What Really Happened at Singapore Blog Awards 2013

6 July 2013 was my first time attending the Singapore Blog Awards. It’s like what was being quoted in the promotional video, the Singapore Blog Awards is more than an award ceremony, it is also an annual gathering where bloggers can come together to mingle and know each other.

Other than the enthusiastic emcee Elaine Kuek (from OKTO) cracking a few jokes on stage and the Best Dressed Award competition, there wasn’t any entertainment on stage. But fear not! Cos we bloggers are a fun-loving batch of people who are good at self-entertaining.

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Many bloggers showed off their best moves on stage in an attempt to wow the audience and win votes for Best Dressed.

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For a minute, Colin Chang was the roadside Char Kway Teow boy offering free packets in exchange for more votes as Best Dressed. 

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Smith Leong attempting to do a striptease, fortunately for us, he was stop by the mata (police man). 

Below are 9 secrets bloggers used for self-entertainment, please do not try them at home.

Method 1: Camwhoring with friends

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Camwhoring is fun and it can be done with different kinds of hand gestures, with the V being the forever popular pose. 

Method 2: Self-cam / self-pic

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Tired of asking someone to help you take photos? Technology has allowed most cameras to be versatile with an option for self-cam. Why take photo alone when you can take with a friend, right?  

Method 3: Posing (with or without the backdrop)

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Obviously Smith Leong is a poser. And he does it shamelessly everything, with or without a backdrop. Ying Zi (left, below) demonstrating the correct way of posing with a backdrop. 

Method 4: Bring your partner with you to the event 

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Don’t like to take photos? No problem, just ask your boyfriend or girlfriend to attend the event with you. Pretending to be talking about secret and everyone will leave you two alone.

Method 5: Surprise birthday party

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A sweet surprise for our Minute Man, Colin planned by Music Girl, Mint Leong. Even the emcee paused for a minute to sing and wish our boy, ‘Happy Birthday!’

Method 6: Take photo with your award (only if you are a winner)

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If you have it, flare it. No winner can escape other people asking for them to pose with their awards. 

Method 7: Posing with random objects, i.e. GOOD MORNING Towel or spatula 

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Random props are fun items. Joyce and Colin showing you that a towel and kitchen utensil are more than just daily items. 

Method 8: Take photo with celebrity filmmaker, Jack Neo

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If I wasn’t so busy taking photos of them and helping them take photos, I would have also requested to have my photo taken with Jack Neo. After all, I grew up watching his Monday entertainment nights on Channel 8.

Method 9: More photo shots after the event

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After the event, I went with Regina and Karen for a drink at Liang Court. After that the girls wanted to have more shots taken with their sponsored apparel by the river side.  

Personal thoughts on Singapore Blog Awards 2013

I really hope that next time, Omy.sg can allow bloggers, who are selected to cover for the event, access to the VIP area, so we can take portrait shots of the VIP and invited guests. My disappointment is that I didn’t managed to take a good picture of the guest-of-honour, Mr Lawrence Wong (Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth / Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information), and the two judges who were present (Keith Png & Walter Lim).

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Light-hearted moments: Mr Lawrence Wong playing Scissors, Paper, Stone on stage with Jasmine Koh (left picture above) from Scissors Paper Stone Blog. And Mr Wong checking out Ai Sakura’s sexy back (right picture above).

Singapore Blog Awards mark MalcolmSunny.com 1st Year Anniversary

Last year, under the encouragement of a friend, Darren Ng I registered my previous blog malxc.livejournal.com for the Singapore Blog Awards. Needless to say, I didn’t even manage to get shortlisted as a finalist for any category.  Unsatisfied with just ranting about personal issues I faced, I started MalcolmSunny.com to scribble my happy thoughts. 

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A year on, blogging has certainly opened up a lot of opportunities for me. To begin with I got to know many friends. I remembered meeting Christina and Jeremy during last year’s Singapore Twitter Frenzy at Wave House, Sentosa which shaped my thinking of blogging. Previously I had always viewed my blog as a personal online journal for me to share my feelings with friends.

