Bloggers. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when that word is mentioned?

For some, bloggers are people whom they admire. People who are still dedicated to sit in front of their computers and share news stories with the world, when many think it's too complicated to do so and give up. For others, bloggers are snobs who assume they are privileged and entitled to everything just because they have a little bit more followers.

There has been many controversies on bloggers in Singapore (*ahem* e.g. think Janiqueel *ahem*), putting bloggers in the bad light. Even in the blogging circle, most of the bloggers abhor those bloggers who do not practice proper ethics and bring everyone down. Just because there are a few bad apples, it doesn't mean the entire bunch in is spoilt!

Being a blogger is definitely something difficult and thankless. Everyone assumes that we just have to take photos and write a few lines, but what do y'all know? Don't we need to double check and make sure our photos can make it, don't we need to edit the photos to make them look more appealing, don't we need to squeeze in whatever time we have left after a long day at school/work to sit down and do preparations to publish the story?

We're planners + photographers + writers + editors all in one.


Together with a few other bloggers, we filmed a publicity video in hopes to get people to support the good work of bloggers. It may not be the best video around, but nevertheless, it's still good effort. We hope that you'll be able to see and understand the message behind.

Poh Gim Wee has been operating his Mama shop at Block 41 Sims Drive ever since the boom of these standalone kiosks in the 1980s. The 83-year-old takes a bus daily from Geylang East where he is staying at, to his shop where time seems to have stood still. The operating hours are from 8.30am – 8.30pm.

He is one of the remaining few owners of the Mama shop that has been around ever since Singapore’s inception. For many of the older Singaporeans, Mama shops bring nothing more than fond childhood reminiscence that has a special place in each of our hearts. You would be spoilt for choices with the variation of snacks and toys – there is bound to be something for everyone.

Mr Poh used to be a farmer in Kampong Chai Chee back in the eighties, when Singapore was undergoing population resettlements. Back then, he had the option to trade in his farm for a shop licence. His family was poor so he would never have the money to bid for a shop, which was why he chose to start this small business of his in the void deck of the high-rise flat by HDB that was allocated by the government.

He had regular customers coming from all ages buying a bunch of daily necessities and miscellaneous things from him in the past. Nowadays, he only gets business mostly from the older crowd living nearby who wants to grab a thing or two.

The stark difference from then and now was what led numerous shops similar to Mr Poh’s get forced to closure. He is well aware of the decreasing amount of Mama shops in Singapore. When asked why he wasn’t doing the same, he said: "I am struggling to keep this shop too. But I don't want to be cooped up facing the four walls every day, you see. I have received education of only up to Primary 3 level, and at this age, who would want to hire me?”

“Business may be getting worse, but it’s the only thing I can do. Moreover, this shop has been with me for decades, there are some sentimental values to it," he added.

Rental fees may have seen a hike over the years, but Mr Poh plans to continue with this business for as long as he could. His shop in Sims Drive is only 1 out of the 3 that he owns. His elder son operates one of the shops in Aljunied Crescent, and his third son operates the other one in Woodlands.

His sons are continuing with the Mama shop business because they have learnt the skills and foundation of operating a shop after the many years of helping Mr Poh tend to his. Business used to be a brisk in the past for them, but now they only earn enough to get by.

"I would of course love to enjoy my remaining years. But my children can't even provide for themselves, what more for me? All I can depend on now is only this shop."

Should Singapore lose this heritage for the sake of progress?
It's Christmas today, Merry Christmas to all of you iisjong readers! O(≧▽≦)O Thank you for reading this lame blog of mine, I hope you get lots of presents and blessed with good karma! I love such festive sesasons, so happy and so blessed.

Jong is headed for Japan! Am at the airport typing this right now. BEEN SO EXCITED FOR THIS TRIP, FINALLY I'M LEAVING. Still feels surreal, brb slapping myself.

Gosh, time past too fast, too fast! Will only be back next year, but I'll be updating this space definitely.


