Tag Archives: Groupon

Becoming a man of music: my ukulele lesson

Marky Mark visited Elite Pop Music Training Centre on January 24th, 2016

For my latest deal adventure, I decided to tap into my inner Jason Mraz and try to become one of those guys the girls love but other men hate: the pretentious ukulele player. Seeing how learning the guitar was “too hippie” for me and I’m not cool enough to play the drums, I decided to set my sights on the simple looking mini-me of guitars: the ukulele.

There’s something becoming about a man who can express himself and his thoughts through song. If anything else, playing the ukulele seems something fun to do when you’re drunk on a boat. I signed up on Groupbuyer for 6, 45 minute Ukulele lessons with Elite Music Courses in Mongkok. (This is how much I wanted to learn to play – I was willing to travel to Kowloon, the Shelbyville version of Hong Kong).

Just like most places in Hong Kong, the school was located in a residential building, on the fourth floor. I’ve always wondered how it would feel to be the neighbour of this place – it’s like always having the radio on listening to idiots like me fumble his way around a ukulele.

As I entered the room, I was introduced to my teacher – a young kid with long, moppy hair with glasses. We sat down and he proceeded to hand me and the other student (there were only two people for the class) a ukulele. Mine had cartoon characters on it. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get one with the characters from Disney’s “Frozen” on it but hey – beggars can’t be choosers.

So we get to the basics of the ukulele – how to hold it, how to strum the chords and how to read the notes. Reading the notes is pretty basic and straightforward. All you have to do is commit it to your muscle memory and practice where each finger goes. The hardest part of learning is actually coordinating your fingers. I initially thought that given my propensity and ease of flipping the bird to people that I would have good finger coordination – however learning the ukulele takes everything to a whole new level.

I also learned that I had fat fingers and my hands were too big for the ukulele. I would mash the strings together so my teacher suggested that I play a bigger type of ukulele (did you know there’s different types and sizes of ukuleles?!?!) He got me a Concert ukulele – which was one level up. It was made of wood so I didn’t get any cool cartoon characters but I guess it adds a sense of dignity and respect to the instrument (Too bad that doesn’t translate over to the musician). 

So we learned a few chords and was strumming around. There was a bit of difficulty when he found out that I only spoke English, but somehow, through might and the overabundance use of the term “you press here”, we managed to get our points across.

We got to practice playing a few simple songs like “Amazing Grace” and some random chinese song. At my second class, we learned how to play “Happy Birthday” which was simple yet tricky. I can play it really slow but I’m quite proud of my progress. Happy birthday is a great song to learn since you can play it to everyone. I can totally get chicks with my ukulele and this song. It may not be “I’m yours” but it’s a start.

Interested in learning to play the Ukelele like Marky Mark?  Check out the same Elite Pop Music deal that he got here!

Fresh Modern Kitchen and Bar – Lunch Buffet Review

Marky Mark visited Fresh Modern Kitchen & Bar on December 5th, 2015

As a man that hates nature hikes  and shopping, my options for recreation in Hong Kong is always severely limited. Luckily, given Hong Kong’s sky rocket rent and insatiable thirst for novelty, “tired” restaurants are always closing, to be replaced by something new, shiny and trendy.

Alas, as an undevout Catholic with no meaningful relationships, I’ve resigned myself to spend my free time trying as many restaurants as possible during my time here.

This time, I decided to try Fresh Modern Kitchen and Bar as I always walk pass it whenever I go to La Vache! They say never to judge a book by its cover but no one really believes that crap. We totally judge something by its design. For example, I’ve always been attracted by the Fresh Modern Kitchen’s sign:

fresh-modern-kitchen

I’m a guy who cares about “value” which means that I only buy clothes when they’re red tagged and I’ll only buy day old cookies from Ms Field’s. In this case, I wasn’t about to try this place at full price so I got a deal from Groupon instead. This was the deal on Groupon. It was pretty sweet so I had to get it.

