Buying and selling property has always been foreign to me. I see people do it all the time, as if $1mil is nothing. When my colleagues talk about buying multiple/private properties, I would wonder how they can do so when their salaries are pretty much the same as mine...
The urge to upgrade started when my BTO 4-room 93sqm flat turned 5 years old in April 2018. Prior to that, I had already discussed with my wife to sell the flat once it reaches HDB's Minimum Occupancy Period or MOP and we would apply for another new BTO 5-room 113sqm flat. Not that I dislike living in Fernvale/Sengkang (well, at first yes). In fact, we love our corner unit which has full view of the park, 5 minutes walk to Seletar Mall, cooling and nearby to schools. But like a true-blue middle income Singaporean, we gotta cash-in our first subsidised flat and then go for the next one. SG Government gives people like me to benefit from the system twice so why not?
In May 2018, HDB launched 4 sites including Sengkang and Tampines. I knew they were going to launch a BTO in Sengkang but I wasn't expecting Tampines which would be a lot closer to my mom's and in-laws' place. After seeing the limited 5-room flats for the Sengkang BTO, we decided to go for Tampines and one month later, got a fantastic queue no. 13 (the same time when I was having the flu)! Practically can choose any flat and the one we shortlisted cost the most at almost $500,000! We didn't think too much of it at first so was blissfully waiting for our appointment with HDB in August. A few weeks later, we began to wonder if it's worth paying so much for that extra 20sqm especially when resale prices around Tampines outer regions are pretty much stagnant (less profit to be made if we sell it after MOP) and longer travel to my boy's school in AMK.
So we decided to check out larger resale flats in Sengkang and chanced upon an Executive Apartment 125sqm. So we called the agent by the name of Kavan Kuah from ERA to view the flat. The flat was really well renovated but for some reason, we didn't have the right feeling for it so went home. Didn't view any more flats after that. I agreed to Kavan's request (half-heartedly) to meet up at my place two weeks later to discuss other alternatives. My mind at this time was pretty much fixed on Tampines BTO.
A few days before we met Kavan, I spent the last weekend (14-15 Jul) of Hari Raya month visiting relatives including one who is staying at a condo in Pasir Ris. While I hate to admit to my wife, she rightly deduced that my sudden urge to go for condo was due to the visit. Seeing my 3 kids playing happily in the kid's pool and then walking back to my uncle's apartment felt "shiok". It's like those property sales ads that show happy families having a wonderful lifestyle. Haha... yah, now I'm sounding lame but I want to gain financially for my 2nd subsidised flat and Tampines BTO was not the way to go... anyway, from 16 Jul 2018, the quest to stay in a subsidised form of private property called Executive Condominium (EC) began in earnest.
In Part 2 of my property buying/selling series, I will share how it took just 4-days to getting our EC and 7-days to selling our flat... and the importance of finding the right agent.
I got a Type B flu with the usual symptoms of sore throat, watery nose, etc showing on 25 Jul 2017. By late evening of 27 Jul 2017, my body temp hit 39.5 degrees Celsius and maintained around this range for FOUR freaking days. Afraid of infecting my family, I slept on the living room sofa. I took the standard flu medicines but one specially expensive medicine called Tamiflu ($80 or $8 per pill) made my nights particularly unbearable. The side effects of Tamiflu such as causing nausea, vomiting, etc hit me full on and I almost considered going to the hospital if my fever didn't subside by Sunday. Thankfully, my temp slowly receded to normal on 1 Jul.
It has been over a decade since I last experienced such a fever but with my supportive wife and kids around to cheer me up, I was able to cope the episode much better than the last.
I wondered how the hell I got the flu when I've fairly careful with cleanliness. Spread of Type B is from human to human and I don't recall meeting anyone that sick. Could it be from the air pollution whilst riding? Maybe need to consider wearing a filtered mask.
By the way, I will post about my new "old" bike soon :)
I've been busy with work for the first half of 2018 due to a product launch back in April. In the midst of things, I managed to complete my 3-year journey of getting all my motorbike licences on 28 May 2018.
Class 2 lessons are pretty much the same as Class 2A lessons so please check click on the link: http://shahr33n.weebly.com/blog/class-2a.
