photo slideshow

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Songkran in Chiangmai: Nothing But Water, Water Everywhere!

The beauty of Chiangmai from way up high.
Green curry. Temples. The adrenaline rush of exploring a new city. 
Friends. Shopping. Experiencing a festival unlike any other.

These were all things that were going through my head when I was first invited on the #AABCSongkranAdventure last month. What I didn't expect, was to spend half of the trip dripping with water, while having even more ice water thrown at me - and loving every minute of it!

Confused? Well, every story must start from the beginning I guess:
First dinner in Chiangmai - straight to the point!

Once upon a time (aka April 2015), I was flown to Chiang Mai, Thailand by Air Asia, with my fellow Air Asia Blogger's Community friends, Charlotte, Joel, and Henry. Leading the pack, the toughest of the tough, bravest of the brave, craziest of the crazy:
KA MEI!! Look at her chugging that tom yam! 
Upon landing on the 11th of April, we were pretty confident we had time to get ourselves prepared before joining in the "fun" of Songkran, aka Thailand's biggest annual celebration, the water festival. Until, that is, we reached our hotel. Through the safety of our hotel transfer's windows, we watched as kids popped out from behind corners, shooting poor tourists with water guns. "What is this?!", we exclaimed. "Songkran isn't until the 13th!"
Our hotel room at Duangtawan Hotel
We figured it was probably just a few kids starting the fun early. Nope. Joining us in the elevator: two completely soaked girls, obviously tourists too, warning us to be prepared for an ambush if we were planning to leave the hotel. Oh no.
The way the windows to our hotel rooms were designed, the sunset actually reflects off a different window facing another direction (smaller photo).. So beautiful!
Before this trip, I'd always heard that Songkran is basically the world's biggest water fight. But, signifying the new year for Thais, getting splashed with water is synonymous with being blessed, as it symbolises washing away your bad luck from the previous year. How sweet right? Can you picture it in your head? Being gently flicked with water by pretty Thai girls and guys dressed in traditional costume..
Source
In reality, it's more like this:
The optimistic bunch...
You will not get "sprinkled" with water. I am not kidding when I say you'll be dripping as if you just climbed out of a swimming pool fully-clothed!
Super happening Air Asia water station - non-stop water, rave music, and throngs of people!

But we definitely had tons of fun!
Yes. If World War 3 started with water instead of bullets, water instead of grenades, water instead of - you get the point - it would look like Thailand, mid-April every year.

It. Is. Madness.

Children, adults, locals, tourists, shop owners, staff members - the streets are lined with people armed with huge water guns, with big pails filled with water and blocks of ice to pour onto passersby. No one is safe, except for the elderly and monks. Even toddlers sit inside buckets or little inflatable swimming pools to join in the fun.
No one is safe..
If you're riding in a tuk-tuk, you are a moving target which doesn't move very fast, and if you're in a songthaew, you're basically sitting ducks. No water is spared during Songkran, and you'll be hit by bucket after bucket of water if you are on any kind of vehicle, even motorbikes and bicycles! One thing that really impressed me though, was that although everywhere was wet as far as the eye can see, no water ever splashed into shops or onto the elderly. They really do have it down to a science!
Air Asia Water Station, and Miss Songkran beauty pageant
Stages are put up in various places and play music (think music festival without bands) to add to the atmosphere. There are also food stalls nearby, but we were having so much fun we didn't try any of the street food. This doesnt mean the roads were closed, oh no: between the mass of people, was a little road left for cars to pass through. They were really patient when they were blocked by over-zealous people in the road though, like this aunty dancing:
Strange creatures come out to play..
Restaurants also welcome soaking, hungry customers with open arms. I felt horrible looking at the small swimming pools we left at our tables, but the ever-friendly Thais just happily waved us in, while the owner of the restaurant was waging his own war just outside.
Super yummy and cheap Thai food at Blue Mango near Tha Pae Gate!

