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Backpack Essentials for Rookie Backpackers

Hiking, sometimes called backpacking, is becoming a popular hobby for adventurers and fitness enthusiasts, but it is an experience that you need to prepare for thoroughly to make sure nothing goes wrong during your first backpacking trip.

Here is a list of essentials every backpacking rookie should have for the first hike and for every hike thereafter.

• Backpack. Since this will be your first hike, you should get something light and small. Carrying a huge backpack can be difficult if you’re not yet used to hiking. You will only need your essentials, so you don’t need to stuff your entire home in your bag.

• Sleeping Bag. If you want a lighter load, you might want to purchase a down sleeping bag, but synthetic sleeping bags are usually cheaper and will help you stay dry and warm. Depending on where you’re going, check the temperature rating and compare it to the usual temperatures in your destination. The bag should be more than ten degrees colder than the location.

• Tent. If you’re going to take shelter with another person, you might not need a sleeping bag, but a tent made for two or more people. Look for lightweight tents made specifically for backpackers and are easy to set up.

• Water Bottle or Filter. Find the cheapest water microfilter you can find if you expect you won’t be having any sources of water where you’re going. Make sure you practice how to operate it before you leave. You should also pack a one-liter water bottle that will easily fit in your backpack.

• Sun Protection. Don’t forget to bring a sunscreen, lip balm, and quality sunglasses, hat and bandana or buff to protect yourself from the rays of the sun. Pick a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more and reapply after the effectivity has expired (SPF 30 is equal to 30 minutes of protection).

• Insulation. If the weather in the area is expected to be warm, you should bring the following: wicking shirt and underwear, quick drying trousers or shorts, and extra long-sleeved shirts. If the weather is cool, you should take the following: wicking shirt and underwear, gloves, waterproof jacket and pants, and extra long-sleeved shirts.

• Light. Bring your own flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries in the pack. You should also carry a lighter and a box of matches in a waterproof container.

• Emergency Kit. You can assign one or two people to bring the following basic first aid supplies: adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment, butterfly bandages, gauze pads, medical tape, blister treatment, pain relievers, insect sting relief, antihistamines and injectable epinephrine, assorted splints, hemostatic gauze, antacids, loperamide tablets, cotton swabs, and oral rehydration salts. Every person should also bring an insect repellent, biodegradable soap, menstrual cup, and solid waste bags.

• Cooking Set. Backpackers use an integrated stove system in which the pot is built in to the system. You might also want to buy a backpacking pot that will fit in your back, but if you’re with a group of hikers, you can assign who will bring the cooking set. However, each one must bring his/her own bowl, mug, and spoon.

8 of the Best Historical Anime Series

You might be surprised that not all of historical anime are about samurais and ninjas. There are a few notable series that also feature important historical events in other parts of the world, mixed with elements of fantasy, action, and science fiction.

Here are eight titles that you should start with.

Souten Kouro (2009)
The series is based loosely on the Three Kingdoms with a focus on Cao Cao (Sou Sou). In the famous historical fiction book by Luo Guanzhong, Cao Cao was portrayed as an antagonist, but in the anime, Cao Cao is seen as leader who wants to break away from old systems and thinking that rest on empty ideals.

Le Chevalier D’Eon (2006)
From the title of the 24-episode series, the anime focuses on the exploits of Chevalier d’Eon during the reign of Louis XV before the French Revolution. Chevalier d’Eon was known as a soldier and a spy during the Seven Years War and was known for his androgynous features, but in the anime he was portrayed as a woman.

Arslan Senki (2015)
Although the series was influenced by various historical figures and events, the lead character Arslan seems to mirror the achievements and qualities of Cyrus the Great. Anyone familiar with the Crusades, Byzantine-Persian Wars, and the epic Shahnameh, will find this series interesting.

Joker Game (2016)
If you’re looking for an anime which doesn’t feature characters with differently-colored hair, Joker Game is for you. The story takes place just before World War II when tensions were high, and it was common for nations to send spies to different countries. It focuses on a group of spies from Japan who were sent to different missions.

