-prepared for what’s to come.

Vital for your 7 to 9 hours’ rest is a good bed. It needs to offer support for your spine and comfort for your pressure points. Not only this, but it should also be big enough to provide space for you to move as you travel through dreamland.

That’s right. Don’t judge a bed simply by lying on it (online outlets now offer home trials on mattresses for as long as 100 days), you need to know if it will give you ample room to roam during the night.

There are many reasons why you need a bigger bed, not least of all is your own proportions. Here are 4 factors to consider when buying your next mattress:

  1. Your width and length. Amazingly, we tend to settle for less than we need when it comes to a mattress. We take what we see in the showroom instead of finding the ideal bed elsewhere. Considering that a mattress should last you for up to 10 years and you’re going to spend 33% of your life in bed, doesn’t it make sense to invest in something that matches your body size and lifestyle?
  2. Lone sleeper? If you’re on your own, you still need extra space to get comfortable. Nowadays, there are many more mattress sizes than ever before. Check out the guide to see how you can broaden your options on a buying decision. Your mattress should be at least 4” longer than you are.
  3. Couple comfort. A standard double bed only gives each person 2’3” of space – that’s less than a baby gets in a crib! If you both lie on your backs, put your hands behind your head and your elbows are touching, that’s too little room for comfort. You’re going to end up disturbing each other since the average person moves around 60 to 70 times every night.
  4. Family time. What happens when your offspring join you in bed? Those infants can pack a decent punch and usually when you’re least expecting it. So, make sure your bed is family sized. And, remember, those little ones ramble around more than you do at night, you might as well factor that in when making a buying decision.

Since our current lifestyles include bedtime activities from eating to working, it makes sense that your mattress reflects this. Improve your chances at getting a good night’s sleep by getting a bigger bed – your body, brain and state of mind will thank you for it.

It has become a trend to do outdoor stuff and be immersed in nature, thus the rising popularity of outdoor sports. There are a lot of sports being enjoyed outside, and these have a lot of good feedback reported on the internet. Some even claimed that outdoor sports have changed their mood and helped them cope with daily stress and anxiety from work or school. Outdoor sports is not only a good way to get to know new people, but it is also a way to stay fit as well.

Get in with the trend and try these outdoor sports:

Cycling

This is one of the most popular activities that people, young and old, love—and it has a lot of health benefits too. While soaking in the scenery as you pedal down the park or a breathtaking trail, you can increase muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. Cycling also strengthens bones and improve posture and coordination as you burn off those extra calories. If you want to track progress as you cycle and improve your overall cycling experience, upgrade your bicycle with a few accessories like power meters.

Mountain Climbing

This gained popularity lately and for a good reason—the stunning view of nature and the surroundings from the top is undoubtedly spectacular. While it’s not exactly a piece of cake, there are a lot of training facilities offered around America to ensure that you’re doing good before you take on a mountain without supervision. When you do attempt a climb, make sure you have the necessary tools and accessories needed to make sure you’re safe to climb rocky slopes.

There are benefits as well to mountain climbing—it can improve stamina, endurance, and muscle strength because it uses lots of muscle groups. Since focus is necessary when climbing safely, it’ll help with concentration and mental stability.

Hiking

Some won’t even see this as a sport since it’s so relaxing and fulfilling, but hiking means you have to tread different terrains and walk for a long while before you can find a place to rest in. You have to build up stamina, endurance, and willpower to overcome the challenges and obstacles in your path. Since it can be difficult, hiking often requires mental focus, and it will help tone most of your muscles as well. You will also be well-rewarded with the beauty of nature as you hike up the hill and you might even meet some rare birds and animals!

Surfing

Don’t you just enjoy the sea and the breeze as it blows across your face when you ride the waves? It’s an amazing experience where you can learn how to balance and improve your confidence in life. Surfing is actually a good way to release stress, and it promotes you to be active. The best thing about it is you also get to swim and enjoy the view of the beach. Surfing improves cardiovascular fitness and, at the same time, helps your core and back strength.