Here's a checklist of the essentials of Songkran:

  1. Slippers / flip-flops - the less slippery the better, and remember, they will get soaked through so sneakers not advisable. I bought mine for 160 baht.
  2. Comfortable clothes - Shorts for both guys and girls, bikinis under a comfortable top seem your best bet. My bikini cost 350 baht.
  3. Sunblock - April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand
  4. Transparent waterproof bag for your handphone - you'll wanna take pix! 45 baht.
  5. Waterproof bag - for other belongings, but you don't wanna take too much to war! 60 baht.
  6. Water guns - you can buy these in Thailand, our big ones cost about 300baht each
  7. Plastic goggles - optional, but I did get shot in the eye once, and it hurt like hell
  8. Your fun side - as long as your ready for a few days of fun, you're set!

Nothing can prepare you for the amount of water you will encounter, nor the amount of fun you will have until you experience it yourself. When they say you must try Songkran before you die, they really mean it! So if anything else is on your bucket list, put it on hold and go to Thailand next April for the biggest Ice Bucket Challenge cum Water Rave Party you will ever see! I'm definitely planning to go again - maybe I'll see you there!
Reload.
Oh, and if you are no longer young at heart for whatever reason you are still not sure about visiting Thailand, all I can say is, MANGO STICKY RICE. If that doesn't make your mind up, I have nothing more to say.
Can you tell I'm obsessed?

Essential Info:
Currency: Thai Baht (current exchange rate 11.35 for 100 baht)
Weather: April & May are the hottest months of the year - best time to get wet!
Time Zone: GMT +7 (aka one hour behind Malaysia)
Language: Thai (some English)
Electricity: 220V, 2 pin plug
Tip: The more sour-faced you look during Songkran, the more you will get splashed.

How To Get There:
Air Asia flies 2 x daily from KL to Chiang Mai, and 12x daily from Bangkok
Flight duration from KL - Chiangmai: 2 hours 35 minutes

For more photos, check out my Instagram @CalistaLeahLiew, or the hashtag #AABCSongkranAdventure, or even my Facebook page!

Love of a Mermaid,
Calista xx

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Little Bit of Red, A Little Bit of Happiness | Cut's Gallery

*Sponsored
For the new year, I really wanted to do something a little different to brighten up my hair. After about 4 years worth of hair shows, cutting and colouring my hair every which colour, I pretty much swore off anything to do with my hair for a couple of years, and have just stuck to my natural dark brown hair, which I've kept pretty long (my dad seems to have a memory block of this, however, as he keeps saying I should cut it short as I've "never done it before". Proof right here! =.=")

Hair Shows throughout 2006 - 2008
I really wanted to get bright red, but after finding out I'd have to bleach my hair to bring out the colour, I scrapped that idea faster than you could say "goo", which is what bleached hair feels like when you're washing it. Blech.
Consultation with Florence to figure out the most suitable style.
After a little discussion with Cut's Gallery director Stella, my stylist Florence suggested I do red highlights instead. The red she used, from L'Oreal, would be bright enough without bleaching, and wouldn't fade as fast as the "fashion colours", aka bright red, pink, purple, blue etc. Sounded good to me, and I trust Stella & Florence's judgement more than I do my own when it comes to hair, so into the chair I went!
It looks like a scary red~
The whole foil process..
After about 20 minutes, it was time to wash off the chemicals and relaaaaxxx~
With a hair wash!
I always love the hair washes at Cut's (or locally known as G Cuts) - they do really good head massages, in this relaxing spa-like little nook in the salon.
Getting my head massaged~
To keep my hair soft, I also got a hair treatment service with L'Oreal's Power Contrast
Florence also gave me a little pot of L'Oreal Vitamino Colour for me to do a weekly hair mask at home
Getting a little trim & thin
Before & After!
I love it! The red is just the right brightness, I just have to twist my hair for all the highlights to be seen, and its easy enough for me to hide within my hair if I have a more formal event! =D

I did a little shoot with Gery of Gery's Art Studio too - check out his facebook page if you're interested in taking any creative portrait shots!

Want a hair makeover too? You can find Cut's Gallery Hair Salon & Academy at 5th Floor, Palm Square, Centerpoint Shopping Complex, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, or call 088-233386 for appointments. 

