Saturday, 14 October 2017

Travel Diary: República Portuguesa- Portugal Part II

Day 3: Sintra
Take the train from Rossio Station for approx. €5
Pena National Palace

The famous, Disney-like, Pena Palace
Sintra- Home of the famously colourful Pena Palace, it is housed on the top of one of the famous National Parks. You can get a bus ticket that takes you all the way to the top of the mountain for approx 5 euros, and catch the view going up at the same time. The trek to the beautiful palace from the drop-off point is no cake, either, but the view, the air, and the architecture is incredibly worth the trip. 


The view from the top of the Palace
If you're afraid of heights, as I am, you might find some parts of the mountain a little daunting. One the day we went, the wind was incredibly strong and at some points I felt like I was going to be blown right off the palace walls. But the view! The clear skies! The picture backdrops! The municipality goes as far as the eye can see, and you can even catch glimpses of the ocean! 


Day 4: Azeitao and Lisbon

Azeitao is a well-kept secret outside Lisbon which houses most of the country's wineries. 

Main reception building of Portugal's oldest winery

Not a Tourist Trap: Jose Maria de Fonseca, Portugal's oldest winery. We took a taxi from central Lisbon, for approximately €40 (one way). The wine tour itself was booked in advance, and cost a mere €3- inclusive of a tour of the premises and a tasting; all led by a very detailed and well-informed guide. My favourite tip of the day was learning that there was a special cellar dedicated to all the wines the winery has ever produced (since the 1800s!) and whenever a foreign dignitary or VIP came to visit the premises, the door is unlocked to give the visitor a taste of a wine from their year of birth. 
We were treated to a selection of house wines in the warmly decorated gift shop


Portugal is internationally famous for its intricately designed tiles, and so we ended the day visiting the National Azulejo Museum back in Lisbon. 

Traditionally designed tiles-- similar ones can be seen all over the city
More modern/MC-Escher-type tile designs
My outfit colours happened to match with these tiles at the museum!

Day 5: Belem
Tram from Lisbon main square approx €2.75
On our last day, we visited a suburb not far from Lisbon to sample the world-famous Portuguese egg tarts and visit the national monuments in the area. We also rode the tram, and along with a tram full of tourists, learnt that sometimes in Lisbon, things get stuck in the tram tracks and there's nothing you can do about it except wait for a group of locals and tourists to work together to get it unstuck. 

View of the sea from the Tower 
We found ourselves at the Torre de Belém, a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the significance it played in the maritime adventures Portugal went on from the 15th to 18th century. While the queue to get in is long, the view and the historical significance of the site is worth it. Its also worth mentioning that there are a lot of narrow steps and, once again, high locations, so if you're afraid of heights and narrow spaces, you might want to be mentally prepared for this one!
Tower of Belem from afar
Afternoon tea idea- Pastéis de Belém . No trip to Portugal would be complete without the famous Portuguese "nata." I will admit that I personally felt these were a bit to sweet for my taste, but I seem to be in a very small minority. But the popularity and international recognition for these pastries is undeniable- You will have to be prepared to fight through a horde of tourists and seasoned locals to get to these delights.

Pastry shop exterior
Dinner idea- Restaurante Tavares! Here's one for the foodies- enjoy a decadent evening in one of Portugal's oldest restaurants. Savour European style cuisine along with heavy gold decor and a glass of Portugal's famous vinho verde. Let the flavours and food dance along your tongue while you enjoy personalised and dedicated service. Its a true treat, and it was a memorable way to end our trip.

The interior of Restaurant Tavares
We made our way to our 7 o'clock reservation and were greeted by our friendly Portuguese hosts in a beautifully lit and grand dining room.
Cork-bound menu presented by Tavares
Aside from sweet pastries, Portugal is famous of its cork production. Tavares continues that legacy by binding its menu in cork, with the restaurant symbol printed onto the cover. 

Food at Tavares 

Moscatel on the house

Pictures are from a shared photo album

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Travel Diary: República Portuguesa- Portugal Part I

Hi friends, 

Hope everyone is having a wonderful June! As its holiday/travel season again, I thought I'd share about my last few trips and some tips/tricks and advice about some interesting, but maybe not as popular holiday destinations.