My interest in lifestyle blogging started while I doing marketing for Singapore Flyer and studying part-time at SIM University. Initially started out as a channel for me to hone my writing skills, blogging has become an integrated part of my life and a passion now. It has opened up more opportunities for networking, invitations to exclusive product launches and previews as well as trips overseas.

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Thanks to Omy.sg, I was given the opportunity to experience Brunei and it was during that trip that I got to know Karen, Andy, Tiffany and Deenise. Besides catching up like Bruneian bloggers, we also exchanged tips on blogging and social media.

I’m very proud of my travel mates. In fact, all four of them were the finalists for this year’s Singapore Blog Awards. Karen and Deenise were also nominated for several categories.

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Held at Shanghai Dolly, I spotted familiar faces and friends like Smith Leong, William Tan, Elrica, Mint Leong, Regina Chow, Joey Ong, Darren Sim, Hong Peng and Tse Lyn who were the finalists for the main and special categories for this year’s Singapore Blog Awards. Blogger friends like Joyce, Valentine, Colin and Damien were there to cheer them on too. Luke and Shirley were also the finalists but I didn’t manage to spot them.

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And now, the moment you have been waiting for, the results of Singapore Blog Awards 2013:

Main Categories

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Panasonic Best Photography Blog winner – Christina Gao

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Exabytes Best Individual Blog winner – Grace Tan

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Levi’s Best Fashion Blog winner – Jaslin Tan

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Nanyang Optical Best Lifestyle Blog winner – Jasmine Koh

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Best Family Blog winner – Ai Sakura

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Best Food Blog winner – Tony

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Best Travel Blog winner – Sock Peng

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Best What-The-Hell Blog winner – Willy

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Best V-log winner – Ninja Girls

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Best Microblog winner – Spin or Bin Music

Special Categories

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Panasonic Best Beauty Blog Top 3 Winners – Karen, Elaine & Elrica

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Panasonic Best Cooking Blog Winner – Celes

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Panasonic Best Eco-Challenge Winner – Ivan Kwan

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Glossi Best Modelling Blog Winner – Karen

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JBL Best Pop/Music Blog – Mint Leong

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Levi’s Best 501 Interpretation Blog winner – Claire

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Qoo10 Best Online Shopping Blog winner – Mitsueki

Congratulations to all the winners! 

Thank you Omy.sg for extending the invitation for me to cover for this event, click here to read their Chinese article for 新加坡部落格大奖 Singapore Blog Awards 2013.

Brunei: A Tour of National Treasures

In part one and part two of his travel adventures, Malcolm unearthed the hidden treasures deep with the rainforest of Borneo and the seas of Brunei. In this travel article, he journeyed back to Bandar Seri Begawan to discover the other national treasures resting between the two giant mosques of gold. 

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Having spent a longer time  at Ulu Temburong National Park soaking in the morning fresh air at the Canopy Walk, we had to rush through the rest of our itinerary that day. Day 3 breakfast was a special experience as we had our meal packed into bento boxes and ate it on the go while traveling on the long boat back to Bangar town.

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Once we reached the speedboat terminal at Bangar town, everyone were excited to get connected with technology and were rushing to post their pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share with our readers, friends and followers. Seems that you can take bloggers to Ulu Ulu Resort without wifi but you cannot take the habit off from us! I was guilty as charged too.

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Next on the itinerary was the tour of the Water Village. Commonly nicknamed “Venice of the East” by both the local and international communities, Kampong Ayer is actually not a village but a town of 40 sub villages interconnected within this water community. Kampong Ayer is home to over 30,000 Bruneians. From the outside, they look like kelongs or houses built on stilts, commonly found in Malaysia as homes of fishermen. But take a closer look and almost every house in Kampong Ayer was reinforced by concrete pillars and not wooden stilts.

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For the locals, traveling across the river was a daily affair. Prices for the water taxi or small speedboat start from B$1.00. Our first stop was to visit the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery which gave us a detailed introduction about the history and culture of the Water Village. I also heard that Brunei is applying for Kampong Ayer to be listed as a UNESCO Heritage site, I sincerely hope this will bring up the profile for the Venice of the East.

