Thursday, August 30, 2007

Opportunity for Singapore's Vacation Rentals Owners

There is a website which list vacation rentals both for rentals and for purchase, and its site for Singapore is Singapore Vacation Rentals. Unfortunately, at the time of publishing, there are no vacation rentals listed for Singapore, so for those who are looking for places to rent for a vacation in Singapore, you may have to check back again. But not all bad news is all bad. It can also spell opportunity, an opportunity for Singapore's vacation rental owners to list their properties. There is a link on the site for you to click to register your property. There will be no referral fees, only an annual fee to pay. And for that you get your own web page where you can put description of your property including pictures, rates and contact information and a link to your personal website. You can also log in anytime to edit your page.

Singapore is a small country very short of land. I would guess the average Singaporean in this crowded city country will yearn to travel to other places in the world for a pleasant vacation. I am sure they will enjoy traveling to places like Florida where there is Epcot's Mission Space where you can enjoy (if you don't suffer from motion sickness) a simulated mission to Mars which uses centrifugal force to give the sensation of lifting off into space. You will see other things related to space there. You will of course need accommodation if you plan to temporarily leave land starved Singapore to visit Florida and for that you can try Florida vacation rentals.

Perhaps the most attraction is the famous theme park, Walt Disney World which your children will love visiting. Walt Disney World is located in Orlando together with Universal Studios and SeaWorld Adventure Park. For accommodation in Orlando, to to Orlando vacation rentals

Or perhaps you may enjoy a cruise. Miami is host to the "Cruise Capital of the World", the Port of Miami. It can accommodate the largest cruise ships and the major cruise lines are represented here. This can be your starting point for a most enjoyable cruise. But perhaps the most famous Miami is Miami Beach which most Singaporeans will be surprised to find out that Miami Beach is not part of Miami, but two separate cities, and the beach part is South Beach. Miami has been made famous by that TV show featuring the Miami Beach Ocean Rescue team rescuing swimmers in trouble. It is also popular spot for photo shots, so it will not be uncommon to see models in skimpy clothing if that is what your are interested in. It also have a very lively night life. You can find accommodation at Miami Beach vacation rentals.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Switzerland Of Asia Shines

The Switzerland Of Asia Shines

By Carl Delfeld

In many respects, Singapore is the Switzerland of Asia.

Begun in 1819 as a British trading colony, the Republic of Singapore was founded in 1965 under the leadership of the current Prime Minister’s father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. While it is only 1/5 the size of Rhode Island and three times the size of Washington D.C., it is perhaps the most strategically important global trading, finance and service nexus in Asia.

Here is why you should consider investing in Singapore.

While Hong Kong and Shanghai will argue, Singapore is the busiest port in Asia situated next to the vital trading channel, the Straits of Malacca.

Unlike South Korea and Taiwan, which are heavily dependent on the cyclical electronics industry, Singapore has a well-diversified economy. 70% of its GDP is attributable to finance and services.

Singapore’s accounting rules and regulations are amongst the most conservative in the world. For example, its rules on inventory accounting and the expensing of stock options are more conservative than those in the United States.

Trade Surplus

Despite only 1.6% of its land being suitable for agricultural activities and having to import almost everything including water, Singapore manages to have a trade surplus.

Singapore has a balanced budget, a stable currency and still manages to allocate 5% of GDP for defense.

It represents a multi-ethnic society with 77% Chinese, 14% Malay and 8% Indian.

Singapore has a parliamentary form of government, an English common law judiciary system and is corruption and drug free. Slowly but surely, a freer political climate is developing with a Speaker’s Corner instituted in 2000 and the ability to express one’s views freely anywhere with the exception of the sensitive topics of race and religion

Singapore’s educational performance is legendary. The fact that it has twice as many Internet users as television sets is telling.

Singapore’s New Resorts

Singapore is also changing with the times. To generate more investment, tax revenue, and add a bit of sparkle, Singapore recently approved the development of two large casino resorts. It is part of a strategy to reduce the country’s dependence on manufacturing and to position itself as a livelier tourism destination. Of course, there will be restrictions. Singaporeans will have to pay a $60 entry fee and the gambling areas will be restricted to just 5% of the resort. According to projections, the resorts will lead to $4 billion in investments, $3.5 billion in annual revenues, 35,000 jobs and $350 million per year in taxes and fees.

Singapore has also made great strides in patching up misunderstandings with its neighbor to the north, Malaysia, from whom it split in 1965. Tax issues, water supply agreements and transportation arrangements are all moving much more smoothly.

