Wednesday, 16 November 2016

harry potter and the cursed child

After two months of dedicated Friday Forty participation, the prospect of winning tickets for the sold out Cursed Child play seemed pretty bleak. But then after an overdose of Felix Felicis and a bout of luck, we won.


Now most of my friends assume that we got the tickets for free when I say that we won the Friday Forty, but winners actually just get the best seats at reduced rates. £130 seats for only £40! "Oh, wtf. That's not really winning though..." Yes. Yes it is. Bloody muggles.

Sneaky pic. This is how close I was to Voldemort.

We went to Saturday 5th November's showing at the luxe Palace Theatre. Sadly missed Matt Lewis by a day, but hey, can't complain when we got front row seats (and next ticket release is for December 2017, wut).

Without spoiling too much (because #keepthesecrets), I can only say that it was everything and more. Personally, I loved the story because J.K. Rowling is basically my hero and I love anything she writes. Think moving staircases, return of the time turner, flying dementors, spells shooting out of wands and 5 hours of pure magic.

Secretly, I would've liked a Goblet-of-Fire-sized novel and a movie, but after seeing it, a play format makes sense. Can she just keep making sequels forever? I'm just drowned in nostalgia anytime I read or watch HP. I need help.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

santorini | beachy kamari

Working the Xiaomi Yi and Bardot dress code at Kamari's Black Sand Beach

Embarking on a new adventure and much-needed break, I finally visited one of the bucketlist ultimates: Santorini. As a hater of sunbathing and deep water, beach holidays kinda aren't my thing. But Pinterest is good marketing and an exception was made for the quest of white buildings with blue roofs.

Nestled on a bitch of a slope was our quaint, open-plan Epavlis Hotel. Our sea-view room on third floor, right next to the swimming pool and bar, perfectly faced sunrise. We set an alarm for 5:45am, and I feel like that was the first and last time I will ever make an effort to wake up for sunrise again, because I've decided I'm more of a sunset kinda gal. But we did have a pretty postcard-perfect scene right outside our window. We opted for Kamari because it was one of the better deals with the travel agency (considering Santorini isn't your cheapest European destination) but in hindsight, I wouldn't have wanted to stay anywhere else.

Bedroom views: Egg yolk

The bustle of Thira and the views of Oia were nice, but I loved the placidity of Kamari most. And the beach front is pretty by day and dreamy by night. There's just something really romantic about dim lighting when waves are lapping in the background.

Kamari is seafood heaven and has the longest strip of restaurants overlooking the sea, and whilst devouring Greek Salad every single day (of course), we also decided to hunt down 3 of Tripadvisor's top 4 restaurants. I primarily wanted to go to Santorini for the white buildings, but food was probably the best part. Shoutout to mah faves:

The most vibrant lunch at Captain's Corner Taverna / Octopus salad at CCT / The best everrrr veg-stuffed calamari and a grilled tentacle the size of my face at Almira

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

beyonce formation world tour

To commemorate the day I saw Queen Bey slaying and basking in all her vocal/dancing/physical perfection. Seriously, she is so flawless is she even for real. Lemonade album favourites include Formation, Don't Hurt Yourself and Sorry because Queen Bey is just so cool and empowering when she's angry. Half the setlist were older songs like Yoncé, Partition, Diva plus a medley of old old songs and Destiny's Child.

Acapella version of Love On Top (Can we also note my very stable video-taking skills)

And whether the cheating rumours are true or not (Solange and elevator tho...) Dear Beyoncé, you don't need no man.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

it's ok not to be ok

So I've reached an age where I've been pondering the meaning of life, feeling the pressure of not living up to everyone's expectations of me and suffering from post-freedom depression after moving back home.

I think life would actually be quite satisfactory if I were, well, healthy and unimpaired. But life's a bitch and that's not the case. So whilst I am waiting patiently everyday in desperation and lacking sanguine for the stem-cell therapy that still doesn't exist, anxiety also decided to pay a visit this year and accumulate to my many other inconveniences.

As someone who generally grins and bears it and doesn't like talking about their deepest feelings and emotions, for once, I want to talk about it.

Anxiety is like an unexplainable weight on your shoulders and heart, suffocating your respiration and tormenting your mind. Like a typical anxiety prey, hot flashes, trembling, sleepless nights, sudden tears, heavy breathing and heart attack-like palpitations are the bane of my life. Being alone is the worst and I have not yet mastered the art of dealing with a panic attack and deciding whether I should suppress the pent-up feelings or let it all out. But so far, luckily, I've conquered public situations in remaining composed.

Talking about it to friends who listen actually makes me feel better, like I am alleviating the burden by sharing it. Like by saying it out loud, I am diluting the feeling of suffering alone. Sometimes I feel like I can't talk about the anxiety because not everyone around you will understand why you have a fear of leaving the house on your own or why you feel anxious when people look at you in public or how you're fine one moment, and then you feel like you're having a heart attack the next. ('Get a grip' springs to mind, no?) I'm not crazy though, I swear.

Well, if there's one thing I've learnt is that life goes on. And Instagram is not the true portrayal of someone's life. I'm not ok, but I guess that's ok. Putting on a front is what I do best. And after everything, I've still made it out alive. Appreciate good health, guys - some of us are less fortunate.

"And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have" - Stephen Chbosky.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

vietnam adventures | hanoi

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
Hoàn Kiếm

A throwback to when I visited the capital of Vietnam with my travel buddy. Our weekend getaway involved becoming millionaires (in Dong, not GBP unfortunately), spontaneous sightseeing, learning the art of crossing roads, lots of pho and experiencing the coffee culture. We stayed at a hotel called BOSS LEGEND (hell yeah) in the Old Quarter. Our room was massive (although dark wooden interior usually gives off a kinda haunted vibe, no?) and we also made use of the hotel's disco jacuzzi.

The Old Quarter is a hub of motorbikes, markets and cultural landmarks. We were 5 minutes away from Hoàn Kiếm Lake and immersed ourselves into some Vietnamese culture via the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Although I couldn't tell you what the show was about because, if there was a plot, it was all lost in translation. The weather started turning cold and murky, so the photos turned out quite grey, but thanks to the little kid who livened up our photos at the lake with his continuous photobombing.

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
Photobomb 1 | Photobomb 2 | Photobomb 3

The Temple of Literature was also on the agenda, although we didn't make it very far after realising we weren't adhering to the dress code rules plastered over the entrance and decided to past on possibly awkward or disrespectful encounters. No shorts or short skirts, guys! We also had a spa day at La Belle Spa, entailing the best full-body massage I've ever had and also, to balance it out, the most painful body scrub I've ever had too.

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
The Temple of Literature | Tuk tuk mania in the OQ | View from spa

Night-time Hanoi is pretty enchanting - the Huc bridge at Hoàn Kiếm lights up red, lights are strung on trees and motorcycles still rule the road, even at late hours. We toured around the Old Quarter's night life on a tuk tuk/xe lam and also taxi-ed to other parts of Hanoi for dinner. En route to Tràng Tiền, which is kind of down the road from the OQ, it transitions from hipster bookstores to the likes of Diors and Cartiers.

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
Sightseeing on the tuk tuk

Funky B on Tạ Hiện Street was another random find on a bar-hunting mission. Tạ Hiện seems like Hanoi's version of Hong Kong's LKF; apart from whilst everyone stands/drinks/dances/throws up on the streets of LKF, Tạ Hiện is a little more sensible, albeit equally as crowded. Hanoi has a very prominent street culture where the Vietnamese sit on mini plastic stools outside to drink or eat and Tạ Hiện is lined with street food and beer places.

Because of my ongoing issues with hyper gastric acidity and 99 problems, we opted out of trying street food, though I wished I tried bánh mi. And since the currency conversion meant we were loaded with hunnets, we had gourmet every night for dinner instead. If only life was that affordable in the UK...

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
Gia Ngu Restaurant | The Gourmet Corner Restaurant | Funky B

1080p, woooo

Monday, 1 February 2016

night-time dōtonbori

dotonburi, shinsaibashi, osaka, night life, night time, japanese food, takoyaki

Dōtonburi is pretty overwhelming at night when there's queues everywhere. The area is a hub of nightlife, restaurants, shops and neon lights, paying homage to 3D seafood plaques and the Glico man. We weren't on a food mission (although we should have been) because of our un-strategic holiday planning. We ended up going to a random restaurant overlooking the canal for the best grilled eel though, after a stint of souvenir shopping. I went overboard in a souvenir snacks shop with mochi and giant Meiji Apollo. In hindsight, I should've got the rainbow Pocky and retro Pretz. Next time, next time.

dotonburi, shinsaibashi, osaka, night life, night time, japanese food, takoyaki

After dinner, me and Izzy decided to go karaoke. Just the two of us. Yup. Apparently, karaoke on your own is actually a thing in Japan and single karaoke booths actually exist, so we thought a 2-man karaoke room wouldn't be hard to find. And it wasn't. We picked a random one of many, and struggled with the pricing and room booking and free drinks and generally everything because of the general lack of English that Japanese speak. Our room was tiny, and literally just for 2 people, catered with 2 seats, a Japanese-only system (and pretty 'sick' reverb and bass) and some instruments. We were having technical issues with one mic and I kept on having to phone the reception with my limited Japanese of "Eigo o hanasemasuka?" (aka Do you speak English - which no, he didn't). But besides not understanding anything, we had a pretty amusing time and the English song choices were better than any karaoke place I've been to in England and Hong Kong.

dotonburi, shinsaibashi, osaka, night life, night time, japanese food, takoyaki

The place, albeit pretty crowded, makes for a nice night-time stroll when the crowds start dying down. We also hit up the 300 yen store and also got hot milk tea in a plastic bottle from a vending machine. Which is essentially kinda the same as going to a Poundland and just getting a hot tea from a coffee machine, but everything is just cooler in Japan. And, for the lols, below is when my panorama was photobombed by a thousand nostrils.

dotonburi, shinsaibashi, osaka, night life, night time, japanese food, takoyaki

Thursday, 21 January 2016

心斎橋 shinsaibashi shopping

shinsaibashi, shinsaibashisuji shopping center, shopping in osaka

There's (almost) nothing quite as satisfactory as a good shopping trip with a best pal. We spent a Saturday in the Shinsaibashi area when we visited Osaka. Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Centre is a super long shopping arcade with a lot of Western brands. Guilty of buying a shearling coat from Stradivarius (which turned out to be cheaper in HK AND England), but Japan was getting pretty cold.

