The Style Mermaid by Kisty Mea

Big Blog Exchange: An Update by Sophie

Hello everyone, 

I’m Sophie the person who has swapped with Kisty on the Big Blog Exchange. I live in London and am very excited to be in Singapore for the first time. My blog http://www.challengesophie.com is all about trying new things, taking on challenges and pushing boundaries.  Here’s my story in Singapore so far:

The BBE involves swapping places with Kisty for 10 days - I’m currently on day 4. It took me 2 days to travel to Singapore and so far I’ve enjoyed two brilliant and very different days exploring what Singapore has to offer Challenge Sophie.

Arriving In Singapore

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Upon arrival, it was raining but also 30 degrees. I was welcomed at the airport by the lovely Josephine from Hostelling International who had a beautiful bunch of purple orchids for me, an HI t-shirt, a welcome banner and a Singapore flag. Love it. I checked into the hostel and headed up to the roof terrace where I made a few friends and had a beer before bed.

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The Style Mermaid | Kisty Mea • The Little Dröm Store
I’ve heard about this quaint shop located in Ann Siang Hill a long, long time ago. But I had a hard time going there because of school or work. Since I couldn’t spend Easter with my family, I’ve decided to go be a tourist for the day and visit some of the places I’ve been wanting to check out. :)
The Little Dröm Store is a gallery shop that houses one of a kind accessories, pretty books and notebooks, vintage things (in brand new state) and random knick knacks. The store is located two blocks away from Chinatown MRT, along the quaint street of Ann Siang Hill. 


Ann Siang Hill, in general, is full of bars and restaurants. A hidden gem for people who likes to have a good time after a long day. [[MORE]]

The store/coffee shop is hardly noticeable. The cafe is located at this street that looks like a dead-end and where a sign that says “no vehicles allowed”. If you still can’t find it, just remember to look for these signs. 


Popular childhood treats! <3


Birds fly high, hard to catch. Friend like you, hard to forget. 

Can I have everything? This looks like like a great workstation. :) I absolutely love that raincloud mobile, but I’m not sure if it’s for sale.
The only downside is that I find most of the items too expensive. Maybe I’m just being stingy. After all, the first rule of money is never use your own! :p But I’m glad I was able to check the place out and take photos. 
All photos were edited using Afterlight (my favorite iPhone photo app). To know more about the iPhone apps that I use, click here.
The Little Dröm Store 7 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069791 (+65) 6225 5541 thelittledromstore.com

The Little Dröm Store

I’ve heard about this quaint shop located in Ann Siang Hill a long, long time ago. But I had a hard time going there because of school or work. Since I couldn’t spend Easter with my family, I’ve decided to go be a tourist for the day and visit some of the places I’ve been wanting to check out. :)

The Little Dröm Store is a gallery shop that houses one of a kind accessories, pretty books and notebooks, vintage things (in brand new state) and random knick knacks. The store is located two blocks away from Chinatown MRT, along the quaint street of Ann Siang Hill. 

The Little Drom Store

Ann Siang Hill, in general, is full of bars and restaurants. A hidden gem for people who likes to have a good time after a long day. 