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Next to Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery are the newer houses on water. These residents were re-homed due to a big fire. The newer houses lack the unique characteristic and remind me of our public housing built by Housing Development Board (HDB) in Singapore. But these houses certainly look like resorts and I really don’t mind owning one. By the way, owners of these new houses own title deed, meaning to say, they don’t just own the house but also the land underneath it too (unlike the older water houses, the owners can only claim ownership of the house and not the land underneath).

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One disappointment was that I didn’t get to see any proboscis monkeys, which hang out further down the river from the water villages. However, we did get to go inside one of the residents’ house to have a peek at what daily living there looked like. The host we visited own a house with three bedrooms and converted one room into a wedding studio for visitors to take photos. We also had tea with some local snacks before moving back to main land.

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After visiting the Water Village, we crossed the river and drove to the Royal Regalia Museum. Opened in 1992, it houses a huge display of the ceremonial items associated to the Royal family. These royal regalia had been passed down from generation to generation. Inside the museum, there are replicas of the royal throne, robes, crowns and gifts to the Sultan displayed as a tribute to the life and times of the monarchy.

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Lunch was at Tarindak d’Seni located at level 2 of Brunei Arts and Handicrafts Centre (Jalan Residency, Bandar Seri Begawan) opposite the Water Village. It was here that we got to finally try the much talked about national dish of Brunei – Ambuyat, a dish made from the interior trunk of sago palm.  It is a starchy bland substance commonly eaten using Chandas (chopsticks or bamboo fork) and with special local dips. This dish was invented in World War II when food choice was limited.

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To be honest, I prefer Singapore’s national dish Chili Crab and national cocktail Singapore Sling for sure. Speaking of drinking, no alcohol is sold in Brunei but you can bring your own booze from Changi Airport duty free shops before your arrival to the Sultanate.

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That afternoon, we also got ourselves wet as we went snorkeling at Pelong Rocks (mentioned in my previous post). We checked-in to The Empire Hotel & Country Club to freshen up before the much anticipated dinner meeting with the Brunei bloggers at Azhani’s residence.

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It was a pleasure to meet up with passionate individuals who have a love for online sharing and writing. Did I mention that the barbecue dinner was specially prepared by Azhani’s husband? Azhani is the senior corporate communications officer for Royal Brunei Airlines and she blogs occasionally these days due to heavy workload.

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Check out the Bruneian bloggers’ website:

Rano Iskandar (@RanoAdidas) – RanoAdidas.com and LoveFoodHateWaste.org

Reeda Malik (@AnakBrunei) – AnakBrunei.org

Kamarul D Ajimain (@marul69) – geekinwhite.com

Maurina (@Maurina) – maurina.wordpress.com

Azhani (@EmmaGoodEgg) – emmagoodegg.com

We are thankful to Royal Brunei Airlines and Brunei Tourism for the travel arrangement and hospitality, and to Omy.sg for organising this trip. For more information about Brunei, visit Brunei Tourism website at: www.bruneitourism.travel

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For more information on Royal Brunei Airlines’ destinations, fares and promotions, please visit their website flyroyalbrunei.com and Facebook page www.facebook.com/royalbruneiairlinessingapore

“Save time, pay less, travel more – Get cheaper air tickets and hotel rooms with Wego.com“.

 

Brunei: Charming Night Glow of Bandar Seri Begawan

To many Singaporeans, simply mention Brunei and their instantaneous response would be, “It sounds boring. Is there anything to do there?” In this travel series, Malcolm explored the Abode of Peace and shares the hidden treasures from the last sovereign Malay Sultanate in the world.

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My alarm  woke me up. It was four o’clock in the afternoon. I made a quick trip to the bathroom to freshen up before making my way to the hotel lobby. I had two hours to shop and explore downtown before the agreed time to meet up with our tour guide. It was my first day at Brunei and I was curious to find out more.

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We were hosted in Rizqun International Hotel. Conveniently located  in the central business zone of Bandar Seri Begawan and connected to The Mall – one of the main shopping venues in the capital of Brunei. This four-star hotel welcomes travelers with its elaborated glass art decorations in the lobby. The swimming pool complements the needs of family with young children. Published rate for this hotel goes from B$320.00 but they run promotions from time to time with room rates starting from B$145.00 per night.