Junketsu no Maria (2015)
Set against the events of the Hundred Years’ War in France, the anime focuses on a witch named Maria who uses her gifts to maintain peace. But her meddling garnered the attention of the divine beings, and they sent an archangel to tell Maria not to interfere. However, Maria did not relent and continued to find a way to keep the peace.

Kingdom (2012)
Based on the manga of the same title by Yasuhisa Hara, Kingdom was inspired by the events of the Warring States Period of China. Focusing on the story of Xi and his friends, the anime chronicles the boy’s rise to become a skilled general who would unify China.

Otogi Zoshi (2004)
The story takes place during the Heian period in Kyoto, with a focus on Minamoto no Hikaru who wants to save the capital from destruction. The second part of the story on the other hand, focuses on the reincarnation of the lead character in modern-day Tokyo.

Hyouge Mono (2011)
One of the vassals of Oda Nobunaga, Furuta Sasuke, was obsessed with tea ceremony. He decided to follow the way of the hyouge mono after meeting a tea master. It is a fresh take of the Warring States period because it focuses instead on tradition and art.

Obscure Music Genres You Should Check Out

You might be one of the few whose ears feel like they’re about to fall off from listening to today’s music. If you’re tired of auto-tuned vocals and anemic lyrics, perhaps it’s time to take the off beaten path for something totally different.

Sometimes called 8-bit music, it’s a type of synthesized electronic music that will remind people of beats from old arcade games and computers. Remember the background music from one of those old platform games? This genre will take you down memory lane.

Lowercase is a type of ambient minimalist music in which sounds we don’t often hear in the background are amplified. Like a clink of a glass or the rustle of the leaves. Don’t be surprised too if you don’t hear anything in some parts of a composition.

Sometimes called spacedance or spacedisco, this type of music focuses on melodies and is like a mix of disco music and futuristic sounds. It’s almost similar to house music when you listen to it, but it’s more relaxing and less noisy.

Throat Singing
Throat singing has been practiced by some ethnic groups. It’s a form of overtone singing or chanting. The most famous types are Tuvan, Inuit, Tibetan and Rekuhkara. Tuvan throat singing is practiced in Mongolia, Tuva and Siberia. The singer produces one pitch along with one or more pitches together.

Drone Music
This is another minimal music type similar to lowercase. It focuses on repeated and sustained notes or tones. These notes are collectively called drones. It’s perfect for those times when you need to listen to music that isn’t distracting you with lyrics and beats.

Bubblegum Dance
Do you like lively beats and happy, cute music? You don’t need to limit yourself to the Japanese pop group AKB48 anymore when you listen to this Eurodance subgenre. If you like bubblegum pop, bubblegum dance isn’t that far off. The group Aqua who sang “Barbie Girl” is perhaps the most popular of this lot.

Symphonic Metal
Sometimes called opera metal, it combines metal and classical music. The band not only plays the electric guitar, bass, and drums but also includes keyboards or piano, violin, cello and sometimes a choir or orchestra.

Visual Kei
It’s a type of glam rock in which the performers dress up in elaborate androgynous costumes and heavy make-up. There is no specific type of music associated with visual kei. The genre is considered separate mostly for the looks of the performers. The music varies from heavy metal to pop.

Mathcore is characterized by unusual time signatures, dissonant chords, angular melodies and peculiar chord progressions. It’s a subgenre of metalcore, a mix of hardcore punk and metal. Think of chaos, but chaos that’s systematic.

Danger Music
Sometimes called anti-music, it’s a type of concept music that was formed because of the idea that it might harm the performer or listener. The genre relies heavily on the performance, just like any other type of performance art. They will sometimes do dangerous tricks during shows.

A Guide to Rose, Dessert and Sparkling Wines

When you start trying more wines, you also begin to learn that there are other types besides red and white wines. Although there aren’t any significant differences in the varieties of grapes used, these other types were harvested and processed differently.