Rowing

This is one of the most excruciating sports out there, but one of the best one if you aim to lose more weight. It will tone your muscles—both arms and legs, and it requires teamwork and focus as well. There are accessories that can help you track your vital signs and progress as well if you want to know how much you’ve improved, but overall, rowing is one of the most effective exercises out there.

Archery

This is one of the most relaxing activities on the list, and it doesn’t require much stamina and strength; in fact, it can be fun and make you competitive. Archery develops the focus and concentration, as well as patience. If you can hone these skills, it will help improve confidence, and it’s an awesome skill to show off to friends.

What are you waiting for? Grab your gear and head out those doors to try one—or more!—of these outdoor sports. Bring a friend to make it a more fun experience.

Seasons are changing, and summer is fast approaching. Adventures, new things to learn, and the sea are just a few things to get excited about during this sunny season. Before venturing forth, don’t forget to prepare accordingly because the blistering heat of the sun can get pretty intense. Ah, summer! One of the most anticipated seasons for both the young and the old. The bright sun, the clear blue sky—no wonder it’s the best time to get out and try out new things. With that said, here are five things to try this summer!

Going to an Amusement Park

Amusement parks are a summer staple for anyone, so for the people that haven’t tried yet, this summer may be the best time to do so! There are many amusement parks in the United States that you can go to, like the ever famous Disney parks! There are twelve of these across six different resorts, so one is sure to find a favourite park to go to.

On average, an amusement park will likely have around ten rides that are perfect for the thrill-seeking individuals. Amusement parks are also the perfect places to try new food as they will sometimes have themed food that is perfect for the summer season. There are also many stalls filled with minigames that anyone could enjoy. Try to visit an amusement park near you and experience the thrill that summer can bring!

Learn to Surf

When it comes to summer, the big blue ocean also comes to mind, so why not try surfing? Although surfing has a huge learning curve, trying to get into it is pretty easy since experiencing your first wave is just as exhilarating as you think! Learning the basics of surfing may sound complicated, but do not fret since there are many surfing classes available at known surfing spots. Don’t be afraid to test the waters!

With so many islands known for being great surfing beaches, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to travel around to these known spots too. Choose a country to go to that is known for beaches, and you are bound to find a great surfing spot there.

Take Up a New Hobby

Summer is also a great time to start taking up a new hobby. From learning how to cook to creating new art, there are many hobbies to choose from that are pretty easy to get into. One such hobby is photography. Since summertime is one of the best times to travel, taking photos is one of the best ways to make memories of these trips. Any photo-taking device can capture great moments, especially now that smartphones can do as much as DSLRs can; so take those aesthetic photos to your heart’s content!

Another hobby that is sure to be a big hit in the summer is swimming. With a number of beaches, lakes, or even pools to choose from, it wouldn’t be hard to get out there to take a swim.

Try Out Golf

Golf is another sport that you can learn during the summer season. With so many amazing beginner courses offered at golf courses, it wouldn’t take long for a prospective golfer to learn the ropes. Another great thing about golf is that you can ride around golf carts, making it easy to traverse from different parts of the field. Some people consider riding golf carts to be just as calming as it is to play the actual sport. Having a handy club car battery charger during these long cart rides will prove helpful too—you wouldn’t want to be stranded too far from your destination now, would you?

Finding a golf club that will help beginners is a great start, so don’t be afraid to try it out! They will teach you how to choose your club, find the right ball, and as well as the basics of the golf swings and stances.

Take a Road Trip

Road trips are also a great way to spend the summer outside the house. Take a ride with a group of friends or family, and enjoy the journey toward your destination! A cross-country road trip around the United States is a great way to bond with family and friends, especially since the time spent with each other will be long.

Before you set off on your adventure, don’t forget to check the vehicle as this will be where you spend most of your time. Make sure that the car is cleaned up and that the gas is full. Don’t forget to pack some snacks and lots of entertainment options, from music to movies. Lastly, don’t forget important documents like passports, licenses, and registrations. Better to be safe than sorry!

Summertime is a great time to try new things especially for doing activities outdoors. So jump out of the couch and go straight out to experience summer in full force!