If you find the hotel’s wifi service pricy, simply hop over to The Mall to purchase a 3G SIM card. There are many shops selling mobile phones and related services. 3G SIM card are available at B$30, comes with a value of B$5. We also got a top up card of B$10, which last us through our 4 days 3 nights trip in Brunei. Special thanks to our friends at Royal Brunei Airlines who understood the needs of social media addicts like us, who cannot live without updating our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and included the 3G SIM cards in our welcome package.

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Surprisingly, The Mall and the surrounding areas of the town have every brand we have in Singapore. But instead of a spam of cookie cutter outlets in the malls of Singapore, most of the common brands have only a single shop in Brunei, at least that is true for McDonald’s.

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I was able to spot Giordano, Pizza Hut, KFC and even Jollibee in Brunei. And Sushi Tei has recently opened an outlet in Bandar Seri Begawan. I also spotted a number of men in their traditional costumes. In Brunei, it is not uncommon to see men wearing Baju Melayu as an alternative dress code for work. Unlike Singapore, our Malay men normally only wear it during major celebrations like Hari Raya Puasa.

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A chat with my tour guide, Tom from Sunshine Borneo Tours, I found that there is no goods and services tax (GST) in Brunei and Bruneians do not need to pay any income tax. Basically,they get to keep what they earn! Education is free up to university-level. Also medical and petrol are heavily subsidized as well. Bruneians only need to pay a token fee of B$1 per consultation for healthcare and if the medical assistance is not available in the country, they are sent overseas at the government’s expenses.

Another interesting fact is that Brunei practises ‘No Plastic Bags’ days  from Friday to Sunday. I was rather surprised and certainly impressed with this oil-producing country. Our thoughtful tour guide also made it a point to remind us to bring a reusable shopping bag with us.

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We began our Brunei by Night by first filling up our tummies at Portview Seafood Restaurant, a popular spot for locals. It is extremely busy at the end/beginning of the month when people received their paycheck. The restaurant offers an unobscured view of the water village at the opposite site of the bank.

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Dinner that night consists of a sumptuous seafood steamboat. Fresh prawns, fish and crab caught locally were arranged neatly together with fishballs and crab sticks on a bed of cabbage and greens waiting for us to drop them into our choice of tom yum soup or chicken both.

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After dinner, we took a stroll towards the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin (SOAS) Mosque. We froze in awe and paused for photographs as the view of the gigantic honeycomb of gold came into our view. I had seen many mosques in Singapore and Malaysia but seeing the SOAS Mosque glowing at night was a very special experience.

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Do you know that there is an International Quran Reading Competition? The national Quran reading competition in Brunei is held annually at SOAS Mosque and I heard that the winner of the Quran reading competition will be rewarded with a lifetime monthly stipend of B$2,000 courtesy of the government.

Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, or JAME Mosque for short, is the largest mosque in Brunei and is considered one of the grandest monuments in Islamic culture.  It was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the sultan’s reign. We managed to make it in time to snap a few postcard worthy photographs before the mosque closed for the night.

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By the request of TIffany, we made a side trip to Fitness Zone Health Club. This gym is opened by Brunei-born Taiwanese celebrity, Wu Zun (formerly) of Fahrenheit. We heard that sometimes overseas fans of this popular singer/actor will travel to Brunei and camp outside the gym in hope of catching a glimpse of their idol. At least, Tiffany didn’t have to sleep outside Fitness Zone that night.

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The final highlight of the evening was the trip to the night market at Gadong shopping area, located 5-10 minutes walk away from Rizqun International Hotel where we were staying. It offers a glimpse into the local cuisine culture and as bloggers, we entertained ourselves that night by making funny poses and engaging in food photography, much to the amusement of the locals.

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We spotted a stall selling B$1.00 Nasi Katok, a dish of hot rice served with a side of spicy sambal, and a piece of chicken or beef or pusu (anchovies). Nasi means rice in the Malay language and Katok means knock. Back in the old days, there was no 24-hour eateries, so the only way for a hungry person to get a midnight fix was to knock on the doors of a food outlet and get the owner out of bed. The sleepy owner will then prepare a simple dish which evolves into the present day Nasi Katok. (Click here to read more about the story of Nasi Katok.)