Rose wines are generally pink in color, thus the name. Sometimes called blush or pink wines, they are made from red grapes, not pink (because there’s no such thing). The color comes from the removal of the grape skins a few moments after it comes into contact (in a process called maceration) with the grape juice. Some types however are made from mixing red and white wines.

1. Off-Dry or Bone-Dry Rose. Examples of this are Blush Wine and White Zinfandel.
2. Dry Rose. Dry Rose can either be Herbal Savory or Fruity Floral. Examples are Loire Rose, Bandol Rose, Tavel, and Rosado.

Sparkling Wine is made from any grape variety but it has trapped carbon dioxide bubbles. It’s like having carbonated drinks. The most famous sparkling wine is Champagne. True Champagne is made by fermenting the grape juice into alcohol then placing it in a bottle to trap the carbon dioxide gas. Sometimes yeast, sugar and yeast nutrients are added for carbonation.

1. White Sparkling Wine. This comes in four types, namely; dry/creamy/rich, dry/light/citrus, off-dry/floral, and sweet/apricots/rich. Examples are Vintage Champagne, Sec, Valdobbiadene, and Doux.
2. Red Sparkling Wine. This wine comes in three varieties. These are dry/raspberry/blueberry, sweet/blueberry/cherry and off-dry/raspberry/cherry. Examples are Sparkling Shiraz, Brachetto d’Acqui, and Lambrusco Amabile.
3. Rose Sparkling Wine. There are two type of rose sparkling wines. These are dry/strawberry/floral and off-dry/strawberry/orange. Examples of these two types are Cava Rose Brut and Moscato Rose, respectively.

As the name implies, a dessert wine is the perfect pair for a sweet dessert. It has a higher sugar content than most types of wines, a result of different harvesting and processing techniques. They were originally made to last long during trips in the Age of Exploration.
1. Red Fortified. Fortified wines have other distilled spirits mixed in them while the grapes are fermenting. Examples of the red fortified are Banylus, Maury and Rasteau.
2. White Fortified. Examples of white fortified are Muscat de Rivesaltes and White Port.
3. Nutty Oxidized Fortified. There are two types of nutty oxidized fortified wines. These are off-dry/almond like the Sherry and Madeira; and the sweet/hazelnut like the Tawny Port and Montilla-Moriles.

You might hear names like noble rot, ice wine, dried grape and late harvest wines. They are also dessert wines, but the names refer to the time the grapes were harvested. Noble rot wines are made from rotten grapes covered with a type of fungus. Ice wine is from frozen grapes or grapes left long enough on the vines until the temperature in the area becomes lower. Dried grape wine comes from grapes that were dried while still on the vine to preserve the sweetness. Late harvest wines are from very mature grapes that are sweet.

Man’s Guide to Wearing Shoes

Although most men do not have a problem with shoes because of their hobby of collecting them, some people struggle with matching their shoes with their outfit. Wearing the right shoes to go along with your outfit really helps bring out the best of your outfit.

There are only a number of shoes a man has to own and going beyond these is entirely up to you. But for every man out there, it is a must have to have specific shoes for specific purposes.

Here are the few types of shoes you have to own:

1. Sport Shoes
As we all know, sports shoes are everywhere! Everyone, not just men, should have a pair of shoes which go well with sports. What most people do not realize when it comes to sport shoes is that it is more important to focus on functionality rather than the actual appearance and style of the shoes. When it comes to sport shoes, make sure that they’re durable, comfortable, and also relate to the type of sports you usually do. You can’t buy basketball shoes if you are a tennis player right?

2. Casual/Classic Shoes
Now, what most people get confused of is when it comes to sport shoes and casual shoes. Casual shoes are very different than sport shoes! Well, you might be able to use your sport shoes as casual shoes, but you should never go the other way around! Casual shoes are usually the most used shoes in the wardrobe which is why you have to make sure that your shoes match with your outfits. If your wardrobe is somewhat versatile, it is great to pick a classical casual type of shoe that matches your outfits. Basically the casual shoes do not have to stand out very much, they just have to be able to relate with everything else in your wardrobe.

