Photos: TNP, ERM MarketingImagine her surprise ‘“ and pride.Mrs Carol Neo, 44, was in the seaside town of Sozopol, Bulgaria, and got to meet the mayor. When she told him she was from Singapore, he smiled.Speaking to The New Paper, she recalled: “The mayor told me that Singapore is so clean and the Government is so good. I’m very proud that people in Eastern Europe know about Singapore.‘The full-time housewife and mother of two was there in June to take part in the Mrs Planet 2013 beauty pageant. She became the first Asian to win the title since it started in 2007.The pageant is held annually in Bulgaria and organised for married women by Bulgarian modelling agency Intersound Ltd.The third-generation Singaporean also bagged two other awards: Best National Costume and the Municipality of Sozopol Award.The Municipality of Sozopol award is given to the woman who makes the biggest impression on the mayor of Sozopol, whom the contestants had to meet.As for the national costume, it is probably the first time a beauty contestant has won with a costume designed here that hasn’t been ridiculed.Mrs Neo described the costume, designed by Dicky of The Wedding Couture Bridal, as “an awesome creation‘.The pageant had 45 contestants from countries like Ukraine, Malaysia and Nigeria. This is the, first year Singapore took part in the competition.Mrs Neo, who started participating in beauty pageants only this year, was selected to represent Singapore after she won the Mrs Singapore Planet award, one of the titles in the Mrs Singapore pageant, in May.When the Mrs Singapore organisers approached her to participate in Mrs Planet, she told them her family had plans to go on a holiday in Perth, so she would have to check with them.But her children convinced her to take up the offer.She said: “My kids were more for it than me. They said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience‘.She relented and took part in the pageant while her husband of 16 years, a Singapore Airlines pilot, and their children, 12 and 10 years old, holidayed on their own in Perth.As proud as she is of Singapore, she said there were some things Bulgaria could teach us. The Bulgarians are mindful of their trash and they actively recycle, she said.“We have the ability to do all these things, yet we’re not,‘ she added.She said that the most challenging part for her was facing the other contestants.She said with a laugh: “They were so tall, pretty without make-up, and had big boobs‘.Most of the other contestants were models or had a modelling agency of their own.Figuring she had no chance, she decided to take it as, a holiday. Then she learnt she had won the pageant.She also shows off her Singaporean side in a Q-&-A with the newspaper:What qualities make you Singaporean?I believe that family is very important. Without their support, nothing can happen.How would you describe Singapore to a stranger?You don’t have to. Singapore has been in the news in a good way.What little quirks do you see in Singapore every day?The only quirk that irritates me is that the fast lane on the highway has become the slow lane.What food do you miss most when you’re overseas?Chilli padi and soya sauce. Everything overseas was bland. So I wished I could drown them in my soya sauce and chilli padi.What are your favourite Singlish phrases or words?“Stupid or what?‘, in a joking way. It is more towards the silly side.Do you agree with Carol's impression that she was inferior in beauty when up against other contestants? Check out the gallery of her participation in the pageant below and let us know your views by leaving a comment!Also, check out the gallery of fellow Singaporean Jacqueline Ooi, Japanese housewife Masako Mizutani, Taiwanese mother Zhang Tingxuan and other women who look nowhere near their age.