FASHION & STYLE, KIT & NIECE B, MY STYLE, UK

Kit & Niece B: A Family Outing At Garsons Farm

25th August 2017

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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.

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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.

Bethany is wearing; lightweight jacket in botanical and vegetable print, blue floral jumpsuitOchre Pointelle Cardigan (pictured below), and pink unicorn print wellies.

I’m wearing; red long sleeve ditsy blouse, skinny jeans, gold tone filigree statement earrings, black suede small stud bag, and berry pointed slingback flats.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Have a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend everyone!


All outfits available online and instore at NEXT.


 

BEAUTY & SKINCARE, ECO & GREEN LIVING

Sun Care All Year Round

17th August 2017

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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.

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Most of the products featured on this post were purchased from Amazon, FeelUniqueBoots, 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 Sunscreen Face & Body Emulsion 30 SPF – another favourite sunscreen of mine and repeat purchase, great for travel if you don’t want to keep 2 products in your day bag.

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.


 

AZERBAIJAN, MIDDLE EAST, TRAVEL

Baku Visual Diary: Baku, part 2

8th August 2017

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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.

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|| The Old City of Baku ||

Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the old fortified city is surrounded by preserved medieval walls from medieval times, with beautiful arched-iron gates, antique and souvenir shops, old bathhouse and several hammams, mosque, the famous Maiden Tower, Shahvanshah’s Palace, and the remains of the medieval town.

The old city, the food and the Azerbaijani-Turkish culture reminds me of my family trip to Kyrenia (my middle brother-in-law’s ancestral home) in North Cyprus.  Like the Azerbaijanis, the Turkish-Cypriots take pride in their Ottoman heritage.

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Baking bread the old fashioned Azerbaijani way.  This is a traditional clay oven called Tandoor, commonly used across Central Asia and Middle East.

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A spot of afternoon lunch at Tendir restaurant, serving traditional Azerbaijani cuisine.  Its cosy interior, with dark wooden cladding, and traditional furnishing textiles.  Similar to Iranian and Turkish food, they’re known for their distinctive flavour.  Our lunch consists of Dushbara – small dumplings stuffed with lamb and herbs, served in broth, a mixture of meat kababs, selection of vegetables, and freshly baked Tandoor bread.  We finished off our delightful lunch with a Pakhlava and fragrant mint tea.

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|| Menzer Hajiyeva ||

We met the lovely scarf designer Menzer Hajiyeva at her showroom showroom in Baku.  Menzer talked us through the inspiration behind her designs, her idea of combining traditional art mediums with modern technologies to create wearable art, inspired by the heritage of Azerbaijan – nature, art, cities, history, culture and family.  The scarves are handmade by Azerbaijani artisans using local silk, natural dyes and the products are made in Azerbaijan.

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||The Heydar Aliyev Center ||

The late Zaha Hadid‘s magnificent Heydar Aliyev Center was the highlight of the trip.  Opened in 2012, inside the center you’ll find interesting historical and cultural exhibits, a temporary exhibition space, conference center, workshops and 1000 seat auditorium.  One of the most stunning, jaw-dropping places to marvel for any modern architecture lover, or any loyal fan of Zaha Hadid Architecture.  I loved the all-white, never-ending, organic free form, flowing around the building almost calligraphic, but non invasive.  Very intoxicating place to visit!

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|| Heydar Aliyev International Airport ||

What can I say.  This airport is one of the most beautiful modern airports I’ve ever seen, designed by Istanbul-based designers Autoban.  After I passed through airport security, it felt like I entered another world, it had this futuristic and Avatar kind of vibes.  Featuring giant wooden-clad cocoons – house cafes, shopping kiosks and other amenities, and scattered with potted miniature trees and structural columns.  Such an imaginative designs exploring the relationship between nature and architecture, which makes the airport so inviting, and allowed me to gain a new perspective and better understanding on conceptual architecture.  We need this in London.

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There’s nothing quite like the beauty of a stunning sunset over London welcoming you back home safely from your journey.


Kit Lee was a guest of Fairmont Baku.


ASIA, HONG KONG, LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL

Hong Kong Visual Diary: Cycling at Tai Mei Tuk

2nd August 2017

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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|| 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.

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|| 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.


 

KIT & NIECE B, LIFESTYLE, MY STYLE, UK

Kit & Niece B: Mayfield Lavender Field

31st July 2017

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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.


My outfit:
White cotton top from Mango, wide legged trousers from ASOS, red sandals from Salt-Water Sandals, straw hat from Other Stories, sunglasses by H by Halston, basket bag from TK MAX.


