Why I like my Google Chromecast

With the increasing trend of utilising subscription-based streaming services, including Spotify and Netflix, I realised that our reliance on it is also because we have technology (devices) that truly support it at home. One such technology which was once less-utilised, the Google Chromecast, is something I’d like to talk about today as it is a game-changer. 

Google Chromecast dongle (first generation)

For those with Smart TVs at home, the in-built software often comes with access to Netflix, YouTube and more – but the Google Chromecast is able to turn a simple monitor into a Smart TV easily, without having to purchase an expensive Smart TV!

The Google Chromecast is wonderful for the following reasons: 

Easy mirroring: It provides easy mirroring of one’s phone screen on a monitor or television. For many, mobile phones are the main gadget they rely on as compared to a desktop, and these gadgets are often relatively small. Hence, the ability to mirror content off a smartphone on to a screen is ideal. From photo displays, to even utilising your monitor as a larger screen to work, the Google Chromecast provides one the ability to do that. 

Netflix casting made easy

Great compatibility: It is compatible with various subscription-based streaming services like Spotify and Netflix. This compatibility allows stable streaming capabilities, allowing one to easily cast content from their mobile devices on to the monitor or TV that has the Google Chromecast. This feature is different to mirroring as the casting capability allows one to cast content and streaming is from the Google Chromecast itself and one can easily still use your mobile phone where not all content is casted. 

Google Chromecast supports YouTube

Simple casting: For non-paid applications such as YouTube, the Google Chromecast allows one to easily play content from YouTube, for a quick and accessible way of entertainment. With the YouTube mobile application, one can also easily add videos to queues that helps users schedule favourite content in a playlist for constant viewing. 

Picture perfect: The Google Chromecast can also turn your monitor into a live photo frame where photos can appear in montages or via Google Slides (like a PowerPoint presentation). With this, it allows non-static content to appear at a timely manner on the monitor. 

Highly portable: Most importantly, the Google Chromecast is very portable and easy to set-up. With stable Wi-Fi connectivity, and a monitor with a HDMI port, the Chromecast can be easily set-up to allow all users who are hooked on the same network to fully utilise it. Newer versions of the Chromecast also support game viewing, increasing the level of entertainment for these users. 

Do you own a Chromecast? If you don’t, you can get the third generation of the Google Chromecast from the Google store at an affordable price of S$65. Here’s to turning your simple monitor to a Smart TV easily!

Grindelwald – Mount First instead of Jungfrau?

Following my previous post on the snippets on Grindelwald, here’s more on Mount First! We made the decision to head up Mount First instead of Jungfrau. Now, this might be of interest to you as most people tend to want to head up to Jungfrau, one of the main summits of the Alps. 

Here are some of the factors we considered before heading to Mount First.

Cost – With the Swiss Travel Pass, heading up Mount First via the gondola gives us a 50% discount. The Jungfrau is significantly further, and we are only entitled a 25% discount for the ticket up. Although this wasn’t a significant factor (we already paid so much to get to Switzerland!), it was something we considered. 

Time – From where we were staying in Grindelwald, we had a 360 view of the mountains surrounding it and saying that it is pretty is too underwhelming a statement. We wanted to be able to have a mountain-top view and many of the mountains (in all honesty) look similar. Mount First was only a 10-minute bus ride from our accommodation (5 minutes from the Grindelwald station), and it only took us 25 minutes up to Mount First via the gondola. However, getting to Jungfrau would have taken us 1.5 hours to get there from Grindelwald. Imagine – 1.5 hours just to get there, and another 1.5 hours to return.

Activities – We wanted this to be a chill trip and the activity that struck us the most was the Grindelwald First Flyer – a zip line down from the First cable car station to the next. The almost-40-second trip was a thrilling one and the view, magnificent. Having seen this on a Chinese variety show a couple of years back, I’d always wanted to take it. There’s just something about flying up in the air with surrounding mountains that screams amazing. (No photos/videos as I wanted to enjoy the most of the experience!)

On top Mount First was also a free-for-all First Cliff Walk. This First Cliff Walk surrounds a small section of the mountain which gives you a panoramic view on the edge of the cliff. On a day with good weather, it is ideal to walk on it. However, the path up to the entrance of the cliff walk was a bit steep and slippery the day we went! 

There was a restaurant on the top of Mount First and we had our cheese fondue experience there. Perhaps it was the alcohol within the cheese, or we just could not appreciate the dense cheese, we struggled to finish it and had an experience that came out with the phrase – “Cheese Fondue, how about Cheese fon-don’t!”