The only difference for Class 2 (taught during Lesson 2) is that learners have to play with the poor dummy bike. Guys typically won't have much of a problem lift the bike with brute strength. Ladies on the hands will need to apply certain techniques which the instructors will share. After putting down and lifting the bike up, learners have to move the dummy bike in a figure 8, around two cones. For CDC learners, just aim for a specific parts of the course and you will always end back at the starting area every time.
Everything else for Class 2 is the same - just longer timings needed to be completed for the plank, figure-8, crank course, slalom and bumpy course. I think the toughest part for me is the slalom as the chances of hitting the cones are higher with a bigger bike but with the correct technique, this is a none issue. Just engage 2nd gear quickly and apply little to no throttle. For some reasons with bigger CC bikes (including my KTM 390), the bike will move automatically in second gear without stalling even if there's no throttling.
For those taking Class 2, it's important to learn how to ride the bike super slow (<10km/hr) as there will be many encounters with slow moving L-plate cars in the circuit. Try not to be impatient and definitely don't tailgate (one of the testees failed because of that).
TEST DAY [A lot of Waiting]
Just like Class 2A, I arrived at the centre at 7am. By 7.15am, we started doing a warm up lap around the test circuit. Each person can do a max 2 rounds of warm-up so don't be late. Try not to be fixated with getting the best bike especially if you are young because your turn to take the test is based on your age and the older ones like me will get to go first! [IMPORTANT TIP] In fact, during lessons, try a different bike each time and take note of its characteristics. There are only 5-6 Class 2 bikes at CDC so it's easier to keep track of all the bikes. I happened to get a bike (224) with a stiff gear peddle and shallow clutch biting point (easier to stall) during the warm-up rounds but I still took the same bike for the test (to avoid any surprises).
The warm-up session ended at 745am and we have to wait till 830am for the actual briefing by the CDC instructor, who took his own sweet time to explain the test. The testers finally came at around 930am and the first group (1 to 6) of Class 2 riders were called out to start with the dummy bike. We all wore rain gear as it was drizzling and I'm fortunate that the figure-8 was relatively dry before it really started to rain. I almost hit a cone during the slalom section and wasn't sure if I actually hit it but didn't sense anything after doing it.
The test ended for me in just 15 minutes. The whole test session was completed by 1030am. We then went to the waiting room at level 3 and the results were announced at 11am. Three Class 2 (2,3, and 6) riders failed (I was 5 so was feeling really anxious). When No 2 was called out, the uncle confronted the tester as he wasn't happy with some of demerit points being given. He was eventually led out of the room to see the Chief Tester. We waited for another 20 minutes thinking the Tester will come back to announce the rest. So drama... At 1125am the CDC instructors then took the initiative by checking the clipboard left behind by the tester and saw there were no other failures. So anti-climax... I was feeling damn annoyed of that uncle for taking away our moment of celebration.
Anyway, I passed with 10 points! 4 for Bumpy course (too fast), 4 for not checking blindspot, and 2 for braking while negotiating a bend. Watched the same TP video and then were told to come back at 12.30pm to collect our licence with the new stickers applied (no need to go to the TP counter to get it done, YaY!).
So here I am, at the end of a 3-year journey that started in May 2015! For Class 2, I spent $400 ($80 more because I didn't attend two sessions), passing every lesson once. Will be looking to sell my KTM Duke 390 at Carousell before getting a Class 2 bike.
Thank you for reading my blog on getting a bike licence in Singapore. I hope your journey will be as smooth as mine! Ride safe!
My final large purchase for the 2017 and so I've decided to reward my wife (and myself) with a dishwasher! The dishwasher has been a foreign concept to us Asians as we mostly see it in action in western TV shows or movies. I've always wondered how the machine could clean the dishes so well and thought it would need to use a lot of water... only now I've discovered that it uses less water than traditional hand-washing.
Space is the biggest problem faced by may Singaporeans living in public HDB flats... I already have a full size washing maching and a dryer so getting a full size dishwasher is a no go... well, there's the slim Bosch dishwasher but that costs S$1400!!! My next option is to get a countertop version which is the size of a large microwave over and priced around $700 to $900. I went on Carousell to try my luck in getting a new one at a much cheaper price and was very lucky to find an expat, selling an Electrolux ESF2435W for just $400. He got it in Sep 2017 from one of the large stores but didn't even use it because it was too large for his studio apartment. Contacted the guy and drove over his condo in the City and within an hour, I had gotten the dishwasher up and running.