Read more

The Style Mermaid | Kisty Mea • 24 Things You’ll Learn While Living Abroad Alone
“So you look at your life, and the two countries that hold it, and realize that you are now two distinct people. As much as your countries represent and fulfill different parts of you and what you enjoy about life, as much as you have formed unbreakable bonds with people you love in both places, as much as you feel truly at home in either one, so you are divided in two. For the rest of your life, or at least it feels this way, you will spend your time in one naggingly longing for the other, and waiting until you can get back for at least a few weeks and dive back into the person you were back there.” — What Happens When You Live Abroad
Most of your life epiphanies will happen on the bus… or train. 
You’ll learn how to be resourceful: from trivial things to the unconventional way of how to a cook pasta.
You’ll learn how to cook.
If you still don’t know how to cook, you won’t starve if you have a microwave and a refrigerator at home. 
You’ll do your own laundry and you’ll soon realize the pros & cons of having too many clothes. 
Don’t buy stuff, unless it’s necessary.
Save money. Keep a travel fund, an emergency fund, etc.
You’ll understand and respect the culture of others.
You will learn to appreciate the comforts of home.
There are times that you will feel sad and depressed. It’s ok. Cry and sleep it over. You’ll feel better the next day.
Facetime and Skype will bring you closer to home. But don’t do it too often.
Complaining won’t make you, or anyone else, better.
Ask, if you don’t know. 
People are different but we are all the same in the end.
The way you see the world is going to be different. 
You’ll learn how to say “no”. 
Every once in a while, take the road less traveled. 
Enjoy your own company. 
You’ll learn a lot of things about yourself and the world.
Living abroad is not as glamorous like what other people think it is. It’s hard to make a new life in a foreign country but…
The only person you can depend the most is yourself. Have courage.
It’s alright if haven’t got it all figured out just yet. It’s OK to make mistakes.
Wake up with a smile. A lot of people wants to live abroad, and you’re one of the lucky ones. 
To live abroad is a great life teacher and a humbling experience. You’ll experience life.

24 Things You’ll Learn While Living Abroad Alone

“So you look at your life, and the two countries that hold it, and realize that you are now two distinct people. As much as your countries represent and fulfill different parts of you and what you enjoy about life, as much as you have formed unbreakable bonds with people you love in both places, as much as you feel truly at home in either one, so you are divided in two. For the rest of your life, or at least it feels this way, you will spend your time in one naggingly longing for the other, and waiting until you can get back for at least a few weeks and dive back into the person you were back there.” — What Happens When You Live Abroad

  1. Most of your life epiphanies will happen on the bus… or train. 
  2. You’ll learn how to be resourceful: from trivial things to the unconventional way of how to a cook pasta.
  3. You’ll learn how to cook.
  4. If you still don’t know how to cook, you won’t starve if you have a microwave and a refrigerator at home. 
  5. You’ll do your own laundry and you’ll soon realize the pros & cons of having too many clothes. 
  6. Don’t buy stuff, unless it’s necessary.
  7. Save money. Keep a travel fund, an emergency fund, etc.
  8. You’ll understand and respect the culture of others.
  9. You will learn to appreciate the comforts of home.
  10. There are times that you will feel sad and depressed. It’s ok. Cry and sleep it over. You’ll feel better the next day.
  11. Facetime and Skype will bring you closer to home. But don’t do it too often.
  12. Complaining won’t make you, or anyone else, better.
  13. Ask, if you don’t know. 
  14. People are different but we are all the same in the end.
  15. The way you see the world is going to be different. 
  16. You’ll learn how to say “no”. 
  17. Every once in a while, take the road less traveled. 
  18. Enjoy your own company. 
  19. You’ll learn a lot of things about yourself and the world.
  20. Living abroad is not as glamorous like what other people think it is. It’s hard to make a new life in a foreign country but…
  21. The only person you can depend the most is yourself. Have courage.
  22. It’s alright if haven’t got it all figured out just yet. It’s OK to make mistakes.
  23. Wake up with a smile. A lot of people wants to live abroad, and you’re one of the lucky ones. 
  24. To live abroad is a great life teacher and a humbling experience. You’ll experience life.
The Style Mermaid | Kisty Mea • Eat See Sleep Read: Singapore
If you’ve been following me since last year, you know that I’ve posted several entries about Singapore. You can read all of Singapore (mis)adventures and photo diaries here. :)
I believe that when you visit a new country, you must at least accomplish their “tourist to do” list. For example, it’s a must that you see the Forbidden City or Great Wall of China when in Beijing, or get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji and visit an onsen in Japan. Although I’m no expert, I believe that this is Singapore’s Eat, See, Sleep & Read. [[MORE]]
Eat
 Chicken Rice and Chili Crab are considered to be one of the popular dishes in Singapore. See LadyIronChef’s 10 Things To Eat in Singapore.
Where to eat? The nearest hawker centre in your area, of course! You should also check out the Kampong Glam area because it’s full of restaurants and bars. 

