around the world with overexposed model

Around the world with The Overexposed Model

There’s a side of me on the internet that I’ve not shared on YQ Travelling, until today.

Back in December 2012 when I was in Singapore, I created a Tumblr called The Overexposed Model (OEM) to record ads which I’ve come across that feature an ambiguously raced young lady.

The tumblr was actually a follow up of a blog with a similar goal. The blog was called The Overexposed Big Mouth Model but it disappeared when I was trying to submit my sightings.

Since OEM was in so many ads as the generic smiling women, I thought it was fun to chronicle my discoveries. I shared the blog link with a few friends but I mostly kept it as a semi-private collection.

Then one day, a freelancer from the Phillipines asked if he could interview me about the blog as part of a feature on the model. I can now honestly say that I was in Esquire Philippines (or something like that), however not as a bikini model.

In March, the Singapore media ran out of story ideas and featured The Overexposed Model in various print and web outlets. Some readers started submitting their own sightings of OEM to the tumblr. I put those up too.

Naively, I thought that the tumblr will hibernate while I go on my four-month journey. I still keep seeing OEM.

In the beginning, it was fun spotting OEM but now it feels kind of like a nightmare. Each time I see her, there’s less giddy surprise and more “NOT AGAIN!” Of course, I still obediently take out my camera and snap her photos.

Overexposed Model in Malaysia

OEM selling ulcer medication in Sabah, Malaysia.

OEM selling ulcer medication in Sabah, Malaysia.

My first overseas sighting of OEM was back home in Sabah in a clinic. She was in a ulcer medication ad.

Overexposed Model in Greece

Overexposed Model in an optician ad in Athens, Greece.

Overexposed Model in an optician ad in Athens, Greece.

In Greece, I found OEM hawking glasses in Athens.

Overexposed Model in Argentina

Overexposed Model in Buenos Aires airport

Overexposed Model in Buenos Aires airport

I thought I was safe from OEM but I found her at Buenos Aires airport, selling some sort of travel card.

Overexposed Model in Peru

Overexposed Model on Cruz del Sur website.

Overexposed Model on Cruz del Sur website.

I found her on a bus company’s website, ready to go for an unplanned weekend travel.

Overexposed Model in a clinic ad in Arequipa, Peru.

Overexposed Model in a clinic ad in Arequipa, Peru.

In Arequipa, in a lonely building, I found her in a life size printout. I thought I should stand next to her to prove that I spotted her.

Overexposed Model in the papers in Peru.

Overexposed Model in the papers in Peru.

Then I saw her again in the papers.

Overexposed Model in San Salvador

Overexposed Model in a pharmacy ad in San Salvador

Overexposed Model in a pharmacy ad in San Salvador

When I was out window shopping, I saw her outside a supermarket.

I don’t think I will ever get used to seeing OEM in an ad. It’s funny how she’s featured in so many different countries. Does her looks makes her the everyday person of the countries she’s been featured?

Have you seen the Overexposed Model? Share where you’ve seen her in the comments below.

Let sleeping cats lie

Caturday: Let sleeping cats lie

Location: Mykonos, Greece

I found this fluffy bundle in front of my hotel door. At first, I thought it was a dog because of the size but I realized much later that it was a really fluffy cat.

Its tummy was all open for tummy rubs but I think it would claw you instead if you ever tried that.

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

What’s your favorite sleeping position?

Greek gyro

Glutton in Greece

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re going to heading to Greece for some happy glutton time.

 

Before I went to Greece, I had no idea what the people ate. I know from the myths that the gods eat ambrosia and nectar but I was pretty much clueless about what the mortals ate.

I imagine they ate a lot of olives since Athena gave the Athenians the olive tree. Is Greek yogurt really greek or is it just a marketing label?

I do like yogurt but I’ve never a fan of olives. It’s just too salty and tiny to be satisfying.

Fortunately when I reached Athens, I found out that Greek food wasn’t all about olives. I even had meals that were so good that I was willing to stay and eat that for the rest of my life.

