$$$ KPO and CZM $$$

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Singapore Airlines Suites Experience - The Private Room

About a year ago, KPO blogged about Redeeming Krisflyer Miles for Singapore Airlines Suites. A year later, we started on our very first (and hopefully not last) Suites experience. Our adventure began a week before our trip, where we had to Book the Cook for our meals onboard. Refer to below for the meals selected.

On the day of departure, we learnt that there was a First Class check-in area at Changi Airport T3. For those who have not been there before, you should see a huge sign directing passengers to the First Class drive up area when reaching Changi Airport (see image below). Follow the sign to turn left, and you will be greeted by the friendly porters who will come forward to greet you and help to bring your luggage to the check-in area.


We were invited to take a seat while the staff proceeded with our check-in. This is the first time we had our check-in done seated (yeah suaku)! The check-in area was posh and well furnished. The friendly staff helped to wrap our check-in items carefully when we mentioned to them that the items inside are fragile. 

Once the check-in was done, the staff quickly handed to us our "gold" boarding passes and the tickets to "The Private Room". Since we are not revealing our identities, we will be introducing Donald as KPO and Piglet as CZM :)

KPO and CZM in the First Class check-in area

The Private Room is located in the innermost of the SilverKris Lounge. Once we reached the SilverKris Lounge, the staff took our golden tickets and asked if we would like it back. We nodded our head and he went on to lead the way as we passed by the Business Lounge and the First Class Lounge before reaching the Private Room. On the way, he mentioned that we could use any of these lounges as well.

KPO and CZM in The Private Room

KPO and CZM being served Evian water

The Private Room is essentially just another lounge which was a lot quieter and had fewer people. When we walked past the Business Lounge, it was extremely crowded! Another difference between the Private Room and the other lounges is the level of service. The food inside the Private Room is plated (fine dining), while the other lounges are self-serve. The staff handed us the food menu as we entered. The variety of food and drinks on the menu was CRAZY a lot (see menu below). 

Dining Area in The Private Room

KPO and CZM looking at the menu and drinking Dom Perignon







We had a hard time choosing what to eat and ended up ordering most of the main courses (they are all free and KPO kept emphasizing that it was once a lifetime experience). Not sure if that was a mistake, because that made us really full even before we boarded the plane.

Food ordered:
Starters
- Oriental Soup

Mains
- Dim Sum Delights
- Baked Lobster with 3 Cheeses (*KPO highly recommends this!*)
- US Beef Prime Burger
- Assorted Satay
- Beef Brisket Noodle
- Baked Chilean Sea Bass Papillote (no photo as it didn't look good on camera)

Dessert
Some vanilla ice-cream + Chocolate cake which the staff gave us though we didn't order. 

Drinks:
- Dom Perignon

Warning: food pictures below may make you really hungry.

Oriental Soup

Dim Sum Delights

Baked Lobster with 3 Cheeses

US Beef Prime Burger

Assorted Satay

Beef Brisket Noodle

Random dessert

After our hearty dinner, we checked out the bathroom. It was sparkling clean and well-equipped with amenities. Shampoo, soap, body lotion, perfume, shaver (male toilet), hairdryer, toothbrush, mouthwash, and even the bath towels are provided! Basically, you don't need to bring anything to the washroom except for a clean pair of clothes.


After we were done bathing, we decided to explore other areas within the Private Room. There are two private call rooms, one Family Room and one computer area for surfing. 

Family Room

Computer area (Mac computer only)

By the time we finished exploring the area, it was about time to board the plane. We left the Private Room and went to the other lounges to explore (took Haagen-Dazs ice cream from the First Class Lounge) before making our way to the boarding gate. Shall review the flight experience in the next post!

Do like any of the following for the latest update/post!
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Monday, December 10, 2018

A Honest and Brutal Wedding Vendors Review

KPO has been nagging all the time that I have not contributed to any blog post since the establishment of this blog. So in order to stop his nagging (and he promised to do 60 sit-ups after I write at least one post), here I am!

