Travel Diaries

“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”

One of my biggest wishes is to travel around the world for ONE WHOLE YEAR when I can.

Before that can happen, I aim travel to places that I’ve never been to; see more, hear more, feel more. Magical things can happen when you are travelling. Life is an adventure, only if we are willing to take that first step out of our comfort zone. Here is a journal of the baby steps that I will take before I can fulfil my wish of travelling around the world:

Asia

Hong Kong

Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

Batam, Indonesia

Osaka, Japan

Kyoto, Japan

Malaysia

Taiwan

Bangkok, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

Busan, South Korea

Jeju Island, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Danang, Vietnam

Oceania

Newcastle, Australia

Sydney, Australia

value-vs-price

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.

Price is what you pay, value is what you get. Familiar? This is a famous quote by Warren Buffett.

The essence of this phrase is that you should never pay more than the value of a certain stock. If the value of a stock is worth $1.00, you’ll get a bargain if you pay anything below $1.00; and similarly you would have overpaid if you pay anything more than $1.00. Simple to understand? Yes it is. The challenge though, is giving an accurate valuation of the company that you will be owning. Some investors will measure the assets & liabilities that the company CURRENTLY has while some investors will forecast FUTURE earnings and get a valuation based on that. Either way, investors would have a magic number in their minds, known as the value of the company.

In fact, this theory applies to everything that happens to us in life.

Price is what you pay, value is what you get. How much are you willing pay for a 10-day trip to Taiwan? How much are you willing to pay for that 4-room BTO flat that you and your girlfriend intend to get? How much are you willing to pay for a good meal at a reputable Japanese restaurant over the weekend? How much are you willing to pay for a new GoPro Hero 5 or the new iPhone 7?

Well it depends.

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It is a good deal if the perceived value exceeds the price. This is called the consumer surplus – the difference between what consumers are willing to pay and what they actually pay.

The higher the perceived value of something we buy, the more willing we are to buy it. Value comes not only in tangible terms but also intangible terms. For people who travel often, these phrases may sound familiar to you:


“Travel while you are young and able. Don’t worry about money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be”

“The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time”

“Working makes you money. But travel makes you rich”

“Travel is the only thing that you can buy that makes you richer”


The value in travelling comes in the experiences that you have, the memories that you make during travelling. These are not physical assets; we can’t value them easily. If you value these intangibles highly, the more you are willing to pay for. Again, it is only a good deal if and only if you pay a price that is LOWER than the value of whatever you are buying.

Faced with limited resources that we have at our age, it is hard to prioritise how to spend our money wisely to maximise the TOTAL value we can derive from our money. How to maximise the “Value per dollar spent” to get best bang for your buck.

Will the $10,000 that you are going to spend on a student exchange maximise your value per dollar spent? Or perhaps spending the $10,000 on a car will do the trick? 

Ultimately, the decision is ours to pull the trigger to spend money in areas we feel that we should spend to make us happy. Some of us like to live in the moment, some of us like to plan for our future. My take is that we should ALWAYS live in the moment AND plan sufficiently for our future. How? I’ll leave it till next time 🙂

Oct 2016 Portfolio Update

Current Portfolio Size: $20,519.00 (based on value subsequently)

Current YTD: 6.84% (with dividends)

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Purchases made during Oct
  1. United Industrial Corp(SGX:U06); $2.74 for 700 shares
  2. Far East Orchard(SGX:O10); $1.51 for 1300 shares
Divestment during Oct
  1. Nil
Dividends collected during Oct
  1. OUE Limited(SGX:LJ3); $0.01 for 1200 shares
  2. OUE Limited(SGX:LJ3); $0.02 for 1200 shares

Total Dividends Collected: $36.00


Finally completed my review on my portfolio! First, I had to check if any of my current holdings have met their price targets, and if they did, I should have sold them to realise the profits. Nope, none did. Next, I had to check if any of my current holdings have failed their POF criteria, and if they did, I should have sold them to cut my losses. Nope, none did.