Mount First has more to offer than the above two activities mentioned. In fact, one can rent sleds and skis to experience most of the mountain. If you are looking for a place to explore in a day, Mount First is an easy-to-reach destination with many activities to keep people of all ages entertained! 

Snippets of Grindelwald

After Zurich and Liechtenstein, we headed off to Grindelwald, a holiday town that sits within the Jungfrau region. From Zurich, we took the train headed for Interlaken and changed to a smaller train from Interlaken to Grindelwald. The entire journey took us more than 2.5 hours and was a smooth and uneventful ride.

While researching for this trip, we realized that many like to use Interlaken as their base as it is a well-known hub with good connectivity around the area. However, my family and I decided that we wanted the mountain-top or you could say, mountainside experience this time round and we decided to stay in Grindelwald itself. Accommodation options in Grindelwald are on the slightly pricier side compared to the options in Interlaken but it is understandable considering that it is a holiday town! Here’s the link to the cute Airbnb we stayed in.

Grindelwald

After settling into our accommodation, we decided to head back to the main town centre to explore and grab some groceries at the co-op. The main town centre is where the train terminal, bus terminal, hotels, sports activities, shops and restaurants are situated.

Streets of Grindelwald

The Grindelwald Sports Centre, also known as Sportzentrum Grindelwald, is open to the public and on a gloomy day, one can easily engage in sports activities here. From bouldering to indoor swimming and ice-skating, Sportzentrum Grindelwald is definitely a good area to visit on a gloomy day! Just outside the centre lies a playground which children and adults can hang out at. On a snowy day in Grindelwald, we saw many children building snowmen – a cute sight indeed.

A friendly tip: If you intend to do your groceries in Grindelwald, just note the opening hours of the one and only co-op there! They do not operate on Sundays.

Stay-tuned to learn more about Grindelwald!

Best CNY Goodies 2020 – Poon Confectionary

Just after Christmas, shops all around have shifted their gears to welcome the Chinese Lunar New Year. In this season of festivity and feasting, my family and I decided to start looking for the most recommended Chinese New Year goodies – after all, there’s just so much we should eat, and we should make those calories worth it. 

This year, my family and I chanced upon Poon Confectionary while reading a recommended post on Chinese New Year goodies and we decided to give it a shot. Instead of heading down to the physical shop in Guillemard Road where you can actually try out the products, we placed our order online at www.cnydelivery.com (the address is pretty self-explanatory). Our order included the two containers each of the following:  Homemade Peanut Butter Kuih Kapit (SGD $14.90), Award Winning Premium Hae Bee Hiam Prawn Roll (SGD $14.90), and Premium Golf Ball Pineapple Tarts (SGD $22.90). Delivery is free if you purchase >SGD $100 or a small fee of SGD $6.90 if your order falls below that!

I was really impressed by the speed of delivery. We placed our order on a Friday and received our order the next day!

But here’s the verdict of the products – 

Homemade Peanut Butter Kuih Kapit aka The Show Stealer

Peanut Butter Kuih Kapit

Wrapped in love-letter-like biscuit, the peanut butter was thick and creamy, and very very rich. Item tasted very fresh and light, and does not taste like a mass-produced product (if you know what I mean). This is also a pretty unique product (in my opinion) considering that I’ve not seen this product sold in many places elsewhere. If you like peanut butter and love-letters, this IS the go-to Chinese New Year goodie for you this year. 

Hae Bee Hiam Prawn Roll aka CNY Must-Have Spicy Staple

Hae Bee Hiam Prawn Roll

Poon Confectionary won the Vulcan Post’s top prawn roll category and think they deserved it. Each piece of prawn roll had a decent amount of spicy prawn paste wrapped in a thin spring-roll skin. According to Poon Confectionary, fresh shrimps are caught from their village (company originates from Malaysia) and products are only made upon being ordered! These prawn rolls are seriously addictive because of its freshness and spiciness. 

Premium Golf Ball Pineapple Tarts aka CNY Must-Have Sweet Staple

Golf Ball Pineapple Tarts

These melt-in-the-mouth pineapple tarts were very buttery, with a good amount of pineapple filling in them. The pastry was sufficiently firm when holding yet melts so nicely in the mouth. Unlike factory-made pineapple jam that tends to be hard and overly sweet, the pineapple filling of these tarts tasted very fresh, soft, and had a very tangy flavour. Do note that these golf ball pineapple tarts looked like ordinary pineapple tarts and I wouldn’t consider them big by any means (compared to the Le Cafe Confectionary and Pastry golf-ball pineapple tarts).

