Visiting Victor Harbour

In this fourth post on my trip to South Australia, let me introduce the town of Victor Harbour. 

As we headed towards Adelaide, we decided to stop by Victor Harbour for a two-night stay. Having come up from the quaint and quiet town of Meningie, Victor Harbour was considerably more populous, with more attractions and tourists. 

Some of the highlights include the cockle train experience and the Urimbirra Wildlife Park.

Cockle Train Experience

During the month of August, the train operated every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. We were really fortunate to have had a full day at Victor Harbour on one of its operating days. 

Running from Victor Harbour to Goolwa, the cockle train provided a wonderful view of the ocean as well as some residential areas which, as tourists, we would not commonly drive through. Residents also waved to passengers in the train as it ran past their backyards – an action that made many of us feel welcomed in their town. 

The train had a rustic yet comfortable feel which made it feel as though we were going back in time. Tickets meant as souvenirs were also given when we bought our tickets. At Goolwa, my family and I decided to visit a small boat that was open to the public – while picturesque, there were not many attractions near the Goolwa station and we headed back to Victor Harbour on the next train. 

Tip: From Victor Harbour to Goolwa, sitting on the right will allow you to have a better view of the ocean. 

Urimbirra Wildlife Park

Australia is peppered with many wildlife parks across the country and a small wildlife park resides in Victor Harbour. The Urimbirra Wildlife Park is home to many wildlife creatures, including kangaroos, sheep, and koalas. What surprised me was the number of guinea pigs, crocodiles and snakes they had in the park – definitely didn’t think I would see these creatures in a wildlife park. 

What I absolutely loved about the park is how open the park was. The proximity the park’s staff allowed visitors to have with the animals was a memorable one. One could easily purchase kangaroo feed and feed them openly across the park, and I had great fun feeding them. 

Being a quiet park, my family and I had a great time roaming the area and interacting with the animals there. 

Tip: A pack of kangaroo feed can go a long way. While buying more feed contributes to the park’s maintenance, perhaps you could pay for two but just take one. It will take a rather long time to finish feeding the kangaroos with two packs of feed if you’re going solo!

While my family and I did not go to the horse-drawn carriage (an attraction most tourists head to generally), we had great fun experiencing Victor Harbour at its other wonderful attractions. 

As I come to the tail-end on my posts of South Australia, here’s some of the links to my other posts –  Mount Gambier, Robe and Meningie.

Scoot(ing) processing fees

Photo by Adhitya Andanu from Pexels

In a bid to stay price-competitive in the evolving budget airlines industry, Scoot has announced that effective today, September 23, it will be scrapping its payment processing fee for all its flights. This is a week earlier than AirAsia’s official implementation of removing the processing fees for its flights.

For travellers, this move is seen to be a positive one as processing fees can often be hefty, especially when traveling as a group. For example, a family of five could save S$100 on payment fees for a return flight

Similar to how Scoot followed suit with AirAsia’s move, to remain price competitive, other airlines may also consider removing their processing fees as well. Such a move will allow travellers alike to save on overall travel. Jetstar currently charges S$10 for its processing fee while other budget airlines including CebuPacific, Scoot, Thai LionAir and AirAsia do not charge fees (or will soon stop charging). 

With Scoot previously allowing the AXS payment mode, this change will allow their bookings to be processed and confirmed quicker, a definite plus for them. The AXS payment mode previously allowed travellers to make their payment via AXS machines located across Singapore within a 24-hour period, and it was cheaper than the credit card processing fee. This means that ticket purchases could be delayed for up to 24 hours, or in some instances, not completed at all. I, personally, have missed an AXS payment before because I forgot to take down the booking reference number (they did not email it to us).

As the airline industry continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see what other incentives airlines can bring to travellers. 

Pre-matured end of life (for products)

Apple Watch 4: Written off in just a year

Apple will be rolling out a new generation of its smartwatch tomorrow (September 20). It’s an annual introduction for the Cupertino-based company, along with a slew of other computers and devices. This is what keeps technology companies innovating and in business.

But, what shocked me was that the one-year-old Apple Watch 4 is being discontinued. While Apple must have its reasons for doing so, spare a thought for those fans who spent hard-earned cash on the Apple Watch 4.

Is this the company’s tactic to compel them to upgrade to the latest version? If that’s the case, why is it still selling the older Apple Watch 3?