See
There are so many things to see in Singapore, to be honest. I highly recommend stopping by the Marina Bay Area though, because that’s where most, if not all, the country’s landmarks and icons are located. 
For shopping, I recommend ION Orchard (high-end), Bugis, *SCAPE and Far East Plaza. The best time to shop for clothes and electronics is between June-July because of the Great Singapore Sale!
You can also join the Duck Tours, a land & water tour of the city. If you have a 5-hour layover at Changi Airport, you can avail their FREE 2-hour tour of the city. :) 
And don’t forget Universal Studios!
Sleep
If money is not an issue and you want to experience something new, then you might want to consider Wanderlust Hotel.
Moderate Budget: Orchard Parade Hotel or V Lavender Hotel. Really Tight Budget (but not a hostel): Fragrance Hotel. Bring earplugs though.
I never had a chance to stay at a hostel, but you can read the following reviews by other blogers: Matchbox Concept Hostel and Footprints Hostel.
Read
Cat Socrates is a charming shop/cafe in Bras Basah Complex. This quaint store sells books, postcards, stationery, cameras, Polaroids, and many more. See Cristy’s blog post about Cat Socrates.
{Photo Source}

Eat See Sleep Read: Singapore

If you’ve been following me since last year, you know that I’ve posted several entries about Singapore. You can read all of Singapore (mis)adventures and photo diaries here. :)

I believe that when you visit a new country, you must at least accomplish their “tourist to do” list. For example, it’s a must that you see the Forbidden City or Great Wall of China when in Beijing, or get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji and visit an onsen in Japan. Although I’m no expert, I believe that this is Singapore’s Eat, See, Sleep & Read

Read more

The Style Mermaid | Kisty Mea • Manila Adventures
by Kisty Mea & Maine Manalansan
I’ve been living in the Philippines most of my life (22 years and 51 weeks to be exact). I grew up in Manila but when someone asks me what to see in my city, my usual answer is “I don’t know”. Heck, I can even give you an itinerary if you planning to visit Singapore, but never Manila. I’m so engrossed in visiting another country, immersing myself in their rich culture and history, that I’ve completely forgotten to appreciate my own land…
Until now.
When in Manila, you should…[[MORE]]
Start your day with a morning exercise at the CCP Complex. There are tons of morning activities available there for free. If exercise is not your thing, you can skip and indulge yourself in your hotel’s buffet. 

The monument of the country’s National Hero
Afterwards, go straight to the Intramuros/Rizal Park area. Take a photo with the Kilometer Zero and the national hero’s monument, Jose Rizal, in the background.


Manila’s Walled City
To totally immerse yourself with Manila’s diverse history, sign up for the “Walk This Way” tour by Carlos Celdran. For rates and schedule, visit this website. 
What I love about Manila’s tourist spots is their proximity to one another.  From Intramuros/Rizal Park, ride a jeepney (a must for tourists, you won’t see that kind of transportation anywhere else!) that will take you to Binodo.
Binondo is most commonly known as Chinatown due to the ethnic Chinese people living in the area. Chinatown Manila is apparently established in 1594, making it the oldest in the world [source].

Visit the Binondo Church (you won’t miss it!) and pay homage to the Basilica’s patron saint, Lorenzo Ruiz. San Lorenzo Ruiz was the first Philippines’ saint and canonized in 1987. The Church was consecrated in the late 1500s to convert the Chinese to Christianity. 
From here, you can either walk to the long stretch of Ongpin St. or ride a Kalesa (horse carriage) to roam around the area. You’ll see a lot of Kalesa parked outside the church. 
Ongpin is this street with the red-green Friendship Arch between the Filipinos and Chinese.The street was originally called as Calle Sacristia and was renamed in 1915 after Roman Ongpin, the first Chinese-Filipino to wear the Barong Tagalog, an embroidered formal garment. 
Since Ongpin street the heart of Manila’s Chinatown, it is full of restaurants, apothecaries, jeweleries and other imported goods from China.

