Wednesday, December 23, 2020

End of year 2020 - My Reflection On This COVID year

Just like that, 2020 is coming to an end. This year proved itself to be a year of surprises. This definitely isn't a normal year which we would go through as the whole world practically descended into crisis. Luckily for us in Singapore, the disease outbreak is mostly under control and we've not seen multiple waves as compared to other countries. Nevertheless, we have transitioned into a new norm of living with social distancing, wearing of mask and limitation on gatherings still in place probably for another year ahead.

What I learnt in year 2020

2020 would be a year I will never forget. For both my personal and working life, I had to make tough decisions which was not easy. I was suppose to get married this year with almost everything all planned out. Me and my fiancee made the decision to postpone our wedding 3 months before our big day. Luckily we did that else we wouldn't be able to hold a wedding during the circuit breaker anyway. 

For my working life, this is the year which I pushed myself so much that I didn't take a single annual leave at all. This is the first time in my 10 years of working life that I didn't take any leave. Working in healthcare supporting COVID operations in the frontline is never easy. There were several times which I felt totally burn out and wanted to give up but I pushed myself to continue. It was mentally and physically exhausting. I'm glad that the situation is much better now. Looking back, I learnt how much I could actually push myself. I realised how much more I could do, pushing myself to the limits. Of course, this could not be achieved without the support of my fiancee, family, friends, colleagues and even the whole nation coming together as one. During a crisis, work becomes very different. We had SOPs to follow but also had to make critical decisions when situation changes. Policy changes becomes a weekly affair too where we had to adjust to changes almost every other day. 

The good thing about working in healthcare is I didn't have to worry about whether my salary or bonus will be cut. My salary remained intact and bonus was not cut. Because of this, I took the risk to invest more of my savings when the stock market dropped drastically. The ride was really wild as stocks continued to drop every time I bought a new stock. There were times I doubted myself whether am I doing the right thing as I see losses accumulating. Facing a tough personal life, I had moments of depression where I couldn't sleep well at night which was worsen by the losses from my investments.

Fortunately, the stock market has recovered and my portfolio went back up higher than the beginning of this year. All the losses have reversed and turned into profits. I believe this is only the beginning of the recovery and there is still much room for stocks to run up. 

Income and expenditure update

For the year 2020, my income from employment continues to grow. Total income grew 13.8% as compared to year 2019. Other income drop slightly as I had lesser time for income generating outside of work and also dividends from stocks were mostly cut this year due to the economic uncertainty. Expenses also dropped as I did not travel this year and also partly because of the circuit breaker and work which I did not go out for any social gatherings for a few months. 

Stock Investment Performance

For investing, I kept to my believe that the best time to invest is when there is a crisis. I've been waiting for such a time like this for the longest time ever since I started investing more than 10 years ago. There were some small crisis during the 10 years but this is one of the crisis which I've never encountered before. 

As you can see from the blue line representing my stock portfolio value, it has increased by more than 2 fold as I injected more capital every time the stocks drop lower. As the red line (representing portfolio time weighted returns) dropped, I put in more money and thus my portfolio value still went up even though stocks drop a lot. I have seen wide swings in my portfolio to the tune of $50K just this year alone. Not an easy journey I must say but this has made me a better investor to be able to control my emotions better. I learnt not to panic sell stocks during such times and really need to patience to ride it through.

With the support from other financial blogger friends, all of us got excited and invested more as stocks drop. This proved to be the right thing to do when stocks are on a great discount to their valuation. Nevertheless, it is still hard to know which company will survive at that point in time. I had stocks like SATS and hospitality Reits which were the hardest hit. Stocks like these have also recovered back to the price which I bought them at. The whole wait took about 6-9 months for it to turn around. At that point in time when I invested in these companies, the outlook was bleek and future was unknown. There was even fear whether the companies would survive. Looking back, there was definitely risk involved. It may still be risky now as borders have largely remained close and tourism is almost non existent. 

What's in it for us in 2021?

While the stock market has recovered and a vaccine is underway to control the outbreak, there is still uncertainty over the impact this outbreak will bring to the economy. There might be permanent shift in certain industries due to disruptions and accelerating of technological advancements. 

Will travel resume in 2021? I certainly hope so as the urge to have a good break and exploring new places keeps coming back. It might take awhile for normal travel to resume though as the start of borders reopening will certainly face with some hiccups and also travelling cost will definitely be much higher initially due to pent up demand. 

Nevertheless, holiday season is here and its short working week for the rest of the year till 2021. Here's wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Have a joyous celebration with your friends and family members but do remember to stay safe too! 

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Taking A HDB Loan - Should I Wipe Out My CPF OA?

Starting from August 2018, we do not need to wipe out our CPF OA anymore when taking a HDB loan. Now, we can have the flexibility to leave up to $20,000 in our CPF OA when we take a HDB loan. For a couple, this means a total of $40,000 in their CPF OA ($20,000 each). 

The question now will be should we wipe out our CPF OA or leave $20,000 in our account? Leaving $20,000 in our CPF OA means taking up a higher mortgage loan and paying more loan instalment and interest per month. This may not be a bad thing. Let's look into detail on this. 

Setting out the scenario

Let's assume the following scenario for a couple who has bought a house and looking to take HDB loan:
  1. Bought a house at $400,000
  2. Has $100,000 each in CPF OA
  3. Wants to take HDB loan at 2.6%
Now, this couple wants to consider whether to leave $20,000 each in their OA or wipe out totally to pay lesser monthly instalment? 

If they wipe out their CPF OA and take a loan of $200,000 for 25 years, their monthly loan instalment will be $908/month. 

If they leave $20,000 in their CPF OA each (total of $40,000) and take a loan of $240,000 for 25 years, their monthly loan instalment will be $1,089/month. 

Looking at the above, most couple will choose to go for the lesser monthly loan instalment right? It seems like a logical choice but unfortunately logic does not always prevail. 

Interest gained for $20,000 left in CPF OA 

The decision now is whether to leave $20,000 in CPF OA. First, we must know how much interest we would have gained if we leave it in CPF OA. Here's a table to summarize:

$20,000 @ 2.5%
15 years $9,088
20 years $12,957
25 years $17,341

The above is the interest we would have gained for leaving $20,000 in CPF OA for 15, 20 and 25 years at 2.5% interest. Doesn't look a lot but let's move on to how much more interest we would have paid if we take up a bigger home loan if we have not wiped out our CPF OA. 

*Do note that CPF OA is actually giving 3.5% interest for the first $20,000 so the amount should be larger.

