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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Help Me Win The Experience Of A Lifetime - With The Big Blog Exchange!

Hey guys! 

So I'm back in Kota Kinabalu after a great (although unfortunately more fun than work) trip to Kuala Lumpur. I think I tried to cram too much into the last week I was there and didnt get enough sleep, which caused me to fall sick the day I left, and spend the first 3 days of being back curled up in bed. But now I'm back with a vengeance! Did you miss me KK? ;p

First up, I wanna ask you guys for a little help. If you were given the opportunity to be flown to another country and experience a whole different culture for 10 days, and then share that experience with hundreds, maybe even thousands of readers, would you be up for the challenge?

I am!

Which is why I've joined this blogging competition, and it's for a great prize: 16 lucky bloggers get to exchange lives with another blogger from a different region on a 10 day trip with sponsored air fare, accommodation and a daily allowance. The good people at Hostelling International will even draw up a personalised itinerary so that each blogger can experience the chosen country to the fullest!

So as a lot of you may know, I love travelling, but unfortunately havent had the chance to go anywhere out of Asia yet. Here is the best chance I could ask for, but I can only get there with your help! Here's how:

  • To get a guaranteed blog viewing from the judges, I need to be in the Top 25 in Asia Pacific before 15th  April, which is around Top 60 Worldwide. Currently my world rank is 142
  • To vote, all you need is a valid email address. Just click on this link http://www.bigblogexchange.org/blog/399003, enter your email address then verify the vote in your email!
  • If you really love me, you can then share the link and ask all your friends and family to vote too! *big smile*
Although the country you'll be visiting will be determined by a draw of all the 16 countries the bloggers chosen are from, I really wouldnt mind going anywhere! Any country will be an adventure I may not have the chance to experience again, and I just love the thrill of flying to another country with new things to see, do, eat and enjoy! The thought of someone having the chance to experience Sabah and all it's wonders is inspiring as well.. I hope someone who would love to dive in Sipadan or climb Mount Kinabalu gets to come! =D

My ultimate? Here's my list of my top 5 countries I'd be more than overjoyed to experience:
  1. Africa - What could top a wildlife safari??
  2. Australia - To dive in the Great Barrier Reef
  3. Greece - Just the beauty of it all!
  4. New York - The city where everything happens!
  5. England - Mainly because I'd love to see all my relatives there. After moving to Sabah when I was 7, I havent had the chance to meet any of my aunts/uncles/cousins, and though we have been able to keep in touch via facebook, it would be amazing to have an actual family reunion with them!  
I think this will be the ultimate chance to experience a "travel journalist" kind of journey, as long as learning how to utilise social media such as Instagram, Facebook and obviously my blog and vlog to share my experience and hopefully inspire my readers/viewers to travel more and also vote for me one more time to win the final competition and have a chance to select other winners for next year's Big Blog Exchange!

I estimate about another 100 votes will get me where I need to be, so please do help me be one of the chosen bloggers representing Malaysia, Sabah, especially Kota Kinabalu in a bid to change the world, one blog (and vlog) at a time! Armed with my fancy new Samsung Galaxy Camera, I have a feeling many a good picture and video will be filling up your screens! ;p
'Cause you never know what you'll find while on holiday!
- Penang, February 2013
And yes, I promise to buy you a little souvenir/send you a postcard, whichever tickles your fancy! (Does that constitute as bribery..? ;p)

xxxxx

PS: Thanks The Big Blog Exchnage team for featuring my motivation in your blog post #26! =)

PPS: I am planning to upgrade to a dot com soon, and with that get a better blog design, so stay tuned! In the meantime, feel free to check out:

Friday, 22 March 2013

Future Music Festival Asia 2013 Was Rocking!!

Always, always, strike a pose!
So you probably read my post about my experience at A State Of Trance last Friday (and if you havent , why not?! You can view it HERE ;p), but now I wanna share the awesome time I had at Future Music Festival Asia! This was definitely one of the best events/concerts I've ever been to!
A familiar face! Jude, whom I met in KK during a different Carlsberg event
With Mr Soren, MD Carlsberg M'sia
For those of you who dont know, FMFA is a carnival-like event featuring a mind-blowing number of international and local artistes performing on 4 different stages in one night. (You can view the whole list of artistes in my previous post HERE if you're interested.) I was a bit worried before I found out the set lists that I'd have to miss some acts or spend too much time running back n forth between different stages, but luckily for me, all the people I wanted to rock out to were performing on the Flamingo stage, until, of course, headline act (and the ones I was most looking forward to) The Prodigy performed on the Warrior Dance Stage at the end of the night.
Group picture with Carlsberg MD Mr. Soren Ravn and the Asahi girls.
Sam, Jess, Xiang, Joanna, Don, me , Nath - Cheers to Asahi!


