Showing posts with label tips. Show all posts

5 things to prepare for a Japanese wedding

How often do you get invited to be a guest at a Japanese wedding? If you're not Japanese then, that's pretty rare indeed. Count yourself lucky! It is indeed an honour! Now comes the next few steps... what's next? This post is a summary of how you can prepare yourself for the wedding, because every Japanese attending will be super mega prepared.

This is assuming you're a guest of course, if you're the bff of the bride/groom you have tons more to do.

Be sure to let your friend/co-worker/family member know as soon as possible if you are able to make it! This helps them heaps in planning.

1. Money... in a fancy envelope

Credits: Google

Having a meal at the wedding isn't free, so you're obligated to give an envelope as well as additional sums to wish them well. Minimum amount is 30,000 yen (approx $350 sgd) and they should be new notes. Money should go INSIDE the white envelope, and this is then placed in the fancy, bigger one. Don't forget to write your name! You can find these envelopes at any convenience store, there are some pretty complicated looking ones there, but if you think those are too 'cheap', check out department stores or Tokyu Hands.

2. Your liver

Have you heard of those 'Nomikai' parties where the boss of the department proclaims "LET'S HAVE DRINKS TODAY" and everyone basically ends up drunk BUT somehow reaches work on time the next day? So, these people can drink, and with free flow alcohol, you better train up. Don't be the person sitting down in a corner (or facing down in a corner).

3. What to wear

If you haven't already read this, I covered it separately here. There are some things to take note, so before you grab that 'perfect dress' off the racks, read this.

4. Figure out how to get there... in advance

EVERYTHING starts on time in Japan. Being late is an embarrassment. I made it with 3 minutes to spare, close call, but when I did, everyone was already there. If you're 15 minutes late the church vows may have already ended, and you missed your chance to shout 'OBJECTION!', okay that's a game reference, please don't actually do that at a wedding.

5. If you're a guy, prepare to kneel

Seriously because Japanese are so super considerate, they kneel when they think or know they might be blocking someone behind. I was so so surprised by this!! Japanese guys are gentlemanly after all.

6. I added 6 because.. there's actually nothing much you need to prepare to do when you're there.
Service in Japan is IMPECCABLE. It is FLAWLESS. There is even a lady on permanent stand-by just to ensure the bride's train isn't caught in something, she pushes the chair in and out for her, it is amazing. I am aghast.

Just go and have tons of fun, and try to spread out the alcohol so that you collapse AFTER the second party, not before, and that you actually remember what happened.

Take lots of pictures!!


Tips for travelling free and easy in Japan

So I recently took a week long solo trip to Tokyo on impulse and here are some tips I have to share about planning free and easy trips to Japan! This wasn't my first trip to Japan so I (finally) decided to consolidate all the things you should look out for into one post since many of you have been requesting it :) Can't wait to share pictures and travelogue of my trip soon so look out for it!!

Cherry blossoms in Spring. Striking this off my bucket list!

Without further ado, tips on travelling free and easy in Japan:

1. Get an internet connection

Although I didn't get a data connection during my trip, I regretted it every day. I was lucky to be with my Japanese friends most of the time so they could tell me which trains to catch, which stop to get off at, timings for the last train etc, but when I was alone I often sought refuge at Starbucks as they provide free wireless access. Gets in handy when you're lost.

If you're travelling in a group, I recommend to rent a Wifi router and share with your friends. For prepaid sims though, there is a cheaper and better alternative on b-mobile which you can pre-order and collect at the airport when you arrive. For more information, check out , depending on how much you intend to use, you can pick between 1gig or unlimited data for the same price, the only difference is the speed.

Don't take an internet connection for granted in Japan, because one platform has many trains alighting passengers and they all go to different destinations. Knowing what time your train is slated to arrive helps so you don't get on the wrong train!!

2. Save money on transportation with a JR Pass

A JR Pass essentially gives you unlimited train rides under the JR company (which includes shinkansens aka inter-city fast trains) for a period of time. Whether this saves you money or not depends on how many cities you're going to. If you're just going to one city and back, it might not be worth the whole amount so be sure to do your calculations first! Shinkansen tickets can be bought online so you can use that to estimate the price. If you know you're going to use the JR line intra-city, then take that into consideration as well.

Important!!! You MUST purchase the pass OUTSIDE of Japan, aka before your trip! You can't get a JR Pass in Japan.

3. Check the weather forecast everyday before you head out

The weather in Japan is reaaally unpredictable. It could be hot and sunny one moment, then stormy and rainy the next. The true Japanese citizen will always check the weather forecast before going out, and bring an umbrella when required. Was caught in the rain once, don't let that happen to you. Even though umbrellas are cheap at convenience stores, you might not even make it to a convenience store when it pours!