After which, I repeated the entire process of scanning, measuring financial performance, checking if they met the CNAV criteria as well as checking other qualitative metrics to search for more opportunities. First was United Industrial Corp and second was Far East Orchard.

United Industrial Corp (SGX:U06) develops and invests in properties, and provides property management, information technology, development management and consultancy services. The Company also trades in computers and related products, and invests in hotels and retail centers.

Far East Orchard (SGX:O10) is a diversified real estate developer with a global portfolio in development and investment properties. The Company is also a vertically integrated regional hospitality owner and operator with a sizeable overseas network. Its portfolio includes purpose-built medical suites in Singapore and student accommodation properties in the United Kingdom.

With these two additions, my total number of stocks that I am currently holding is 10. When you are cock sure about the stocks that you are holding will become champion stocks, you can choose to hold just a few stocks. However, if you did not spend enough time to throughly examine each aspect of the company you are holding, it is more advisable to hold a variety of stocks to diversify the risk of a couple of failing stocks.

Cheers!

The Art of playing “Monopoly™”

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Monopoly™ is a board game that we are all familiar with since young. When I was a kid, I didn’t really put much thought in it while playing the game. I only knew that there was one objective – to get rich and win at the end of the game. Now that I’ve grown up, and being exposed to finance, I began to have a different appraisal of the game. Recently, I went to a board game cafe and my friends and I spent a good hour there reliving our childhood. You see, there were many aspects of the game that was intentionally designed to teach us certain key lessons in life.

1. You can’t win by holding cash

Cash is king. Cash is liquid. Cash gives you negotiating power. But however, in late game, the value of cash is not as high as it was in early game. Holding cash does not produce more cash, buying assets will! 

Try offering cash to someone in return for their property deed, the most probable answer will be a “no”. Even if they said yes, you’ll probably have to pay a huge premium for that “Bow Street” or “Old Kent Road” compared to what they have bought because of the potential future profits that you can gain from the property deed – the value of your cash is hence eroded by time.

2. Having a safety margin / insurance 

Safety margin is an important concept to understand if we do not want to be bankrupted in early in the game.

When passing by a street with numerous houses built on the property deeds or when you are near “Income Tax” or “Luxury Tax”,  it is always wise to have a safe margin of cash in your hand.

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It would NOT be wise to take the risk and put yourself in the spot whereby you land on an expensive property and have to resort to selling your houses and mortgaging assets to fund your debt.

Unfortunately, there isn’t the concept of “insurance” in game. Translating to our real lives, insurance is an important tool to hedge our risks against huge expenses such medical bills, car accidents so that in times of need, we would not have resort to selling our stocks to pay for our expenses – a counterproductive move. The concept of an emergency fund also works the same way!

3. Breakeven point and Return of Investment

Ever wondered why even though you own “Mayfair” and “Park Lane”, the most expensive estate in the entire game yet you cannot win the game? You have built houses and hotels yet you cannot generate cash flow as quickly as those who have build their estates on the orange-coloured deeds or light blue-coloured deeds?

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First, lower-value property deeds take a shorter time to breakeven. Once it crosses the breakeven point, any rent earned beyond that will be pure profits – more cashflow to purchase additional assets!

Return of investment also comes into play. Each player is given limited resources. How you put each dollar to work is crucial in determining your fate in the game. You should aim to maximise the profits you gain for every dollar that you put in – this is assuming that the risk is equal which is not true in the real world.

As seen in the table below, even though the ROI for the blue street is the highest, the capital outlay to achieve that ROI is staggering! If we compare that to “Whitechapel Road”  with a hotel, the ROIs are similar at around 78%, “Whitechapel Road” takes a much shorter time to complete building and may be a better investment opportunity to start earning more cash per dollar invested.