Interest paid on $240,000 vs $200,000 home loan

In order to know whether it is good to leave $20,000 in our CPF OA accounts, let's take a look at the interest we would have paid on a $240,000 vs a $200,000 home loan. 

25 years20 years15 years
$200,000 $72,121 $68,711 $59,081
$240,000 $86,618 $82,497 $70,921

The above shows the cumulative interest paid for a $200K vs $240K home loan for 25, 20 and 15 years at 2.6% interest rate. Now, let's calculate how much more interest we would have paid on a $240,000 home loan should a couple not leave $20,000 in each of their CPF OA. 

25 years20 years15 years
Additional interest on $240K vs $200K loan$14,497 $13,787 $11,840

Now, the additional interest paid on that additional $40,000 loan doesn't seem like a lot. Will the interest gained on the $20,000 each in a couple's CPF OA be more than the above interest paid?

Let's bring the numbers together. 

Taking HDB Loan - Should I Wipe Out My CPF OA?

Now, with all the calculations, will we see higher interest gained for leaving the $20,000 in our CPF OA? The answer is yes. Let's look at the table below. 

25 years20 years15 years
Additional interest on $240K vs $200K loan$14,497 $13,787 $11,840
Interest gained in CPF OA ($20,000 each for couple) $34,681 $25,915 $18,177
Net Interest gained for leaving $20K in CPF OA $20,184 $12,128 $6,337

While the net interest gained is more for the above, we still have to consider the higher mortgage paid per month for taking a $240,000 loan vs a $200,000 loan. The difference in monthly instalment is $1089-$908=$181 per month for 25 years mortgage. This sum will be left in our CPF OA earning 3.5% interest which can be quite significant. 

Apart from the interest point of view, leaving $20K in our CPF OA can be used as emergency fund just in case when we lose our job later. If we do not have leftover in our CPF OA, then we will have to pay our housing loan in cash at that time which makes it worse for our financial circumstances during that tough period. 

CPF OA monies can be invested as well for sums more than $20K. Leaving $20K in oir OA will enable us to invest the accumulated sums thereafter (above $20K) and may earn more interest higher than 2.5%. However, as with all investments there are always risks involved. 

Deciding on whether to wipe out our CPF OA is not an easy decision. It depends on what we really want. Nevertheless, this gives us the flexibility to choose based on our risk appetite.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Life and Investing In the Midst of A Recession

News of what was to come came in early January 2020. Working in healthcare, I first heard of the then Wuhan virus in early Jan. Infectious disease experts in Singapore were already starting to monitor the developments in China very early on and preparing for what was to come. We didn't have the mood to celebrate Chinese New Year and the worrying part is when people around the world travel to different parts of the world during the CNY holidays causing the virus to spread.

In the midst of CNY, I was busy preparing slides for manpower planning for COVID-19 support. I had to work till midnight for several days. The CNY holidays were totally disrupted for me. The preparation work continued for the rest of the 15 days of CNY and DORSCON was raised to orange in Singapore even before the 15 days CNY was over. I remembered some of my colleagues had arranged reunion dinner with their family on that faithful night but all plans were disrupted. 

The virus was officially named 2019-nCOV in February and then changed to COVID-19 thereafter. The events happened very quickly and caught many by surprise. It sent shock waves to the stock market and every stock went into free fall mode. Many people, including me started to deploy our warchest to buy some stocks at good bargain thinking this virus will pass by in just a few months. The only comparison we had was the SARS virus back in 2003 and the world got out of it in just a few months. 

Little did I know that COVID-19 would cause such massive damage to the economy as compared to SARS. Fast forward 7 months into COVID-19, we are still far from over from this crisis. Retrenchments are intensifying and pay cuts become a common occurence. Our borders are still mostly closed even though there's some good news now that our borders are starting to reopen to revive the tourism, hospitality and aviation sector. This sector contributes about 5% to Singapore's GDP which is somewhat significant. Furthermore, there are repercussions if there are no tourists in Singapore. Tourists contributes significantly when they spend in our country. Without them, many businesses suffer a drop in income and many had to close down as what we have seen. Singapore's domestic market is still too small to sustain our economy for the long run. 

Is this still the best time for investing?

Nevertheless, I still think this is the best time for investing. Many investors in the past have said that they will take advantage and find opportunity to invest when a crisis happens. I too was looking forward to a crisis so that I can invest more. When the crisis really comes, it was easy deploying cash into stocks at the start but as the crisis drags on and your portfolio continues to see losses, we also start to doubt our investment thesis whether is it correct or should we even be investing now. I had self doubts too investing in this crisis. Almost all companies have cut dividends. The more than 10% dividend yield we see for some companies when the stock price drop becomes less than 5% now after they cut dividends. Its almost like everything is going against you.  

The good thing now is the companies I invested in, so far non have collapsed in the midst of the crisis. This is especially important as some companies will surely not make it and file for bankruptcy. Big names like Muji, GNC, Hertz have filed for bankruptcy in the US. Recently, Genting HK which owns Dream Cruise and Zouk Singapore also defaulted on its loans. Car sharing firm Smove in Singapore also collapsed. In times like this, it is really important to invest in strong companies with good balance sheet to ensure they can ride out the storm. 

This storm may take some time to pass. Perhaps another 6 months to 1 year from what I read so far. For Singapore, we should be looking at a vaccine nearer to the end of 2021 which is still quite some time from now. For now, we still have to get use to living this different life we have since the start of 2020. I am still accumulating stocks which are at depressed prices now. I still believe in REITs which I had accumulated more of Frasers Centrepoint Trust, Capitaland Mall Trust and Lendlease REIT to larger positions. I have also invested more on hospitality REITs such as CDL Htrust even though the hospitality sector may still take some time to recover. However, the REITs that own hotels are still surviving with profits as they cater for visitors on SHN and foreign workers. I believe once COVID-19 is under control, people will start travelling again. There is definitely pent up demand for travel again.

I also bought more Netlink Trust as they continue to generate dividends and appear unscathed from the crisis. For recovery plays, I bought in Comfortdelgro at $1.35 as I feel they should be the first to recover and the stock price is really attractive. I also invested in banks such as OCBC and DBS to ride on the banking giants at attractive prices. Lastly, I also made my first investment in US stock in Alphabet Inc which is the Google company we know. 

Nevertheless, my portfolio is still down 15% YTD while the STI is down almost 20%. This is definitely not a good year for investment and who knows how long this will continue on. Reference to the past during the 2008 global financial crisis, the stock market took about 7 months to 1 year to bottom out and recovered furiously thereafter to reach another peak in 1-2 years. I feel the stock market has already bottomed out and bad news are already priced in, not withstanding another shock to the world again. There may still be another slight dip but it should not be as bad as what we have went through thus far. 