3. Dress Shoes
Here’s the confusion when it comes to dress shoes, boat shoes shouldn’t be considered dress shoes. In fact, boat shoes should be considered a casual type of shoe. What makes a dress shoe, a dress shoe? Well, there are so many ways to answer this but we have to generalize our answer for those of you who still have a hard time knowing the difference. The most common and easy to spot dress shoe uses this type of material, leather. Although there are dress shoes which are not made up of leather, you first have to understand what dress shoes are and to understand dress shoes more, you have to take a closer look to the classic leather dress shoes.

Having these three shoes in your wardrobe is not only convenient, it is necessary!

Clever Ways to Store Your Books

Admittedly, once you start reading and buying books, you can never stop! You may not even be able to give your books away! Well, we can’t blame you. Most books are filled with experience that we can’t just give them away. The sentimental value of those books are too great to be passed on. But uh oh, there’s a huge problem. You’ve got too many books! The more books you buy, the less space you seem to have! We don’t want you to reach the point of leaving your books to rot just about anywhere around your house! Hmmm, if there was only a way to put more shelves around.

Here are a few clever ideas for you to be able to store your books:

1. Shelves around the perimeters of your walls
Installing shelves around the upper perimeters of your walls is a great way to put more shelves around your house! Although you may need a ladder to reach them, this is still a great way to store those great books you don’t frequently read but wouldn’t want to give up.

2. Old Suitcases
Keeping a good portion of your books in old vintage suitcases is a great way to not only preserve them but also keep them close to heart as they turn up to be as private as they can be. Imagine being able to hide away your treasures somewhere safe and sound without people having to pick them up without your permission.

3. Old dresser Drawers
Old dresser drawers actually make really good shelves! The good thing about them is that you can go absolutely crazy when it comes to putting them on your walls. The different shapes and sizes tickle your imagination to make a piece of art for your pieces of art! This may be one of the funnest shelves you’ve ever had.

4. Invisible bookshelf
The idea behind an invisible bookshelf is pretty simple, it just has to look like your books are floating! How do you do this? Well, that’s pretty easy. Using two metal plates attached to the wall at exactly the same height, you could stack up some books for the added mystery! Of course, don’t stack too much, these are meant to entertain you and your guests and not to hold everything you own.

These are but a few ways for you to cleverly store most of your books. Of course, nothing beats the classic bookshelf. But with these in the way, you’d be able to store more books while adding to the aesthetic of your home at the same time.

Best Markets in Singapore

Need fresh fruit, vegetables and meat? Why stick to supermarkets when there are places where you can do more than just shop? Here are the best markets around the country.

Bollywood Veggies

The products sold in this market are all homegrown. It began in 2000 when Lim Ho Seng and Ivy Singh-Lim wanted produce that are free from harmful chemicals and are produced locally. Also located in the area are the Bollywood Veggies Farm & Bistro and Bhanchha Cooking School.

Chinatown Wet Market

Here you can find cheap ingredients like Chinese herbs and spices and different types of fresh seafood. It’s open daily from 8 am to 12 noon.

Farmer’s Market at Loewen Gardens

This event, run by The Pantry at Loewen Gardens, is held once a month. It’s open from 8:30 am to 2 pm. Shoppers can enjoy the variety of products from wines to breads to homemade dips.

Geylang Serai Wet Market

It’s the place to be when you’re looking for authentic Malay and Middle Eastern food and spices. The ambiance is also relaxing because it’s located in a Malay kampong house which has various food stalls within the building.

Kranji Countryside Farmers’ Market

Need fresh vegetables and fruits from local markets? Kranji Countryside Farmer’s Market is organized four times annually at the Kranji countryside. The forty or so farms included offer not just fresh produce but homemade products as well.

