Monday, 30 January 2017

Wishful Cards | ILLUSTRATED GREETING CARDS


Hola! I set up an Etsy Shop, Wishful Cards selling my own illustrated greeting cards. At the moment I have designs, ideal for Valentine's Day. Ofc I had to design some cheesy pun-themed muggle Harry Potter ones. All cards are A6, professionally printed on heavy-weight 350gsm silk paper stock + comes with a kraft envelope. Please check it out, thank you! :) 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

All is well.


In light of recent Christmas festivities which involved a HP Marathon binge-watch, I thought I'd conjure a Harry Potter appreciation post, cos why not?

For those who have been trying but unsuccessfully to get hold of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child tickets, I know the feeling. After failing to get tickets and being 150K in queue for five hours, the prospect of going was v.slim. I even dedicated my Friday 1pm to eagerly joining the soul-crushing 'Friday Forty' raffle for months. Months. 

However, it'a good thing my bff, Sharon is a lucky one, eh? She only went and won tickets! Well, by winning- it wasn't even free but that's besides the point.  LY, FRIDAY FORTY. LY JK ROWLING.
So, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child was magical.  No spoilers though, cos #keepthesecrets but holy magic in five hours and two parts. After reading the play during the summer, I struggled to see how they would manage this sorcery on stage but they did it. Things moved. Disappeared. Flew. Spells happened. The Harry Potter franchise is still going strong, and rightly so. 

Just to emphasise how much of a nerdy HP fan girl I am, I've got to include my visit to Japanese Hogsmeade, back in Nov '15 where we sipped on overpriced Butterbeer and listened to a bilingual Ollivander choosing a wand for an un-enthusiastic and confused looking boy. I would have definitely been more excited, just sayin'. 

Saturday, 31 December 2016

NOV '15 | 大阪市, Osaka.


I have issues. It's been over a year since my trip to Japan and I still feel need to update it in an ocd-like manner with the exact order of my visits. Ultimate laziness needs to be left behind in 2016 and replaced with organisation skills. This is my nostalgic tribute to my visit in Osaka. ヤーホー Yaho!
Dotonburi Canal |  90's style transportation
We wanted to immerse ourselves into the modern side of Japan, and we thought that Osaka was the perfect contrast to our previous destination in Kyoto, although I've got to say- the underground 'metro' (I can't think of what they're called) were old fashioned AF.  Situated in the Kansa region of Japan, we could hardly wait to get our shopping on for the day at Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Centre.


Help. It was heaven. A long outdoor arcade of endless shops filled with quirky Japanese fashion items and beauty products. The bladdy beauty products. Tax-free shopping literally sent me over the edge and I went crazy, throwing things into my basket like no tomorrow.

I was suddenly enticed by novelty items that I would never have thought of buying and now I have the receipts of my impulse buy at the pharmacy to remind me of the eye drops I once bought in 2015 stapled into my passport. Sidenote: Japanese eye drops are bleach, I'm sure of it. They sting like a b-.


The Japanese love their games, and we discovered an arcade which came hand in hand with multiple photo booths. Despite us looking like aliens as an end result, you've got to give them props for the editing opportunities. There was a 'timer' system implemented and we had 60 seconds to type our names. In Japanese characters. Say hello to Kutsuno and Fuso! 

The rest of the evening entailed a visit to Dotonburi, which was close-by. The streets were bustling with neon lights, restaurants with gigantic 3D seafood plaques attached to them and souvenir shops; those night-time vibes were everything. And the 2-man karaoke booths which let us sing to our hearts content and led to us getting three hours of sleep, perfect for our next day at Universal World. Thank goodness for hot-tea in a bottle from the vending machines.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

NOV '15 | 京都市 Kyoto, Japan.

Toes.
Ticking off the last destination on the 2015 Asia to go-list, I chose to go to the land of Kawaii, where I could fulfil my Geisha dreams, eat a copious amount of sushi/ ramen and go crazy on the beauty shopping front. 京都市 Konnichiwa, Japan! 


We arrived at Kansai Airport in Osaka and caught the Haruka Express to Kyoto, also known as the thousand-year capital, with our Hello Kitty travel ICOCA cards in hand. (Hello. Kitty. Help.) Shoutout to my travel guide and itinerary planner, Sharon for working out that complex travel system with its excessive amount of lines. Shinsaibashi, Yotsubashi, Sakaisuji-Hommachi... 

