Thursday, 17 December 2015

konichiwa, kyoto

kyoto, japan, kimono, travel, asia, fashion, asian, autumn, fall, japanese, kawaii, style, sushi

Entering Kinkakuji Temple. In style.

Slowly completing my Asia bucket list as I finally visited the land of my dreams, Japan. Also the land of Sailor Moon (managed to hunt down zero merch) and Pokémon (didn't have time to visit the Pokécenter or my babes Chansey though). And for future reference, 5 days is not enough.

We arrived at Kansai airport in Osaka and caught the Haruka Express to Kyoto. We also got Hello Kitty edition ICOCA cards, which are like the London Oyster/HK Octopus, but cooler of course because they are HELLO KITTY. The train and card package for tourists is cheaper online and in advance, but we're idiots and left everything to the last minute. We arrived late into the zestful heart of Kyoto city where we'd booked a tiny Airbnb apartment and where I fulfilled my Japanese dreams of sleeping on futons and tatami mats. I also had my first Japanese toilet experience and, let's just say, I screamed and decided that having my a-hole washed by a sharp jet of water from the toilet is not really my thing.

kyoto, japan, kimono, travel, asia, fashion, asian, autumn, fall, japanese, kawaii, style, sushi

My homegirl | Japanese tea set in our apartment | Tatami and futons

The first morning in Japan was hectic; finding lockers at the station to dump our suitcases in amidst rush hour. We got the... subway? JR line? train? There's so many lines that I can't even remember. Japanese public transport is not for the inattentive foreigner e.g. when you need to catch the Karasuma line towards Kokusaikaikan to Kita-Oji but there are a billion other lines with equally as many syllables. Then we got the bus to Kinkakuji Temple where we spent a while hunting down our kimono rental and getting lost in a maze of Anime-esque houses and autumnal views. Our kimono lady (let's just call her Maiko; it was something like that) ended up having to come find us and wouldn't stop 'gomenasai'-ing, despite it not being her fault that I couldn't find the place. The kimono rental was a traditional Japanese machiya which was over a hundred years old. The front room displayed a myriad of kimonos, in which I opted for a baby pink one because I'm sickeningly girly like that.

kyoto, japan, kimono, travel, asia, fashion, asian, autumn, fall, japanese, kawaii, style, sushi

Pretty residential area | Den Den Kimono Rental machiya | Walking through the garden

Maiko led us to the back of the house, where we passed the dreamy little garden with flowing water and a raised wooden walkway, and up the stairs to the dressing room. About 23 layers later, she'd finally helped us put on our kimonos. In hindsight, I should've had my hair done too, but limited time! We scuttled to Kinkakuji Temple in our little, and really uncomfortable, pairs of zori. The famous Golden Pavilion was a pretty view, but it was super crowded and I was kinda all hot and bothered in my kimono and getting all paranoid about other tourists staring at us. Because, yeah, there weren't many people wearing kimonos... And then we could see tourists taking our pictures and then other tourists were asking us to take pictures with them. Ahem, I'm a tourist too. Now my unphotogenic face is probably floating round on loads of Europeans' Facebook walls.

kyoto, japan, kimono, travel, asia, fashion, asian, autumn, fall, japanese, kawaii, style, sushi

Inside the kimono rental | Me and the wrong hairstyle at the Golden Pav | Even Japanese entry tickets are cooler

After, we moved on to Gion, the most famous geisha district in Kyoto, because I was the itinerary planner (hehe) and Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my top books. Here, EVERYONE was in kimonos. We went exploring around the Shirakawa Area (and saw the Tatsumi-bashi bridge), Pontocho Alley, the canal and Higashiyama for Shouren-In's Illuminations. And that was our one day in Kyoto. Which wasn't enough. Which means I now need to go back to Kyoto to visit the Kiyomizudera Temple. And the bamboo forest. And Uji. And Fushimi Inari-taisha.

kyoto, japan, kimono, travel, asia, fashion, asian, autumn, fall, japanese, kawaii, style, sushi

Pontocho Alley before it got seriously crowded.

kyoto, japan, kimono, travel, asia, fashion, asian, autumn, fall, japanese, kawaii, style, sushi

The Kamo river | Tatsumi-bashi Bridge | Pontocho Alley restaurant

Monday, 7 September 2015

happy one year

So, it just passed our one year anniversary in Hong Kong. Time flies when you're having fun. And working hard! But not working hard on the blog. As someone who has worked 6 days a week for an entire year, a lot has happened considering I spend the majority of my time at work. I have now grown accustomed to the frequent 32 degrees heat in Hong Kong. I don't love the heat, but I guess I'd rather be sweating everyday than in my UGGs for 8 months of the year (which is actually what happens when I'm in the UK). And I say that as I buy a one-way ticket back to England...

Some highlights of the year include seeing my boy Ed Sheeran at Asia World Expo. When can I ballroom dance with him? Bucket list. Going out with Izzy to Wan Chai and LKF. We have actually currently only been TWICE in the past 4 months. Guys, don't forget to work hard play hard. Guess we kinda got lost in the work life and ended up being (attempted) early-night grandmas. A non-highlight was having a neck injury for 3 months, so I guess that contributed to it. I vow to be appreciative of good health always. And to go out more and enjoy my youth. Woo.

We've also had quite a few run-ins with the celebrities. Linda Chung literally right outside my doorstep with a casual snake. And me and Izzy being the secondary film crew slash weird girls taking too many photos of her at the door. (Well, that's what you get, for literally filming outside my doorstep) Along with Bosco Wong, who we were too scared to ask for a photo with. That's one added to life's regrets. I really hate smoking. I really do. But can we all just appreciate how good Bosco Wong looks smoking a cigarette?! -insert photo which I don't have- I also got introduced to Myolie at a party, shook her hand and dougied infront of her. And Nancy Wu. And bumped into Edison Chen and Skepta in the shadows of Volar club. Now when can I bump into Pakho Chau is the question.