AZERBAIJAN, MIDDLE EAST, TRAVEL

Baku Visual Diary: Fairmont Baku, part 1

27th July 2017

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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.

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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.

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5 am.  I woke up at crack of dawn to catch the sunrise over the Caspian Sea from the 22nd floor window, as you do.  It was eerily quiet, it felt as though the time stood still as the sun slowly rises, I had a few hours left for breakfast, I then headed back to bed to get some extra sleep, leaving the curtains drawn open knowing the blinding morning light will wake me up.

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I can’t sleep and travel without my trusty Holistic Silk lavender eye mask.  I have insomnia and hyper-sensitive to light and noise when trying to fall asleep, this award-winning eye mask is made from luxurious Dupion silk, lined in buttery smooth cotton velvet and it doesn’t leave a mark on your face after a long night of sleep, and it’s filled with dried loose lavender flowers, perfect for soothing stress.  The eye mask is my ultimate travel essential for sleep deprived traveller, and I can’t sleep on the plane without it.  Highly recommended.

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Fairmont Baku’s bathroom amenities including La Lebo products.  I loved that they personalised the bath products by adding my name to the labels, a perfect souvenir to bring home from my stay.

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Fuss-free makeup for the 48 hour trip, quite a shocker to someone who normally carry a 4kg load of make up on trips.

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A discreet, quiet spot for breakfast at Fairmont Gold Lounge for Fairmont Gold guests.

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You can’t leave the hotel without having a spa experience at ESPA.  Located inside Fairmont Baku, ESPA has a wide variety of spa facilities set over 2 floors, featuring a multifunctional treatment rooms, vitality pools, poolside saunas, state-of-the-art-gym, yoga and class studios, sleep pods, and many more.  ESPA is renowned for their efficacious range of natural products and to experience the very best that ESPA has to offer.  I went for the Deep Tissue Massage.  Like Thai and Swedish massage, this therapy uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach out deeper layers of muscles, helps alleviate muscle pain, stiffness and water retention.  The treatment lasted 60 minutes.  The massage was amazing and comfortable, my muscles felt less tensed.  Despite the level of pain I was in from the shoulders and neck, my therapist said to me, ”those knots are tough as rocks!”, she sympathised my pain.  I left the spa feeling like a whole new person.

Stay tuned for part 2, we explored the city of Baku, the old and the new, traditional Azerbaijani food and culture.


Kit Lee was a guest of Fairmont Baku, Azerbaijan.
All images and opinions are my own.


 

ASIA, HONG KONG, TRAVEL

Hong Kong Visual Diary: CNY 2017

25th July 2017

Chinese-New-Year-Hong-Kong-Kit Lee

Chinese-New-Year-Hong Kong Kit Lee

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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!

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Setting off fireworks and firecrackers in a residential neighbourhood, private land and in public space have been banned since the 1960s.  Mainly for general health and safety reasons, but rules are allowed for fireworks to set off during specific times, such as Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese New Year.  However, some of the New Territories villages of Indigenous residents, have the traditional and customary right to set off firecrackers.  We set off firecrackers three times a day during CNY, early morning, afternoon and evening, making a deafening sound for good luck, happiness and wealth for the coming year.

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This is the Lee Ancestral Hall.  It’s an ancestral hall dedicated to our Lee ancestors, and to an ancestor who established this sleepy village in Tai Po over 300 years ago, also dedicated to the original founder of the Lee clan in China around 1,400 years ago.  Not as grandeur as it looks compared to the reputable Tang Ancestral Hall in Yuen Long.  According to one of the relatives, the original hall was destroyed by the Japanese army during the Japanese Occupation, the ancestral hall was rebuilt in the late 60s or early 70s.  It is a small hall with minimal decor, a standing main altar with ritual objects such as porcelain deity statues and incense burner. I was forbidden to take photos inside the hall but managed to capture some sneaky snap shots for Instagram and IG Stories.

During CNY, the Lee clan would gather altogether at the ancestral hall to burn incense and give food offerings to the ancestors, we do this every day and night without fail, if you missed it, you probably get a telling off from elders for not turning up which I often do sometimes.  I’m not a religious person, nor do I worship, I burn incense to show my respect and honour my ancestors.  I think veneration is a better word to describe honouring a person or ancestor in a non-culty, idolatry way.