Singapore is adept at holding on to its manufacturing base even as several large semiconductor manufacturers such as National Semiconductor announced plans to move plants to China and Malaysia. For thirty years, Singapore has relied on electronics as the backbone of its manufacturing sector but is making the transition to a more service and R&D economy. Electronics is about 40% of manufacturing output but accounts for only 5% of employment. Surprisingly, some firms are moving manufacturing centers from China to Singapore due to its infrastructure, logistics and laws protecting intellectual property. Exxon Mobil, Shell and Sumitomo are expanding petrochemical facilities and Singapore added 27,000 manufacturing jobs last year by moving up the food chain.

After 8.4% GDP growth in 2004 and a weak start early this year, Singapore’s economy posted 12% plus growth in the second quarter and should be a solid performer over the next few years. Continued strong global demand for transportation, communications and logistics services, increasing IT spending, rising consumer spending and property prices and expanded tourism all point to continued growth.

An easy and smart way to invest in Singapore is through the Singapore iShare (EWS) which tracks the Singapore Straits index. It is up 26% over the past year and up 9.4% year to date. Its largest positions are in Singapore Telecom, United Overseas Bank and DBS Bank. Even better, it is tax efficient and has an annual expense ratio of only 0.59%. Trading at 14 times projected earnings, the Singapore market is still attractive. By comparison, the Switzerland market and iShare (EWL) is trading at 18 times earnings.

The epitome of quality and increasingly creative, Singapore is a great core holding for any global portfolio.

About the Author: Carl Delfeld is head of the global advisory firm Chartwell Partners and is editor of the “Chartwell Advisor” and the “Asia Investor Intelligence” newsletters. He served on the Executive Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank in Manila and is the author of The New Global Investor (iUniverse: 2005). For more information go to or call 877-221-1496.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Increase traffic: feed for your blog

Blogger Buzz: Attention FeedBurner Fans


Feed is a way of getting updates on your website without having to visit it by subscribing to the feed either through an online feed reader or by subscribing to the feed via email. In practice, feed can be set to full or short. If set to short, the feed is supposed to display the first few lines, and if this attract the attention of the feed reader, then he/she will surf over to the actual site to read the full content. However, I have noticed that when I set my feed to short, in many cases, what is displayed is only the post title, so for it to be meaningful, you will have to use a very descriptive post title.

If you are trying to keep track of what is going on in many sites and have no time to keep visiting them to see what is new, this is a great way to keep updated. You can read the feed online with sites like (Google Reader)
(to be continued)

You can also chose to subscribe to feed by email.

Previously, Blogger only offer Atom feed. Many have been hankering for the more popular RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, and in New Blogger, they have added RSS feed. You probably have come across the familiar icon RSS feed subscribe button or the less common RSS feed subscription alphabet button button. Other common feed subscription button includes the "Add to Google Reader button Add to Google Reader feed subscription button, "Add to My Yahoo" button Add to My Yahoo feed subscription button, "Add to Bloglines" button Add to Bloglines feed subscription button, "Add to Newsgator" button Add to Newsgator feed subscription button, and a whole lot more.

Adding a feed subscription button to your blog

I will first deal with the popular Feedburner subscription button. You will first have to go to "burn" a feed for your blog. Go to
and type in paste your blog URL. Click "Next" and Feedburner will look for available feed for your blog. For Blogger, there will be Atom and RSS. I normally chose RSS.

Blogger and Feedburner

Recently, Google have bought over the popular Feedburner and now you can integrate your Blogger feed with Feedburner. The advantage of doing this is that you can get statistics about your blog subscribers via Feedburner.

Putting links for visitors to subscribe to your blog

(to be continued)

Adding a feed email subscription form to your blog

(to be continued)

Blogger previously only offer Atom feed

Official Google Blog: Adding more flare

Singapore Airlines flights to Spain

My former statistics lecturer in university was Dr. Cheong Choong Kong (better known as Dr. C.K. Cheong). He left University of Malaya to become the CEO (Chief Executive Office) of SIA or Singapore Airlines. SIA was split off from Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA) when Singapore was kicked out of the Federation of Malaysia because of differences between Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and the then Prime Minister Tengku Abdul Rahman of Malaysia. Its Malaysian counterpart became MAS (Malaysia Airline System). MAS had to be rescued from bankruptcy by the Malaysian government while SIA went on to become one of the most successful, if not the most successful, airlines in the world. I understand Dr. C.K. Cheong, like me, is retired now. It will be interesting if I can find out if he has gone on to do something else.