Monopoly.jpg4. Align your decision with your long term goals 

For the lucky ones, you have the opportunity to snag up certain property deeds during early game by landing on empty lots every time you roll the dice. The unlucky ones might get themselves into “Jail” or passing by spaces such as “Income Tax”, “Chance” or “Community Chest”. Worse case they might even land on some player’s property and need to pay them rent! Even when they have accumulated enough cash after several rounds, there may not be many property deeds left for them to purchase.

However, this may not necessarily be a bad thing.

You see, the downside of snagging up SO MANY properties in the early game is that eventually you’ll run of cash. You’ll have a portfolio of low performing properties (collect basic rent only) and cannot invest more to turn them into more valuable lots (by completing the set, building houses). The “unlucky” player, on the other side, will have to try his/her best to complete a set and invest heavily into the complete set by building houses to maximise the cashflow per lot. A fully developed property will have a higher potential of gaining more cash when someone lands on your property in the future.

Ultimately, a balance is important in having the right amount of property and cash resources to achieve that long term goal of having the highest net worth.

5. “Jail” may not be a bad place to be – the idea of doing nothing

As amateur investors, we are very impatient. We think that the stock exchange is a game, and the more we participate, the more money we earn. Wrong. As amateur investors, we have limited capital, every dollar counts. Why waste the money on the hefty transaction fees that erodes your returns.

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Sometimes we have to be patient and practise the art of doing nothing. Just like how when we have built a portfolio of cash-generating properties in the game, sometimes we should just rest in Jail and do nothing, collect revenue, prevent ourselves from paying heavy rents to our opponents.

6. Diversification 

The one who usually wins the game is not the one who usually only owns ONE full set of well-developed property – i.e. all the railways, all orange-coloured properties, all utilities. The one who usually wins the game knows how to diversify his/her risk and build on different coloured property deeds to maximise the chances of other players passing by his/her own property.

Building on properties on different coloured deeds, different streets allow the player to spread out the risk of other players NOT landing on their property. Hence, it is important to not only focus on getting one “winner” set but aim to build a portfolio of “good” sets to increase the odds of winning.

7. Negotiation – Win-win scenario

Sometimes it’s not about just what you want, but also what your opponent wants that matter. When making a deal, you have to present it such that it seems mutually beneficial to both parties. Dig deep and find out what your opponent REALLY needs at that point of time.

For example, your opponent may be low on cash after snagging up several property deeds. You wish to own one of his property deeds to complete your set so that you can begin building your houses.

Now, at this point the most logical thing to do is probably to trade one of your deeds with one of his. But however, he may refuse as this decision will elevate your position and put him at a disadvantage.

However, if you simply provide him with the resources that he desperately needs – more cash to build houses – there is a higher chance that he will make the deal, even if you are using a property deed that he currently doesn’t need. Now, that is a win-win scenario!

8. Passing “GO”

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Collecting $200 on “GO” always feels good. But what feels even better is when you do not have to depend on that $200 for your purchases anymore. When your rental income exceeds your “salary” , you can simply live on your rental income, reinvest and not depend on that $200 salary like how you did early in the game. Get my drift?

9. Controlling resources – buying till there are 0 houses.

Time is of essence when it comes to late game. There are only 32 houses in the game. If you do not grab the opportunity to build houses in time, you may lose the chance to advance in the game.

One strategy that we can use when we are leading is to build 4 houses on each of the property deed that we own and not upgrade it to a hotel.

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By the time our opponent catches up, he may not have the opportunity to build houses on his properties incrementally – he would have to fork up a large capital to build a hotel directly should there not be any more houses available. It will deal a great blow to his cash balance. Being able to build slowly is an advantage that most players do not see.

Simply put, utilise the opportunity that is given to you early in life, and leverage it. So that you can maintain that edge you have over everyone else. 

