Bring on the travel blogging!

ipad photography

When I was in Thailand in 2011 and in Turkey in 2013 for a blogger’s trip, I regretted not being able to share my photos online as soon as I wanted to. My phone had no internet connection in Thailand so I had to wait to get back to the hotel to update and while I had internet connection while in Turkey, my phone always died on me. (Why did I not think about bringing a power bank or portable charger?) We were lent an iPad with 3G connection during the tour but let’s all admit it, the photo quality of the iPad leaves a lot to be desired!

One of the bloggers had a point and shoot camera that was WiFi ready and she was sharing away her photos on social media in (almost) real time.  The photo quality was better than that of an iPad photo and she’s sharing her experience with her followers and blog readers like she has taken them with her on the trip.


I need to get one of those!

nikon 5300

But I am not that fond of the WiFi-ready camera brand available that time in the market. I wanted something more. I know I am not alone in my secret desire. Right outside, the universe and Nikon heard my secret wish by launching the Nikon D5300: an SLR camera that ticks all the right boxes for the creative enthusiast photographer and boasts some impressive specifications, has both Wi-Fi and GPS built in, so users can geotag images, send pictures to a smartphone/tablet and even wirelessly control the camera from a smart device via the free Nikon WMU app was born.

* The Wi-Fi feature means you can transfer photos to a smartphone or tablet and upload to social media without waiting until you get home.

With this camera, travel blogging (or simply travel) will never be the same again as the user can share photos on the go and right there and then.

Nikon held a contest for a chance to win the new camera a couple of weeks ago. All that’s needed to be done was to go to their I Heart Nikon exhibit at Dubai Mall, take a photo of the “Nikon Heart” and submit. Creative pics will win a new Nikon D5300. This is the “Nikon Heart” with different sizes of screens fused together to form a heart. It makes a 360 degree slow turn. (This is not what I submitted as contest entry)

Nikon heart

The new Nikon D5300 cameras were up for everyone to sample at the Dubai Mall booth (near the Waterfall) where anyone can take a photo and then that photo will show on the ‘heart’ screen and you get to print it out and keep for yourself as well. It was a popular spot when we were there with everyone excited to try out the new camera with cool features and of course, to see their photos on the big screen.

Nikon heart

The above photo is us, by the way, when it was our turn on the biggest screen at the center of the heart.

Nikon heart

We took another photo. Because we’re shameless like that.

Nikon heart

What a great campaign initiative to create a buzz over a new product. Way to go, Nikon!

Back to the contest – to be honest, the rules were simple. Too simple actually that it became difficult (LOL) – how on earth can one get creative with a very simple subject? But I had fun taking photos of the Nikon heart and had thought of many creative things to do with it. There are so many perspectives, angles, effects that made the Nikon heart a very interesting subject, as simple as it is.

I finalized my entries, sent and whispered, “Universe, you know I want this. Do your thing!”

Luckily, one of my entries got lucky and I won the new Nikon D5300 camera!! I was so excited this morning that I kept on bumping into things, being clumsy and just falling here and there.

Huge thanks to Nikon Middle East & Africa for the contest and the wonderful prize! ‘Like’ Nikon ME on Facebook  or follow Nikon ME on Twitter for fab photography tips and tricks and future promotions!

This really made my day and I look forward to the weekend so I’ll leave for now, off to study how to use my new camera! (Expect a review of the camera plus my experiences with it in the future posts!)

Top Photo Credit

(A mom’s request) Please vote for Pristine!


The Dubai Summer Surprises, an annual shopping event here in the desert has come to its final leg of festivities. There will be a kids fashion show event called “Kids Fashion Week” and Pristine has been chosen as one of the kid models.

They will have a four day show which she really look forward to. If you’re in Dubai and free on July 28 (Thursday) until July 31 (Sunday), be sure to drop by Deira City Center from 5pm to watch the kids take the stage!

Meanwhile, there’s a Fans’ Choice Award going on for the children via Facebook. The photo of the 3 child models (there are 36 of them) with the most number of ‘Likes” will win prizes.

Of course, I’m going to request you to vote for my girl.

Why? Because she’s been working hard for this, rehearsing everyday and have been generally a good girl this year! Voting is easy, won’t take 2 minutes!

1. Go to and click the “Like” button.

(Deira City Centre is a mall so no need to fear of spammy posts on your wall after you ‘Like’ their fan page.)

2. Click PRISTINE’S PHOTO and click the “Like”

(You can go vote for her photo by clicking on her picture above too)

That’s it!