Thoughts

Poon Confectionary’s products did not disappoint, and we were amazed by the quality and value of the products. While the prawn roll and pineapple tarts were really good, my family and I felt that the homemade peanut butter kuih kapit was the best in this order because of its uniqueness and quality. Let’s just say that we placed a second order on the same day our first order arrived – ten containers of homemade peanut butter kuih kapit, two containers of prawn rolls, and two containers of the premium golf ball pineapple tarts 😉 That’s another 14 containers of goodies to enjoy this festive season!

A Kindle Paperwhite 4 really makes reading pleasant

I’ve had the Kindle Paperwhite 4 for a couple of weeks now – 6 weeks to be exact – and I have to say that I really like it!

Kindle PaperWhite 4 – Thinner than my coaster!

Having read eBooks on multiple platforms – iPad, iPad mini, iPhone and my current OnePlus 6T mobile phone – I did not realize till I switched over to the Kindle Paperwhite 4 that the difference is pretty significant. 

The main reasons I like it are: 

It’s sturdy

I had to purchase the product online as it is not easy to find a physical store that sells it in Singapore. I forgot how light and small this was till it arrived. However, upon using it, and of course, with a casing, I find that the Kindle Paperwhite 4 while small, is very sturdy and does not feel like I’m holding a flimsy tablet. 

Long battery life

Considering that my previous eBook reading experiences were on my iPads, iPhone and mobile phone, it is safe to say that the battery life of my Kindle Paperwhite 4 has amazed me. A single charge can last me a good three weeks of reading (with minimal notetaking). Of course, this is not a very statement to say as this tablet is used only to serve its purpose of reading and not for any other use (unlike my other devices). 

Does not strain the eyes

Probably the best reason on why I love this product. The Kindle Paperwhite 4 provides a very pleasant reading experience with minimal glare. Unlike conventional devices, the Kindle provides a very realistic reading experience with the perk of being able to adjust the backlight, font size and even page margins. The ability to make the adjustments, and the overall paper-like feature makes reading extremely pleasant. 

Before I bought the product, there were multiple reviews online that said that the 2019 version was not as good as its predecessor in terms of the user interface and the overall user experience. The main feature they were complaining about was how the power button was placed too near the charging port, at the bottom of the tablet, which makes them power off their devices when they touch the bottom to their dismay. But to date, this feature does not bother me – could be due to the fact that I have a magnetic sleep casing that I use (hence I do not even use the power button often). 

Thoughts

I’m pretty proud of my Kindle Paperwhite 4 purchase and I’m hoping that my desire to read to read this season will make this purchase even more worthwhile!

FIFA World Museum – Are you game for it?

Are you a huge football fan? Regardless of whether you are, or aren’t, the FIFA World Museum is a must-visit in Zurich. As the only FIFA World Museum in the world, this museum gives every visitor a great insight on how it was established and how it has progressed over years.

Upon entry, you will be greeted with a wall that displays the entire history of FIFA and honestly, it can be a tad underwhelming. However, upon entering the exhibition on the lower level, you will be able to learn a lot more on FIFA. From the signing and inauguration of FIFA, to the trophy on display, the first exhibit on the lower level provides a lot of information on FIFA’s beginnings. Detailed documents are also on display here.

FIFA World Museum – Trophy

The next area is sectioned in a way where both the Men’s FIFA history and Women’s FIFA history are displayed. It showcases the winning team from each year since its establishment and for those that follow the FIFA World Cup, it definitely brings back great memories!

Apart from the history of FIFA, the museum also has exhibits where visitors can feel the difference in the types of footballs that have been used over the years. Did you know? The football of the past was so much heavier than the current football that is used today. In addition, the type of shoes has also been modified significantly since its beginnings. From 1920 to 2014, both the football and shoes have definitely moved on with the times!

FIFA World Museum – Feel the difference!

What I really like about the museum is that there are many interactive activities.

A photo booth is available at the lower level which allows families to take photos together. In this photo booth, one is able to take a photo that showcases the stadium in which the FIFA world cup was held. (i.e. Wembley Stadium in England). One is able to get the photos sent to their email address and is definitely a pleasant token to have.

FIFA World Museum – Sports Commentator Booth

There is also a booth which allows one to learn how to be a sports commentator, with scripts available for one to practice. Upon trying, we realized that one really needs skill to be a sports commentator!

A dance booth is also available – one might ask – why a dance booth? In every FIFA match, there is bound to have a dance – be it a pre-match cheer or a dance upon scoring a goal. A motion-sensor dance area thus provides one to learn these dances and to have fun!

FIFA World Museum – Stadium Seats

A small cinema that provides a pretty panoramic view also showcases a brief history of FIFA, and the waiting area to enter the cinema is set-up with replicas of chairs from stadiums that hosted the FIFA globally!

Thoughts

There are many other interactive activities in this FIFA museum, and I would definitely recommend everyone to take a half-day to explore this place. From learning about the different elements in FIFA posters to FIFA anthems over the years, this museum definitely showcases how football can really bring people together – and that’s pretty amazing!

FIFA World Museum – Video Preview (Turn your audio on!)

Exploring one of the smallest countries in the world – Liechtenstein

In my previous post, I mentioned on how to get to Liechtenstein from Zurich. On today’s post, I will talk about the activities to do in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein!

Having dropped by the tourist centre, the staff suggested a few nearby museums that could be of interest to us – they were indeed interesting!

Museums Brochure

Schatzkammer Liechtenstein (Treasure Chamber) 

The treasure chamber consists of a collection of artefacts donated by private collectors and the princes of Liechtenstein. From paintings from life along the Rhine to Easter egg collections, this small museum is rich in history but is considerably one of the smallest museums I’ve ever been to. The entire collection is set-up in glass boxes within a dimly lit room and each item is carefully labelled with a number. One can learn more about the item from the navigation book provided at the entrance of the museum. Do note that each person will be given a token to enter the museum, and entry is by person (two-door security system).

Tip: If you intend to visit the Liechtenstein National Museum as well, you can deposit your bags at the Liechtenstein National Museum counter before getting your entry tokens there. As all museums do not allow large items to be brought in, you will need to deposit your items before being allowed entry.

Liechtenstein National Museum

Liechtenstein National Museum Stairwell

The Liechtenstein National Museum displays artefacts rich in history. It contains different sections – from nature to culture, this museum has various collections, with quite a number of temporary exhibitions. An audio headset can be requested for and the audio tour works for most of the exhibits. If you’ve been to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC or the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, you may find this museum underwhelming. However, if you would like to learn more on Liechtenstein’s history, this place is rich in it and is a sizable museum.

Postal Museum

This is the only museum with free entry among the three discussed today. Similar to the treasure chamber, this postal museum is very small but has a very extensive collection of postal stamps issued since 1912. Postal stamps are also showcased very neatly in the display cases. In fact, there was a description that said that the six display cases are so solid that they way an incredible 3,600 kg! Besides Liechtenstein’s stamps, the postal museum also has stamp books that collect stamps from other countries – Singapore included!

Thoughts

It was fun going to these museums as it gives a very quick overview of Liechtenstein and its rich history. We were also more willing to explore the museums as they were included in our Swiss Travel Pass – more information on the pass can be found here and you can purchase it from Klook using this referral link too. 

Liechtenstein makes a good destination for a one-day tour as you can sufficiently explore the area within a day. As the weather wasn’t in our favour during the trip, the museums also allowed us to stay dry in the pouring rain.

If you have a day to spare, and are looking to explore another country in Europe, Liechtenstein is definitely a good place to go to!

Getting to Liechtenstein from Zurich

Just to the east of Switzerland lies the country of Liechtenstein. This small country has a population of just under 40,000 citizens and is one of the world’s richest countries per capita!

On a recent trip to Switzerland, my family and I decided to take a trip to Liechtenstein’s – Vaduz, but honestly speaking, there weren’t many sites that provided detailed information on the country and on how to get there. Hence, here’s a quick guide on the most straight-forward way on getting there by public transport and some tips!

  1. From Zurich Main Station, hop on the train that is in the direction of Chur. Train runs pretty regularly in hourly intervals and the journey is just under an hour.
  2. Get off at the second stop – Sargans
  3. Walk towards bus stop – Sargans, Bahnhof, Stand B
  4. Take bus 12E in the direction of Vaduz – Post. This bus ride brings you across the border from Switzerland to Liechtenstein. This friendly border is peppered with some flags on each side that is seemingly not heavily guarded. 
  5. Get off at the terminal station
From Sargans to Vaduz

Liechtenstein is a very quiet country, and the directions to Vaduz provided above brings you to the ‘touristy-centre’ of the capital. Here, you can drop by the Centro de información turística de Liechtenstein, or essentially, the Tourist Information stop where you can request for a tourist map that plots the various attractions in Vaduz. 

More information to come on the various attractions I visited during the trip soon!