University Senior: Year 4 Semester 1 & 2

note: There is no update on Year 3 Semester 2 because I spent the entire semester doing my internship and i prefer to keep it private. i will be uploading the works i’ve done during my internship onto my portfolio page. please feel free to check them out!🙂

H E L L O   E V E R Y O N E !

Can you believe it? Four years of my university education have already passed in the blink of an eye and I have since collected my coveted degree scroll. As a child, I never thought I would ever don the mortarboard and graduation gown someday in my life, much less from a rather reputable local university amid the stiff competition here since academics were not my strongest suit. It feels like yesterday when I first documented my university experience during my freshman year which unexpectedly received quite a lot of attention (thank you❤ ).

As you could tell, it’s been a long while since my last school update because my priority has been getting my beauty posts up. Due to time factor, I had wanted to discontinue this series of school posts but.. I hate to leave things hanging. There must be an end to every beginning so yes, I am, in a way, compelled to conclude this whole series :lol: Nonetheless, I hope this post will answer any burning questions you have in mind but have no one appropriate to consult either because you’re a solitary soul (me too! *fist bumps*) or a really shy person. Whatever the reasons, Fiona sunbae-nim is here to help! LOL.

In view of the ongoing course registration exercise, some of you may be at a loss of what courses to take. Well, wonder no more! Read on to hear my thoughts on the final TWO electives (yeah, shiok hor) I took during my final year in NTU and decide for yourself if you’re the right fit for them🙂

1. DG9005 Magic of Voice in the World of a Singer (UE)

NIE electives are great for those who are bad at numbers or have poor working memory. But if you have already exhausted your options like me, ADM electives are your next best bet. Ask around and you will know that this course is one of the more popular ones offered by ADM and it is always oversubscribed because it’s pretty easy to score as long as you can sing well. It is a 3-hour, once-a-week lesson conducted by adjunct lecturer Leona who is also a qualified singing coach. It’s quite similar to the Voice module I took in my first year with the difference being that Voice would be more effective for improving your voice usage (in public speaking, for instance). In this course, however, you get to explore your vocal range during the weekly sing-along sessions. You’d be surprised to know that you can actually hit those high notes!

The first assessment (20%) was to perform a 2-minute song either on your own (solo) or with up to two people (duet or trio). Usually because it’s the first time you’re performing in front of an unfamiliar audience, you’d tend to want to do it with someone, so I sang an excerpt of Trademark’s Only Love with a new friend in class! We got someone to play selected parts of the piece on the piano (I tried to cut and put together different parts of the original instrumental music and it sounded horrible), recorded it and used it as an accompaniment. The microphones in the lecture theatre were not meant for singing, so there were bound to be some feedback. But generally, I think we did alright.

The second assessment (40%) was a solo performance of one of the songs that were practised in class (plus some other high-level songs picked out by Leona). You cannot choose you own song for this presentation but you can make a recommendation for future study😆 Some of the chosen songs were Concerto Pour Deux Voix, I Dreamed a Dream, ‘O Sole Mio, The Prayer (by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli) and… *drums roll* Let It Go!

frozen-meme

Let It Go was the most preferred option because it is the easiest song to sing of the lot (but still has relatively high range of notes in the chorus and coda). I must have heard that song at least 30 times (including my own voice LOL) on the day of assessment. I got so sick of it, I deleted this song from my Spotify playlist so that I didn’t have to skip it when it plays.

You will be asked to join one of the four groups created on NTULearn (formerly BlackBoard) on the first day and the group you picked shall be whom you will be doing your final presentation (30%) with. The final assessment can be any 10-minute item but it has to cover at least one singing technique that is not taught in class. My team did a musical skit on a cappella, keeping quite closely to the plot of Pitch Perfect. Rehearsals were stressful (trying to synchronise with the rest was a huge challenge and we still failed in the end) but fun, and I was extremely lucky to be in a group I could comfortably goof around with. We had the entire lecture theatre to ourselves for our rehearsals and we always ended up singing karaoke (complete with working microphones and real-time lyrics from YouTube on the projector screen) XD

Team Bel Canto

Team Bel Canto

The remaining 10% come from participation and attendance. Contrary to online reviews about this course, I felt that Leona was impartial in her assessment (or she might have reflected and improved on her grading system after all these years for all I know). I’m neither a terrible nor an exemplary singer and the grade she gave me (B+) was just and well-reflective of my singing abilities. Perhaps as long as you adopt the singing techniques she taught correctly in your performance, you should do fine. On top of that, you may also receive random notes of encouragement from your secret angel in class ;)

Last one!

Last one!

Most importantly, there is no written test for this course (there used to be). Hooray! Give your hands a break and let your diaphragm do all the work this time!

2. DD8002 Ways of Seeing: Exploring Visual Culture (GER-PE, AHSS) – S/U

Unless you’re very intrigued by renaissance art and whatnots, this course is going to be an absolute bore (I’m sorry, ADM readers). Blame it on my short attention span. I would go to school with a fully charge phone and exit the classroom after three dreadful hours with half the battery drained. What’s more, it was a 9.00 a.m. class. I’m really bad at mornings, but I had no choice. I needed to take this course (the only AHSS elective that I had a teeny weeny bit of interest in – or so I thought – and fit my timetable perfectly) or I wouldn’t be able to graduate! Aaarrrghhh *pulls hair*

This is a non-examinable course, which means there would be tons of group and individual assignments thrown your way throughout the semester – not a good idea to take this if you’re dealing with a Final Year Project as demanding as mine. The lesson begins with a short open-ended quiz (10 or 15% of the overall grade, I can’t remember) of about 10 questions on what was discussed the previous week (e.g. name of the artist that painted the artwork in question, name of painting, etc. – most of which are in Italian and you are expected to memorise their spellings).

The most memorable painting for me.. just because I did a presentation of it (credit: nonfictionminute.com)

The most memorable painting for me.. just because I did a presentation of it (credit: nonfictionminute.com)

Participation marks (15%) are derived from group presentations (I had 2, but there could be more if time allowed) based on a given reading material as well as your answers to questions hurled at you during class (mostly because you look like you’re dozing off. Me). The individual presentation and written assignment account for a bulk of the final grade. I stayed up the whole night to complete my 1,500-word essay (because I couldn’t understand the question regardless of the number of times I read it) and left for school to submit it without catching a wink. I was hitting the keys on my keyboard the whole time but I had zero clue what I was typing. I was on the brink of tears. I seriously thought I was going to flunk the course and repeat another semester. But when I saw my marks for that, my jaw dropped.

A- (?!!?!?)

DAAAAAYUM, so this is what art is all about? Creating things that don’t make sense to ordinary people? Okay⭐

Even though I was happy with my essay score, I didn’t do very well for the other components. So guess what happened to my last S/U option?

If you’re still keen on this course despite what I’ve written above, it is now classified under General Education in Liberal Arts.

3. Final Year Project (CORE)

(WARNING: Extremely LONG STORY AHEAD)

Our FYP took place over a span of two semesters and we had the options of running a campaign, doing a written feature, a photojournalistic essay or documentary, or a research (although there seems to be more choices now). As an advertising major (or rather, what I considered myself to be), executing a communication campaign was the only viable option for me and I thought I was lucky to have found enough people to form a complete team until one bailed out on us. The rest of us were furious, not because we couldn’t find a suitable replacement but because the team might have to be split up if the group size fell short of the required 4 members. We had to appeal against the separation with valid reasons to remain as a team and it was troublesome as hell. Faced with the uncertainty of whether we would still be in the same group, we could not progress with our project. Fortunately, it all worked out in the end.

Immediately after my stint at MOE as a marketing intern ended in July last year, my group got down to business and tried to conceptualise our campaign in preparation for our first presentation to our supervisors when the new term began. The planning stage was the most tedious of all in my opinion because it was not as simple as just plucking ideas out of the air. The social cause had to be substantial enough to warrant an extensive campaign which was to be rolled out in different phases across 3-4 months.

Recycling of ideas wasn’t allowed by the school (I was very keen in public transport etiquette but a friend of mine had already done it two years ago) so day and night, we scoured online discussion sites and newspapers (forum letters are the best) for inspiration only to realise that most of the ideas were already used by the former cohorts. Finally, we decided unanimously on the idea of revitalising the use of Chinese dialects among youths in Singapore among others we had shortlisted (such as pushing for longer recess in primary schools, advocating student employment rights, helping foreigners integrate with Singaporeans, etc. – please give credits if you’re intending to use any of them 😆because being Teochews ourselves, we felt ashamed that we couldn’t even speak a word of our dialect. Moreover, this issue has also become a worrying trend among the younger generation and we wanted to reverse it.

father-tongue-final-logos-01

And thus My Father Tongue was born!

We racked our brains to come up with such a *cough* witty campaign name like this. It may seem like an effortless attempt at a play on the words “Mother Tongue” but there is actually more to it:

‘Father’ was chosen to reflect the typical association of one’s dialect with the ancestry of the father’s side . It also serves as a complementary name to “Mother Tongue” which portrays our hopes for dialects to coexist with the Chinese language in Singapore.

I have to admit I was rather doubtful that it would take off initially knowing that dialects are largely frowned upon by our policymakers, so much so that it had become a taboo subject over the years. Hence, I was worried that we might not be able to receive government grants to fund our campaign. During our FYP seminars, this idea was also met with disapproval with feedback like, “I’m your target audience but I’m not interested in learning dialects and I don’t think many will be too” from our classmates. Discouraged, we were this close to scrapping the idea (FYP carries 12 AUs so cannot play-play) but somehow or other, we persevered😆 It would be impossible to promote every Chinese dialect in Singapore with just the three of us, so we narrowed down our choices to the three most-spoken ones: Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese.

Following the university’s green light through the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to proceed some time in end November last year (the reviewing process took no more than a week for us), we conducted our primary research (focus groups, interviews and surveys) and embarked on our proposal frenzy, mass-sending e-mails to potential sponsors and partners whose values and mission tie in with our cause. We were optimistic about getting favourable response because we truly believed that our campaign was meaningful and impactful.

Tip #1

NEVER send sponsorship and partnership proposals to generic e-mail addresses. Always call the organisation to ask for a specific e-mail and to whom you should address the proposal. If possible, get the direct line number of the person you have liaised with to facilitate future communication and follow-ups.

Yet, only a mere 10% got back to us by the end of December. We were really panicking at this point because the campaign was slated to launch in late January with an exhibition to coincide with Chinese New Year. Apart from having to pay for a website, we had planned a lineup of activities including dialect classes and a roadshow but without any financial backing, none of them would be feasible.

My Father Tongue website

My Father Tongue website

Gradually, we saw light at the end of the tunnel as the good news started coming in (it must be the holidays). Not only was our National Youth Council’s Young Changemakers Grant application of S$3,000 successful (we were invited to pitch our campaign idea to the panel earlier), Chinatown Heritage Centre was also willing to have us on board for their reopening in the new year! Although that solves our location and financial woes for our exhibition and dialect classes, we still needed money to finance our now-defunct website (.sg domain registration, website building, maintenance and design), pay the designer for our marketing collateral and to get them printed. Those could already run into the thousands… and we had to fork out from our own pockets first.

Red packets (marketing collateral)

Red packets – I dare say we’re the first FYP group to have thought of giving out red packets as a marketing collateral *flips hair* Hahahaha it’s the only thing I’m proud of in this exhibition u_u

Don't underestimate the size of the exhibition. The exhibition at Chinatown Heritage Centre was the most taxing, expensive and time-consuming part of the whole campaign apart from the dialect classes. We had to make several trips down to take the necessary measurements, set up the booths and lay the exhibits and rehearse for the reopening ceremony. It was exhausting and I wouldn't want to do it again :|

Don’t underestimate the size of the exhibition. The exhibition at Chinatown Heritage Centre was the most taxing, expensive and time-consuming part of the whole campaign apart from the dialect classes. We had to make several trips down to take the necessary measurements, set up the booths and lay the exhibits and rehearse for the reopening ceremony. It was exhausting and I wouldn’t want to do it again😐

A group shot with the guest-of-honour - Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran!

A group shot with the guest-of-honour – Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran!