10. Generating cash flow from one, invest in another. 

As previously mentioned in 3., some properties take a much shorter time to breakeven the the others. A simple strategy to build your empire rapidly is to set up your cheaper property deeds early such as the orange-coloured street, building cheap houses and hotels to generate high cash flows from these units and subsequently use them to invest in more expensive houses and hotels in more premium streets such as the green-coloured street.

You thus have consistent cash flow coming in from the cheap mature estates in your portfolio, you use these cheap cash flows to invest in more profitable projects and reap even higher cash flows in the future – putting money back into good use!


Similar to “Monopoly™”, we also have our financial end goals that we would like to achieve in life. Buying a house? Buying a car? Getting married? Retiring on investment income? With proper planning and execution, we are able to achieve these goals! Only when we meet these financial goals, we will be able to achieve true liberty!

Fear of failure

The fear of falling is real; from young we are hardwired thinking that failure is not good. Scoring badly for your tests is not good. Not being able to get into a good school is not good. Not being able to get into the CCA that you desire is not good. How many of us were actually PRAISED when you fail? How many of us would be recognised when we fail? Well, we don’t. Not exactly.

People generally don’t remember those who failed, they only remember those who succeeded. Imagine if Thomas Edison did not successfully invented the lightbulb, would there be anyone who will remember the person who failed 10,000 times? No. However without failure, we won’t be able to reap success.

Failure is an integral part of a journey to success. People who usually succeed are those who have already failed 10, 100 or even 1000 times. The difference is they fail, they pick themselves up and they soldier on. They persevere, they push themselves and they get up and fight. Success don’t come to them, they CHASE after success.

Why is it that we are so afraid to fail?

We are afraid that we waste time doing things that will not be rewarded.

We are afraid of being put down by the opinion of others.

We are afraid to be alone in fighting a battle with no end.

We are afraid to take risks because we do not want to change the status quo.

We are afraid.

Fear of failure is so great that it holds our hearts hostage and prevents us from taking a bold step forward. It blinds us from seeing the other end of the rainbow and what potentially might be the Leprechaun’s gold. But that’s not how it is supposed to be.

High risks are often associated with high rewards. This is evident both in investing and in our daily lives. Investing in riskier financial products such as forex and equities will always reap more returns than investing in bonds or fixed deposits – that’s a fact. Climbing that unknown treacherous path alone to the top of the mountain might reward with you with a view that will take your breath away – but you’ll never know till you take the first step up.

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The point is, the path to success can be lonely. You’ll be faced with many setbacks, many people who put you down, many people who think that you wouldn’t succeed. There will be times when you feel like giving up, feel like everything you are doing is not worth the effort. But remember that in life, you are not doing it for others, you are doing everything for yourself. Only you will care the most about yourself. Only you will know what you truly need. Ignore the naysayers and dare to fail. Have the courage to soldier on and fight every battle one at a time. It takes time but as long as you don’t give up, you’ll reach there eventually. Only when you start learning how to fail, you’ll start to succeed.

I am afraid to fail but i’m MORE afraid of not being able to succeed. 

Jeju Island in 5 days

Just began my exchange trip to Seoul, South Korea! Hence, my friends and I decided to take a short trip to Jeju Island – an island south of South Korea! We spent 3 days there but I decided to spend 2 extra days by myself to go for a short dive trip! Here is a summary video for the places that we have went:

And here is another one for my first ever solo dive trip at Seogwipo, Jeju Island!



Date
: 17 Aug 16 (Wed) – 21 Aug 16 (Sun)

Flight details:

T’way, 17 Aug 1300hrs – 1415hrs

T’way, 21 Aug 1800hrs – 1915hrs

S$184.60 per person (everyone else’s was around S$155, mine was slightly pricer due to the different return flight)

Accommodation:

International Hotel Jeju, 70500 won per person x 6 for two rooms for 3 nights

Car:

Sixt, Kia Carens

S$52.20 per person x 6


Day 1 (Wed)

We took a late evening flight to Jeju Island, hence by the time we reach Jeju, it is already nightfall and we didn’t do much today.

