New PAL brand

Written by admin on April 28, 2008 – 11:05 am -

Last month national flag carrier Philippine Airlines announced it would be launching a new low cost carrier (LCC) brand called PAL Express.

PAL Express will be operating initially with nine turbo-prop aircraft comprised of the 50 seater Bombadier Q300 and 70 seater Q400. These will be a mix of brand new and second hand aircraft from SAS. As of this date PAL Express is operating out of its hub in Cebu to service destinations in Visayas and Mindanao. This May, it will fly out of Manila to service Caticlan.

The common misconception that propeller planes are old and jets are new is totally false. Tubro-props are also powered by jet turbines driving a propeller. These current model turbo props are also as electronically advanced as their jetliner cousins. So why propeller driven planes? For starters, propeller driven planes require a shorter runway for takeoff and landings, and we all know that airports in the Philippines, especially those in far flung areas are as developed. 

Its good to see Philippine Airlines getting back on their feet. The PAL Express website is here.


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Posted in Philippines, Travel | No Comments »

Wii on sale

Written by admin on April 27, 2008 – 11:12 am -

Over a year and a half late the Nintendo Wii finally hit Korean shores yesterday. The Wii is a gaming console just like Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s XBOX 360  but Nintendo chose not to compete directly with those consoles. Instead they made their games more gesture oriented which rely on its innovative controller which can be used as a handheld pointing device and can sense acceleration in three axes.This means you can have golf club, a baseball bat, boxing glove, steering wheel controller and actually swing it, steer it or move it in the air as opposed to just pressing buttons on traditional gaming platforms. The Wii is also backwards compatible with the older Nintendo Game cube.

Before you rush out and buy one there is one caveat, the Korean Wii is region locked to Korea. Only Korean titles will be playable on it. If you’re on a short term stint here and plan on bringing the Wii out of the country you can toss that thought out the window. Also titles sold in Korea will not have English as an option.

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Posted in Gaming, South Korea, Tech | 3 Comments »

Cost of staying in touch

Written by admin on April 24, 2008 – 6:33 pm -

A friend and I were chatting on Skype just a few days ago, we couldn’t help but talk about how much we spent on our phone bills ten years ago. I spent at least USD 500 a month to call my wife everyday with our conversations averaging around 15 to 20 minutes. Fast forward to today, I can chat for hours (and to answer your question, yes I yak a lot) and all I pay for is my monthy broadband connection.  Nowadays Filipino expats are very lucky to have the internet to be able to keep in touch with relatives. This kind of connectivity was unthinkable 15 years ago. I remember our neighbors, whose fathers were mostly working in the middle east recording voice tapes to send to their loved ones. Over the years the internet improved, and we had email, then instant messaging and now Voice Over Internet Protocol or VOIP.

I personally use Skype and so do most of my friends and relatives. I run Skype on my Samung Q1 UMPC and use KT Wibro for my internet connection, you can probably tell that  I am a sucker for wireless connections that why I use a bluetooth headset so that there are no wires that get in the way.  I buy Skype Out credits for calling landlines and I have Skype In number that my contacts can call using a regular telephone. As of this time Skype In numbers are not available for the Philipines, which means you cannot have a Skype In number with a Philippine country and city code (ex. +632 xxx-xxxx). So the only solution for calling the Philippines would be to have your contact be a Skype member. Remember you don’t get charged for calling Skype to Skype, you only get charged when you call landlines.

What if you are technically challenged or you don’t want to use a PC for Skype? A Skype Wifi Phone allows you to make calls over a wifi network, you can be at home, at the airport, the office or sipping your mocha latte in a coffee shop making call over a broadband wifi connection for next to nothing. There are dozens of Skype Wifi phones out there but for those living in South Korea the Belkin Skype Wifi Phone seems to be popular choice.

 Belkin Skype Wifi Phone

Also available are cordless phones that have Skype built into them, which means they function like a normal cordless phone when plugged into your phone line and at the same time as a Skype phone when it’s plugged into your internet (broadband) router.

Philips Skype Cordless

The Skype WiFi phone will put you back around USD 150, so buying two, one for yourself and the other for your relatives might seem a bit costly, but if you think about it, you can talk to them anytime and until your jaw hurts from yakkin’, then it doesn’t seem so expensive anymore does it?  Just keep in mind that if you’re planning to send and install one in the Philippines, they need to have a broadband internet connection and a wireless router installed.


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Posted in Seoul, Tech | 1 Comment »

F3 (Dependents) visa update

Written by admin on April 22, 2008 – 11:07 pm -

You’ve probably noticed a decrease in my blogging activities. No, I have not run out of things to write about, It is because have been pretty busy with work and also due to my family’s arrival last week.

In my previous post I’ve been venting about how confusing and inefficient the procedure is for getting the F3 visa. A few days ago I accompanied my family to the Immigration Office at Mokdong to apply for a dependents visa. Everything went very smoothly as I had made an appointment the week before online.

First of all I’d like to comment on how polite the immigration officer was, he was very patient and helpful in answering all of our queries. I was pleasantly surprised that he was going to issue the F3 visa and the Alien Registration cards. The process would take 10 days and all the documents would be couriered to my office. 

So I guess how you get your F3 visa varies on a case by case basis, others get it on the spot from the Korean Embassy, others get it by coming to Korea as a tourist and applying for it in Korea but have to leave the country to get their passports stamped and return, and in our case, coming to Korea as a tourist and be issued an F3 and alien registration cards on the spot.

Documents submitted to the Korean Immigration Service :

1. Marriage Certificate

2. Birth Certificate of children

3. Employment Certificate 

4. Photocopy of the principal’s Alien Registration Card

5. Passport size photos attached to the application forms

6. And of course, the passports.

Oh and don’t forget to bring cash to buy revenue stamps. I paid W110,000 (US$110) for each application, this includes a 1 year multiple entry visa, the Alien Registration card and courier fee.


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Posted in South Korea | 4 Comments »

Redefining the meaning of double parking in Seoul

Written by admin on April 16, 2008 – 11:16 am -

When I first arrived in Seoul 7 years ago I was surprised to see cars  double parked and unattended. This was the very first time I had seen this practice and to be frank I was thinking to myself how irritated I would be if I had to push someone’s car in order to get out.  In most countries that I’ve been in you either do not double park or if you have to, you don’t ever leave your vehicle unattended. 

New meaning to double parking

This practice seems to be the norm in Seoul, just don’t forget to leave your vehicle in neutral with the parking brake off, so that the vehicle you are blocking can yours out of the way. In some malls I have seen parking employees who push cars back and forth. On one occasion I had to push a Hyundai Starex van out of the way, let’s just say that took care of my workout for that day. A month ago I had visitors from overseas and they would not believe me when I said it was ok for me to park in front of another vehicle.

In Seoul, most of the on-street parking are assigned, which mean you pay on a monthly or yearly basis and you are assigned a specific parking slot. I’ve have observed that vehicles park in spaces that don’t belong to them. What happens when the owner of the slot arrives? Well, most vehicles have a mobile number posted somewhere on their dashboard so that you can call the owner of the offending vehicle and tell them to get their vehicle out. I don’t do this often because your milage may vary with this one, some people are OK with it but some are not. 

If you’re like me and don’t speak a whole lot of Korean, remember this word Cha (차) which means car, and if you’re double parked or blocking some driveway and hear 차 when someone you don’t know calls you, better hustle and get your car out of the way.




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Posted in Seoul | 3 Comments »