After arriving, we went straight to media briefing in the Asahi VIP air-conditioned area where they had free flowing beer and a DJ especially for the media and VIPs. As one of the lucky 10 bloggers to be sponsored by Asahi Super Dry, thanks to Manoah Consulting, aircon was a luxury I was allowed on such a hot and sticky day (even though it did drizzle a bit in the beginning)!
Big Hair, Xiang, Nath - Ferris Wheel!
Don, The Man (Because his glasses say so.)
After the briefing I ran off at top speed just in time to catch Australian indie-rock band The Temper Trap starting their first performance. They are amazing live! Lead singer Dougy Mandagi's voice was on point the whole time, right down to the last song - the hit that rose them to fame "Sweet Disposition". By the end of their set I was totally in love with Temper Trap, so when I got to snap a quick photo outside with Indonesian-born Mandagi, I was besides myself with joy! Nathalie was prolly thinking I was insane as she helped me take the photos.. Hahaha..
Dougy of Temper Trap
This is how close we got to be! Only for the first song or so, but still.. ;p
Subjecting himself to the groping, Dougy went right up to the screaming crowd!
Got to meet Dougy! ERMAHGERRDDD!!!! ;p
Staying where I was, UK pop singer Rita Ora came on next with her pink cheese dress. As was the case yesterday, we had a pretty international crowd, with flags of all nationalities being held up within the crowd, and we were right in front of 2 English girls from Jersey who were big Rita Ora fans, and even bigger Rihanna fans! I'm not that big of a Rita fan, so I left after we were shooed from the media pit and went up on the faster-than-normal spinning Ferris wheel with Nath. We got a real good look at the crowd from so high up, and it was crazy!
With Jersey girls Jessie and Vanessa
With Sam, after getting kicked outta the media pit.. Lol!
Rushing down to catch Korean sensation PSY with his world (in)famous Gangnam Style, we only got to be in the media pit for 2 of his other songs, which to be quite honest were quite ok. He mentioned that FMFA would be the last stage performance he will be doing of Gangnam Style, which he has been performing worldwide for 9 whole months. He requested that the crowd let him enjoy, and enjoy with him, this last performance (I quote, "Same old horse, same old dance"), so he performed it twice: The first time for videos and photos, the second for everyone to join in - which we did! =D
Gangnam Style!
Even local celebs cant resist the pull of PSY! Jin Hitz, Raymond Kang and Natalie Hitz.
One of the biggest highlights of the whole FMFA was seeing FUN. perform live. The energy from Nate Ruess is amazing! Performing their singles 'We Are Young', 'Some Nights' and 'Carry On' had the crowd singing along, and continuing the dancing and fun (pun intended) with some of their other songs like 'Why Am I The One' had me falling in love with their album all over again. I read somewhere that one of the acts you should see before you die is FUN., and I have to agree.
New friend Shaun from BandWagon.sg
Going down to take a short break and regroup with the rest (we had all split up by now, and unfortunately the reception wasnt that good all the way in Sepang, so we had no idea where everyone was), Sam decided to mess up the braid Nath had done for me earlier on and try his hand at it.. Not bad really, other than fact he only decided to do half my head! Lol!
Jason flew in from Sabah and generously let us crash in his hotel room near Sepang!
Lookie lookie! Preeti from FMS! =D
Dedy from Indonesia, a Livescapes photographer!
Fellow blogger Xiang
While taking a break in the media center - Nath, Sam, Kahmon, Xiang, Don, Zana, Me!
Unfortunately, the last part of the night had 2 (kind of) downers. Number 1, there seemed to be a problem with Flamingo stage, as Bloc Party, who were supposed to perform at 12am, were still not ready to go when I had to leave to The Prodigy's performance at 12.45am. So I never got to see them perform.. Secondly, media were not allowed to go into the media pit to take photos of prodigy, I'm guessing cz of the pyro involved with their performance, but I could be wrong.
Feeling the music, dude!