I won't bore you with the details which you can refer to another blogger for a similar version.
You can also view my YouTube video and see how I used the dishwasher (for the 2nd time). I discovered that putting the dishes too close together will not allow the sprayer to spray the water properly - which is kinda strange since the manual shows that the dishes can be cramped together. Thus far, I've been running the dishwasher using the Quick setting which runs for 25 minutes. I think this is too short for pots, pans and dishes that are greasy so using the Normal setting which runs for 2 hours would do a better job.
In any case, it's important to scrape the leftovers and and scrub the pots/pans before putting into the dishwasher. I will continue to experiment the different settings and hope to make the dishwasher runs more efficiently.
Till then, wishing everyone a Happy 2018!
Woah... it's been way too long since I last wrote a blog. Well, been too busy at work until just a few days ago when I've been hit with conjunctivitis (bacterial) in both eyes and was given a week off from work! Talk about working till falling sick... oh well... good time to catch up on my blog.
So what happened since?
A New Car! (Chevrolet Orlando)
I got a new car!!! My 7 year odd Fiat Punto Evo had been too squeezy for a family of 5 and the kid's pram practically took up all the boot space. Saw a newspaper ad that Chevrolet was selling its 7-seater Orlando 1.4 Turbo (138hp) for S$103,000! Price was just too difficult to ignore and I kinda like it's SUV look so I went down on 1 May for a test drive. Love everything about the car and by end May, was driving around SG. Glad that my wife and kids liked the car too. The Orlando is fairly powerful but the fuel comsumption is a around 11km per litres. Ok for a large car... heard from my colleague that her Subaru Forester runs at 8km per litre... ouch... so i guess it isn't too bad. Wifey drives the car on most days while I only drive during weekends and the occasional trip to work (1-2x a month)... which brings me to my next purchase...
A New Bicycle (Giant Fastroad Comex 2)
The cycling bug has infected me as the Tour de France and Vuelta de Espana rolled from July to September. Got myself another road bike from Tay Cycle that comes with a straight handlebar, carbon frame and tubeless wheels, differentiating itself from my 2011 Trek 2.1 still serves me well as my "racing" bike. Since then, I've been cycling to work at least once a week if the weather is decent. Shaved 15 minutes from riding the new bike as compared to riding the Brompton, thanks largely to the larger wheels and racey riding profile. It now takes me 50 minutes to cycle from Sengkang to my office in Ghim Moh. The travelling time is about the same as driving my car assuming there's no stupid accident along Lornie-Adam Road.
So what's the best way to commute to work?
Well, we all know how unreliable the trains are these days... If it's working fine, then it would take about 60-70 minutes from my place to work which is pretty alright. But having to squeeze like sardines, not once but twice each... no thanks...
Seriously, cycling to work is really a viable option in Singapore and it's not as dangerous as you'd think. Yes, it's tiring at the beginning but if you do regularly, your fitness will improve and exercising in the morning is good for the body and goes a long way to improving overall well-being in the long road run. My colleagues are often amazed at me being crazy enough to cycle 20km for 1 hour, twice in a day... I really find it enjoyable! If not for my motorcycles, I'll probably cycle to work everyday.
But, I know my limits and commitments so I will still ride my motorbikes on most days. Compared to driving, I save about 60 minutes per day if I ride my motorcycle to work. That's 5 hours per week x 50 weeks = 250 hours or about 10 days per year!!! 10 days!!! That means a commuter who drives or takes public transport loses about 10 days every year of his/her live being stuck in traffic!!! Of course the biggest caveat about riding is safety... just one crash can cause serious injury or even death... oh well... I've led a good life thus far and being well covered by insurance, I'd figured I enjoy the rest of my life doing things I rather do and spending 10 extra days commuting is not one of them...
Oh... I will still drive to work if the weather is dreadful or I'm not in the mood but each time I drive to work, I'll get super cranky having to drive slowly from start to finish... really... I hate driving in Singapore... but at the end of the day, I've thankful for being blessed in having so many options to get to work :)
Inkjet printers really suck for me... bought the Epson L310 ink tank system but the printer head gets damaged if left unused for a period of time... I thought the ink system would prevent that but it has a print head and that's the part that gets clog up. I then bought a cheap HP 2540 but it had the same problem with the print head and worse, cannot operate if either the black or colour cartridge runs out... and the ink cartridges are just too expensive for the number of prints I can get out of it...
