Asian Food Channel’s Amazing Food Challenge – our TV show trailer is finally released!

Our Amazing Food Challenge trailer on Asian Food Channel FB page and TV channel is out. Are you as excited to see the show as I am? If you check out the thrilling trailer, you’ll see what I mean!

The Amazing Food Challenge was commissioned by the Philippines Tourism Board, and was orchestrated by some of the most brilliant minds in scripting and production from Singaporeans, Malaysians, to Filipinos and even Americans – one of the consulting producers on this show helped with casting and producing on the hit US series ‘Survivor’, so you can only imagine the kind of magic that went into the Amazing Food Challenge! I applied for this show not even expecting to get a reply! What an honour that they ended up choosing little adventurous me, one of 10 total Challengers, out of 5000 other applicants.

Big ups to the epic excitement that they created and put us through for this incredible series. Here are some of my favourite moments from the trailer and Asian Food Channel’s first travel reality show:

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I’ll update more on my blog in the upcoming weeks on my thoughts and stories from this experience, you know how I love to do that… Plus I really miss my dearest buddies here!

Expect only the best in food, travel and adventures – catch the debut of AMAZING FOOD CHALLENGE, 9PM SG Time on Asia Food Channel! Also showing in Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

You should be able to view the full trailer on AFC’s Facebook page HERE.

Can’t guess from the trailer what’s going to happen in this show? Trust me, none of us had a clue…!!!

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New York Might Just Kick Me Out After What I Did This Morning..

Hey I was just trying to make toast!


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Am really grateful for this chance to live my dream in NY, but I know other people have also wanted to visit NY too. Let me fulfil your dream for you? Tweet, FB post, or Instagram post your NYC bucketlist with hashtag #ESTELLENYDREAMS today and I’ll post some videos doing cool things for you! 🙂 I promise I’ll be the best tourist.

(I actually posted the #EstelleNYdreams shoutouts on social media yesterday, before this accident!)
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PS: This whole video was powered and made possible with a Nokia Lumia 1020. Thanks for helping me to capture my adventures, Nokia!

Tweet me @estellekiora #EstelleNYdreams and tell me your NY dream!

What would you do if you could be DROPPED – somewhere, anywhere – in the world?

All who wander may not be lost, but alas, they lust – ah, wanderlust.

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If wanderlust is a sin, I think my feet are in too deep – my soul aches for eye-opening spirited adventure, maybe even a bit more than my heart longs for an amazing man. Sad but true! It makes me the happiest person when I voyage by bus, boat or foot – planes and trains will take me further, but it doesn’t matter as long as I get to see something new.

I’ve still got miles to go, but here’s sharing with you some legendary memories from my travels:

Trying Haggis (lamb innards) for the first time in Edinburgh, Scotland. Hated it, but I made new friends with 2 sisters who didn’t like it all that much too.
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Photobombed two Japanese girls as they were walking along a bamboo forest! Just a normal day in Osaka Japan.
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Karma bites back… It’s my turn to get harrassed, and I’ve never met more aggressive guys than the Italians. Random nightclub in Rome, Italy.
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Found some Ukes and formed a girl band in Cebu, Philippines!
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Was in for a rude and nasty ending at Spain’s famed celebratory bullfights – considered turning vegetarian post San Fermin 2013, in Pamplona Spain.
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Woke up at 4am to chase the magical sunrise and cheeky monkeys – conquering Cambodia, Siem Reap with my Dad.
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I was doing my usual work on the laptop the other day (FACEBOOK) when I got a message from a dear friend David, living in the US. He sent me a new reality web series where Heineken has been picking and dropping all sorts of individuals in completely, utterly random places. David thought I might like it, and he was wrong – I loved it.

I watched all the other videos on the site and this ad campaign consumed me… why? Because this is such an epic way to live life.

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Clint Jacobs from South Africa was blindfolded by Heineken, dropped in Poland by skydiving clowns, and given a tandem two-person bike to find his way to Berlin. He also needs to find people along the way, not only to help ride the bike – but to create a circus show within the week.

Number 1, This must be some serious character building. I’m actually going to Berlin next week and it is not even within biking distance to Poland – at all!

Number 2, where is his clothes, or underwear at least?! I know I’ll be asking for my makeup if this happened to me, it’s a little crazy. But I would still do it! #dropped

The 2nd part of this crazy circus search:
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LEGENDS ARE NOT BORN – THEY’RE DROPPED. There’s nothing like learning to swim when you’re being thrown into an ocean. Or learning how to form a circus until you’re forced to do so!

—–>>> THINK IT COULD NEVER HAPPEN TO YOU? OH NO, IT COULD.

Heineken has been trawling the bottom of the internet and playing “departure roulette” at major airports too, searching for social media users and jetsetters, instantly changing their plans and sending them somewhere far away.

Does this sound like a dream or a nightmare to you? Normal people – like you and me – all around the world who have shared this video with their friends, claiming that they would do this in a heartbeat, have been dug out from their comfortable comment boxes on Facebook and physically DROPPED, anywhere from Ridjk to Romania.