Therefore, I do feel this is the best time to accumulate good companies in the next few months. We are so far about 5-6 months from the stock market drop and if history do repeat itself, then it should take another 5-6 months to see recovery. Remember, the stock market is always 6 months to 1 year ahead of the economy. So, the market can be recovering when retrenchments are intensifying and at the peak. This is the nature of investing. 

Life has not been an easy one for many of us this year and it may get worse before it gets better. Nevertheless, when we get out of this crisis, we will become better and life will be back as normal again. As with all other crisis, nothing will be permanent. Those who look for opportunities during a crisis will become better and emerge stronger. Its up to us to take action now in all aspects of our life. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Forget About Investments - Look At The Looming Economic Crisis

2020 has became the toughest year to live in human history. Virtually everything has changed from the way we work, to the way we shop and the way we could travel. Investing will become the toughest as we brace for a longer depression happening in the economy which means stock prices could take very long to recover. 

I was looking at Singapore's GDP forecast by MTI and things don't look rosy at all. Many of you may have lost your job or have your pay cut and bonuses cut too. Those working in hospitality related sectors such as hotels, attractions and those doing events or in the entertainment industry will be affected the most. Singapore's unemployment numbers have not moved up much due to the many temporarily jobs created by the government. This has enabled people to continue earning some money even though their salary may not be as high as what they would have got before they were retrenched. 

In times like this, if you're working in an industry which is at risk of retrenchment now, its better to prepare your emergency fund for the possibility of a retrenchment later. This will definitely help you to tide thorough when it really happens. We do not want to make the mistake of investing all our savings in the stock market and end up having to sell at a loss when we lose our jobs. I believe the worse is yet to come and companies have not felt the full impact of the crisis yet due to government supporting wages through the jobs support scheme. This is unsustainable and it will be unwise for the government to keep using taxpayers money to fund wages for the long term. We have already drawn $52 Billion from our past reserves and used a total of $92.9 Billion for all the 4 budgets combined. This is at about 20% of our GDP in 2019. 

Breakdown of Singapore's GDP

If we breakdown Singapore's GDP, we will know which are the areas affected and why MTI forecasted a contraction of -7% to -4% for 2020. 

A contraction in GDP means the aggregate value of the goods and services produced within the economic territory of Singapore is decreasing. This means lesser revenue for the businesses which may lead to retrenchments as companies tighten their belts to protect their bottom line. 

Statistics of Singapore has a very good info-graphics as shown below showing the breakdown of GDP. 70% of Singapore's GDP comes from services producing industries such as wholesale & retail trade, finance & insurance and business services etc. 

Adapted from:

According to MTI report here, the worst contraction in 1Q 2020 came from the accomodation & food services sector with a 23.8% year on year and 69.9% quarter on quarter contraction. Luckily, this sector only makes up 2.1% of our GDP. This sector includes hotels and also food services providers such as caterers and restaurants. 

The next sector which contracted the most is the transportation and storage sector. It contracted 8.1% year on year and 29.9% quarter on quarter. This sector includes air, land and sea transportation. Air travel shrunk drastically due to the closed borders and restrictions on international visitors. Sea and land transport also contracted due to lesser demand for sea cargo handled and reduced domestic demand for public transportation. 

Wholesale and retail trade also contracted by 5.8% year on year and 18.1% quarter on quarter. This sector includes motor vehicle sales, watches and jewelry and also apparel and footwear etc. Amidst all the contraction, we still see some expansion in some sectors such as manufacturing, finance & insurance and information & communication. 

Which sector will have more retrenchments?

By looking at the breakdown of the GDP above, we might be able to get some hints on which sector will have more retrenchments moving forward. The accommodation and food services sector made up only 2.1% of GDP while tourism contributes about 4.2% of Singapore's GDP. If borders continue to be closed to tourists, Singapore's economy will still survive. Thus, this sector may see more retrenchments if tourists are still not allowed to come to Singapore. It is difficult for the hotels to survive if they continue to keep their staff with them. 

Wholesale and retail trade may also continue to face some headwinds due to reduced domestic demand as most people work from home during the weekdays and also reduced tourism spending in areas such as Orchard road. Businesses in the CBD area will definitely be more affected as compared to shops in the heartlands. 

We have not touched on the "other services industries" which also is the most affected in this COVID-19 crisis. This includes the arts, entertainment & recreation segment such as concerts, events etc. Events are still not allowed in Singapore but good news is entertainment is slowly allowed to reopen such as cinemas and attractions. For corporate events, it will definitely take some time before it is allowed again so those businesses which provide event services to corporations will surely retrench many of its staff.     
It is election week for the whole of next week and we await to see the election results if Singaporeans will lean more to the government side or the opposition side. Nevertheless, life still goes on and we should always be prepared for such a crisis like this by having an emergency fund for rainy days. This is what I have always been advocating for and maybe through this crisis, the importance of financial planning will emerge out at the top again. 

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Monday, June 8, 2020

Lendlease Global Commercial REIT - An undervalued Retail & Commercial REIT investment

In just 3 months since the great sell down of the stock market, stocks have started to rally with most REITs going up more than 20% from their lows. The big names like Capitaland Mall Trust, Capitaland Commercial Trust, Suntec REIT and Frasers Centrepoint Trust have all went up. My returns from these REITs now ranges from 10% to close to 40%. Yes, I bought quite a few REITs when Singapore was still in lockdown and all the malls were closed. It wasn't an easy decision to make since the economic situation is still quite bad out there but with such attractive valuations, I couldn't resist to put my money to work. 

With all the rally, I believe there are still opportunities to invest as the situation out there is still dynamic and STI index has not covered back to Pre-COVID-19 days. In this post, I will focus on Lendlease Global Commercial REIT. This is a new REIT which just IPO last year Oct at $0.88 and they only have 2 properties in their portfolio, one in Singapore and one in Italy. I applied for the IPO back then but did not get it. On hindsight, I was lucky not to have got it last year as I can invest in it at much lower price now. Let's start the bargain hunting. 

Lendlease REIT has 1 property in Singapore focusing on retail. This is non other than the popular 313@somerset which we are familiar with. 313@somerset contributes 2/3 of the NPI to Lendlease REIT. In Italy, they have a commercial property called Sky Complex, Milan. Let's take a look at the stock chart to see where the stock is at now.

As you can see, Lendlease IPO at about $0.88 and traded at about $0.90 consistently for the next few months. When the COVID-19 situation got worse, it went down in a straight line just as what happened to the other stocks as well. The price of the stock went down as much as 50% at the lows which was extremely attractive. It was trading at a discount to NAV of more than 50% at that point in time. 