But Zzzzzzzz.


Day 2 (Thurs)

First item on our list is to collect our rental car near Jeju International Airport. There was a shuttle bus that brought us to the car rental shop to collect our car. For rental of cars in Jeju you would require a few items 1) Your Singapore driving license with at least 2 years of experience 2) International Driving Permit 3) Passport 4) Credit card for deposit

(2) and (3) applies to all drivers that will be taking the wheel.

First proper stop that we went to was Jeju Gogi-Guksu Noodle Street. It is famous for its Pork Ramen. Hearsay its pork broth is simmered for at least 12 hours and it is highly recommended by the Jeju government. Well it certainly didn’t disappoint!

Jeju Gogi-Guksu Noodle Street

Address: 29 Samseong-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 727-7056

Next, we headed to Hyeopjae Beach. I’m a fan of natural sights, so beaches, mountains, forests and any natural formations will attract me. The black rocks here look real pretty and it is featured in 00:49 of the first video! So check it out!

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Hyeopjae Beach

Hyeopjae Beach                                                                                      

Address: 329-10, Hallim-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do (Near Halim park)

GPS number entry: 728-7672

After which we went to explore Halim Park. This is one of the more famous tourist spots. It has a wide variety of flora and garden. Visitors can visit Palm Tree Road, Jeju Stone and Bonsai Garden. Also, they have a lot of statues such as those in 01:18 in the first video. Hearsay if you touch the nose of the statue, you will be blessed with a baby boy and if you touch the ears of the statue, you will be blessed with a baby girl.

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If you want some kids, touch these!

Hallim Park

Address: 300, Hallim-ro, Hallim-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 796-0001

Admission: 10,000 won

Operating hours: 830am – 7pm

Dinner was the famous Jeju Black Pork BBQ at Black Pork Street (01:53)! To be honest, I really can’t tell the difference between Jeju Black Pork and normal pork BBQ. So it was just a very satisfying Korean BBQ meal to me :p

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Black Porks at Black Pork Street

Black Pork Street – Heuk-Dwaeji Street

Address: Gwandeong-ro 15(sibo)-gil, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 724-4050


Day 3 (Fri)

We started our day with Seogwipo 5-day market (02:09), a market that only opens 5 days every month. There are a few other 5-day markets in Jeju Island, and the opening dates are all staggered. For example, Seogwipo 5-day market is only opened on 4th, 9th, 19th, 24th and 29th of every month. It sells a variety of food and other typical stuff that you will usually find in a traditional market such as pails, and other more unusual stuff like old mixtapes that you can’t really find anymore in Singapore.

Seogwipo 5 day Market

Address: 142 Topyeongseo-ro11beon-gil, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do, South Korea

GPS number entry: 763-0965

Next we drove to O’Sulloc Tea Musuem(02:52), which is also very famous in Jeju. If you are there, you can take the opportunity to purchase its Matcha-flavored merchandise such as Green Tea Spread for bread, Green Tea leaves, etc. You can’t find them easily in Seoul! Other than the museum, there is also a cafe that sells delicious green tea sponge cake and matcha ice cream! Beware though because the cafe can be quite packed and if you might have difficulty finding seats if you are in a very big group. Beside the cafe, there is a very large field with insta-worthy view! So rememeber to snap a pic before you go!

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We accidentally blocked the good view

O’Sulloc Museum

Address: 15, Sinhwayeoksa-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry :794-5312

Admission: Free

Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm

Jeongbang Waterfall (01:37) was on our list next. It is…a nice waterfall. More impressive than Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. But there were just too many tourists. Oh a fun fact is that it is the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the ocean. Not sure what is the relevance but hey, fun fact!

Jeongbang Waterfall

Address: 37, Chilsimni-ro 214beon-gil, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 733-1530

Admission: 2,000 won

Operating Hours: 8am – 7pm

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall requires you to walk one kilometre in the park before you reach the waterfall. But I must say that the view is pretty good on the way there. There are a few insta-worthy places for you to take pictures so take your time to walk there!