Other than that however, The Prodigy was everything I had expected and more! Great performers, screams always in tune (lol), and a whole lot of headbanging like never before! I was pleasantly surprised that Sam, Joanna and Ryan were just as much of a mosher as I was, so we let our wild sides out all the way until the end at 2am, when we still didnt want them to stop! Next time a rave is in town, count me in! =D
Ready to rock!
Nath caught me in action!
All sorts of crazy was unleashed!
Joanna, Kahmon n I giving our necks a break!
 I took some short videos which I was planning to turn into a vlog post for you guys to see, but unfortunately since I was right in front of the speakers, it turns into a whole lotta noise, so I dont really think it's worth uploading.. =( I didnt think of that when I took the videos.. Sigh..Oh well..
Group shot!
In testimony as to how hard we partied, I started to fall sick the Monday I got home.. But hey, if FMFA really was the cause? It was pretty damn worth it.


xxxxx

Photo credits to Seraphsam, Xiangcool , Kahmon and Nath.

For real time updates during events etc, please follow my Instagram! (ID: CalistaLeahLiew)

Monday, 18 March 2013

A State Of Trance 600 - Version: Kuala Lumpur!

Carpooled to Sepang in Sam's car - Thanks Sam! ;p
Me, Don, Jo and Sam
It's no secret that the highlight of my KL trip so far was the chance to experience the world famous A State Of Trance (now in it's 600th edition!) and Future Music Festival Asia, especially as one of the 10 selected bloggers to get VIP Media passes, sponsored by official beer Asahi Super Dry! When I say I had a good time, I really mean I had a freaking smashing good time!
Cosmic Gate!
Combining the 2 music events into one awesome weekend, ASOT600 and FMFA2013 was a carnival for all, with a fast-spinning Ferris wheel, games booths and food stalls for the crowd to enjoy in between the different acts. As media, we were treated to free flow Asahi beer, Evian water and Red Bull, as well as special access to the media pit where we got to be right in front of the stage to take awesome close ups of the acts! Unfortunately, seeing as my compact camera is totally useless now and I have successfully procrastinated in getting a new camera, I only had my S2 which I found out isnt so good for night shots.. ="( On the other hand, my new friends were kind enough to help me take the awesome photos I needed and share them here! New camera is definitely coming to me THIS WEEK though! (Hooray!)

Ferris Wheel
We tried this thing called Gastronomy Master. It's basically truffle oil, covered in very-quickly-hardened sugar, with a blob of whipped cream on top. When you eat it, the truffle kind of pops into your mouth when they sugar cracks. I didnt like the taste of the oil though.. =/
This second one, however, I'd have gladly gone back for more, about 10 times! ;p Yes I'm greedy like that.
It's passion fruit cream quickly frozen on the outside, giving this lovely texture and tastes like ice cream!
Photo taken at the same booth, where we were greeted by the girls: "Have a Smooth night!" We all got a key shaped thumbdrive containing this photo. =)
A State Of Trance is a not-to-be-missed event for all trance music lovers - and trance fans really love their stuff! The event was jam-packed with stats showing a turnout of over 30,000, and flags from countries such as Australia, the UK, Argentina etc were proudly displayed in the crowd that couldnt stop their bodies moving to the music at the Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur!
My Sabahan peeps who flew down especially for the party!
Edgar, Damon, Shariff, Joanna.
There were iDarts machines in the media centre too.. Apparently I'm quite good (or more accurately, beginner's luck). See the WIN at the top? MINE! Hahaha..
The man who makes it happen: Don
Fellow bloggers: Nathalie, me, Joanna and Samantha
Personally, I've never really been a trance fan, but I have to say, World no. 1 Dutch producer and DJ Armin Van Buuren sure as hell made it a great night of dancing and fun for me! And my legs were paying for it the next morning! (Yes, to all my friends who know me, you can stop laughing at the sight of me in flats now.. I cant believe some people, especially *cough* Charlotte *cough* actually texted me to laugh at this fact!)

With a line up of fantastic DJs leading up Armin's set such as W&W, Super8 & Tab, Cosmic Gate, Ben Gold and even local acts such as MisterAriffin and Fono, it was a trance rave like no other. You can see why A State Of Trance has such a big following, seeing as it literally puts you in, well, a state of trance!
Armin Van Buuren!! =D
Photo courtesy of Mike Yip.
 More snaps I took that night:
Nathalie, Sam and I all shaded up!
Samantha, Joanna and Sam. I've really met some amazing people this trip!
Leonard Chua
Alicia
Mike Yip
Thanks so much to Manoah Consulting for selecting me as one of your lucky few.. I had such a great time meeting the gang and I cant wait to come back to KL to party with you guys again! Much, much love!!

Will be blogging about FMFA tomorrow! Dont think I should overwhelm you all with too much awesomeness in one post, nyehehe.. And believe me - FMFA was BEYOND that!

xxxxx

Photo credits to Joanna and Samuel! Click on their names to check out their posts!