I’ve had my fair share of buying new products that became obsolete in a year of so. The most painful was my first notebook computer which cost more than S$2,000 in the mid-1990s. That’s a lot of money back then.

Shortly after I bought the new notebook, I discovered that the US manufacturer had discontinued that product. Upset is too mild a word to describe my feelings at that time. What’s worse was that half the screen went blank one day and the customer support told me that it would cost $800 to get the screen replaced.

After much angst and deliberation, I decided to buy a new laptop from another vendor. That US-branded notebook turned out to be my first and last from the company.

A more recent experience was my Pebble Time smartwatch in April 2016. In December that year, Pebble announced that it would be shut down, and no longer make or support for any device or honour any warranties.

Two experiences. Twenty years apart. Both times, the feeling was similar — painful!

Tech companies should care more for their customers. Beyond the bells and whistles associated with big fanfare launches, they must show customers that they are committed to supporting the products — at least for a few years after they stop selling it.

Otherwise, customers are the ones to bear the brunt and pay the cost for believing in the wrong product from the wrong vendor.

If vendors are not careful, they risk losing customer trust. Once lost, that’s hard to regain, especially when there are so many other options available.

When upgrading is unnecessary

Still good after all these years

Apple has launched a new iPhone. Google is expected to announce Pixel 4 on October 15. With every introduction of a new product, the message is crystal clear — buy, buy, buy! The question is — is it really necessary to get the latest toy? Is your current device good enough?

If vendors were to have their way, we would be upgrading every year or two.

It’s the computer industry, and later the smartphone makers, that seems to be driving the need to upgrade regularly — even if your PC/notebook/smartphone is working perfectly fine.

This is so different from the days of old when a television, electric fan or refrigerator can last for a decade or more. If it breaks down, you get it fixed. Buying a new one is only necessary when it can no longer be repaired.

These days, computer and smartphone are constantly bombarding consumers that the latest is the greatest (if it’s not, something must be very wrong, right?) and you need to upgrade. Even consumer electronic product makers are trying to get into the act.

Putting aside fancy new features and the feel great of owning a new device factors, the most important question to ask is “Do I need to upgrade?”

What difference will the newest chip’s speed bump make? How will the fingerprint sensor make my phone more secured? How much storage do I really need?

I have owned a MacBook Air since 2011 and a third generation iPad since 2012 (see photo above) and am proud to declare that I am still using them.

Here are the reasons why I did not upgrade:

  1. They are still working perfectly. Operating system updates have slowed them down a little but nothing’s changed otherwise.
  2. They do what I need them for. I use my MacBook Air for work and my iPad when giving talks. Both still function as required. They may not be as fast as the latest iterations but they’re good enough.
  3. I save money by not upgrading. There’s no need to spend on newer devices since these are still fine. Money saved can be used for other things in life — like getting other gadgets that I do not already own or travelling.

The point is that if I want to upgrade, the vendors must give me something that I could not do before but need to have. A faster chip, brighter/sharper screen or more connectivity options just doesn’t cut it.

In recent times, the only device that I’ve upgraded constantly was the digital camera. My first was a Sony Mavica given to me in 1999. It introduced me to the world of digital photography, Nokia phones notwithstanding. I was a proud owner bringing a box of 3.5-inch floppy disk drives with me wherever I went. For each 1.44MB drive, I can take about 20 photos. So a box gives me sufficient space for about 200 low quality images.

As digital cameras evolved, so did my expectations. I wanted higher quality images and upgraded whenever I could afford a better camera.

But, my latest digital SLR camera has been untouched for a few years. Why? Because the smartphone has made it redundant. My Google Pixel 3 can take excellent images at high resolutions. In fact, each image size is bigger than a 3.5-inch floppy disk.

Upgrading my digital camera was necessary because the image quality made a difference. But, there are many other products where newer versions do not provide enough justification for parting with the cash.

Instant (noodles) gratification

Instant noodles have long become a common pantry item and many consider it comfort food, especially when traveling overseas. The types of instant noodles also vary significantly, with some focusing on unique flavours while others trying to ensure that their noodles satisfy local cravings. 

Here are three instant noodles which I simply adore. Each has a unique flavour and is good for different occasions. 