The Napali Coast of Hawaii’s Kauai island could without a shadow of a doubt be called one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. Adding to the attraction of this wonderful and unspoiled part of the island is the fact that Kauai has not been subjected to the sorts of tourist pressures that many people believe has transformed the other islands in the chain that makes up Hawaii. This makes Kauai the perfect destination for those who simply want to enjoy the natural wonders of paradise – and nowhere will this enjoyment be more acute than when exploring the Napali Coast.

A jewel in the crown of an island also known as ‘The Garden Isle’; the Napali Coast at Kauai Island itself boasts a galore of natural wonders.

A stretch of mountainous coastline that stretches beyond 16 miles in length, every mile of the Napali Coast is filled with wonder. Valleys stretch into the pristine forest and are the first stop of cascading waterfalls on their journey towards the ocean. Sea caves echo with the boom of the surf while pristine beaches and offshore corals beg for exploration.

For those wishing to take in this natural wonder, there are numerous options available.

The first of these is to hike the Kalalau Trail. However, be warned that this is an adventure that is not for the fainthearted, especially people who have a fear of heights. The challenge of the hike means that camping for at least one night will be part of the adventure. However, the sheer beauty of the natural surroundings and the brilliance of the stars overhead do not make this a hardship.

The second way to take in the majesty of the Napali Coast is to do so via the water. There are numerous tour operators that ferry visitors from the North and South shores of the island to take in the magnificence of the coast. Those embarking on these excursions will have the choice of watching intensely for signs of sea life (including whales) from the comfort of the deck or plunging into the clear azure waters to enjoy some of the best snorkelling experience that Kauai has to offer. The leisurely experience will have most captains skirting the edges of the incredible peaks and valleys of the Nā Pali Coast State Park. Refreshments are usually served onboard and it is one of the most perfect ways to enjoy the magnificence of this coast with the entire family. A Napali Coast boat tour is definitely one of the top ways to experience the coast.

Sometimes, taking to the air is simply the best way to appreciate the grandeur of nature at her very best. Those wishing to take in the entirety of the Napali Coast and its varied environments might wish to explore the option of an airborne tour in the comfort of a small plane or a helicopter. Visitors will be treated to a spectacle of plunging waterfalls and verdant valleys, as well as the edge of the coast where it meets the saltwater. Your pilot will be more than willing to accommodate your requests to view the varied landscapes. This lends an air of freedom to what is already one of the highlights of any trip to Kauai.

Kauai is simply one of the most beautiful islands in the chain that is Hawaii and the Napali Coast is one of the most stunning natural destinations in the world. It is the essence of what makes Hawaii and its islands a destination of choice for tourists from all over the globe. Make sure that you do not miss it on your trip to this paradise on Earth.

Gift giving is one of the best ways to show someone how much you appreciate and love them and it should absolutely not feel like a chore. The moment you see a product and think that it will put a smile on the face of the receiver when opening it helps you know that you have just found the best present for that person. However, for some people, trying to find the ideal gift for a friend or a family member, or at least something that won’t end up in their trash, is one of the biggest sources of pre-holiday anxiety. But why does holiday gift-giving make us feel anxious and pressured when giving presents is supposed to make us happy? Psychologists say that some people are awful gift-givers precisely because they spend too much time trying to be considerate. So, if you are a bad gift giver; before you struggle to sort through the likes, dislikes, and wishes of the people on your holiday gift-giving list, here are a few tips to help you become better at buying gifts.

The Art of Thoughtful Gift Giving

Many people consider that sometimes the ideal gift isn’t about how much you give but how much love you put into it. Thoughtful giving is closely tied to compassion, love, and gratitude that you want to show to your loved ones. So, all you have to do is to swap the stress and anxiety of purchasing the perfect present for the true pleasure of generosity. As long as you share the gift from the bottom of your heart, it is very unlikely for your gift to end up in the trash of the receiver. Even a heartfelt note can be a gift itself as long as it reminds someone how much you care about them and cherish them. The easiest way to achieve mindful gift giving is to personalize each gift to the recipient and their values. Recall what they are passionate about, what makes them laugh, or what valuable memory you share with that person.