Kreta Ayer Wet Market

Located in Chinatown, this market is known the world over for its standards of hygiene and the variety of food for sale. The name comes from the ox carts used to deliver goods. A sitting area is available for your convenience.


It has the reputation of being the country’s first permanent farmer’s market. Located at The Grandstand Bukit Timah, you will find anything from fresh produce to home items. You can also dine with your family after shopping.

The Weekend Farm

This is run by Kok Fah Technology Farm is open on weekends and public holidays from 9 am to 6 pm. If you’re looking for fresh vegetables from the farm, the market has a reputation of displaying produce that have been harvested for no more than three hours.

Tekka Wet Market

It’s the largest indoor wet market in Singapore with more than 250 stalls. It sells a diverse choice of food items and groceries and is open from 6:30 am until late afternoon.

Tiong Bahru Wet Market

Not only does the market have an array of Asian produce, but they also sell Western fresh products at more competitive prices than in the supermarkets. Coffee shops and restaurants line the Tiong Bahru, creating a great shopping experience.

There’s More!

Want more places to check out? We also recommend Senoko Fishery Port, BoCHINche, Cold Storage at Singapura Plaza, Huber’s Butchery, Kuriya Japanese Fresh Fish Market, Beo Crescent Market, Marine Parade Market, and Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre.

Open-World Games You Should Check Out

Open-world games, also known as sandbox or free-roam games, offer a lot of freedom of movement for the players to explore a virtual world. The three terms however mean differently.

Open-world means you don’t have to play the game in a linear fashion. Most of the levels are open to the players. Free-roaming means you have access to most areas in an open world. Lastly, sandbox means you can create a story or a level within the game. Ultima is considered the first in the open-world game.

Here are examples of open-world games.

The most well-known example of a sandbox game. It allows you to craft and explore any way you want.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim has an overarching story but you can choose to play that later and explore the vast world instead.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
You control Geralt of Rivia in his many side quests or you can just explore the huge map. The side quests have different ways to complete.

Grand Theft Auto V
Similar to the previous installments, you can choose to perform the main missions later. But GTA V is slightly different because you don’t have to unlock areas. Instead you have access to most of the locations in the map.

Fallout 4
Players explore a post-apocalyptic world through the eyes of a survivor from Vault 111. This installment has the same gameplay as the two previous games where different areas on the map are open for exploration.

Just Cause 2
Players take on the role of Rico Rodriguez who has to defeat a dictator. He can choose to perform two other types of missions besides those that are needed for the story to progress.

Far Cry 3
This third installment is set on a tropical island where Jason Brody’s friends have been kidnapped by pirates. The map is larger than in previous games.

Burnout Paradise
In this open-world racing game, the playables are all cars. This fifth installment is set in Paradise City where the player has to complete various challenges.

Infamous: Second Son
The lead character has superpowers which he can use to explore the city of Seattle while fighting the Department of Unified Protection. The player’s choices in the game will mold Delsin Rowe’s character.

Dwarf Fortress
This game is unique because players get to construct and manage a colony of dwarves (thus it’s a sandbox game) or go on an adventure.

No Man’s Sky
This open-ended game has four primary activities: survival, combat, exploration and trading.

Dying Light
Kyle Crane needs to get into the zombie-infested city of Harran. There are many weapons to craft and choose from to combat enemies. It also has a cycle of night and day to test the player’s survival skills.

More Open-World Games
Driver: San Francisco, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Crackdown, Dead Island, Watch Dogs, Red Dead Redemption, Saints Row IV, Mafia II, Terraria, Sunless Sea, and STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud VoIP

One of the many benefits of using VoIP technology for your business is the ability to make and receive voice and/or video calls no matter where your employee is in Singapore or outside the country. When it comes to choosing which type of VoIP service is right for your business, however, you also need to know how it’s done.

You might hear unfamiliar terms from your VoIP service provider in Singapore such as cloud VoIP, hosted VoIP system, hosted PBX, etc., and not know what type of service you’re getting. Although the basic principles of all VoIP services are the same, there are a few differences that you need to consider.