Many investors seem to realise this and started to scoop up shares of Lendlease REIT at the low. This is like buying a property at prime land at Orchard road just above Somerset MRT at 50% of the price. The normalised dividend yield would have also been more than 10% at the low. 

The question is, will Lendlease REIT survive this crisis? Let us look into the REIT in detail.

Tenants at its properties

Majority of the leases for its tenants at 313@somerset have been renewed for FY2020 except for 5% due for renewal in FY2021. For Sky complex, Milan, its on long term leases till 2032. All in all, this will prevent a scenario where tenants demand lower rental due to COVID-19 when their renewal is up. Based on its 3Q financial results update on 5th May 2020, Lendlease still has a occupancy of 99.8% at its properties. 

Most of the leases will expire only in 9.9 years time which is a long time before the next renewal. This is because for Sky Complex, Milan, the leases are very long at average 12 years. For 313 @somerset, the WALE is 1.8-1.9 years. 

Healthy Balance Sheet

A healthy balance sheet is the most important when investing in times like this. Their gearing ratio is at 35.9% as at 31 March 2020. They still have ample room to increase their debt if needed. One thing that strikes out is their low borrowing cost at 0.86% which is much lower than any local REITs listed on SGX. This gives them an interest cover ratio of 11.2x which is a clear winner comparing to other retail REITs!

If we look deeper into their debt profile, we can see why they can get such low interest on their borrowing cost. Most of their loans are on Euro term loan at 0.58% p.a. Their average weighted debt maturity is at 3.3 years so there is no refinancing till FY2023. This would alleviate any concerns of them not being able to refinance their loans in times of the COVID-19 crisis now.


Lendlease REIT has an NAV of $0.82. At current price of $0.715, it is still trading at a slight discount to its NAV. Normalising the DPU of 1.28 cents per quarter, we will get a DPU of 5.12 cents. This gives us a decent dividend yield of about 7%. 

On capitalization rate, 313@somerset has a cap rate of 4.5% which is comparable to properties such as Plaza Singapura in retail REITs like CMT. For Sky Complex, Milan, the cap rate is 5.75% which is normal for overseas office properties. The cap rate is the rate of return that an investment property will generate based on its current market value. It is calculated by taking the Net Property Income (NPI) dividend by the current market value of the property. 


With all the factors above, I believe Lendlease REIT will survive this crisis. The retail space should be the first to recover after phase 2 of the circuit breaker where we are allowed to dine in again at restaurants and more retail shops to be allowed to open. 

However, we must always understand that in times like this, stock prices can always go lower and we should only invest money which we can afford to lose and not use it for at least the next 1 year. Who knows a second wave of infection may come and Singapore goes into a lock down again. This should send stock prices diving down again. 

Nevertheless, I have invested into Lendlease REIT at lower prices than the current price and would accumulate if there are opportunities to buy on dips. With all the rally going on, a pull back should happen soon and that would be the time to accumulate. 

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Monday, May 25, 2020

Video Sharing - Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis

Due to COVID-19, a financial crisis seem to be looming and it got me interested to look back at past financial crisis again. Recently watched a documentary on the 2008 financial crisis which described what really happened back then. Financial crisis is scary indeed. Now I know why those who had invested back then said it was a scary experience. But on hindsight, the world recovered from the crisis nevertheless and made more people rich for those who had invested in the right companies.

Here's the video for sharing:

Monday, May 18, 2020

Investing during crisis - Making sure the company survives

We are undoubtedly seeing a financial crisis unfolding before our eyes due to the COVID-19. Because of the lockdown of many countries around the world, governments have effectively created bigger problems to solve moving forward. Many investors have been preparing to take the opportunity of a lifetime to invest during a crisis. There was excitement at first when stock prices drop drastically and many investors started to buy stocks. The only past similar pandemic which we thought we have seen before is the SARS crisis back in 2003. No one would have imagined that the COVID-19 turned out much worse than the SARS crisis and now we are preparing for an even unpredictable future ahead.

There is no doubt many stocks are at attractive valuations now including blue chips and REITS. The problem now is many valuation methods are forward looking but there is no way we can analyse how the future will be and how a company will perform in the future. If we use macroeconomic factors to analyse sectors and industries to buy stocks, it is also very difficult now because many economists will not even know how the future will be. In the end, how the financial future will look like will depend on government policies and regulations.

Welcome to investing in a crisis

Many of us have been preparing for a crisis to happen so we can buy stocks at great prices. This has happen over and over again in the past such as the GFC, AFC and other crisis. The stocks market always goes back up isn't it?

Yes, indeed the stock market always goes back up after a crisis. However, what was not told to us is many companies also don't survive a crisis. It is therefore of utmost importance that we focus on whether a company can survive when investing during a crisis. 

I myself am investing during this crisis and it has been a roller coaster ride. I know that losing money is part of investing during a crisis but the psychologically effects of losing money is still hard to stomach. My greatest worry nowadays is whether the companies I invest in will survive this downturn. It is really hard to predict but we definitely can use some financial knowledge to reduce the risk of losing our money entirely. I shall explain some of the things I look into for my investments now.

Focus on the balance sheet and cashflow statement

During a crisis, most companies earnings will take a hit. Many companies will report drop in revenue and profits. Without the revenue to pay their staff salaries, rental, loans and other business expenses, many companies will have to dig into their pockets. If they have no cash in their pockets, they may have to close down entirely and file for bankruptcy. This is how a company will not survive a crisis. We must remember cashflow is the life of a business especially during a crisis.

With lockdown in Singapore, many companies are suffering. Tourism is the worse hit as there are no more tourists in Singapore and places such as hotels, tourists attractions and other businesses which depend on tourists for revenue will be greatly impacted. Let's look at a company Genting Singapore which is no doubt the worse hit company during this COVID-19 pandemic. The resorts world Sentosa is totally closed down during the circuit breaker period in Singapore. In the near future, tourists arrivals to Singapore will probably still be low so their revenue will definitely be affected. Can this company survive?

Genting Singapore has initiated cost cutting measures and cut their staff pay by 9-18%. The good thing is the Singapore government is also paying 75% of staff salaries for Genting Singapore employees. Staff cost came up to about 448M in FY2019 for them. Looking at their balance sheet, they have 3.9 Billion in cash which can pay for about 8 years of staff salaries even if they don't make any money. This is really a huge sum of cash they have. Their current liabilities which includes borrowings is at 703M. With their cash, they can also pay of their current liabilities if needed. If you're confused on current assets and current liabilities at this point in time, you might want to read my post on the balance sheet to understand more. 