Our main indulgence was Japanese cosmetics. Who knew you could spend over an hour in a pharmacy. We came back the day of our flight and went crazy. Pretty sure I didn't even need half the stuff I chucked into my basket, but have to take advantage of the Yen whilst it's still cheap! There's also tax-free shopping in pharmacies and hoards of Mainlanders practically buying out everything. Ended up buying Lululun face masks as gifts, and then plenty of DHC, Dejavu, Dark Media, Suisai and Shiseido. And also mouth ulcer stickers. (Why don't they sell them anywhere else?!)

shinsaibashi, shinsaibashisuji shopping center, shopping in osaka

We also wandered to Kuromon Market (a bit too late). A lot of the stalls were starting to close as we got there, because we're always one step behind at life, but we managed to feast on some takoyaki and sashimi. And here's also a picture of Dotonburi Canal, which we went past in the daytime. Everything in Japan is just so picturesque.
  shinsaibashi, shinsaibashisuji shopping center, shopping in osaka, dotonburi canal

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

hold back the river | 京都-style

kamo river, geisha district gion, ootd outfit of the day, travelling in japan

In light of my recent Kyoto post and backtracking the past year in order to complete my 2015 chronicles, Izzy helped and found these photos she took of me looking unprepared along the Kamogawa River. Next to Pontocho Alley and looking gloomy in all its quaintness, it is still a pretty scenic view. Shame it was starting to get murky and there was no photobomb from girls in kimonos (which there are plenty of in Gion). I'll be forever nostalgic for those Kyoto days.

kamo river, geisha district gion, ootd outfit of the day, travelling in japan

kamo river, geisha district gion, ootd outfit of the day, travelling in japan

Cardigan - Stradivarius
White jumper - Bershka
Jamie Jeans - Topshop
Trainers - Puma
Bag - Longchamp
Sunglasses - Rayban

And lastly, here's a photo of the river near the Gion-Shijo Station, Kawabatacho end giving me 1 Litre of Tears vibes. kamo river, geisha district gion, ootd outfit of the day, travelling in japan

Friday, 8 January 2016

i solemnly swear i am up to no good

harry potter, world, japan, universal studios, osaka, travel, asia

As a sufferer of post-Harry Potter depression, and a Ravenclaw, of course I had to go to the recently-opened Harry Potter World when I went to Japan. Yet to visit the US, but fyi I've been to the Warner Bros studio tour twice :D The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, and I'm still wondering why the UK doesn't have one because I clearly recall, en route from Platform 9 3/4, King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley, that there a lot of land. Pretty please.

harry potter, world, japan, universal studios, osaka, travel, asia

So, Universal Studios Japan doesn't cater for foreign visitors. Like, everything is in Japanese. Everything. I guess the all-in-Japanese ticket website was a clue really. We only went there for Harry Potter World anyway. We initially panicked, thinking we weren't going to get into HP World because all the packages were sold out online and in Lawsons. But it's pretty easy to get a timed-entry ticket once you're in the park - you just have to print one off at the designated machines. We got there in the morning and still had to wait until half 3 for our time slot /yawn.

harry potter, world, japan, universal studios, osaka, travel, asia

The HP World is predominantly remodelled after Hogsmeade, complete with snow-capped shops (Honeydukes, Zonko's, Ollivanders etc. albeit that some of these shops belong to Diagon Alley). There's also a substantially-sized Hogwarts castle, some gargoyles, a Hogwarts Express and also a big lake (the lake where Harry conjures a patronus to save himself?). We only went on The Flight of the Hippogriff, which was a quite anticlimatic ride (expect to go round in literally just circles). The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction was a 3-hour queue and since not everyone was a fan of HP, we couldn't justify waiting that long. Cry. So close yet so far.

harry potter, world, japan, universal studios, osaka, travel, asia

Instead, we drank steaming mugs of Butterbeer from The Three Broomsticks to keep warm. For anyone that hasn't had Butterbeer, it's very much a cold drink that tastes similar to Cream Soda served in cute plastic mugs from an outside kiosk. I don't actually like Cream Soda, but I do like Butterbeer. But maybe that's because I like anything Harry Potter.

harry potter, world, japan, universal studios, osaka, travel, asia
Shearling coat - Stradivarius