Last September, I went to Portugal with a few friends and we spent 5 days, flying into Lisbon from London. I've split this Travel Diary into two parts so I can share some pictures and information without it being too incredibly long. This post will cover Day 1 and 2, and I'll link information where I can!


General Information 
Mid to late September- warm, and can swing between humid and somewhat dry depending on which part of the country you're in. In Lisbon and by the beach, in Caiscais, it was very warm and extremely hot during lunch time and even until late afternoon. But in certain areas, like up in the mountains where Sintra is, it can be cooling and slightly chilly, especially when there's rain. Most tickets prices listed will be with a student discount

Food
A meal in Portugal is relatively cheap, considering the size and the price ratio. Its generally easy to order and most restaurants speak English or have other language menus available. Seafood here is fresh and most restaurants have variations of the Portugese Seafood Rice dish (Arroz de Marisco), which is very filling and extremely tasty. Pair the seafood with Vinho Verde- Portugal's take on white wine which has a green tint as a result of the grapes and climate. 

Transport
Portugal, especially Lisbon, is a generally accessible city- taxis, trams and tuktuks (if you want to have some fun) are found throughout the city, and most places of interest are accessible by train and trams. There is generally a minimum spend of €5 for around a 7-8 minute trip, and many taxi drivers and locals speak some English. 


Various forms of tile art on display at a shop on the way to the Castle



Day 1- Lisbon

Location: Alfama District

Located in the heart of Lisbon, there is a lot to see and experience that is merely walking distance. In September, it pays to walk and have a stroll through the cobblestone streets. The main square, Praça do Comércio, is full of storefronts that are both internationally and locally famous. Have some snacks outside and enjoy the streets and architecture, like the tiles on the pavements, buildings, and scattered around the city. 



Lisbon central square 

Lunch idea: Maria Catita Restaurante- while not necessarily the cheapest lunch option (probably as a result of its Tripadvisor fame, 3 dishes may cost around €20)- it is still well looked upon by locals and tourists alike. 

Look out for: The Santa Justa Elevator- in the middle of the city- its just fun to spot whenever you're walking around.



Fountain in central Lisbon


Day 2: Lisbon & Cascais

Take the train from Cais do Sodre station- approx. €5

Lisbon- "Hike" up a picturesque hill to get to the Castello São Jorge (entrance approx €5). It overlooks the whole city and beyond. 

Casicais- Famously home to the infamous "Boca do Inferno"- Hell's Mouth- a majestic crashing water and cave structure that can be found in Caiscais' seaside cliffs. Take a walk around Caiscais and the seaside and enjoy the backdrop of the colourful summer houses and buildings. 



Boca do Inferno from the side

Dinner idea: Casa Velha- If you're not necessarily on a budget, this is a place with pretty decor and good service, located in an easily walkable location back to the train station and surrounding bus and taxi stations. Try the lobster dishes, you won't regret it. 

Lobster dish at Casa Velha. Pair with Vinho Verde -muralhas de monção vinho verde
Pictures are from a shared photo album

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

New Year, Old Me?

The first week of 2017 has blown past us just as we have attempted to blow past the mistakes we've made in 2016-- whether individually, or as a world.

I haven't made "New Years Resolutions" in years; essentially as soon as I realised that I really wasn't able to continue lying to myself, I've stopped creating them. I can lie to everyone else- Yes, I went to the gym, I went to the 6am pilates class! I'm not spending money anymore! I try harder at school!- But it doesn't stop you from looking at yourself in the mirror after a shower and thinking, man, I do suck, and also, I'm an awful liar.

As a young 20-something year old with no money in the bank and 0% skills and 0 idea how to use my skills even if I had them, I (oddly) relish the lives of those who've had enough skill and talent to make it on their own. Every year I try to tell myself that this will be the year that I can put whatever talent I have to a success story, but every year I scrap the bottom of the barrel with my success story (and talent, unfortunately). But this year, I've decided that it will not be a "New Year's Resolution." It will be a birthday resolution, and a promise to myself that in my 22nd (?!?!?!?!?! I think...) year of life, I will try to be a better version of myself, for myself.

I sometimes wonder about the lives that people around me lead. Are they leading the lives they want to lead, or the lives that they think they should lead? And where does the life that you think you are obligated to live get in the way of the life that you really want to pursue? It seems like I'm always chasing something that I don't have enough interest in, and for the things I wanna do, I never have enough energy to pursue. But maybe that's just the reality of life? We have to pay our dues to get where we wanna go?

Anyway, that's enough of me rambling. Time to get back to work

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Rambles

Pocket Monsters Go Observations:

1. Why do I keep catching only Pidgeys and Rattatas? I genuinely don't understand. Also, how come there was a gym near my house and now it doesn't exist anymore? Similarly, the Pokestops around my house have just somehow disappeared. I find this extremely frustrating because now how can I collect Razz Berries? I have to wait till I go to work till collect them since none of the Pokestops around my house exist anymore and on the way to work they only give out Pokeballs.

2. Related to my above point, I'm very confused because why is it that whenever I catch a "rare" Pokemon, something happens and it runs away? So far I've only been able to catch 3 "extremely rare" Pokemon and it took me (not joking, I counted), almost 15 Pokeballs per pocket monster. Now, I'm sure- and I admit- that its because I throw caution to the wind and aim blindly. However, I'm sure its also because Pokemon Go lags. And I'm saying it should NOT be lagging because when I caught these Pokemon there were no other people around, but the stop pokeball on the left hand side just kept turning and turning and THIRDLY

3. HOW COME SOME POKEMON CAN DEFEND THEMSELVES BUT THEY HAVENT GIVEN POKEMON TRAINERS THE ABILITY TO FIGHT BACK, I.E. USE MOVES WITH ACTUAL POKEMON IN THE POKEDEX AS OPPOSED TO JUST THROWING SOME FRUIT AT IT AND USING MEGA POKEBALLS.

I'm still waiting for the ability to actually PICK OPTIONS and not just wander around until my phone vibrates and you know that feeling when you're texting someone you like and then you get excited that your phone makes a noise but its really just your imagination and you fall into a pit of disappointment? Yeah, thats how I feel whenever I see a Pidgey now. How many Pokeballs I'd trade for a Spearow. Yes, Pokegods, I do not ask for much.

Honestly, I was expecting the ACTUAL Pokemon Game when I downloaded this app- and I mean the Pokemon part of the Game where you make your name, look like Ash Ketchum, and meet Professor Willow and then go on a solo adventure to be the very best. Also you get to visit shops in the PokeVerse, random houses in the middle of the grass and talk to your absent mother who keeps telling you to go outside and basically nEVEr calls you to come home. I was expecting to choose "run" from scary Pokemon (because my level sucks), until the point where the game stops me from chickening out because I've just ran away from all the Pokemon too powerful for me. I also want the ability to talk to people that I meet on my journey, and then just keep hitting "A" so that they can stop talking and I can go back to buying potions at a lonely village. Its the little things you miss, like ignoring characters when they talk to you only to walk into the grass and get KO-ed. In this game, you don't see anyone, just yourself on a long, lonely, patch of green, and no matter how far you walk that incubator doesn't seem to be heating up the stupid egg that YOU'RE STILL WAITING TO HATCH AND WHEN IT HATCHES, its, like, probably a ZUBAT, or equivalent.

I'll admit, 90% of why I actually wanted to play this game was to catch a Jigglypuff because thats my favourite Pokemon. So far, I've only caught 2. They're both at like CP 160, and so this means my lifelong dream of singing my enemies to sleep and drawing rude things on their faces is, at this point, virtually impossible.

That being said, I'll still continue to spin Pokestops every 5 minutes and sing the theme song when I try to take control of the gym, only to be pushed out 50 seconds later when a Level 134798234791829 wild Dratini appears.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Myriad of Masks: Unmasking the Masks 2 (First Impressions)


Unmasking some new masks!

A myriad of masks in the world makes finding the perfect one(s) very difficult, so I've tried to narrow down the choices for all those in the world looking for their next new skin secret. 

