I travel a lot and I one of the things I constantly do is refine what goes into my backpack (and luggage). For this trip, I decided to add a refinement — reduce cable clutter.
Apple gives you 1m USB to Lightning cables when you buy the iPhone or iPad. Its nice, but folding this all is quite a burden even when I have a cord pouch to organise it all. For almost a year now, I’ve had to carry an Apple Watch charger as well.
So why not get shorter cables? Apple makes 0.5m USB to Lightning cables which are much shorter and are all I need. After all, I’m charging on the desk with an Anker 5-port USB charger. Apple decided against making a 0.5m Apple Watch charger, so I’ve settled on the 1m Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable.
This is a good setup. I’m saving space when it comes to folding cables. The desk looks neater no matter where I am. I found one caveat though – the 0.5m USB to Lightning cable might not be long enough for you to charge your device on a plane. For this, I still have a spare 1m cable that is attached to my powerbank.
I am sitting at The Pier, a Cathay Pacific Lounge in the Hong Kong airport. While I still occasionally swing by The Wing, The Bridge, and The Cabin (in that order), this lounge has become my favourite, as you can get a 20-30 minute complimentary massage, which makes the transit a lot more bearable.
Today’s interesting conversation in the massage area (it is usually quiet, but occasionally you get a chatty passenger) happened to be with a gentleman on the same flight I would be on. He was born in Kerala, but grew up in New Delhi, and spent the last four years as an expat in Kuala Lumpur. His masseuse, like all ours at The Pier, are from Nepal.
She had been to Kuala Lumpur when she was about sixteen. And her friends and her were planning on going to Kuala Lumpur in September 2015, but they are rethinking it due to the fact that Kuala Lumpur is not safe.
Hong Kong she says is very safe. She takes a bus at 4am to reach the airport at 5.30am. She thinks that Singapore is safe. But KL lately, is not safe. The expat agrees. Whether true or perception, this is going to affect our tourist arrival numbers!
As a Malaysian, I wonder how many of us are waking up to this reality? What are we going to do to fix it?
I visited an Assouline bookstore in Seoul, S. Korea. After you make a purchase, you get the opportunity to have a drink at their attached cafe.
Recently we were in London, and Sara & I got to visit the Maison Assouline, nearby Picadilly Circus. It is a very beautiful store, with cafe to boot. Go upstairs, and you’ll end up seeing a professional bookbinder — he does everything by hand. Takes at least a week, average cost starts at £500. Same deal as above — purchase, have a drink.
When my family left London, I walked to the Monocle shop at George St, wanting to buy their new travel guides. I was told to go to their offices as they were going to have an event there. Fair enough, it was just a few blocks away. After making a purchase? They again said, visit their cafe, a few blocks away, to have a coffee or beer. I noticed this was happening at the shop at George St too (they don’t have an attached cafe). This again, is very smart cross-promotion of your retail adventures.
Is print luxury? Do you then expand the experience by ensuring people get to slow down, and consume more with a coffee?
I remember when Malaysia first got the LRT back in the mid-90s. There were four stations where you would never get any cellphone coverage – Ampang Park, KLCC, Kampung Baru and Dang Wangi. These were the underground stations.
Then by ’98 or ’99, Celcom got execlusive rights to implement mobile base stations for the underground. This was great for Celcom customers (which I was back then – before switching to Maxis, and finally landing with DiGi). It was exclusive, and it meant you were sending SMS messages or speaking while others were out of reach.
By now, everyone has coverage underground I’m sure.
I’m in London and it wasn’t too long ago that Virgin Media brought WiFi to the underground. You have to pay for it nowadays. It still doesn’t mean your cellphone works for calls, etc (unless this is done over WiFi).
I appreciate that this is the oldest rapid transit system in the world. I just wish we would be better connected.
Circumstances here make people read books, newspapers, magazines, Kindle or listen to audiobooks. I did notice people also playing games.
We departed Singapore and got to experience their electronic tourist refund scheme (eTRS), for collecting your GST back. To think, at the cashier’s desk when we made the purchase, we were wondering why we couldn’t just use a Global Blue refund card (useful in most of Europe).
At the point of purchase, you are given a receipt with a barcode. When you visit the airport, just follow a touch-screen based interface that says you accept the conditions (i.e. this stuff is for export/you’re not Singaporean), swipe your passport (yes, it reads it all very well), say when you entered Singapore (you can get a popup calendar), scan the receipts you’ve received via the barcode (which will display the store you purchased things from, etc.), choose a refund method (we chose to just swipe a credit card), and voila! you get a notification receipt saying all is well. There was no physical inspection required, and with the other 5 people around, none of them had that requirement.
Apparently the monies get refunded back to the credit card within 10 days. This is extremely efficient — compared to even checking out in the UK or Europe. There you still have to get stamps on receipts, usually by lining up in a pretty long queue, then posting stuff back.
The efficiency definitely leaves a very good aftertaste.
I decided to try out Lufthansa’s in-flight internet access at a cost of €17/24 hours. This was good as I got to write emails, do some work, etc while on a pretty long HND-FRA-EZE flight (yes, it works on connections too).
The connectivity isn’t that reliable. Yes, your VPN barely works. Sure they say you shouldn’t make voice calls (but use of the in-flight phone is fine – so it’s not to prevent annoying passengers, it’s to protect a revenue stream). FaceTime (audio & video work). Streaming Netflix doesn’t.
Many times the connectivity would drop, sometimes for hours on end.
But the ability to be able to Whatsapp, iMessage, or FaceTime (with headphones) your loved ones from mid-air? Priceless.
(Written on an iPad, using Lufthansa FlyNet, pretty close to South America as I hit publish)