Happy Chinese New Year (春节快乐). It’s the Year of the Rooster. Do you know what Roosters do? They wake up & get sh*t done. The aim of this post is to lead you to your dreams so that you can be the best version of yourself (and all that jazz).

For the first time in my life, I’ve started this year as a freelancer, so I have no excuse for being unorganised. Anyway, this isn’t about me, let’s begin the journey to a goal getting you.

In the Chinese Fire Rooster spirit, I’m going to split this up into three sections: health, happiness and prosperity.

Health

Exercise

I don’t work-out to look like a Victoria Secret Model; I exercise because it drives my motivation, confidence, determination, willpower, organisation, and of course, my health. If you don’t know the benefits of regular exercise, you must be living under some (excuse the pun) large rock. Besides from naturally making you feel sexy (hi endorphins), exercise improves your mood, sleep, energy, *ahem* sex life, concentration and learning. I enjoy yoga, pilates and flexibility exercises. But everyone is different, find your sport that makes you thrive and set goals.

Food

Apparently, I’m a ‘human dustbin’. The fact is, most of us are, and we do not eat well. I’m an advocate of food education because most of us lack the time and knowledge, so we settle for quick and easy junk food. If you don’t know how to cook; start with the basics. Fry, scramble, boil or poach an egg. The ingredients for salads or wraps are endless: mix up some lettuce, avocado, peppers, beans, sweet corn, salsa, mushrooms, peppers and meat (or falafel if you’re vegetarian). It’s quick and easy to make homemade fresh pesto, soups and smoothies with a Nutribullet. If you need a kick up the bum, join cooking classes. The benefits of eating fresh are again: better energy, focus, mood (from sugar) and sleep. Being a great cook means that you develop a greater appreciation for good food and you save money by not eating out.

Monica-Wong-Model-The-Wong-Blog-five-steps-to-achieving-your-goals

Happiness

Friends & Family

Alright, this may sound like an obvious one. But listen up, it’s important. Many of us, overlook our relationships and we don’t give them the time and attention necessary to keep them healthy and happy. If you want a long and happy life, spend time with your loved ones. I can’t tell you how much better I feel with just half an hour with my friends. Don’t make distance an excuse; no one wants to hear it. As humans, we need physical contact. Try and be physically touched every day. And no, I’m not asking you to start touching people up because that’s creepy AF. It could be as little as shaking hands, hugging or sitting next to someone. Get in contact with those (not the drama llamas please) who you haven’t seen in a while. You might be surprised at how receptive they are to meeting you.

Confidence & Honesty

Plato said, “the man who makes everything that leads to happiness depend upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily”. Having a good relationship with yourself and thus, the people in your life is the key to happiness. The two keys to happiness are confidence and honesty. I will write about my journey to confidence soon, but in short, many people don’t like themselves, and this hinders them from their potential to do amazing things. My advice (unless you’re in danger) would be not to give a flying f**k about what people think. You know your path more than anyone else. And always be honest. If you don’t, I promise you; it will bite you in the ass. And this is why. Lying breaks trust. Individuals who lie, carry a burden of guilt and unhappiness that they (unconsciously) bring into their future situations, which in turn causes karma towards themselves (and they always get found out eventually anyway).

Monica-Wong-Model-The-Wong-Blog-five-steps-to-achieving-your-goals

Monica-Wong-Model-The-Wong-Blog-five-steps-to-achieving-your-goals

Prosperity

Creativity

I believe that we all have a creative outlet within us. It’s a such a shame that 1) most of us are too busy to channel it and 2) most jobs are process-driven and not imaginative. By performing the same tasks every day, you’re blocking yourself from potentially prosperous opportunities. There’s no harm in making a habit of regularly performing an activity that you enjoy. Painting, knitting, making pottery, photography, singing, dancing, playing instruments — if you enjoy a venture, do it. Aside from organising your mind, uninhibited self-expression opens doors. You could meet like-minded friends who will contribute to your success in the future; you could win yourself an award or get to perform on stage. You get the gist.

Reading & writing

We’re so lucky to live in a country that has educated us to read to and write. I can’t express to you how fundamental these creative skills are. The written word is the basis for civilisation. Without the capacity to feel each other’s thoughts, we have no sense of identity. I know that I’m not the greatest writer that has ever lived; for god’s sake, I pose for a living. But as a skill, you need to be able to communicate with people at all levels, in a clear and coherent way. The mind is a muscle that we need to exercise. If you’re going through a tough time, write it down. Writing helps structure your thoughts so that you think clearly. Treat yourself to nice stationery and write down your ideas. I love all of my beautiful notebooks; Kikki K is my fave brand ATM. If you’re reading this and haven’t developed the urge to facepalm, you probably already enjoy reading. People who read regularly are smarter, well-informed and are better at generating ideas. It’s cliche, but knowledge is power. If you aren’t enjoying a book, stop reading it. And find material that you enjoy.

To achieve your bigger goals, you need to form habits. These are your smaller daily goals. They are the basis of substantial achievements. It’s about being consistent.

The benefits of exercise, food, reading & writing, confidence and honesty overlap of each other; they affect you in all domains: physically, emotionally and socially.

I’ve been so excited to write and release this post. I would love if you could share it with your fellow fire roosters.

Love Monica x

Location: Richmond Park, London

Photographer: Hattie Day at Wild Young Minds (FB here)

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Brace yourselves, it’s Black Friday.

Last year, I launched my first Black Friday post. This year, it’s an even bigger event that will extend into the weekend.

Avoid the scrum, stick the kettle on and join me; we’re going to bag to best deals together.

Amazon & eBay have already launched their Black Friday deals. Now is the time to buy Christmas presents. Warning, while browsing, you may end up buying your entire wish list of treats for yourself.

If you’re in need of gadgets, Currys & PC World Black Tag event has some great TV & PC deals.

I’ve recently bagged a bargain smart TV, and I can’t believe I’ve waited that long to have one, they’re amazing. Mine is Samsung; they will be selling fast from their midnight launch so have a look and compare prices.

Don’t bother with wrestling your locals at Tesco; you can get it all online.

Argos also couldn’t wait any longer and has already launched their Black Friday. The three things that I want are here, here and here.

Turn your home into a sanctuary with John Lewis. They had the cheapest NutriBullet in the market one year; I’m dying to know what it will be this year. I need this and this in my kitchen.

Christmas has indeed come early at Selfridges (receive 20% off your Christmas Shopping with code SELFCCE).

ASOS: 20% off everything with code GOGOGO.

Shop at River Island with the code: BFRIDAY16 for 20% off and Mango with code: Black

Up to 50% off at the sale you’ve been waiting for at Topshop & Urban Outfitters, Nike, New Look and French Connection today.

Replenish your beauty cabinet from Feel Unique (Code: MAKEITMAGIC), Boots & use code RUSH at Look Fantastic. Stock up at The Body Shop with up to 40% off. Code: 19805.

 

 

 

It’s Thanksgiving at Bloomingdales and use code: thanks at Macy’s. Go crazy at Missguided and Boohoo.com.

There’s up to 50% off at Mark’s & Sparks, Very.co.uk and at House of Fraser. It’s VAT-free on fragrances at Debenhams.

There’s 20% off in the shoe world. Run over to Kurt Geiger, Shoeaholics (Code: BLACK20), Office (Code: WONDER) or Clarks (BMERRY16)

If you feel like running away from all this Black Friday madness, there’s up to 25% off flights from British Airways.

I’ll be posting and updating this page throughout the Cyber weekend.

If you’ve got any deals to share, please comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Location: London

Photographer: Hattie Day at Wild Young Minds (FB here)

Make Up: Vanessa Mcmillan (Insta here) | Products used: BareMinerals Primer | Urban Decay Palette | Nars Multiple |  NARS EyeLiner | YSL Waterproof Mascara | NYX LipGloss

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Sparkly, clean and fiercely organised. Singapore has always been in my travel bucket.

For a backpacker, Singapore is expensive by South-East Asian standards. If you’re landing from destinations like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, please be aware that most costs will be double in price.

Regardless, I highly recommend a visit for a few days. If you learn one thing from a visit to the city-state, it would be that the Singaporeans live in ethnic harmony. They practice diversity to their advantage and respect each other’s beliefs and religions. They’ve nailed it. You rarely hear about racial tensions in Singapore right?

So, how to do Singapore on the cheap? Write down my recommendations and thank me later.

