My 13 Top Movies in 2013

I like to watch movies and sometimes write about them. And if I can give awards based on my preference, it will be for these movies :D

13. The Croods

The Croods

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

This family-friendly animated movie is fast-paced and entertaining. And it has some good values to teach to children.

12. The Internship

The Internship

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

While it looks like a Google advertisement, people working in IT like me should be able to enjoy the comedy and drool over Google’s working culture and environment.

11. Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

It might not be as fresh as the predecessor and some things might not make a lot of sense. But it’s still visually as entertaining and action-packed as ever.

10. We’re the Millers

We're the Millers

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

While it follows the Hollywood’s cliché formula of comedy — i.e., sex and drugs, it still brings a lot of fun and laughter. A relief to watch after a stressful day of work.

9. World War Z

World War Z

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

Zombies are still popular this year. Even Brad Pitt is now chasing them all over the world. This fast-paced thriller will keep you awake for almost 2 hours.

8. The Conjuring

The Conjuring

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

Without being awfully creepy, this horror packs a solid performance of the actors and beautiful rendering.

7. Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

Disclaimer: I’m a fan of superhero movies. To be honest, this is not the best superhero movies this year, but I’m a fan, so…

6. Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

Definitely style over substance. An epic style.

5. Man of Steel

Man of Steel

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

Leonidas in Superman’s costume? Yes, please.

4. Ender’s Game

Ender's Game

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

Harrison Ford and some young actors are delivering very strong performance in this sci-fi flick. It doesn’t hurt that it’s visually appealing.

3. Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

Robert Downey Jr. is as charismatic as ever and here, we got to see him more often without the Iron Man suit. But it doesn’t mean that we see less suits either. In fact, this third installment delivers much more suits than ever. Unfortunately, to achieve the quantity, Tony Stark seems to sacrifice the quality (of the suits, not the movie).

2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

The girl on fire is back, with vengeance. Katniss Everdeen is stronger, smarter, and prettier. The sequel is practically better than the predecessor in most (if not all) aspects.

1. Frozen

Disney's Frozen

Image: Rotten Tomatoes

And at the top (or bottom) of my list is, Disney’s Frozen. I’d like to say that this is the best Disney’s animated movie after The Lion King. Beautifully animated story, wonderful voice acting, and catchy singalong songs makes it truly memorable.

Best Credit Card Cash Rebates or Miles in Singapore

Credit Cards

AFP image

Updated on 6 Dec 2013.

I like to maximize the return of all my spending, be it in the form of discounts, rebates, reward points, or air miles. Hence, unless I’m entitled to a good discount, I normally avoid paying with cash in favor of credit card.

If you know where to look, certain credit cards will give you substantial benefits based on their promotions, for example cash bonus, free gifts, 5% (or more) cash rebates, 10X (ten times) reward points, loads of air miles, etc. Some even provide you with less intangible benefits like airport lounge access or concierge service. If you never get any of this benefit, you’re missing it big time.

So, if you are like me and you want to get some tips on this, read on. This blog post is by no means comprehensive, I’m just sharing my experience with Singapore-issued credit cards.

1. Best credit card for online shopping

The followings are the card that you should use when shopping online, for example Amazon, Apple Store, eBay, Paypal, SingTel/StarHub/M1 bill payments, etc. Some cards may have special exclusions, so pay attention to the T&C.

Card Benefits
DBS Woman’s World Card MasterCard
  • 10X DBS Points for online spending.
    • Every $5 = 10 DBS Points.
    • The additional 9X DBS Points are only applicable for the first $2,000 online spend every calendar month.
  • Men can also apply :)
OCBC FRANK credit card
  • 6% cash rebate for online spendbetween $500 and $1000 per month.
  • Unlimited 0.5% cash rebate otherwise.
UOB Preferred Platinum Visa Card
  • 10X reward points for online spending.
    • Excludes all airline, travel, government, utilities, telecommunications, brokerage/securities, insurance, education/tuition, online money transfers and online gambling websites.
  • 10X reward points for Visa payWave transactions.

 

2. Best credit card for groceries shopping

If you often shop for groceries on supermarkets, you can use the following credit cards:

Card Benefits
Maybank Family & Friends Platinum MasterCard
  • 5% cash rebate at Cold Storage, NTUC Fairprice,  Fairprice Finest, Fairprice X-tra.
  • 5% cash rebate at POPULAR bookstores, Toys “R” Us, KFC Delivery, McDonald’s Delivery, Pizza Hut Delivery, Guardian, Unity NTUC Healthcare, Watsons, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo.
POSB Everyday Card
  • 5% cash rebate at Sheng Shiong.
  • 3% cash rebate at Watsons.
  • Multifunction as MasterCard PayPass, EZ-Link card, DBS/POSB ATM card, and NETS card.
HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card
  • 5% cash rebate at Cold Storage, Jasons, Market Place, Giant, and Guardian.