Basically every night is sleepover night and live lounge in our little home. We like Taylor Swift. And The Weeknd. And anything rap. And the thought of going back home to live with my parents, although warming, is also kinda sad after being attached to Izzy's hip for the past year (when we are not at work). Apparently, UK is set to hit sub-zero degrees this Autumn. Maybe I'll have to buy a one-way ticket back to HK after I leave...

Saturday, 30 May 2015

tai to the wan

Kinda overdue post on my mini Easter vacay to Taipei which consisted of 3 days of fooooood, sweating in 30 degrees heat, night markets (which I somehow have no photos of), wandering around lost and getting the best foot massage ever. Other half was equipped with a tour guide and was glued to it every waking moment, so thanks to that we ended up getting a lot done and visiting some great places.

So Taiwan wasn't really one of my to-go places, but we ended up going there anyway. And then I got there and wondered why Taiwan was never on my bucket list because my 13-year old self was obsessed with all things Taiwanese. Meteor Garden, Devil Beside You, F4, Wu Chun and Mike He anyone?

It was boiling hot, but not humid. I now appreciate anywhere more breathable and easier on the lungs than Hong Kong. I also appreciate anywhere with more space than Hong Kong. I forget how modern HK is sometimes; Taiwan has a slightly quaint and old-school feel. For anyone who's watched Meteor Garden, Taiwan still looks THE SAME. Fyi, MG was released 15 years ago and I was reliving it everywhere I walked.

We ended up eating and finding a lot more sushi than I expected (but Taiwan was once part of Japan's colony after all). This sushi restaurant with a train track conveyor belt was a particularly cute find.

Sushi train - choo choo | More sushi | Mini hotpot

We also had sashimi at Addiction Aquatic Development - a wet/wholesale market. Everything is fresh and I guess not as expensive as fresh sashimi could be, so basically it's sashimi heaven. There's a table area where you can stand and eat as soon as you buy. It was super busy, but genuinely the fattest and best scallops everrrrr.

Mouth is watering as I reminisce about this moment | Addiction Aquatic Development | Another spot for breakfast  ft. a massive beef dumpling

Taipei is dotted with Instagrammable cafés. Oyami Café was a random find before we left to go to the airport. The interior was decked out like a pretty countryside, shabby chic wedding complete with bride and horse near the entrance. (Although the bride looked slightly creepy, so no pictures)

Instagrammable right?

Tiramisu coffee looking like a cute plant pot | avec some cheesecake | Juice

Front entrance decorations | Bathroom floor goals | Wall interiors

View from Taipei 101 | Din Tai Fung! | The best xiao long baos

We also went to Taipei 101, the 4th tallest building in the world, and home to the fastest passenger elevator in the world too. And of course we had to visit the famous Din Tai Fung (3 Michelin Stars chain specialising in xiao long bao). I think this one is their flagship or first store? Queuing time was a ridiculous 90 minutes so we just had takeaway. There's so many different variations, but the original xiao long bao has to be the best. And yes, I would say it's probably the best I've had.

Blurry shot from 101 | Fastest elevator, yep | HK Diner from the outside!

We went to the Hello Kitty restaurant too, but I'll save that for another post. Need to come back here with my girl friends one day so we can do some clothes shopping in Xi Men Ding. 

But please, someone take me back.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

hello kitty chinese cuisine

Had to pay Jordan's new Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine a visit being the cat lady that I am. But oh wait, "Hello Kitty is not a cat". Michelle and I queued 40 minutes in the blazing sun, which actually isn't too bad because I know other people have waited at least 2 hours for a seat. The dinner queues are meant to be even longer, but I think in time, the queues and hype will die down. I also waited 3 hours before for the My Melody pop-up cafe in Langham Place, so in comparison, the 40 minutes was nothing.

Shop front was too crowded to get a decent shot!

Conclusion? Quite expensive for what it is; probably won't be going anytime soon just because I can't be bothered to queue again! But the food was decent and the interior is very Instagram-worthy - Chinese lanterns with hanging bows, carved tables, pretty crockery, paintings of Hello Kitty looking like a little ancient Chinese princess and the cutest dim sums.

Why is only one of the ha gaos a Hello Kitty?

The full meal | Toilet selfie, woo | Need me some Hello Kitty bowls and chopsticks too

Pretty portraits

Friday, 2 January 2015

merry christmas

So Christmas consisted of me feeling pretty homesick (missing the festive family fun) and napping for quite a lot of it. But Michelle, Izzy, Paige and I booked a 4-course Christmas lunch at our neighbour Hebe 101 to celebrate, before opening presents dans ma maison. Average roast turkey, some good mushroom soup, and swimmer crab and avocado in a Bloody Mary dressing (best part of the meal).

Our Christmas Corner looking all cute and starry, courtesy of mainly the one strip of tinsel I bought and the many gifts that Louise shipped all the way from Canada. And I received a tin of macarons from a student, and wrapping level = Asian.

hong kong winter

HK winter weather is pretty hormonal and changes a lot. Some days it is freezing and some days it is sweaty Betty. And in this case, it was super cold with painfully bright sunshine (dilemma: to wear sunglasses or nah?) This is prior to my digital perm, at the usual spot Hebe Haven. Wanting to stock up on more jumpers and knits, but having to restrain because there's probably only 3 months of cold weather and then like 9 months of sweat-fest. 

Coat, boots: a Korean boutique
Scarf: a HK boutique
Leggings: H&M
Sunglasses: Chanel