$208 for a Western Semi-Buffet Lunch for 2 People at Fresh Modern Kitchen & Bar (worth $380)

buffet-menu-at-fresh-modern-kitchen

Unfortunately, the Groupon was for two people – which was a problem for me as I said before, I’m unable to sustain or have any meaningful relationships. Then I realized that it was actually a good opportunity for me to take out an attractive girl I knew. She might not be open to being seen with me in public regularly, but maybe a free meal might buy her off.

Luckily, it worked – she agreed to come out for brunch and even agreed to walk beside me on the street and not wear a hat and hockey mask. I felt blessed.

As she didn’t know how to get there, we decided to meet up at Central station and walk over from there. We got to Fresh a little early and they haven’t yet opened. The place opens at 12 so we had to stand outside and chat a bit. Times like these made me wish that I smoked cigarettes so I could look cool doing something rather than keeping my hands in my pockets. Maybe I can be extra douchy and take up vaporized cigarettes? Next groupon.

Finally, it was noon and we went inside. A middle aged Chinese mom had already beat us to the punch and was already seated. The place was obviously still empty and we got to choose where we wanted to sit. We opted for the corner of the room as it overlooked Hollywood road. It was great to people watch on Saturday since you could see all the people doing their walk of shame from a Friday of night of mistakes and regrets. The awkward part was when I saw a colleague doing her walk of shame. I messaged her. Shame. Shame. Shame.

the view from inside the restaurant

As you saw from the earlier picture, the menu consisted of unlimited cold cuts, salads and soup while we got to choose from two mains followed by dessert and coffee/tea. We decided to spread our risk and order both mains to share. We then headed our way to the buffet to take advantage of the food. Again, we were beaten to the punch by the middle aged woman, who’s already elbow deep on the salad and soup.

There was a choice of two salads and a bunch of dressings and toppings – olives, corn, tuna, cheese, potato – it was kind of random. In terms of taste, you can’t really mess up salad. As long as it’s green, that’s pretty much it. The cold cuts were some ham. The soup of the day was cauliflower. It wasn’t bad as well. Again, it’s stuff you can’t really screw up. Oh yeah, there were also some mussels but I’m not a big fan so that went untouched.

After a few rounds, the mains came. The halibut and the pasta with mussels. The portions were just right – it was enough to fill you but not enough to give you food coma. The pasta was average and the halibut was average. Overall okay. It’s the type of place you’d take your mom to  since she wouldn’t complain. Maybe she’d complain about the lighting – it’s a bit dim in there.

Finally, the dessert came with coffee and tea.

The dessert complete with fork imprint

The dessert was average as well. Felt store bought. The coffee was average too. The service was good – the people were nice and were very helpful. When the bill came, it was only for the service charge which was 21 HKD. Since I was a baller, I gave them 30 HKD and told them to keep the change.

Overall, my date was happy – the ambiance was good, her belly was full, and things went smoothly. I’d like to think that it was because I was so charming but that might not be the reason as I spent most of the time stuffing my face with food. Whatever – I’m the guy who took her to Fresh Modern Kitchen.

For those not digging the lunch buffet date at Fresh Modern Kitchen, check out other popular restaurant groupon deals for great dates on a budget.

Deal Review: $688 for a Smart Vacuum Robot from Groupon

$688 for a Smart Vacuum Robot from Groupon

Groupon’s redemption centre in Hong Kong is located at 38 Russell street, right across from Times Square in the Causeway Bay (near MTR exit A). Soundwill Plaza is a large commercial building and its entrance between TAG Hauer and Swarovski is not hard to miss.

Easy to find Groupon Concept Store entrance (across from Times Square)

Easy to find Groupon Concept Store entrance (across from Times Square)

Upon entering the lobby, you will be ushered into a lineup to take a service lift up to the Groupon store on the third floor… Probably not the best way for Groupon to make a impression.

When you reach the third floor you will finally see the recognizable Groupon green colours with multiple employees ready to redeem your stash.  You are presented with a service ticket upon entering the store and with so many staff on hand, the wait was not long even though streams of customers were coming in by the tens.

The vacuum packaging, Panda faces all over it...