Genting Singapore Balance Sheet for FY2019

We can use the current ratio to determine if a company is in good financial standing. A current ratio of more than 1 generally means they are able to meet short term obligations if they were to be due all at once. For Genting Singapore, their current ratio is a healthy 5.87. On the other hand, if we look at another company, Singapore Airlines (SIA), their current ratio is a low 0.44. This means they are not able to meet its short term obligations such as repayment of loans in the next 1 year. This is the greatest red flag but nevertheless, the Singapore government has pledged to make SIA survive at all cost. However, this will definitely not be good for shareholders as their share value get diluted. At the time of writing, SIA shares have fallen to below $4 from a high of $9 at the beginning of the year.

How to analyse REITs and Trusts during a crisis

Another ratio we can look at is the interest coverage ratio. It is used to determine how easily a company can pay their interest expenses on outstanding debt. The ratio is calculated by dividing a company's earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) or Net Property Income (NPI) by the company's interest expenses for the same period. This ratio is often used for REITs. When a company's interest coverage ratio is only 1.5 or lower, its ability to meet interest expenses may be questionable. The ability the pay interest expense is important for REITs as majority of them are financed by debt. If they are unable to meet their debt obligations, the REIT will just collapse as what we have seen recently for one company, Eagle Hospitality Trust.

Let's look at a company in the hospitality industry, CDL Htrust. Its interest coverage ratio was 4.7x as at 31 Dec 2019. Of course this would have changed now and also in future as CDL Htrust income would have reduced and thus the interest coverage ratio will be lower. They had provided an operational update as of 31st March 2020 and indeed their interest coverage ratio dropped to 4.3x. This is after factoring the first 3 months of COVID-19 impact only. I suppose the next quarter will be worse.

Another important ratio to look at is the gearing ratio. This is the debt of a company relative to its equity or other financial metrics. For REITs, the gearing limit is 45% but now MAS has increased it to 50% to allow REITs to have more flexibility to get more borrowings if they need to survive. MAS has also relaxed the rule that mandates REITs to pay out 90% of their income to shareholders. This means REITs can now retain more of their income to strengthen their financial position.

Emerging out stronger from the crisis

If we invest in the right companies and they survive this crisis, we will definitely emerge out stronger from this crisis. Many have made their money through past financial crisis where at that time many people feared the markets. It is therefore not easy to invest during a crisis as most people would succumb to the psychological effects of losing money before the crisis is over.

Many of us have prepared for many years waiting for a crisis to happen before investing and now a crisis has happened. However, I suppose many of the same people who were waiting all their lives have trouble putting their money into the markets now out of fear of losing money. I would think this crisis will be a long drawn one and it will take time for the markets to recover. It won't be easy investing during these times as anytime the companies can go bankrupt and we will then surely lose money.

I have diversified all my investments to invest in different sectors and industries and I'm cautious not to put too much money into a single company. Focusing on whether a company will survive is of utmost importance during times like this. If a company has strong financial standing, they are able to take advantage of opportunities during a crisis and emerge out stronger. This is like us who have savings and we are able to look for opportunities to put our money in the right investments and emerge out stronger after this crisis. Without savings, we can't do anything in the first place and may lose our jobs (revenue) and end up worse. This goes the same for companies in the corporate world.

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Sunday, May 3, 2020

What The 1929 Great Depression, 1918 Spanish Flu and COVID-19 Have In Common?

The great depression was the worst economic downtown in history till today. It was said to be caused by the October 29 stock market crash but in actual fact, a failure in the government system played a part to it. The US central bank caused the money supply to contract by 25%, the US government increased taxes by more than 50% and resulted in world trade to collapse.

The impact of COVID-19 is now being linked to the 1929 great depression. But, will we really see a repeat of it? I would not think so unless some major economy in the world messed up their economic policy which is similar to the 1929 great depression. How about the Spanish Flu in 1918 which is known as one of the worst pandemic in human history, how is it similar to the COVID-19?

The 1918 Spanish flu lasted till 1920. During that time, lock down was also implemented in several cities and countries and social distancing was implemented. Despite infecting 500 Million and killing 50 Million people worldwide, we do not hear of any economic impact as great as the well known 1929 great depression or even the 1997 Asia Financial crisis or the 2009 global financial crisis. This shows that although pandemics will cause the economy to come to a standstill, it does not necessary lead to a major financial crisis.

Sign during the great depression

What Can We Expect Moving Forward?

If you're investing, you'll probably be worried about whether your investments will do well moving forward and what kind of impact will we expect to have on the economy? One thing for sure is that this pandemic may last 1-2 years and it will certainly have an effect on the economy and business activities. Let me list down several possibilities which we will see moving forward:
  1. Some businesses will collapse. Many companies are having trouble surviving due to weak cashflow. 
  2. There will be increased unemployment and more wage cuts in several sectors. Even Grab and deliveroo has announced wage cuts and retrenchments. Big companies like SATS, Genting, SIA, SMRT, ComfortDelgro, Singtel have also all announced wage cuts previously. 
  3. Lockdown cannot be forever but social distancing is here to stay. 
  4. Investments will take months and even years to recover. 
For our personal lives, times like this requires even more prudent financial planning. 6 months of emergency fund may not be enough now as many of us may lose our jobs and not able to find another one so soon. If you're working in non essential services sectors, its better to tighten your belt and save up more emergency funds. This is because some jobs may be lost completely and workers in these areas will need to retrain themselves to get new skills. Due to depressed economic activity, companies will get hit in their top line and they will definitely cut wages or retrench to protect their bottom line. It doesn't make sense for businesses in the tourism sector to keep their headcount when borders are likely to be closed for a prolong period of time. 

After the circuit breaker period on 1st June, it remains to see what other businesses will still remain shut. Night spots, tourist attractions may remain closed till further notice. Social distancing will continue so restaurants and F&B outlets will continue to face decline profits due to lesser patrons. Conferences and events will also require social distancing or may not be able to continue so these sectors will also be affected.

Nevertheless, the economy have to reopen at some point in time. Its a balance between controlling the pandemic and saving the economy. There are talks on the strategies moving forward to balance this but I would not think this is going to be easy. There will definitely be sacrifices. Studies have shown that adults below 50 years old do not get much affected by COVID-19 as many of them show little to no symptoms. The moving forward strategy may be to let adults below 50 years old to continue their daily lives but there needs to be a way to prevent them from spreading to their older parents or grandparents. Another report in the US said that this pandemic may take 2 years for most of the population to get herd immunity then the pandemic can end. Hopefully, there's a drug or vaccine which comes out soon so that the virus can be stopped.