 

3. Best credit card for air miles accrual

If you are accumulating points or air miles for your upcoming honeymoon trip to Europe, check the following cards out:

Card Benefits
UOB PRVI Miles Platinum American Express Card
  • 2.5 miles for every $1 spent overseas.
  • 1.6 miles for every $1 spent locally.
  • Complimentary one-way limousine transfer to the airport.
Citibank PremierMiles American Express Card
  • 2.5 miles for every S$1 spent on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, KrisShop or Tradewinds Tours & Travel
  • 2 miles for every $1 spent overseas.
  • 1.4 miles for every $1 spent locally.
  • 15000 miles for paying $267.50 annual fee.
  • Miles never expire.
Citibank PremierMiles Visa Card
  • 2 miles for every $1 spent overseas.
  • 1.2 miles for every $1 spent locally.
  • 10000 miles for paying $192.60 annual fee.
  • Miles never expire.

Also note that your reward points earned by other credit cards can also be converted to air miles. So if you can, try to use the 10X reward cards before using the miles cards.

 

4. Best general-purpose cash rebate (cash back) credit cards

The following credit cards are useful if your spending does not fall in any of the above categories.

Card Benefits
UOB One Card
  • Up to 3.33% of cash rebate on everything.
    Note that the rebates are tiered and can be troublesome to hit the maximum rebates. Unless you have the necessary patience and details, I suggest you avoid this card.
  • Additional 2% cash rebate on all overseas transactions.
Standard Chartered MANHATTAN MasterCard
  • 3% cash rebate on all spendings when the monthly total spending is $3000 or above.
  • 1% cash rebate on all spendings when the monthly total spending is between $1000 and $2999.
  • 0.5% cash rebate on all spendings when the monthly total spending is less than $1000.
  • Cash rebate is capped at $200 per quarter.
CIMB Visa Infinite Card
  • 1% cash rebate on all local spendings.
  • 2% cash rebate on overseas and travel related spendings (hotels, airlines, and travel agencies).
    Eligible with a minimum monthly spend of $2000.

There are still many cards that I haven’t covered, mainly because I haven’t used them. Others because the use case is very specific, like for EZ-Link top up, for movie purchase, etc. I may write about it on other opportunities. In the mean time, if you have some useful tips, feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Phuket Survival Tips

I had a great vacation in Phuket, Thailand, earlier this month. I’d like to share some tips that can be useful if you plan to travel there. If you’re looking for the stories, my friend has written a series of it (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5).

1. Book the airport transfer

A taxi can load up to 4 passengers and costs about 450 THB from the Phuket international airport to Patong Beach (one of the most popular tourist destination). If you’re travelling in group and have to take more than one cab, consider to hire a driver with a minivan for the airport transfer.

It costs about 800 THB for a luxury Lexus minivan. It can load up to 9 passengers (or 10 if you include the front seat beside the driver’s). Our driver was Mr. Liem (Niwat Panphuet). He was a gentle driver, didn’t talk much, but actually quite friendly. He will pick you up and you can pay him after he drops you at your destination.

If you want his service, you can contact him through the following:
Email: niwatpan@hotmail.com
Mobile: +66 89 4696867, +66 81 8949080
Tel/fax: +66 76 528044

2. Take a road trip

Phuket has many beautiful beaches and wonderful sight-seeing spots. You definitely won’t want to stay only in one place and skip the chance to visit those amazing places. The best way to visit most (if not all) of them is by taking a road trip. You can rent a car and drive on your own, but you will need an international driving license for this. Or just hire a driver with a car to drive you around.

When you do, take the west coast line of Phuket from Patong Beach – Karon Beach – Kata Beach – Nai Harn Beach, and all the way to Promthep Cape at the southwest. Along the way, you can also stop at some nice viewpoints (Kata and Karon viewpoints), the Big Buddha, or Phuket Town.

Tip: it cost us 2,500 THB for a 1 day (additional cost applicable beyond 10 hours of trip) for hiring the driver and the car (petrol included). We also hired Mr. Liem  for this road trip and we totally enjoyed and loved the ride.

3. Take a boat trip

Many parts in Phuket are accessible only by boats. Make sure you spare at least one day to visit those lovely places in Phang Nga Bay (James Bond Island, Hong Island, Bamboo Island) and Phi Phi Islands (Koh Phi Phi and the world-famous Maya Beach).

The ride can be long, rough, and bumpy, so if you have a weak stomach, be sure to have some preparation or medication to calm your sickness.

4. Haggle prices from street vendors

Often, you can buy your items at 50% or less than the initial price. Don’t hesitate to bargain. The vendors are quite friendly and they’re not so aggressive.

This includes show tickets (Simon Cabaret, Fantasea, etc.) and tours (Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi Islands). For example, the listed VIP ticket price for Simon Cabaret is 600 THB, but we managed to get it for 550 THB including 2-way transfer by Tuk Tuk (Phuket local public transportation).

5. Bring some sunscreen or sun protection

Or buy one at Phuket. If you are at the Patong Beach, you can buy from Watson’s nearby. The price was quite cheap there.

Phuket is about beach. You will stay most of the time under the sun. Be sure you have enough protection against sunburn and, more importantly, skin cancer.

6. Bring some insect/mosquitoes repellent

Some areas can be populated by mosquitoes. Bringing one may save you from clapping your hands and scratching your legs all night every night.

by Denni Gautama