The vacuum packaging, Panda faces all over it…

The service that the Groupon employee gave me was mediocre.  I wanted to ensure that the robot vacuum I bought did not have a panda face on it.  I thought that was a fair question since there were panda faces plastered all over the box and I did not recall seeing even ONE panda face during my whole ordering process.  He tried many times to persuade me that the vacuum inside was one without a panda face without opening the box to show me.  All I wanted him to do was take 1 minute to open the box and the problem would be resolved!  After much bantering and him going to the back to “check” he finally agreed to open the box… with a sour face but I didn’t care because I was finally satisfied, no panda face!

I didn’t feel like being squished in a service elevator again so I took the stairs down.  I felt like I was doing a fire drill as the stairs leading down actually doubles as a fire escape.  Overall the redemption process wasn’t as grand as one would expect after seeing photos of the Groupon Concept store, however I give the entire process a pass due to the ease of redemption, and it’s accessible location.

Now onto the actual product, Miss C has always wanted a smart robot vacuum but truth be told, there’s really never enough space in HK to warrant getting one.  However to satisfy her undying fetish for cleaning, we decided that $999 was a fair price to try out a budget model.  Worst case if I accidentally stomp on and break it, we won’t feel as bad at this price point.

Contents of the box

Contents of the box

Upon opening the box, we found that the robot vacuum comes with the following items.  The robot itself, instructional manual in English (no Chinese), barrier beam, remote control, brush cleaner, some blue cloths, and a filter replacement.  You can see a video unboxing of the Groupon Good Robot vacuum cleaner here.

Now for $999 I would say that the vacuum (let’s name him Panda, and it’s a boy) is probably worth its value.  When you put Panda on automatic mode, he really doesn’t have any idea or plan on how he’s going to clean your room.  He just kind of bumbles around like a drunken idiot, and when he hits an obstacle, he will randomly pick another direction to go without really giving thought to its current relative location.  The result is that some parts of your room may be cleaned repeated, while others are never touched.  However the battery life is strong so this drunken cleaning act can go on for a few hours and hopefully all spots are covered.  Click here for a video of Panda vacuum robot live and in action.

 

The barrier beam

The barrier beam

The package includes an instrument that I have dubbed the “barrier beam”.  What it does is that you put 2x D cell batteries in there, and place it somewhere to act as an invisible barrier where Panda cannot cross.  Say you don’t want to vacuum the bathroom, then you would put this white box at the bathroom doorway, and Panda will not cross that line.

One thing to note is that Panda does not work well on carpet.  Actually it doesn’t work at all on carpet.  The carpet that we tested has longer tufts than usual, but every time Panda went on it he immediately got stuck and threw and error code.  What did impress me however was how Panda was able to find his way back to the charging station with pinpoint accuracy.  Once he’s low on energy or you press “stop” on the remote, he thinks for a couple seconds then makes a bee-line for his home, which is actually quite entertaining to watch.  See the Groupon smart robot vacuum in action.

Relatively compact and small

Relatively compact and small

Overall I would say that this robot vacuum is good value for those who want to give it a try, but don’t want to shell out $3,000+ for a Roomba, LG, or major brand.  This appliance was obviously made in China but it doesn’t seem very tacky at all.  Most importantly I think it adequately minimizes the number of times that you actually need to manually clean or vacuum the floor in your home.  Just preset it to run while you are out of the house, and you’ve saved yourself lots of time.

 

Sleeping on his charging dock

Sleeping on his charging dock

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

See more great daily deals from Groupon!

Great Group Buy Deals vs Not-So-Great Deals – Vol 1

It’s Wednesday today, the furthest day from the weekend. It’s the day where your memories of last weekend are getting harder to recall and it’s the day where you feel this weekend can’t come soon enough. Well, what better way to get through the hump day than to get in on a great deal (okay, a few Martinis will also do the trick but this is a blog about deals, unless you plan on reading this with a few Martinis, in which case, carry on!)