The good news now is several countries have started to relax their lockdown measures and slowly opening up their economy. Although what we experience now is unprecedented, the world economy will definitely pick up again as always. In crisis, it is always the best time to pick up stocks for investment when prices are depressed. As long as the companies we invest in survives, it will definitely do well again in future. The economy will surely be different after this pandemic. Some companies will no longer be around and new companies will emerge. The question is are we able to spot the opportunities amidst this crisis?

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Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Unprecedented Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses & Personal Life

In just 1 month since my last post, the COVID-19 situation has become much worse putting the world in lock-down mode in almost every country. Singapore is not spared either as non essential shops and workplaces were forced to shutdown and the streets become quiet. Dining in at restaurants and hawker centres are also no longer allowed. Most of us will have to work from home and public transport becomes virtually empty.

I am writing this experience down as a record for the future me to refer back to what we have all went through in unprecedented times like this. Neither me or my parents or anyone possibly alive now has lived through times like this unless you went through world war 2 back then. During the SARS outbreak back in 2003, we didn't experience such lock down like what we have experienced now also.

Businesses are affected badly in all aspects. It started with tourism when borders of countries closed, then lock downs happened to restrict social gatherings and movement of people within the country. Without the demand of spending from people, businesses are definitely affected. No revenue, no profits, increased losses. This is what is happening.

Stocks have fallen from their peak to a low of 2230 for STI. It has now recovered to above 2500. Many people will be wondering is this a real recovery or just a dead cat bounce? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer though. Through the ups and downs of the market, I admit I did have fears about whether I should be buying more stocks. Many stocks were at attractive valuations when it dropped at the start but it continued to dropped more to the tune of 20-30%.

Talking about valuations, during a market crash, it also becomes difficult to value a company. If you're buying REITs, many are at attractive dividend yield and price to book of 0.50-0.70. This is 50% lower than its book value. Dividend yield for most REITs are as high as 7-8% and even more than 10%. However, as businesses are affected, dividends will definitely be reduced. Think about shopping centres owned by REITs, most of the shops have to close and some may even shut down completely if they become insolvent. This will affect the rental the REITs receive from their tenants and in turn affect dividends given to shareholders. Dividends can be cut 50% or more depending on the severity.

The tourism industry suffered the greatest hit in this crisis and may take the longest to recover. This is probably why hospitality REITs took the worst dive in this downturn. Hotels have their occupancy dropped to 20-30% only from the high of 90% as tourists disappear. Stocks like SIA, SATS, Genting Singapore which are all tourism related are affected too. Nevertheless, I bought more of tourism related stocks and also other REITs as I believe this will recover when the whole virus situation is over, borders are opened again and we can go on with our daily lives. This will minimally take 1 year and as long as 2-3 years to recover so if you're buying stocks, do be prepared for the long road ahead.

The key in investing during such a crisis is to make sure the companies you invest in will survive. If the company becomes insolvent, then you may potentially lose all the money you invested. One example of a REIT which became insolvent is Eagle Hospitality trust. Invest in bigger companies with strong foundation, more cash and lesser debt is crucial during this period. If you do not know which company to pick, just invest in STI ETF or other index ETFs is also another choice. It is almost guaranteed that if you invest in index ETF during this period, you'll be able to see profits when the economy recovers.

We are now in circuit breaker mode in Singapore which the government calls it. This is essentially a lock down which we are experiencing. Social gatherings of any size is now ban in Singapore both in public and private places. The law is so strict that under the infectious control act, it states that a person must not meet another individual not living in the same place of residence for any social purpose. This means no meeting of your grandparents, parents, siblings, relatives and even boyfriend or girlfriend who are not living in the same place of residence as you. Failure to do so will result in a fine of up to $10,000 and jail of up to 6 months under the infectious disease act.

The broader purpose of the circuit breaker is to reduce the number of infections of COVID-19 so we can get back to our normal lives as fast as possible. This will need the cooperation of everyone to make it happen. A single gathering at Hero's pub of 9 people in Singapore lead to a spread of the virus to 12 others at an international school and Singapore cricket club and causing 1 of them to die from the virus itself. If we all do our part to stay at home as much as possible during this period, we can all help to break the transmission of the virus once and for all.

Let's all stay safe, stay at home and keep calm during this period

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Investing During A Crisis - Are you ready for this ride?

By now, most of us should have experienced both excitement and fear in one way or another. Fear due to the virus and the economic recession, excitement due to having the opportunity to invest at low prices but at the same time still having the fear that stock prices can go lower. This is what I have been preparing for all these years but still when this hits, its hard to stomach the situation at one go.

To be honest, since I started investing about 10 years ago, I've not seen such a wild ride in the stock market before. This is worse than the European debt crisis when many European countries faced the possibility of bankruptcy which I've experienced in 2015. There were -100 points drop back then but it didn't occur so many times in a week as what we experienced just recently.

Is this worse than the last Global Financial Crisis in 2008?

During the last global financial crisis back in 2008 which is known to us as GFC, I was still in army and didn't have the money to invest. In a way, I was sheltered from what was going on and the only news source which I had was from the Straits Times newspaper which was delivered to the army camp everyday. Back then, smart phones were not so common and were not allowed in army camps also. However, I later on learned about the GFC from my university economics course and know that it was essentially a collapse of the financial system due to high leverage debt of corporations and individuals and most importantly junk debt. Many banks such as Bank of America and Citibank and even insurance company AIC almost collapsed. Eventually, one famous bank, Lehman Brothers did collapsed and the rest is history.

Now, the crisis we are facing now was started due to the COVID-19 virus. This is different from what we experienced before such as SARS which was not so infectious. This time, the virus caused many cities to go into lock down such as China's Hubei province, some cities in South Korea and even Italy lock down their whole country. Singapore also restricted access for foreigners coming from China, South Korea, Iran and many other European countries. This affected tourism quite a lot at an unprecedented scale. Then, Russia and Saudi Arabia didn't manage to agreed on oil prices and this sent the oil price nose diving rapidly. Oil prices is important to countries whose economy depend on its export and many countries will go into recession because of this also. Singapore too will not be spared. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee also mentioned that this crisis may affect Singapore worse than the GFC in 2008. This was reported in Bloomberg news here.

Are you ready for this ride?

Those who have been preparing for this crisis and saving up money for investment will benefit from it. I have started buying some stocks last week as valuations reached attractive levels. Many of the REITS also fell sharply which presents an opportunity to buy some of them such as CDL Htrust, Suntec and also bank stocks such as OCBC. These stocks are all trading below book value now with dividend yield of more than 5-6%.