Pay Attention to What They Say

Sometimes, buying the ideal gift is actually easier than you think. If you are buying a gift for a person that you are very close to, it is very likely that he/she has mentioned what they wish or don’t wish for in one of your conversations. You can get a lot of inspiration from what that person says. For example, if your friend keeps whining about something that they constantly used but stopped working, all you have to do is to buy that thing that will solve their regular problem in their life.

Take A Look at Their Social Media Feed

Who would have imagined that you can actually do more with social media than chatting with your friends and liking their posts? You can actually become a spy for a little bit and go through the likes and hearts of your loved ones on their social media accounts. On their profiles, you will be able to see a whole list of places and pages that they have an interest in. From there, it is easier to find something that they would like to have.

Give the Gift of An Experience Rather than An Object

As mentioned before, psychologists believe that some people are bad at giving gifts because they think too much about the reaction the receivers will have when opening their gifts. However, as long as you know for sure that there is something in the world that would make the person that you are buying the gift for to laugh, cry out of joy, or hug you, then you should definitely go for it. Depending on the person, some people would rather like to receive an experience that makes them feel intense emotions. For example, you can buy them tickets to things that they are interested in, such as a concert of their favourite band, sports events, comedy shows, cooking classes, and the list goes on.

Give Them A Little Bit of Yourself

Giving is actually sharing something that you know it will make your loved ones happy, so share something that is meaningful to you. Therefore, if you have an item that has completely turned your life for good and you enjoy it a lot, there is nothing wrong with buying one for your friends or family as well. So, if you are absolutely in love with a book, a blanket, or a cosmetic product, then go ahead and give it as a present to share the things you love with them.

When in Doubt, Ask

You might be thinking that gift-giving should be a surprise and the person that you are buying for shouldn’t suspect anything. However, if you have absolutely no idea what they would wish for, then it is better to ask them than to buy something that they don’t like. Although they won’t look surprised while unwrapping the gift, you will know for sure that it is something that they have definitely wished for. 

Don’t Overdo the Gift Wrap

Gift wrapping is another tip you need to keep in mind.  Wrapping the present in a plain brown paper or decorating it with a beautiful satin ribbon is good enough to make it look classy and fashionable. Pretty wrapping can raise expectations for a gift and increase the disappointment of the receiver if the present does not live up to them.

Simple and Practical is Good

Sometimes, when shopping for gifts for our loved ones, we tend to think that a fancier and more expensive gift will be more appreciated when in fact, receivers can actually be happier with cheaper and more practical presents. It is wrong to think that things like price and the effort that you put into a gift matter when the person you are giving it to does not see the work or price tag. They will only focus on how your present will fit into their lives and become a useful tool. So, do not think that you have to go to the other end of the world and pay a fortune for a present, believing that it will be appreciated more. Instead, choose something that would actually be useful and meaningful for your friend or family member.

The world’s most popular musical, The Phantom of the Opera makes a triumphant and long-awaited return onto the world stage and truly, it is still a classic musical that never fails to captivate the hearts of audiences worldwide.

Phantom of The Opera is the tale of one haunted man who is battling with obsession and jealousy and seeking love from a woman after being shunned away for so long. Its dark past mixed together with fascinating music will completely entice you. From the costumes to the sets and the beautiful singing, Phantom of The Opera is truly mesmerising.

When Christine performed her rendition of “Think Of Me”, you could feel the emotions in her voice, and “The Music Of The Night” places an emphasis on the Phantom’s struggle with loneliness and how he relates it through his music.

Phantom’s obsession with Christine was rather extreme, especially when it resulted in unlawful crimes such as murder and kidnap. To some, it may be a romantic tale of unwavering love but for me personally, it portrayed a sign of unsoundness in one’s mind and heart.