Fed up, I decided to get a monochrome laser jet. I've had a couple in the past and they were really good even if I don't use it for a few months in between.
Dropped by Challenger and picked up the cheapest printer that I could find which cost $88 and a spare cartridge for $55. Should last me for at least 1500 prints.
Installation was easy and I opted for the wireless mode so I can print straight from any computer and mobile phone (via app). The wireless printing works very well and the printing speed is fast too. Print quality is acceptable (almost all laser printers produce fine prints). Warranty is generous - three years for parts and services if registered online. Overall, I'm happy with the purchase!
The demise of my father in late April has been trying for me and my family. My dad was one of those early gen hands-off fathers type. While I couldn't rely on him on emotional matters, he was a reliable provider for the family and I owe him a lot for who I am today. All I can say is farewell father... god willing, we will see each other again one day...
For the rest of April till now, I'm just going about doing my own family stuff at home, riding my Duke to Malaysia twice, and... getting a new car! Oh, I'm also starting to get hook with buying and selling stuff on Carousell.
My Yamaha Tricity (125cc) has been my commuter bike since June 2016. It's a bike that gets me from Point A to Point B in the safest possible manner especially in the rain or wet weather conditions. While it's a good bike, it's missing one major thing... that's power!!! The Tricity can only go 100km/hr max... while speed wasn't the issue, the torque was, as it struggles to pick-up fast enough to do any serious overtaking... heck, I don't even dare to overtake a tipper truck that's going at 70km/hr...
Since getting my Class 2A earlier this month, I started to scout for a second bike that will allow me to improve my skills in handling a more powerful (and manual) bike - in case I'm going for Class 2. There are not that many Class 2A (sub-400cc) bikes in Singapore but I managed to shortlist a few, namely, Honda CB 400X, Yamaha MT-03 and the KTM Duke 390. Yup... naked/street bikes. After last year's accident with the Honda CBR 150R, I don't think I have what it takes to ride a sport bike.
Sadly, I got my licence when our wonderful government introduced the tiered ARF (Additional Registration Fee) and the subsequent COE biddings went through the roof with the most recent hitting $7483! Yup, the tax is more expensive than the bike. Prices for 2nd-hand bikes also went up so things were not looking good for me...
Long story short, I went down to KTM dealer, Dirtwheel on 9 March, they were clearing their last batch of 2016 bikes and was offered a big discount for a new 2016 KTM Duke 390 (the new version will arrive later in 2017). I couldn't refuse the offer and put down a deposit after testing a demo bike. The bike was delivered a week later, albeit using the first round of March COE as they couldn't get me the latest one...
Here are my initial thoughts after riding about 250 km:
Riding position: Upright. I'm 180cm. Both feet flat on the ground at rest. A bit forward seating and definitely feels aggresive.
Seat: Quite hard. Less comfy that the Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS. May change to the ergo seat.
Mirrors: Surprisingly good despite the forward seating.
Dashscreen: A lot of info. The fonts are a bit small/thin but I got used to it after a while.
Gearbox: Shifting up from Gear 1 to 4 is ok. 4 to 6 is quite vague. No issue with downshifting though I stalled a few times when I didn't shift down from 3 to 2 as the bike was going below 25km/hr.
Engine: Woohoo!!! 43hp baby! And the torque... I easily became a traffic light champion... lol... even at 6th gear, 110km/hr at 7000 rpm (didn't go beyond that as I'm still running in the bike), the vibration was tolerable at high speeds.
Windblast: The tiny windscreen didn't do anything... avoid going beyond 120km/hr for too long as it's hard on the body. I wonder if the $57 add-on screen helps...
Tires: The pair of Diablo Rosso II felt really good! Now I know what good tires feel like... hope it'll do well in wet conditions.
Brakes: A bit too weak to my liking. ABS works well though.
Exhaust: Dat-Dat-Dat-Dat-Dat-Dat-Dat... lol... so loud at neutral... great sound at high speeds and accelerating... downshifting is really fun when the bike goes pom-pom-pom, like it's exploding or something... such a show-off!
Mileage: 20-30km/litre... Travelled 195km when the fuel warning light appeared. I then refueled to about 7.5 litres so had 3.5 litres or 60-90 km left... wished it had a larger tank...
Heat: Damn... this bike runs hot! I always wear pants when riding so it's not that bad...