Big thank you and lots of love to those who came down for the Christmas countdown at Cineleisure yesterday! Hope you've enjoyed the mini performance by Damien, Don, Noelle and I.

Yup, that's my new hairstyle done by Ryo from CLEO Hair and Make. I've got the sunrise and sunset on mah hairrrrrrr, heh. More about that next time!

Here's wishing you enjoy your happy, happy holidays. Singapore, see you next year!

PADDLEPOP DRESS City Plaza | BLAZER Forever 21 | SPARKLY PINK BAG Gift from Hong Kong | SHOES Taobao
 
For more updates, stalk follow me at my different social media platforms! :D
I am lazy even when it comes to using my phone. Usually, I'll just browse through all my social media apps, then repeat the sequence over and over again. Not extremely adventurous in digging for apps, just download when my friends recommend.

So one day, I was exceptionally bored. I remembered my friend telling me to check out an app, so I tapped into the App Store. I must be living under the rock; I was overwhelmed by the overflowing apps from everywhere!

Long story short, here are some of the apps I've discovered, downloaded FOR FREE on my iPhone and wish to share with you guys as sort of a "present" this Christmas!

1) MyTransport
Christmas is the season to go around catching up with friends and rushing to buy gifts!

In this app, they combine information for all sorts of transport in Singapore, everything in one. Gone were the days this road idiot had to Google / open up apps one by one to gather details on how to plan my route.

The most beneficial part of this app for me would be the Bus Arrival Time, powered by SG NextBus. It's pretty accurate, the last few days I tested it out. I use the SBS Transit app called Iris as well for bus services. But after using this app, there was no use for it so I've since deleted it to save space!

2) SGMalls
It's the season to buy presents! But I have a rule - buy only if I think it's cheap, or on discount. I don't believe in buying things at their full retail price. #CheatMoney

In this app, a list of deals you can find in Singapore will be displayed. How many % discount? When does the deal end? Where can you find the shop? Such information are shown. You can even search by brands or by malls!

3) Carousell

Speaking about shopping, Carousell is equivalent to having a flea market on app!

There are different categories you can shop / sell from in Singapore.

For buyers, if you see an item you're interested in, prices can be discussed publicly or privately with the seller. The price range for most of the items are rather affordable. You'll be surprised to find the kaleidoscopic options available!

For sellers, all you have to do is to snap a picture with your phone, add the description and you're good to sell! Many people use this app actually. I sold quite a handful of items before!

4) Wally

Lost count of how much you spent after gift-buying? No worries, let Wally do the calculations for you!

You can keep track of how much you've spent and how much you've overspent by entering the budget you have for the month.

You just have to enter the amount and the information, everything will be done from there onwards!

5) PhotoWonder

The feasting season is here!

Growing horizontally is inevitable. All the late nights partying is bound to do take a toll on your skin as well. But! Nobody wants to present their unflattering side. People still in such a dilemma, you have to download this app!

What this app does basically is to beautify you. You can "pinch" yourself to look thinner, add decoration, add effects etc. There are apps similar to this, but many are in Chinese. This one's in English, no worries about wondering what the word means!

6) VSCOcam

Also on photo editing! The iPhone's camera is pretty powerful, why not further enhance your photos! VSCOcam is easily one of the most popular and downloadable apps. There's been a sudden influx in the number of people using this app because of the editable effects. You can create blur, dream-like pictures in many effects that automatically looks good, even when the actual picture doesn't.

This is a life saviour for people who love taking pictures but are not of a professional photographer standard.

7) 12 Days

For those who love surprises.

For 12 days from December 26 onwards, you receive a gift every day. This gift is downloadable - songs, apps, books, films and more.

I don't know what I'll get, but since it's free I'LL TAKE IT! Countdown 2 more days to the start of the surprise!

8) Alien Blue

Awkward gatherings and need a read to fend off the discomfort?