4. Get an app to help you translate

Not every menu has pictures 

It is hard to survive in Japan without knowing Japanese, and I was really lucky to have Japanese friends who translated most of the things I didn't understand (eg menu) into English! However if you're going to Japan on a free and easy trip, you might want to download the Google Translate app  which is also available offline, and best of all, FREE!

5. Make space for an onsen trip

If you can, please please set aside a day (and a night preferably), to check out Japan's amazing onsens!! There isn't anything better than a complete relaxation soaking in prickly hot water while admiring the picturesque view that Japan has to offer. If you go in winter, your body feels hot while your face and ears feel cold. Pure bliss. If you stay for a night, you get a feast of a dinner and breakfast, and though it's more pricey, it's definitely worthwhile. 

Oh, and if you're travelling to Tokyo, do note that flying to/fro Haneda Airport is nearer (and cheaper!) than Narita! Also taking an express bus may not necessarily be faster than taking the normal train. The only huge advantage is that you probably don't have to carry your luggage up and down the stairs as not every train station has escalators or lifts. 

That's it for now! Do let me know if you have any suggestions or comments you would like me to add on to this list, etc. 

Have a safe trip and don't forget to buy insurance!

Top 5 places in Hong Kong to eat delicious food - on a budget

I made another recent trip to Hong Kong ( who can resist cheap flights? ) and this time my tummy is demanding MORE.

The only trouble is, that there's too much good food to try, and too little time. So I had to sieve through the list, picked those I wanted to try, queued up, and... well. I think you know the rest.

And so, I have compiled my 5 favourite places for you and your taste buds to enjoy!

1. Tim Ho Wan - Char Siew Bao and Chicken Feet

I know I've mentioned them in my previous post here, but that was at the Mongkok branch which has since closed down, this was taken in their Central branch. I just had to include them in this post because they're so yummy!! For SGD$20 you can feast like a king and that's after you've shared food with your friends.

Check out those bunz

Tim Ho Wan has an outlet conveniently located at Hong Kong station, so immediately after we touched down, my mother and I went straight there, luggages in tow, and waited 20 minutes before we were seated.

Most cafes in Hong Kong are really efficient in seating their customers, so don't be surprised if you're at a table for 3 and they slot someone who's alone by your table!

The moment I've been waiting for... my char siew bao! How do they make the top layer slightly crispy, but the inside so flavourful, juicy and delicious? Plus, the pork inside the buns were in bite sized pieces! A definite must-have whenever you're in Hong Kong, especially since it's the cheapest 1 star michelin restaurant in the world.

PSST! I heard that the Singapore branch of Tim Ho Wan doesn't allow takeaways, and the queue is still hours long. My advice is to wait for their new outlets (rumour has it, Toa Payoh!) to open and then head there instead ;)

If you're a fan of chicken feet, these are irresistible. Soft, chewy and soya sauce. If you've never tried them because it "looks disgusting", you've never had the accomplishment of trying to polish them off! It isn't as easy as it looks :P Finger licking good.

PSST: I like to leave the middle finger for last. Haha!

Tim Ho Wan
Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station (Podium Level 1, IFC Mall) 
2332 3078
Opening hours
Mon to Sun: 09:00 - 21:00

2. Wing Wah Noodle - Bamboo Noodles PLUS Pigs trotters PLUS Tendon

Pounding dough with bamboo poles is a dying art because of how tedious and time-consuming it is. Many restaurants/cafe chefs lack the dedication and passion and prefer to use machines.

In fact, in 8-10 years all noodles cooked this way would effectively be extinct with no one to take over the business. Seize the opportunity when you're next in Hong Kong because they're unlike any noodles we've had in Singapore. You don't know what you're missing til you've tried them!

If you see from the picture below, he's kinda sitting on the bamboo pole and bouncing on it. Imagine having to do this every day for work. No wonder it's a dying art. 

We arrived just before lunch to beat the crowd woohoo! We ordered their signature noodles and was pleased that we barely had to wait :)

Bamboo noodles
About $5 SGD

Notice the colour of the noodles? They are not as yellow or filled with MSG like some places. Before I took my first bite I remembered I had to take a picture to share it with you guys :p

The Noodles were crunchy and you can just imagine the dough being compressed and kneaded with bamboo poles to give that springy, chewy texture! The soup was simple and the wanton's were generous, but the noodles itself really gave the dish its star status.