Then, about a week into our campaign, we receive the most unexpected e-mail from National Heritage Board: we were awarded the Heritage Project Grant of S$7,500!!! OHMAGAHZ WE WERE SO ECSTATIC I could even hear the shrilling shriek of my group mate from 3,000 miles away in Tokyo! We felt like a huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders😀

Dialect classes were the highlight of My Father Tongue but because we were unsure how (poor) the response was going to be, we made them free for all. We sought media coverage by disseminating our press release detailing our free dialect classes to every online and traditional media outlet in Singapore. The New Paper and Lianhe Zaobao were among the first to picked it up, followed by Mothership (albeit not in a very positive light) and subsequently almost every other local news outlet. Prior to that, The Straits Times reached out to us to do an exclusive feature. We were interviewed by a journalist on a Thursday morning and even had our pictures professionally taken in the middle of Chinatown. But the story, which was originally planned for the Sunday edition, was subsequently dropped because The Independent had beaten them to it. It was a strange reason so my guess is that they didn’t want to be associated to websites that spread anti-government sentiments. *sigh* There goes our big break…

Cantonese class at Chinatown Heritage Centre (one of our venue sponsors)

Cantonese class at Chinatown Heritage Centre (one of our venue sponsors)

List of notable media mentions in chronological order
…if you’d like to read more:
(Note: ‘My Father Tongue’ was also mentioned by MP Baey Yam Keng and Mdm Ho Ching and on Facebook – our greatest achievement yet, lol!)

Just as what we had expected (and mentally prepared ourselves for), the reports on the campaign drew mixed reactions online, mostly lauding our efforts to preserve dialects. Some accused the government of hypocrisy for funding the campaign (but seriously, aren’t you glad they have finally relaxed their stance towards the use of dialects? Isn’t their strict language policy what you have been protesting against? Sort out your feelings please *pffft*) and we were also condemned by people who wanted to protect the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew. What can I say? These people read too much into an innocent campaign as it was never our intention to overshadow Mandarin with dialects. We only wanted to promote dialects as something you can consider adding to your language repertoire, nothing more than that.

Tip #2

The grade for FYP campaign is assessed based majorly on the written report, weighted at 90%. The remaining 10% is allocated to the oral presentation that would be carried out after the submission of the report. In other words, it won’t hurt not receiving any media coverage or getting thousands of likes on your Facebook page as long as you’re able to fulfill the evaluation criteria of your report.

But it’s always better to strive for more, right?

Tip #3

Update your report and appendices (especially your bibliography) as your campaign progresses. Do not leave them to the end. Or you will die.

Really. Don’t.

With so much attention surrounding the campaign, our Facebook page soon hit 2,000 likes. All our dialect classes were oversubscribed and there were requests to open more which we gladly obliged. But since most of our grants were provided on reimbursement basis, we had to sell stickers to fund the additional classes. We made a mistake not to collect a deposit from attendees (it was an administrative headache too anyway), so there were irresponsible people who failed to turn up for all three sessions. The attendance rate also tended to fall drastically towards the end of every class. *sigh* This is why Singaporeans don’t deserve free things.

Our cute lil' dialect stickers, illustrated by our designer Vanessa!

Our cute lil’ dialect stickers, illustrated by our designer Vanessa! (I have extra LOL anybody wants?)

Tip #4

If possible, charge a nominal fee for recurring events that require a minimum headcount to secure participants’ attendance.

We also held roadshows at NTU and NUS to build awareness for the campaign.

We also held roadshows at NTU and NUS to build awareness for the campaign.

Another reason for choosing this campaign idea was our presumption that we would get the unreserved support of local Chinese clan associations financially or logistically since our aim was to increase the relevance of the dialects they were trying to preserve in society. Their monetary contributions, if any, would save us a truckload of time on fundraising which could be better spent on strategising our next move.

But life ain’t a bed or roses – especially when money is involved. Our e-mails, fully written in proper Chinese, were ignored, our follow-up calls were responded with condescending tone of voice and we were also turned away at one clan association when we personally tried to hand-deliver our partnership proposal. With the exception of Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan that provided us with endless supply of informative books and even introduced us to a friendly Teochew veteran who could do an audio translation of our survival kit, many of the clan associations we approached were not receptive to collaborations and were very reluctant to loan us their existing resources and premises for a half-day roadshow, for instance, even after our campaign went absolutely viral. This experience made me believe that they’ve only got themselves to blame for their diminishing social standing because they’re just too reclusive and resistant to outside help..

My Father Tongue survival kit in Cantonese (PDF version)

My Father Tongue survival kit in Cantonese (PDF version)

We eventually had to pull strings through our supervisor (who very fortunately has a wide network of friends in the Cantonese opera scene) to get the necessary information to fill the void for our Cantonese and Hokkien segments. Without his assistance, this three-pronged campaign wouldn’t have been possible, so thank you Mr Ferry! On behalf of my team, I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan, Chinatown Heritage Centre, National Youth Council, National Heritage Board, Naumi Hotels, Meykrs, Khong Guan, People’s Association, Iluma Design, NTU, NUS, SMU and other individuals (Sibey Nostalgic, Assoc Prof Lee Chun Wah, Vanessa, Ms Tien, Mr Siew, Mr Goh and the rest of our translators) who had given us their unconditional support and invaluable advice. We’re eternally grateful!🙂

Us preparing for our oral presentation. It was NERVE-WRECKING

Us preparing for our oral presentation. It was NERVE-WRECKING (credit: WKW UG Students Facebook)

Done with our oral presentation! Look at our tired faces.. we could barely keep our eyes open. After slogging away our lives away and blearing our eyes with hundreds of academic literature for four months, all we wanted to do was to hit the sack and repay our sleep debt zzz...

Done with our oral presentation! Look at our tired faces.. we could barely keep our eyes open. After slogging away our lives away and blearing our eyes with hundreds of academic literature for four months, all we wanted to do was to hit the sack and repay our sleep debt zzz…

I don’t have any picture of our 362-page report because I was not present in school when my group handed it in. But if you’d like to take a look at it, the soft copy can be found on NTU repository (you need to log in to view).

Despite the fact that we were already handicapped by the shortage of manpower right from the very beginning and that our supervisors had warned beforehand that no three-member campaign team had ever gotten beyond a B+ grade for FYP, we managed to pull through with an A-. Thank you Cherie and Melissa for all your hard work! I really owe you one:\

Also check out other FYP campaigns done by the Wee-kids in my batch:
  • Love Every Body – a campaign aimed at minimising potential negative effects of media on children’s perception of body image
  • Don’t CB – a promotional campaign to reduce binge drinking amongst young adults in Singapore
  • Starting from Scratch – a campaign that aims to increase understanding of eczema and create a supportive environment for teenagers living with eczema
  • Breast-Feeding Friends Singapore – a nationwide initiative aimed at creating a more inclusive public environment for breastfeeding mothers in Singapore
  • Come, Let’s Eat! – a communication campaign that aims to use food to introduce young Singaporeans to foreign cultures.
  • Share the Care SG – a campaign calling for community support for family- caregivers of persons with special needs
  • OverComeD – a mental health communications campaign aimed at increasing awareness of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) among young people in Singapore
  • (In)visible Spaces – a home organisation campaign aimed at creating awareness of the effects of living in a cluttered space and ultimately promoting decluttering and organising of homes
  • Understanding Dementia – a public health campaign promoting dementia awareness
  • Hey Solo Sister – the first comprehensive and unbiased information platform tailored to unwed mothers to help them make informed decisions in their journey of unwed motherhood
  • Coming Home SG – a campaign to raise awareness of foster care among young adults, and promote volunteering opportunities as a stepping stone towards fostering
  • Savvy Silvers – a campaign to teach senior citizens aged 50 and above learn how to use their smartphones efficiently and subsequently, independently
  • More Than Dis – a campaign that seeks to showcase the capabilities of persons with disabilities at work to strengthen inclusion in the workplace
  • After Words – a social campaign that seeks to address the issue of verbal aggression among couples in Singapore
  • Familiar Strangers – a campaign that aims to bridge the social gap between low-wage migrant workers and Singaporeans
  • Strangers of the Night – a public awareness and informational campaign to champion the appreciation of night shift workers in Singapore
  • Get Your Bottoms Up – a campaign to address the widespread occupational prolonged sitting behaviour among desk-bound office workers in Singapore
  • Hello, Hygiene? – a campaign on smartphone hygiene
  • Down the Sound – a safe listening campaign for youths
  • Back to “I Do” – a campaign that aims to strengthen marital bonds among couples in Singapore
  • Art Detox: Unwind Your Mind – a campaign to promote mental wellness through art
  • Easy on Your Eyes – a campaign that addresses the issue of incorrect contact lens health among youths
  • Insid(h)er talk – a health campaign aimed at educating young women on the female reproductive system and empowering them to take ownership of their reproductive health
  • Cover a Brother – a health campaign to promote sun protection behaviour among men
  • Homemade (Cook it or Lose it) – a social culinary campaign encouraging youths to appreciate and learn their family dishes
  • Hard Conversations – a campaign to raise awareness of erectile dysfunction among female professionals
  • Paint the Town Red – a campaign that aims to raise awareness and reduce stigma about HIV among youths
  • Got it Covered – a safe sex campaign
  • Join the Current – an educational literacy campaign set against the global and local decline of news consumption among youths

With this post, I conclude my personal chronicle of university life as a Communication Studies undergraduate. My university journey at NTU had been a roller-coaster ride but I am glad I hung on and made it through! Thank you so much for your overwhelming support over the years and I sincerely hope my course reviews have helped a great deal in making your university life a breeze. Enjoy it while it lasts!🙂

And congratulations, you made it to the end! Thanks for reading y’all! *blows kisses*

Yellow Teeth? Don’t Worry! Get Brighter Beam with Pop Smile’s Ultimate Teeth Whitening Kit

Hello everyone!

I hardly share pictures of myself smiling broadly for the camera but when I do, I get compliments about my pearly white teeth. This is awkward but.. I have a confession to make. Those perfect set of choppers you see are simply another work of Photoshop. In fact, those who have questioned about my dazzling teeth in pictures won’t be surprised by this revelation because I’ve always been candid about it. Why conceal your flaws when you’re going to be upfront about it, you may ask. Well, that’s because I want your attention to be diverted from my dingy yellow teeth to the products (usually lipsticks) I’m reviewing:\ While this approach seems to be working, the quest for a permanent solution for my tooth discolouration still goes on because I want to smile with confidence and not worry about showing my teeth ever again!

Drinking tea is my daily ritual – I need a cup of tea to restore my normality everyday. But this habit has sadly cost me my Hollywood smile as the tannic acids found in tea has caused deep stains in the enamel of my teeth. I consider myself rather courageous when it comes to dental visits. I’m not afraid of any pain whatsoever (I even looked forward to having my milk teeth extracted when I was in primary school – okay I’m weird) but due to time and financial constraints, the number of times I’ve visited a dentist in my entire life can be counted on the fingers of one hand. I just don’t think it’s ever necessary to spend $1000 on average to whiten my teeth each time which probably wouldn’t last over a year for me since I’m a pretty heavy tea drinker.

I LOVE TEA AND I CANNOT LIE

I LOVE TEA AND I CANNOT LIE

Moreover, being a blogger means I would occasionally be invited to events. Hence, I’m constantly looking for an affordable temporary fix for my dental woes just in case I inadvertently expose my teeth to the camera lens. If you foresee yourself in such predicament, be it in an upcoming college graduation or wedding photo shoot, then great news my fellow comrades! There is now a cost-effective way to remove those stubborn stains whenever you feel like it without having to break the bank!

Let nothing take away your smile!

Let nothing take away your smile!

Have you heard of Pop Smile? It is a new teeth whitening brand based in Australia offering a quick DIY smile makeover that is absolutely pain-free and safe on sensitive teeth – all at the comfort of your couch! It even claims to give comparable results to that of dentist-administered teeth whitening treatments so much so that you can simply skip dentist visits altogether! Well, this sounded too good to be true but you won’t know until you’ve tried it!

There are three types of teeth whitening kits listed on their website but the Ultimate Teeth Whitening Kit is the most value-for-money everything you need to achieve a dazzling white smile. Of course, there are also student-friendly options like the starter kit and besties value set which you can share the cost with your friend.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what the ultimate kit has in store for us! I’ve also added my own honest review along the way for those of you who’re interested🙂

Reject if seal is broken!

Reject if seal is broken!

Unlike some whitening toothpastes in the market that use harmful chemicals (most notably peroxide) that can damage your enamel, burn your gums and sensitise your teeth, Pop Smile relies on a deep cleansing process using a 99% natural formula made in the U.S. which includes naturally active ingredients like Organic Peppermint Oil, Cranberry Seed Oil, Aloe Vera and Chamomile Flower Extract. FDA approved, it is perfectly safe to use even on the most sensitive teeth!

Included in the Ultimate Teeth Whitening Kit

Included in the Ultimate Teeth Whitening Kit – 1x smile goals card, 1x LED device, 2x customisable mouth guards, 3x 3ml syringes, 5x 0.2ml pre treatment swabs, 1x mouth guard case, 1x teeth whitening pen & 1x Pop Smile travel pouch

Neatly packed!

