North-South Highway lunch stop – Tangkak revisit

I started off from KL fairly early in the morning and i wanted to have a quick lunch stop. Well, more like a snack stop. As with Yong Peng, Tangkak is just a short distance from the Toll booths, so it is good for a quick stop.

Everyone probably goes to the beef noodle shop. Not for me when i want to grab a quick bite and run. From Google maps, the eatery that caught my attention was Lok Pin Hotel & Coffee shop, conveniently located on the main street. From the name, you would know that it harkens from the days (many decades ago) when it was popular to run a hotel and coffee shop as part of the same business. It certainly reminds me of Chong Kok Kopitiam in Klang, which uses 中国酒店 as its Chinese name, meaning China Hotel. Except, Lok Pin Hotel is actually still in operation.

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Taobao product recommendation – UHF wireless audio transceiver

I have previously tried Bluetooth as a means of transmitting audio wirelessly, and it was unreliable. Bluetooth 4 is just not good enough (i didn’t try the Bluetooth dongles that supported apt-x though and maybe those work). I have yet to try Bluetooth 5, but it is quite a bit more expensive. Instead, i decided to try UHF wireless transmission (these cost less than half that of the Bluetooth 5 implementation). UHF had been in use for a long time for on-stage wireless audio transmission (microphone, electric guitars and such).

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Taobao product recommendation – Midi controller keyboard

Midiplus is a Taiwanese brand that’s been around for some time, and they have a range of budget Midi controller keyboards. No, don’t compare them with the likes of Roland, Nord, Korg or Yamaha, but having read the reviews for their competitors like m-audio, Nektar Impact, i chose Midiplus.

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Qoo10 product recommendation – Imex CR-100 coffee bean roaster

Doing home coffee bean roasting isn’t so popular in Singapore, so it’s not easy to buy a home coffee bean roaster machine. Thanks to Qoo10, we have access to Korean made machines, and Imex is an established brand. Specifically, the CR-100 is a good entry level bean roaster. It is a fluid bed roaster (hot air keeps the beans moving while roasting), which is supposed to produce an even roast.

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Taobao product recommendation – Bluetooth earpiece

I still remember I bought my first Bluetooth earpiece more than 10 years ago for around S$70. Fast forward to today, it cost just 15 Yuan (S$3). The M8 is the best selling product of this category.

Pairing the earpiece with the phone was simple, as expected. The sound from the earpiece was a little soft, but if you just need something no frills, it works. I guess sometimes being able to cut loose the wires is more beneficial than not having to charge a wired earpiece.

Those who are into music can consider getting a set of stereo earpiece. They do actually cost much more, but are still reasonably cheap – this qcy one is among the cheaper ones around at 100 Yuan (S$20).

Sign up with Shopback to earn cashback on your Taobao purchases!

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Taobao product recommendation – Coffee filter

My coffee sock became worn out and I looked for a replacement on Taobao. You could say the options are plentiful now because the Chinese are drinking coffee. Not kopi, but filtered coffee, and of course Espresso. Well, a coffee sock isn’t actually cheaper on Taobao than what you can get in Malaysia, where it sells for just RM2 (S$0.68), but I did find something interesting – a metallic filter, that could potentially last forever.

Replacement long overdue
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Qoo10 product recommendation – Pantum M6550NW wireless laser printer

Laser printers are not very lasting – specifically, the drum. After going through 2 or 3 toner cartridges, the print quality deteriorates and the drum has to be replaced, and it does not come cheap. In my opinion, it is better to buy a new printer than to replace the drum – you are guaranteed excellent print quality.

Pantum is a Chinese brand, and they are shaking up the market with their low priced products. Granted, the M6550NW printer is not as refined as similar products from Japanese and US brands, but it sets up and works fine, and that’s all i care. It costs $155 on Qoo10 at the time of my purchase, but as usual, i was able to apply a cart coupon and Qpoints to shave more than $20 off the price, plus getting cashback from Shopback and from the credit card. If there happens to be a $30 off $150 Super Sale deal on Qoo10, it would be perfect.

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Iceland 5 days itinerary

Iceland boasts some of the most unique and impressive landscapes I have seen in my travels. My 5 days itinerary crams all the important sites you shouldn’t miss in possibly the shortest time possible, so you can use it as a reference if you like to get the most out of your time in Iceland.

The best sites to see in Iceland are mostly littered along the southern coast, including the Golden circle. My itinerary is for the winter months, and you can definitely see and do more during the summer, but some sites/activities are exclusive to the winter (and vice versa), like seeing ice caves and glacier formations.

A 4-wheel-drive car actually makes a difference in Iceland, as some gravel paths are exclusive to a 4WD. I would suggest avoiding gravel paths though, as you can end up damaging your rental car easily.

Another tip: you don’t need to exchange your currency into the Icelandic currency, as everything can be paid for by credit card, including the unmanned public toilets.

Day 1

All tours begin in Reykjavik, and my itinerary is always planned such that the easy parts are done last. So we headed out of Reykjavik immediately towards Seljalandsfoss (Foss means waterfall). The coolest part about this waterfall is being able to walk around behind it.

Seljalandsfoss
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How not to install the Taobao App

I’m not sure about you, but i find the Taobao mobile App obnoxious. When i tried it more than a year ago, it drained my phone battery, reducing my mileage to half a day. It was always doing something in the background (wasting your data allowance and phone storage), and it popped up ads way too often than i can tolerate.

I get redirected to the Google play store when I access the Taobao site through Chrome browser (i’m not sure what happens on the iPhone), prompting you to install the Taobao App. It’s annoying that they try to force you to use the App, but there’s an easy way around this – use the Desktop mode on your browser. This works, except some pages are cropped on the right hand side, like the shipping consolidation page. So, unfortunately, you don’t have a fully functional Taobao this way, but this still beats installing the App. Update: the Taobao mobile site works fine in the CM browser, i.e. I don’t get redirected to install Taobao app.

Incidentally, if you access Taobao via the Shopback App, you are not prompted to install the App, so it is fully working. Might as well, since you should do all your Taobao purchases through Shopback anyway to earn cashback.

The other important function that you miss out when you opt not to install the Taobao App is notification of seller messages. Sometimes, sellers need to reach out to you to inform you of stock shortage, or to clarify with you on your chosen options. To mitigate this problem, install the Wangxin (旺信) App. This is the Taobao instant messaging (Aliwangwang) App. Besides providing the instant messaging functionality, it also gives updates on all your parcels, which is really handy. I muted the App notifications, and it doesn’t run in the background unnecessarily. Perfect.

Parcel update in the Wangxin App. This is showing the status of your consolidated shipment (to SG, or wherever). Such convenience!
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Travel Bucket List – Northern Lights

The northern lights is probably one item that I would imagine is high on anyone’s travel bucket list. The majority of us don’t live within the Arctic circle, and seeing a band of coloured light in the sky is a rare privilege.

I failed in my first attempt to catch the northern lights over 7 years ago, mostly because it was a last minute wish list item added on during the trip. I was in the Arctic circle (Tromso in Norway) for just one day, and I signed up for a tour (expensive as you can imagine), but didn’t get to see anything.

This time round, I made sure I did all the homework prior to planning my itinerary. I discovered however, that, though there is quite a bit of information out there, you won’t have a very clear idea on what you need to do exactly to gain the best chances of seeing the lights. One reason for this is that there is so much commercial value attached to seeing the northern lights that many options (i.e. tours) are made available. So, this is what this article is about, i’m going to tell you exactly what to do to see the northern lights.

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