If you think 9gag is good, Reddit is even better. In fact, all the memes and internet stuff first appeared on Reddit wayyyyy before 9gag. Alien Blue is a feature packed client for browsing Reddit on the iPhone.

There are different subreddits you can find from. I assure you that there'll be something you're interested in!

9) Appsgonefree

Cheapskate people who has never bought an app, we're all in this together.

In Apps Gone Free, they source and pick out some of the best apps that is available free for the day! You have to pay for the apps they feature should you miss the date and time to download it.

Words can never describe how thankful I am for this app. All I need is 3 minutes to use it daily. It feels like Christmas everyday!

10) Angry Birds Star Wars II

If you like the smash hit game Angry Birds, you'll like this for sure. If you love both Star Wars and Angry Birds, keep calm and SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! This is epic!

Especially good for the young kids in the house. The graphics are commendable , though I haven't played over Level 1. At least not yet!

The Force is strong on this one.

This is my list of what I'll be hooked on for now. If you have any recommendations to share, leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you! Countdown one more day to Christmas, are you app-ready yet? (´∇ノ`*)ノ.
This Rilakkuma-obsessed girl here went to the temporary Rilakkuma-themed event/cafe earlier this month! It was a few-days thing organized by BonJapan. I went to the similar one they had 2 years ago at Orchard Central as well! (http://www.iisjong.com/2012/01/rilakkuma-cafe.html)

This year's location was at their warehouse so it was slightly more difficult to locate. Got lost and landed up at the other part of Singapore, sigh.

It was Rilakkuma heaven, with stacks of overflowing snacks from Japan and piles of Rilakkuma items. I can spend the entire day there because it was so cozy!

There was even a game station to keep guests entertained.

Trying to figure out the kawaii Rilakkuma game.

Since I was there, I ordered the Rilakkuma Cafe Limited Edition Set.

Rilakkuma in Japanese Curry

Presentation-wise, the dish captured my heart and got me squealing inside. I couldn't bear to bring myself to touch it! Taste wise, nothing too fantastic. Rice was hard and the dish went cold wayyyyy too fast. The seaweed was so difficult to tear apart also!

Iced Green Tea

To bland. Would love more flavour. Cute cup though!

Custard Pudding

This was good! But the strawberry was frozen hard. O.o Wanted to get another cup, but they don't sell ala carte for this!

Rilakkuma Hot Cakes with Dango

Hot cakes were too thick and plain, got tired after eating a few mouths. The cuteness makes up for it though!

ADDITIONAL: Some dessert in a jar thing. Sinfully yummy!

All in all, I'd love for this themed cafe to be a permanent one. However, since it's a once in a while thing, it's good to keep me anticipating for it. But the longer I wait, the more I expect. More points could be scored if the food was yummier.

Singapore should really have more of these themed cafes, don't you think? Since one of the few interesting things we do is to find places to eat at. Crowd seemed pretty good the day I was there as well. I'll be patronizing should such a cafe really happens for sure. Meanwhile, can't wait for the next!
It's the Winter Solstice Festival today, 冬至 in Chinese. It's a day when Chinese families get together to celebrate, but other than that I've got no idea what it is or why is it celebrated actually (such a fail Chinese person here sigh). It's the start of Winter or something? However, this Glutton Jong do know that we're supposed to eat glutinous rice balls! Or Tang Yuan in Mandarin.

(Ok I Googled. Long story, but let Wiki explain it to you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongzhi_Festival)

These are the glutinous rice balls we usually eat. It is traditionally round in shape. Some are big in size, some are small. Some even have unique shapes! You can choose to have fillings inside or not. There's quite a huge variety of fillings to choose from! Black sesame, peanut, red bean etc.

In the Ong family however, we do things in a different way.

Mama Ong got inspired by Japanese desserts and this was what our family had this year. Matcha azuki ice cream with small glutinous rice balls. Creative, isn't she!? Someone pass her a prize please!