Neatly packed!

3 replacement plungers for the syringe!

3 replacement plungers for the syringe!

Pre-treatment swabs and teeth whitening pen

Pre-treatment swabs and teeth whitening pen

Mouth guards/whitening trays wrapped up in plastic

Mouth guards/whitening trays wrapped up in plastic

Smile goals card with a white-o-meter at the top LOL

Smile goals card with a white-o-meter at the top LOL

According to the Pop Smile website, their clinical study revealed teeth are up to 8 shades whiter after 9 daily uses, and 2 shades whiter from the first use. So, in other words, if my teeth are a 12 on the scale (which I feel is the case), they should become at least a 10 by the end of the programme. Wow, I can’t wait to find out for sure!🙂

Each kit contains 9 applications (across 9 days). The whitening effect lasts up to 3 months but it can be maintained as long as you repeat the programme one after another. It is, however, not advisable to use the kit for more than 14 consecutive days without dentist supervision.

Step 0: Unbox the kit

Do brush your teeth prior to the teeth whitening session because you certainly wouldn’t want any remnants of your lunch to impede your whitening progress!

Step 1:
Mould whitening trays to your teeth

All of us have differently shaped teeth so it is imperative to have customisable whitening trays to fit your teeth with precision for the best results. This kit comes with a pair of whitening trays (or mouth guards) which needs to be softened in order for them to mould to the teeth quickly. To do that, hold them by the handles and dip them in freshly boiled water for 5-7 seconds to melt the silicone slightly. When the shape starts to deform, that’s your cue to remove them from the water. Don’t panic if they stick to each other – they can be easily separated while still in semi-molten state. Allow them to cool for 2-3 seconds before placing them in your mouth because you don’t want to risk burning your gum!

If you make any mistakes in the process of moulding, just repeat the steps above. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Step 1a: Form each whitening tray on both top and bottom teeth

The silicone sets and hardens rather fast so you would only need to keep it in the mouth for a few minutes. I bit down the mouth guard and push it from the front with my fingers (or just suck on the guard to create a vacuum) to ensure a more accurate mould of my teeth.

This is what my moulded mouth guard looks like

This is what my moulded mouth guard looks like

As you can see, my mold (especially the one on the right) is shaped rather irregularly. That’s because I have an extra tooth behind my canine tooth (it’s a well-concealed secret😆 ) so non-customisable mouth guards will definitely not work as well for me.

Once you are satisfied with the mould, you may skip this step for future sessions as the mouth guard stays in shape of your teeth. Now that you have found a perfect fit for your teeth, you are ready to move on to the next step!

Step 2:
Prep your teeth with Pre-Treatment Swab

Step 2: Prep teeth with pre-treatment swab

These patented Pre-Treatment Swabs are one of the many things that make Pop Smile so different from other whitening kits. They deeply cleanse the teeth and maximize the absorption of our Pop Smile Teeth Whitening Gel and are clinically proven to help halve your treatment time. Thus, you get whitening results 50% faster! It doesn’t leave an awful retched medicinal taste like mouthwashes do. Rather, they taste pretty much like regular toothpaste, minus the minty sensation. You know what? I kinda like the taste of these.

To utilise the swab, hold the dispenser at the collar in the middle, keeping the cotton swab upright and on top. With the other hand, grasp the mid-point of the lower hollow shaft and slide it up slowly and smoothly until the cotton swab becomes moistened with liquid. Then. lightly scrub the front surfaces of the teeth with the swab tip in circular motion to apply the liquid. Repeat this step for each tooth for 3-5 seconds.

Use one swab for every application during the first 5 days but refills are available for purchase here if you are addicted to their cleaning and refreshing action.

Step 3:
Apply peroxide-free whitening gel

Many teeth bleaching products use peroxide (carbide, hydrogen, etc.) as the main whitening agent (as well as some teeth whitening laser treatments performed by dentists) to enhance whitening effects but do you know that it causes mouth irritation and increased tooth sensitivity to temperature changes, albeit only temporarily? You won’t know the gravity of this issue until you sink your teeth into a scoop of ice cream. I will never forget the excruciating sharp pain… and how my friends had to wait for me to be done licking my ice cream when they had already finished theirs eons ago. How embarrassing!

You may even already be sensitive to peroxide, just that you haven’t realised it yet! So, does that mean you have to shun away from every teeth whitening product? Thankfully not! You can be rest assured with the peroxide-free whitening gel formulated by Pop Smile because they have added Sodium Bicarbonate to maintain a high PH level. Therefore, the gel is not acidic so there’s no risk of tooth sensitivity or damage to your enamel, making it safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women as well. In fact, if you’re still sceptical about it, the Pre-Treatment Swabs also help to minimise sensitivity. Now, does that sound like music to your ears?🙂

Step 3: Apply peroxide-free whitening gel with the given syringe

Evil nurse in the making *ohohohoho*

The whitening gel is stored in syringes premarked with dosage units ranging from 0 ml to 3 ml for you to expel the correct amounts onto the whitening trays. You would only need 0.5 ml of the gel on each whitening tray, so each syringe should last for 3 applications (there are 3 syringes in each kit). Be mindful of your strength, though, because the syringe has very little plunger friction and you may accidentally expel too much if you’re not careful!

Don't be like me and wonder why nothing is coming out from the syringe and then realise that I haven't removed the cap. Don't laugh. It WILL happen to you lol

Don’t be like me and wonder why nothing is coming out from the syringe and then realise that I haven’t removed the cap. Don’t laugh. It WILL happen to you lol

Gently fill the area that will be touching the front surfaces of your teeth

Gently fill the area that will be touching the front surfaces of your teeth

Move the whitening trays around your teeth using the handle to distribute the gel evenly. Press down the trays and remove excess from the gums.

Move the whitening trays around your teeth using the handle to distribute the gel evenly. Press down the trays and remove excess from the gums.

Cut off the handles and put the mouth guard back on!

Cut off the handles and put the mouth guard back on!

The handles are there to actually help you grab your mouth guards while they mould to your teeth. You can already snip them off at this point to allow your LED device to sit comfortably in your mouth (as seen in the next step).

I’d have to, however, apologise to all you beauties and hunks with braces because results may be inconsistent on yours since Pop Smile products only whiten real teeth. Don’t worry, it won’t be too late to get Pop Smile when the day comes for you to remove your braces! Good things come to those who wait😉

Likewise, refills are also available if you run out of your whitening gel!

Step 4:
Use LED light to accelerate whitening process

Step 4: Use the LED device to speed up your whitening process

The LED light activates the Pop Smile formula for faster whitening and even brighter results. It does not whiten your teeth when used alone. Powered by two lithium batteries, it also has the most bulbs in the market, making results 5 times faster. While other brands require you to leave their LED device in your mouth for 20 to 40 minutes , this does its job in just 10 minutes!

If your LED device isn't working, don't panic! Chances are, you haven't removed the plastic sheet between the batteries

If your LED device isn’t working, don’t panic! Chances are, you haven’t removed the plastic sheet at the bottom of the batteries

Press the white button to activate the light

Press the white button to activate the light

Ba dum tss!

Ba dum tss!

With the mouth guard still in your mouth, set your timer for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can jut sit back and wait for the LED light to turn off on its own after the 10-minute mark

With the mouth guard still in your mouth, set your timer for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can jut sit back and wait for the LED light to turn off on its own after the 10-minute mark

Sit back, relax and get ready for your bright, new Pop Smile! 10 minutes never passed so quickly before!

Sit back, relax and get ready for your bright, new Pop Smile! 10 minutes never passed so quickly before!

You will be ready for the camera with just a few more attempts!

You will be ready for the camera with just a few more attempts!

Once you have completed the final step, rinse your mouth and clean your LED device with a cloth. Do not wash your device as it is not waterproof! You would need to get a new kit if it’s damaged because it is not sold individually. You have been warned!

And now… the results:

No photoshop (apart from the text), no filter!

No photoshop (apart from the text), no filter!

At a quick glance, the results may not be as noticeable and significant as some claimed. But upon closer scrutiny, you would be able to see that the yellow stains – especially that nasty one between my two front teeth (which dentists I had consulted simply dismissed as a natural discolouration *pffffft*) – have become lighter and less obvious. When I checked my smile in the mirror, I noticed that my teeth have also more or less regained its radiance. Considering that I’m only into my second day of this 9-day programme (at point of writing), this is a fairly good progress I must say! Also, do note that I made no efforts to halt my tea drinking habits for this programme because, yeah, I really mean it when I say I love my tea. Can’t stop, won’t stop drinking tea😆 *sips* Pop Smile, however, recommends users to stop taking in coffee, tea and wine for the duration of the treatment to maximise their results!

And you think that’s all there is to the kit? You can’t be more wrong! Your Ultimate Teeth Whitening Kit also comes with three additional items (including a mouth guard case) which you won’t be able to get anywhere else. Read on!

Bonus #1:
Teeth Whitening Pen

We are all busy people with appointments to keep and schedules to meet. That’s why we need a good and reliable teeth whitening pen for last-minute touch-ups and on-the-go whitening in our lives. Pop Smile’s Teeth Whitening Pen is for use between treatments or during emergencies such as when you had unwittingly chomped down a piece of chocolate chip cookie to appease your growling stomach before a date night. Go ahead and work that million-dollar smile!

Twist pen to dispense gel

Twist pen to dispense gel

Brush a thin layer of gel onto teeth, avoiding the gum line. Then, wait 60 seconds before rinsing your mouth with lukewarm water

Brush a thin layer of gel onto teeth, avoiding the gum line. Then, wait 60 seconds before rinsing your mouth with lukewarm water

Bonus #2:
Travel Pouch

There is absolutely no excuse for having yellow teeth in this day and age.. even if you’re always away from home. If you’re a frequent traveller, this complimentary zipper pouch is just about what you need to store all your Pop Smile teeth whitening tools.

A fashionable pouch that is able to fit EVERYTHING perfectly! A W E S O M E.

A fashionable pouch that is able to fit EVERYTHING perfectly! A W E S O M E.

All packed and ready to go!

All packed and ready to go!

Earlier today, McDonald’s offered me a complimentary cup of Oreo McFlurry as service recovery for their unusually delayed delivery so I took the opportunity to do a quick sensitivity test and voila, NO PAIN AT ALL. I was relieved yet ecstatic at the same time! :D

I’ve seen plenty of teeth whitening/stain removal kits for sale at our local drugstores and had personally bought one to try but was of little to no avail (only caused added sensitivity). I thought this product was gonna be another gimmick but clearly it has proven otherwise. You’ve got to try it!🙂

Meet my new smile!

Meet my new smile!

Thanks for reading!🙂

The Pop Smile Ultimate Teeth Whitening Kit is available on their website with free worldwide delivery. For more information on shipping as well as the countries they deliver to, please refer to this page.
This post is brought to you by Pop Smile.

REVIEW: Dose of Colors Matte Liquid Lipsticks – Brick, Cork & Desert Suede

Hello everyone!

In case you haven’t noticed, my recent beauty reviews have been steering away from my usual favourites of MAC because there are a lot of buzz around some new brands lately and I wanted to share how their hot-selling products fare against my Asian skin tone since no one is doing it (well, not that I know of). If you’re missing those MAC updates, don’t worry – they will be back. Soon. But first, I wanted to put another brand in the spotlight today and that is none other than.. *drum rolls* Dose of Colors!

dose of colors logo

Founded in 2013, Dose of Colors (DOC) is the brainchild of Armenian makeup artist Anna Petrosian who aspired to have a brand of her own to experiment with colours. It is a relatively new indie beauty company based in California, USA, which is not only cruelty-free (verified by PETA) but also eco- and vegan-friendly.

I had been seeing this brand around a lot on the internet lately and I gotta admit that I used to dismiss it as another wannabe brand riding on the popularity of liquid lipstick until I checked out their Instagram page. Despite its young age and being largely an e-commerce business (although they do have brick-and-mortar stores in some parts of the U.S.), it has already garnered over an impressive two million followers on their Instagram account. That’s an even larger following than well-established and high-end brands like Laura Mercier (920k) and Clinique (one million). Surely, to have a following that massive (that’s unless they paid for it.. but I highly doubt that), it must mean something, right? So I threw in the towel, paid for my first DOC order… and I’ve never looked back since!

Dose of Colors

Dose of Colors

Dose of Colors

Dose of Colors

Traffic to the website must have been overwhelming that night I made my purchase as it was the day these three highly sought-after shades were restocked. Thus. I was half-expecting the order to be processed at snail’s pace. But I was dead wrong. Delivery was almost immediate – my order was shipped on the same day my payment was made (just four hours apart from each other) and it was received by my forwarder six days later. I think my eyes widened a little in disbelief when I saw the notification emails. Gold star for efficiency!