Tung Tsz temples - Tai Po - Hong Kong Kit Lee

Tung Tsz Temples - Tai Po Hong Kong - Kit Lee

Shuen Wan Temple – The stunning taoist temple belongs to 11 indigenous villages in Shuen Wan area (Plover Cove) in Tai Po East (North Territories), it consists of three temples; Confucius temple, Guan Yu temple, and Heavenly Mother temple.  The original 17th Century temple was built in Qing Dynasty more than 300 years ago, it was destroyed by a typhoon in the mid 1930s, it became an abandoned derelict site completely taken over by nature for the next 70 years.  Until 2002, the villages managed to raised funds to rebuild the temple.  It took a staggering 10 years to construct all three temples, all opulent features, murals, wood carvings were handcrafted by artisans.  Look how exquisite the architecture look from the inside and outside.  The temple is a couple minutes walk from home, I would come here for a quiet moment to myself, reflecting and contemplating.

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The Qilin dance at the blessing ceremony at the Shuen Wan temple.  The Qilin dance is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a lion dance, not the lion dance I used to think it was, I know right?  No wonder the costume looked different compared to the more elaborate lion dance costume, with its colourful scale patterns, no fur trims, a single horn on its head, fierce eyes, and the structure of the head is slightly slender than the lions. The Qilin dance is mostly commonly performed by the Hakka people and is associated with Hakka martial arts.

What is this mythical beast Qilin?  Qilin, or a Chinese unicorn, is a chimera-like beast is said to be one of most sacred animals in ancient China, the mythical beast symbolises good luck and prosperity.  I did a quick research online and couldn’t find a correct information to describe a Qilin, it varies from culture to culture, country to country.  Lets keep it simple, Qilin had a body of a deer covered in fish scales, a head of a dragon with a single horn on its forehead, hooves of an ox, a tail of a lion, and flames all over the body.  Sounds like a messed-up unicorn with body parts from different animals all mashed in together.  Next time you see a ritual dance involving the mythical animal (not a common lion dance) with a single horn on its forehead, that’s a Qilin dance.

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One of the most exciting things about celebrating CNY in Hong Kong is poon choi feast with a mass gathering of half a thousand Hakka people from 11 neighbouring villages.  Poon choi is a ‘Chinese casserole in a basin’, it’s a traditional Hakka delicacy which has been eaten in rural Hong Kong for 6oo years.  It is traditionally eaten during CNY,  Mid-Autumn Festival and on special occasions.  Poon choi consists of layers of different ingredients; taro, lotus roots, green vegetables, abalones, dried oysters, fish balls, roast duck and chicken, king prawns and Chinese mushrooms, all packed in a large steel basin or a claypot for a smaller portion.

Unfortunately, this time, we were quite disappointed that we didn’t have the traditional poon choi feast.  We had a western-eastern style buffet feast for the first time, with special fried rice, spaghetti Bolognese, potatoe salad, et al.  The hospital-like food tasted like scraps and high in sodium served in aluminium containers, the food went cold really quickly.  The guests weren’t impressed.  As the time went on, the dark angry clouds overshadowed the New Territories, hammered by heavy downpour all of a sudden, leaving the food soaked to its soggy state, muffled guests left the tables scuttled away home.  Some say, it was a punishment from the heavens above.  Like wise, a day of disappointment turned into a disastrous day for everyone who attended.  Until next year, poon choi will be back!

Stay tuned for more visual diary posts from my trip to Hong Kong 🙂


 

COLLABORATION, JEWELLERY, KIT & NIECE B

Links of London x Style Slicker: Sweetie Redefined

12th June 2017

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I haven’t realised until now, how much time has flown by so quickly these couple of years.  I went travelling here, there and almost everywhere, I’ve been busy working on commissioned based work and shooting with my favourite bloggers, helping my sister out with her kid, my niece Bethany, who is now 20 months old.  The state of mental lethargy and unproductive lead to setbacks in blogging and whether the state of blogging ever had existence – hey, the blog is alive and slowly kicking, but neglected.  Two years have gone by, the most amazing thing of all…this hopelessly smitten auntie.

As part of the Sweetie Redefined campaign with Links of London, I wanted to share a story with these beautiful Sweetie charm bracelet, dedicated to my wonderful niece Bethany with whom I’m utterly, utterly smitten with.

Truthfully, I was never into charm bracelets.  In fact, 6 years ago, I purchased one by mistake. Unimpressed with my selection, the charms were meaningless with no story to tell.  This collaboration with Links of London, I knew it’s going to be a special project.  My style is constantly ever-evolving, from clashing floral print, double denim, to trying-to-look-smart-and-sophisticated kind of style.  I wanted a charm bracelet that appeals to both genders of all ages that defines the life of every person and their style genres.  As a 30 something woman, I’m never too old to wear a charm bracelet.

