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Friday, January 12, 2018

Christmas Gifts Received

I was on social media looking at stuff people received over Christmas and I couldn't believe how many advent calendars and candles there are.

I received a DHL delivery from from my Taiwanese friends.

There are no books inside, just Taiwanese snacks of dried fruit and floral tea. All the packaging is resealable so I opened everything to try.

These brown packets of dried fruit come with one fruit tea bag each, meant for per occasion use, it's really handy. You can now treat your friend to afternoon tea without actually sitting down with them.

Sun Moon Lake Black Tea Cookies, just regular sugar cookies that are greyish in color with a slight dryness of black tea. Chi Shang Rice Crispies that are amazing! It's tastes like teriyaki with a seaweed on top. I really like that all snacks are individually wrapped so you don't have to finish everything once its opened.

New cup with a sleepy sheep design from Metro, people like to give me sleepy things. There's a suction pad on the bottom that prevents it from tipping over, really thoughtful coz I need it.

Sobranie Cocktail smokes...such an adult present, first time I've received cigarettes.

Laneige Essential Care Travel Set, 6 of their Water Bank products that will last me a couple of months on the road. The travel sizes are pretty substantial and not exactly trial sizes.

Mango Wristlet with floral embroidery. I like the black background with colorful flowers on top, kinda looks like the collection from H&M x Erdem 2017.

Trinket Tray in heart-shaped Tiffany blue. I don't have one at all so this is perfect.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Banana Leaf Restaurant

We ate here last Christmas. It's got good Indian food and a mix of Indian and Western style drinks and desserts. I hear its a really traditional Brit thing to have Indian or Indian-infused foods over the Christmas holiday period.

All the table settings have real banana leafs, hence the restaurant name. The pappadums, rice and vegetables of the day are also almost free.

You order the dishes through a waiter and the food is brought to your table. But you can take a peak into the kitchen to see all the dishes pre-cooked and lined up like a 菜饭 stall.

Since we had a large group, we ordered the curry fish-head. It's soupy and spicy with an assam base is a South Indian dish. Quite different from the other items we ordered like Paneer Butter Marsala North Indian, Black Squid Curry Sri Lankan, Tandoor Chicken North Indian Mughali, Garlic Naan North Indian Punjabi Dhaba, Fish Cutlets either Kerala or Sri Lankan.

You can come here for high tea if you are not really into Indian food. The spicy fish cutlets with a cup of warm Marsala tea was just the best part of my day.

My sis hosted a get-together over Christmas, mainly for the kids. By the time I got there the place was swimming with children, they're soo adorable. She made an Indian spiced 雪耳润肺汤 for dessert and home delivery of pizzas, salads, sausages and honey baked ham. It's not Christmas if you don't see honey baked ham everywhere.

Thank goodness I prepared some presents, I wasn't planning on giving out any presents this year. Hence, the retro gift wrapping instead of Christmasy ones.

I spent Christmas at the shopping center! Watching movies, eating fast food and window-shopping the shops that are still open. It's actually not that unusual, the place was filled with other people doing the same thing.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Private Jet ?

pic from robbreport

Something for serious consideration is the use of private jets to travel internally within America. There are several private jet companies in America including Delta and it's mainly about corporate travel, although people do use it for luxury vacations and getting to hard to reach places (no frills). To charter a private plane start from $10,000 (一万), if you can fill it up it works out to about $1,000 per person for in-country travel. This is about the same price on commercial airlines for less popular routes, state to state. 

pic from Delta Private Jet

From my personal experience I can tell you commercial flight is just not comfortable in America. I flew around quite a bit in my student days in the US and there were countless baggage checks on non-US citizens, you had to be physically fit to open all your luggage for checks and repack it, then repeat it a few more times even for check-in baggage. 

Then there is the infamous "special service" from United / Delta / America / Southwest airlines. I have had flight delays for almost 24 hours simply because the crew didn't turn up. People didn't used to talk about it but now they do when airline stewardesses have bad days and just freak out on passengers full on. I am not sure if that's racism or just accepting that they're stressed out.

Just checking out the newer Jet Charter companies like JetSmarter co-funded by Jay-Z. Pay a flat $10,000 1 year membership fee to download a phone app that allows you to charter a flight or show chartered flights near you with available seating. If you spend more than $10,000 on flights that year,  you can top up the payments as you go. Magellan Jets appeared on Shark Tank and it sells Jet Cards with flight hours like a phone card. The popular 25 hour Jet Card costs $200,000 to $350,000 depending on the plane model you prefer (gulfstream/challenger/sovereign).

Friday, December 22, 2017

Considering Other Cars

Over a decade ago, everyone was about Cadillac Escalade and I have to agree it is pretty amazing. You can fit 4 plus size people in with 4 full 82cm luggage bags and have space to stretch out or 6 people and 6 cabin sized luggage. I did consider the Escalade seriously for my holiday as it's well suited for luxury travel. List price starts at $80,000 (USD).

What really caught my eye is Cadillac CT6 a luxury sedan priced at the lower end of the luxury car market. When this car rolls up it says "Boss" and all the reviews agree. List price is around $60,000 (USD)

GMC Canyon pickup truck meets my budget with a list price of $21,000 (USD). Truly shocking as GMC is a premium brand of trucks, SUVs and vans only, with starting price around $60,00 to $80,000. Similar to Chevy Colorado it has 5 doors, touchscreen control pad in front and the new safety features. There are upgrade packages to choose from including GMC's Denali luxury options.

Chrysler 200 is another American 4 door sedan that comes within budget @ $24,000 (USD). The price includes rear camera, adaptive cruise control (stop and go), remote vehicle start, car diagnostics display. I like the exterior LED lights, very futuristic.

Lincoln Continental, a luxury car named after a former U.S. president. This 2017 updated vintage classic still carries old-world sophistication and will appeal to retro fans like me. Prices starting from $45,000 to $55,000 (USD), it sounds affordable but the upgrades will double that amount.

If you are into classic American cars, you don't necessarily need to get a vintage fixer-upper. Daytona brand Dodge still sells its classic muscle cars Charger, Challenger and Viper.

Dodge Charger (pic above) is a 4 door mid size sedan and Dodge Challenger (pic below) is a 2 door sports car. Both car models retain their vintage appearance and both are priced around $28,000 (USD). Customization is possible and interiors are usually Sport.

Dodge Viper (pic below) is a made in America super car with a V10 engine, priced at $100,000 (USD).

Dodge Dart (starts from $17,000 USD) compact sedan and Dodge Journey (starts from $22,000 USD) SUV comes within budget. Something to consider.

Maybach is a truly American innovation born out of requirement. The roomy interiors allow for 4 fat people to fit in comfortably with space to spare. It even allows for reclining seats in the back for the ultimate passenger relaxation. Now that its part of the Mercedes Benz group, Maybach cars include more luxury features like Burmester Surround Sound music system, Air Balance fragrance system, in-built refrigerator bar. Retail price from USD $200,000.