As a self-proclaimed advocate for creativity, colourful and stylish logo and packaging design like those of DOS drive me wild. The simplicity of the typeface in the logo is very distinctive to the brand, eye-catching yet professional-looking. I also love the semi-opaque packaging (super smooth to touch) which reminds me of the smart glass on the LRT trains that changes to translucent when passing by apartment buildings.

In terms of functionality, the cap “clicks” when it is securely closed. The reflective band next to it, although does add a more luxurious feel to the overall appearance of the product, isn’t reflective enough to serve as a mirror surface. It would be awesome if it is so it could save me a trip to the toilet when I need to reapply the lipstick. But I’m willing to forgive that minor flaw because the soft and cushiony doe-foot applicator is perfectly tapered for an extremely clean and precise application. Literally no lip brush needed to line the lips! Another gold star for product design!

*gasp* How now, brown cow?! Even before using the products, I’ve already fallen head over heels for them!😳

#1 Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick (US$18)

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick (US$18)

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Brick

Most of the liquid lipsticks do not come with clear colour description on the website so I had to rely on the given images to judge the shades. I hate to do that because the colours may vary from computer to computer depending on the colour resolution of the screen, so what seems like warm red on mine may actually be a burgundy in real life. But thank God everything turned out pretty close to my expectations.

Brick is a deep brown-red. It has a faint chocolatey scent and applies evenly on the lips. It does not sink into the creases on my lips but it accentuates the lip lines to a small extent. Never mind, it is not very obvious from afar. It feels lightweight and neither hydrating nor drying but the tackiness remains even after several minutes of leaving it to settle. It dries down to an opaque matte finish with a natural sheen. It is not entirely transfer-proof although that makes it very easy to be removed.

Swatch comparison for Brick

Swatch comparison for Brick

#2 Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork (US$18)

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork (US$18)

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Cork

This is my favourite shade among the three reviewed here. Stand out with Cork, a medium-toned yellow-brown which goes on smooth and velvety on the lips to give an opaque finish. It leans more towards the dry side, thus definitely has the tendency to flake after some time. Its emphasis on the lip lines can be quite noticeable even from a distance and even though it doesn’t feel as sticky as Brick, it has a strange rubbery texture (rub your lips against each other and you’ll know what I mean). Nonetheless, this is a very unusual shade to have to complement any skin tone and style.

Swatch comparison after Desert Suede.

#3 Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede (US$18)

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede (US$18)

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Dose of Color Matte Liquid Lipstick in Desert Suede

Desert Suede is a matte dusty mauve with a strong grey undertone. The initial application glides on smoothly like the other shades with great colour payoff. Then, the horror comes once it dries down completely. True to its name, this shade makes my lips looks like mudcracks in deserts, especially on the upper lips (a very common issue I have with light-coloured lipsticks). It is a little drying so you gotta smile at all times with this shade on because those awful lip lines become intensely obvious when you don’t. On the plus side, it feels lightweight and the tackiness is pretty negligible here.

Swatch comparison for Desert Suede and Cork

Swatch comparison for Desert Suede and Cork

Generally, the formula hold up pretty well and has surpassed my expectations. Furthermore, Dose of Colours carries mostly wearable shades so I certainly see myself buying from them again (in fact, I’ve already added Black Rose to my cart – just waiting for the right time to cart it out!). If you’re conscientious about animal welfare and the environment, Dose of Colors is one guilt-free cosmetics brand you can consider supporting. The prices are reasonable for the high quality of the packaging and the incredible pigmentation of the colours but I would personally look out for their bundle sales (typically 5 for US$75 and they sell out snap) to take full advantage of that that shipping fee.

What do you think about these lipsticks by Dose of Colors? Let me know in the comments below!🙂

Thanks for reading!

MATTE LIQUID LIPSTICKS BY DOSE OF COLORS ARE AVAILABLE ON doseofcolors.com FOR US$18 PER PIECE. Final Prices do not include flat shipping rate of US$5.50 for all shipments within the U.S. regardless of item quantity purchased. International shipping rate varies and will be calculated at time of checkout.

REVIEW: MannyMUA x OFRA Cosmetics Long Lasting Liquid Lipsticks – Hypno, Charmed & Aries

Hello everyone!

If there is one thing social media has taught me about gender equality, it’s debunking the stereotype about makeup being something reserved only for the ladies and drag queens. It made me realise that men can be as good as women at applying makeup.. or even at a more expert level! Just switch over to your ‘Explore’ or ‘Recommended’ tab on Instagram or YouTube and, depending on your activity, you may be able to spot men wearing the most wicked makeup looks and dayum do they look fabulous in it!

One such talented male beauty gurus is @MannyMUA733  (real name Manny Gutierrez), a professional makeup artist by trade who found fame on YouTube as one of the few premier male beauty vloggers. Prior to that, he was already sharing snippets of sped-up makeup tutorials on his Instagram page and that was how I discovered him (because I’m not the kind who has the patience to sit through an entire 15-minute video.. unless it’s related to popping pimples, of course). His makeup creations on his own stubbly face are truly second to none and it is really no wonder beauty companies are lining up to work with him since he has the ability to make you feel like buying every product he uses in his videos.

First, it was a liquid lipstick with Gerard Cosmetics. Then, an eye shadow palette with MakeupGeek that caused a frenzy online when it dropped. And now a collaboration with one of my favourite beauty brands on a trio of universally flattering neutral liquid lipsticks? Shut up and take my money!

MannyMUA X OFRA Cosmetics Liquid Lipsticks

MannyMUA X OFRA Cosmetics Liquid Lipsticks

MannyMUA X OFRA Cosmetics Liquid Lipsticks swatches

MannyMUA X OFRA Cosmetics Liquid Lipsticks swatches

OFRA Cosmetics recently underwent an appearance transformation and this collection had the honour of decking out in the new and improved slinky packaging right at its launch. But personally, I prefer the matte paper box used in the former packaging (sans the unsightly ingredient list sticker pasted on the front) as the material feels sleeker and more professional and I like the obscure yet very much visible brand name on the box against the all-black background. I don’t really like how flamboyant the logo is now on the packaging. But that’s not to say there is nothing noteworthy about the new design.

The current tube is noticeably much longer and thicker as if made of better quality plastic. Certainly, there seems to be a lot more product in the tube as compared to that of the older packaging so you would definitely get your money’s worth with this one! Moreover, improvements have also been made to the applicator to allow for more precision in application and control around the edges. And most importantly, there is no price increment even with all these changes. I mean, it ought to remain the same considering how kinda pricey the lipsticks already are for a mid-tier brand (FYI, MAC’s Retro Matte Liquid Lipsticks cost US$21 each).

#1 Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries (US$19.90)

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries (US$19.90)

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Aries

In keeping up with the trend of naming products after the creator’s zodiac sign (which I honestly feel, at this juncture, is getting very predictable and overused.. If I had the opportunity to launch my own lipstick line, I’d name the products after my favourite food like Carrot Cake, Salted Egg and whatnots – why didn’t anybody think of that?!), Aries was born into a form of nude with peach-pink undertones. It would actually make more sense if it had taken on the corresponding colour of Aries but hey,  who needs another red lipstick anyway? After all, pink nudes are a foolproof option because they will never go out of style!

Aries are supposedly feisty and aggressive in nature but this shade exudes just the opposite. It complements fair skin tones beautifully and softens one’s look without being over the top. Vanilla-scented, it has a creamy texture with semi-full coverage which applies buttery smooth on my dry lips but it tends to clump up significantly on uneven areas. However, it leaves a sticky sensation on the lips.

#2 Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed (US$19.90)

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed (US$19.90)

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charmed

There is no explanation anywhere on how the name of this shade came about but I would like to think that it was named in tribute to my all-time favourite American television series (on a side note, anyone knows where I can watch all the episodes online? I’ve been searching for them for ages!) so that I have another reason to love it.

Charmed is a pink-nude mauve – very close to my natural lip colour – with a moisturising touch. It glides on creamy, thick and highly pigmented and accentuates the shape and curves of the lips. The formula is lightweight and feels exceptionally comfortable on the lips, yet provides excellent coverage and does not dry down to a completely matte finish. My chapped lips approve! This shade is perfect for light to medium skin tones.

Swatch comparison for Aries and Charmed

Swatch comparison for Aries and Charmed

“What?! Nothing for dark skin?” Fret not, sweethearts, why wouldn’t there be? It’s 2016! OFRA’s got your back!

#3 Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno (US$19.90)

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno (US$19.90)

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

MannyMUA X OFRA Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Hypno

The darkest shade of the trio is a hydrating burgundy that would look gorgeous across all skin tones. Transform from a daytime darling to a nighttime diva with just a change in lipstick colour! Best paired with smokey eyes, it is the shade to wear on any night out. It does not tug at the lips and it sweeps across seamlessly, leaving a slight sheen even after it dries. It simulates the look of a fuller pout without emphasising the fine lip lines. The first swipe is mostly opaque but it builds to a nice intensity with several passes.

Swatch comparison for Hypno

Swatch comparison for Hypno

I would recommend this shade if you only have the budget for one because, really, everyone needs a vampy lipstick in their stash! But if you weren’t fast enough to get your hands on any of these babies when they first launched as a limited-edition collection, you would be thrilled to bits to know that this lovely set of classic nudes are now set to stay for good! The last time I checked, they were still available online, so go grab ’em!

What are your thoughts about this latest collaboration with MannyMUA? Let me know your thoughts below!

Thank you for reading!🙂

MannyMUA X OFRA Cosmetics is available permanently at OFRACosmetics.com at US$19.90 per piece or US$49.70 for a bundle of all three shades. Alternatively, you may purchase through an international distributor in your country of residence.

REVIEW: Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipsticks – Scorpio & Gemini

Hey y’all beauty addicts! How’s it going?

Although I haven’t been posting here as actively as I did before I formally entered the workforce, the shopping still goes strong and I have tonnes of unopened parcels dated way back to last December (when the progression of my posts was already impeded by my Final Year Project then). Heaps of backlogs to clear here, so do bear with me!

In April, Jeffree Star launched two Velour Liquid Lipstick shades named after two star signs – Scorpio and Gemini – just months after MannyMUA released ‘Aries’ with OFRA Cosmetics (review to come). I see a trend towards naming products after attributes that consumers are able to resonate with – a very smart move, I must say, as it stimulates purchase of things you don’t necessarily need but have a strong desire to possess.

Regular packaging

Regular packaging

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipsticks in Scorpio and Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipsticks in Scorpio and Gemini

Scorpio, for example, is a grey-purple which is out of my colour comfort zone but I know I must have it because like Jeffree himself, I’m also a Scorpio! I bought Gemini simply because the colour looks amazing. But if you ever need another lame excuse for my incessant spending, my boyfriend is a Gemini and it would be inauspicious to separate a perfect zodiac combo😆

#1 Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Scorpio

Made in honour of Jeffree’s star sign, this purple-toned grey is an unconventional lip colour which would require quite a lot of courage to flaunt. It is not difficult to guess why this particular colour was chosen for Scorpio, judging from the venomous vibes it emanates. It dries down to an opaque, matte finish without bunching up while delivering an intense colour payoff that promises up to hours of smudge-proof wear if doesn’t come in contact with oil. If the smell of the lipstick was concocted to match the lethal look and feel of the shade, then it has certainly achieved its objective because the product does emit a slight chemical odour🙄

It also comes with a fluffy doe-foot applicator which picks up way too much product for a single application. Do not apply directly to your thin lips without a lip brush or you would be left with a hot mess.

Swatch comparison with other purples

Swatch comparison with other purples

Scorpio makes the other purple shades I have look pinkish in contrast.

#2 Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Gemini

This terracotta warm-toned nude is inspired by Jeffree’s best friend who is a Gemini. It gives an impression of boosted lip volume with its velvety and richly pigmented finish. The formula feels slightly tacky in the beginning as it does not dry down as quickly as Scorpio. But once it does, it is absolutely touch-proof and it does not make me feel like my lips are cracking or weighed down. Like Scorpio, one swipe is all it takes to lock that universally-flattering nude onto the lips.

Swatch comparison with other nudes

Swatch comparison with other nudes

Once again, the formula of the liquid lipsticks does not disappoint. I’m aware that many who used to support Jeffree Star have shunned his beauty line ever since his fiasco with Kat Von D over an alleged artwork theft. But if you’re willing to look beyond the drama, his vegan and cruelty-free, yet high quality lipsticks are actually worth the hype and investment🙂

What are your thoughts about Scorpio and Gemini? Chime in below!

Thanks for reading!