The Sweetie bracelet comes in sterling silver, 18kt gold, and 18kt rose gold with an expandable circumferences.  I have always worn rose gold bracelet to suit my warm skin tone, I chose sterling silver bracelet to give my wrist a pop of colour.  I must admit, I struggled to pick which charms to adorn my bracelet with.  Less is more.  Each charm must represent something that happened to my life and my niece’s life, or the things we’re fond of, that symbolises our close bond and the beautiful way in which they tell a story.  Here are the charms I personalised the bracelet with and why I chose it;

  • Amulet 18kt Rose Vermeil Self Discovery Charm – ‘A powerful symbol of authenticity and self-confidence, earthy, Labradorite takes centre stage’. I’ve learnt so much about myself, not as a person, but an auntie to dear niece, Bethany.  She taught me about love, patience and how to be fun with a kid.
  • Sterling Silver & 18kt Yellow gold Vermeil Tea Pot Charm – You know me, I love drinking English breakfast tea.  I drink tea a lot when I’m around with Bethany and it keeps me sane all day long.  She noticed my habit before she can even walk, thinking what is that warm brown liquid that makes you say ahhh after taking a sip. I taught Bethany how to make a cup of tea, I repeat the process when I need a cuppa. She thinks it’s fun and it helps her to memorise words and order of things, from smelling a tea bag, pour hot water in a cup, milk and sugar, and stir.  Now I drink decaf.  Sometimes I let her dip her finger in my warm tea to have a taste (no harm done).  I find her hilarious sometimes, and I laugh a lot when I think of her and tea.
  • 18kt Yellow Gold K Charm – K is an initial of my first name.
  • Sterling Silver Shooting Star Charm – Like all  newborns and young toddlers, they love a good traditional nursery rhymes, like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.  Bethany’s mum (my sister) and I first sang the song to her when she was a few weeks old, she had colic at the time.  No matter how tone-deaf our tunes were, a singsong tone helps calm a baby down.  We still sing the song to her, but in an animated way.

Bethany is wearing a similar Sweetie bracelet in a child size personalised with animal charms.  My hope is that someday Bethany will always enjoy looking at the charms, as well as a reminder of our wonderful fun times being together, our strong auntie-niece ties, and that represent her childhood.

The Sweetie bracelet and charms are available online and in-stores across the UK.


In collaboration with Links of London as part of their Sweetie Redefined campaign.
Thanks for Bethany‘s parents for letting her be part of the meaningful campaign.  All words and opinions are my own.


 

EUROPE, HOLLAND, LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL

Amsterdam Visual Diary: Toddling Along, Part 2

3rd May 2017

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Home away from home.  I consider Amsterdam as my third home, after Hong Kong.  Partly because my late paternal grandfather and dad lived and worked there for a few years before my time, my distant Dutch-Chinese relatives from both side of the family resides in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, I don’t remember the last time I visited Holland, only a vague memory of the tulip fields, windmills, China Town, canals and miniature park.  Wish I visited the city more often, like Paris and Hong Kong, I have friends and relatives here.  I’m so happy that I finally decided to come as guest of Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam, despite my short stay there, I managed to explore a little bit of the town.

Amsterdam is a bike-friendly and bike-congested city, and easy to get lost, otherwise manageable if you’re a regular visitor to the city.  Hotel Pulitzer provide its very own Pulitzer bike for guests to wizz around town, make sure you know the basics of highway code, most importantly, the hand signals – left turn and right turn.  I had free time to explore the city and a quick shopping before checking out of the hotel.  So, I’ve sampled amazing street food at the indoor food market located at a former tram depot De Hallen Amsterdam, which also houses a cinema complex, boutique hotel, and lifestyle stores.  There are abundance of cool lifestyle concept stores in Amsterdam that stock a range of fashion, interior, homeware, and lifestyle goods, be sure to check out Anna + Nina (Kloveniersburgwal 44), and Nuvo Niche (Prinsengracht 232), Sukha (Haarlemmerstraat 110), Store With A Home (Haarlemmerdijk 26), and many more. Take a stroll along the canals, the smell of cannabis drifting in and out from coffee shops, dive through stalls at an outdoor flea market (Noordemarkt); antiques, jewellery, rugs, art, kitsch items, bric-a-brac, vintage fashion, as well as organic fruit and vegetables, grains and mouthwatering goods such as cheese, and if you have a time to spare discover your own signature scent at Otentic (Keizersgracht 233).

There’s so much to see and do in Amsterdam, plus the city’s history of art and design, museums, culture, and quirky places yet to explore.  Until next time!


Kit Lee was a guest of Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam.