My new video – Sexy Air Stewardesses VS Grandma Pee and Grandma Pok! (This is not a harlem shake)

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Grandma Pee and Grandma Pok are boring old grannies who like to complain and don’t approve of a sexy safety dance. They never get to travel anywhere and sit on the couch at home, all day. Their life sucks. Boo!

The sexy JUAN Air Stewardesses are here to show them the gateway to beautiful holidays in the Philippines. The boring grannies just need to know that safety on Cebu Pacific Air is always first, but it can be FUN too!

Sexy Air Stewardesses VS Boring Old Grannies

Cebu Pacific Air is searching for one blogger from Singapore and Malaysia to send to the Philippines, and they call it the search for the ‘JUAN blogger’ – Juan meaning ‘the everyday’ man in Philippines. It’s true, you can probably travel almost everyday with Cebu Pacific’s reasonable rates and energetic service!

Oh, I don’t mean to sound like a desperado – I really don’t like to enter contests and hustle for votes, but the prizes for this campaign are really worth something. Each winning ‘JUAN’ blogger gets flights to 4 destinations in the Philippines, along with hotel stays by Agoda and travel allowances courtesy of Visa.

I already have destinations to accomplish in mind, people I want to meet, and lessons I know I can learn from and take home with me. I really hope to win this!

IF YOU LIKE US (OR OUR VIDEO), PLEASE HELP US GET PICKED TO GO TO THE PHILIPPINES!?
GO to —
1. Cebu Pacific’s Juan Blogger FACEBOOK APP,
2. CLICK on our video in the GALLERY SECTION (We’re the only ones in full air stewardess costumes!)
3. VOTE FOR US PLEASE!
IT TAKES 5 SECONDS and means the world to me. THANK YOU 😛

I’ve been away in Kuala Lumpur, so this blogpost is a little late. >.< The Cebu Pacific JUAN blogger contest ends on 24 MARCH 2013.

No pilots were harmed during the making of this amateur home video. This is an entry for Cebu Pacific Air’s ‘Juan Blogger’ search video contest.

PS: This is not a harlem shake, this is the safety shake!

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Okay, if you really want to know, this is how it goes!

CREATED, choreographed, filmed, directed and edited by:
ESTELLE KIORA (me)

FEATURING:
Another equally crazy friend, TIAN

(Tian is… a Singaporean hottie, social media butterfly, hipster sister and my fellow travel adventure buddy!)

I bet you can’t tell that this was filmed at midnight! In between me and Tian’s tight schedules, this video was a lot of effort to pull off. I had to poke Tian a few times to stop her from yawning, but I’m glad we completed it! I’ve been getting more interested in making amateur videos lately, and any excuse to *try* to dance is always fun.

Challenge-Accepted

I crafted the concept and Tian was the first person I called. I wanted a hot girl (what, would you have watched the video if I featured an ugly guy?). But seriously, Tian was the perfect friend for this video on so many levels. I have endless laughs with her, and documenting a video or a holiday (FINGERS CROSSED!) with her would be one ride shy of an entertainment explosion.

Alas, she was overseas and I had ONE day to practice AND film with her in Singapore. I custom-made some foam board props in advance – The Cebu Pacific Air plane especially didn’t come cheap (getting a print shop to cut the shape out will cost an extra $10 usually), but it’s always special to have something to play with.

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We make au naturale Grandmas, and I’m glad we (barely) fit into the air stewardess costumes. The other props were all a necessary safety.

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—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE FOR US VIA THE CEBU PACIFIC FACEBOOK APP OR WE’LL WHACK YOU WITH MY WALKING CANE!—

I don’t want to wait until I grow old and boring like these above grannies… It’s time to fulfil life by doing the things that matter, and making the trips that you want. Have YOU been to the Philippines yet? Check out the affordable fares and delightful destinations you can do from Singapore to Philippines on CebuPacificAir.com – It’s time everyone flies!

Please share the video with your friends and any of your love, hugs, hellos and VOTES are appreciated!

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Special air fare promotion from Singapore to Europe via Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS): New direct Singapore-Zurich flight from S$679, return ticket (S$705 after taxes)!

Seriously, man.