JEFFREE STAR VELOUR LIQUID LIPSTICK IS AVAILABLE AT JEFFREESTARCOSMETICS.COM AND BEAUTYLISH FOR US$18 EACH. INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING IS FREE FOR ORDERS ABOVE US$150 AND US$75 ON JEFFREECOSMESTICS.COM AND BEAUTYLISH RESPECTIVELY.

Tokyo, the Land of the Rising Sun (PART 2)

Konnichi-wa everyone!

Whoa, it has been close to a year since my Japan trip! The persistent thought of my incomplete Tokyo travelogue has been lingering in my mind so here I am continuing where I left off in the first part. In this post, I will be documenting my activities during my final days in sushi-land. Since this trip happened last December, I may inadvertently leave out some details but I will try my best to recall to the best of my ability😆

* * Day 2 * *

(Tokyo Disneyland)

Taking cue from our trip to Hong Kong Disneyland the previous year, we allotted one full day for the magical kingdom. The morning sun had already peeked its bright rays through our curtains when we were woken up by our annoying alarm clock which we had previously set at 7.00 a.m. JST (1 hour ahead of SGT). The chilly and crisp winter air outside seeped into our tiny room (or so I felt), causing my reluctance to get out of my warm and cozy bed to snowball (no pun intended) exponentially. I admit that we kinda took our time because we had already purchased a two-day passport (eTicket, at ¥12,400 each) to Tokyo Disney Resort (which includes DisneySea), so we needn’t have to spend time queuing up to enter.

It took us about an hour to reach Maihama station from our hotel (10 minutes away from Higashi-Shinjuku station) and we had to transfer trains twice  – once at Shinjuku-Sanchome station and another at Tokyo station. We had the impression that eating or drinking was allowed onboard due to the huge cluster of vending machines on the train platforms so before we hopped on to any train, we made sure we had a bottle of drink and a small packet of tidbit to keep us awake throughout the journey. Well, it turns out not to be the case… Oops. Eating or drinking on trains, although not prohibited by law, is likewise frowned upon in Japan. But I guess having a little nibble won’t kill, yes?! After all, we had left our hotel without having our breakfast😦

One of the many vending machines we saw...

One of the many vending machines we saw…

Brazen display of tobacco along the train platform

Brazen display of tobacco along the train platform

Inside the Tokyo station-bound train

Inside the Tokyo station-bound train

Boarded the Maihama-bound train at Tokyo station

Boarded the Maihama-bound train at Tokyo station

The trains are equipped with seats covered in comfy velvet which implies high level of self-discipline among the Japanese. Should such sofa seats be used in place of the hard plastic ones in our trains, they will probably lose their lustre and softness in no time because of recalcitrant passengers who eat and drink on board:\

The priority seats in red are separated from the rest and put in a corner next to the empty compartment between carriages where you can make urgent calls (be sure to shut the doors, though!). Talking on mobile phones in the seated areas of the train is a strict no-no. The Japanese values their peace and privacy a lot, so it’s not unusual to be commuting in stark silence.

Look, a convenience shop along the platform!

Look, a convenience shop along the platform!

Maihama station

Maihama station

Mini Yakult

Mini Yakult

I was looking forward to visiting Tokyo Disneyland because friends had been raving to me about how much more breathtaking and enchanting it is from other Disneylands in the world. Upon further research, I discovered that Tokyo Disneyland is wholly owned by a local leisure and tourism corporation Oriental Land Company and not by Walt Disney Company, hence allowing for more flexibility in the imagineering and construction of the theme park. The innovation of the Japanese is apparent in the rides and even in the range of merchandise in the gift shops, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending more than budgeted.

Once we exited Maihama train station, we followed the (not-very-visible, in my opinion) directions to Disneyland. For the uninitiated, the way to Disneyland is on the right whereas the train to the Disneyland Hotel and DisneySea is on the left. It took us between 10 and 15 minutes to walk to our destination in the sunny but chilly weather.

Red arc

Red arc

There is a Disney gift shop right before this huge red arc for those who wish to buy some Disney merchandise without having to pay the entrance fee to the theme park. If I remember correctly, there was no difference in pricing and almost everything was stocked up there. I felt this was a nice gesture on the part of Tokyo Disneyland because not everyone can afford the expensive admission tickets.

Welcome to Tokyo Disneyland!

Welcome to Tokyo Disneyland!

Opened in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland is the first Disney Park built outside the United States and remains one of the world’s top theme park destinations. It spans over 114 acres on a reclaimed land which is about a 90-minute journey from Tokyo. Unless you forgo all the rides and go around the theme park on an e-scooter, it is almost impossible to explore every attraction within a day (or even two). It is humongous.

We're in!

We’re in!

More whimsical sculptures..

More whimsical sculptures..

A huge Christmas tree to commemorate the season

A huge Christmas tree to commemorate the season

Sleeping Beauty's Castle!

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle!

 Birds (geese?) like this one are aplenty at the theme park!

Birds (geese?) like this one are aplenty at the theme park!

A must-visit place for the Pooh fanatic boyfriend..

A must-visit place for the Pooh fanatic boyfriend..

This quote by Eeyore is so aww-worthy!

This quote by Eeyore is so aww-worthy!

Boxes with a cushiony exterior shaped like Pooh's head!

Boxes with a cushiony exterior shaped like Pooh’s head!

It was impossible to miss those conspicuous yellow Pooh heads on the shelves because they were sold in virtually every gift shop! It’s certainly a must-have for all Pooh collectors. Each box contained a few individually packed honey sponge cakes moulded in the shape of Pooh’s head which were too cute to be eaten. I failed to notice that they had relatively short shelf life (like most Japanese snacks) so I had kept mine past their expiry date as I couldn’t bear to open the box. I took my first bite into the sponge cakes six months after their purported expiry date but voila! They were still saccharine and fresh – probably not as fresh as when I first bought them but still pretty much edible and salable. What do you know, the Japanese are such an overly cautious bunch…😛

So don’t toss your expired (but still looking good) Japanese snacks away without first tasting them!

Disclaimer: The above is just an advice only ah.. please don’t blame me if you get diarrhoea after that^^’  Thank you.

Winnie the Pooh refillable and reusable popcorn bucket!

Winnie the Pooh refillable and reusable popcorn bucket!

Popcorn pushcarts like the one above can be found at every corner of Disneyland! The design of the popcorn bucket (made with good quality and sturdy plastic) as well as the flavour of the popcorn vary, though. Boyfriend and I happened to find the one that sold Pooh buckets and, of course, honey-flavoured popcorn!🐻 You can refill your bucket with popcorn of different flavours at any pushcart for a lower price🙂

Joined the crowd to catch the parade!

Joined the crowd to catch the parade!

Managed to get the perfect shot of Mickey :)

Managed to get the perfect shot of Mickey🙂

Donald and Daisy!

Donald and Daisy!

Cowgirl Jessie from Toy Story!

Cowgirl Jessie from Toy Story!

Jolly Pooh and Tigger!

Jolly Pooh and Tigger!

Screen capture from my video.. because boyfriend insisted that I took videos instead of still photographs for his favourite Pooh segment -_-

Screen capture from my video.. because boyfriend insisted that I took videos instead of still photographs for his favourite Pooh segment -_-

Due to our ill-preparedness for this trip, we didn’t go around to collect all the FASTPASS tickets like what most travel bloggers had done before we embarked on our exploration of the theme park. It was our biggest mistake because all the tickets ran out by the time we wanted to take the rides. We had to give the more popular rides a miss because the regular queues were insanely long and could take up to two hours. Not wanting to waste most of our day lining up, we went to attractions that could accommodate more visitors at once with shorter waiting time, like Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

Mickey's PhilharMagic

Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Mickey’s PhilharMagic is a 4-D film attraction featuring 3-D effects, scents and water, as well as a number of Disney characters in a 12-minute-long show. Initially, I had my qualms going there because I had the uninformed impression that it would be another 3-D show designed to please young children. But boy, was I so wrong. I was immersed throughout the screening!

You can't see the visuals clearly without those 3-D glasses, but this part was on The Little Mermaid

You can’t see the visuals clearly without those 3-D glasses, but this part was on The Little Mermaid

The theatre is equipped with motion seats that will move in tandem with the movie action but there are also stationary seats for those do not want to watch the show with the vibration. During the show, small amounts of water would be squirted from the seat in front (I think) of every person to simulate the effect of rain or water splashing. Then, there would also be wind effect to mimic fog. I can’t recall what other 4-D effects there were but the whole experience was absolutely delightful. You won’t regret going there at all!

It was starting to get dark at 4 p.m...

It was starting to get dark at 4 p.m…

The Gadget's Go Coaster was one of the few rides we managed to take that day. No complaints - I LOVE roller coasters!

The Gadget’s Go Coaster was one of the few rides we managed to take that day. No complaints – I LOVE roller coasters!

We then caught the second daytime parade in the afternoon at a confined space next to the parade gate where the performance concluded. Although we arrived at the venue late, we were lucky enough to find a spot that was still fairly close to the performers, and so were able to snap some good shots! The characters that made an appearance during this parade were pretty much the same as those who did in the earlier one.. with the exception of Frozen’s Anna and Elsa.

Frozen's Elsa and Anna

Frozen’s Elsa and Anna

Our appetite became especially ravenous after walking around the entire day in the freezing temperature, so time to grab a bite!

Our appetite became especially ravenous after walking around the entire day in the freezing temperature, so time to grab a bite!

A cuppa hot tea to go with our pretzel!

A cuppa hot tea to go with our pretzel!

The long wait did not deter us from joining the queue for the Grand Circuit Gateway

The long wait did not deter us from joining the queue for the Grand Circuit Gateway

Like its Hong Kong counterpart (Autopia), the cars at the Grand Circuit Gateway operate along a guide rail and do not actually require any steering whenever they reach a turning point. The cars move when the gas pedal is being stepped on but will stall when another vehicle is detected in close proximity ahead of them to prevent collision.

Unfortunately, that would be our final time behind the wheels of the electric cars at Tokyo Disneyland because the Grand Circuit Gateway will be closed permanently in January next year to make way for newer attractions😦

While waiting for the nighttime parade to begin, boyfriend went to buy dinner! Look at the Mickey-shaped egg yolk!

While waiting for the nighttime parade to begin, boyfriend went to buy dinner! Look at the Mickey-shaped egg yolk!

The curry don was disappointing. The curry sauce was decent and there were barely any meat in the dish. The dish above wasn't satisfying either. Since I wasn't the one who bought dinner, I'm not sure how much they cost. But knowing Disneyland, they definitely wouldn't be affordable. I expected better from Tokyo Disneyland

The curry don was disappointing. The curry sauce was decent and there were barely any meat in the dish. The dish above wasn’t satisfying either. Since I wasn’t the one who bought dinner, I’m not sure how much they cost. But knowing Disneyland, they definitely wouldn’t be affordable. I expected better from Tokyo Disneyland

Grateful to have hot tea to keep me warm *brrr*

Grateful to have hot tea to keep me warm *brrr*

The nighttime parade was, nevertheless, stunning with all the bright neon lights adorning the shimmering floats but I personally feel that it was not in any way more magnificent than the one I witnessed in Hong Kong. In fact, I thought the nighttime parade at Hong Kong Disneyland was more memorable. Sounds absurd, I know. Either my expectations were pegged too high or the novelty of it had worn off from me. I just didn’t feel the magic as much as others had claimed to experience.

Or perhaps, the weather was just too cold for me to bear (because, well, my outfit wasn’t thick enough to keep a barrier between the cold and my frail body) that I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the trip. All I wanted to do was to head back to the hotel and tuck myself beneath the comforter😥

To spare you the agony of loading more pictures on your phone (trust me, it’s more or less the same as those I took in Hong Kong), I’m excluding the photographs (or rather, videos) I took at the nighttime parade from this travelogue.

Following the parade was a short light show and fireworks display at the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. We weren’t lucky enough to get the front spot as the viewing area was immensely crowded. There was a 15 minute (or more) interval between both shows which was strangely not mentioned on the park map, so we left after waiting meaninglessly for 10 minutes. We should have guessed when the crowd refused to budged. I spied the person behind us literally exclaiming in delight and promptly moving forward the moment we vacated our spot ¬_¬ Not long after we got out of the crowd, the fireworks finale began🙄

Only at Tokyo Disneyland

Only at Tokyo Disneyland

Although bummed out that we missed the fireworks show, boyfriend was quick to realise that most of the rides would be less packed at that time. Hence, we took the golden opportunity to visit the nearest ride before we called it a day. True enough, the queue at Ride & Go Seek was relatively shorter.

The only picture I could take of this ride because photography is forbidden inside (I did take some shots secretly but they turned out blurry)

The only picture I could take of this ride because photography is forbidden inside (I did take some shots secretly but they turned out blurry)

Night view! Beautiful :) How I wish I could stay in one of those lighted houses permanently *lol*

Night view! Beautiful🙂 How I wish I could stay in one of those lighted houses permanently *lol*

By the time we left Tokyo Disneyland, our belly had already digested the miserable dinner we had earlier on and we were deliberating if we should hunt for places to eat or have supper at Sushizanmai instead. In the end, we decided against both ideas as we didn’t want to dip further into our depleting funds and simply shared a bowl of instant noodles we bought from the convenience store near our hotel. The meal was complete with several kinds of warm soup we bought from vending machines along our journey to our hotel.  #goodenough

A vending machine with touchscreen! It doesn't just dispense drinks but hot canned soups as well

A vending machine with touchscreen! It doesn’t just dispense drinks but hot canned soups as well

We went around different vending machines to collect all the available soup flavours. I love the clam soup! It didn't taste preserved at all!

We went around different vending machines to collect all the available soup flavours. I love the clam soup! It didn’t taste preserved at all!

* * Day 3 * *

(Tokyo DisneySea)

There seemed to be no amount of alarm clocks that could unearth either one of us from our cocoon of blankets. Having gone through the same routine in Hong Kong, we knew it would be near-impossible to wake us up with a single annoying alarm tone, so we had set two the night before – one on my phone and the other on boyfriend’s. Still, the plan failed and it was not until noon that we finally crawled out of bed. The fatigue from the previous day’s event had certainly gotten the better of us. So much time had been wasted on grabbing that few more winks of sleep that we probably wouldn’t even have time to explore half of DisneySea.

But we couldn’t abort our plans because we had already paid for the tickets:/ So off we went with a mild feeling of dread because our legs were not ready for the long travel ahead of us to Maihama station. Mind you, it’s Japan we’re talking about.. which involves a lot of walking. Even transferring from one train line to another at a particular train station could take us up to 20 minutes of brisk walking. I’m always up for long-distance walks. Just.. not that day ∪_∪

Upon arrival at Maihama station which, by then had been all too familiar, we headed directly to the light rail station and waited for the train bound for Tokyo DisneySea.

Zero sense of urgency: Late but we were still able to fork out a little time for photo-taking :P

Zero sense of urgency: Late but we were still able to fork out a little time for photo-taking😛

Train approaching!

Train approaching!

Comfy seats and Mickey-shaped windows

Comfy seats and Mickey-shaped windows

And we're here!

And we’re here!

This place has got that USS vibes..

This place has got that USS vibes..

Busy Mickey greeting his little fans at the entrance!

Busy Mickey greeting his little fans at the entrance!

..which reminds me, I didn’t get the chance to take any pictures with the mascots at Tokyo Disneyland (and DisneySea). How devastating😦

It was here we heard a performance of some sort going on and were trying to trace the source of the sounds...

It was here we heard a performance of some sort going on and were trying to trace the source of the sounds…

But first, a wefie! (And check out my Mickey headgear - yay!)

But first, a wefie! (And check out my Mickey headgear – yay!)

Oh, so this was where the sounds were coming from! Look, it's Goofy and his entourage!

Oh, so this was where the sounds were coming from! Look, it’s Goofy and his entourage!

We stationed ourselves behind the existing crowd but were subsequently ushered to a corner by the wardens to allow for a wider walking area ¬_¬

*squeals* HELLO CHIP AND DALE!

*squeals* HELLO CHIP AND DALE!

But the view from our new spot was so poor, we could only see the side profile of the performers. We gave up and proceeded to have our lunch at Cafe Portofino, just in front of the park. It is a counter service buffeteria that offers Italian food options set in a spacious and warmly-decorated hall that instantly places you in the renaissance era.

Outside Cafe Portofino

Outside Cafe Portofino

Not sure about you but I find the interior truly breathtaking!

Not sure about you but I find the interior truly breathtaking!

Something's cookin'..

Something’s cookin’..

Standing in line to get our food..

Standing in line to get our food..

We added a Paradiso set (a bowl of soup and one soft drink) to one of our main dishes (“Piatti”) for an additional ¥570. The portion size was reasonable and was able to keep our hunger cues in check for quite a long time.

I can't remember what this was.. Maybe vegetable soup.

I can’t remember what this was.. Maybe vegetable soup.

Rotisserie Chicken (half portion), ¥1,420

Rotisserie Chicken (half portion), ¥1,420

The half-sized Rotisserie Chicken was roasted through but still retained adequate moisture to keep the meat succulent. The seasoning was fine but nothing to write home about. I felt that the plating of this dish could be done better. Don’t you think it’s too.. bare? I’m not demanding expensive sides. Perhaps, y’know, some fries or mashed potatoes would be able to fill those empty spaces around the chicken.

Linguine Pomodoro with Italian Meatballs, ¥1,260

Linguine Pomodoro with Italian Meatballs, ¥1,260

This was boyfriend’s main course which he gobbled down in a heartbeat. The decently cooked pasta was bathed in creamy marinara sauce and topped with limited number of meatballs. Boyfriend had no complaints about the taste but it was clearly too small a portion to satisfy his hunger.

It had started to drizzle when we exited the restaurant but it was light enough to continue exploring without any rain gear. Armed with a copy of the DisneySea map, we went from attraction to attraction only to find that many of them were either closed or had too long a queue. In addition, the next shows at theatres were hours away so we were left with no choice but to join whichever queue was available to us.

Mediterranean Harbour

Mediterranean Harbour

Venetian Gondolas

Venetian Gondolas

This place sells really appetising sandwiches!

This place sells really appetising sandwiches!

The crowd on a weekday

The crowd on a weekday

Feels like the streets of New York

Feels like the streets of New York

The Tower of Terror houses DisneySea's most exciting attraction - a thrilling, free fall-style ride. It looks scarier at night. As expected, the queue for this was LONG but even if it wasn't, boyfriend would still be too timid to take it. Hence, I was forced to give this a miss..

The Tower of Terror houses DisneySea’s most exciting attraction – a thrilling, free fall-style ride. It looks scarier at night. As expected, the queue for this was LONG but even if it wasn’t, boyfriend would still be too timid to take it. Hence, I was forced to give this a miss..

Restrooms adjacent to the Tower of Terror

Restrooms adjacent to the Tower of Terror

Just a few distance away lies Toy Story Mania! and a snaking queue meandering around barricades positioned outside the entrance. There was a signage indicating the estimated waiting time of two hours placed at the end of the queue. Still, we went ahead and join the line knowing that the wait would be equally long at other attractions. Now let me stress how important portable WiFi routers and a reliable mobile charger are especially in times like this because time crawls at a sloth’s pace without them:\

I don't know about you but entering the attraction through Woody's mouth seems a little horror-esque..

I don’t know about you but entering the attraction through Woody’s mouth seems a little horror-esque..

The tram led us to a 3-D shooting gallery where we toss eggs, pop balloons, throw rings and play other games

The tram led us to a 3-D shooting gallery where we toss eggs, pop balloons, throw rings and play other games

Our shooting device!

Our shooting device!

My score on the left and boyfriend's on the right. I lost. I'm just not good at games :<

My score on the left and boyfriend’s on the right. I lost. I’m just not good at games :<

More games at the Carnival Corral (within the Toy Story Mania!) which didn't have any queue..

More games at the Carnival Corral (within the Toy Story Mania!) which didn’t have any queue..

We couldn't help but feel hungry after spending most of the afternoon touring a large area of DisneySea and queuing hours for a ride that lasted less than 10 minutes.. So we treated ourselves to a good ol' hot dog bun! I liked how the condiments came packed in fold-and-squeeze wrappers so we didn't have to dirty our hands!

We couldn’t help but feel hungry after spending most of the afternoon touring a large area of DisneySea and queuing hours for a ride that lasted less than 10 minutes.. So we treated ourselves to a good ol’ hot dog bun! I liked how the condiments came packed in fold-and-squeeze wrappers so we didn’t have to dirty our hands!

Soon, it was time for the nighttime water show at the Mediterranean Harbour. In order to get a good view, we arrived at the venue about half an hour before but was surprised to find almost all spots taken up by then. Sadly, it wasn’t the best day to be outdoors as well because the rain had been in drizzles on and off throughout the day, wetting the ground. But the Japanese seemed to be well-prepared for that (or perhaps because cleanliness is imbibed in their culture) as we noticed literally everyone around us seated on mats.

The only weirdos seated on the ground without a mat

The only weirdos seated on the ground without a mat

The huge water screens transformed into a gigantic Christmas tree during the performance

The huge water screens transformed into a gigantic Christmas tree during the performance

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

The rain persisted throughout the show and finally transitioned into heavy downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning when it ended. Everyone instantly sought shelter in the Emporio store nearby. Not long after, an announcement came on that the fireworks display would be cancelled due to the bad weather😐 Ah, bummer…

We remained in Emporio until the rain lightened. Since there was still more than an hour to closing time (Tokyo Disneyland closes a lot later than Hong Kong’s), we went deeper into the theme park to find Mysterious Island and Mermaid Lagoon. Perhaps due to the late hour (coupled with the wet weather), we did not have to queue for any of the attractions we set foot in.

Along the path leading to the Mysterious Island

Along the path leading to the Mysterious Island

The iconic Mount Prometheus in the background

The iconic Mount Prometheus in the background

One of the more conspicuous attractions at Mysterious Island - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This is the main entrance to a downward spiral to the ride

One of the more conspicuous attractions at Mysterious Island – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This is the main entrance to a downward spiral to the ride

As we walked down the slope, I spotted this weird-looking structure..

As we walked down the slope, I spotted this weird-looking structure..

Water filled the bottom of the attraction because we were about to take a "submarine ride"!

Water filled the bottom of the attraction because we were about to take a “submarine ride”!

Boyfriend insisted on wearing that Pooh tag around his neck... I guess it's true that Disneyland brings out the kid in all of us

Boyfriend insisted on wearing that Pooh tag around his neck… I guess it’s true that Disneyland brings out the kid in all of us

The attraction is based on a spin-off from a novel of the same name by Jules Verne and does not actually move underwater. Suspended from an overhead track (the yellow structure depicted above), the submarine is equipped with “double pane glass dome windows that contain water and bubbles to create the illusion of … diving deep into the ocean”. It’s a very simple dark ride where you have to occasionally flash the torch light to see things. I don’t remember having to complete any mission so it wasn’t as fun and interactive as I thought it would be.

Each side of the submarine, if my memory doesn’t fail me, can accommodate up to 6 people so boyfriend and I had to share a cabin with other visitors. Some may find the inside of the cabin sweltering with no air-conditioning but it felt like a warm haven, a quick refuge from the cold to me😆 I tried taking some shots in the cabin but the shutter speed of my camera was too slow to capture the fast-moving objects.

With under an hour remaining before the shutters came down, we headed towards the wholly-sheltered Mermaid Lagoon to ride whatever was available. We were able to take most, if not all, of the rides because they were largely vacant. Lucky us!

Spotted King Triton on his sleigh drawn by.. dolphins?

Spotted King Triton on his sleigh drawn by.. dolphins?

The inside of a whale is a gift shop! Look how the ceiling is designed to resemble the roof of the mouth - so cool!

The inside of a whale is a gift shop! Look how the ceiling is designed to resemble the roof of the mouth – so cool!

Blowfish Balloon Race

Blowfish Balloon Race

It's some sort of a carousel, I guess.. The merry-go-round effect made me rather queasy after that lol

It’s some sort of a carousel, I guess.. The merry-go-round effect made me rather queasy after that lol

Mermaid Lagoon Theatre! We were just in time for the final show of the day

Mermaid Lagoon Theatre! We were just in time for the final show of the day

Inside the theatre before the live performance began.. It was a truly captivating one with lots of acrobatic elements. Photography is forbidden in the theatre

Inside the theatre before the live performance began.. It was a truly captivating one with lots of acrobatic elements. Photography is forbidden in the theatre

Jellyfish everywhere!

Jellyfish everywhere!

Took another ride - the Jumpin' Jellyfish! The rides in this area are mostly kids-friendly and family-oriented, lacking the thrill factor as you can tell

Took another ride – the Jumpin’ Jellyfish! The rides in this area are mostly kids-friendly and family-oriented, lacking the thrill factor as you can tell

Ariel's Playground

Ariel’s Playground

Can't remember where the stairs lead to..

Can’t remember where the stairs lead to..

Triton's Kingdom

Triton’s Kingdom

Thereafter, the closing announcement came on and throngs of visitors including boyfriend and me proceeded to take the light rail back to Maihama station. The platform was so crowded that we barely made it to the first train that arrived. Thankfully, the journey home was comfortably seamless and we managed to take the weight off our feet and catch forty winks! Looking back, we were really daring to have slept on a train in a foreign land..