Love always,
Calista xx

Saturday, 31 January 2015

A Royal Time At Burger King Sabah!

Her Royal Highness Burger Queen
I don't think anyone would be surprised if I said that Burger King has always been my weakness - I've been addicted to Burger King fries for as long as I can remember! (How do you think my "Potato" nickname came about? =P)

Gold 'N Spice Chicken only available at Burger King Centerpoint Sabah
When I got invited to try out the special burger promotion in the all-new Burger King outlet in Centerpoint Sabah, there was no keeping me away. I chose to try the Crispy Golden Cheese as, hello, cheese?

We ordered 3 cheese and 2 black pepper.
Look at that omnomnom~
Crispy Golden Cheese
The Crispy Golden Cheese burger is made with a special chick 'n crisp patty on soft burger buns slathered in mayonnaise, then jam-packed with crispy lettuce and onions, before being topped with the creamy cheese sauce. Yummy!

Royally sweet!
The good people at BK Centerpoint didn't deny us our sweet tooth either, as we got to try the soft serve ice cream before we left.

Ooh lookey lookey! 
If you wanna see this hot guy right here serving burgers, well, the Grand Opening will be at 8pm this 3rd of Feb (Tuesday), and Wu Chun will be behind the counter taking orders! Drop by the outlet on the Ground Floor (next to Watson's), and hopefully we'll all get to take some pics with him! =D

The Centerpoint branch of Burger King Sabah has a slightly different menu than the other branches in town, so do check them out on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the latest offers. I know they have Hershey's Pie for dessert....

Thanks as always for the invite Alfred! 

Love always,
Calista xx

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Make It A Flashy New Year With Alcatel Onetouch Flash



From December till February each year, I usually have a lot to celebrate:
New Year's Eve with my parents
First comes Christmas, then New Years, then my birthday (that was yesterday!), on to Valentine’s Day, and finally Chinese New Year – how important my phone is to me during this period?! 
Birthday surprise by the lovelies
From messaging and calls for gatherings and reunions, to the easy-to-carry-around camera attached to it to capture the food, memories, and presents; I doubt any of us in this day and age would manage very well without our trust little sidekick in our pocket during the festive period. 

So many Christmas presents under the tree
Which one of these was wrapped specially for me?
Presents! What did you get for Christmas? I’m gonna do a Christmas/birthday haul post real soon, but to be honest, the older I get the more things I want, yet the more things are also not suitable to request as a present. Wasn’t it easier when we were younger, and all you wanted was the latest Barbie doll or remote controlled car, or you didn’t even ask for presents at all, your parents would still know exactly what to get you?
Brand new hair for 2015! Flashy red highlights!
But let’s be honest, in this Generation Y era, regardless of age there’s always one thing we secretly hope for: the latest handphone. Yes you may have the newly launched iPhone or Samsung, but there’s always gonna be an even newer model coming out after a couple of months boasting even better specs, and how can I not have as good a phone camera as Anna? I NEED SELFIES AS GOOD AS CAROLINE’S DAMN IT!

*breathes*

So yes, top of my “Want” list this year is a brand new phone. I’ve been using my current phone for a year and a half now, and we all know that means it’s basically from the Age of the Dinosaurs in mobile terms. Also, this is an amazing time to choose a new phone, as there are so many new brands and models to choose from! One that stands out through all my searching is Alcatel’s Onetouch Flash, which was just launched early this month.


Now I know Alcatel hasn’t been very visible in Malaysia since the birth of the smart phone, but if you’re as old as me you’ll remember this French brand had a couple of great phone models during the colour screen times (oh, the variety we had then!). I was intrigued when I heard about their new offering, so I went and did a little digging, and found out that they’ve recently partnered up with DJ/ producer AVICII ! =D
 

If selfies are what you like and one of the main features you look for in a smart phone is whether the front camera is good enough, well looks like the new Alcatel Onetouch Flash is for you! Boasting a 5MP HD Front Camera with an in-built beauty enhancer, you won’t even need to install all the 3rd party apps we all currently use (don’t lie, I know you use them too), and with the 13MP Full HD Back Camera, well, less weight in my bag since I won’t need to bring a camera out!