It has been two months since we got married (how time flies), and we have received our wedding actual day ("AD") photos, so I guess it about time to write a review of all our vendors. Details on the prices can be found on here - Our Wedding Expenses is Within Our Budget!

The following is our humble opinion (out of 5 stars):

1) Furama Riverfront Hotel (our AD venue) - 4.5 stars
We started looking for hotels in 2017 (1 year before our AD) and were initially looking for somewhere small (can hold about 12 tables max) as we wanted a small cosy place just to hold our relatives and closest friends. Given the requirement, we can only fit the requirement of 'solemnization' for most hotels (as the minimum banquet tables are typically around 20 tables). When we first approached Angela from Furama, we were delighted to hear that the venue allowed a minimum of 12 tables, and the price of a lunch banquet was not much different from the 'solemnization' package. The perks were attractive and we can 'lock in' the 2017 price though our banquet is in 2018.

Some of the perks are:
1) Free flow beer, red wine and white wine (in our opinion, please don't waste time on hotels which do not even give free corkage)
2) 2 nights stay at the bridal suite with free buffet breakfast
3) 1 night deluxe room for 'helpers' with free buffet breakfast
4) 2 nights at Furama Villa & Spa at Ubud, Bali (flight not included)
5) 1 night anniversary stay at Furama Riverfront
6) Complimentary food tasting for 10 pax
7) Free use of a function room for solemnization, teapot for Jing Cha
8) Other basic typical stuff like dry ice for march-in, fresh flowers etc.

For the price we paid (just slightly over $100 inclusive of GST and service charge), it is quite attractive and we do not have to worry about the alcohol.

In terms of payment, it works like most hotels where it allows partial/periodic payments until AD. To our pleasant surprise, Furama introduced an online payment system mid-way and we could use the DBS Woman's card for the banquet, allowing us to earn 4 mpd (cap at $2k a month). As a result, we managed to clock quite a lot of miles from the banquet itself.

Overall, we love the perks given (especially item 1 and 7). We heard that some hotels do not have item 7 for free, but they can only select it as part of 1 of the "wishlist". We shall not name the hotels, but that's why we love Furama as it is more "easygoing" in that aspect. The wedding coordinator Angela is very responsive on both emails and Whatsapp too. The banquet manager, Hayden, is also very professional and gave us very detailed instructions, which calmed us down greatly.

The only downside for this vendor is that they changed the wedding theme and choices of wedding favour less than 1 month before our AD. CZM does not like last minute changes, and can you imagine her horror when she has to re-select everything at the last minute?? I would have given 5 stars if not because of this.

Damage: $17,878.63
URL: Furama Riverfront Wedding

2) Bridal package from Rico-a-Mona - 5 stars
We had a pleasant experience with Rico. I was first drawn to Rico because of the huge selection of gowns, and they are so pretty (so is their models). Our coordinator is Sinny, and she is very professional. She allowed us to try on many gowns before we signed any package and did not pressure us to get a package immediately. In fact, she encouraged us to go to other bridal shops first to take a look.

For our pre-wedding shoot (PWS), we engaged their in-house photographer Charlie and make-up artist (MUA) Miki. I will review Miki below as she was my AD MUA as well. Charlie was a superb photographer who had a sense of humour and this made our photoshoot less awkward/more natural when we smiled.

I think Rico is generally more expensive than other bridal shops, but there is no hidden pricing (unlike some bridal shops which charge extra for 'premium' gowns) and I love the gown selection. All other extra charges are made known to us upfront before we signed the package. Overall, I think it is worth the money and I have no regrets.

Damage: $4,224.36
URL: Rico-A-Mona

3) Make-up artist Miki - 4 stars
I researched on Rico's MUA and both Miki and Milly are the "hot favourites" and I chose Miki eventually based on her pictures on Instagram. Miki is especially good with eyes and I love how natural her make up is.

