Saturday, September 1, 2012

What I learned about Singapore this week

Number one lesson is that in order to own a car you have to pay USD$65-$80,000 for a certificate of entitlement that is valid for 10 years.  Yes, $80,000 just to have the right to own a car.  Then after taxes and import duties you can be paying USD$500,000 for a Porsche 911 or USD$300-400,000 for a BMW 5 series.

Chobani yogurt that I bought on sale last week at my local supermarket for 99 cents is about USD$8-$10 in Singapore.

A small corporate apartment can cost USD$10-$12,000/month.

If you are thinking about working abroad for a higher paying salary, also consider the cost of living or make sure to get the expat package.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dubai has arrived!

First time that I am in Dubai in the last 5 years and what an experience.  The world’s tallest building is here – the iconic Burj Khalifa - 2717 feet, which naturally features the world’s highest restaurant, at.mospehere -   At the base of Burj Khalifa is a lake with a dancing fountain that puts on a different show every 30 minutes (think Vegas but grander).  Next is Dubai Mall - which is full with luxury brands and features a 50 foot high aquarium, indoor waterfall, along with an ice skating rink.

The restaurants, much more so than before, feature cuisine from every part of the world and many feature world famous chefs.  Just like back home in NYC many restaurants double as lounges and night clubs with world class DJ’s, popular music, and a very hip crowd that dances on tables and consumes Grey Goose by the bottle.  Leaving People, a trendy night club, we noticed that many of the cars waiting outside were Ferraris, Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Porsches, and even a few Range Rovers.

There is also a shiny Atlantis - outlet, the popular beach resort from Bahamas, with many restaurants, aquariums, and tourists.  The hotel is on Palm Island, which is manmade group of islands in the shape of a palm tree.

The train system is brand new and very clean.  Streets are very safe and you can walk anywhere at night. Service everywhere is excellent.

Nearby government of Abu Dhabi had built a hotel, Emirates Palace -, which cost USD$3 billion and only has 400 rooms.  Many of the rooms are specifically reserved for Emirati royalty and their guests, who are usually heads of state and celebrities.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A note on sailing in the Caribbean

Finally, an old dream to charter a private boat and island hop is achieved.   Probably for the last 10 years I have been dreaming about renting a large boat and going from one island to another with a group of friends.

Recently, 40 of us rented 5 large catamarans and cruised around Leeward islands in the Caribbean and celebrated our recent graduation.  We started from St Martin, then on to St Barth’s, Pinel Island, and finally Anguilla.  Most favorite island was Anguilla with its 35 beaches, where we found ourselves alone on a perfect beach stretching for at least a mile.  Most fun was St Barth’s where we danced on tables at Bagatelle until we could not stand.

The actual sailing part was a bit overwhelming, although a seasoned boater, I felt slightly nauseous and almost got sick from strong waves and the rocking of the boat.  Some in the group ended up throwing up overboard, but those who took motion sickness pills felt fine.  At first, I thought it was rough weather or bad season for boating but apparently these are just normal waves in this part of the world.  Note to self: go sailing only in calm water

The unique part is going to secluded beaches only accessible by boat and unspoiled by millions of tourists.  Moving around from one island to another and sleeping on a boat is also pretty cool. 

Watching from the sideline it feels like this holiday is only for the rich and famous but it is very affordable.   The cost to rent a 40 foot catamaran was a little bit more than $1k/pp/week and included the skipper.  However, the caveat is that sleeping conditions are not very comfortable and bathroom/shower space is very small.

Of course the bigger the yacht the better the accommodations:)