The best part of staying at my ancestral home in Tung Tsz in rural Tai Po is its location, you have the sea, the forest mountains, wild life (minus the surging numbers of wild boars), fresh air, the majestic Tsz Shan Monastery,the history of the area, and of course the best feng shui. And I love waking up to natural sound of birds chirping in the crack of dawn, take a stroll in the villages of Tung Tsz, or cycle along the coastal cycling paths, and you can see the imposing white bronze Goddess of Mercy standing tall and beautiful in the foothills of Pat Sin Leng mountain range, looking down at us, protecting the villages, overlooking the sea and beyond like a lighthouse. Opened in 2014 after 7 years of construction, the peace and tranquility of the Tang Dynasty style Buddhist monastery (see map) really set the villages natural scenery, we, as indigenous villagers are very grateful to its founder Li Kar Shing, for not turning the monastery into a monstrous tourist attraction and curbing limited visitor numbers by booking a reservation time slot a month in advance. Otherwise, the area would have turned into an absolute nightmare for us all, litter bugs and rowdy outsiders, we can’t stand them. Other than that, the monastery is a worthy place to visit.
So looking forward to going back to Hong Kong for Lunar New Year!
I remember my mum’s cousin from Hong Kong introduced me to Vichy hydrating serum several years ago, my skin was dry from pollution, visible broken capillaries, clusters of freckles and dark spots. I didn’t have a skincare routine (couldn’t care less at that time), I thought a 2-step skincare routine was all you need to have great looking skin; cleanse and moisturise, I was wrong. Mum’s cousin was in her 50s and had amazing flawless skin, super hydrated, radiant, youthful and she rarely wear makeup. So, I followed her advice, apply serum daily, day and night, and I haven’t look back since.
Having tried and tested different serum products with neh results, I started to explore into the world of Korean skincare products on my endless trips to Hong Kong, a shopping haven for discovering International skincare brands that aren’t available to buy in the UK. With so much research and reading reviews on various platforms, there are so many to choose from and I literally exhausted my search for ‘the one’. In the end I found something I really committed to, Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum, it’s rated as one of the best selling skincare products in Korea, this wonderful serum has been my go-to skin-thirst for 2 years and on my third bottle, good thing is it’s organic. I managed to get my hands on more products from other brands to add into my 10-step skincare routine, a Korean-style skincare routine which I started following religiously 2 years ago.
Serums, acid, concentrate, essence. I can’t live without them. It made a huge difference on my skin; more radiant, plump, hydrated and healthier, perfect for creating flawless canvas for makeup. I’m no skincare expert, I can vouch for the fact they’re awesome for everyday skincare routine.
Caudalie Concentrated Brightening Essence – one of the key essential steps of skincare routine inspired by the Asian skincare routine, this lightweight, concentrated watery-essence helps to boost hydration, radiance and brighter complexion. The essence is packed with hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, organic grape water, and white peony. I have a 150ml at home which I use it to refill my travel sized bottle. Best to use immediately after cleansing and toner, morning and evening.
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum – the serum says it all, frankly the best eco-friendly serum I’ve ever used. It’s a moisturising serum made from 100% organic green tea and green tea seeds in Jeju Island, South Korea. My skin feels supple, moisturised, healthier and hydrated like never before. Great for anyone who suffers from sensitive skin, dehydration, skin irritation, prone to redness and prickly heat, it also act as after sun. Best to use after toner or essence, morning and evening.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Complex II* and Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Complex II* – a PR sent me a sample (the first generation one) to try a few years ago, I have to admit, I didn’t have a good experience with the face serum, the formula was too rich for my sensitive skin resulting to breakouts around the eyes, as it turned out I applied it wrongly…with a thick dollop of serum rather a couple drops. I was still a skincare novice back then. It wasn’t until this summer when the PR got in touch with me and offered to send me the second generation advance night repair serum and eye serum to try. I pitched my arm hard and decided to gave it a whirl for a few months, for my nightly skincare routine. Suffice to say my skin and around my eyes has improved a lot and amazingly youthful. My skin looks plumper, firmer, and brighter the next morning. Best to use after cleansing, toner or sheet mask, evening.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid – the best affordable product that delivers great results. I use it to lock in the moisture after applying serum, on dry days, air-con environment, and on long haul flights. Best to use after serum or before creams.