 Pigs Trotters, Tendon and beef brisket for about $10 sgd. Really value for money!

We also ordered side dishes because I am a hungry, greedy woman. Couldn't decide between pigs trotters, or the tendon so we just ordered a set. Really loved this dish because the meat was soft and tender, the skin had absorbed just the right amount of sauce (some sauces are overpowering). 
Was craving this a few days later already. Am still thinking about it now.

One of the highlights is their homemade red bean soup. It's simple to make but hard to master. It's easy to become diluted, or too thick, but this was just nice and helped wash the meal down. Sweet, healthy and tasty. What's not to love?

We ordered two desserts but this disappointed me a little. The soup was milky, smooth and too thin for my liking. If that's the sort of barley ginko nut type you like (like my mother), then you'll enjoy this!

Wing Wah Noodle
89 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
How to get there: Exit A2 from Wan Chai MTR
Opening hours
Monday-Sunday 11am to 1am

3. Ho Hung Kee - Smoothest porridge in town

One star michelin restaurant, Ho Hung Kee, has the smoothest porridge I have ever tasted. It's packed on weekdays and weekends but lucky for us, people in Hong Kong like to eat efficiently and head off! Some claim that Ho Hung Kee's wanton noodles are spectacular, but I prefer the wanton noodles at Wing Wah. Order one at each and decide for yourself!

We picked century egg porridge and they were better than I expected. I've been eating chinese food, after all, my mother is cantonese, and this was the best porridge I've ever had. It was not overly thick, the century egg didn't have a strange smell (believe me, I know) and was just a delight to finish!

To pile on to the unhealthy choice, we added a plate of fried hor fun, which was really oily but was addictive. 

Alas, this branch has closed down and moved to Hysan Place. You can still get the porridge there though!

Ho Hung Kee(1946) Congee and Noodle Wanton Shop

Hysan Place 1204-1205
Phone2577 6028
Opening Hours11:00 - 00:00

4. Hoi Tin Tong - Guilinggao

When you've been eating too much fried/heaty food, it's easier for you to fall sick, so the best way to balance your diet is to have guilinggao! Depending on your condition (how much sinful food have you been eating?) you'll be recommended with a different concoction.

I picked the original Gui ling gao to improve my blood circulation, kidney function, improve sore throats, and boost strength by removing toxins! It also helps to cool the body down, especially during summer when it's hot and the erratic temperature. I spammed honey (provided) with this because it's quite bitter to me!

I can't really remember what we drank but I think we ordered the Fish and Wild Herb Tea and Gui Ling Tea. They were much easier to drink than the jelly Gui Ling Gao as they weren't as bitter, but their effects weren't as strong. I'd recommend this to people who have never had gui ling gao before in their lives, because knowing that you're drinking turtle soup might put some people off.

You can choose if you'd rather have it served hot or cold. I prefer hot because the herbal smell is stronger, it's better for digestion, and when I had a sore throat,  having cold drinks would irritate my throat further.

It's a chain, I went to the outlet at Causeway Bay opposite Sogo, refer to their website for all the addresses so you can find one near you, with their opening hours and numbers :)

Hoi Tin Tong

5. Dimdim Sum - Custard buns

Many people have been asking me about these piggy buns that I posted on my Instagram/Facebook page while I was in Hong Kong. I thought that the other dim sum we ordered were so-so, but these custard buns are worth highlighting! 

Not only are they cute, but when you break them apart (sorry piggies!) the salted egg custard flows out and was soooo delicious. 

PSST: They also had pineapple buns but I didn't try them as we were too full! Let me know if you tried it ;)

Dimdim Sum
G/F, 7 Tin Lok Lane
2891 7677
Opening hours:
Mon.-Sun. 11:00-23:00

Remember to drink lots of tea when you're in Hong Kong to hydrate! :)

Thanks for reading!
If you have any other restaurants you'd like me to check out for my next trip to Hong Kong, or if you've been to these places, leave me a comment below!

Please vote for me (daily if you can!) 
for Best Interpretation Blog at
please! I'd very much appreciate it :D

Make up tips and Haraju-cute. Available in Guardian soon!

Sarah invited me to Haraju-cute's event and it was held at Sun and Moon, one of my favourite Japanese restaurants!! I was kinda hoping that they were gonna serve tofu cheesecake but our dessert was matcha ice cream with azuri beans instead. Oh well, contented! :)

Haraju-cute, which will be sold at Guardian stores, is a range of japanese make-up products so you can achieve all sorts of Japanese-inspired styles! These are THE TOP products selling like hot cakes in Japan! 

We were greeted by this gorgeously cute goodie bags, personalised with a manga version of us! They actually hired a manga artist for this!

 Sat down and Sarah tried the make-up as I attacked the sushi; I was sooo hungry!!

Mango with prawn tempura, unagi with egg etc, avocado with prawn again! Yumm.

Make up products on the table for us to play with that night! Look at how PRETTY they are!! I haven't even used them and I'm already expecting them to be good lol.

The highlight of the event was Larry Yeo teaching us how to use the Japanese make-up products. Will share the tricks below! :P Larry won Elle Singapore’s prestigious Makeup Artist of the Year award in 2009 and is now one of Singapore's skincare and makeup gurus, doing make up and hair for many established brands ;)

This was taken BEFORE I tried the make up on the table! With Sarah LOVE.

Sarah and Clara. Try saying Sarah Clara Claire 5 times repeatedly and really fast. Did you get tongue tied? :P I think saying it Claire Sarah Clara might be a bit tougher. Hmm.

While the demonstration was happening, Sarah also helped me apply some make up hahaha. Loved their eyebrow mascara! (also referred to as eye gel) It suited my natural dark brown hair perfectly!! I found the Dollywink colours to be much lighter.

Sarah also applied mascara for me, and my lashes became really voluminous suddenly O_O Truly convinced about the products that were featured that day. Will do a proper tutorial soon!

Kelly (model for that day)'s completed look!

Okok here's the section you guys have been waiting for. I'm gonna share some of the make up tricks that I've learnt that day from Larry, with you!

Make up tricks

- Fibre eyelid tape: Make sure you apply this first! Before foundation, primer, eyeshadow etc because it's easier to stick and lasts longer. I wanted to make my tapered eyelid parallel, so 1 fibre eyelid tape wasn't strong enough to create a parallel eyelid, hence I had to use 2, directly on top of each other! A trick you can try is to take TWO tapes, open them, and twist them. This increases the strength of the tape!

- Mascara: After taking the wand out, dab the excess on a piece of tissue, wave it in the air 2-3 times to let it dry partially, and then coat your eyelashes with them. For more layers, wait until the previous layer is dry before applying again!

- Highlighting: highlight your T-zone area, don't highlight under your eyes unless you want the puffy look. If you highlight the area just above your chin, you'll look like you're drooling (his words, not mine haha). Hence, just highlight the tiny area directly below your lower lip and a dab below your nose! I'll illustrate this properly when I do a tutorial featuring their products.

- Fake eyelashes: Don't blow them using your mouth so that the glue dries faster! There's bacteria in your mouth and that can transfer onto the eyelash glue and cause eye infections. Instead, just apply a thin layer and wait a while for it to dry.

- Lower eyelashes: Don't apply them directly on your lash line but slightly below it, and push it up. If you apply them on your lash line, it causes your real eyelashes to drop!

- Lip gloss: Apply your favourite shade (eg pink) from center to outwards, then apply a dab of nude in the middle of your lips for a pouty look. I know it may look funny or clumpy, but after a while (because it's liqiud) it will take the shape of your lips. I didn't believe this at first but it happened O_O

- Removing make-up: Instead of swiping your eyes several times, pour the make up remover onto a good quality cotton pad, then press your eye against the cotton pad for about 10 seconds to let the remover work it's magic! Afterwards, swipe in one direction and observe the difference!

Larry also kinda convinced me not to do a nose job by telling me horror stories of how he's seen girls with nose sunken in, or that they have man-noses. =\ *shudders*

Favourite products : Rose of Versailles Eyeliner (I know right, what a cool name), Diamond Beauty Eyebrow Concealer (the mascara), Diamond Nose Makeup, AB Fibre double eyelid tape! Am definitely addicted to their products, especially after seeing my tapered eyelid transform, I feel like using the tape for both my eyes!! :)

I was super happy with my make-up that I went home to cam-whore a little, before I reluctantly removed everything and prepared for bed. Alright now for more pictures of girls.

Snapped a pic w Mirai. Haven't seen her in so long!! Apart from seeing her pictures online haha. Notice my right eyelid looks super pronounced!! And no, I did not draw my eyebrow that long, I think it's a strand of my hair -_-

Met Wendy, Jacklyn and Kelly! Kelly is the model that's captured above haha. They're super kawaii, cute and japanese-like that I felt pale in comparison ._. So I tried to act cute too. Please also notice how my eyebrows are less intense and makes me look sweeter??

Here I met Evonnz! How gorgeous is her hair?!?! I was touching it and it's really smooth. Then Evonnz touched my hair and concluded that I didn't comb my hair >_> How did she know?!?! Imma start combing my hair now.