Taiwan Man Han Feast’s Beef Noodles –  滿漢大餐牛肉麵

This Taiwanese instant noodles is not a big hit in Taiwan for the locals, but for the international audience, this rendition of the Taiwanese beef noodles is well-enjoyed by many. 

Noodles: Thin, soft and slightly flat

Broth: Instead of a powdered sachet or paste, the beef noodle comes in the form of a sauce 

Ingredients: Together with the sauce comes actual beef cubes that have both lean and fatty meat. A sachet of dried chopped greens also comes with this (I prefer not to add it though!)

On a cold day, or if you are simply looking for a filling, piping-hot bowl of beef noodles that has a kick, this is the way to go. 

Tip: Adding an egg to the soup makes the soup creamy and much richer.

Korea Samyang Spicy Hot Chicken Ramen Noodles

The spicy noodle challenge was a trending challenge all over YouTube a couple of years ago, and as someone who loves spicy food, this was not really a challenge, but a delectable meal. It definitely is on the spicy side with seaweed flakes coming with the package as well.

Noodles: Chewy, thicker than your usual instant noodles, springy (takes slightly longer than most instant noodles to cook)

Broth: This pack of noodles does not come with a soup broth but instead comes with a sachet of spicy sauce. The more sauce you add, the spicier it is, so add it as necessary! You should enjoy the noodles, not suffer through it. 

Ingredients: Seaweed flakes come together with the package but the flavor of the seaweed flakes is overpowered by the spiciness of the sauce. It looks more appetising with the seaweed flakes though!

I have tried the 2x spice version of this noodles and I’ve got to say that this is definitely the milder version – one that can be enjoyed rather than one that makes you suffer. Love this noodles when I’ve got a spicy craving – especially one that has a strong, tangy taste. 

Tip: Add a fried egg, a slice of spam and a slice of cheese to make this a full meal.

Maggi Hot Heads Spicy Goreng

Another form of spicy noodles, the Maggi Hot Heads Spicy Goreng has upped its game from its predecessors. Spicy (Mee) Goreng (which means Spicy Fried Noodles), is famous in Southeast Asia.  Maggi is a household brand that many Asian households grew up with. It has many types of instant noodles ranging from soup-based instant noodles to dry noodles. I first tasted this product in the beginning of 2018, and to date, I haven’t found an instant Mee Goreng as nice as this. 

Noodles: Among my three favourites, this noodles is the most common type – it’s thicker than the Taiwanese noodles, but thinner than the Korean noodles. 

Broth: This pack of noodles is the dry kind, and hence, has no broth. It has, however, powdered seasoning for it. The spice is geared towards the Asian spice, and has a spicy kick to it. 

Ingredients: Pretty insignificant in my opinion, so add your own to make your meal nicer!

While spicy, this brand’s spicy noodles is different to that of the Korean version. It is less tangy and provides a strong flavour. This form of spice is similar to a freshly cooked plate of mee goreng

Tip: Add a fried egg, a slice of spam but cheese is not necessary to bring the spice level down. 

There are many brands of instant noodles out there, and each has a different price point. If I were to rank the cost of each pack of noodles, the Taiwan Man Han Feast’s Beef Noodles is definitely the most expensive one – but there are beef cubes and you do not really have to add additional ingredients to make it a delectable meal. The Korea Samyang Spicy Hot Chicken Ramen Noodles comes next followed by the Maggi Hot Heads Spicy Goreng which is the cheapest of them all.

Are any of your favourites on the list? Do let me know!

Having a retreat while on a holiday!

The first two nights of our South Australian road-trip was spent in Mount Gambier which gave us a ‘quiet-city’ experience. For the next two nights, and after stopping by the town of Robe, we had planned for a relaxing waterfront experience at the Coorong Waterfront Retreat. Just 14 km from the town of Meningie, our accommodation was definitely ‘off-the-beaten-track’. 

The Coorong’s unspoiled coastline makes it one of South Australia’s most visited destinations for bird-watching, kayaking and for a retreat.

Two of my fondest memories at the waterfront retreat are: 

The Wildlife

From pelicans to fairy terns and red-necked avocets, the Coorong National Park is peppered with a diverse ecosystem of wildlife. Just by walking along the Seven Mile Road where our accommodation stood, it was evident of the wildlife that was present on that short stretch.