After the show, we were given a chance to tour the backstage and it totally opened up my eyes because I saw firsthand the huge amount of effort and coordination that is required for the show to perform smoothly. Citing an example, we were told it requires almost 20 men to safely place the stairs in time for the masquerade scene! Working in tandem with the stage crew, the actors and musicians put their entire heart, mind, and soul into the production as they bring the audience through a wave of thrills, excitement, and anxiety.

Throughout the show, you’ll definitely be feeling all sorts of excitement and anxiousness as to what comes next. You would also come to understand why The Phantom of the Opera is still one of the best musicals in the history of theatre since its opening in London’s West End in 1986. It is truly a show not to be missed!

Show Times and Venue

The Phantom of the Opera is now showing at Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands from now till 8 June 2019, Tuesday-Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 pm & 8 pm and Sunday at 1 pm and 6 pm.

Ticket Prices & Discounts

Ticket prices start from SGD$75 (E Reserve tickets) and if you purchase your tickets through the Marina Bay Sands Box Office, you can enjoy a 30% Discount off all A Reserve, B Reserve and C Reserve tickets. *Applicable to Single seats only (i.e one ticket per transaction)

I have always been fascinated by Jing Yong’s novel, “The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre” and it was through this novel that I came to know about Wudang Mountain and Emei Mountain. Hence, when the opportunity to travel to Wudang Mountain came, I took the plunge and embarked on this epic journey that lasted 7 days.

Prior to this trip, I tried to do some research and get as much information as I could about the places that I will be visiting but it seems that most of the information available are written by Westerners who went there to learn martial arts. Hence, I decided to pen down my experience so that the information can be useful for those who are planning a trip to Wudang Mountain.

The Flight

There isn’t any direct flight from Singapore to Wudangshan. For this journey, I took a 4-hour Cathay Pacific flight from Singapore to Hong Kong and then another 3-hour Cathay Dragon flight from Hong Kong to Xi’An. The flights would typically cost about SGD$746 for a return trip.

The Cathay Pacific flight CX 714 and CX 715 (B777) were rather uncomfortable as the seats were pretty cramped and the non-touchscreen in-flight entertainment was rather old-fashioned with the old-school joystick control. On the contrary, the Cathay Dragon flight KA 943 and KA 946 (A330) were more comfortable and the in-flight entertainment system was way better and more modern than the Cathay Pacific flight.

The Accommodations

I put up at West Capital International Hotel for 2 Nights and Wudangshan Xian Guan (武当仙馆) for 4 Nights. Accommodation at Xi’An will cost about SGD$160 and accommodation at Wudangshan will cost about SGD$282.

Jinjiang West Capital International Hotel


Jinjiang West Capital International Hotel is located at the City Centre and I would personally recommend the hotel because of its location. There are multiple places of interests/attractions such as the Drum Tower, Muslim Quarter, City God Temple of Xi’An and etc, and they are all within walking distance from the hotel. Service was exceptional and the room was decent. The buffet breakfast spread is fabulous and I enjoyed it very much.

Wudang Xian Guan (武当仙馆)

I really enjoyed my stay at Wudang Xian Guan. Although I couldn’t find the property listing on Agoda, I found it on Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency. If you visit the English version of Ctrip i.e. Trip.com, Wudang Xian Guan is translated as “Taihe Health Care Home in Wudang Mountains”. Don’t be taken aback by the English translation though. I personally feel that the more appropriate English name for the property should be, “Wudang Immortals Inn”. The room has an oriental vibe and I look forward to waking up every morning because of the amazing forest view. The food served is mainly vegetarian and there is a large space just outside the hotel where one can practise Taichi in the morning. As the property is located next to the Cable Car Station, access to Tianzhu Peak/Golden Hall is really convenient. If you are looking for a place where you can do some introspection, this is definitely it.

The Currency

China uses the Renminbi and the typical exchange rate for 1 Singapore Dollar was about 5 Renminbi (RMB). As my flight transited at Hong Kong, I changed some Hong Kong Dollars as well and the exchange rate for 1 Singapore was about 5.8 Hong Kong Dollars (HKD).