Do I think the stocks will drop more? Honestly nobody will know the answer and if we're just waiting to catch the lowest price, then we might just miss out when stocks begin to recover. Over the many years of investing, I learnt that it is never easy to catch the lowest and when price starts to go up, we will be hoping or thinking that it might go down again then we do not dare to invest at all until the bull market begins again. This is psychology at play which is quite common for all investors.

Keep calm and invest in companies with attractive valuations and strong balance sheet

I am now 60% invested with 40% war chest left to accumulate slowly. There are just too many stocks to buy with attractive valuations of trading below book value and low PE ratio but now its also about the companies having a strong balance sheet to ride out this crisis. We do not want to invest in a company with weak balance sheet and they end up collapsing. It can happen and it will happen.

Diversification is also important which I always believe in. Sometimes no matter how good we are in reading financial statements, things can still turn drastically bad for a company in a short time which we won't even have time to react. When a company we invested in collapses, we should still be doing well because we have diversified our portfolio into different stocks. Then again, its about managing risks so we can invest more into stable companies and allocate less to more risky companies in our portfolio.

STI has dropped almost to a 5 year low at 2634 now. This is near to the 2015-2016 prices which I bought some stocks during the European debt crisis at attractive valuations. This is part of the reason why I've started accumulating some stocks again.

If we extend the chart to 2002, we can see the drop during the GFC in 2008 was about 50% from the high. STI drop now is about 25% from the high. Will we see another 50% drop this time? Its anybody's guess now. The question we should ask ourselves is if it drops another 25%, are we still prepared for it?

My own thoughts is the drop may not be the end for now. If it drops more, I'll be happy to accumulate again. Psychologically, we all need to be prepared for more drops and stocks prices may stay depressed for a few months and maybe even more than a year. Nevertheless, if we have invested in good companies at great valuations, we will mostly be assured to ride this out and have good returns from the stock market. Are you ready for this ride?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

COVID-19 and the opportunity to invest

It has been almost 2 months since I wrote something on my blog. Due to the COVID-19, I was so busy with work that I forgot about time totally. Regular readers would remember that I joined the healthcare industry in end 2018 and now due to this disease outbreak, I had to work extra hours with lots of extra work too. The business as usual work mostly had to be put down to cater time for this outbreak.

Honestly, this is the first time as an adult I've encountered such crisis before. During SARS back in 2003, I was still in secondary school then so I wouldn't know what is happening in the economy. This time, this COVID-19 has caused fears in people where we have seen people rushing to buy stuff at supermarket, face masks and hand sanitisers being sold out in most retail shops etc. The greater impact which I see is on the broader economy due to the travel ban where tourism will be severely impacted. We have seen companies such as Temasek, Capitaland, SMRT, SIA and SATS announcing pay cuts, pay freeze and reduced bonuses etc. Some of the companies even ask their workers to go on voluntary no pay leave. I believe retrenchment will come later as companies struggle with their bottom line so there is genuine concern on everyone's rice bowl here.

Singapore just announced more travel ban for visitors from South Korea, northern Italy and Iran. This is on top of the travel ban for visitors from Mainland China. With every crisis, there is always opportunities especially in the stock market. Stocks should go down further if situation continues to get worse. The impact will be greater as each day passes with the travel ban and lesser tourists in Singapore and around the world.

Stocks which I'm monitoring to buy and have bought some includes CDL Htrust, SATS, Far East Htrust, Dairy Farm and Comfort Delgro. These are the companies which are impacted by the COVID-19 in one way or another. I'm also looking to accumulate more REITS such as Suntec, Capitaland Mall trust and Ascott Residence Trust if it goes lower. I've been researching and monitoring some of these stocks for years and do have some stake in some of the companies. This is the opportunity to accumulate as the stocks drop. I believe by the end of the year, the virus situation should be a non event already and stocks would have already recovered.

Investing during crisis is not that easy at all. It involves seeing losses in your portfolio and still believing in your conviction that the stocks you invest in are correct. It may take months for us to see our portfolio back to profits again. Those who buy the right companies and hold on throughout will be the winners at the end.

On a side note, being in the healthcare industry lets me see the good in people in times of crisis. There are many individuals and companies who have reached out to donate stuff to support healthcare workers fighting this virus at the front line. It is heartwarming to see such acts of kindness. To be honest, all these kind gestures do help to put a smile in the healthcare workers faces and keep them going as I've seen it myself. Some of them have to work long hours and even on weekends and sacrifice family time. Thanks to all who have supported!

I'll keep this post short and back to my busy life again. Stay safe everyone!

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

6D5N Cruise on Royal Caribbean Quantum of the seas - Part 2

As promised, this post will talk about the rest of my cruise from 3rd day onwards with Royal Caribbean's new ship home ported in Singapore, Quantum of the seas. Read part 1 here.

Day 3 - Penang

On the 3rd day morning, I woke up to some views on the balcony. The ship is approaching Penang early in the morning at 8am.

Ship approaching Penang

At Penang swettenham pier

View of Penang from my room balcony
The ship arrived early at Penang while I was still preparing to go for breakfast. There is no fixed time which you need to go down the ship as its really just free and easy. I went down comfortably around 9am plus after breakfast.

Going down the ship was fuss free. There was no queue at all and within minutes, we're stepping on Penang's land already. This is the first time I've been to Penang so its quite a new experience for me.

Penang pier. Quantum of the seas ship on the left. 
If you did not know, Penang has this free CAT bus which is provided by their local government. The bus covers quite a lot of areas along Penang and is completely free. I took this bus for all the places I went. The frequency of the bus is quite good most of the time around 5-10 mins.

View of the ship from the pier
The view of the ship from the pier was extraordinary big. The siza of the ship is bigger than the pier itself! The free CAT bus has stops just outside the pier. Its only around 5 mins walk. The first place we wanted to go is Chew Jetty which I read online is one of the must visit places in Penang. Its just 3 bus stops away from the pier by CAT bus.

Chew jetty has this kampong like feel which is interesting to see the history of Penang back then.

After visiting Chew jetty, we went in search for the famous Penang cendol at Penang road. Before having the cendol, we also bought some local delicacies such as Tamban biscuits and snacks from Ban Heang. The tamban biscuits were not bad. This shop was near to the cendol place so its quite convenient.

We found the cendol shop in one of the alleys at Penang road and ordered 1 each plus some fried kway teow to share. We were still quite full from the breakfast on the ship.

They put duck egg on the fried kway teow which is quite unique. However, taste wise, I have tasted much better ones in Singapore though.