Even though I’m finding it harder and harder to earn money, somehow by the fair laws of the universe and in the opposite parallel of things, it is getting cheaper and cheaper to travel!

I just heard that Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) has launched special introductory fares for its new daily service from Singapore to Zurich that will commence on 13 May 2013.

An Economy Class flight from Singapore-Zurich starts from S$679 before taxes, S$705 after taxes. Sounds like an awesome deal to me – This is a return flight, including baggage!

If you’re a creature of high-class comfort, a round trip in Business Class is available from S$3705 and offers the innovative SWISS Business Class seats that eases into a 2-metre lie-flat bed.

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Seeing is believing – I went to check out the prices on the SWISS website myself. It was really as rock-bottom as the headlines claimed.

And then, being the cynic I am, I cross-checked it with SkyScanner just to be sure.
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SkyScanner.com doesn’t lie. This is a really good deal!

5 things a Singaporean might find special in Switzerland:

1) SKI, SNOW AND SCENERY
I didn’t go to/have never been to Zurich, but Switzerland is breathtaking in general and I had a snowball of a time there in Nov 2011.

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Disclaimer: This was definitely one of my favourite places when I was backpacking around Europe alone in Nov 2011 and I don’t regret going, but November is not a particularly popular time to visit nor a good time to ski.

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Trekking around Europe with my hardy Timberlands, courtesy of Timberland Singapore.
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Whether you want to see flowers or frozen rivers, Switzerland will show it to you. I like the cold and love the winter, but I made a lot of friends along the way who shared that summer is also a good time to visit Switzerland if you want a slightly warmer holiday.

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2) EXPENSIVE
The Swiss Franc (Swiss currency) is rather strong and certain parts of Switzerland can be pretty pricey. In November 2011, I made an impulse decision to go to Zermatt – one of the best ski-towns in Switzerland. (“Best” also means that it is popular and expensive.) I could see the world-famed Matterhorn everyday as I walked to the town and around.
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Skiing in the Swiss alps was a once-in-my-lifetime experience for two reasons… It was breathtaking, and it broke the bank.

Expect to pay for a skiing holiday:

– Ski lessons (Don’t take lessons in Switzerland – learn to ski somewhere cheaper like Australia, and then go to Swizerland when you actually know how to ski).

– Equipment rental (which you have to carry all the way to the top of the mountain by yourself, by the way)

– Ski lift pass (Check the weather forecast because these can be non-refundable)

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Don’t plan on skiing? No problem. You will probably spend your money on something else. A simple sandwich or burger there cost about 30 Swiss Francs ($39 Singapore dollars)… I re-used part of my breakfast as lunch everyday.

“Oh shit! S$39 for a lunch sandwich!?” I hear you cursing already. Don’t worry, there are ways around this. Read my next point.

3) EASY TO PACK A BACKPACK
Even though food and cost of living is expensive, you can buy your own rations (instant noodles!) from the supermarkets. As souvenirs from Switzerland for my friends in Singapore, I stocked up on supermarket chocolate.
There was another ‘kiasu’ Asian family before me who brought home even more –

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I get the cheese and sausages. But seriously, you’re bringing back bread?!

Switzerland is no anarchy and there is every reason to celebrate its cleanliness and orderly society.

It started out on a search with this napkin note…
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And it ended with me trying out glu-wine over a meal with some of the most wonderful people I could have met in the town of Zermatt.
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This city works like a perfect clockwork – it had the most helpful and honest citizens I encountered anywhere in Europe, train-times were never delayed nor a second late (unlike the rest of Europe), and every inch in the city looked like it had been sweeped – twice.

4) TRY A HOSTEL
No one usually wants to stay in hostels, but the ones in Switzerland are so clean that they look like hotels. (The floors are clean enough to walk around with socks on, and the toilets aren’t terrible at all.)

Money saver tip: My hostel included breakfast AND dinner in its nightly accomodation cost.
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Switzerland isn’t cheap, but it is definitely one of the most comfortable and safest places for backpackers.
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5) TRAINS
Zurich seems promising, but there are plenty of other beautiful areas in Switzerland to visit and things to do. You can also easily take a train from Zurich to other parts of Switzerland (again, this is not cheap. Expect S$40-$140 train trip ticket prices, not SMRT prices).