I know she has lost a tooth and hair has been haywire after a hectic dance rehearsal for the show but I still think she deserves a vote! (I’m obviously her mother)…

Oh do please tell your friends or post in your Facebook walls as well! We will be truly grateful! Voting ends on 31st of July 2011.


Facebook “Likes” contest: Never again

A very prominent Dubai establishment is giving away lots of prizes to their fans. The establishment have reached xx,000 Likes on their page in Facebook so they want to give back by giving away prizes daily, weekly and a posh grand prize.

How to enter?

Just post what you like about the establishment and ask your friends to “like” your comment. (The main sponsor Facebook page has to be “Liked” first – gaining them another ‘fan’)

Easy peasy. Comment with most “likes” wins.


…until unpopular people found other ways to win it.

I’d like to point out that while I am not against the contest, I disagree on how it is done. A contest based on Facebook Likes simply do NOT work in general, it only works for CHEATERS. It only creates dark clouds of doubts on the promotion. It stirs angry discussions among people who play it fair.

It is by far, the most easily abused contest online because anyone who has lots of time in their hands can create a free web based email account and in turn, create a free Facebook account.

A Facebook liking contest is easily maneuvered and won by cunning people by creating multiple fake accounts and ‘liking’ an entry using those fake accounts. If an entry gains more hundreds (or even thousands) of ‘Likes’, there’s no way the contest sponsor can check and determine if all the Facebook accounts are legit or not.

And most sponsoring companies NEVER check.

The cheater always win, again and again in a Liking contest by shuffling his multiple Facebook accounts.


Who doesn’t love winning free stuff? I’ve won from radio quizzes because of all out effort and draws, out of sheer luck. I know a Facebook Liking contest is a sham but I fell for it – I joined this recent contest by putting in my entry, which I sincerely mean. I really liked the establishment anyway, it’s one of my favorite  places in Dubai.

I posted the shameless plug in my Facebook wall (begging to please ‘Like’ my entry), got my friends to do it for me. Entrants were only given 24 hours to gather votes.

I got nearly a hundred votes from REAL people after a few hours.

However, my hopes died down when I saw there were entries with more than 500 ‘Likes’. Now it’s either,

  • The contest entrant is a celebrity
  • He/she has thousands of friends (with a fraction of it supporting him/her)
  • He/she owns an internet cafe and forcefully asked people at knife point to vote
  • He/she had multiple Facebook accounts to generate as much votes in a very short time

Of course I did not win. I don’t feel bad for myself but for my friends who took the time to vote for me so I am writing this as a warning to myself not to fall in the trap anymore.

Friends and relative from near and far away, you can breathe a sigh of relief now. I am not going to beg for Facebook votes anymore.

Dubai is a small city and the social network scene is much smaller. Contest junkies almost know each other. I had been warned but I had confidence in the support of my friends (which I got and very grateful for) but the cheaters are more confident because they don’t need to knock on doors, they’ve got the resources in their own hands to win anything they like. I am sure they feel like Gods.

How low can one get for freebies?

Lastly, there had been complaints from other contest entrants but the company sponsoring the contest is not listening. They are silently giving out the message,

Fight all you want. We don’t care  as long as we’ll have another few thousands more ”fans’ on our page, REAL people or NOT.

That room makeover contest

Remember the grand room makeover contest that I entered last month? The one where I pleaded readers of this blog and friends to “Like” my entry? Well, the verdict has come out. I did not win. It’s ok – I still thank each one of you who voted for my entry and helped spread the word to their friends. I am grateful for all the support you showed me!

So the contest had ended but is tainted with very bad publicity for the sponsor and their Facebook page have been bombarded by negative comments. Yesterday, they announced the winner like this:


They explained what the “debate” cheerfully in Twitter:

irony twitter

Uhm, hello? Since when was it about the highest number of votes? Did I miss something?Highlight “instead of a draw” and see the original official contest rules below, after #3 (I’ve highlighted in red):

irony rules


There was really no need to be the entry with the highest number of “Likes”, no need to go viral with the campaign and the pleas although if you’re up to it, then fine. To be one of the top 3 would be enough then the sponsor would select one lucky winner, as stated in the contest rules. My entry had the 2nd highest number of votes.

BUT here comes the colorful twist – at the last minute, they decided to change the rules and reward the entry with the highest number of votes – and people only came to know when they announced the winner. It certainly left other participants and their friends unpleasantly surprised, feeling cheated. Had the rule been like this in the first place, contest participants could’ve done better, could’ve stopped people on the streets and asked them to vote for their entries or done extreme shameless stunts just to gather the maximum number of votes.