First Impressions:
Tony Moly Pureness 100: Caviar Sheet Mask 
Nourishment/hydrating: 5/5 - 40 minutes later, it will still somewhat moist 
Skin clarity: 4/5
Skin coverage: 5/5
Thoughts: Initially was a bit skeptical on the fragrance, because I have sensitive skin, but glad to say that nothing bad happened and my skin reacted quite well.  Caviar isn't an active ingredient in the mask sheet, but if you're worried about getting an allergic reaction, maybe try it out in the shop first.
The black bits are caviar, I'm assuming




Would I get this again? Yes, it was very hydrating and it felt very luxurious on my skin. 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Exhibition: Vogue: The Centenary

On a sunny day one February, I got a ticket to a room laying out the timeline of Vogue and its defining issues every era since its creation. Every era since its inception had own section, demonstrating the shift in creative journalism, photography and overall vision of the decade.

Art and creativity also seem to do their best work in time of terror, as a form of escapism, I suppose. My personal favourite quote from the show shows the juxtaposition Vogue found itself during the 1930s, from society commentator John McMullin after a visit to Berlin—“Why all this fuss about Hitler? No one could be more commonplace—I am told he represents and idea, but I can’t find out what.” But even when his idea became clear in the 40s, Vogue trudged on doggedly, with the likes of Cecil Beaton and Lee Miller documenting Britain’s darkest hour, as it were, from their own perspectives. Elizabeth “Lee” Miller, an American war correspondent and official war photographer, documented the “Women’s War”,  the Blitz, and the horror of the Nazi concentration camps. As Hitler did his work, so did Vogue, covering the likes of the Blitz and the horror of Hitler’s work alongside wartime picture stories by Beaton on London bombsites with the caption, “Fashion is indestructible.” What struck me the most was the distinct “Vogueness” of it all—today it would almost be blasé, to have a well dressed woman posing in the middle of a demolished road, but at the time, the need to look past the horror and the tenacious need for survival was well documented and understood.

In June 2011, the Road to Revolution by Rana Kabbini detailed the writers’ feelings of being an Arab in a time of regional change, and Paolo Roversi took to abate the pains of the Japanese tsunami with his shoot Neo Geisha. In 2012 a controversial Boris Johnson posed in a controversial Olympic Park construction site. By then, Patrick Demarchelier had documented the Princess of Wales in December 1990, the Iron Lady had been photographed and profiled in the same decade as Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford, Vogue had made legends out of David Bailey and Grace Coddington and Kate Moss had solidified her status as the eternal London It Girl.

The artistic direction also changes with the times. I noticed the covers used to be handpainted and drawn, but from the 1970s the photographic covers that we know today started to take over. I found the cover illustrations to be illuminating, detailed and intricate, something which isn’t as obvious in the photographic covers as I find them more sanitised and alike, especially within the last few years. It’s a loss that present day magazines of such calibre can sometimes resemble a slightly more expensive tabloid, and the showcase made me appreciate the artistic direction when the camera was still a luxury.

The exhibition is more than just a showcase of what the Condé Nast archives has to offer, but a jarring realisation as to why we even bother to put up with this frivolity in the first place—it is a glimpse into the trials and culture of our contemporaries while recognising that in times of despair, in the words of Norman Parkinson—“people want style. They need romance.”

From teaching its readers the social graces of the 30s to jumpstarting the careers of fashionable modern designers to its patchwork quilt of long-form journalism on pressing issues, the show is more than just about fashion. Its about photographers, creators, designers, haute couture, photojournalists and the women (or men) that define our eras and those in history.

There is no doubt that whether you love it or hate it, the influence and mystery of the magazine and its editors has seceeded generations. In the last hundred years or so since Vogue debuted, it has always been at the forefront of art, introducing the world to the likes of Picasso and Sonia Delaunay. In 1916, Virginia Woolf commented on the letters of the navigator and professor, Walter Raleigh, and last April, Christiane Amanpour’s interview graced its pages. From Naomi Campbell to Cara Delevingne, it has defined the names and designs for my mother and her generation, to mine. Whether or not it will make its mark in the lives of my children is yet to be seen, but its place in history has already been set in stone.

"... If she guesses right, she is a gentleman and a scholar..... If you mistake Quentin Latour for Fantin Latour, you can laugh it off; but God help you if you cannot tell Brawue from Brook. If she is wrong, her cultural standing is usually impaired"

Location: National Portrait Gallery
Cost: £17
Duration: 11 Feb-22 May


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Exhibition: Alice in Central London


Image source: British Library


I stumbled upon the exhibition almost as curiously as Alice stumbled down the rabbit hole—a little dazed and confused, but unlike poor Alice, I ended up pleasantly surprised. To celebrate 150 years of Lewis Carroll’s fantasy dream, the exhibition explores how Alice captured generations of wonder, through a journey consisting of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscripts, illustrations and interpretations over the years.

Life-sized illustrations of bottles and the Red Queen welcome the visitor as they come through the exhibition. The main bit is separated into 3 parts—the story he told Alice Liddell, the publication of the original text, and the memoribilia and spin-offs it had over the next 150 years. In this section, the highlight is Carroll’s original manuscript, where he scribbled and fleshed out the inspiration for his wondorous story. 
My other personal favourite was reviewing the interpretations and re-interpretations of the Alice story over the decades. The famed author Salvador Dali’s interpretation of Alice was also on display, suggesting how Alice’s enchating story has touched all of us over the world. It was interesting to note that no matter what the interpretation of the story was, and no matter who was interpreting it, the story never strayed far from Carroll’s original.


The pop-up shop for the exhibition is littered with all sorts of cool artefacts like dainty plates and journals written in pretty manuscript to colouring books that induce both adults and children alike. While the exhibition is not as large or grand as one might expect, the pop-up shop offers visitors a place where they can browse and purchase bits of the Alice story that resonate the most with them.

Alice in Wonderland’s marketing heyday seems endless. Even today, every variation of the Alice story has been done and beat to death. From Tim Burton’s creepy live-action film rendition, Electronic Arts’ psychological game thriller versions to Disney’s lovable, children’s cartoon, Alice still continues to inspire. The underlying and overlapping themes and layers to the Alice story will continue to be unwrappd and unravelled, as we interpret her story in new lights and new perspectives. Like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, our adventures through this strange and sometimes twisted and confusing world will scare us and cause us to question our decisions. Like Alice, the world will continue to try talking sense and convince us with reason in an otherwise senseless situation. But like the Cheshire Cat says, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” and the continuous wonderment Alice gives us is a reminder of that.


Details
Name:
Alice in Wonderland
Where:
Entrance Hall
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB

When:
Fri 20 Nov 2015 - Sun 17 Apr 2016 

Price:
Free

Friday, 1 January 2016

Singapore: Arteastiq-the café of dreams

A Café-cum-art studio in the heart of fashionable Mandarin Gallery- there's something to be said about the elegant décor, the savoury food, and the tea choices of dreams. Brought to you by Marxx, the furniture and home décor expert, this stylish tea lounge offers an incredible view of the famous Orchard Road shopping street while you snack on some very unique treats. 




I enjoyed freshly infused rose tea on a floral induced china set, while relaxing in a velvet-backed comfortable pink chair. This rose tea was something fresh- there was a very mild taste and a hint of rose, which was delightful for refreshing one's palette after the sweet and savoury afternoon tea treats. 



To start, we ordered sweet potatoe fries to share


And the afternoon tea set (for two)


I will admit I wasn't expecting much from the afternoon tea set- I expected a lot of fancy named dishes as euphemisms for the general afternoon tea courses- a lot of sweet cakes and some sandwiches. I was, needless to say, pleasantly surprised- everything on this set was delicious and unique. The "sandwiches" were wrapped with local favourite prata, a doughy skin that was rolled with smoked duck. Any seafood or meats used were fresh and well seasoned, and complemented the sweet very well.

I will also admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the sweet treats- although I am a massive fan of afternoon teas, I am not particularly great with sweet things, and generally leave most of the cakes (and macaroons) for others to devour. This was very different- the macaroons were not too sweet to handle, and because there were only 2 of them, I wasn't completely overwhelmed by the sugar. Additionally, the apple cake came with a berry sauce, which balanced each other out well. 

I'm very glad I got the chance to enjoy this afternoon tea with one of my closest friends, and although I trust her food recommendations every single time, I will also admit this is probably her best choice so far. 

Arteastiq is a charming lounge that also offers a-la-carte options during afternoon time. I think I'll be going back again to try as much as they have to offer. Maybe I'll attempt to bring my friends there and attempt to embark on an artistic adventure while enjoying some food. Long shot, but with 2016 you never know... ;)

PS: Happy New Year! May your new years also be filled with delectable food choices 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Myriad of Masks: Unmasking the Masks 1

Unmasking some new masks!

A myriad of masks in the world makes finding the perfect one(s) very difficult, so I've tried to narrow down the choices for all those in the world looking for their next new skin secret. In each post I'll have at least one "first impressions" mask where I open the packet and discuss how I feel about the mask I've just unmasked, and another section where I talk about old favourites :) 

First Impressions
For those tired, drained and dull eye area days, I've chosen Dr Morita, a Taiwanese skincare brand that's been making the rounds around the eyecare vine. I'm particularly enjoying the fact that its not just the immediate undereye area that gets covered, since the cheekbones and cheek area also get hydrated by this mask. I actually instantly regretted using this mask as soon as I opened it- when I saw the shape and the coverage, I realised it could be a great travel asset for long flights. The fact that it was super hydrating and nourishing didn't help my regret level.

Nourishment/hydrating: 5/5
Skin clarity: 4/5
Skin coverage: 5/5
Brightening: 4/5- honestly didn't see that much of a difference 
Travel-ready? 4/5 for size and 3/5 for packaging- it was slightly larger than regular eye patches so it might take up slightly more space in a handcarry handbag

Enjoy a rare picture of me~

 

Old Favourites: Innisfree Aloe and Manuka Honey mask
 



Nourishment: 4/5- I put it on before I went to bed and the next morning I definitely felt a difference but didn't feel the nourishment stay throughout the daySkin clarity: 4/5- If used regularly, you can tell the difference Skin coverage: 4/5- slightly awkward around the eyes Brightening: 4/5- If used regularly, there is a difference Travel-ready? No- don't generally use whole face masks for travel, but would consider bringing the aloe for hydrating and brightening purposes especially for long haul flights

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Autumn Must Haves

The Autumn season has approached and although here in London, we're all attempting to get wrapped up despite the (gradually changing) hot weather, the climate is definitely beginning to have an effect on everyone's skincare routines.

SNP Gold Collagen Sleeping Pack
I cannot begin to express the joy this has brought me in the winter months. Its a jelly consistency, which you can see in the bottom picture, and its not just collagen on the packet, but its actually collagen and gold in the substance inside the container. I know, its surprising that advertising based on too-good-to-be-true facts actually do exist!




Procedure: The inside actually has gold bits floating around and you're meant to mix it with the rest of the collagen by scooping from the bottom and applying it to your face with an applicator. If you're worried about losing the shape... don't be. Its the real deal and you'll know because if you stare at it long enough, it snaps back into its original jelly shape. Just like how it'll snap your skin's elasticity back. Put it in before you go to bed, after your skin has been properly cleansed and it'll dry and soak into your skin during the night. Make sure you wipe it off in the morning and moisturise with a light layer.

Drawbacks: It melts quite quickly once its taken out of the container and on your skin. If your room or bathroom is a heated and humid place, you can either put it in the fridge or in a cooler area to make it stay slightly longer so you're not panicking when trying to spread it all over your face.



Kiehl's Avocado Eye Treatment
A tried and tested product that has seen its fair share of praise. What can I say about this product that hasn't already been praised? It's efficient, its thick and it lives up to its promise of hydrating and brightening the sensitive areas around your corneas.




Procedure: With clean fingers, dab in circular motions gently around your eyes, making sure to get none into your actual pupils.

Drawback: Thick thick thick! If you put on too much, just close your eyes and wait for it to set before putting some under your eyes. Don't put too much at once because it may have the reverse effect and make your eyes too oily to put on makeup or even irritate your skin throughout the day.