Kalesa. Philippines’ version of a horse drawn carriage.

Possible routes from Binondo Church to Sta. Cruz Church. The blue arrow is what Google Maps recommend you to do. But I recommend taking the whole stretch of Ongpin instead.  (view larger image)
At the end of Ongpin, you’ll stumble upon the area of Sta. Cruz. You know you’re in the area once you see this big old-looking fountain with a Church nearby and an old building with Plaza Fair signage on it. :p
You should take time and appreciate the architecture of this place. Aside from that, you can also do a little bit of shopping here. :) 


From Sta. Cruz, you should make your way to Quiapo.
If you’re a photographer lover, it is a must that you walk along by Hidalgo Street. Hidalgo St. is a photographer’s haven. You can buy new and old, digital or film cameras and accessories here, and have broken cameras repaired. To get there, just ask the locals where SM (a department store) is. Just enter SM and exit on the other side. ;) 
After shopping for your camera, just follow the path full of people selling vegetables and other stuff. That road will take you to Plaza Miranda and Quiapo Church. 

Quiapo Church and a glimpse of Plaza Miranda
Quiapo Church is the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene and is one of the main churches in Manila. They hold a procession every New Year, Good Friday and January 9th. If you happen to visit on those dates, it is better not to go to Quiapo due to the congestion of the crowds. 
Plaza Miranda is a public square in front of Quiapo Church. The area is full of fortune-tellers and vendors of lucky charms and amulets. Some vendors also sell flowers, fruit and vegetables. My friend and I had our fortunes told a few years ago and true enough, we did end up living in a foreign country. Indulge yourself with their fortunes and who knows? It might come true. :)
From here, you can either ride the LRT or Jeepney or cab that can take you back to the CCP Complex and visit SM Mall of Asia, the 3rd largest shopping mall in the continent. You can either shop to your heart’s content or have an early dinner by the bay side and watch the sunset. 
Alternative Itinerary:

Double Exposure of Manila 
Now, I believe visiting Binondo-Sta. Cruz-Quiapo is a great way to know more about the Filipino culture but if you have kids or you’ve been there before, you can opt for visiting our museums and other tourist attractions such as the National Museum, Museo Pambata (a museum for the kids and kid-at-heart!) and Manila Ocean Park. All of them are located near Rizal Park. :)
After a long day, you can choose to snooze the night off or go to Resorts World Manila to watch a movie, play at the casino or party in Republiq. :) 
And that concludes my City of Manila itinerary and it’s good for a day or two trip in Manila. If you happen to say in the country for more than five days, don’t fret because there are 16 more cities and at least 2000 islands to explore. You’ll never run out of things to do in the Philippines. ;)
I  hope you like this itinerary as much as I did making it. I might make a Part 2 but in the meantime, you can help me win a spot for the Big Blog Exchange contest. If chosen, I’ll be one of the few bloggers who gets to represent the Asia Pacific region! :) Just visit this page to vote. Thank you! <3 
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In your opinion, what is a must-see place when in Manila? I would love to hear your recommendations! Drop your thoughts in the comment section below!

Special thanks to Maine Manalansan for letting me use her film photos. Check out her blog and Flickr if you like everything about art. ;) 

Manila Adventures

by Kisty Mea & Maine Manalansan

I’ve been living in the Philippines most of my life (22 years and 51 weeks to be exact). I grew up in Manila but when someone asks me what to see in my city, my usual answer is “I don’t know”. Heck, I can even give you an itinerary if you planning to visit Singapore, but never Manila. I’m so engrossed in visiting another country, immersing myself in their rich culture and history, that I’ve completely forgotten to appreciate my own land…

Until now.

When in Manila, you should…

Read more