A quick read-up prior to the trip got me knowing that fish is abundant along the Coorong, which is why the ecosystem is so rampant there. Fishing is also prohibited for those on vacation there and those that would like to fish along the Coorong would need to have a permit – a way of ensuring that the ecosystem is not too disturbed by vacationers.

The Disconnect

With its rather deserted location, the Coorong Waterfront Retreat allowed us to be partially disconnected from the world with its limited connectivity. With only a few occupied houses along the Seven Mile Road, the road was relatively quiet, with minimal vehicles running through the area. This allowed for nice short walks along the Coorong. along the well-paved road. In the late winter month of August, the walks were cooling and honestly really peaceful. 

Coorong Waterfront Retreat

This trip was planned with the idea of having various experiences, and this relaxing one was definitely one of the more memorable ones. 

Looking at apps that offer 1-for-1 deals!

Do you enjoy eating out in Singapore, or do you enjoy restaurant and café-hopping? You may want to take a look at three applications – Burrple Beyond, Eatigo and Entertainer – that may help you get the most out of your dollar! Each offer good deals, but what makes each of these applications stand-out, and which application should you utilise?

In this article, I’ll be comparing them based on two main features – Cost and Types of Deals.

Cost

Burpple Beyond and Entertainer both run on a 1-for-1 subscription-based model. Deals are specifically 1-for-1 and works best for groups with even numbers. Also, for each restaurant, you will have four deals that you can utilize.

Burpple Beyond offers monthly or per annum subscriptions, which can be further sub-divided into all-day and off-peak deals. Essentially, all-day deals means that you are able to utilize the deals any time of the day whereas the off-peak deals can only be used at certain periods of the day.

As at September 2019, the off-peak monthly subscription is at S$4/month, all-day monthly subscription at S$9.90/month and the annual all-day subscription at S$69 (billed S$5.75 every month).

Entertainer’s subscription model is an annual subscription, per calendar year. From October to December yearly, Entertainer begins promoting for the next year’s deals. It usually costs just under S$100 (which works out to less than S$9/month). But what happens if you would like to subscribe to Entertainer mid-year? As the deals run by calendar year, Entertainer sometimes provides a cheaper deal mid-year as the lifespan of each deal has reduced.

Eatigo, on the other hand, works on a discount-based model. This means that there is no cost involved when utilising the application.

Types of Deals

Burrple Beyond has 1-for-1 deals for mid-price restaurants. Deals include those from One Man Coffee, Egg Stop, Megumi Japanese Restaurant, Shin Minori, and even Dunkin Donuts. It has a huge range of deals from donuts and sandwiches, to meals at a Japanese restaurant. However, I’ve got to say that certain deals make me feel a tad “cheated” as they include only a 1-for-1 appetizer. Considering that you can only use vouchers based on the number of people, you may not get the best bang for your buck in small groups.

Entertainer’s 1-for-1 deals, on the other hand, tackles mid-price to high-end restaurants. Some of the mid-price restaurants are also often available on Burrple. The deals on Entertainer are slightly better (i.e. 1-for-1 on all mains in Entertainer compared to a 1-for-1 on pizzas/pastas). They are often less limiting. As you accumulate points per deal transacted, users have the option of buying back deals if they would like to head back to the restaurant again – it isn’t very easy to accumulate points, but hey, at least there is this option. In addition, Entertainer has more than food deals, they have deals under the Lifestyle and Travel section which offers more 1-for-1 experiences. Deals are also not limited to Singapore and often come with other cities’ (based on your subscription).

Eatigo users are able to score deals (generally during off-peak timings) of up to 50 percent of the entire bill, less drinks. However, you’ll have to plan your meal in advance as you’ll need a booking (that secures the discount) before you head to the restaurant. Restaurants that are available here include chain restaurants like AOne and Harry’s –but deals may vary based on the outlet and timing. Eatigo is also available in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, and Thailand so do look out for deals if you’re heading to these countries as well!

So, which application would I recommend?

As Eatigo is free, I would recommend that you always look through Eatigo first as Eatigo does not limit the type of items that have discounts (less the drinks). However, the deals are time-specific, and you always have to ensure that you (and your party) are there at the specific time as there is only a 15 min grace period.

Burrple is good for starters if you are looking out for mid-priced restaurants. I would personally use Burrple more because even if there is a 1-for-1 Entertainer deal at a high-end restaurant, the cost per pax is usually much higher still.