Decleor Hydra Floral White Petal Skin Perfecting Concentrate* – I hear great things about the concentrate serum both online and offline, it has featured on QVC (yes I watch it) numerous times. I love the smell of the concentrate serum, smells like luxurious spa, very calming and soothing. It’s packed with orange blossom essential oil, pea extract, hyaluronic acid, balanced with chamomile, and rose floral water. The concentrate serum is more like the essence and moisturising serum combined in one, in Asia they call it ampoule or booster serum. Sounds rich for the skin, I would use when my skin feels disgusting. Best to use after toner or essence, or before serum, morning or evening.
If you’re interested in knowing what products I use in my 10-step Korean-style skincare routine, leave a comment below or drop me a message on Instagram @styleslicker, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
*Thank you Estee Lauder and Decleor for sending me the products to try.
Don’t we all love strawberries in summertime. It’s the perfect time to enjoy fresh strawberries, make recipes from scratch, like fruit tart and Eton Mess. I live in Southgate in North London, we have a small pick-your-own farm close by in Enfield where I used to go there with friends and family.
Autumn is just around the corner, while it is of course breezy, humid, cloudy and sunny at times, there are so many reasons to enjoy the last bit of summer and using the time wisely, before my next travel adventures roll in on September. So last month, we visited Garsons Farm in Surrey to check out what was growing. It is the largest sustainable Pick-Your-Own Farm in the UK, the farm boasts an award-winning garden centre and farm shop with a wide variety of quality plants, and spectacular views of the pick-your-own farm from freshly ripe strawberries, raspberries, apples, to vegetables such as courgettes, marrows, runner beans, potatoes and the like. All organic, and they use organic manures, and biological pest control methods on the 155 acre pick-your-own farm.
My love for floral print has never left me, as I’m getting older turning a new age, my style has changed dramatically, a little conservative but lazier. My niece B has certainly picked up a few styling tips and her love of bold print from me. NEXT kindly sent us some pieces to wear for the family outing. I have to say, B was so obsessed with her colourful outfit and refused to remove her jacket when it got warmer later in the afternoon, we had to bribe her with a snack.
Strawberries are the obvious popular choice for fruit picking, also brings back wonderful childhood memories. I can still remember picking those juicy red gems on summer holidays, they were so delicious, sweet, and fresh too.
We didn’t come just for the strawberries, we picked quite a handful of potatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, courgettes, and broad beans, for dinner later. B loved mucking about in her wellies and not afraid to get her hands covered in soil, all thanks to her early training in helping her mum out in the back garden.
We had such a lovely time at Garsons Farm. We loved all the excitement that it brought to me and my family, particularly our little terror, it was her first fruit picking experience, watching her waddle around in the fields like a penguin, picking and touching something she never seen before, it was pretty funny. Not only this was a fun family day out but made it a very valuable, insightful and educational experience, also give us an appreciation for where our food comes from and how we can reduce food waste.
Those who knows me, I’m not too much of a fan of hot summer and the whole sun-bathing culture. The idea of being roasted alive turning to an undesired colour shade of burnt copper brown which doesn’t suit my off-yellow Asian skin, I burn very easily mainly on the shoulders, back of the neck, prone to freckles on the face and a fair share of bad tan lines, and yes I get teased a lot from friends and siblings. Can’t help the fact that I’m going to Australia with my family in December, which is a peak summer month in Southern Hemisphere, meaning that we’ll be spending a lot of our time doing fun stuff out in the open.
I won’t leave my house without applying sun protection, there are so many products to choose from and it’s confusing. After a few years of research and money being wasted on numerous products and disappointments, not so keen on the idea of having chemicals and man-made synthetic formulas absorb into my skin and bloodstream. I have quite sensitive skin, particularly in summer months, I used to have atopic eczema when I was a kid, terrible flare ups behind my knees, lower calves and inner arms when exposed to prickly heat, sunscreen and sweat, hence why I’ve never enjoyed summer and preferred staying indoors.
So, 2 years ago, I decided to go organic.
Most of the products featured on this post were purchased from Amazon, FeelUnique, Boots, Holland and Barrett, and Innisfree in Hong Kong (they ship to UK too), and they are the ones that really works for me. Here are my go-to sun protection and after sun products, mostly organic, and how I use them.
|| Sun protection ||
Korres Sunscreen Face Cream 30 SPF – my go-to brand and repeat purchase for daily sunscreen, made from Greek edible yoghurt! It’s not greasy, no white caste, leaves no residue unlike other sunscreens. Gives you natural sheen as well, perfect as a base under primer and make up. I wear SPF 20 during winter, when it’s sunny, or reflecting sunlight.
Korres Hair Sun Protection – having ditched the hair colour and returning to my natural jet black locks 2 years ago was no easy task. Numerous DIY hair and scalp treatments, and hair sun protection to prevent anymore damage. Using the right organic products for your hair type is key to healthy locks.
Aloe Pura Aloe Vera Sun Lotion 25 SPF – or 30 SPF, this is more of an intensive sun protection, I’d use it when spending time outdoors during the harsh midday sun. It has 99.9% bio active aloe vera and other natural active ingredients, soothes skin from prickly heat and refreshing with cooling effect, helps to repel blood sucking mozzies as well.
Dr.Organic Aloe Vera Lip Balm 15 SPF – I started using sun protection lip balm last year when I noticed dark spots appeared on my mouth. Thankfully, I had it checked out, it was nothing but freckles. The lips often likely neglected when it comes to sun care, even on cloudy days. Love the sweet smelling lip balm from aloe vera, it’s colourless, moisturising, soothing and nourishing. I use it before applying my favourite lipstick, also dab lightly around the eyes too.
Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb Multi-protecting Hydrating Mist 30 SPF – extra sun protection over make up or sunscreen when I’m on-the-go, it won’t clog pores, defends against UV, pollution and oxidation. Love the fine mist, but hate the smell. If you have any suggestions on inexpensive, organic or eco-friendly makeup setting mist with SPF, feel free to leave a comment below.
|| After Sun ||
Caudalie Grape Water Facial Mist – I’m obsessed with Caudalie grape water facial mist, I keep it in my bag all the time, especially when I’m out shooting on location on a hot day. It’s refreshing, moisturising and calms the redness, and 100% organic and no nasties-nasties. My niece loves it.
Aloe Pura Aloe Vera Gel – one of the best organic after sun, all-purpose aloe vera gels out there, for me. It’s cooling, soothes sun burn, heat rash, insect bites, eczema, and great for hair treatment. I keep a travel-sized tube in my bag for emergency, best to pop it in the fridge to enhance that cooling, soothing feeling as it sinks on your skin. Aloe vera gel is best applied after a bath or shower to get rid of the city grime gunk, rinse off sunscreen and body lotion.
Innisfree The Green Tea Seed Serum – won’t do 8-10 step skincare routine without this little diamond, I use it after toner or brightening essence and under moisturiser day and night, but this green tea seed serum is a lifesaver for anyone who suffers from sensitive skin, prone to redness from prickly heat. The concentrated serum is packed with 100% green tea and green tea seeds from Jeju Island, amino acids and minerals, very hydrating and moisturising, and it helps to relieve skin irritation. I highly recommend this product.
Baku is a an interesting modern city, in contrast with the old city. The oil-rich boom town is growing rapidly and is becoming the world’s fastest growing cities, investing in key infrastructure projects, such as transport and urban development. Making Baku a global competitive city alongside Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Switzerland and Germany.
Around Baku, you’ll notice there’s a little part of Barcelona, Rome and Paris in urban areas of Baku, characterised with Western European influence – Art Nouveau, Haussmann, Venetian and Neo-gothic elements were widely used to encapsulate Baku’s romantic and eclectic vision of traditional Azerbaijani architecture.
After 48 hours in Baku, we toured the city’s best attractions, cultural experience, food, the city has to offer. Here are my key highlights from the visit.
Mountainous backdrop, fresh air, crystal clear waters. Welcome to Tai Mei Tuk in rural Tai Po!
Tai Mei Tuk, better known as Plover Cove, is a great place to spend a day with friends or family, or alone with a dog, to do all sorts of fun activities including hiking, barbecue, boating, cycling and droning (I think drones should be banned there). One of Hong Kong’s hidden gems, Tai Mei Tuk is best known for its natural beauty, rich history and culture, and off-the-beaten track cycling routes and hiking trails, offering brilliant views out over the sea with numerous islets, natural reservoir, mountainous backdrop and old villages. My village in Tung Tsz is located just 10 minutes away, you can easily tell why Tai Mei Tuk is my favourite place to go cycling.
Cycling has been my favourite weekly leisure-time exercise, there are no gym facilities or park gym in rural Tai Po, I would suspect the nearest gym is a few miles away. I love cycling in my own company at my own pace, listen to my favourite iPod playlist, enjoy the views and longer dose of fresh air. I ride my trusty bike Tokyobike CS, which I bought as an investment choice, from Bike The Moment Store in Kwun Tong. An easy classic-style town bike that combines style and practicality, and it’s incredibly light. My vava vroom!
As mentioned earlier, my village is located in Tung Tsz below the foothills of Pat Sin Leng mountain range, which stands a mid-way point between two cycling attractions; Sam Mun Tsai and Tai Mei Tuk. And I’d use my home as a pit stop for toilet break, who would want to use the village’s public restroom with a hole in the ground? A HOLE IN THE GROUND, particularly for ladies, who would dare squat in an uncomfortable manner, unless you’ve pre-packed a SheWee for long cycle journeys or hiking trips. Me, no.
I would always encourage my friends to leave the hectic life in the city and venture into a more open scenic view in rural Tai Po. It costs only $80 (£7.50) to hire a bike for up to 4 hours which isn’t that bad. Bearing in mind, there are restaurants, snack cafes and barbecue sites (and proper public restrooms) for a more civilised environment.
This is the most photographed view point from the end of the Plover Cove dam, my window through paradise, a breathtaking panoramic views over the reservoir, coastline scenery, Pat Sin Leng mountain range, a glimpse of the Goddess of Mercy white bronze statue, and hardly any people around! The dam gets packed on weekends, so I’d suggest come here on weekdays for the leisurely quiet ride and watch the sun as it disappear gradually below the horizon.
A wonderful friend of mine Stephen Cheng (as pictured above with his dog Alfie), is an accessory designer and founder of Kleks Design, kindly gifted me this lovely unisex backpack. I’d been looking for a practical, non-branded work backpack that would fit my purse, water bottle, camera and lenses, collapsible reflector and random junk. This backpack is perfect, it’s stylish, comfortable, durable and practical with multiple pockets and adjustable straps, fits everything I need on the go. Also great day bag for cycling, shopping and commuting to work.
|| My top iPod playlist ||
London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years, Stay Away, Interlude, Truth Is A Beautiful Thing.
Hurts – Wonderful Life, Better Than Love, Miracle, Exile.
Others: Kieza – Hideaway, Years & Years – King, Calvin Harris feat. HAIM – Pray to God, The Chemical Brothers – Go, Bat For Lashes, Moon And Moon, Iamamiwhoami – Chasing Kites.
|| Other places to see and cycle in rural Tai Po ||
People normally take the Tai Wai to Tai Mei Tuk (via Sha Tin) route, which is a 23km, one way, that’s a 3 hour bike ride for a slower pace rider. There are several bike hire kiosks located in Tai Wai, Sha Tin, Tai Po and Tai Mei Tuk, and fees is varied from location to location. I’d recommend spend a whole day in Tai Mei Tuk.
Tung Tsz – check out Shuen Wan Temple and its stunning architecture. Tsz Shan Monastery and Goddess of Mercy statue on Universal Gate Road, visitors are required to book a month in advance. (click HERE for Goggle map)
Organic strawberry Farm on Ting Kok Road – perfect pit stop for strawberry picking with family and friends after a long day of cycling.
Sam Mun Tsai – passing through the ugly luxury apartments of Beverley Hills, you’ll find a tranquil fishing village and floating village with small cafes and seafood restaurant, there’s a walking path leading to Ma Shi Chau Nature Trail, a protective area for ancient rock formations from the Jurassic period. (click HERE for Google map)
Sha Lan Village – a small secluded village next to Sam Mun Tsai with a private pebbled beach (as pictured above), my short cut through the village back to the main cycle path on Ting Kok Road towards Tai Mei Tuk or Tai Po town center. Perfect spot to catch your breath, catch freshwater crabs, or soak your feet in the water.
|| How to get to Tai Mei Tuk ||
Best way to get to Tai Mei Tuk is by bus from Tai Po Market MTR station, or get a taxi.
Catch a 20C mini bus or 75K double decker bus from Tai Po Market MTR station to Tai Mei Tuk bus terminus, the journey takes approximately 30 minutes to 45 minutes to reach the destination. Expect long queues on busy weekends. Alternatively, take a taxi or Uber.
The warm spell and brief heatwave we’ve been experiencing last month was a rare occurrence, it was the hottest June on record for 40 years, later, the weather turned unsettled and cold towards the end of June. People made most of the fine day barbecuing in the back garden, replenish Vitamin D in the park, or bake all day at a seaside.