SIA air hostesses, better known as the Singapore Girl, is world famous for their great services and hospitality and is one of the main contribution to SIA success. Their success is symbolised by the creation of a wax figure of the Singapore Girl at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London since 1994, which was the first figure to represent a commercial undertaking. They have also won the 'World's Best Cabin Crew Service' by the Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Awards for 17 consecutive years.

SIA have regular flights from Changi Airport to Barcelona Aeropuerto El Prat, Spain. If I ever plan to go to Spain, SIA will be my preferred airline. However, Barcelona is only the second largest city of Spain. The largest is Madrid, the capital. It is easy to get to Madrid from Barcelona though. You can travel by road, train or fly. If you chose to travel by train, it will take you anything between 5 and a half hours to 9 hours. Flying will get you there within just over an hour in comparison. Plus check-in time is normally short.

Air Europa fly from Barcelona airport, terminal B to the new terminal 4 at Madrid Barajas airport daily from 7.00hr. to 23.50hr. The fare will vary from between 94 Euro to 320 Euro return. There will be a 12 Euro service charge. Flight time is just 1 hour 15 minutes and food will be served on board.

It is highly advisable to book your accommodation ahead of your arrival for you do not want to be frantically hunting for suitable accommodation on arrival. That will be stressful and take up much precious time which can be used more productively. This in now easy with the ubiquitous Internet. One site you can try is EspaƱa Hoteles (Hotels in Spain). If you are looking for hotels in Barcelona in particular, you can go to Hoteles en Barcelona. I can't read Spanish, so I will have to go to Hotels in Barcelona. For hotels in Madrid, there is Hotels en Madrid. For its English version, go to Hotels in Madrid. Book your accommodation in advance. That is my advice.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Singapore, Germany and Austria

Germany and Austria are neighbours, and both speak German. And there is something available in Germany and Austria which I am sure many Singaporeans will miss greatly - snow. I can still remember the first snowfall when I was a student in Ghent, Belgium 30 years ago. The awe and feeling of "wonder" (can't find the exact word to describe the wonderful feeling) I can never forget. And my stay in Grindelwald, a mountain ski resort in the Alps in Switzerland, that was a wonderful vacation that is etched in my memories.

And snow is something you can never get in tropical Singapore. Well, perhaps not exactly correct, because there is the Snow City at Jurong. But there is nothing like the real thing you can get in Germany and Austria.

But snow will not be the only excuse for Singaporeans to travel to Germany and Austria. With a share of approximatly 30% of its trade volume and about 900 German companies registered in Singapore, Singapore is Germany's most important economic partner in the ASEAN area. Total bilateral trade in 2005 stood at Euro 8.18 billion and total German direct investments in Singapore up to 2004 was more than Euro 5.271 billion. Germany ranked 10th in Singapore's exports and 9th in imports in 2005. With various trade organizations like the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry, Commerce, the Singapore Economic Development Board and International Enterprise Singapore maintaining offices in Frankfurt to help to facilitate trade in both directions, Singapore businessmen have plenty of reasons to go to Germany.

And there are educational ties between the two countries as well. Included are 28 bilateral cooperation projects between German institutions of higher learning with 3 Singaporean universities. The German Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) in Singapore, the first branch of a German university, began operating in July 2002.

If you want to go to the 2 neighbouring countries to experience the real snow, for business or educational purposes, travelling between them is very convenient. The 2 capital cities Berlin and Vienna is well connected. They are served by Germany's full service national carrier, Lufthansa, which have direct flight from Berlin to Vienna. And if you book your tickets online, sometimes they have special deals and you may be able to get your ticket cheap. They also have the so called 'happy hour' where you can bid for flights. In addition to such full service airlines, there are also budget airlines operating between the countries. For example, Air Berlin have flights to Vienna from Dortmund, Hamburg and Duesseldorf, Germanwings have flights to the Austrian capital from Cologne-Bonn while Sky Europe gives a good deal on flights from Stuttgart to Vienna via Bratislava. The distance between Bratislava to Vienna is only 50km and you get there riding the SkyShuttle bus for just an extra 10 Euro.

When I was touring Europe 30 years ago on my own (not package tour), I had to contend with hunting for accommodation on arrival. A risky proposition especially if you are travelling in cold winter. What would have happened if the hotels are fully booked? Sleep in the railway station? Now you can book ahead of arrival online with sites like Hotels Deutsche (German Hotels). If you are looking for hotels in Berlin, you can try Hotels in Berlin. Can't read German? Then go to Hotels in Berlin. For Vienna, there is Hotels in Vienna and its English version is at Hotels in Vienna. Now you don't have to worry about having to sleep in the railway station in the middle of winter or something just as unpleasant.