* * Day 4 * *

(Tsukiji Fish Market, 海鮮丼 大江户 Kaisen-don Ōedo Restaurant, Pokémon Center)

Sadly, our shallow pockets meant that we could only afford to tour a city with a high standard of living for a maximum of four full days. As this trip drew to a close, reality started to bite again. On the one hand I dreaded getting back to the grind of my Final Year Project but on the other hand I was psyched about the final full day because the highlights of the trip were left to this day. For the first time during the trip, I was already up and about at 8.30 a.m. JST (that’s 7.30 a.m. SGT), all set for the first destination of the day – Tsukiji Fish Market!

But first, let me parade my haul from a vending machine along a train station platform ^_^

But first, let me parade my haul from a vending machine along a train station platform ^_^

Any travel guides would recommend viewing of the tuna auctions as it is a must-do in Tsukiji Fish Market. Auctions begin at 5.25 a.m. JST and only a maximum of 120 visitors are allowed to view per day. We had initially planned to see the auctions but were not disciplined enough to wake up at an unearthly hour for it. Moreover, since public transport only starts at 5 a.m., we would need to hire a cab to get there. Mind you, Tokyo holds the title of having the most expensive cab fares in the world and we’re obviously too broke for that by the second last day of our vacation. Our journey would probably rack up hundreds of dollars in cab fare because Tsukiji Fish Market is quite a distance from our hotel. We didn’t want to risk being denied entry into the market due to reaching capacity after having gone through so much trouble either!

Our train ride to to Tsukiji Shijo station lasted about an hour. We read from some travel blogs that the station is just directly below the market but somehow or other we got lost and had to walk a bit.

En route to Tsukiji Fish Market

En route to Tsukiji Fish Market

It was reported in that Tsukiji Fish Market would be relocated to a much bigger and newer site at Toyosu, Koto but the move has since been delayed over cost and health concerns.

In a high-tech country like Japan, deliveries from aisles to aisles in wet markets are done on motorised carts

In a high-tech country like Japan, deliveries from aisles to aisles in wet markets are done on motorised carts

Dried goods for sale

Dried goods for sale

A corridor of eateries!

A corridor of eateries!

The sashimi restaurants inside and outside Tsukiji Fish Market are undoubtedly your best bet when it comes to quality and fresh seafood since all the sashimi are delivered fresh from a stone’s throw away. Every alley is lined with such small and cramped restaurants which draw throngs of hungry people from all over the world and the queues may even stretch for hours. Boyfriend and I were seriously spoilt for choice so we chose the one that had one of the longest queues (typical Singaporean behaviour) as well as enticing menu display. Orders are taken in advance so that they can be served promptly the moment customers take their seats in the restaurant.

The lunchtime crowd!

The lunchtime crowd!

Sashimi restaurants had the longest queues..

Sashimi restaurants had the longest queues..

海鮮丼 大江户 Kaisen-don Ōedo Restaurant - our choice of restaurant

海鮮丼 大江户 Kaisen-don Ōedo Restaurant – our choice of restaurant

It was a challenge to move into the inner seats and we barely had space for our bulky backpacks

It was a challenge to move into the inner seats and we barely had space for our bulky backpacks

Once seated, we were served a bowl (?) of hot green tea, pickles and miso soup (not pictured)

Once seated, we were served a bowl (?) of hot green tea, pickles and miso soup (not pictured)

One of the many sashimi platters on the menu (¥2700)

One of the many sashimi platters on the menu (¥2700)

P don served with my favourite uni (sea urchin) (¥2400). Boyfriend and I ordered the same dish!

P don served with my favourite uni (sea urchin) (¥2400). Boyfriend and I ordered the same dish!

Never underestimate the tiny restaurants at Tsukiji Fish Market (or any eatery in Japan, as a matter of fact). They may seem small but their prices are comparable to that  of notable Japanese restaurants in Singapore. The total damage from our sashimi feast  (just those few dishes pictured above) reached close to a whopping S$100 which had well exceeded our budget for this meal. But it was money well-spent. The food was truly remarkable – those firm, thick slices of sashimi were laced with fatty marble and had a slight briny tang. And I had never felt so satisfied eating that huge slab of uni!

I can’t remember if the restaurant accepts credit cards so do bring enough cash along before heading to Tsukiji Fish Market for your breakfast or lunch.

海鮮丼 大江户 Kaisen-don Ōedo Restaurant
5-2-1 Tsukiji
8-Go, Chuo 104-0045, Tokyo Prefecture
Operating hours: 4.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.
Website: http://www.tsukiji-ooedo.com/

After our lunch, we tried to find our way back to the JR station and chanced upon shops like these along the way. You'd be surprised (or maybe not) to hear some of these salespeople conversing to tourists in Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese etc.) because many of them actually come from China!

After our lunch, we tried to find our way back to the JR station and chanced upon shops like these along the way. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) to hear some of these salespeople conversing to tourists in Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese etc.) because many of them actually come from China!

More dried snacks.. not very cheap, eh?

More dried snacks.. not very cheap, eh?

We finally saw fish for sale at the fame fish market :B

We finally saw fish for sale at the fame fish market :B

Some tamago-looking food... To this day, I still have no idea what this is X)

Some tamago-looking food… To this day, I still have no idea what this is X)

Finger foods like this were aplenty near Tsukiji Fish Market. I don't know what this whole street of makeshift street food stalls is called but it seems to be quite a touristy place. (note: after some Googling, I conclude that this could be Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market)

Finger foods like this were aplenty near Tsukiji Fish Market. I don’t know what this whole street of makeshift street food stalls is called but it seems to be quite a touristy place. (note: after some Googling, I conclude that this could be Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market)

Damn, these BBQ food looked really good! But I was urged by boyfriend to control my spending :'( Ok bye.. I will come back to you next time!

Damn, these BBQ food looked really good! But I was urged by boyfriend to control my spending😥 Ok bye.. I will come back to you next time!

With the help of our life-saving Google Maps app, we managed to locate the nearest JR station from where we were wandering along and take the next train down to Ikebukuro station!😀 *prances around*

Alright, I’m going to be honest here. The main crux of this trip wasn’t the amusement parks nor the shopping malls but the Pokémon Center (although the abundance supply of fresh sashimi we could eat was also another major deciding factor for boyfriend). As a diehard Pokémon fanatic since my childhood days (yes, for the uninformed, Pokémon has been around since the late 90’s and not only recently with the launch of PokémonGO), it has been my absolute dream to visit the specialist store because I’ve been wanting to start my own collection of (preferably official) Pokémon merchandise.

Knowing that I would wipe out the Yen we had and possibly max out my credit card there (which did happen eventually), boyfriend wittingly pushed the Pokémon Centre back to the last day on our impromptu itinerary so that we didn’t have to starve on our final days in Japan😆

Display taken at Ikebukuro station which misled us into thinking that Sunshine City (where Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo store is) was just nearby. We didn't expect to a 25-minute walk to get there -_-

Display taken at Ikebukuro station which misled us into thinking that Sunshine City (where Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo store is) was just nearby. We didn’t expect to a 25-minute walk to get there -_-

A barricaded smoking corner! Can Singapore please adopt something similar so that all the second-hand smoke can be confined within the area?

A barricaded smoking corner! Can Singapore please adopt something similar so that all the second-hand smoke can be confined within the area?

We're here! All the lethargy from commuting and walking the entire day instantly dissipated when I saw the huge Pokémon sign greeting me!

We’re here! All the lethargy from commuting and walking the entire day instantly dissipated when I saw the huge Pokémon sign greeting me!

CHO KEWT!

CHO KEWT!

To prep our wallet for this day, we watched videos taken at the Pokémon Centre on YouTube to know what items were stocked up in that season. Using the videos as a guide, we came up with a shopping list but was dismayed to learn that what we wanted were already sold out and replaced with some other designs😥 So, lesson learnt: don’t rely too much on YouTube videos for the latest products at the Pokémon Centre because almost everything sold is seasonal. When we were there, we witnessed how crazily fast the stocks come and go. It’s not unusual to see shelves once filled with stuff become empty and replenished again. The staff are that efficient!

I wanted to sweep everything off the shelves but my luggage only had this much space! :(

I wanted to sweep everything off the shelves but my luggage only had this much space!😦

Towels, shower caps, T-shirts and other wearables!

Towels, shower caps, T-shirts and other wearables!

Stationery. This drives me NUTS

Stationery. This drives me NUTS

Snacks that come in adorable packaging! Bought a few mainly because of the (metal) boxes..

Snacks that come in adorable packaging! Bought a few mainly because of the (metal) boxes..

Pikachu plushies and keychains

Pikachu plushies and keychains

Look at the topmost shelf! Almost empty!

Look at the topmost shelf! Almost empty!

Pokémon toy vending machine! Look what I got :D

Pokémon toy vending machine! Look what I got😀

3DS casings and covers!

3DS casings and covers!

MORE snacks! Do take note of their short shelf life too!

MORE snacks! Do take note of their short shelf life too!

Our haul! We had more bags after this picture because we went back in to shop again... Total damage came up to about S$300 u__u Thank God it was already our final day in Japan LOL

Our haul! We had more bags after this picture because we went back in to shop again… Total damage came up to about S$300 u__u Thank God it was already our final day in Japan LOL

Unless you aren’t a Pokémon fan, you must be prepared to spend a least S$100 at the Pokémon Centre (credit cards are accepted) because the product selection there is massive. We deliberately emptied our backpack prior to heading out of our hotel that morning because we knew we were going to buy a lot of things at the Pokémon Centre. Still, we had to lug a few bags of our purchases back to our hotel because there wasn’t enough space in our backpack!😳

Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo
3-1-2 Higashiikebukuro
2F Sunshine City Special Shops Alba, Toshima 170-6002, Tokyo Prefecture
Operating hours: 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Nearest JR station: Ikebukuro

On our way back to the JR station, we stopped by a huge arcade with many toy catcher machines. Boyfriend tried his luck at one and successfully got a mid-sized Gudetama after several tries lol

On our way back to the JR station, we stopped by a huge arcade with many toy catcher machines. Boyfriend tried his luck at one and successfully got a mid-sized Gudetama after several tries lol

This is the actual size! It's bigger than my head o_O

This is the actual size! It’s bigger than my heado_O

We spotted this and were enticed by the fragrance of the takoyaki~ We were cash strapped after all the shopping and had to trade money at a nearby money changer to buy dinner :/

We spotted this and were enticed by the fragrance of the takoyaki~ We were cash strapped after all the shopping and had to trade money at a nearby money changer to buy dinner:/

YUMZ. Actually, nothing quite different from the takoyaki we had at the ION Orchard (already closed, by the way) but the experience of having a Japanese snack in Japan felt more authentic...?

YUMZ. Actually, nothing quite different from the takoyaki we had at the ION Orchard (already closed, by the way) but the experience of having a Japanese snack in Japan felt more authentic…?

Trying to explore other parts of Tokyo with so many shopping bags in tow can be a real pain in the arse (besides, we were already penniless and the value in our PASMO card wouldn’t be able to take us anywhere farther..) so we returned to our hotel to pack our baggage and have an early rest.

* * Day 5 * *

(Departure)

With a heavy heart, it was time to bid Tokyo goodbye. Our evening flight meant that we could sleep in and have plenty of time to do a final round of shopping at the airport (and not forgetting our final visit to Sushizanmai for lunch. God, we miss that place) after returning our Wi-Fi router. We used our two-way NEX ticket to bring us back to Narita Airport. It was a smooth ride and we slept throughout the journey.

I love Narita Airport and this is one reason why

I love Narita Airport and this is one reason why

Just when I thought I could leave Tokyo without having to dig deep into my pockets again on my final day, lo and behold, another Pokémon store in the airport! ARGHHHHH STOP TAKING MY MONEY!

Just when I thought I could leave Tokyo without having to dig deep into my pockets again on my final day, lo and behold, another Pokémon store in the airport! ARGHHHHH STOP TAKING MY MONEY!

Of course, what other attire can Pikachu be donning in the airport?!

Of course, what other attire can Pikachu be donning in the airport?!

If I ever strike it rich one day, I'm going to start collecting Pikachu plushies and have a room in my house just to display my collection!

If I ever strike it rich one day, I’m going to start collecting Pikachu plushies and have a room in my house just to display my collection!

Snacks and cup noodles... ~_~ I can't take this anymore..

Snacks and cup noodles… ~_~ I can’t take this anymore..