Storage: The rear seat houses a small set of basic tools... that's it. As I hate carrying a backpack, I went over to Regina Specialist to buy a Kappa K-Venture 42 for half the price of the Givi version. While the top-box does spoil the looks of the Duke, I do need additional storage for my helmet and raincoat. Anyway, the Kappa aluminium box looks bad-ass so all is not lost!
Check out my boring ride video. Stay tuned for more updates!
KTM Duke 390 Document Folder
This may sound shallow but if I spend a lot of money on something, I want the whole buying experience to be a good one. This is where KTM doesn't fail to impress. Just check out the folder! OK, it does't come with the SNRD sunglasses which I fell in love with after getting the Duke. I will cover the SNRD at the end of this section. Getting back to the folder... boy, it's actually a lot more impressive than my car's folder. Kinda strange that it came with two user manuals - one in English and the other in Austrian(?). Then there's the usual service manual, spare key + duplicate code, a plastic pouch, a parts/accessories catalogue, and apparels catalogue. Yup... KTM sure wants the owner to spend more money on their orangie stuff!
I went to Motoworld for some window shopping and came across a collection of SNRD eyewear, a brand that I've never heard before. Made in Korea, the eyewear are designed with the Asian face/nose in mind and it fit my squarish face perfectly! The Jelly Bean series have vibrant colours and I was instantly attracted to the Mandarin orange, which goes well with my orange KTM! It's rather pricey at $159 but the quality and finish were excellent. The lenses and frames are inter-changeable too. Two Thumbs up for SNRD (whatever that means)!
First, let's get the result out first... yup, I PASSED! Just barely...
I am a bit annoyed that those who learn at CDC Ubi have to wait for 2 months in order to take the TP test whereas another blogger did all the lessons and the test in the same month of January 2017 at BBDC! My poor performance was not surprising as I only had one circuit revision on the day before after 2 months since passing Lesson 3. The momentum had simply gone by then and riding an automatic scooter didn't help me either. On a positive note, the weather was great!
Anyway, all that matter is that I passed and so did 26 other riders. There were only 4 who didn't make it... I guessed we were all very focused in passing since nobody wants to wait another 2 freaking months to retake the test!
Before I end my Class 2A journey, here're some points raised by our favourite Senior Riding Instructor, Mr Bahtera, who gave a mind-blowing briefing before the test:
1) The first tester point (the stretch of road where you start off) is the riskiest zone. Poor switching lane, wobbling, no signaling, slow at moving off, no blind spot check can earn you lots of demerit points especially when Class 2A testees have to passed the first Tester three times... so watch out!
2) When riding to Test Point Area 2 (slope), always keep to the left lane after turning right at Test Point Area 1 (at around the slope exit). Apparently, many didn't and this could result in getting 6 demerit points.
3) When approaching the zebra crossing, do stop if you see someone about to or going to the crossing... even if the person waves at you to move on...
4) For the e-brake, approach at 42 to 45 km/hr and stop before the YELLOW line. Stopping before the red line could earn you demerit points.
There was too much info for us to absorb the points raised by Mr Bahtera and we had a panick look by the time he finished... my advice - check the big map that's on the board and be familiar with the points where you have to signal, blingspot check, etc.
So that concludes Class 2A. Maybe I will go to BBDC for my Class 2 next year. Till then, ride safe!
Just your typical guy in his late-30s, married to a lovely wife + three small kids, living a life in tiny Singapore.
Class 2B Summary
Circuit Orientation: 1
Lesson 1: 2
Lesson 2: 1
Lesson 3: 1
Lesson 4: 1
Lesson 5: 3
Lesson 6: 2
Lesson 7: 1
Lesson 8: 1
Circuit Revision: 8
Road Revision: 4
Basic Theory: N/A
Riding Theory: 4/4
Defence Riding Theory: 3/3
Internal Evaluation: 1
Riding Theory Test: 1/1
Final Practical Test: 1/1
Class 2A Summary
Lesson 1: 1/1
Lesson 2: 1/1
Lesson 3: 1/1
Riding Theory: 1/1
Circuit Revision: 2
Final Practical Test: 1/1
Class 2 Summary
Lesson 1: 1/1
Lesson 2: 1/1
Lesson 3: 1/1
Circuit Revision 2/2
No show: 2/2
Final Practical Test: 1/1
Total [2B+2A+2]: $1720