$118 for a Golden Harvest Cinemas ticket and Snack Combo for 2! 2x regular 2D movie tickets PLUS a BEECRAZY Combo (1x mini popcorn+ 2x mini coke)! Limited offer! (Value up to $180)I love deals! It means getting something you want for less than you would have paid for it, or had to have paid because you just needed it. Either way, less money spent means more in your pockets. This is why I think Golden Harvest Cinemas Ticket Set from BEECRAZY is a pretty great deal. I know I’ll be watching a movie at the theatres at least once in the next 3 months and I’m 99.999% sure I’ll be getting popcorn when I’m watching the movie so why not take advantage of a group buy deal that gives me a discount for something I was going to pay full price on anyways?! 2 movie tickets, 2 drinks, and a popcorn for $118…sold!

A classic service: a spa pedicure and express manicure, in a classic salon: Om Day SpaFor the ladies, hump days call for relaxation and pampering (fine, everyday welcomes relaxation and pampering)! This is why the Spa Pedicure and Express Manicure at Om Day Spa from Twangoo also falls under the great deal category. It’s a quick and simple retreat out of the concrete jungle that Hong Kong can sometimes be and it won’t break your bank. You’re either already accustomed to this classic pampering service or you’re interested to try it out, and now’s the perfect chance. A 75-min pedi & mani for $260 is … whoops, sorry for cutting off there but I had to quickly complete the purchase for the deal.

$20000 CÉLINE Tri-Color Mini Luggage Handbag Olive ($25000 value)I wish I could say every group buy deal is that great but unfortunately, that’s just not the case. A classic example of a not-so-great group buy deal is CÉLINE Tri-Color Mini Luggage Handbag from Groupon. Sure, we love Groupon but the deal is $20,000! Not sure about the folks here in the Deals Hong Kong community, but the last time I checked, I didn’t see an extra $20,000 sitting miraculously in my wallet or hidden in between the crack the couch cushions. Am I the only one wondering if a $20,000 handbag is really that necessary? Even if you said yes, is it so necessary that it requires a group deal for it?

Well there you have it, the great deals today and the not-so-great deal. Cheer up – it’s only 2 days before the day before the weekend. See, when you say it like that, you’re almost there. Until next time, happy deal hunting!

To Bee or Not to Bee: BeeCrazy vs. Groupon

Setting a new online record, BeeCrazy has become one of Hong Kong’s most popular online group buying brands in the city. Similar to Groupon and other Hong Kong deals websites, BeeCrazy offers consumers deals from 40 to 90 percent off. This website has sold over 40,000 coupons, which equals millions of dollars of savings for consumers. Each day, there are up to four new deals for coupon-crazed users to get excited over. Similar to Groupon and Hong Kong’s deal sites, BeeCrazy’s deals include restaurant merchants, spas, and local activities. Even better, BeeCrazy offers deals on health care check-ups, war games, and more practical, everyday useful deals.

groupon vs beecrazyBeeCrazy has helped merchants in Hong Kong reach numbers they have not seen in close to 100 years. Their clientele has greatly improved – and people are saving money in return. They claim BeeCrazy is the best marketing campaign they have had in the history of their business. BeeCrazy is a sister site of YiYi Hong Kong Limited, a mobile location based service which offers mobile coupon-ing to consumers. This site has also taken Hong Kong by storm and helped elevate the popularity of BeeCrazy. Businesses are incorporating BeeCrazy in their business plans and using it to market new products. With bargaining and coupon-ing becoming the latest worldwide trend, BeeCrazy and Groupon are just a few of the group deal websites to sweep Hong Kong, but may be the largest.

Groupon was the initiator of this latest deal craze, mixing the words “group” and “coupon” years ago and offering services and products at huge discounts. Internet portals are even sprouting up to combine these over 900 group buying websites. But they are still unable to gain the popularity that Groupon and BeeCrazy have accumulated. All in all, these sites are enabling residents of Hong Kong to experience their city and do things they would never be able to do prior to the discounts. These sites claim that nearly 80 percent of their consumers are female with over 50 percent of them being single. Some of these sites wisely offer deals to local nightclubs and for haircuts and hairstyles. The sites gain more popularity as these users “like” them on their Facebook pages and suggest the deals electronically to their friends.