Found this (the authentic ones) at S.E.A. Aquarium, Sentosa outside the Pokémon Research Exhibition so it's not so exclusive to Japan. For people who can't afford it (or don't see the need to buy the authentic ones), you can find the replica at shops that rent out lockers to merchants to sell products

Found this (the authentic ones) at S.E.A. Aquarium, Sentosa outside the Pokémon Research Exhibition so it’s not so exclusive to Japan. For people who can’t afford it (or don’t see the need to buy the authentic ones), you can find the replica at shops that rent out lockers to merchants to sell products

DS cartridge holder and 3DS covers! Boyfriend bought the Pikachu cartridge holder on the bottom left

DS cartridge holder and 3DS covers! Boyfriend bought the Pikachu cartridge holder on the bottom left

I miraculously managed to refrain myself from spending a single cent at this Pokémon store mainly because I didn’t have any to spare LOL. A life-sized Pikachu mascot would also make an appearance on certain days. Sadly, we missed it😥

Pokémon Store Narita Airport
Narita International Airport
Narita, Chiba 282-0004. Terminal 2 Main Bldg. 4th Floor
Operating hours: 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.

We had always wanted to try McDonald's at every country we visit so we decided to have our early dinner here!

We had always wanted to try McDonald’s at every country we visit so we decided to have our early dinner here!

Menu looks very similar to what we have back at home..

Menu looks very similar to what we have back at home..

..except for the Ebi Filet-O burger which has been highly raved online! Gotta try it to believe how good it is!

..except for the Ebi Filet-O burger which has been highly raved online! Gotta try it to believe how good it is!

My final verdict: It's not too bad! The kitchen probably prepared it in a haste to serve the crowd so I didn't feel it was exceptionally better than the Ebi burger in Singapore

My final verdict: It’s not too bad! The kitchen probably prepared it in a haste to serve the crowd so I didn’t feel it was exceptionally better than the Ebi burger in Singapore

When at Narita Airport, one must never forgo the souvenirs and leave the shops empty-handed. As broke as we were, we could still squeeze out a few thousands of Yen on credit. I’m not kidding when I say that it was our poorest time of our lives together..

Royce chocolates

Royce chocolates

A not-so-popular choice among the tourists (no doubt the shape is cute though) but I guess if the Japanese made it, it must be nice as well!

A not-so-popular choice among the tourists (no doubt the shape is cute though) but I guess if the Japanese made it, it must be nice as well!

Airport-exclusive KitKats! The matcha-flavoured one is pretty common and can already be bought at my local supermarkets but not for other flavours like strawberry, sakura, etc. WAAAAH SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Airport-exclusive KitKats! The matcha-flavoured one is pretty common and can already be bought at my local supermarkets but not for other flavours like strawberry, sakura, etc. WAAAAH SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

And THIS is what I have been searching high and low for in Tokyo. I tried finding it at Harajuku and other touristy places but to no avail! It seems to be exclusively sold inside the departure hall only!

And THIS is what I have been searching high and low for in Tokyo. I tried finding it at Harajuku and other touristy places but to no avail! It seems to be exclusively sold inside the departure hall only!

Another popular Japanese snack which expires as fast as a loaf of bread is the Tokyo Banana! Boyfriend bought a few boxes for himself because he LOVES Tokyo Bananas!

Another popular Japanese snack which expires as fast as a loaf of bread is the Tokyo Banana! Boyfriend bought a few boxes for himself because he LOVES Tokyo Bananas!

Interesting toilet design! The black figures on the wall are moving shadows, not of the actual toilet users, of course!

Interesting toilet design! The black figures on the wall are moving shadows, not of the actual toilet users, of course!

Look how SPARKLING clean the toilet is! I wonder how much effort is put in on a regular basis to keep the toilets this white! Even the walls of brand new HDB flats are not as white as this okay lol

Look how SPARKLING clean the toilet is! I wonder how much effort is put in on a regular basis to keep the toilets this white! Even the walls of brand new HDB flats are not as white as this okay lol

A personal sink and hand dryer for introverts like moi? Truly appreciate that thought, Japan!

A personal sink and hand dryer for introverts like moi? Truly appreciate that thought, Japan!

Our meal onboard our Don Muang Airport-bound AirAsia flight! I can't remember what the exact name of this chicken rice is is called but it wasn't disappointing :)

Our meal onboard our Don Muang Airport-bound AirAsia flight! I can’t remember what the exact name of this chicken rice is is called but it wasn’t disappointing🙂

We landed at Don Muang Airport at Bangkok past midnight on a Sunday with about five hours to go before our next boarding time. It was our longest and most miserable five hours yet because most shops in that dimly-lit dilapidated airport were closed at that time (no offence, Thai readers, but I would stick to landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport next time) and getting free Wi-Fi access (without having to register myself with the service provider over and over again after 30 minutes or so – no thanks) is more impossible than getting connected in the busiest Capitaland mall on a freakin’ public holiday. It truly felt like a budget terminal but yeah, I know I can’t complain because I chose to fly budget, yadda yadda.

That’s it, another lesson learnt. No more transfers at Don Muang Airport ever again!:\

And now, I shall unveil the colossal amount of purchases I made over my 5-day stay in Tokyo. Brace yourself, especially if you’re a Pokémon fanatic.

Japanese snacks from Narita Airport! ALL ARE SUPER NICE. I will buy an air ticket to Narita Airport just to buy more of these!

Japanese snacks from Narita Airport! ALL ARE SUPER NICE. I will buy an air ticket to Narita Airport just to buy more of these!

From Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea!

From Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea!

Snacks from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo!

Snacks from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo!

Universal handphone flip cover with slots for cards (left) and porcelain plate from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo! Pikachu socks from one of the shops at Harajuku

Universal handphone flip cover with slots for cards (left) and porcelain plate from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo! Pikachu socks from one of the shops at Harajuku

We didn't have money to collect plushies but we were able to afford plastic folders and files! So we went around collecting different designs at Harajuku and Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo! :P

We didn’t have money to collect plushies but we were able to afford plastic folders and files! So we went around collecting different designs at Harajuku and Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo!😛

Nanoblocks (waaaay cheaper in Japan!), pouch, stickers, sticky tape roll - all from Harajuku!

Nanoblocks (waaaay cheaper in Japan!), pouch, stickers, sticky tape roll – all from Harajuku!

Sleeping Pikachu plushie (now my bed companion) and Pikachu backpacks from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo

Sleeping Pikachu plushie (now my bed companion) and Pikachu backpacks from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo

Pikachu headgear, notebooks, cartridge holder, card holder, Pikachu T-shirt, miniature Mew plushie (which ran out of stock really fast!) and more sticky tape rolls from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo!

Pikachu headgear, notebooks, cartridge holder, card holder, Pikachu T-shirt, miniature Mew plushie (which ran out of stock really fast!) and more sticky tape rolls from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo!

And that’s about it! I sincerely apologise for the long interval between the previous and this part of the travelogue (if anybody was waiting for it at all) because I’ve since entered the workforce and I’m usually too tired to blog when I get home. You won’t believe how many MONTHS I took to complete this final instalment because I kept dozing off at my desk😄 But blogging helps me to remember key events which I would otherwise forget so I know I had to do it. My terribly poor memory is why I tend to be really detailed in my writing. Sometimes my brows would furrow in anxiety and my jaws drop in disbelief when I reread my archives because I don’t remember what I wrote😄

But despite the sky-high cost of living in Japan, we appreciate how much importance is placed in the freshness of their food.. and we miss their delicacies (*cough*fresh sashimi*cough*). The Japanese are very friendly and helpful – no doubt about that! We had met security officers who wouldn’t hesitate to temporarily leave their post just to bring us to the nearest washroom because we couldn’t understand a word of Japanese they were saying. Tokyo is definitely worth another visit but I’ll be sure to go back in my thickest winter coat next time with more than sufficient cash😆 !

Thanks for reading, everyone!🙂

Read also
Tokyo, the Land of the Rising Sun (PART 1)

REVIEW: Palladio Rice Paper in Translucent, Natural & Warm Beige

Hello everyone!

The hottest month of the year might have gone by but the agony still remains for people with naturally oily skin especially in a hot and humid country like Singapore. Our dewy makeup turns into a greasy mess within a short span of time as our complexion vigorously produces a surplus of oil enough to fry an egg. It’s surely impossible to stay matte without the help of blotting papers to soak up the shine but with so many choices available, looking for the best one for your skin at the right price can be arduous and time-consuming. Hence, to help you with your selection, I would like to bring your attention to the newest kind of blotting papers in town by Palladio🙂

Palladio Rice Paper (S$6.90)

Palladio Rice Paper (S$6.90) – love the vintage oriental packaging!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Palladio Rice Paper

These rice papers, like your regular blotting papers, are the quick fix for removing excessive oil on the face when outdoors. Housed in a handy little cardboard dispenser packet that fits into the smallest purse or pocket, each of these 40 on-the-go rice paper tissues pulls easily from the box despite their stiffer texture. The pieces don’t stick to one another so you won’t pull out more than what you need. Measuring twice the size of the packaging, they are big enough to dab the entire face so you would only need one piece at a time!

They are made from natural rice to provide great oil-absorbing functions and can actually do more than the usual job of blotting sheets. Each side of every piece has its own purpose – the matte side blots away excess oil while the powdered side provides occasional touch-ups. You can choose from three Asian-friendly shades – in Translucent, Natural or Warm Beige – to match your skin tone or foundation.

Three shades available in Translucent, Natural and Warm Beige

Three shades available in Translucent, Natural and Warm Beige

In Natural

In Natural

With a flap that locks easily into the slot on the side of the box, there is just nothing to dislike about the packaging. The blotting papers can also be simply retrieved without having to yank the cover open (and potentially damaging it). Furthermore, for the price of just S$6.90, it’s easily one of the cheapest high-quality blotting papers around in Singapore and maybe everywhere else.

Perhaps incorporating a reflective material on the inside cover would be ideal for people who want to check themselves while touching up their makeup with the powdered side of the rice paper.

Matte side

Matte side

The matte side reveals a yellowish and grainy and seemingly coarser texture akin to that of recycled paper but feels fairly soft and gentle on the skin. At times, I would use this side to prep my skin before applying makeup so as to prevent the makeup from becoming cakey. It also does wonders in ensuring that the skin stays shine-free for hours. When outdoors, using this removes any sign of oiliness on my T-zone with minimal interference with my makeup. Occasionally, it does take off a little of my foundation especially when I had forgotten to blot my skin for a long time, causing it to be sticky. But that slight patchiness can be easily fixed with…

Powdered side

Powdered side

..the powdered side! The rice powder is hardly noticeable. Yet, it gives a very natural and smooth finish to the skin and compensates for any uneven makeup caused in the process of blotting. Although the sole purpose of the powdered side is to touch up your makeup, it also does a reasonably good job in absorbing excess facial oil at the same time. Hence, if you’re on a tight schedule, you can kill two birds with one stone by using only the powdered side of the rice paper.

Touching up makeup with the powdered side

Touching up makeup with the powdered side

My natural skin tone leans slightly towards Warm Beige but I can afford to go one shade lighter with makeup on. I’m not sure why there aren’t shades catered to darker skins because obviously the ones available are way too light. Perhaps Palladio can consider having a more diverse range of shades now that they have entered the Asian markets.

Blot away!

Blot away!

On the nose..

On the nose..

One downside of these unique blotting papers is probably the rigidity of material which kinda impedes its malleability, so it tends to miss the oily spots around the inner corners of the nose.

The amount of oil my face is capable of producing within just an hour of makeup application -_-

The amount of oil my face is capable of producing within just an hour of makeup application -_-

Like traditional Japanese calligraphy papers, these rice papers are strong and highly absorbent – they do not tear or rupture easily upon contact with a ridiculous amount of oil no matter how many times you run over your face with them.

Stay matte - effortlessly!

Stay matte – effortlessly!

I used to think that blotting papers are a waste of money because facial tissue papers could do a similar job but these dual-function rice papers are a game changer. I make sure I slip a packet of these into my handphone pouch every time before I leave the house. If you’re in doubt, just give it a try. I mean, it’s only S$6.90! How much damage would it do to your wallet?😉

Thanks for reading, lovelies!

PALLADIO Rice Paper IS NOW AVAILABLE AT ALL LOCAL GUARDIAN OUTLETS FOR S$6.90 EACH. It is also available on Palladio US websiteUlta and Paula’s Choice for US$4. FOR UPDATES ON UPCOMING local EVENTS, PLEASE VISIT PALLADIO BEAUTY SINGAPORE ON FACEBOOK.
DISCLAIMER: ALL PRODUCTS FEATURED ARE PRESS SAMPLES BUT OPINIONS, AS ALWAYS, ARE MY OWN.