If I had the chance to go back to Switzerland again, I would. I would love to experience Berne, The Chateau de Chillon Montreux, Interlaken, Lausanne, Lauterbrunnen, Lake Lucerne, Jungfrau (one of the highest mountains in Europe), Lugano, and the village of Gruyeres – if you have a chance to visit Switzerland and you skip all of these places, I will smack you.

Obviously, as suggested by the beginning of this section, taking a train is definitely the best way to get around.

With cross-country trains, you don’t even have to get off for immigration and custom checks – THEY get onboard to check you. Too easy.
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The Bernina Express – One of the most famous and scenic train-routes in the world.

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Train tip: Some trains are fast, and some move slow (in Europe, they call it “scenic”). Don’t forget to pack food and water along for long journeys.

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To enjoy these unbelievably low fares from Singapore to Zurich, travellers must purchase their tickets between 14 January 2013 and 28 January 2013. Travel period is from 13 May 2013 to 30 November 2013. Terms and conditions apply. From my quick checks online, it seems like this applies to other Singapore-to-other-parts-of-Europe flights too.

Special priced flights from Singapore to Europe with SWISS International Air Lines:

Amsterdam from SGD 823.-
Barcelona from SGD 804.-
Brussels from SGD 819.-
Copenhagen from SGD 808.-
Frankfurt from SGD 978.-
Geneva from SGD 717.-
London (LHR) from SGD 1020.-
Madrid from SGD 806.-
Malaga from SGD 791.-
Manchester from SGD 991.-
Milan (MXP) from SGD 809.-
Munich from SGD 1099.-
Nice from SGD 815.-
Paris (CDG) from SGD 827.-
Prague from SGD 808.-
Rome (FCO) from SGD 822.-
Tel Aviv from SGD 802.-
Venice from SGD 802.-
Vienna from SGD 874.-
Zurich from SGD 679.-

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Wanderlusting on the SWISS website…
Singapore to Nice – now seriously affordable.
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Flight tip: When booking flights online, not all of them are always direct flights. Double check your flight dates and timings, especially to ensure that there isn’t too much or too little time in between stopovers.
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Life is short – visit Europe.

Start planning and booking your 2013 getaway with special airfare deals like this one at SWISS.

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I haven’t written a lot about it, but you can check out my blog category EUROPE for more snippets of my 1 month Europe-alone adventure from October-November 2011, backpacking from Barcelona-Venice-Cinque Terre-Florence-Pisa-Rome-Milan-Zermatt Switzerland-London-Edinburgh Scotland.

Wondering and wandering… Guatemala

Just found a beautiful homemade video my cousin created of his trip to Guatemala, and I’m living vicariously through his lens.

Mexico has always been one of the top travel destinations in my wishlist! I’m totally jelly. Have YOU been? Did you like it?

From Asia to Africa: Finally! Updates from my little brother on his environmental science research trip in Inyonga, Tanzania

Travel blogging on behalf of my brother, a young Singaporean scientist, from Asia to Africa

It’s been more than a week since my little brother left for Africa, where he will be living and working for the next 2 months. I finally heard from him since he called last night… He’s alive!

Things are good, he says. He is in a really remote place, so obscure that I would not even be able to imagine what it looks like. “Even more remote than the kampong Mom and Dad used to live in back in the old days.” The electricity is powered by generators, and these generators are usually something that only the rich can afford. So in order for the office (that I report to) to have electricity, someone has to have the money to afford the generator, and someone else has to most importantly – turn it on. They only turn the power on in the evenings on some days – I hope they turn it on tomorrow so I can charge my phone. The battery is running out and I can probably only talk to you for 30 minutes more.”

I cradle the phone beside my ear listening to him and slouch back on the couch I am on, looking around my room. I pick up my iPhone, it is at 5% power, and I plug it into the electric outlet in front of me and turn on my ceiling fan. Almost as lazy as the whirr of my fan, I mumble back to my brother, “Yeah, totally can’t imagine”. We are so lucky in Singapore to have everything we could ever need at our fingertips.