Pita gyro

Pita gyro

Pita gyro

After I took a bite of my first pita gyro (pork), I knew I could stay in Athens forever and not get bored with the food.

A gyros is a bit like shawarma in Dubai but there is a choice of pork. For the people living in Malaysia and Singapore, a pork pita gyro is  a bit like eating Chinese roasted pork wrapped in a roti canai/prata.

The first place I had a gyro was at one of the shops opposite the central market. The dish came hot. Pita wrapped the roasted meat, french fries and salad so snuggly that I didn’t mind I was eating raw vegetable.

Frappé

Greek Frappé

Greek Frappé

I love drinking coffee. When I found out that it was a Greek who invented frappé, I knew what my default drink in Greek would be.

The Greek frappé is unlike anything I’ve ever drank. The coffee powder, milk powder and syrup are all whisked by a machine with water added in later.

A thick firm foam appears at the top and would not dissolve even after a very long while. If you taste the foam, it is sour but the drink itself is sweet.

What usually happens is that I finish all the liquid and have remaining foam and ice cubes. I wait for these to dissolve or melt before I sip on the sour remains.

[A side note, if I have to drink either only coffee or only tea for the rest of my life, I would choose tea because it is comforting and makes me less jittery than coffee.]

Traditional breakfast

Greek breakfast

Greek breakfast

Can you believe it? I only had one traditional Greek breakfast. I didn’t pay 5 euro extra for breakfast in Athens and I could only have one meal at my hotel on Mykonos because my ferry was leaving way earlier than breakfast time. :(

Greek yogurt with honey

Greek yogurt with honey

Greek salad and feta cheese

Greek salad and feta cheese

Greek salad and feta cheese

I hate eating raw vegetable. When I saw the salad that came to me, I almost pushed it away. Then I spotted a white chunk of something that looked curiously like tofu.

I nibbled on it and found out that it was salty and tasty. Using that unknown white block, I covered the taste of raw vegetable and finished all my bowl. Thank goodness a Greek salad didn’t have a lot of raw greens.

Later I read that the tofu-like food was feta cheese. Clever old me went to Carrefour and bought a pack of feta cheese.

Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that feta cheese on its own is too salty to be consumed as a main meal.

Souvlaki

Greek souvlaki

Greek souvlaki

The Greek version of satay has a lot more meat on a thicker stick but is also more expensive than a regular stick of satay.

Compared with gyro, I didn’t eat that many souvlaki when in Greece. I like it but it’s not as satisfying as roasted pork. Yum yum.

Moussaka

Greek Moussaka

Greek Moussaka

When I had the moussaka, I thought it was like lasagna but parts of the pasta replaced by eggplant.

The large rectangle contained layers of eggplant, minced meat, cheese and pasta. it was as rich as a lasagna that by the time there was only 3 bites left, I had to stuff the rest into my mouth reluctantly.

Greek pies and pastries

At the little cafes, there was always loads of pastries on display. I usually randomly choose any one of them and nod as if I knew what they were.

Greek pastries on display

Greek pastries on display

Spinach pie

Spinach pie

I’ve never really been a savory pastry person so all the pies just tasted normal to me.

Sugared orange

Sugared orange

Sugared orange

At one of the cafes, they served a sugared orange slice. It was delicious! The tangy and bitter orange peel mixes well with the sugar coating.

Coca Cola in Greek

Coca Cola in Greek

Coca Cola in Greek

Even though I want to drink something local with my meal, I always ended up with a Coca Cola because it was the easiest thing to choose.

A long way to Istanbul

Athens to Istanbul by bus [YQrtw Day 46 May 23]

Location: Mykonos -> Athens -> Istanbul

When I was planning my journey from Greece to Turkey, I didn’t think of doing a bus trip. I wanted to take the train or even a ferry to reach Istanbul from Athens.

But I found out that there is no direct train from Greece to Turkey. I will need to take two ferries to reach Turkey and take another bus ride to Istanbul.

In the end, I chose to buy a bus ticket from Athens to Istanbul.

Figuring out how to get the tickets was a pain in the buttocks. The web page for Crazy Holidays’s Athens to Istanbul was a jumble and there was no way to figure out how to get the tickets.