Entertainer is good if you enjoy exploring high-end restaurants and it is easy to “recoup” your costs by simply having a meal at perhaps, Fat Cow.

These applications have definitely helped me save a lot of money. To date, I have saved almost a whopping S$748 within a span of 10 months!

Burrple Beyond Savings

P.S. Sign up with this referral code CHLO341 for a Burrple subscription and get 20 percent off the annual fee – first time users only!

Robe – A gem along the Limestone Coast

Along the Limestone Coast of South Australia lies a relatively touristy and quaint little town of Robe. Marked as one of the towns with connectivity, this town was marked on the Visit South Australia’s site with a Wi-Fi symbol – a true representation of how significant connectivity is when planning a trip, and an important one as I planned my trip as well. While I ultimately did not stay a night or two in this town, my family and I decided to drop by it while en route from Mount Gambier to Meningie.

If you intend to stop by this town, here are two places I’d highly recommend you visiting.

Robe Bakery Rosetown

On a nice Sunday afternoon, this small bakery that serves coffee and pastries had a decent crowd, with locals and tourists alike getting an afternoon coffee and snack. From the elderly to families with small children, this bakery’s pastries and coffee definitely managed to satisfy the crowd.

The cakes were nicely catered to those with a sweet-tooth, and for myself, the curry pie satisfied my savoury craving. With no iced coffee option on the menu, the staff kindly offered to make me a chilled-mocha – something they don’t usually do on a wintery day. With such service, it is no wonder how this small bakery has sustained for so long.

Robe Obelisk and its surroundings

With a function of that a light house, the Robe Obelisk is a stone pillar which was built in 1852 to guide ships to the Guichen Bay. The base to which it currently stands has been eroding and in comparison to how the Robe Obelisk used to stand in the past, the base has clearly eroded massively.

With short trails around the area, the Robe Obelisk provides a clear view of the sea, along with its breezy environment. Let the video and image below speak for it.

Robe Obelisk
View along the trail

Robe is a known local tourist attraction for its beach front and surfing paradise. However, do not be turned away during the cooler months for Robe has more to offer. If you happen to drive along the Limestone Coast, why not stop by this wonderful town?

ScootBiz becomes ScootPlus

Scoot has renamed its ScootBiz offering to ScootPus. According to the Singapore budget airline, the name change seeks to better reflect the product customers will experience on board.

It also states that “ScootPlus is a fuss-free, upsized Scoot experience, equivalent to a Premium Economy product.”

Premium Economy product. This is something that I can fully understand. As a fan of the airline’s ScootBiz, I enjoy the perks and recognise that while there’s a “Biz” tagged at the end, it’s not quite business class. After all, the price of a ScootBiz ticket is often lower than an economy ticket on Singapore Airlines.

But, not everyone interprets it that way. During my flights, I have overheard on occasions other ScootBiz passengers rambling about the lack of amenities, such as complimentary blanket or pillow. They were expecting business class services and disappointed with the lack of amenities.

So the name change may just help to correct any mismatched expectations.

So, what’s in the name change –besides the name change?

For starters, let’s just look at the similarities.

  • Wide premium leather seats with double leg room: This is the main reason why I pick ScootBiz and will choose ScootPlus in the future. The bigger seat width and extra leg room make long-haul travel more comfy.
  • 30 kg check-in baggage: Good for a budget airline and buying loads of goodies home for the return leg.
  • 15 kg cabin baggage: Always good to have more.
  • Choice of meal and beverage, inclusive of alcoholic beverage choices: I actually enjoy Scoot’s meals. To me, nothing beats having chicken rice or nasi lemak after being away for a week or more.
  • Priority check-in and boarding: Yes, it’s great to be able to check-in and board first.
  • In-seat power: Without built-in in-flight entertainment, this helps to keep my mobile devices charged up.

Now, for the difference. ScootPlus comes with 30MB of wifi access. That’s OK for simple email without attachment but certainly not enough for me. Nevertheless, it’s a nice gesture.

What isn’t mentioned is whether in-flight entertainment access code is still provided. ScootBiz used to include an access code for watching in-flight movies on the passenger’s device.

Another unknown is whether there is any price difference.

Overall, I think it’s a wise move for Scoot to rebrand ScootBiz to ScootPlus. I’m looking forward to my next Scoot flight — whenever that may be.