While I’m happy for the winner to get his dream 30,000 dhs (approx US$8,000) room makeover (what a lavish prize for someone who lives alone!), I am not pleased with the way the contest was handled. It wasn’t only unfair to me and to the other entry with the 3rd highest number of votes, it is unfair to everyone who entered.

They could’ve made it simpler by adding a footnote in the contest rule poster:

Irony Homes (the sponsor) reserves the right to change contest rules as they please at any time they want. People leaving complaints on our Facebook wall after the contest announcement will be labeled “bitter losers”. Thank you.

Don’t you just wish contests like this would be done fairly and with integrity but nah, these days, everything is a marketing strategy.


Speaking of contests, I apologize for the delay in announcing the winner of the Hazel & Harlow giveaway. I have emailed the winner and waiting for a reply then I’ll announce the name here. Thank you for waiting. Congratulations to Jennifer Rowe!

Kodak photo contest

2nd place

Thank you very much to all who heeded my plea and left a comment on my photo entry at the Kodak contest. I appreciate each and every one of them. Unfortunately, my entry did not earn the most number of comments so I didn’t win first prize. I was however, a runner-up, which is great.

It’s ok but then I realize (I am new to this Facebook stuff) that for example, in contests like this, it’s not how beautiful or how deserving your entry is but how many friends you have, the time you spend in campaigning – poking your friends and leaving pleas here and there and MOST importantly, how many of them are willing to take the trouble to do a favor on your behalf.

Also, I have realized that specifically, for photo contests, it would have been better for the contest host to SCREEN the entries first so people only vote for the entries that are really presentable/deserving to win. Why? Because what if a Facebooker submits his borish photo ID (or any borish picture for that matter) and gets a lot of support from friends, friends’ friends? Then he/she wins just because he has the most number of votes regardless of the quality of the photo entered.

PLUS if the winning photo is crap, the hosting party will have to cringe when they announce the result of the contest.

Just a thought. But still would like to thank the wonderful people at Kodak ME for hosting the contest and giving everyone that opportunity to win some cool prizes. Apparently, I will get a Kodak M series digital camera. I can’t thank my friends enough for making this happen!


Anyway, moving on, I had a rough day at work, a week even last week. Let’s just say if I were a really impulsive person with a huge backup money, I would have filed for my resignation already. That bad.

Hope we’ll all have a fabulous week this week!

The day I almost went Gaga

I got bailed out. From heavy work, that is.

When work got in the way too much that I have to do at least one hour of overtime per day (no overtime pay) and even miss my lunch to finish up reports, I thought enough is enough – especially if in the middle of this mess, I see some colleagues opening their Facebook and chatting away the time or practicing their farming skills the whole day.

I took the matter to my boss, the team had a meeting and overall work was distributed – properly, this time! It can’t go on like it did these past few weeks – what for I left Japan, the country of overtimes and “karouji” (death due to fatigue from work)!

So, I could say I’m back in the groove of things and hopefully it will be this way always. It’s not fun to have work overload, I get lost in a time warp and I end up too tired even to drive home from work and feeling without a purpose in life than sit in the office. Living to work and not working to live, which should be.

That said, I’m going to enjoy my day off tomorrow by not getting up at 6 am.


lady gaga

On the other note, I almost missed to win a trip to Australia (free tickets, hotel, city tours in Perth and concert tickets) to see Lady Gaga. The radio had taken finalists all this week and I grabbed the last spot last night. The draw was this morning and I was so nervous, waiting for a phone call (I wasn’t able to do anything else including take breakfast because I was too distracted) but I wasn’t picked – oh well, at least I have a CD and a Lady Gaga monster headphone (whatever that is) to whoop whoop.

I am not that gaga over Gaga but a free trip to Australia is something to get excited about!

They’re doing the contest again next week and you bet, my fingers are ready to dial again!


Congratulations to Jackie who won a copy of the book, Brava, Valentine from Harper Collins! (Sorry this is late – you all know I was dead these past few days…)

Me and Steven Tyler, we have a story

iomega ego

This blazing red little devil? I call (him? not sure) it, Steven Tyler.

Right after coming back from vacation, I was at home for two weeks doing all kinds of housekeeping stuff. I cleaned closets, arranged and rearranged furnitures and finally tackled the very slow PC. The hub’s 5 year old Vaio was choking to death with my photos, especially right after I got the SLR camera. It was practically on the verge of puking out the excess data. I hate burning files on DVD-R’s and wished for a portable hard disk drive. Of course after our vacation from Japan, we didn’t have a budget for a portable hard disk drive. You bet I am poor or stingy, but basically poor.

Right when I was growing white hairs on my head thinking of what to do with my file dilemma, the radio DJ said they’re holding a contest to win a portable hard drive! The universe listened to my woe so I had to act! It was offering me a chance to solve my problem, how can I pass up with that?

So I sent an sms hoping they’d call me back. And with the power of the universe, yeah folksies, they DID call me back. They explained the rule of the game – the one that involved someone on the other end of the line, on hold scoring 5 when they asked her to name ROCK BANDS.

The rule was simple: whoever names the most rock bands in TEN SECONDS wins.

Deep in my heart, I know I HAD to win. My files needed a new home, remember? I didn’t like them squatting in someone’s PC for long. They needed rescuing. I had to name more than 5 to win.

Obviously me and rock bands don’t match. And the DJ counting ten seconds loudly distracted me so much. Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Alice in Chains, The Scorpions, Ac/Dc, (voice breaking) Boyzone?…see how stupid I was to mention Boyzone as a rock band. It’s like the insult to rock bands that will end all insult to rock bands. Of course, it was not counted!

I only named 5 too.

So there had to be a tie-break question. The DJ said in the count of 3, me and the girl on the other line should shout another rock band name. And we did. We mentioned the same rock band, at the same time. Another tie-break scheme has to be done!

At this point, my mom was ready to call an ambulance. My heart was pounding so fast. Jeez, all because of a hard drive. If I knew it was this hard, I could’ve just bought! Or not.

The DJ said the one last obstacle question: “Shout as loud and as fast as you can, WHO IS THE LEAD SINGER OF THE ROCK BAND….(in my head, I said over and over Aerosmith, Aerosmith, Aerosmith pleeeaassse) AEROSMITH?”

From the top of my lungs, I shouted, almost blowing away the phone from my mouth. “STEVEN TYLER!” The girl on the other end of the line was silent.

I had won the 320GB portable HD I really, really wanted. My files now have a new home, a big one too! Thanks to the universe and Steven Tyler. (see? I told you we have a story!)

Place your bets on our first rain of the season!

Folksies, today I am back to work so I’ll try to be less sober while I sort out the piles of emails and paper work in front of me. By the time you’re reading this post, I’m in my desk suffering from double vision and painfully missing my daughter at home. Reality bites.

Anyway, just an update about the weather here now – Dubai’s a lot better than when I left for vacation. We still have highs of 33C but the humidity is fairly low and at night, it’s very comfortable and cooler. In the morning, I can see rolls of clouds (in the morning) that gets me excited.

November and clouds could mean one thing – RAIN! The last time it rained in Dubai was last March. So I thought while I get busy catching up with my work, why don’t we play a little game? I promise it’ll be fun!

When do you think we Dubaians will get our first drop of rain of the season?

rain Dubai

Last year, it was around mid-November but with the crazy weather and global warming caused climate changes, we’ll never know! Place your bets and win a prize! Exciting or what?

Here are the rules:

  1. Pick a date from tomorrow, 3rd November onto the 30th (I’m pretty sure it’ll rain before the end of this month so I didn’t include December)
  2. Leave a comment with your date of choice (your bet Dubai’s going to have the first rain of the season). If you leave your blog URL in the comment form, I’ll link to it.
  3. This post will be updated with the names of the commentors as they come in.
  4. You can pick any one date but I’ll open the bets to three people per day only. Once three people have picked a day, that day will be closed.
  5. When the skies open up and we get rain here, with the road getting wet – the road has to get wet so a 10 second drizzle isn’t counted, then I’ll announce the winner(s)! Naturally, once it rains, this contest will be closed.

I’ll include a news clip/article for evidence – rain in Dubai always land in the news so you’ll know this game is fair. 😉

The prize will be something Dubai-themed, I’m not going to reveal what it is yet so it’s a surprise! Now here are the dates, go!