In the end, I found out how to get tickets from Athens when I stumbled upon this page. Silver Star Agency’s location was easy to find with Google Maps.

How to get to Al Travel Metro

The directions to the bus terminal was a little confusing since Google Maps couldn’t interpret the full address that was given to me.

The right address to search on Google Maps is Leoforos Athinon 222.

From Larissa station and Metaxougnio, there are buses A15 and B15 which stop at ΠΑΛΙΑΤΖΙΔΙΚΑ‎. Walk with the direction of the traffic and you will reach Al Travel Metro.

Being the scatterbrain that I am, I was too excited about the bus ticket spot check that I did not stop at the right stop.

Instead, I got off at one stop after. I had to walk on a overhead bridge that was parallel to the huge highway. The journey felt a lot longer than it was as the sun was hot and my bag was heavy.

I reached at 4:00pm. My bus was to leave at 5:00pm. I hung out at the stuffy lobby until the departure time.

At Al Travel Metro, there is a toilet behind the lobby. It’s in a warehouse and looks dark and creepy–you never know what you’ll step into.

The 14 hour bus ride

Long way from Athens to Istanbul

Long way from Athens to Istanbul

According to Google Maps, my journey was about 1,000km.

Thank goodness the seats were comfortable and I didn’t have anyone sitting beside me.

Throughout the night, I experimented with different sleeping positions. I was a pretzel, The Thinker with knees to my chin, a cushion with my head on the seat.

I never figured out what was the best position for sleeping. The position I want to experiment was hanging my legs out the aisle having my whole upper body on the two seats.

Bad backseat mates

Turkish shows on the bus

Turkish shows on the bus

I am blessed with a magical ability to attract the worst behind-seat mates. Last trip from KL to Singapore, I had a lady who crossed her legs through out the journey and whined loudly when my seat even reclined that just little bit.

This time, it was a pair of Brazillian buddies. They could not stop talking from across the aisle!

The only time I realized that there was no sound coming from them was at 11:00pm. I peeked at them and found that they were trying to sleep.

Rest stops along the way

Greek rest stop

Greek rest stop

The rest stops in Greece looked more like nice coffee shops that are generous with their toilet.

In Turkey, however, it cost 1 euro to use the toilet. Just as bad as it was in Italy.

Land border crossing and the smuggler

I’ve only entered another country through the borders in two places: Malaysia-Singapore and Malaysia-Thailand.

I was curious how the border crossing was for Greece and Turkey.

Leaving Greece, everyone had to get off the bus, pass their passport to the customer officer who was at the bus lane. The officer asked a few questions to suspicious people (like someone with a Malaysian passport). Those who have suspicious baggage had to take things out and unwrap them.

The passports were later passed back when we all got back on the bus.

For Turkey, the inspection was a bit worse. My luggage inspection was fast since I only had a backpack. The officer still put his hand into my bag and felt around.

There was a man who brought two tall boxes wrapped with newspaper and taped with brown tape, inside which was cognac, at least according to him.

The Turkish customs folks tore open the wrapping. In one of the boxes was a tall alcohol bottle that was about the height of my knee.

The man was detained and our bus left without him. It’s pretty scary to be him.

I drifted in and out of sleep on the bus. Most of the time I had my feet on the other seat and rested my head on the my seat. (Later I took a 2 hour nap when I got to Istanbul).

The bus was surprisingly on time and we all made it to Istanbul at 8:00am.

What was the longest bus ride you have taken?

View from halfway up the hill on Delos

Day trip to Delos, the birthplace of Apollo [YQrtw Day 45 May 22]

Location: Mykonos, Greece

Today was the day of the day trip to Delos, the sacred island where the sun god Apollo and his twin Artemis are said to be born.

To get to Delos, you need to take a boat, run by Delos Tours which has a counter at the docks. Without a tour, the price of the return trip is 17 euro.

The guided tour package is 40 euro for a 1.5 hour group tour and the return tickets. I chose the tour group because I haven’t done my reading on the island. The tour was booked through my hotel.

The boat for the guided tour leaves at 10:00 am. The lady at the hotel told me it would be better to reach at 9:30 am so I had to call for a cab.

Along with the booking fee, the cab fare was 7 euro from the hotel to not-even-near the Delos dock. The meter seemed to jump really fast. Each 3 meters, it jumps by 1 cent, leading my heart to jump along with it.

Cab meter on Mykonos Island

With my voucher, I collected my boat ticket and a sticker that signified that I was on the guided tour. The boat that went to the island was quite large and had two levels.

I really wanted to stay in the shaded lower level but felt that it looked odd when everyone else was on the upper deck. So I head up and sat under the sun.

The trip to Delos seemed to take forever as the sun gave my left shoulder a good sizzle. Even covering my shoulders with a shawl didn’t seem to help much as the heat still soaked through the thin synthetic fabric.

Tour of Delos’s residential area

The boat finally landed at Delos. Everyone swarmed out and there was a slight confusion as no one really knew which area to gather for their own tour group.

There were two English tours that day. One had a Union Jack as a sticker while the other, which I was on, had a half smiley face sticker.

Our tour guide was Joanna who wore a Beatles t-shirt and a baseball cap.

Our first stop was the residential area of Delos. The only remains left of the place were stone walls with stones stacked high without using any cement. This was the Greek way of building walls: stacking stones with smaller stones in between so everything would stay put.

Greek stone walls

The walls that we saw were mostly stone but in the past, the Greek would put a layer of material outside of the walls so that the surface is smooth.

At the House of Dionysus, we saw a replica of a marble mosaic that had a head with wings, floating on a tiger.

The head and wings belonged to Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, entertainment and theater. Dionysus was popular among the common people because everyone likes to partaaay.

In the same house, we could see the remains of a stone staircase heading up and also a room with a drain which functioned as a private toilet.

At another house, we saw a window with marble frames. On the marble, there were holes. Back then, there was metal railing in the window and the room was a bank of sorts.

This used to be a bank window.

Next stop, Joanna brought us to the ancient theater. Most of the marble seats were gone but some of the front row seats were intact and even had backs.

Theater seats on Delos island

Our visit to the residential area ended after looking at the House of Cleopatra where two statues were found. One of the statues had the name Cleopatra so the house was named that way. This wasn’t the same Cleo as the one who died of a snake bite.

Apollo’s temples no more

Next up was Apollo’s sanctuary and his alleged birth place.

Here on Delos, there wasn’t much left of Apollo’s sanctuary. There were marble foundations and some lonely columns lining the paved road to the temple but it required a very good imagination to see the things as it was in the past.

In the distance, a single palm tree marked approximately where Apollo was born. There used to be a lake there in the past but the present archaeologists filled the lake up because it was breeding malaria-carrying mosquitos.

Delos was Apollo's birthplace

There were also a line of marble lions near the temple. The replica lions were rather slim and  had the same ravaged looks as the original.

When the tour ended, we had time to spare. There was a boat leaving at 1:30pm but I decided to stay on the island and leave on the last boat at 3:00pm.

When the boat that leaves at 1:30 pm left, I was worried that I would be bored with the island. In the end, I wasn’t bored at all.

I went around exploring after I took a look at the museum’s rather sparse collection. I had wanted to climb up the tallest hill but I gave up. It was a little embarrassing that I couldn’t make it to the top as I saw many retirees sprinting up.

Halfway up the hill, there was a temple with the sign Temple of Isis. The half broken statues of a goddess inside didn’t look like the Isis I know. It had a flowy robe.

I took a wrong path on my way down. The path might have led somewhere in the past but I only had plants that clung to me desperately and an end that required me to jump down 2 feet to the ground.

Many lizards lived on the island. Most of them were colorful with stripes of bright green or blue.

View from hill of Delos

The boat back to Mykonos sounded its horn 30 minutes before departure.

When we left, Delos turned back into the empty place with all but the archaeologists, birds and lizards staying back on the sacred island.

Mykonos's colors

Mykonos, effortlessly beautiful [YQrtw Day 44 May 21]

Location: Athens -> Mykonos, Greece

When I was planning my RTW for Greece, going to the Greek islands wasn’t in my list because

  • I do not like getting sunburnt
  • I do not like warm sea water
  • I do not like to party

In short, I’m a terrible island tourist.

But when I was in Athens, I found out about some cheap island packages to Santorini and Mykonos. It was cheaper than me trying to cobbling up everything from scratch so I decided to give one of the Greek islands a try.

That, plus my 1-week Athens transport pass was expiring.

The travel agent picked Mykonos for me to fit my bus schedule. I’m kind of wary about Mykonos because I heard that it’s a party island.

But when I arrived in Mykonos, I realized that I like the island is not just about partying.

Follow the black tar road to Mykonos

My hotel is quite far from the city center. It’s a 1.5km journey, according to the hotel. There are buses to town but they come at an hourly interval.

After checking into the hotel, I took a long rest before heading out at 4:00pm. I thought that 4 hours in town would be enough and I would be able to head back before sunset.

The road to town was easy enough. I just had to follow the coastal road till I reach the populated area.

Mykonos sea view

The walk was lovely. On the right were the cliff and the beautiful multi-coloured Aegean Sea. On the left, there were hotels built in the white Mediterranean style.

Of course, I would get jealous of people riding their monster scooters or driving their cars past me. I had to rely on Bus 11 (my two legs) instead of a private transport.

Beautiful Mykonos town

Colors of Mykonos

Mykonos’s town center is painted with a limited selection of colors. White was predominant as all walls were as white as bleached cotton. Doors, door frames and window frames were painted blue while churches had red dome roofs.

The limited color made the whole town beautiful. No building was competing with others for attention. Some buildings had green vines while others had bursts of bougainvillea framed by its green leaves.

The streets were narrow. All the time I did not know where I was going but it didn’t matter because I will find my way when I get to the sea.

I did want to find a particular restaurant that was recommended on Tripadvisor. My Google Maps took me into tinier and tinier lanes until I finally saw the shop.

I ordered two pitas: pork gyro and pork souvlaki, since I did not have lunch.

The restaurant owner must have thought that I was getting a takeaway for someone else as well because he had my order tucked into a aluminium wrap.

Pita for two

I was too embarrassed to say that I was the only one who will be eating the two wraps so I paid my bill and went to find a picnic spot.

Maybe having the picnic was a better choice since I had the view of the sea while I munched away at my pita wraps. That would keep me satisfied till tomorrow morning.

After my meal, there was more walking. I eventually stumbled upon the famous windmills and Little Venice. This means that I will have less to tick off my check list tomorrow.

Mykonos windmill

Mykonos's Little Venice

No swimming in the sea

I decided to go swim in the sea when I got back to the hotel. There’s a tiny patch of seawater in front of the hotel, near the yatch docks.

When I got to the water, I realized that the sea was freezing cold. The sun was about to set so there was no rays to heat up the water.

In the end I just looked at the bottom of the sea. The water was so clear that I could see tiny fishes swimming about.

Mykonos's clear sea water

There were also some sea plants so I figured that not many people swim in this part of the sea.

Same as always, I head back to my room as night fell. Tomorrow I’m going to the island where Apollo was said to be born.

Have you been to Mykonos? What do you recommend doing here?

Little Venice in Mykonos

Tix to Mykonos bought! [YQrtw Day 43 May 20]

Location: Athens, Greece

Today was a very mellow day because most museums were closed and my 4-day Acropolis museum pass expired today.

I did buy my tour package to Mykonos in the morning so the day did have a slight climax. I initially wanted to go to Santorini but I told the travel agent about my time constraint (bus to Istanbul leaves at 17:00 on Thursday) so he chose Mykonos.

Since the day was a bit of a bore (lunch of gyros; nap; coffee at Public Cafe; back to hotel), I’ll discuss a little about my plans for Mykonos.

Mykonos

Little Venice in Mykonos

Little Venice in Mykonos

CC Photo by Apel.les

I’m staying in Mykonos for two nights. The hotel I’m booked for seem to be low on Wi-Fi so do not fret if you don’t find any updates.

I heard that Mykonos is a party island. And if you know me, I’m not party-going person.

I also found out that Mykonos is “one of the hottest gay holiday destinations that Europe has to offer”. This probably means that half of the men out there play for the other side of the team. (So much for Eat, Pray, Love huh.)

I’m not that much of a beach person so I’m glad to find that Mykonos has plenty of museums. (I can hear the facepalms from my friends now.)

There’s also a magical island nearby. I’ll definitely head there on Day 2 morning.

Early bird

My ferry to Mykonos leaves at 7:35am so I need to leave my hotel at about 6:00am. This also means that I need to wake up super early (and pack today too).

So that’s for today! I promise I will start packing soon.

Marching ceremony at Athens's parliament

Changing of guards at Syntagma Square [YQrtw Day 42 May 19]

Locations: Athens, Greece

Ceremony on Sunday at Athen's Parliament

In front of the Parliament building, there are guards dressed up in fancy costume, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The guards are sort of like the those at Buckingham Palace–standing straight with no expression.

At the start of each hour, they have a changing of guards thing going on. The guards march with high kicks.

But on every Sunday at 11am, there’s an even more elaborate “show” with band music and many guards marching down the street.

Since I’ve not caught any of the changing of guards, I thought I should head down today to catch the most awesome of the show.

When I reached the area, I saw that many people were already lined up at the square in front of the Parliament. I went closer and looked between other people’s shoulders to find that the guards were already doing their lining up.

I had to look between others’ shoulders for a part view of the procession.

Then something caught my eyes. It was the very good looking face of a young policeman.

Why are Greek policemen so handsome?

I've cropped this photo. I didn't actually push my camera into this gentleman's neck to get this photo.

I think I now sound very much like a creep. And based on the photo above, you’ve probably removed the bookmark you had for this blog.

But I have to ask: Why are the young Greek police people so good looking?

Since coming to Athens, I have been stunned by how good looking the younger police officers are. (The policewomen are also gorgeous but there are more policemen around to look at.)

How is it statistically possible for this place to have so many good looking police people? Do they have a “good looking meter” that recruits have to pass?Someone, tell me!

Anyway, after the marching, I didn’t linger around for more stalker shots so that’s the one and only photo of Clark Kent that you’ll see here.

Benaki Museum and lunch on the rooftop

The Benaki Museum was just around the corner. Since today was International Museum Day part 2, it was free entry to the 3-storey museum.

The collection in the museum was great. Finally I get to see art that wasn’t related to Christianity (those are great too but there is a limit of how much Marys one can handle in a week).

Since Museum Weekend was on, there were a lot of events for children as well. I wished I had those when I was a kid but then I might rather stay at home than hang out with a crowd of stranger kids.

The Benaki Museum has a nice rooftop restaurant that is shaded by umbrella. I decided to treat myself to some nice lunch since I’ve been keeping within my budget in Greece.

Lunch was moussaka–which I dub eggplant lasagna–and a pricey frappe. The creamy moussaka took a lot of effort for me to finish.

Damn you Google Maps

Next stop, I thought of going to the Byzantine Museum, to see the wonderful…Christian art. (Wait, who was it that said she cannot stomach more Marys?) I like the Byzantine Christian works because the characters are deliberately stiff.

So using my trusty Google Maps, I mapped out my route. Hmmm… A 40 minutes journey? OK, I do have a lot of time.

I waited for the longest while before bus 132 came. The bus went through a long route before I got off.

Following Google Maps’s direction, I arrived at a residential area, in front of a house that did not look like a museum.

I got out my phone and checked Foursquare. The app told me that the museum was just next to where I got on the bus, near the Benaki Museum.

DAMN YOU GOOGLE MAPS.

Other things that happened today: Got back to city center; sat at a nice cafe, reading; went to see the public cemetery of Athens but the gates were not open; saw creepy lady in cream blouse and skirt while walking away from cemetery; got back to hotel; bought club sandwich for dinner; read Jezenbel.