The 3rd and last video of this new flying freakshow legend:
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So share these adventures with your crazy friends, my fellow wildchild! Oh please, please won’t someone pick me up and drop me somewhere, anywhere!

Best restaurants and places to eat in Patong and around Phuket

Phuket is not only a place to party, it’s a place to live the ultimate lifestyle – even if just for a week or weekend. This busy beach town is so heavy on tourism and you can’t ignore the abundance of restaurants – there’s everything from $2 meals to $200 meals. Some of the nicest ones I’ve come across so far are Joe’s Downstairs (Aussie/Western), Da Maurizio (Italian), White Box (International/Mediterranean), Acqua (seems sort of European), or Baan Rim Paa (Local Thai/Seafood). Here are my reviews on the best places to eat in Phuket, and some of the above-mentioned spots.

Quite honestly, I ate at Baan Rim Paa and felt it was rather over-rated and over-priced, but my tourist friends liked this restaurant most. Not sure who was handing out awards, but it is evidently award-winning and the rustic beachside ambience of this restaurant makes it a popular pick for clients, tourists, or dates.

Personally, if it were up to me, I would rather eat Thai food in the streets – if I wanted to eat local, I would go local.

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See if you can recognize the typical Thai dishes – mango salad, pineapple rice, green curry chicken, fresh fish with lime, sticky rice with mango, and more.

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All these dishes for 3 people. Gluttons, we are.

We had Italian at Da Maurizio, and the food was on an international standard but you definitely pay for what you get. I’m also very biased in favour of Italian food, so I was pretty happy with this meal.

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My favourite dinner in Phuket was at JOE’S DOWNSTAIRS – the lofty white furniture was a joy to sit on while dinner-watching the swirls of the waves. This restaurant is said to serve “new world cuisine” (what does that even mean?!), but I felt it akin to the fine dining that I used to have in Australian restaurants.

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If you’re hungry but don’t want to spend a fortune of food, there are plenty of restaurants in Patong that will fill you up with good things for much, much less. I’ve eaten at so many places around Phuket and in Patong that I can hardly remember, but if you find a hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint, please try it out and send me the address. I had some of the best Mexican food ever in such a place in Phuket, but it was down some random back alleys and I wish I could find my way back there.

Generally, the seafood restaurants fronting the main strip of Patong is over-crowded with lazy tourists and over-priced, so walk down the parallel streets and you’re bound to find equally good seafood for much cheaper. Another area I like to eat at is Karon Beach – it’s only about 15 minutes from Patong and although there is less culinary selection compared to Patong, it can give you a much quieter, relaxing dinner. The Russian restaurant there is quite well-liked.

(Thumbs up if you’d like to see an upcoming post on fun things to do + best places to party in Phuket!)

Oceanfront Villas for Living x Sleeping x Swimming x Dreaming at Indochine Resort

The world is screaming summertime but alas, in Asia, it is summertime everyday. Call the pestering sun a blessing or a curse, but most who come to visit have remained and – at least – the haze has mostly blown away.

Now, I know you have no lack of choices for places to play and stay around Asia, but there’s never a bad time to recommend something for your next holiday. like I said, it’s “summertime” right?

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When it comes to Phuket, I have a bit of pride. I’ve been here about 15 times, so you can also call me Miss Tour Guide!

On my last trip to Phuket, I arranged for me and my friends to stay at Indochine’s new resort, Indochine Phuket.

While being scenically perched on the Patong hillside, most of the resort faces open views of the gorgeous Andaman sea. Themes of water, earth and nature elements evidently inspire the resort and rooms, and I also picked up a distinct oriental feel – this is no stranger to the strong signature decor that has moulded Indochine’s restaurants around Asia.

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Depending on what your personality is, this decision could be as good for you as it was for me and my friends – We enjoyed the proximity to Patong without having to live within it, for it is a crazy town that never sleeps.

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A 5-10 min shuttle or taxi from Indochine Resort will get you into the heart of the Patong action, while a 20 min walk for us to Patong was nice and breezy whenever we weren’t too hungry.

If you don’t crave bar-hopping and clubbing, Indochine Resort is saliently self-sustainable. The restaurant is large enough for a royal function and multiple-meal worthy, while the public rooftop pool beckons from day to night. This hotel IS a holiday in itself, and I would have gladly given myself into house-arrest for there was no reason to leave pleasures of the premises.

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If you need a holiday by the sea, here are some rooms you can possibly choose from.

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THE OCEANFRONT STANDARD ROOM could quite possibly, set the standard. Don’t expect a hotel room for all the Oceanfront Rooms are in the format of a villa, and quite self-explanatorily, give you some sort of uninterrupted views of sky and sea.
You don’t get a private pool with this 55 sqm room, but you do get a lovely outdoor verandah to enjoy your holiday views, and a huge stone jacuzzi (great for couples, but I think you could try to squeeze 4 people in it). Plonk yourself into the generous sofa, and use as much of the free wifi room as you want.

Info and reservations for OCEANFRONT STANDARD HERE.