“You sound tired,” I was a bit worried. “Everything alright?” He admits he is tired, he is sleeping in the game reserve and walks 20KM almost every day to set camera traps and collect data. He and some other local Africans are doing this together and the huge plus point is that he gets to see many animals roaming around. “I saw a wild giraffe the other day. It was unbelievable. It was just chilling out.”

They can only cook their food when they set up a fire, which they do at night. Most days he doesn’t get to have any lunch, breakfast is if anything is left over and dinner is made out of wild vegetables and anything else he and the Africans can gather along the way. “I don’t think anyone we know will ever eat what I am eating here everyday.”

The weather is very nice in the day, and gets a bit cold at night. “I’m looking forward to fishing in Zanzibar, before going to Uganda. Then it’s back to London for Uni.”

My brother interrupts our phone conversation as an African man wants to talk to him. I hear him speak some Swahili – very cool! I heard some basic things like habari (hello), samahani (sorry), la asante my friend (no thanks). “What was that about?” I was curious. “Dude, I hope I’m not making them angry. Water is so precious to them and apparently when I do my laundry, I use too much (water). I think they want to help me wash my clothes.”

My brother hates going into the local town, where he sticks out like a sore thumb – All the locals stop to stare at him and he feels like a complete outsider. “I am positive they have never, ever, seen an Asian in their life”. He is much more comfortable when he is in the bush, far away from people, among the animals.

I told him I always knew he was born to be wild.

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If you’d like to see more stuff about my wonderful little brother you can check out some of my other blog posts about him –
My brother the braveheart in Man VS Fish, Australia.
From Asia to the Amazon

Questioning Villas: Crimson Resort and Spa, Mactan via Cebu Pacific Air

Villas. There isn’t as many words in the world that I love as much as this – not only as the second syllable rolls off my tongue, but for it’s underlying significance to ‘relaxing’, ‘having a holiday’, or ‘being by a beach’.


(The iconic Filipino boat with extra side wings for stability in the rough seas.)

Hello, Villa.

Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan does offer villas of sorts, and although I did not stay in one, the introductory accommodation (Deluxe Room) I was in already felt like it. I was officially on a relaxing holiday by the beach.







(Soap on seashells, woody interiors with earthy orange tones, Island-inspired decor and handicrafts as lighted lamps, all in a vicinity of newly trimmed lush gardens – the fresh air and little touches remind me that I’m not in the city anymore. The resort was all very romantic and also made me wish I was in love.)


I sat cross-legged and fully relaxed in my Verandah, squinting at the shiny sun and lush gardens that traced the edges of the evenly-stoned walkway in front of me. I rubbed my eyes – wait – how did I even get here?

I left work at 11pm, and Cebu Pacific Air got me directly from Singapore to Cebu in less than 4 hours via a daily midnight flight – almost as quick as it takes to say… “Mabuhay”!


Facebook page at Cebu Pacific Air SG
Tweet @CebuPacificAir

I was ready to take on a day of seeing Cebu. Although… My hair… It was a mess; and my head was still in a slight daze from waking up an hour too early (Damn you iPhone auto-correct timezones… You are not correct!). Some people say they wake up on the wrong side of bed – but as mine was soft, queen sized, full of plush pillows and in total, too comfortable, I guess I woke up in the wrong timezone instead.

(I love it when a hotel provides a full set of 2×2 pillows, and another 2 for good measure/decor. The blanket wasn’t the fluffy-thick sort with feather down that I love, but it was enough to shield me from bad dreams.)

My Deluxe Room is selling on the official Crimson website for 1,100 PHP/$230 SGD based on 1 room/2 person occupancy (max 5 pax), incl breakfasts, but not incl service charge and taxes.

Munching in my pyjamas and on my nutty banana bread that I squirreled off my Cebu Pacific flight, I must have looked like one as I grasped the bread with both my hands, cheeks completely chock-full, and eyes wide open. I barely managed a reciprocal smile as every single hotel staff who strolled past in front of me greeted me cheerily.

“Good morning/afternoon/evening ma’am!”