Daily Deals: Worth the Rage, a Personal Encounter

For my day off from work, I decided to cash in on a manicure/pedicure deal I purchased for a local spa in Central Hong Kong. Not only was the experience relaxing in itself, but even more rewarding because I remembered I just paid less than half of the spa’s everyday price for this service. When I bought this deal, I was given the option to suggest it to two friends to be rewarded with $50 worth of credit. I turned around and put that credit towards $150 worth of food at my favorite eatery. And on and on and on…..

hong kong manicure pedicureOnce scrutinized for turning to the web for Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and ideas for family activities, my family and friends have now all joined in the group buying movement. In exchange for discounts, sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial promise merchants to deliver spikes in clientele. Being skeptical at first, I only bought local restaurant deals for my family to use. After having nothing but positive results and customer service, I now wake up awaiting delivery of these daily deals in my Inbox. I have bought everything from deep discounts on vacation spots, passes to rides at the local city park, clothing boutique deals, and gun range vouchers for my husband. I have yet to be disappointed.

But the huge discounts aren’t where the sites stop. Some of these group buying sites make it possible to go coupon-free. I can actually display the coupon on my phone at the establishment, and leave the hassle of printing out a coupon at home. There are, however minor, downsides to these deals. First, most of them come with an expiration date of about six months from the purchase date. Second, some deals restrict the number of coupons purchased per person. For example, if you bought more than two coupons for a certain salon, you were required to use them all on the same visit.

With the rewards system a majority of these sites provide (i.e., crediting you $100 for recommending two friends), the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. LivingSocial, for example, gives you the entire deal for FREE if you encourage three friends to sign up for the site and buy that deal. Moreover, the site also gives you $40 credit towards any future deals just for having friends sign up for the site (which is free!).

This has become one of the hottest trends online, and is made even more so by the rise in social media. I definitely use my personal networks to clue friends in on the latest deals. We also have seen a rise in our social lives, getting together to partake in our great discounts.

Hong Kong Group Buying: Beauty or Bust?

You’ve always been taught that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. But, as more than 40 group-buying websites in Hong Kong alone are sprouting up, we are starting to see that this is not the case after all. And leading the deal pack is Groupon.hk, clinching 62 percent of the market share. These websites feature a daily deal which is only vaiid if the minimum number of purchasers is met. A popular daily deal is the beauty deals – where a girl can score a $150 massage for just $50, for example.

So how does the Hong Kong Group Deals website benefit?

These websites attract merchants by offering them new customers and publicity at zero risk. Their company is showcased on a daily deal as a featured merchant in the Hong Kong area. On the other hand, customers get to indulge in great deals they would normally not be able to afford. Some of these websites claim to try out everything they feature to better understand the product or service and ensure it meets quality standards.

What exactly is group buying?

Not only is group buying becoming extremely popular in Hong Kong, but all over the world. In order to get a good deal on Hong Kong facials, for example, would get together and buy from that seller to receive a bigger discount. The seller benefits because they end up with a large group of customers at the same time, offsetting the discounts. In the end, group buying is essentially the same as buying in bulk.

Do these Hong Kong Beauty deals expire?

Typically, you have around 6 months to a year to redeem your deals for the beauty services. Most of these companies send out complimentary emails reminding you of your approaching expiration date.

Can you use the deal in separate visits?

If you do not redeem the full value of the beauty deal in one visit, the remaining value is lost. These deals are all for a one-use trip only.

In the end, Hong Kong Groupon and other group buy website deals can be up to 91% off the face value of the beauty service or product. This alone is reason enough to purchase the daily deal. Although, it is proven that more and more consumers are purchasing unnecessary products or services, just to avoid missing out on a phenomenal deal. Additionally, if you forget to use one of your many accumulated deals by the expiration date, you are the one at a loss, not the merchant. Plus, keep in mind that you are restricted from redeeming the deal over more than one visit. So, if that facial you have been lusting after costs more than the group buy deal amount, you end up shelling more out of your pocketbook.