Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My Experience at The Canopi Glamping Resort, Bintan Island

This is a very rare moment where I get to pretend I am a travel blogger so bear with me. 
Thank you to Jon & his family for the hospitality and invite n__n

Bintan Island is a popular island in Indonesia that is most commonly accessed via Singapore due to its proximity, and is not to be mistaken with Batam island (also an Indonesian island close to Singapore). Bintan is also home to popular beachside/island resorts such as Banyan Tree Resort & Spa, Sanchaya Resort and Club Med Bintan, hence its popularity with Singaporeans (or is it because the Singaporeans came, so these resorts were built? Hmmm) Quite 5 star lah. The island also has a lot of attractions - such as the 500 Lohan sculptures, temples and historic chapels, along with mangrove tours and eco farms.

The Canopi is a brand-new boutique, glamping-themed resort on Bintan Island. Glamping is glamorous camping - camping in the outdoors with all the comforts and more of a resort. Besides the unique glamping feature (where you stay in a literal tent!), the unique thing about #TheCanopi is its location tethering the Crystal Lagoon - South East Asia's largest salt water man-made lagoon!

Here's a look at how each of the glamping tents looks like. Take note of the safari-themed items (like the chest of drawers, standing lamps and chairs - too cute!)!

The walls (thick fabric) can be rolled up to reveal the surroundings. We had a lagoon view tent. Other tents behind us (no lagoon view) had outdoor Jacuzzi tubs

Open air shower because what else would you expect from camping?

Toiletries are generic...would have been cute to be Body Shop/L'Occitane :D

Super cute stationery. Would be better if there were a Sumatran Rhino or Komodo Dragon paperweight :D OMG I should just open a boutique hotel consultancy

Since I have no caption for this - Jon said "Wah this is like Camporama man. Can hear people talking outside the tent"

The great thing about The Canopi is that there's a whole host of activities to get into at the resort itself. Loan a scooter or a Segway and loop around the lagoon, or buckle up to ride a muddy circuit with one of their UTVs. You can also tour the lagoon with a cute little pick up or in their solar-powered yacht. There is also a water sports section (with inflatable trampolines, mini pyramid etc) further down the resort, which was still under development.

My analysis of The Canopi:

  • Great, tastefully decorated rooms
  • Nice touch to provide 2 umbrellas 
  • Dunno why but I got fabric burns on the soles of my feet from the carpet (a sort of hemp material). Should provide terry cloth slippers 
  • Needs welcome drinks or a plate of cold fruits for arriving guests :D
  • A welcome kit would have been fantastic! It would contain a map of the resort ala treasure map, a to-do list of items ala activity sheet (would be so cute for the kids), ponchos, a picnic mat (both can be Canopi branded lolol).
  • There should also be an add-on option on their booking website for BBQ food. We saw many guests bringing in their own booze and food to cook in the pits

On that last note, the food selection at the resort is quite sparse (western food plus a few local offerings) that range from RM30 onwards (yeah sorry I am not familiar with Indonesian rupiah). If you want snacks and booze, better buy them at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal before departing. Otherwise you'll have to drive to the closest town centre (which consists of a few shops and a hawker centre) to get some food.  You can also get kek lapis from here. There is also another town about half an hour away from the area but we weren't looking to go that far. Also, they do NOT accept SGD any longer so please convert your cash into IDR (there's a money changer at the terminal).

Still no caption, so...Indonesian time is one hour behind Singapore/Malaysia's

Check out my latest post on The Edison Hotel, Penang and why it's my favourite stay in Penang to date.

The Canopi website

Saturday, August 15, 2015

5 Things I Should Have Done with my Income

A little background as to why this is my topic of choice: This year, two very important things happened to me which helped me to take better control of how I spend my money. The first is a short prep talk by Jeevan Sahadevan, and the second is a Compass course (which I am still in the process of completing).

Unbeknownst to me, most of my income was spent at Mr. DIY monthly

After working for four years (going into year 5, come September!), I still have not achieved any amount of financial independence and freedom that I thought I would have by the time I were an adult. How embarrassing.

All of this boils down to poor financial education. 

(Despite my stupid financial education, I have two things to take pride in - first, my strict regime in handling credit cards. I didn't get one until last year, and only then used it to pay for petrol and NOTHING ELSE. I always made sure I paid off the dues on the day it is due, or earlier. The second thing is the routine payment of my car loan.)

Today I share with you the 5 additional things I would have told myself about my income when I first started working.

1. Do not touch the money in the EMERGENCY SAVINGS account
Ideally, we should put 10% or more of our monthly income into a savings account. The purpose of this account is to have reserve money on hand, in the event of an emergency. Some people can save up to 30% of their income, but I would recommend you start with 5 or 10% and work your way upwards. 

For me, for the past years of working, I was disciplined in putting aside that money, but had little discipline in what defines an "emergency". Holiday with the girls? Sale at Cotton On? Birthday treat for myself? Anything and everything warranted a use for the extra money. I depleted my savings very, very quickly.

Now I know better. This money is not to be used for debts, expenditure, treats or holidays. It's to be used in the event of a job loss or economical instability, or to be put towards the down payment of my first property purchase, or to be used for my further education. It's very boring, but very necessary! 

2. Create a FUN JAR
I would have put aside about 10% (or however much I could afford to put aside for that month) into a FUN JAR. This Fun Jar would fund my FUN stuff, like the things I mentioned in point 1 - holiday with my friends, buy stuff at the Cotton On sale, or treat myself on my birthday. 

Another plus point is that this amount can snowball. It's not like I go on a holiday every month - so at the end of three months, I could have as much as 30% of my income in my FUN JAR to spend! I highly recommend doing this alongside your emergency savings account. 

3. Manage the 90% as well as you manage the 10%
It has been indoctrinated in me that 10% of my income belongs to God and goes to tithes. As we tithe or pay our zakat, we are actually saying to God, "thank You for the sustenance and provision". So you can say that giving is a form of worship. 

I have been religiously giving 10% of my income to the church every month, without much thought to how I spend the remainder 90%. This year, I have been taught that all 100% belongs to God. I am merely a steward of the money that I have, and I have been a sucky steward of the 90%. MIND BLOWN! This principle (from Compass) changed the way I looked at my finances and how I manage it. 

4. Create a financial goal
It can be modest or outrageous, but have something to focus your energy and effort towards. Here are a few popular ones for those who are new in the workplace:

- Pay off student loans 
- Pay off hire purchase (car loan) ahead of time
- Set aside one month's salary in emergency savings
- Have a retirement plan (PRS)

And this one, I highly recommend to everyone to do - give your parents some money every month. They paid for the cost of your life, man. A small token for them each month would make them happy that you thought about them. It's not the amount, it's the thought.

5. Get a financial adviser/mentor
This person would not be a financial consultant, or a unit trust rep nor my insurance agent, but someone older, wiser and with more experience than me, who can help me plan out my finances with their great counsel. Uncles, aunties, your parents, your parent's friends. 

Mostly, I spoke with my mother regarding my monthly expenditure, but I do wish there were more people I could bounce my thoughts off with. "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."

Finally, I hope you will be able to be content in whatever state you feel you are in - like Liz Lemon here.

Okay that's all for this series! I hope you learnt something.