However, I was rather worried when she turned up >30 minutes late for our PWS. Though I don't think she compromised on the quality of makeup, we had to rush through our PWS and had to make some last minute changes to the outdoor venues.

We continued to use her as my AD MUA as I really like her make up, hence, kept my fingers crossed that she will be punctual. We agreed on the time months in advance and I reminded her on the schedule a few days before. I was made known that she will have a bride before me, but the timing should be okay. However, she was also late on AD and the whole AD got pushed back 30 mins as a result. Luckily we had some buffer here and there and made it in time for our wedding lunch. I later learnt that she had 3 brides on the same morning (*gasps*) and she had to rush to the third venue after my make up was done. Oh well, don't really think she should accept so many jobs on the same day as some people's AD may be really tight..

Instagram: Miki

4) Jerome Goh Photography - 4.5 stars
We chose Jerome because I really like his photography and he is super responsive as well (typically replies within the same day). We took up the "premium" package which has two photographers as the photos of the second photographer were also really good. Both photographers were also punctual on AD and we were given the photos way in advance of the agreed timeline (the photos are expected to be ready only in about 12 weeks, but we have gotten it around after 8 weeks of our AD).

The only downside is that the photos taken by the second photographer seem to fall short slightly of our expectation. But generally, we are still pleased with our photos.

Damage: $2,000
URL: Jerome Goh Photography

5) Sparkle Live Music - 1.5 stars
We have engaged a live band through Sparkle Live Music, and have selected Peixin as our singer + emcee because I have heard her both live at my friend's wedding and on Youtube, and she is so good. I will have a separate review on her below. We noted that Peixin is kind of like a freelancer, and there are a few different live bands online which works with her. We chose Sparkle Live because my friend has engaged them before.

However, I was very disappointed with them. Firstly, there were double standards in the pricing as my friend, who wrote in to inquire, was quoted $200 less at almost the same period of time. We were coincidentally discussing about Sparkle Live before I noted the discrepancy. Immediately I called them on this and they mentioned that the brochure that was provided to me was not up-to-date and hence the difference. WHAT??? Fortunately, the new price was extended to us (and hence I am giving an additional 0.5 stars).

Throughout this engagement, the coordinator, Prinsten is always MIA. Not only was he unresponsive to emails, his work is bad. He was supposed to come up with the emcee script which he promised to turnaround in a few days, but it took him 2 full weeks to get back with a script full of errors. From one look, we can tell that it is simply a template copied elsewhere (which is fine because we expected so), but he did not even bother to change the bride and groom names. The additional details we provided him was not added to the script as well. Where is the duty of care??

We also provided him our preferred song list in early Sep, which he mentioned should not be a problem, but only informed us two weeks before AD that there were several songs which have to be amended. Luckily both of us weren't particular about songs, so we just let Peixin sing any song which she prefers.

Damage: $1,564
URL: Sparkle Live Music

6) Lou Peixin - Singer for live band - 6 stars
Yes, giving her 6 out of 5 stars. She is superb. Everyone whom I spoke to told me she is really good. Can check out her songs on Youtube too. We, however, recommend that you engage her through other live bands (see #5 review above).

URL: Lou Peixin
Youtube: Miss Lou

7) Infinity Hair Art - 2 stars
This is a hair salon package which we purchased on Fave because it was cheap. Conclusion - if something is too good to be true, it probably is. This place hard sells like crazy, and it seems like the case for a few years, according to this review. It is my bad for not doing sufficient due diligence. Was persuaded to sign up some package, end up it is nowhere cheaper than other salons.

Damage: $510
URL: Fave Deals (at your own risk)

That's all I have on the vendor reviews. Now thinking back what is the one thing I could have done differently for the wedding, I felt that the entire wedding was over in a twinkle of an eye, so don't bother spending too much time on less important stuff like second makeup/march in etc. I will perhaps spend more time going table to table to chat with my relatives, friends etc.