We managed to find our way (after what felt like some detective work involving complicated .pdf instructions) into our little quaint apartment and we were greeted with the traditional futon life and heated toilet seats which sprayed water in places which I didn't think were possible. Wish we could have stayed longer, I swear I had a better sleep on the floor than my usual abode. 


After a hectic morning of finding a place to store our luggage during rush hour (their subway stations have lockers which is an amazing idea- England, take note) we managed to somehow bus it to visit Kinkajui Temple; not before dressing for the occasion though, which proved to be a little difficult when we couldn't find the Kimono rental place for the life of us. We decided to eventually 'Skype call' the Kimono lady out of pure desperation and despite the major language barrier problems which encountered, we quite literally bumped into the friendliest Kimono lady on the main road as she closed her shop just for to hunt down three illiterate girls who couldn't use Google Maps.

We were ushered into the prettiest Japanese machiya, which was everything I imagined a traditional Japanese housing to look like with its raised wooden walkways and picturesque gardens; it was such a dream- can I stay in Japan forever, please? 100 layers later (well not quite but effort, the effort) and off I went in my pink kimono, clomping to Kinkajui in the smallest geta shoes known to man whilst getting mistaken as part of the tourist attraction. 'Picture for Italy! Picture for Italy!' So, I guess I'm on some random Italian lady's Facebook uploads with my purple hair. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

OCT '15 | Hanoi, Vietnam: Part 2.



The Temple of Literature was next on the agenda- however, we realised that not only were we crashing a graduation ceremony but I noticed a sign which said 'short skirts and trainers' were not allowed. Cue impromptu cringy OOTD opposite the temple and café hopping.

Maybe it's because I can't read maps for the life of me, but there's always something exciting about not completely following an itinerary, so I was happy to discover The Note Coffeewith its three floors of hipster goodness. The entire interior of the café is covered in post-it notes and cà phê game was strong.
vietnam, travel, coffee, cafe
vietnam, coffee, travel
Looking round faced and awkward on the right. 
We decided to engage in some final tourist activities; buying Wolverine and Harry Potter coffee mats as souvenirs didn't count, so we visited one of Hanoi's cultural gems at The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater. Although the entire show was in Vietnamese and I didn't understand a single word, it was quite entertaining to watch.  It's doubtful I will have a reason to return but Hanoi is definitely a place worth remembering.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

OCT '15 | Hanoi, Vietnam Part 1.


An extremely overdue post on my trip to Hanoi, Vietnam dating back to the end of October, alongside my sister from another mister, Sharon. We arrived pretty late from Hong Kong, so we decided to go all out at dinner as we were practically 'millionaires'.  1,000,000 equated to £30. Dong currency- you are confusing, not to mention your name's pretty unsuitable for the immature.

vietnam, lake of the returned sword, travel
Hoan Kiem Lake
We stayed in a hotel named, Boss Legend in the traditional Old Quarter of Hanoi where motorbikes were non stop and the hustling and bustling streets were filled with plastic stools and an endless supply of coffee. The Vietnamese are big on coffee shops as I soon found out when I unknowingly took a sip of 'weasel poo' coffee and claimed how nice it was, until Sharon told me about a particular ingredient. The clue was on the packaging really. A great big picture of a weasel. Nice one.


The traffic was insane, I doubt I'll see anything like it again. There was a constant cacaphony of noises coming from our hotel and traffic light crossings were sparse, if any. On the first day, we watched a group of tourists fearlessly crossing the road without motorbikes and cars whizzed past them. I was a road crossing pro too by the end of it all. Y'all better believe it.

old quarter, travel
Our first full day in Hanoi and we were on a mission to find 10am pho and a spa. We discovered a street dedicated to shoes, five minutes into our search. We looked like a right pair (excuse the pun) of gormless tourists, when a grinning Viet man suddenly bent down in front of me and started glueing my sandal ... I screamed and ran away from the scene. In hindsight, I probably should have thanked him for 'fixing' the hole in my sandal.