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THE OCEANFRONT SUPERIOR ROOM sits 109 sqm wide, on the ground floor of Indochine’s resort/community/empire. Enjoy the jumbo-sized jacuzzi (it’s so big I would unofficially presume this to be somewhat of a private pool), and plenty of space on your outdoor terrace for sunbeds and lazy daytime lounging. Or, you can watch all the sky-sun-sea action from the inside comfort of your air-conditioned room, as your gaze extends beyond massive glass floor-to-ceiling windows.

Info and reservations for OCEANFRONT SUPERIOR HERE.

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I’m not even halfway done, people! How about THE OCEANFRONT DELUXE ROOM? It’s 70 sqm big, and takes you up to the top floor of the resort. This one comes with both an outdoor jacuzzi and an outdoor shower, so I guess you can’t help being clean in a room like this. If you like multiple showers a day, this is the right room for you! Since you’re on the highest floor here, no one will be peeking down on you… Sea views will be majestic too.

Info and reservations for OCEANFRONT DELUXE HERE.

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THE OCEANFRONT PREMIUM DELUXE ROOM is where I spent most of my time in Indochine. Whoever said life is hard, certainly wasn’t me! A grand space of 160 sqm offers an outdoor jacuzzi along with a private plunge pool. Some people have all the luck, huh?

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Info and reservations for OCEANFRONT PREMIUM DELUXE HERE.

If you’re going to take your time in Phuket (and why not, I say!) and want something a bit more modern, you could very possibly find yourself quite comfortable in Indochine Phuket’s GAYA STUDIO. Feel at home with cooking amenities here when you’re not gorging yourself on the resort’s culinary treats, and I love the indoor to outdoor decor touches and sofas where I can let my hair down and put my feet up.

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Slide a bedroom panel open and you’ve fallen into your living room. Slide another panel to reveal a kitchenette, and the double rainshower in your bathroom is just around the opposite corner.

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Did we just fly through space and time, from Oriental to European living? Yes we did. This is the modern beach bum’s home, truly… Kick back among the clean whiteness, and give range to a lifestyle of ocean infinity.

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Info and reservations for GAYA STUDIO ROOM HERE.

Another easy option would be to ditch the city life for a OCEAN SUITE CONDOMINIUM room in Indochine, available in a 2 or 3 bedroom format. I trekked up some stairs to visit this duplex style sea-facing unit, and loved how the lower level is great for entertaining friends or clients. A wide living room area makes great DVD nights, and I know I wouldn’t resist turning down a dinner invitation at this dining table. Keep your private time to yourself with a separate space on the second level, for no one needs to see your mess – nor you in your bathtub where you obviously look your best.

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Info and reservations for OCEAN SUITE CONDO HERE.

I’ve saved the best for last, which is also most popular for groups of friends who can’t bear to be apart. Welcome to the extravagant selection of pool villas at Indochine. This one was so tranquil, you could close your eyes and almost hear the trillions of salty drops come together as one, magnificent, never-ending ocean.

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The roomy pool deck seemed to go to waste this afternoon with just one little person, reading one magazine.

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A slightly hidden turn down some stairs on the side brought me into a play area. Take your winning shot at the dartboard or the table soccer table – there’s no room in this room for losers in fooseball!

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A pretty grandiose guest bedroom to be in, I thought… Until I opened the doors to the master bedroom. A jet-filled personal spa awaits its master/mistress. Bubbles and candles seem to be in celebratory order.

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Missing something? Your best friends, maybe. Bring them along!

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(This is another pool villa where some of my friends were staying.)

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Keep to yourself in one of the multiple bedrooms, or commune with your best friends in the living area to get your daily dose of last night’s gossip. When you’re done laughing at that drunkard’s antics (there’s always that one drunk!), roll outside in the sunshine for a dip in the pool. Grab your sunscreen, iPad or earphones, or you could just climb onto the rooftop to watch.

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There’s just so much to do in Indochine’s pool villa, it would take you from daytime chilling to night star-gazing – my friends have personally made the breezy poolside area a drinks-dispensing dance floor.
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The food at Indochine’s Resort is really good as well, and we were addicted to their Viet beef noodles. Me and my friends ate this about 4-6 times over our stay! I could barely believe how we were eating our way through the hotel. The duck crispy noodles and starter platter are worth mentioning and tasting as well.

Indochine is renown for its F&B group after all, and they take such pride in their food and where it comes from. No endangered species like Yellowfin and Bluefin tuna are served, and Chef Stuart Hickman is no stranger to the resort and fine dining world of French, Mediterranean and Modern Australian cuisine – in fact, my taste tests assure that he’s got the plate pat down.

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Whether you’re looking for peace or a party, you could probably find it all in Indochine Resorts.

Thank you Indochine Phuket for a splendid stay while you were hosting me. If anyone wants me to recommend or book the best oceanfront room for you, feel free to get in touch with me.

*Every room is unique – Please confirm all above-mentioned amenities with resort management when booking your desired room.

This is an advertorial for Indochine Resorts, Phuket. Create your own oceanfront experience by choosing one of the rooms above!

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