Design isn’t compromised at all with the 5.5 inch HD screen, as well as a collaboration with HYDRASKINS (https://www.facebook.com/hydraskins) - all the more reason for the fashion-conscious to give this phone a second look. God knows we need some variety in today’s black and white world (Oh look! A red version of my phone! How different! Not.)
One of the Hydraskin designs for Onetouch Flash
From what I‘ve found out, the Alcatel Onetouch Flash is affordably priced and readily available nationwide. If you’re not wanting to fork out any money right now, why not check out Alcatel Malaysia’s #BEaFlasher campaign on Instagram and FB, and you could win a brand new Onetouch Flash by joining contests by Cilisos and IGERSMALAYSIA! The #BeAFlasher campaign is all about celebrating the new culture of expression of individuality through the world of selfies, check out my #FlashyFlashy post:
You can follow my Instagram @CalistaLeahLiew!

For more info, you can also check out alcatelonetouchflash.com/my

Love always,
Calista xx

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Miss Scuba International 2014 - Of Beauty, Nature, and Passion

Well, we've finally come to the last page of 2014. How was your year? Mine was full of highs and lows, with the highs being higher than I imagined they could be, and the lows better off left with 2014 when the clock strikes 12 later on. It seems the world over has been through a rough year, so it makes sense for us to wish for more peace, safety and happiness for all in 2015!


I was thinking and thinking, and I have loads of 2014 happenings I wanna blog about still, but finally decided, what better way to end the year than with a post about beauty - beautiful girls and the beautiful ocean!


Before my last trip to KL, Zens Production invited yours truly to witness the grand finals of Miss Scuba International 2014, which was held in the Magellan Sutera Harbour Grand Ballroom. As always with Sutera, the ballroom was beautiful, the food was yummy, and I was in great company.

One of the past year's Miss Scuba International winners and the emcee of the night.
This made me wanna up my emcee game and eventually emcee an event like this someday - maybe 2015? Who knows! 
Unfortunately, I was seated quite far back so didn't get many good shots from my seat, so the photos below are all courtesy of Borneo Frog's facebook page, and you can see more HERE!

Miss Canada - Allison Nicole Pelletier,
Miss Scuba Tourism 2014
Miss China - Qian Ya / Quennie
Miss France - Melanie Marie Louise
Miss Indonesia - Rima Saradiani Demensah 
Best National Costume
Miss Ireland - Amber Ryan Marie Gamble
Miss Photogenic
Miss Japan - Saori Tahara
Miss Latvia - Liene Larko
Miss Malaysia - Joanne Kimberley Majalap / Kimmy
(National Costume designed by our very own Jeffie Jeff!)
Miss Philippines - Amanda Arbitrario
Miss Singapore - Jeraldine Phneah Jialin 
Miss Marine Conservation 2014
Miss Thailand - Cattaleya Schulze
Miss United Kingdom - Michelle Katie Paraskeva
Best Talent (awesome rendition of Duffy's Mercy
)
Miss United States - Tabitha Eleanor Lipkin
Miss Congeniality 
Miss Venezuela - Krystel Bendahan Corrales 
And the winner is...
L-R: 2nd Runner Up - Miss Ireland, Winner - Miss USA, 1st Runner Up - Miss Thailand
Congratulations to the winners! And to those who didn't win, I hope you still continue on with marine conservation - see you in the sea some time!


So there you have it, the beauties of 2014! We should definitely have more international pageants held here in Sabah, and I'm rooting for another Sabahan beauty to win one of the major pageants in 2015! =P

To finish up, there's literally 3 hours til the new year, and I should get my ass in the shower so I don't have to ring in the new year in front of this computer screen. See ya on the flip side peeps!

Here's to you, 2014:

Here's wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year 2015! I hope you have the time of your lives tonight! Stay safe! 

Love always,
Calista xx