What to Buy in Wudangshan

At Wudangshan, there are numerous martial art academies and temples; and at the various attractions/places of interest on the mountain, there are plenty of shops that sell local produce, swords, tea leaves, beads and etc. If you would like to buy some souvenirs for yourself or your family members and friends, I would suggest that you do that at the foot of the mountain where there are more varieties and it would also be cheaper.

Some items that I would also recommend getting would be tea leaves (from 20 RMB) rice wine (from 80 RMB), chrysanthemum flower tea, and zodiac sword souvenir (from 88 RMB). If you are into amulets (from 68 RMB), crystals, wooden beads, and the likes; it is widely available too. However, do exercise caution as some goods could be imitations/fake products.

What to Buy in Xi’An

Xi’An is very well known for its jujube dates, walnuts, almonds and sour plum powder. While you can’t tabao/pack back the freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice, you should really try it! There are also souvenir shops selling keychains, terracotta warrior figurines, and memorabilia for about 10 RMB per piece.

Places of Interest & Activities

Wudangshan

To get to Wudang Mountain from Xi’An, I took a bus and the journey was about 5-6 hours long. A bus ride from Xi’An bus station (opposite Xi’An Railway Station) to Wudangshan Town will cost 120 RMB per person. The bus will depart from Xi’An at 09:30 am and should arrive in Wudangshan Town by 05:30 pm (information correct as of April 2019). Once you arrive at the visitor centre of Wudangshan, you will then have to purchase an entrance ticket to the entire scenic area (excluding Purple Heaven Palace and Golden Summit) for 243 RMB. The price includes unlimited bus rides to different venues at Wudangshan and insurance.

Wudang-Style 9-Form Taiji Quan & Ba Duan Jing

There are numerous martial arts academies at Wudangshan and it can be very challenging to decide on one that will be suitable for your learning needs. I was very privileged that we had a dedicated Teacher who taught us the Wudang Style 9-Form Taiji Quan & Ba Duan Jing.

Purple Heaven Palace

Purple Heaven Palace is a historical site designated for state protection and the coloured paintings on the timber of Purple Heaven Palace make the palace look beautiful and imposing. The Purple Heaven Palace is also where the emperors in the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties often issued orders to construct altars to bless their ancestors in heaven, request the assistance of the deities to ensure prosperity and good weather for the crops to have a bumper grain harvest. Entrance to the Purple Heaven Palace cost 15 RMB per person.

Taoist Ritual at Zhong Guan Temple

Golden Hall /金顶

Located on the top of the Tianzhu Peak, the main peak of Wudang Mountain, Hubei Province; the Golden Hall was built in the 14th year of Yongle reign (1416) of Ming Dynasty. The Hall is the biggest gilded copper temple in China, and is 5.54 meters high, 4.40 meters wide and 3.15 meters deep.

All statues and tools are made of bronze. The most valuable statue is the bronze statue of Zhen Wu, another name for the Northern Emperor, Beidi, a popular Daoist deity. Between them, the statues and hall represent the best of Ming Dynasty copper work. Visitors can also revel in the natural surroundings, taking in magical sunrises and sultry dusks.

Entrance ticket to the Golden Hall cost 27 RMB per person.

Taihe Cable Car Ropeway

If you want to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the mountain ranges, you can get on the Cable Car from Qiong Tai to Tian Zhu Peak. A round trip ticket will cost 150 RMB per person.

Nanyan Temple

Nanyan or “South Cliff’ temple is one of the most breathtaking sites of the Wudang Mountains. Devotees would view the cliff as a gateway to heaven, and it’s easy to imagine the cliff as the edge of the natural world. Situated on the cliff around the temple are over 500 iron statues of ancient figures and officials, blending traditional art and culture with the stunning natural surroundings.

Taizipo/太子坡

Taizipo is one of the main scenic areas of Wudangshan and the ancient buildings of Taizipo were designed according to the legendary story of Zhenwu Practising Taoism. It was first built in 1412 during the Ming Dynasty and has been refurbished during the Qing Dynasty in the 17th century. The main scenic spots include Huilongguan Monastery, Chunyang Monastery, Laojuntang, and Baxianguan, and etc.