I heard not once, but always with resounding enthusiasm throughout my stay, even when we checked in at 5am. Clear internal training or pure friendly Filipino hospitality? This was a close tie.


I also tested the housekeeping and guest services for 3 bottles of water, one vanity kit consisting of cotton wool + buds and one towel – the delivery (driven via a golf buggy) was accurate and within 10 minutes. Being the klutz that I am, I also got locked out of my room – twice – and had to wait for and wave down the next staff who passed by. This always took seconds and help always came within minutes. Since my day job works me around the clock in a Singaporean 5-star hotel, I know the endless efforts that go behind excellent service, and I definitely appreciated every bit of it.

The food was good too, with buffet breakfast dished out with everything from muesli, cheeses, and cooked-to-order eggs, to local selections like fried danggit.

There was staff on hand, ready to cater to requests of dietary requirements and coffee tea. Amidst our activities that day, we also squeezed in their newly launched beachfront BBQ buffet dinner, complete with cultural show-fire twirling-dancing.

I couldn’t keep my comments to myself. Halfway through the fire-twirling session and a second glass of Chardonnay, I plagued the Area Manager – James – with questions, suggestions and feedback, sometimes touching on how he could improve the place. He looked at and listened to me, nodding with a smile as I went down another round of constructive criticism.

“You have such a lovely place! You already have a little beachfront bar with mood lighting, why not bring in some sofas or daybeds and create a Balinese Kudeta-style vibe? Fill up the cocktail menu and turn the music up… I’m sure your guests will love a late-night option.” I gushed and pushed, sparkling with gusto.

“I think so too – guests tell me they want more fun but when I start a party, they complain that the music is too loud.” The Area Manager explained. “What should I do?”

I was indignant about my beach lounge party. “They have a villa! Ask the boring sleepy couples to go back to their villas for some something-something. Isn’t that what villas are for?”

This was definitely a resort fit for falling in love.

*****END OF TRAVELOGUE*****

The Crimson Resort and Spa, Mactan is also TripAdvisor’s 2012 Winner of the Certificate of Excellence. Thank you to the staff at Crimson Mactan for an easy stay.

Thank you to the lovely team from Cebu Pacific Air for getting me there. Cebu Pacific Air is one of the national carriers in Philippines, offering some pretty great year-round fares for all flights. They not only fly from Singapore to Cebu, but to Manila, Clark and very soon – Iloilo (a new route opening November 2012)!

Cebu Pacific Air – click here for a uniquely upbeat flying experience

What to do in Cebu? Subscribe here for more blog posts and pictures from my trip.

Give me just one night – Chilling like an Italiano in Milano

Good morning, Milan!

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The fabric of Milan is it’s fashion, and along with this being a bad pun, they are all pretty expensive at that. I got a touch and taste of it today as I am rooming with a local up and coming fashion designer, and then roamed Quadrilateral D’ Oro (Rectangle of Gold) and its plethora of brands… none of which I could afford.

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Starting from Monte Napoleone and ending at Viale De Spiga (my local milanese fashion designer host Catherina had some of her collection – Il Systema Degli Oggetti – showcased there and I wanted to check it out), all I had to do was follow the lights on this yellow brick road that glittered like gold.

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I liked Il Systema Degli Oggetti’s stuff… the very helpful salesgirl showed me lots of their browns and easy to wear dresses and trousers. More in tune to the winter/fall season than Singapore’s summers though! (Facebook page here.)

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Shopping in Milan is VERY expensive, in my opinion! I bought a bunch of nice stuff like Tom Ford perfume, but nothing too big… It was either a useless Gucci handbag or a week of skiing in Switzerland, and I leave for Switzerland tomorrow.

Me window shopping in Milan is like being on a diet in a candy store – there’s no point buying anything. Damn irritating!

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I have to say though, you don’t know willpower till you fall in love with Dolce & Gabbana’s latest collection or Alan Journo’s Alexander Wang inspired accessories, and walk out of the boutiques empty handed and pockets still full. Hardest thing this week to do!

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My stomach gurgled with emptiness though, and as I looked longingly – my eyes lighted with lust – through the glimmering window displays, I slowly strolled to the nearest restaurant.

