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).

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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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Taobao product recommendation – Mosquito trap

Here’s your chance to own a Dyson product for cheap – 128 Yuan (S$25.50). The price has now further dropped to 108 Yuan or S$21.50. Unbelievable right? The Dyson branding is for this mosquito trap is not legitimate for sure. The product description is now simply “第五代” or “Fifth generation”, so they’re obviously trying to stay low. On the product page, they have a photo of a group of supposed German scientists whereby the Dyson logo appears in the backdrop. I doubt they can have Dyson’s endorsement for such a coarsely made product. Nevertheless, i must admit, i actually bought this product partly for the Dyson branding.

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Taobao product recommendation – Universal Silicone food container cover

If you have leftover food in a bowl or plate, you’d normally have to transfer them to a covered container for storing in the fridge. Believe it or not, i find that a huge hassle. It means you have one more bowl or plate to wash, and i’m just lazy to do that. That’s where this universal silicone food container cover comes in handy – it is elastic enough to be wrapped over just about any kind of container you can imagine.

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Taobao product recommendation – USB-C to HDMI cable

I have tried AnyCast and Chromecast for projecting video onto a large screen. AnyCast is basically unreliable. Chromecast works very well for YouTube, but less so when doing screen mirroring. I wanted a reliable way for using the phone as a media player, since all the media you would ever want to cast/display is on your phone. This led me to the Hagibis USB-C to HDMI cable. Wired always wins.

At 85 Yuan (S$17), i would say it is quite cheap. Cheaper than most wireless solutions anyway. One caveat though, not all phones support the Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) required for this to work.

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Taobao product recommendation – Dashboard phone holder

Previously, i have used those phone holder with a suction pad that is attached to the windscreen. They tend to fall off when going across rough terrain (like a train track), which brings about much inconvenience and would be a safety concern.

Other phone holders have their pluses and minuses. The aircond vent type is probably the simplest in design, and maybe quite sturdy too. But, i don’t quite like the idea of blocking the aircond vent, though I don’t mind when I’m driving a rental car.

There is the type that is sticks onto the dashboard (with super strong sticker at the base). Obviously you can’t use them in rental cars, and i would worry about damage to the dashboard when you have to remove it. The type that hangs from the rear view mirror is a good idea, since it would be natural glancing at the rear view mirror. However, i discovered another type that seems even better – it clips onto the dashboard. You would be looking more or less straight ahead, and the contraption is very simple.

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