Carefree Valley/逍遥谷

About 10 minutes down the road from Taizipo, the Carefree Valley is an extremely scenic area that will provide you with numerous hiking trails to keep you busy for a full day. There are ample spots for photo opportunities and there are various kinds of animals in the valley; especially the monkeys. It’s a holy and beautiful place for visitors to escape from the noise and enjoy the natural landscape.

If you cross the river and head to the plain-looking stage area, you can enjoy Kung-fu shows at 10 am and 4 pm. To the left of the stage is a small lake with a tea house.

Xi’An

I spent two days in Xi’An and I am really grateful for this opportunity to visit this beautiful city that has such a vibrant culture and rich history!
Xi’an is more than 3,000 years old and was known as Chang’an (长安) in ancient times. For 1,000 years, the city was the capital for 13 dynasties, and a total of 73 emperors ruled here. Xi’an is the undisputed root of Chinese civilization having served as the capital city for the Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui and Tang dynasties. It has often been said that “if you have not been to Xi’an, you have not been to China!”

Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses

The Terracotta Army (Terracotta Warriors and Horses) are the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. Work is ongoing at this site, which is around 1.5 kilometers east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum in Lintong, Xian, Shaanxi Province. It is a sight not to be missed by any visitor to China.

Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his afterlife. A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. It caught the attention of archaeologists immediately. They came to Xi’An in droves to study and to extend the digs. They had established beyond doubt that these artefacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC).

Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star features at the museum. They are replicas of what the imperial guard should look like in those days of pomp and vigour.

The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries. No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China’s National Day – Oct. 1st, 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back.

No. 2 Pit, found in 1976, is 20 meters northeast of No. 1 Pit. It contained over a thousand warriors and 90 chariots of wood. It was unveiled to the public in 1994. Archaeologists came upon No. 3 Pit also in 1976, 25 meters northwest of No. 1 Pit. It looked like to be the command centre of the armed forces. It went on display in 1989, with 68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses.

Altogether, over 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots, and even weapons have been unearthed from these pits. Most of them have been restored to their former grandeur.

Since 1 October 2010, the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses and the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum have been combined into one large attraction area, Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, which also includes three other small sites opened in 2011. The Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum and the nearby three unopened sites (namely the Museum of Terracotta Acrobatics, the Museum of Terracotta Civil Officials and the Museum of Stone Armor) constitute the so-called Lishan Garden.

Entrance ticket costs 120 RMB per person.

Bell Tower and Drum Tower

Dating back to the 1380s, the very beginning of the Ming Dynasty, Xi’an’s majestic Bell Tower and Drum Tower are symbols of the city’s rich past and are some of the largest and best-preserved of their kind in China.

Every Ming-era city in China had a bell tower and a drum tower to help signal the time and mark important events. The Bell Tower in Xi’an, located at the very centre of the old city, is an imposing 27.4 meters high and located in a busy traffic circle. Visitors need to take an underground walkway beneath the traffic circle to reach the tower.

Visitors can climb up to the Bell Tower’s terrace where the wooden tower sits to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. However, the view is not very impressive since the tower is surrounded by busy roads in all directions. Please note that getting up to the terrace requires climbing many stairs. Inside the tower, there is a small museum that houses a huge bell, as well as some handwritten memos about the relocation and renovation of the tower. There are also bell and chime performances at various times throughout the day.

As an iconic landmark of Xi’An, the Bell Tower receives many tourists and there may be long lines at certain times. While people can pay a small fee to go upstairs and visit the interior of the tower, most visitors find the exterior of the Bell Tower more impressive, especially in the evening when it is illuminated with colourful lights. Since the tower is quite tall and prominent, you can easily appreciate it for free from across the road.

Xi’An Drum Tower

The Drum Tower, located at the south end of Beiyuanmen pedestrian street and about 200 meters to the northwest of the Bell Tower, was built in 1380, even earlier than the Bell Tower. The Drum Tower houses many large drums and some antique furniture, as well as short musical performances featuring drums and other traditional instruments at various times.