So. The spa experience. This is when the language barrier came to life when we were greeted by two Viet men who handed us paper underwear to cover our modesties and left us to 'enjoy' the steam bath. Except, we didn't quite know what we were doing and stood there. I've never been to a spa before so I wasn't quite what to do. Fast forward several minutes of confusion, we were then accustomed to a full body scrub. He was wearing a gold chain. I pretty much spent the entire scrub session trying not to laugh.
old quarter, spa
The rest of my session was pleasant though, when a woman overtook and I came out alive and feelin' fresh as a daisy, despite feeling slightly scarred for life at the thought of a gold-chained Viet man scrubbing my crack.

Later on in the evening, having visited the Hoan Kiem Lake, the kind waitress at the restaurant we were eating at, gave us a list of 'bars' that she liked. Wifi-less, we decided to go on a whim and we may have ended up in a nightclub at 10pm. Did I mention it was Halloween? Viet girls in cat ears were roaming around the foyer. Not exactly the scene we were looking for.
tuk tuk, travel
Feeling less spontaneous (wi-fi time) and minutes later, we were on Ta Hien Street, one of the liveliest streets of the capital. We were bombarded with a plethora of bars and food places and soon found Funky B, our Halloweeny destination. And I also got to go on a Tuk Tuk! It was so worth it, even if the Tuk Tuk man conned us but I'll forgive him; cycling that thing doesn't seem like an easy one.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

APRIL '15 | Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I've got to admit, I knew nothing about Thailand before I went and not much planning was involved on my behalf other than spontaneously booking my flight. I decided to visit one of my hometown friends who was living in the city of Chiang Mai, North of Thailand. Tour guide, check.  I was so excited to escape as teaching for six hours in a row on a daily basis was less than ideal so cue a mini breakdown; Easter break couldn't have come soon enough.

My first mission was to get through customs and fill out an obligatory form which required the address of the place where I was staying. Shame I only knew the address in Thai... I decided to queue up anyway with the address space blank, only to be shouted at by a Thai man and told I had to write an address. M'bad. Waving my phone in the air in despair, I managed to get the help of a poor security guard who probably felt a bit sorry for me. Sawasdee ka, Thailand!
The only successful shot taken from my Diana mini prints. 
Thailand was a massive culture shock to me, as the relaxed and laid back vibes were a far cry from busy Hong Kong, yet I felt like I was local as I clutched on for dear life, embracing that ped life. The friendly Thai love peds. First stop, a temple called Doi Suthep. We had to take our shoes off as a sign of respect as we followed the 'foreigners this way please' sign to buy a ticket and wandered around the traditional temple to admire the views.

thailand
Shortly after my time in the temple, I saw a dog with eyebrows. I repeat. Eyebrows. Anyway, the first night led me to an experience at Zoe in Yellow, one of Chiang Mai's popular bars. Not before swigging a few questionable drinks at the Crazy German bar though, and catching a casual Tuk Tuk back to the apartment to catch some zzz's.

G'afternoon to Chiang Mai day two. As I was feeling completely lazy, the activities were non-strenuous but I was content with wandering around the local markets full of interesting trinkets and cheap clothes where we stumbled upon a Thai Massage corner which resulted in some lady touching my foot for half an hour. Sorry, poor gal. Day two was definitely a tourist write off as all I can remember is pizza (how authentic) and watching Silver Lining's Playbook.

Day three marked my last full day in Chiang Mai, and the time I decided to do an all-nighter in order to catch my flight at 7am the next morning which I soon lived to regret by 4am when I was trying so hard not to close my eyes whilst being transported to the airport in an open tuk tuk. The last day consisted of visiting the Bua Thong Waterfalls and it was amazing. After arriving at the site of the waterfall, I felt like I was in the film, Wanderlust, minus the hippy community. I pretty much yelped the entire time, ruining that peaceful tranquility as I climbed that waterfall where the rocks looked like gigantic clouds. I don't particularly have a good track record when it comes to not falling over and twisting my ankle or something, but I managed! Kind of.

thailand, muay thai boxing, culture
I round up my short but sweet trip in Chiang Mai with a rowdy and atmospheric time watching Muay Thai boxing at the Thapae Stadium which was a pretty cool experience, I'd definitely recommend. It feels weird writing about something that happened pretty much nine months ago but it makes me want to go back to South East Asia pretty badly.