Food

If you’re a foodie, please eat at any Hawker Centre. You won’t want to eat anywhere else. They’re big communal food courts where the locals eat. If you’re looking for fine-dining, this is not the place. Loud and busy with a school canteen atmosphere, the food is authentic, cheap and delicious. It houses a mixed bag of Singaporean, Chinese, Malaysian and Indian dishes. The easiest ones to get to are Maxwell Food Centre, Gluttons Bay and Newton Circus Food Centre. Go to the places with the biggest queue, and you won’t regret it.

Chinatown/Smith Street is worth a visit; you don’t need to go into any of the restaurants as the street food is incredible. I had platefuls of dishes there for $1-$5 (SGD).

Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to go, but a birdy recommended Little India for the vegetables and unusual snacks.

Singaporean Foods to try:
Hainese Chicken Rice
Mee Goreng, Chilli Crab
Fish Head Curry
Fried Carrot Cake
Hokkien Prawn Mee
Kaya Toast
Laksa, Rojak
Roti Prata
Any Noodle Soup

Couchsurfing?

Ok, disclaimer, I have to admit that as a backpacker, I slept in a fancypants hostel. I know, I’m a traitor. The original plan was to stay at a budget one, but I had food poisoning the week before, and I wanted to treat myself to a nice bed. I wasn’t disappointed; I opted for a custom-made cabin with silky bedding and satin blackout curtains. I highly recommend Alder Hostel if you’re looking for comfort. For budget options, try couch surfing at the link in the title (please be cautious and always check reviews!), or there’s plenty of good hostels on this site.

Travel & Free Attractions – the free stuff

Singapore is tiny, and the central attractions are close-knit, so get ready to walk. Take this route: Chinatown – Kompong Glam – Little India. FYI the MRT train is approx 10 SGD per day.

You’ll come across lots of temples which you can visit for free like the Buddha Tooth Relic and Thian Hock Keng Temple.

Check out the Singapore Symphony Orchestra; they host free concerts in throughout the year.

If you love nature, take a treetop hike and see the old bridge at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park. If you’re not into hiking and prefer to relax, then go and see the waterfalls at Singapore Botanic Gardens — don’t forget to see the ginger garden.

Don’t laugh at me, but the airport is AMAZING. Honestly, Changi Airport is my favourite airport. If you’re easily pleased (like me), arrive early for your departure flight and sit on the free massage chairs, admire the Kinetic Rain sculptures or go on the nature trail. I didn’t ever think that I would ever write a list of things to do in an airport.

Going on holiday or business trip?

Not everybody who will be reading this post will be a budget backpacker, so this is a list of where to splash if you’ve got the cash:

Marina Bay Sands – How can you not tick this one off? The Infinity Pool is totes’ Instagramable.
Visit Singapore Zoo – get up close and personal with the nocturnal animals at the night safari
Eat at the Boat Quay – if you like food with a view, there’s lots of alfresco pubs and restaurants here
Make a day trip to Sentosa – this island is packed with touristy things to do, it houses the Tiger Sky Tower, Underwater World aquarium, Circus Shows and Universal Studios.
Explore Bukit Timah Naturae Reserve – if you’re a wildlife lover go and see how many birds, macaques, squirrels and flying lemurs you can spot
Take a trip to Pulau Ubin – are you a history geek? Learn about the locals living in traditional villages known as “kampongs.” in the 1960s

If I’ve missed a must-see, let me know, and I’ll add it.

Please let me know if you’ve been or planning to go, I’ll love to hear from you.

Monica x

Location: Singapore

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Image credit: Singapore Airport

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It’s nearly August.

Can you believe it? Life has flown by like a tidal wave lately.

So, I relaunched this blog back in October 2014, which was just before I set sail on my adventures (you can read about that here). I started a blog as a destination where I could log my experiences, create a scrapbook and to look back on my life.

I told myself that I would update my blog regularly.

Did this happen?

In short, the answer is no.

I’m going to have a heart to heart with you, and I’m going be honest. I love blogging — I do. I love creating content, and I enjoy the journey that goes into a blog. The truth is, I work full-time and even though I have a creative idea every day, I haven’t found a chance to put my dream content into reality. When I’m not where I want to be, I’ll stop at nothing.

I’ve always thought that if you love something, you will naturally put your efforts into it. You can achieve anything you want, with hard graft. It turns out that my priorities have had to be reallocated elsewhere. And I hate being behind.