The rest of the morning was just roaming around Penang and some short foot massage before we headed back to the ship at around 2pm. Going back to the ship was easy also but there was security checks which went very fast. I'm not sure if there's any prohibited foods which cannot be brought onboard but all the snacks I bought passed through security without any problems. I did see a person who was holding a cup of fresh fruit and the security didn't allow that.

After days of eating, its time to shed some of those calories. I went to the gym and it was so empty. The gym is huge with many equipment to use. Lots of treadmill for running also. I think I counted about 20 treadmills available.

After gym, it was time for a late lunch as we were getting hungry. We only had Cendol and shared 2 plates of Char kway teow for 4 person.

There's food always available on the cruise. We went to cafe@Two70 where they had gourmet sandwiches available. We also went to Sorrentos pizza for some fresh slices of pizzas.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing around and taking some short nap. This is cruise life, so relaxing. Soon, it was dinner time again at Silk restaurant.

The dinner had some Asian options with Thai curry and rice so it was good for my parents who were not so used to western cuisines. Its funny how their Asian choices actually tasted better than the western options. We ordered Coq Au Vin and the chicken was totally hard and dry. My steak was overdone also when I asked for medium. This was feedback to the restaurant staff and they were kind enough to offer their apology and send a fruit basket to each of our rooms. This I feel was a good gesture and thoughtfulness. When we went back to the restaurant again, they remembered us and asked if we received the fruit basket.

Fish with rice - Quite good

Thai fish curry - Not bad 

Coq Au Vin - Chicken Dish, meat was too hard and dry

Steak Diane - Steak was overcooked and totally dry

Some berries dessert. Very nice

Creme Brulee - My favourite

Tiramisu - Very strong liquor taste, extremely soft and nice

Fruit basket from the restaurant to apologise for the food quality
Day 4 - Phuket

On day 4, we arrived in Phuket early in the morning at around 7am. It a little more tricky at Phuket because the ship is tendered in the middle of the sea and we have to take a smaller ferry to the land itself.

They made an announcement that those who wish to get down the ship to Phuket island may do so before 8am to take advantage of the early tendering process. After 8am, we will need tender tickets to get down the ship.

For me, I didn't get down the ship before 8am. We still went for our breakfast as usual at the Windjammer and it was still very crowded. Guess everyone is not really in a rush to get down the ship also.

At 8am, they started to ask people to go and collect tender tickets. I went to collect tickets at around 8:30am and there was no queue at all. I took the ticket no 9 and in just 15 mins, we were called to proceed to the gangway to take the ferry to the main island. Process was very fast we were on the ferry in 5 mins and reach Phuket island in 15 minutes.

View of Phuket from my room balcony

View of the ship from the tender boat to Phuket

The pier which the tender boat stopped at

Reached Phuket Patong beach
First activity in the morning is to go for massage. I found a good massage place called Healthland massage but I underestimated the distance to go to that place. We took around 30 mins to walk all the way from Patong beach to the massage place.

After massage, we went to find lunch and proceeded to walk from the massage place towards jungceylon shopping centre. On the way, we saw a seafood restaurant which looks promising. They had some live seafood on display and price was reasonable too. We proceeded to have lunch there.

In the end, we ordered their set meal which consist of the following dishes: Lobster, prawns, shellfish, crab, pineapple rice and tom yum soap was included. The cost came up exactly at $100. The seafood is fresh as its all live so I think the price is really reasonable. Don't think we can get this kind of price back in Singapore.

After lunch, we walked all the way to jungceylon shopping centre as we were already nearby. Inside the shopping mall, there's nothing much to shop so we only bought some local snacks back. From the shopping mall, the walk back to the pier to take the ferry back to the ship was still quite far and the sun was really hot. We decided to take a taxi which cost $8 for a 5 mins ride. Their taxi is surprisingly expensive there.

We were back on the ship around 3:30pm. Many people were also heading back by this time even though the last time to take the ferry back is 7pm. For the rest of the afternoon, I went for a swim at Solarium as well as the indoor pool. Its always great to have a swim on the ship and its relaxing to soak in the hot tubs which is aplenty on this ship.

For dinner, I was allocated to Americon Icon grill restaurant this time as my reservation was much later at 8pm. The environment here is much brighter and noisier which I prefer the silk restaurant environment which is more calm and relaxing. I feel the service at the silk restaurant was much better also as the waiters were more friendly there. However, Americon Icon grill food was much better in my opinion. I'm not sure if it was because of the food on that day or they really have a different kitchen staff which was better.

Tomato soup - Not bad

Coconut shrimp - very nice

Almond crusted cod fish - This was the best dish I had on this cruise

Wild mushrooms risotto - Rich and creamy

Braised beef

Three Cheese Ravioli - A must try

Some banana caramel dessert - Super delicious

At the end of everyday, the housekeeping will fold some animals using a towel. On this particular day, they decided to fold a monkey hanging on a clothe hanger, quite funny actually.

Day 5 - Sea Day

The ship left Phuket around 8pm on day 4 and started sailing back to Singapore. The whole of day 5 is sea day which means everyone is on the ship and has nowhere to go. The ship is also the most crowded on this day.

True enough, breakfast at windjammer is really crowded but I still could find seats after awhile. The next activity is laser tag which is quite fun actually. I reserved my time slot at 10am and was able to get in within 10 mins. It was so fun I queued for it to play another round but had to wait close to an hour this time.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, going to the pool and solarium again and just enjoying the facilities the cruise had to offer. As this was the last night, they had a good theater performance called Sonic Odyssey. In my opinion, this was the best show for the cruise. They used all kinds of instruments in this musical including an Earth harp which is amazing.

After the Sonic Odyssey show, there was a vistarama fireworks party at Two70 lounge. Its a virtual fireworks party and they manage to make everyone so high and happy.

After this party, it was already 11pm. The next morning, we woke up early for breakfast before 7am and the ship is already at Marina Bay Cruise Centre. Getting off the ship was orderly as they already told us where to go according to our stateroom numbers the night before.

That's all for my 6D5N cruise on Royal Caribbean Quantum of the seas. To add on, I also had the surf and stream WIFI and it was good most of the time except for a few occasions when the WIFI disconnected. I guess this is normal while out at sea and I realised when it disconnects, its always during stormy weather. Other than that, the internet was fast and I was able to use whatsapp, surf the net and use Facbook without any problems though the internet doesn't come cheap at about $20 per day.

Will I go on the cruise again? Probably not unless I get bored of travelling and just want to relax again. There are many other countries I still want to explore so I might as well spend my money on more exotic travels in the future.

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