Let’s look at cloud VoIP and find out why it’s the most recommended VoIP service for small and medium-scale businesses.

History of VoIP Technology

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was once a niche technology that has now become indispensable in businesses not just in Singapore, but the rest of the world. The history of VoIP is tied up with cloud computing because their potential became known during the advent of the Internet’s precursor, Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPANET), and its successful two-way voice communications. Then in 1975, the first cellular phone call was made possible through Motorola, which opened avenues for further developments in the VoIP Singapore industry.

It was not until the mid-1990s when VoIP and hosted PABX technology took off when Internet became accessible to a lot of people. In 1995, the first Internet phone was invented, but it did not become a popular tool for communication, because it needed a lot of equipment to make a successful call.

Significant changes were made when manufacturers decided to produce hardware that allowed computer-to-phone and phone-to-computer calls and call switching. Switching refers to the conversion of a voice packet into digital packets using a switch, so that it can be read by the public switched telephone network (PTSN). This breakthrough meant that VoIP from www.crystalvoice.com.sg in SIngapore no longer needs to rely on computer and other hardware to make calls through the Internet

History of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is considered an invaluable tool in information technology infrastructures and businesses, but not everyone knows it has been around for some time and has gone through so many changes. The principle of cloud computing relies on the idea that you do not need a lot of machines to store information that can be accessed by more than one individual. In the 1950s, multiple machines had to be installed in institutions that needed a computer and a number of terminals so they can be accessed by a lot of people.

In the 1970s, the idea of virtualization was realized when multiple computers were able to access and share the same processing environment and resources. This meant that it was possible to increase network solutions without having to use more equipment. The development of cloud computing accelerated when the Internet became available to a lot of people, and computers were used not just in offices, but also at homes.

In the early 2000s, VoIP Singapore third-party providers for storage, applications, and computation solutions appeared to cater to the growing needs of different businesses. The recent trend in cloud computing has allowed companies to choose whether they want to hire a third-party for the resource or to set up their own private cloud instead of using a public cloud for more security.

What Cloud VoIP Means

Cloud VoIP, or cloud telephony, refers to the voice and other services that replace the conventional telephone equipment, like the hosted PBX. PBX means private branch exchange, or the connection between a central switch and a telephone system used by a company. What these all means is that all the employees within the company can make calls to other employees, but other people outside the company can still receive calls from and make calls to that company. In cloud VoIP, however, all the equipment will be provided in a data center and only the telephones or other devices will be found in the office.

Some companies, however, prefer their own telephone system, but do not want to host the server. Cloud hosted PABX is a type of hosted PBX or hosted telephony service, which means that the server is hosted in another location to reduce network connectivity costs and simplify multiple site connectivity.

Some VoIP service providers might also mention the term hybrid, which means that some of your company’s sites can be premise-based with servers dedicated to a location, and your company also has the technology and is hosting some of the data within the premises.

Disadvantages of Cloud VoIP

Although cloud VoIP can offer the same benefits as other VoIP services such as an IP PBX telephone system, it has its downsides.

    1. The voice quality is not guaranteed unless you can manage the VoIP connections
    2. You will be dependent on the vendor if it is a hosted VoIP system
    3. You will be dependent on the vendor’s data center or the public Internet if it’s a hosted VoIP system
    4. There may be outside disruptions if your Internet service provider frequently drops the Internet service
    5. Your company will need to purchase IP phones, router, ethernet, and ethernet cords

Advantages of Cloud VoIP

With cloud VoIP for your business, you will get the same benefits of a PBX phone system or hosted PABX that bigger VoIP Singapore companies use.

    1. You will save more with local and international calls if you’re a small business
    2. There is no need to run your own phone system like the PBX phone system
    3. You will only pay for what you need if it’s a hosted PBX
    4. Your employees don’t need to be at the desk to make calls, similar to an IP PBX telephone system
    5. It’s easy to use and has a low start-up cost that is ideal for small businesses

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