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After having some snacks from Gadong night market and tea in my hotel room, it was time for us to turn in for the night. I will be sharing about Ulu Ulu Resort and Ulu Temburong National Park tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Thank you Royal Brunei Airlines, Brunei Tourism and Omy.sg for sending me to Brunei. And blogger friends Andy Storm, Deenise Glitz, Karen “Renzze” Ashley and Tiffany Yong for sharing their travel photos.

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For more information about Royal Brunei Airlines and their fares, please visit their website www.royalbruneiair.com or check out their Facebook page www.facebook.com/royalbruneiairlinessingapore

P.S. – There are no public bus or train service in Brunei. You may take a taxi to an attraction but it will be difficult to find a cab back to your hotel. The best way to explore Brunei is to book a tour package.

“Save time, pay less, travel more – Get cheaper air tickets and hotel rooms with Wego.com“.

I’m going to the Emerald of Borneo!

While the majority population were getting gear up to meet Psy, Carly Rae Jepsen, Justin Bieber and other international stars at the first ever Social Stars Concert, I’m excited about flying off to the Emerald of Borneo and close encounters with the proboscis monkeys tomorrow!

During a recent conversation with a friend, he made this observation after his recent trip to Taipei. “Take away Taipei 101 and the city feels like any other,” he commented. Indeed, for me, most big cities look and feel the same, remove the major landmarks and shopping bazaars, and what’s remaining are the skyscrapers overlooking downtown like security officers guarding a red carpet.

This is why I feel that Brunei is so special to me – offering us a chance to be close to Mother Nature and the great outdoor again. In comparison, Brunei is 5,765 kilometres square while Singapore is only 710 kilometers square, and 70% of its land mass is covered by lush rainforest. Besides oil, I believe clean air is also in abundance at the Emerald of Borneo.

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[Photo credit: borneoadventure.com]

Geographically separated from peninsular Asia by the South China Sea, Brunei lies on Borneo – the 3rd largest island in the world. Brunei occupies only 1% of Borneo, sharing the island with Malaysia’s Sarawak and Sabah, and Indonesia’s province of Kalimantan.

Besides sharing the same currency rate as Singapore and occasionally receiving the Brunei dollars while shopping, I know little about this Southeast Asia neighbour of ours. I made a trip to the library but was unable to find any guidebook specifically for Brunei, which encouraged me to discover more about this mysterious country when I arrive there.

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[Photo credit: idreamofdurian.com]

Besides being the home of proboscis monkey, the capital Bandar Seri Begawan is a juxtaposition of water villages with the grand palace, Istana Nurul Iman and majestic mosques as its backdrop. Many of my friend laughed when I show my excitement for Brunei, a country many guys only recognised as the training ground for jungle survival during their military service.

No doubt, a holiday to Brunei is unlike the usual city sightseeing, shopping and eating which we experience in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. As a lover of nature, I had been to Mount Kinabalu in Sabah and I am really looking forward to discover what this country of less than half a million population has in store for us.

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[Photo credit: theempirehotel.com]

I have seen the draft itinerary and I am thrilled that we will be staying at different accommodations every night. From the elegant Rizqun International Hotel to the rustic-charmed Ulu-Ulu National Park Resort, and rounding off the trip with a night stay at the majestic Empire Hotel & Country Club, I’m atingle to check out the various facilities of these hotels and resort.

The pre-planned activities include a mixture of culture and outdoor – a night tour of  SOAS mosque and JAME mosque, trekking through Ulu Temburong National Park, a day tour of the water village, relaxing time at Serasa Beach, plus diving, snorkeling and horse riding. With an itinerary is packed with so many stuff to do, we dare to say that a holiday in Brunei is only just about M&M (mosque and museum).

The fun part of this trip is that I will be going with four other bloggers, Andy Storm, Tiffany YongDeenise Glitz and Renzze (click here to read her pre-trip blog post) but I haven’t met any of them before. I’m looking forward to the interesting experiences together.

