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Friday, December 15, 2017

Chevrolet Cars

"Chevy" is another American icon. Some more cars to consider.

Chevrolet Spark $$17,000 (USD) / Chevrolet Sonic $21,000 (USD)
Both Spark and Sonic are 2 door minis. Touch screen control pad in front, rear camera, front & rear alert. Sonic has slightly better performance and is slightly bigger with almost double trunk space.

Chevrolet Cruze starts from $17,000 (USD) / Chevrolet Malibu starts from $20,000 (USD)
The starting price is a really conservative estimate. Cruze is a compact sedan, this year its available as a hatchback for more trunk space. Malibu is a mid-size sedan that offers features like report card on the road and alert when seat belts are not worn.

Chevrolet Trax starts from $21,000 (USD)/ Chevrolet Equinox starts from $24,000 (USD)
Trax and Equinox are SUVs with the new safety features like rear camera, front and rear alert system, rear cross traffic alert system and side blind zone alert system. Equinox has a visibly bigger trunk and additional features like hands-free foot-activated liftgate and surround vision.

Chevrolet Colorado starts from $20,000 (USD)
It's a 5 door truck at almost half the starting price compared to other brands. There are safety features like teen driver technology (audio is muted until front passengers buckle up etc), rear camera, forward collision alert system, lane departure warning. Loads of customization available, limited editions and accessories to personalize your ride.

Chevrolet City Express starts from $23,000 (USD)
It's a commercial van. Compared to the Ford Transit Connect, it fares slightly better in fuel economy and cargo space.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ford Cars

If you are all about the ATVs because of price, consider these Ford cars. An iconic American brand name for an American adventure. 

Ford Fiesta
Formerly a 2 door mini now a 4 door mini, with a list price between $14,000 to $16,000 (USD). It's now got a touchscreen control pad that comes standard in all Ford vehicles. Not to mention a car has all those modern conveniences like radio, ac, optional heating etc.

Ford Focus
A slightly bigger and slightly better 4 door than Fiesta, list price between $17,000 to $20,000 (USD). The Focus has Park Assist (hands free parallel parking), reverse sensing system, rear view camera as standard. Touted as America's best-selling model.

Ford Fusion
Proper 4 door sedan, list price is around $23,000 (USD). Touted as safest drive, Fusion comes with Park Assist (parallel & perpendicular), Pre-Collision Assist (pedestrian detection), Adaptive Cruise Control (automated start/stop in traffic jams), Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert System, Lane Keeping System, rear camera, inflatable rear seat belts.

Ford Escape
Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) with a list price around $24,000 (USD). It's got all the features of a Fusion with the addition of hands-free foot-activated lift gate (to open the trunk of the car).

 Ford Transit Connect
Commercial or passenger vehicle with a list price around $23,000 (USD). The transit connect offers the most flexibility in passenger/storage, it can carry up to 7 passengers or clear out to carry more cargo. Even the front passenger seat can be folded down to become an additional table for the driver. Quick Clear windshield defroster, rear camera, front & back sensors and not to mention the optional Towing package. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

All Terrain Vehicle (ATV)

ATVs are really big in America as a leisure vehicle or extra transportation to have around the farm. It's not exactly a main vehicle to own but it does occupy a category in-between public transportation and car. A category lots of people including myself, find ourselves in. When the weather is nice, we put the top of the convertible down, so what's the difference with this. 

This is everyone's idea of an ATV, a 4 wheel motorcycle and you need a motorcycle licence to drive this around. All ATVs have the option of cargo space at the back to turn it into a workhorse and roofing to shelter from sun/rain/snow. Like a regular vehicle, you can choose gas, electric or hybrid. Prices range from $2,000 to $8,000 (USD). Compare that to the US price of Vespas $3,000 to $7,000 (USD).

The side-by-side ATV is a sportier golf cart, built for off-roading. You need a drivers licence to ride one on the roads. Priced between $7,000 to $18,000.  Personally, I prefer this as a good looking and fair priced vehicle. There's even space to put my bag or groceries on the seat next to me.

If you've got more people to move around, there is the 4x4 ATV. Priced between $16,000 to $23,000. Comparing Honda Pioneer 1000 ATV to 1912 Ford Model T. Both are about the same size and sit 4 passengers. If you can do without modern conveniences like ac, heating, radio etc.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Application for U.S. Visa & other legalities

Planning my next vacation...

It seems the rules have changed a little since the last time I traveled to America. Nowadays, I can still travel Visa free for 90 days or less (about 3 months) provided I have ESTA authorization on my passport and the airline I am using is aware of and approves of me travelling Visa free. How do I check with the airline on this when I book the ticket through a travel agent or online. ESTA is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization and online applications are only USD$14, if denied approval then it only costs USD$4.

The most common type of visa to apply for is B-1/B-2 for business or leisure (including medical treatment). For this type of visa, you're usually staying for 6 months to 2 years and it costs USD$160 to apply for. There is a validity period of 10 years but that is not relevant to us as we need to specify the departure and return dates on the visa application.

image from

Driving a car or atv in America requires a Driver's License. Our driving license is valid in the U.S. for only the first year as an international driving license. Any stay longer than a year requires you to sit for and pass the State driving tests. This local U.S. driving licence allows you to drive only in the State the license is issued in. To obtain an all-state U.S. driving licence, you need to give up (confiscate) your home country driver's licence. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Anniversary Birthday

Got my dad something from LV this year. It's his 70th birthday celebrations.

Dinner @ Four Points by Sheraton. There is a Chinese herbal restaurant there so this dinner menu is a real treat.

My sis ordered custom macaroons as door gifts, each parcel came tied to a balloon. I always thought you had to order through the hotel's wedding/party planner. But, you can actually order it from somewhere else and have it delivered to the Hotel Function Room, balloons too.

Longevity Buns!

Dinner menu has plenty of Chinese herbs and includes the chef's specialties.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Renovations Update

The toilets are already done, thanks to HDB upgrading the entire estate. It's all standard stuff inside. My dad had to get new faucets for me coz the new ones take up too much space in the bathroom. It's meant for much bigger showers than this.

The kitchen was hacked up by the contractors and re-tiled nicely in what looks like marble. The kitchen cabinets are also done up in marble laminate to match the walls. We were deciding on what stone counter-top to use, I really like light green but it looks like jade and is too premium for a HDB flat. In the end we went with black marble composite with silver-ish glitter inside. The new kitchen sink is much bigger and comes with a drying rack on top of it. The only thing I am not sure about is the removal of the breakfast counter that has been replaced with a tempered glass panel.

New gate got installed, along with the new door, both from HDB upgrading works. The painters came around and I got a real headache coz the place is a mess and they wanted to confirm colours and dates.

In the meantime, we've been eating a lot of takeaways.

Trying out this instant hotpot available in 2 flavors, beef or vegetarian. Just add water and wait 15-20 minutes before eating. It's 麻辣火锅 all right, authentic and delicious, except it costs over $20 each. The price includes potato noodles, various mushrooms & root veges, quail eggs, meat. 

That's real steam coming out of the lunchbox. It goes on for another 20 mins or so. I want to drink all that soup down coz its soo delicious, but my mouth was numb by then.