  1. November 3 – No rain!! *CLOSED*
  2. November 4 – No rain!! *CLOSED*
  3. November 5 – CMC No rain!! *CLOSED*
  4. November 6 – Bing No rain!! *CLOSED*
  5. November 7 – Nicole No rain!! *CLOSED*
  6. November 8 – Janil No rain!! *CLOSED*
  7. November 9 – Krista No rain!! *CLOSED*
  8. November 10 – Elle No rain!! *CLOSED*
  9. November 11 – alohalmolly, Hollie No rain!! *CLOSED*
  10. November 12 – Robin No rain!! *CLOSED*
  11. November 13 – Maryam, Karry Knisley, Raelena *3 betters, CLOSED* No rain!! *CLOSED*
  12. November 14 – Over Thirty Mommy, Desai, NJ *CLOSED* * No rain!! *CLOSED*
  13. November 15 – Kaleido, Kristine Sorochinsky, Vishal *CLOSED* * No rain!! *CLOSED*
  14. November 16 – JuliaA, Kimberly * No rain!! *CLOSED*
  15. November 17 – Maribeth, Kayla * No rain!! *CLOSED*
  16. November 18 – Erica, Tanya, Dee *CLOSED* * No rain!! *CLOSED*
  17. November 19 – Luigi@Brochures, Tammy No rain!! *CLOSED*
  18. November 20 – Shruti Jagdeesh No rain!! *CLOSED*
  19. November 21 – Urban Thought, Nicki No rain!! *CLOSED*
  20. November 22 – Mita56 (bet submitted via Twitter) *It rained! it rained! Competition CLOSED *
  21. November 23 – JENNIE, Some Lucky Dog
  22. November 24 – Anton Deleon, Therabreath
  23. November 25 – willowsprite
  24. November 26 – Kate
  25. November 27 – Jingle
  26. November 28 – AB Smith, Tia
  27. November 29 – Cathy
  28. November 30 – Gloridel

Good luck and wish us rain!

And speaking of Beyonce

So it’s 6:30 pm, Sunday and this must be the longest time I’ve kept pacing back and forth thinking what to write on my blog. Do I write tidbits about our recent vacation to Japan? or about this morning when Pristine missed the bus because she asked me to take her to school since this is my last day at home (before returning to work tomorrow) or about our weekend trip to Abu Dhabi to see Beyonce?

Oh that! I’ve decided that I wanted to talk about Beyonce. But, but…there are loads of photos I need to resize, edit or watermark and it’s 6:30 pm already. I’m making dinner. The stew is boiling. So in line with the Beyonce story and with my lack of time, I’ve decided to do the shortcut – post a video of a fan I interviewed on the morning after Beyonce’s concert.

Listen to her talk and please dont hold me accountable for all that bad hair.

Beyonce’s the added bonus

I‘ve been staying at home for more than a week after our vacation. Every year the expatriates in my company get 30 days of paid leave along with round trip tickets to our respective home countries. It’s like slaving for 11 months and recharging for one full month or relaxing for one month so we can survive the next eleven months of work with only one day off per week, however you put it.

Anyway, we came back last Saturday, October 17 and I’ve been staying at home since. I have another week of this homely bliss before going back to work again. Oh yes, I am dreading the day as it nears because I am enjoying my time home MORE than my time on vacation.

So what have I been up to at home?

Well I’m still waking up at 5:30 in the morning on school days so no need to envy me – I don’t have extra bedtime on those days. However, my greatest joy is that I am able to get reacquainted with my old recipe books and cook a lot. Cook food that I won’t be able to when I have my full time work. I am able to wait for my daughter’s bus and see her smiling as she gets down and hug me. We get to bond in the afternoon, sitting together to do her assignments, cook afternoon snacks, watch a DVD or just read books in bed. No restrictions on the number of books, she picks ’em, I read ’em. All.

Internet and PC at home is so slow so I haven’t written blog posts as much as I wanted to. I did write about my brother in-law’s wedding and posted the photos.

beyonceBefore I forget, there’s one exciting thing that’s happened, in case you missed my announcement in Twitter. I’ve won FOUR tickets to Beyonce’s concert in Abu Dhabi via a radio contest!! !! I know some of you must have thought the announcement is me being preggers but no, not yet happening.

The contest to win the tickets was easy – you only have to be the caller on line 4 (the radio station apparently had 12 phone lines open) when they play Beyonce’s Single Ladies song. The song was played around 9:45 pm and I was there in front of the radio, listening since 7 pm, as were hundreds of other listeners in Dubai, waiting for that song while my thumb is on the call button of my phone. I’m known for my focus a.k.a. “desperation”.

Anyway, so we’re going to this one fab concert in time for the F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi on October 29 (which happens to be the hubs’ birthday). I’ve never been to a concert, ever so this is something I really, really look forward to! The best part? The concert tickets I won aren’t sold anywhere – it’s an exclusive invitation sort of thing. Maybe I can get to see Beyonce up close? Who knows!