It’s a perfect time to visit Mayfield Lavender Field in Surrey, a 15 minute drive from my sister and brother-in-law’s place. As it’s typical with English summers, we went on a cool crisp but cloudier morning. The lavenders weren’t in peak bloom at the time we arrived there, but we managed to enjoy the stunning visual, overwhelmed by the pungent aroma filling the air. I loved watching my niece B waddle like a penguin, trailing through the sea of purple lavenders spilling over the path as I followed behind her or behind me, there were a lot of bees hovering over the lavender flowers, thankfully they weren’t bothered by us or us bothered them at all, even when B almost tried to catch them. Oh the innocence! My sister Helen (B’s mummy) brought her home baked matcha and white chocolate cake for us to snack on later, picnics weren’t allowed in the field, we managed to grab a quick shot of the cake next to the lavender before it attract the bees.
I couldn’t recommend a short trip there enough, great for kids to roam around free and a spot of photography. Best time to visit Mayfield Lavender Field is during the peak bloom season in July to mid-August, entrance fee is £1 per person, parking space available.
Last year I was invited on a trip to explore Baku in Azerbaijan with Fairmont Baku for a few days. I arrived in Baku late evening after a long but very comfortable flight from London, via Ankara. 7.5 hour flight may seem short but the hour long single file queue at the immigration was a nightmare, it was quite frustrating for some passengers, the queue have certainly tested my patience which the British have a reputation for. I arrived in the city not knowing what to expect, feeling excited and nervous at the same time, will I like the food here, will I be bored, is the city safe here? You just need to wait and see.
Upon my arrival at Fairmont Baku, still bleary eyed from the long journey. My eyes immediately drawn upwards to the grandeur crystal chandelier. I was jaw dropped and in awe of the stringed diamond-like pendant necklace hung majestically from the ceiling in the hotel lobby, marvelling at the beauty whilst being checked-in, it was certainly a welcoming treat.
Fairmont Baku, part of the Flame Towers complex. The three flame-shaped towers consists of luxury apartments, leisure and retail facilities, commercial office blocks and a hotel, standing at 620 ft tall, it is the tallest skyscraper in Baku. What caught my attention was the geometry design inspired by Baku’s history of fire worshiping, the complex curve design, was said to be the most challenging structures ever constructed. The Flame Towers are completely covered with the LED screens, illuminating at night displaying the movement of a flickering flame. The imposing towers dominates the skyline of Baku and it’s certainly the most impressive modern architecture.
Located in the heart of Baku, Fairmont Baku boasts 318 guest rooms, including 19 serviced apartments spanning over 33 floors, and array of Fairmont Gold options. Key features are; exquisite dining from chic bistros to juice bars and fine dining experiences, spa by ESPA, a fully equipped health club, rooftop pool and outdoor pool, exclusive IMAX cinema located within the Flame Towers, and spectacular views of the Caspian Sea.
I stayed in a lovely Fairmont Gold Premier Room, my home for the next 48 hours. My room was very classy and spacious with stunning views overlooking the city and Caspian Sea. A private bedroom and separate living area, perfect for doing yoga in the comfort of your own private space in your hotel room, a large bathroom with exclusive Le Labo bathroom amenities with its award-winning scent, Rose 31. Everything was perfect and just what I expected.
It feels like a life-time ago when I last visited Hong Kong for Chinese New Year in February this year, the year of the Rooster. I didn’t think that on this special occasion, it would be the last time I would see my grandpa alive, he passed away 4 weeks later after I returned to London. He died from respiratory failure caused by smoking. RIP grandpa.
I haven’t posted about CNY on the blog before, yes it’s 5 months too late and out of date, thought I’d share these visuals with you first whilst I’m trying to accumulate amass of HK photos and video clips for the next posts later.
So, I recently spent my CNY in Hong Kong for the third year running, with or without my siblings (they’re scattered all over the place), nor with or without my parents (they’re separated). I was really excited about being able to witness the traditional festivities at my ancestral village again, catching up with close relatives, spending time with loved ones, and of course, the star of the show, it’s the mouthwatering Hakka food! Celebrating CNY at the ancestral village is always busy and erratic, older Hakka people pay great attention to their traditional ways of celebrating the new year and certainly not the easiest customs to remember, new year celebrations last up to 15 days, with each day carry its own special meaning. I have to admit, I’m suck at remembering it. My job was to help my family with chores and follow the customs; clean the house, buy flowers and plants at a flower market, decorate the house with red cut-out papers, prepare food for the family reunion dinner, giving and receiving red envelopes, greet relatives with new year wishes, and eat, eat, eat!