Of course, had to grab a picture with Nadia (who looks prettier with falsies) and Hayley!

Hayley's face is always so small ._.

Caught up with Esther :)
I think her hair colour really suits her!! :) She caught this crazzzzy picture of me at the's launch ahah can't wait to share it with you guys.

Top 5 things to do in Kyoto, Japan

If you're a huge fan of Memoirs of a Geisha, this will be a thrilling, exciting experience for you in Kyoto! I wanted to visit all the shrines that were filmed in the movie, run around Gion like little Chiyo did, and of course, become a geisha.

I absolutely fell in love with the rich heritage and culture of Kyoto. Could a city be so modern yet so historical and grounded in its history? Yes, in Kyoto.

Here's my short list of things to do in Kyoto.

1. Visit Shrines

Credits to Nicholas at

I checked out the MUST-SEE shrines, Kinkakuji (above), a shrine made out of gold, Ginkakuji, a shrine that.. is not made of silver and Fushimi Inari. You'd think that Ginkakuji would be made of silver right? Haha, me too. Instead, it has a sand garden with a massive sand cone named "Moon Viewing Platform" and a place to check out the view of Kyoto's eastern mountains.

credit: google

Fushimi Inari, absolutely gorgeous. To walk around the entire place, it'll take about 2hours and a LOT of climbing. But we were tired so we completed half or three quarters of the trail. Truly gorgeous and many of the torii's (gates) have been there since the inception of the shrine! Advisable to bring water and comfortable shoes. It's a loooooooong climb.

View is worth the climb :)

Don't forget that what goes up has to come down hahaha, save some stamina for the climb back!

2. Walk along Gion

A peaceful and historical area, just get lost and enjoy the scenery already! Don't forget to bring your camera.

Also, be sure to check out tiny alleyways, that's where you get to explore all the hidden finds! It's really safe in Japan so don't worry :)

3. Become a Maiko/Geisha/Samurai

It's a once in a lifetime experience! Prepare to shock yourself (and perhaps your friends and family) when you look at yourself in the mirror once the face make-up is done! I know I did. Will post up my pictures in my detailed post :) You're in Kyoto, famous for geishas, and to immerse yourself in the culture, you have to become one!

 PSST! I got mine done here! Say you read about a promotion in a magazine and they'll give you a different price list ;)
Not sure if this is the website but you can try renting a costume and making reservations at this website. 

 Managed to snap a picture of a maiko returning to her okiya! I didn't want to be like a stalker paparazzi so no front views were captured. I'm a sneak paparazzi haha.

We learnt how to distinguish okiyas from other shophouses and got to see many maikos/geishas entering and exiting the place! Will share the secret in another entry so you'll be able to see them as well! They're really beautiful to look at and it's such a cool tradition that's maintained until today :)

4. EAT
A great thing about Japan is that any random shop or restaurant will have pretty decent food. So here are two street snacks that I'd like to recommend.

First up, Inari!! What is Inari?? It's the name of the sushi that's basically fried tofu skin and rice. I don't know how they do it, but it's delicious. Slightly sweet too! The tofu skin forms when boiling soy milk, so it's healthy as well.

Inari is the sushi on the right dish. nomnomnom

With my japanese friend, Junko, who recommended me this stall that has really famous Inari!! Will share where in another post. You can choose the seasoning in your rice - ginger, sesame or curry. I could eat this for breakfast everyday.

We also noticed that Green tea is everywhere in Kyoto! We spotted a reaally long queue for this green tea cafe along the main street of Gion, here's how the shop looks like for TAKEAWAY, and there's a staircase leading up to the cafe. Super long queue no matter what time we walk past it!

So of course, I had to try their ice cream. Didn't want to queue to sit at the cafe (might take an hour!!) And it was delicious!

We couldn't decide between the matcha green tea or the other type of tea so we bought both. It was rich and tasty, and PERFECT. Worth our 400 yen (About 6 SGD) or something around that price. Worth it! Stuff yourself silly with green tea :)

5. Shop

Of course there's the obvious shopping district, with big departmental stores like Takashimaya and OIOI, but if you like finding hidden places like me, look for the arcade which is only a short walk away from the main area!

There, you'll find more AFFORDABLE shopping and if you take short detours on the left and right, you'll find some hidden shops (food, clothes, etc) We found a ninja-themed restaurant too!

I will post detailed entries of my time in Kyoto! Here's a summary so it's easier to look at :) Hope you have as much fun in Kyoto as I did!
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