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Abit senget but good enough (Y)

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

Address: Namseongjung-ro, Cheonji-dong, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 733-1528

Admission: 2,000 won

Operating hours: Till 11pm (the water illuminates at night)


Day 4 (Sat)

The dive centre that I went with was Big Blue 33. It cost me 130k won for 2 dives. The dive took place at Munson Island. Just a reminder to bring your certification cards if you were previously certified. I was PADI Advanced Open Water certified that time and did not have issues with the dive centre even though it was a dive shop with NAUI certification.

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(Scuba) Diver Teo.

Overall it was a fantastic experience because it was the first time that I ever did a dive from a rock (literally a huge rock) and first time putting on booties, hard flippers and a full body wet suit.

The first dive was super cold because I did not expect the water temperature difference to be so different from the surface. They actually provided us with a hood but I did not utilise it on the first dive. I’ve learnt and decided that it would be of my best interest to put on the hood for the second dive.

The second dive was a wall dive and we just swam along the wall with no observable depth. Lil’ scary but super exciting and thrilling! The underwater creatures and flora we see is also very different from what we can see in Tioman. I thoroughly enjoyed myself during this trip! #noregrets

I met 4 new friends here, 3 of them are English teachers from US, London and South Africa teaching in Busan while the last one is an exchange student in Seoul National University from France. We spent the entire day hanging out with each other after that the dive trip and I’m super glad that I have met them!


Day 5 (Sun)

My last day I spent the entire day resting. Took my time to explore the surroundings near my hostel and took an airport bus (5500won) back to the airport from Seogwipo. After which I spent the entire afternoon editing the Jeju Trip video and flew back to Seoul to meet up with the rest. The only regret that I had was not buying Jeju oranges while I still can because apparently Jeju is famous for its oranges 😦 that regret amplified when I saw so many people carrying boxes of fresh Jeju oranges. Sigh pie better luck next time!

Sep 2016 Portfolio Update

Current Portfolio Size: $16,977.00 (based on value subsequently)

Current YTD: 8.32% (with dividends)

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Purchases made during Sep
  1. Nil
Divestment during Sep
  1. Nippecraft (SGX:N32); $0.033 for 3000 shares
Dividends collected during Sep
  1. 1. OUE Comm REIT(SGX:TS0U); $0.012 for 3100 shares
  2. 2. OUE Comm REIT(SGX:TS0U); $0.0076 for 3100 shares
  3. 3. OUE Comm REIT(SGX:TS0U); $0.0072 for 3100 shares

Total Dividends Collected: $83.08


Finally seeing my portfolio starting to grow into a sizeable amount for the year. TBH, I’m quite happy with the gain of 8% thus far. The key word, however, for this gain is sustainability. It will be useless if this gain is unsustainable. In spite of the current market situation (i.e. Brexit, US presidential elections, slow economy in home country Singapore), a gain of 8% is something that I am pleased with but will be happier if it continues to rally till my year-end review, which I will evaluate how well have my year been.

Procrastination has really got into me such that I have not been regularly updating this blog. Perhaps the entire mindset of me setting up this blog was wrong in the first place. In essence, I should refocus on why I started blogging in the first place. It is not an avenue for other people to read. It is an avenue for ME to read and think. I should have the discipline to continually update this blog and ensure that information posted here is up to date. I should be accountable for myself.

Speaking about procrastination, I have came across something interesting today. It is called the 70% rule. Coincidentally, there is also a 70% rule on investing as well. But I am not talking about that. This 70% rule originated from the US Marine Corps. It says that if you have 70% of the confidence in the success of the decision, do it.

As long as you have 70% of the information, 70% of the resources to complete the project, and you’re 70% sure that you are likely to succeed, then you are ready to go

Cheers!