So I wanted to update you guys and keep you in the loop. The good news is that I do have a plan of action, and hopefully, I will be to where I want to be with this blog.

By the way, if you can’t stop staring at my shoes, they’re from the lovely team at Kurt Geiger Beautifully cut black leather, they make me feel like the Black Swan. Every lady needs a pair of tie-ups; they secure your footsies for that after dark event.

If you’re a blogger, I would love to hear your experiences and frustrations. Please do leave me a comment down below and let me know! In the meantime, you can follow my adventures here.

 Location: Mayfair, London

Kurt Geiger Shoes

 MAC Prep and Prime | Nars Foundation | NARS Blush | Urban Decay PaletteClinique Mascara | M.A.C Liquid Liner | The Balm Lipstick |

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 Photographer: Toya Berry

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This is the last post of my #ProjectMVietnam series before you fly over to Singapore, with me, on the blog.

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon. The first thing I said when I arrived was, ‘What. The. F**k’.

It’s a city on steroids. Mopeds will drive wherever and whenever they want. The first thing you will need to learn is how to cross the street (it took me a couple of days).


This picture sums the city up.

But you should go.

Why?

You should learn about their fascinating history. Head to the War Remnants Museum to learn about Vietnam’s side of the story.

We climbed inside the famous Cu Chi tunnel, which was a network of sneaky hiding spots for the crafty guerrilla’s soldiers. Built so that only small people could fit inside — it was of great importance to the resistance of the American soldiers.


Next reason to visit is, of course, the food. This is a special post because I celebrated my Birthday with a good ole’ BBQ.

I love the BBQ experience in Saigon. It’s like eating in a nightclub: It’s loud, energetic & everyone has a cracking time feasting together.

The best BBQ spots are:
Lang Nuong Nam Bo (Vietnamese)
Quan Ut Ut (American)
Saffron (Mediterranean)

Ho Chi Minh has some real good food if you know where to go. If you’re looking for places to eat, I’ve got you covered.

If this is your first time to Vietnam and you’re not heading to other parts of the country, then Pho and Bun are the obvious must-eats. Try:

1. Pho Hung – they say it’s the best Pho in town.

2. Bun Bha Ha Noi – Northern Style Bun Cha. It’s good, fresh, clean & cheap.

3. Pho 2000 – made famous by Clinton’s visit. Located in the heart of District 1, It’s easy to find.

A very traditional Vietnamese dish is Banh Cuon (steamed rice rolls). My cousin took me to a restaurant that did a variation.

This is a bite size version — topped with dried pork & shrimp. They taste like little clouds; the crunchy & soft texture takes you to heaven.

If you want, authentic Vietnamese food and you’ve got an iron stomach, head to Oc Dao. Warning, it’s where the locals eat — this isn’t the spot for high-quality service or hygiene. It’s the stuff you want to eat for Bear Grylls adventure training.

You come here for ‘tasty’ snails — this place is for the foodie ambitious. Don’t even think about going if you’re vegetarian.

If you’ve overdosed on the Vietnamese dishes and you’re wanting something different, awesome — the western food is shockingly good.

You don’t need to book another flight for decent gourmet pizza. I went to visit my (British) expat friend at 4ps pizza restaurant. It’s just as good as London pizza.

If you’re looking for a cheap takeout and greasy pizzas are your thing: Espy Pizza is your match. It’s a ‘spot on’ New York pizza. It’s f-ing delicious.

Does anyone else go on holiday and then for the last night, they go big or go home?

I’ve got yours planned.

Head to San Fu Lou (situated at the heart of District 1) to gobble up Dim Sum. Then pop over to Chill Skybar (next door) for a shiny view of the city. It’s a swanky sorta’ place so dress up. At the time of my visit, David Beckham was launching his new whisky brand.

The city has fantastic nightlife, head to a rooftop bar to look over a very sparkly city.

1. I already mentioned Chill Bar above
2. Glow Skybar
3. Saigon Saigon Bar

For shopping, the only place I recommend Ben Thanh Market – please be careful, the market is crowded and rife with pickpockets, but it’s the place to pick up a bargain.

Ho Chi Minh is a crazy city with everything happening at once, it isn’t for everyone and may take some time for some people to adapt, but it has so much to offer. Any expat or backpacker will tell you their crazy stories.

Enjoy, stay safe and please tell me your stories as I would love to hear them!

Location: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

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