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It’s the duomo! No, it’s a museum! No, it’s… MacDonalds!

No, I didn’t eat here. I started to pound the pavement and found some pretty restaurants.

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I peeked in and smiled – it had apertivo time – score. (See my previous post about apertivo.)

I had a glass of wine and a platter of different pastas all for 9euros – my cheapest meal in Italy yet.

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A night walk ensued.

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The famous Scala Theatre – wanted to watch an opera but alas, it’s ballet season.
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The Duomo in Milano
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These bicycles for rent were in little stations all over Milan city, to help locals move quickly and freely in between traffic around the city. It also helps the environment and reduces congestion among cars. I think bicycle rentals were for 30-60 minutes at each time.
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A quick 10-minuti metro ride meant I was back to my cosy attic room in the very spacious Milanese studio apartment that I got via Roomorama (only 59euros for the night), and another perk of NOT staying in a hotel meant I was winding down and cosying up with lovely Caterina as I sink into her slouchy bean bag and chat with her model+photographer boyfriend.

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Caterina’s in the kitchen cooking dinner, and as her hand stirs the pot I can only imagine her mind is brewing up her next design for the catwalk.

Big thanks to Roomorama for sponsoring my Milanese studio apartment and offering me this incredible overnight opportunity.

Short-term rentals - Bed&Breakfasts, houses and apartments for all sorts of travelers

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Amazon and South America from a Singaporean perspective… Obviously Amazing

My little brother, the young Singaporean scientist, from Asia to Amazon

*Cue in ringtone, ding ding ding*

It’s 11.40pm on a Singaporean Monday night and I pick my phone up. For a few seconds, the connection sucks (Blackberry to iPhone relationships are always love and hate), but soon enough I hear some noise. A Caribbean flute band plays in the background for a while before a familiar ‘hello’ floats in.

My 22 year old little brother is calling me from South America, where he is for a university research trip across the Amazon river and Honduras jungle. So unimaginably physically far away, but emotionally in my heart every day. He anti-socially deactivated social media connections, I haven’t spoken to him in 4 months, and I did worry like a wreck at times.

I swear he could hear my silent smile, his mood is good and the Caribbean music continually chirps happily. The voice is the same, but accent slightly tainted – English more proper, not so Singaporean anymore.

I guess that is what catching alligators in the Amazon will do to you, or spear fishing with locals in the raging river.

“All that and more, I have so many stories to share with you but not enough time. I saw pelicans today. I’ve made a good friend too, he’s a really cool 30 year old English dude. I didn’t want to leave the Amazon, it’s amazing.”

“We pray for you everyday, it is God’s grace you are still safe and quite alive.” I told him. He told me to send Mom and Dad his greetings, along with a note that he is spending apparently a lot of money on food.

“Tell them sorry I am eating as much as 3 person’s portions per meal!”

The boy needs his energy… I wish I could perk him up with some Zesta – after all, it is the pulse of the Amazon? 🙂

My brother is now in Lima, capital of Peru and one of the busiest coastal port-of-calls in South America.

A little surreal… I get ready to go to bed as he strolls about his 10.40am balmy morning with his new friend, and I chat with him about the poor man’s version of Galapagos Islands that they had just been to.

It’s basically like a slice of the real Galapagos Islands heaven at a fraction of the cost, which whets my brother’s insatiable appetite to see wildlife on the cheap. Galapagos Islands is where Charles Darwin explored in September 1835 and stayed for two months.

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind! Only, my man is but a boy.

“I am happy, but tired from the travel. I got ripped off the other day. No one speaks English here, only Spanish”, he explained. Maybe they communicate with more than words… I hear the Spanish are a passionate people… 😉

Lil brother had to go, his next leg was to Honduras jungle (more updates next time!) and it was about time to bid him goodbye. I can’t describe my happiness and relief with this simple phone call that he has made, just to send me his love on my actual birthday. I don’t know when I’ll see him again for sure, but I hope it will be soon.

And it was time for me to finally say to him, “See you later alligator.”


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I blog for Zesta, and you can read more of mine or other ambassador’s musings about life on our joint blog here.

Photo credit to this site and this site: All photo illustrations of South America are not my own.