I've been stalking viewing other people's Tang Yuan's on Instagram. Let's just say my family's definitely one of the more outstanding ones. ;P Mama Ong and I jokingly call this the New Generation Tang Yuan, hahaha!

Happy Winter Solstice everyone! No matter where you are, I hope you're having a good time with your families. Remember to keep warm, because Winter is officially here! It's so chilly at night even in warm and humid Singapore that I no longer need to turn on the air conditioning to sleep. Natural air con every night, woohoo! :D
Just like the volcano trekking (http://www.iisjong.com/2013/11/mt-batur-volcano-sunrise-trek-bali.html), I wanted to try out something different in Bali. I signed up with the same tour company based in Bali for a cycling tour around Ubud, THE place to experience 'real Bali' with its stunning nature scenery.


I was picked up by a van from my hotel early in the morning, then we headed to Kintamani for breakfast. Before that, we had a stopover at this place to admire the gorgeous view of rice terraces.

We had breakfast overlooking Mt. Batur, the active volcano that I conquered the day before, and its crater lake. The view was too beautiful beyond words!

I'd advice you to sit outside for the obvious reasons.

Food was so-so (there were flies flying around the food area T-T). I recommend the pancake though, done on the spot!

After breakfast, we took a short drive to a Balinese plantation. There were rows after rows of different plants! Saw quite a few that I didn't know existed. Our tour guide explained the medicinal and cultural uses of the different spices and tropical fruits that they grow.

The highlight of the plantation tour was this cat-looking animal in the cage called luwak. This nocturnal animal is shy and only prowls out freely at night during the harvest season for coffee berries. Apparently its crap is worth a lot of $$$!

Because of the inability to digest the coffee berries, the berries are passed through the digestive tract. These berries that comes out of its butt are collected, cleaned and washed. I remember my tour guide telling me they had to be careful not to let the luwak become stressed, if not it'll be difficult for them to shit out the berries. Looks like these little ones don't have an easy life either. The scarcity of their crap is what results in the hefty price tag.

We had the opportunity to try out different sorts of coffee for free. I'm not a coffee person, but there were a few that were pretty good.

The luwak coffee however, had to be bought with our own money. Since we were there, might as well try it!

As mentioned above, I'm not a coffee person so I wasn't too fond of the thick bitterness. There was a distinct taste to it that lingers in my mouth. I only had a few sips of it as I couldn't stop thinking "omg I'm drinking poo".

Afterwards, each of us chose our own bicycle provided by the company. We rode behind the English-speaking tour guide. The local-speaking one followed behind us. It was easy peasy; we went downhill most of the time. First stop, we were brought to a Balinese home where we got to experience how locals outside of the touristy areas lived.

Nope, this house got no doors! Stepping in, I loved all the intricate and traditional details found in different parts of the house.

Temples, the ubiquitous architecture in Bali. Shrines can be found in every house, usually a dedication to their ancestors.

Kids playground area are hand-made.

There was a little area where they raised the pigs. It was smelly! :P

Next, we rode down the whole stretch of rice paddies panorama. We stopped for a short walk. I was ecstatic as it's the first time this city girl experienced the country life.

Last stop - we saw the enormous Banyan tree! It is one of the world's largest trees.

Our tour was brought to a closure with a highly-raved Balinese feast!

All in all, I enjoyed my cultural experience thoroughly. It was a full day tour, pretty worth the money! Biking is a very good exercise for both the kids and adults. I loved having the wind blowing at my face while riding the bicycle and having local kids greeting and waving to me. I found it a relaxing activity, though getting sun burnt afterwards was a headache. Route wise, mostly downhill and occasional difficult paths. The tour guide was informative, though slightly biased towards the non-Asians *ahem*. Each group was quite small and personal.


There were locals trying to hard-sell their products along the way though, please be mindful of that! If you're interested in purchasing their items, remember to barter. Other than that, bring your cameras, slap on your sunblock, put on light-weighted clothes! You're good to go!

For more of my posts on Bali, visit http://iisjong.com/search/label/bali.