Do like any of the following for the latest update/post!
1. FB Page - KPO and CZM
2. Twitter - KPO and CZM
3. Click here to subscribe using email :)
4. Instagram - KPO_and_CZM (Did you see those delicious food photos to the right --> Unfortunately, you can't see it on mobile.)

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Expenses - October 2018

Hello everyone! It has been a while and we just got back from our honeymoon early this week. There are so many things to blog about our trip (SIA Suite class flight, rented a convertible and almost got into an accident, outlets shopping, etc.) so stay tuned for them! October expenses were crazily high (5 digits!!) which was expected due to the various payment to the vendors for our wedding.

Current Profile: 28 years old male who got married recently and is still living with his parents. Staying separately with his wife while waiting for the BTO project to be completed next year.


You can read more about how we manage our finances here. Removing our shared expenses which come out of our mutual fund (KPO Expense Fund), my expenses for October would be $11,452.38 - ($9,902.83 / 2) = $6,500.97.

Wedding
The detailed breakdown can be found in this article - Our Wedding Expenses is Within Our Budget!

Parents
I previously blogged about my promotion and increment - Salary - You Are Your Best Investment and it was only effective from February so I gave my parents more allowance as well.

Health
Technically, this is not an actual expense because this is part of my company benefits. One can claim up to $500 every 2 years for health screening. Although I did not pay a single cents, this kind of expenses cannot be avoided (yes, it may be lower) and I have witnessed the importance of it.

Gift
Attended a wedding dinner one week after ours with CZM at Mandarin Orchard Singapore. Fortunately, we were fine after the dinner (Mandarin Orchard food poisoning). Unfortunately, we are shareholders of OUE -.-"

Bought a bouquet of flower from The Enchanted Tree for my mum's birthday. I love it because it is hassle-free, order their daily pick, write a message for my mum, checkout with DBS Woman's World Card (4 miles per dollar) and it gets delivered to my house!

Vacation
Book some accommodations for our US trip and the transport cost was from booking the coach to Woodberry outlet from New York City. More details on this soon!

Food
My food expenses are exceptionally low because I stay with my parents! Most of it is incurred when I am out with CZM.

Insurance
This is a fixed monthly cost for the basic coverage - term life and hospitalization.

Transportation
I would always pay for CZM's cab ride home during night time since I am too lazy to send her home. That was one of our agreement. lol. EZ Link expenses were much higher this month which was probably due to the wedding preparation, hence we have been commuting a lot more apart from work.

Public transportation seems a lot lower because of 2 reasons:
1. I am no longer using EZ Link Auto-Reload. Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) is a much better choice as you pay what you use instead of triggering top up where the money is stored in the EZ Link card. The best part is miles can be earned too (using UOB PRVI Mastercard)!
2. $0.50 Discount for commuters who enter stations before 7.45am on weekdays.

Me
The $69.97 is the installment for Surface Pro which I got about 2 years back.

Treat
Treated family and colleagues to food/drinks.

Entertainment
Watched a movie with CZM and cannot remember what is the other spending.

Others
CZM bought some random stuff from Watson.

Hobby
CZM and I collect money (notes) from various countries including Singapore. We kept some brand new/running number notes from the red packets we receive on our wedding. Since we are not spending/depositing the money, it only makes sense to expense it.

Gambling
Bought ToTo, the fastest way to fulfill our millionaire dream.

Summary
January 2018 - $2,256.43
February 2018 - $1,759.01
March 2018 - $5,049.79
April 2018 - $1,572.54
May 2018 - $1,863.74
June 2018 - $2,282.07
July 2018 - $2,197.94
August 2018 - $2,130.01
September 2018 - $3,011.75
October 2018 - $6,500.97

Total expenses for 2018: $28,624.25
Average expenses per month for 2018: $2,862.43

Do like any of the following for the latest update/post!
1. FB Page - KPO and CZM
2. Twitter - KPO and CZM
3. Click here to subscribe using email :)
4. Instagram - KPO_and_CZM (Did you see those delicious food photos to the right --> Unfortunately, you can't see it on mobile.)