Great Muslim Mosque

Bigger than many temples in China, the Great Mosque is a gorgeous blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture and one of the most fascinating sacred sites. The present buildings are mostly Ming and Qing, though the mosque was founded in the 8th century. Arab influences extend from the central minaret (cleverly disguised as a stumpy pagoda) to the enormous turquoise-roofed Prayer Hall (not open to visitors) at the back of the complex, dating to the Ming dynasty.

Facing west (towards Mecca) instead of the customary south, the mosque features classic Chinese temple features and memorial arches, not to mention the glazed-tile Chinese-style roofing.

It’s a beautiful place to visit in spring, as the white and pink magnolias burst into bloom; in the slow season, the mosque can also be a haven of solitude and an oasis of tranquillity in a very busy area of the city.

Entrance ticket costs 25 RMB per person.

Muslim Quarter

Just as its name implies, the Muslim Quarter, also known as Huimin Jie in Pingyin, is the hub of the Muslim community in Xi’An. Located to the north of West Street in the city centre, the quarter covers several blocks inhabited by over 20,000 Muslims. There are about ten mosques in the area; among which the Great Mosque in the Huajue Lane is the most famous and popular.

Beiyuanmen Muslim Street has a long history. It is said that in olden days, foreign diplomatic envoys and merchants lived here and then they married and had children, so gradually, the population increased. Today, most of the inhabitants here are the descendants of those immigrants. All the Muslims here are the pious and devout followers of Islam so they form a tight-knit community, which maintains its own culture and traditions to this day even in such a modern society.

Xi’An City Wall and Yong Ning Gate

When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), captured Huizhou; a hermit named Zhu Sheng admonished him that he should ‘built high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor,’ so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang followed his advice and began to enlarge the wall built during the old Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), forming today’s scale of Xi’An City Wall.

The wall includes four gates and they are respectively named as Changle (meaning eternal joy) in the east, Anding (harmony peace) in the west, Yongning (eternal peace) in the south and Anyuan (forever harmony) in the north.

The South Gate (Yongning Gate) is the most time-honoured and magnificent one among all the city gates. There are bicycles for rental up to the South Gate so it is popular for visitors to ascend here. If you stay near the Bell Tower, it is recommended that you take a 10 minutes’ walk along South Street to get to the South Gate.

Xi’An City God Temple

Located on West Avenue in downtown Xi’an, the Xi’an City God Temple is the largest city god temple in Shaanxi Province. As one of the only two remaining Taoist temples in downtown Xi’an, it has been listed as a key historical and cultural site under state protection. With a history of more than 600 years, the temple is still a magnificent site today.

First built in the twentieth year (1387) of the reign of Emperor Hongwu in the Ming Dynasty on the Jiuyao Street within the East Gate of the City Wall, the temple was rebuilt at its current location in the eighth year (1432) during the reign of the Ming Emperor Xuande. Being one of the three largest capital town god temples in China at that time, the Xi’an City God Temple, also known as Capital City God Temple, exercised control over all town god temples in China’s northwest provinces.

Originally, the temple was very grand and included a main hall, a sleeping hall, subordinate halls, the Music and Dance Building, and a memorial archway. As time went on, only the hall which was rebuilt in the first year (1723) of the reign of Emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) remains.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda located in southern Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China. It was built in 652 during the Tang dynasty and originally had five stories. The structure was rebuilt in 704 during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, and its exterior brick facade was renovated during the Ming dynasty. One of the pagoda’s many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveller, Xuanzang. Today, the interior walls of the pagoda feature engraved statues of Buddha by the renowned artist Yan Liben.

Overall

I’ve been to China twice; the first was to Harbin and the second was to Beijing and that was more than 10 years ago! I am really glad to have been on this trip to witness the many rapid developments that are happening in China and being a history and culture buff myself, my trip to Xi’An was really an eye-opener.

Having said that, I enjoyed my visit to the Wudang Mountains the most and I really want to be back. The air there is really fresh and the next time I visit, I will probably be staying there for 6 months.