Special thanks to OMY.SG and Royal Brunei Airlines for sending me there. Royal Brunei Airlines fly to all the major cities in Southeast Asia and East Asia, as well as Dubai, London and Melbourne. They are currently running their 38th anniversary celebration with promotional fares to six destinations. Sales period until 31 May 2013. 

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[Image: flyroyalbrunei.com]

Remember to check out Royal Brunei Airlines’ website for your next holiday, at www.bruneiair.com

Battle for the next Hawker King

The time has come. Once again, hawkers at Food Republic battle out for the crown to be the next Hawker King!

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Last Thursday, we were invited by Food Republic for a food tasting session at their newly re-open ‘White Garden’ theme food court at Suntec City. Located at Fountain Terrace, Food Republic continues their commitment to serve quality food at affordable prices.

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Back for the second year, “Food Republic Hawker Kings” is an initiative to motivate existing food operators within the Food Republic chain to enhance their offerings to the patrons.  The organizers hope to recognize and honour the food operators that have committed to excellent dining experiences with top rated cuisines and warm personable experiences.

From 8 to 26 May 2013, vote for your favourite hawker now and propel them to the top 10 list!

Voters will be rewarded with instant privileges and stand a chance to win up to $8,000 worth of prizes.

How to Vote:

1) Send your SMS in the following format to 1460 77877:

Enter ZBFR <Space> Hawker Number <Space> NRIC <Space> Name <Space> Email Address or Mailing Address

Example: ZBFR 01 S8530540Z John Heng 98164512 john@gmail.com

2) Log on to www.foodrepublic.com.sg/hawkerkings,

Food Republic Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FoodRepublicSingapore) or

7UP Singapore Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/7UPSingapore) to submit your votes.

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[Left: Tiffany from MissyTiffany.com showing off her skill to balance a 7Up can.]

The highlight for the session is of course the food tasting itself. Here are some of the stalls and dishes you can find in this White Garden theme food court filled with treasure of hawker delights!

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Chinatown Tan’s Tutu – Peanut & Coconut Tutu Kueh @ $1.40 (for 2 pieces)

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Sergeant Hainanese Chicken Rice – Chicken Rice Set Meal @ $6.50

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Chai’s Original Sliced Fish Soup – Bittergourd Double Fish Bee Hoon Soup @ $5.00

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Yong Soon Dough Fritters – Soya Bean drink & You Tiao @ $2.60

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[Left: Christina from HuneyZWorld.blogspot.com smitten the taste of dosa.]

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Saravanna Bhavan – Special Dosa with Masala @ $4.60

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[Left: dOnn from dOnnlicious.com and Missy Tiffany trying out Thunder Tea Rice for the first time. Right: Ying Zi from whirlwind-dreamz.blogspot.sg having fun mixing up the Thunder Tea Rice.]

Thunder Tea Rice – Thunder Tea Brown Rice @ $5.50

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Formosa Delights – Dao Xiao Mian @ $6.00

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Ya Fu Mini Wok Delights – Kung Pao Chicken Rice @ $6.00

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Gu Zao Mian (Traditional Noodles) – No. 1 Kway Tiao @ $6.00

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Zhong Hua Curry Rice – Curry Chicken @ $5.00

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Baek Doo San Korean – Seafood Tofu Soun @ $6.80

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What You Do Prata – Chicken Briyani Set @ $5.50

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Guan Chee HK Roast Duck – 5 Combination Platter (duck, char siew, roast pork, chicken and sausage) @ $28.00

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Fortune Food – Popiah @ $2.00

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Gazza Pasta – Spaghetti Creamy Mushroom & Salmon @ $6.80

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Toast Box – Peanut Butter Thick Toast @ $1.70

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Shoku Okini – Kushikatsu 7-stick set @ $24.50

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Fu Lin Yong Tofu – 6 piece meal @ $5.50

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Food Republic at Suntec City is now open, Monday through Sunday, including public holidays.

Unit address: #B1-115 to 120 & #B1- 126/127 (near Fountain Terrace)